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Revered Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari (affectionately known as Chariji) was born on 24 July 1927 in Vayalur, near Chennai, in the south of India. His father, Shri C. A. Rajagopalachari, was a railway executive. He lost his mother, Janaki, when he was barely five years old, shortly after the birth of his sister, who also died a few years later. Parthasarathi and his two younger brothers were brought up with great care by their father. Nonetheless, the loss of his mother had a profound effect upon the young Parthasarathi, leaving an emptiness that followed him into adulthood.
Tracing the Roots
Having studied in the Western system in North India, Chariji graduated from Benaras Hindu University with a Bachelor of Science degree. His first job was with Indian Plastics Limited in chemical engineering. He travelled abroad in this capacity and spent two years in Yugoslavia studying plastics manufacturing techniques. He married Sulochana in 1955 and two years later their son, Krishna, was born. It was also in 1955 that Chariji joined the T. T. Krishnamachari group of companies, soon rising to the position of executive director in one of the group companies. His work required him to travel extensively in India and abroad, establishing a pattern of world travel that he would continue throughout his life and contributing to his development on many levels, both practical and spiritual.
Chariji’s spiritual aspirations were awakened at the age of eighteen when he heard a lecture on the Bhagavad Gita, after which he took up a detailed study of religious and spiritual texts. At the age of thirty, he began Vaishnava traditional instruction in the Hindu religion, with a keen focus on yoga, philosophy, religion and spirituality.
It was seven years later, in 1964, that he met Shri Ram Chandra of Shahjahanpur (Babuji) and began the practice of Sahaj Marg meditation, receiving transmission for the first time. Babuji’s spiritual guide, Ram Chandra of Fatehgarh (Lalaji), had rediscovered this ancient art of yogic transmission in the late nineteenth century, thereafter passing it down through the lineage of Sahaj Marg Masters. Through transmission, the living Master is able to introduce the subtlest energy of his own spiritual condition into the heart of the aspirant for the purpose of inner development. It was Babuji’s conviction that, “where religion ends, spirituality begins,” and it was under his guidance that Chariji’s spiritual journey began in earnest.
Contribution to Spirituality
While continuing to fulfill his familial and business responsibilities, Chariji was vigilant in his spiritual practice and dedicated to the work of Shri Ram Chandra Mission. As general secretary of the Mission, he contributed greatly to its growth worldwide and to the publication of Sahaj Marg literature. Over the years, he became Babuji’s most devoted disciple, ably assisting him in his spiritual work.
A constant companion to Babuji on his spiritual tours, Chariji traveled globally, explaining the Sahaj Marg system of spirituality to interested seekers and inspiring many to begin the practice of Sahaj Marg. He wrote several books revealing his deep love for his Master, his Mission and the method. His book My Master, a personal tribute to Babuji, has been published in nearly twenty languages. His other books include diaries of his overseas travels with Babuji, an autobiography and numerous volumes of his talks in India and abroad.
Babuji characterized the ideal human being as a person having “a Western mind and an Eastern heart,” adding that such a person would be needed to guide the Mission successfully into the future. Babuji appointed Chariji as his spiritual representative and successor to carry on his work as President of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission, a role Chariji assumed when his Master departed this world in 1983. Chariji’s unceasing work and frequent tours abroad have fostered remarkable expansion of the Mission’s activities, which now include the education of youth, scholarship programs, free health care clinics and an association with the Department of Public Information of the United Nations (UN DPI). His spiritual work embraces all of humanity, addressing present needs as well as those anticipated in the future.
In Sahaj Marg it is understood that the Master is the greatest servant. Observing Chariji, one sees this principle in action. His entire existence is presently devoted to the cause of spirituality in the service of others, a service that he undertakes with unwavering faith in the divine support of his Master.