Every year on October 2nd, we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's jayanti (birth) and my own guru Swami Muktananda's mahasamadhi (passing).
Two among the great beings that have recently walked this earth, their influence has been immense.
Most people know of Gandhi (1869-1948) in a certain context — they think of him as the liberator of India, the powerful force behind a people that defeated one of the strongest nations on earth.
But while this was certainly true of Gandhi, there was a part of him that many people are not aware of: Gandhi, like many great men and women before him, drew his strength from his spiritual life. He meditated regularly and prayed for long hours, practicing regularly morning and evening.
At the start of one especially busy day, Gandhi said, "I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one."
Meditate on that for a while...
Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) began the life of a sadhu, a wandering ascetic in search of spiritual fulfillment, at an unusually early age: when he was 15 years old he encountered Bhagawan Nityananda, a wandering saint who profoundly changed his life. After this encounter, he left home and began his search for the experience of the Divine.
He wandered India on foot for 25 years, studying with many different saints and gurus. He learned Sanskrit, Vedanta, all branches of Yoga, and took the initiation of sannyasa (renunciation).