We all called him Guruji and in fact, if one should think of it in worldly terms, what Haridhos was showing his devotees was his immense bhakti, his love of his own guru Gnanananda, thereby setting an example of how to love your guru as a way to eternal bliss thru bhakti yoga. And since he in turn is the devotees’ guru, their own devotion can be practiced there and then.
To his numerous followers he is a strong influence in their daily life, somebody who gives advice not only in religious matters but also about marriage, education and other everyday affairs. He is a father figure to lean against in the community, but also somebody to take care of, protect and even pamper with.
Swamy Haridhos’ own guru, Sri Gnanan- anda, who left this earth in 1974 was a holy man in south india with an ashram near Thirukoilur in south India. Haridhos first became his “ambassador” and later on his successor practising bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion to the guru.
Thru his powerful singing of bhajans, religious songs, and charismatic preaching he acquired a large following and later created his own ashram in Thennangur south of Chennai with huge temple struc- tures and everything needed for housing and feeding thousands of people at the various religious functions held there.
In 1994 Swamy Haridhos disappeared in the Ganges during a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. He had already chosen his suc- cessor, Swamy Namananda, affectionately known as Namaji.
Not only was Swamy Haridhos an extremely charismatic leader, preacher and a singer, head and shoulders taller than ordinary bhajan singers, but as such he attracted the participation of top class accompanists. The reason for this is the word classical. Much as he loves the Namasankirtanam, the purely devotional simpler songs, he uses the classi- cal ragas for his own improvising, composing and rendering of texts as you can hear espe- cially in the slokams, the long introductions to some of the songs.
In the summer of 1968 we went on a yatra, that is, a pilgrim’s tour to Brindavan, Mathura and other holy places in northern India. We had our own railway car that would be attached to a regular train and left off at each new destination. There we stayed in the station, sleeping, cooking and singing in the wagon, doing excursions to various holy places.
In Brindavan we stayed at an ashram belonging to a collegue of Guruji’s, Goswamy. You can see pictures below from the Radha Kalyan ceremony (the marriage between Radha and Krishna) that we performed there.
Here are some photos from the 1968 yatra.
Review by Kent Hunt in Pulse Magazine, feb 2011