Spiritual Stars of the Golden Age

Swami Abhishiktananda
Dom Henri Le Saux, OSB, (Benedictine Monk)

Explorer of the Divine in Hinduism

Henri Le Saux, about 1948
One of the best reasons for hope in the crisis through which at present the world is passing is certainly the growing interest shown by Western people in the East. Western man has in fact much to learn from the spiritual and cultural world of the East, which has evolved in ways very different from his own. Perhaps too it is only there that he will discover that inwardness which he so patently lacks and will recover that identity which seems to have escaped him - but this time an identity which will reveal to him the very depth of his own being. Abhishiktananada, Preface, Guru and Disciple.

Henri Le Saux, known as Abhishiktananda or Swami Abhishiktananda (lit. 'the bliss of the annointed one of the Lord'), was a Frenchman, an old- fashioned priest of Breton seafaring stock, who had spent his early monkish days as a Benedictine monk in the monastery of Kergonan near Briac. His coming to India in 1948 was the fulfilment of a dream that had lingered round his consciousness since he was a novice - he wanted to bring Benedictine life to India. Abhistikanankda lived at Shantivanam, an ashram in Tamil Nadu he had founded with another French Catholic priest, Fr Monchanin

Henri Le Saux was born in France in 1910 and entered a Benedictine monastery in 1929. As early as 1934, he felt his monastic calling should be fulfilled in India, but many years passed before this was possible. Finally, he discovered another French Priest, Father Jules Monchanin, (already in India since 1939) who had a similar aspiration. In 1948, in a most unusual act by the Church, Fr Le Saux was granted an indult of exclaustration (allowing him to leave the enclosure and confines of monastic life) and permitted to join Fr Monchanin. In 1950, they founded a small ashram named Shantivanam, in Trichinopoly, on the banks of the Cauvery River.

Sometime thereafter, Henri Le Saux was stunned by his experience meeting the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi. Here was a devoted, loyal son of the Church, a Benedictine monk, given to years of Lectio Divina, and the Holy Eucharist in Latin, experiencing the totality of divinity in the presence of a silent Indian Saint. Shortly thereafter, Ramana Maharshi took samadhi (passed on) and the questions surrounding this experience of his were to ferment within the young Le Saux, and drive his enquiry for the remainder of his life.

"OM the mystery of the Spirit. But ultimately there is no name for the Father, for the Father can never be known in himself. He is known only through his self-manifestation in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The Father is that last or fourth part of the OM, which is pure Silence."

After Fr Monchanin died in 1957, Abhishiktananda was drawn toward North India and the Himalayas. In 1961-62 he build a small hermitage beside the holy river Ganges, in Uttarkashi, in the heart of the Himalayas. Until 1968, he alternated between there and Shantivanam and after that, made Uttarkashi his home until he died of a heart attack, at a hospital in Indore, during 1973.

Sarva Dharma Prayer

Abhishiktananda would have appreciated the Sarva Dharma (God is All Names and Forms) Prayer. We can only speculate, but perhaps, it would have brought joy and tears to this seeker's soul.

Om Tat Sat Sri Narayana Tu
Purushottama Guru Tu
Siddha Buddha Tu, Skanda Vinayaka
Savitur Pavaka Tu
Brahma Mazda Tu, Yahova Shakti Tu
Eshu Pita Prabhu Tu
Rudra Vishnu Tu, Rama Krishna Tu
Rahima Tao Tu
Vasudeva Go, Vishwarupa Tu
Chidananda Hari Tu
Advitiya Tu, Akala Nirbhaya
Atmalinga Shiva Tu
Atmalinga Shiva Tu
Atmalinga Shiva Tu


Om Thou art that, Thou art Narayana, God in the form of man;

Thou art the Embodiment of perfection and the perfect master.

Thou art enlightened Buddha;

Thou art Subramanya and Ganesha, the remover of obstacles;

Thou art the Sun-fire

Thou art Brahma, the Creator; Mazda, the Great One;

Thou art Jehovah and the Divine Mother, the creative Energy.

O Lord! Thou art the Father of Jesus.

Thou art Rudhra, the Transformer, and Vishnu, the Preserver;

Thou art Rama and Krishna;

Thou art Rahim, all kindness, always giving and expanding;

Thou art the Tao.

Thou art Vasudeva, the Sustenance of all, omnipotent and omnipresent;

Thou art Hari, Destroyer of illusion, the blissful Spirit.

Thou art unparallelled, beyond time and fearless of adversities;

Thou art Shiva, Creator of the lingam, Symbol of the formless Absolute.

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This page last updated 23 November 2007
© C. Parnell, 2007