a terrorist revolutionary sentenced to a long prison term to a spiritual
ascetic and teacher would seem to many to be a far cry indeed. Yet
this is exactly what happened in the case of Sri Sadguru Omkar who
is today a revered octogenarian Saint who has his Ashram opposite
the Nandi Hills in Kolar district, wrote Sri Dharma Vira, Governor
of Karnataka in 1970.
Nilkantha Brahmachari ó Sadguru Omkarís former name
ó was born on 4th December 1889 in Tanjore in an orthodox brahmin
family. From a very young age in his high school, he was involved
in national revolutionary activities. Their group in South India was
closely connected with the Jugantar group of Bengal. Because of his
activities, he had to take asylum in the French territory of Pondicherry.
He was one of the group along with the poet Subrahmanya Bharati, who
received Aurobindo Ghosh at Pondicherry on 4th April 1910. He was
closely connected with the Mopla agrarian revolution in Kerala. His
group published the Communist Manifesto in South even before the Communist
Revolution in Russia. He was the first accused in the Ash murder case
and was arrested in Kolkata by Teggart. He was in prison for more
than eleven years.
In jail, the transformation from a revolutionary to a spiritual Sadhaka
took place as vividly described in his notes which he later collected
as ëConfessions on the way towards Peaceí now being published.
After coming out of the jail, he took the ìConfessionsî
to Sri Aurobindo, who wrote a small foreword, the next day.
After going through a spiritual itinerary, Sadguru Omkar settled
down at the lower Nandi Hills in 1930 and built up a small ashram
around a dilapidated Shiva Temple ó which he called Omkareswara
ó by a rivulet, the source of the river Pennar or Penganga.
Slowly his name spread and visitors from all over India and abroad
began to pour in.
His talks with the visitors, friends and disciples were published
in two small volumes ëUpdeshí and ëSelected Talksí.
These are also included in the present volume to give a proper perspective
of the thoughts of Swamiji.
About his ashram at Nandi Hills Swamiji said, ëMy Ashram is
a beautiful place with all the inconveniences necessary for spiritual
life, but disappointing to a lover of ease and comfort.'
Sadguru Omkar passed away on 4th May 1978 in his Ashram at the Nandi
Hills at the ripe old age of 89.'