The arrival of Swami Satyanand Maharaj was like the rise of a star in the firmament, shining to show a path, a way out of the miasma that enveloped the surroundings.
His spiritual descendant Pujya Shri Prem Maharaj and now Swami Nalinanand Maharaj arrived when the people needed them the most.
Swami Satyanand Maharaj blazed a trail which Swami Nalinanand is pursuing diligently and in all humility from Patiala town.
Born with the proverbial silver spoon on February 10, 1979 in an affluent and respected Patiala family of Indra and Virender Sood, he was a pampered child.
Two elder siblings, Mamta and Ritu, parents and grandparents showered on him love, care and attention. He got his early education at DAV Public School, followed by Our Lady of Fatima Convent High School. He graduated from Modi College and obtained MBA degree in Marketing from Punjabi University, Patiala.
Those who have seen him during those days remember him as a debonair and as a dashing young man with ambitious eyes and go-getter looks. Even as he pursued the ego-ideals of a young man at various levels in schools and colleges, a keen desire to understand the mysteries unravelled in the Vedas, Upnishads and Puranas fascinated him. A keenness to introvert accompanied by an intense quest to learn and teach the people in their own language made him a spiritual seeker.
The ambience at home, frequent visits to and by Pujya Shree Premnath Maharaj, confirmed Nalin’s resolve to be other worldly. He went through the scriptures including the Vedas and Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In a rare event, Pujya Shree Prem Maharaj personally baptised Nalin at the age of six (eight years earlier than others).
Prem extracted a promise from the young boy that he would preach and propagate Ram’s name all his life. The boy remembered his promise and took a demanding decision of devoting his life to the cause of Ram Naam Prachaar.
The Swami consecrated his home at 5, Brar Street, Patiala by his presence and renaming it ‘Sewa-Sadan.’ The sewa of Ram Naam as a result, started from there.
The mother took the lead and Nalin descended her footsteps. Bhakti Sandhya started at Sewa Sadan from November 1, 1999 with readings from Shri Bhakti Parkash.
A beginning had been made. There was no looking back for young Nalin. He helped by doing odd jobs during the Satsang. Constructed of a hall was completed in the following year and since them ‘Bhakti Sandhya’ is held regularly.
Yet another event of importance was the establishment of Dharmartha Trust on May 8, 2002 to look after the financial health of the body and to account for the activities undertaken by the Trust.
Around this time, esteemed saints renamed Nalin Sood as Shri Nalin Bhai, marking another step in launching him on a spiritual voyage.
When he was 17 years of age, he pledged to remain celibate all his life. The search began for the Guru who would give him Sanyas Deeksha.
It was an arduous task to find an accomplished saint from a number of people who staked their claim but fell short of expectations. The search concluded with Param Pujya Swami Brahmanand Giri Maharaj whose simplicity, humility, enlightenment and maternal affection charmed Nalin Bhai.
He approached him for initiating him into Sanyas according to Vedic Sites. The momentous event took place on March 8, 2005 (Maha Shivaratri) on the banks of the Holy River Narmada at Badrik Ashram in Vadodra, Gujarat.
Nalin Bhai became Swami Nalinanand Giri.
As a Swami, he has made his mark by inspiring people into the ideals laid down by Swami Satyanand Saraswat Maharaj.
Dr Gulshan Kataria is a Professor at the Department of English at the Punjabi University in Patiala Punjab. The above is an edited version of an article that he wrote on the website of Satya Prem Charitable Trust based in Patiala, Punjab.