Venu: The Flute of Lord Krishna

It is not an easy thing to fully describe and share meaningfully even one experience in our lives little alone try and express the totality of a lifetime.  A little more than a year ago, Venu, who had been a disciple of Sri Chinmoy for 40 years passed away.  His exemplary life of devotion and dedication to his Spiritual Master was unique and were it not for the exhaustive logbooks that he meticulously kept none of us could possibly understand just how remarkable his life really was.

For all those whose own lives intersected with the dynamic and powerful orbit of Venu’s, we knew at least something about how relentless and all consuming his training regime was.  You could not help but be aware of this because he seemed to be perpetually training and preparing for one event or another.  Particularly the swim run in San Diego, which was like a yearly sacred pilgrimage for him.   It was only when his journey on the earth plane had made its final lap, that those of us who loved and knew him well tried to take some fuller account of this life.  A life which always seemed to brim with enthusiasm, optimism, and tireless dedication to the inner life.

Somehow the task of cataloging his life by going through his log books fell upon Astika, who had lived with Venu for almost 40 years.  Over the course of a year he tried to take stock of  the information collected there. Which chronicled not only in fine detail the trajectory of his physical accomplishments but in a very special way illumined his inner life as well.  Astika sifted through all the meticulous details kept there and also the personal notes and photos kept within them.  This then are portions of his loving recollections of his brother friend Venu, as written in his recently published book…….Utpal

Photo taken by Sri Chinmoy

Photo taken by Sri Chinmoy

I was in the San Francisco Sri Chinmoy Centre with Venu for almost four decades, lived in the same house with him for years, ran races with him, worked side-by- side with him, talked running and cycling with him right to the end. I shared his enthusiasms for many things and took issue with him over some other things. He was my friend, a very good friend, but it wasn’t until the day I opened the pages of one of his training logbooks that I really met him face to face and heart to heart. Until that day, I had no idea at all of who he really was, nor did I possess any proper sense of the heart that beat so devotedly within his breast.

To meet Venu through the day-to-day entries of in his training diaries, is to meet ones own self face to face. It is to see and feel the rise and fall of an ocean vast energy, the same life energy that animates each and every one of us. It is to be swept along in the streaming drama of that energy. To bear witness to Venu’s struggles, to see how he managed his successes and failures, is to gain a valuable perspective on our own.

For this reason, we have made his logbooks available to everyone. The entire collection is, or soon will be, posted at the Sri Chinmoy website. I recommend them to everyone, regardless of your gender, personal interests or spiritual orientation. To open the pages of Venu’s training diaries is to take a stroll down to the seashore of this vast ocean of energy and feel the ebb and flow of it as it moved through the veins of one very good man. You won’t need to be an athlete to benefit.

Venu-and-CKG-1976

For those who knew Venu even casually, this will come as no surprise; he carefully observed and evaluated everything he did. He was a meticulous record keeper, particularly when it came to his workouts. He was a true believer in original self- knowledge; it was the only kind of knowledge he really trusted. As a consequence, he scrutinized his body’s response to exercise and diet as well as a number of other experiences very closely. Many people do this; to one degree or another, we all do it.

What separated Venu from most is that he acted upon his observations in a most disciplined manner, changing his daily routines, his diet and exercises accordingly. But beyond athletics, he changed his thoughts and opinions as well, according to an ever widening range of observations. He was a student of the hard science of yoga almost as much as he was a devotee of the yoga of love. And yet, the notations in his logbooks are almost cryptic in their brevity. He does not analyze or offer an opinion on anything, not even his own workout routine. Partly, this is because his logbooks were always meant to be a private notebook to himself. They didn’t exist to explain or narrate anything to others. The brevity of his entries was also because Venu believed that opinions were… well, just opinions. His view was that our understanding even of ourselves, much less the world, was very a subjective and individualized thing. “Reality” for him was in the numbers and the personal experience that came from generating those numbers.

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