The Chidakash Gita: the teachings of Bhagavan Nityananda
By every testimony Bhagavan Nityananda was more a presence than a spiritual teacher. Seekers who entered his orbit would find themselves awakened, uplifted and transformed as the flow of his spiritual power impacted them. Certainly he was not the type of guru who gave a coherent teaching, commenting on sacred texts and placing himself in relationship to existing schools of thought and yoga. He had no interest in any of that.
Hence, were it not for the Chidakash Gita, we would have only a few stray remarks from Bhagavan’s mouth: Bhagavan said, ‘do this’, Bhagavan said, ‘eat that’, Bhagavan said, ‘go there’, and so on. Though even today we experience great Shakti by thinking about Bhagavan or contemplating his photograph or murti, we have to count ourselves extremely fortunate that one set of his teachings, The Chidakash Gita, exists.
According to Captain Hatengdi’s account (from The Nitya Sutras), during his early years in Mangalore, circa 1922-1924, Nityananda would start a monologue while visiting various devotees’ houses. At first, the devotees thought he was speaking nonsense, but later discovered that his words contained an odd but exalted wisdom. He seemed to be speaking from a state of higher consciousness or a trance and a few decided to make notes about what he was saying.
Before making one of these utterances, Bhagavan would say, 'Arjuna-mama (Uncle Arjuna), come and listen, Krishna-ajja (Grandfather Krishna) is going to speak.' These words were an announcement that another extraordinary transmission was imminent. After some time, Tulsi Amma, a female devotee, collected and organised the scraps of paper the listeners produced. She went to Bhagavan Nityananda to talk to him about publishing them. He told her that his remarks came from the 'Chidakash', or space of Supreme Consciousness, and he didn’t care whether they were published or not. Despite Bhagavan’s indifference, Tulsi Amma got them published in Kannada as Chidakash Gita. The first English version was produced in 1940.
These utterances are striking in their uniqueness. The voice and vision of Bhagavan Nityananda is unmistakable. He cannot be put into any single box: he is neither simply a Vedantin, a yogi or a devotee. His teachings contain elements of all of these. He talks about pranayama, the upward movement of prana, the Omkar, the mind-free state of a great being, the need for a guru, the practice of sadhana, especially bringing the mind to perfect silence, and the primacy of direct spiritual experience over mere theory. All this is delivered in a terse, elliptical manner, which can be obscure but always stimulates the intuition and is filled with energy. At the same time the aphorisms are full of homey images of village life. Bhagavan is particularly fond of using images from cooking to demonstrate yogic points. Even more than that, he loves images from travel – boats, planes, cars and especially trains – so that it seems the spiritual journey is a journey indeed.
The Chidakash Gita then, is neither a novel nor a poem, not a philosophical text, nor an essay. It is pure meditation in verbal form. It should be read slowly and used as a springboard to enter that same space of Consciousness from which it is generated … the Chidakash.