An Interview with Dr. James George

In September of 2011 Paramacharya Sadasivanatha and Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami flew to Toronto, Canada, for a rare meeting and interview with Dr. James George, who spent many moments with and was profoundly influenced by Yogaswami in the early 1960s when he was the Canadian High Commissioner to Ceylon. (A lifetime scholar and diplomat, he was at other times the High Commissioner to India and Iran as well.) Here is their tale:

We embarked in the morning and ended up in his apartment in a tightly-secured and upper-crust building in the city, an apartment filled with ten thousand artifacts, most of them of a spiritual nature: thankas (old ones) covering the walls, at least the walls not covered with his vast library of religious and spiritual books. We set up to interview him about his time with Yogaswami near a window in his dense office, amongst computers and printers and papers and files.

We thought the morning would be a journey into history, capturing his times with Yogaswami. It was that, but far more. At 93, Dr. George is a bright light, capable of imitating Yogaswami’s raucous laugh and powerful voice, inclined to take each question we asked and make it a reflection on life and truth and life’s search for truth. Our queries would stop him and for a full minute he would look off, not so much into the distance as into the inner sky, then finally he would return with a gem, some insight into consciousness, some delightful comparison of George Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic who stressed the now and the Great I Am. 

On and on it went, question after question, all captured on our camera for you to enjoy later. Mostly he was thoughtful and faithful to the task of describing his times with the Lion of Lanka (who did roar, he said), but now and again he exploded: his voice rising, his eyes gleaming, his body leaning forward to convey a moment when Yogaswami said something potent to him. It was so evident that those moments are still alive in this wonderful soul, that, as he told it, they changed his life and his family’s too.

Here is a man who can field the most sophisticated question on consciousness, who can set two spiritual traditions side by side and compare them, who can speak of presence with perfect presence, a kind of soft intensity you rarely encounter, who knows what not knowing is, who believes the universe is ultimately perfect and yet bemoans the “rise of negativity in all spheres.” Fun, gracious, “What would you like in your tea?” humble, “I hope your journey here from Hawaii has been worth these small remembrances” generous “Taxi? No, let me take you back to your hotel..”

Our interview with Jim, as he insisted we call him, turned out really to be a satsang of kindred souls, of those who explore consciousness and who strive as often as possible, as much as possible, to heed Yogaswami’s stern yet utterly simple instructions: “Summa iru. Just be.”


23 Responses to “An Interview with Dr. James George”

  1. Amma Vicki says:

    How amazing, and yet not. I find I am moved nearly to tears at what I am visualizing of these moments. I’ve not watched the interview yet.

  2. Victoria Hamilton says:

    Victoria Hamilton liked this on Facebook.

  3. Niraj Aum Namah Shivaya says:

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  4. Rishi Markandeya Nageshwar says:

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  5. Padma Patel says:

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  6. Thanam Joseph says:

    Learned a lot more about Yogaswami and others from Dr. James George interview–Thank You

  7. Andy Christie says:

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  8. Dhanika Nagalingam says:

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  9. Rudiren Carpanen Pillay says:

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  10. Rudra Dev says:

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  11. Ramai Santhirapala says:

    Inspiring to hear stories about a great Guru and the potential in us all. Thank you for sharing this. Aum.

  12. Amma Anne Deer says:

    a treasure

  13. Thillaiampalam Sivayogapathy, Toronto. says:

    Ganapathy Thunnai!
    Jai Yogaswami! Jai Gurudeva!

    Dr.James George’s Bondage with Yogaswami is really
    very strong; Moreover, Dr.James has sincere faith & devotion
    towards Yogaswami & he really appreciate the BROADER OUTLOOK , in the Spiritual thinking of Yogaswami!;
    Thereby, Dr.James has full faith on Yogaswami’s Mahavakyas(Great
    Sayings of the Sage!):

    “There is not one wrong thing ”
    “Nothing do we know”
    “Who knows”
    “All completed long ago”
    “All is Truth”
    “Be Still” (“SUMMA IRU”)

    Aum Shanthi!

  14. Sahana Param says:

    Sahana Param liked this on Facebook.

  15. S. Palendira says:

    It is greatly refreshing to know from a great soul more about the great Saint of Jaffna.

  16. Arunachalathan says:

    Dawn of new Manifestation
    Arunachalathan, Yarlppanam, Sri Lanka.

    “God’s ways are mysterious and are some times incredibly destructive and wasteful.”

    “All will crumble, broken, shattered, people will die like flies and corpses will lie on all streets, everywhere. All will be burnt. Destruction every where. Small bottle (kuppi) lamps will flicker miles apart, one from the other. All will run from here, deserting this nice place of Nalluran”.
    Shouted, a man of seventy, from a low, small coconut palm leaf (kadjan) roofed hut, from the remote corner of Jaffna town in the years of late 1950’s. Who is this man, shouting, when everything was going fine, peaceful, contended, and perfectly calm.
    He is the disciple of Mad Chellappa (Swami). All walks of people, all over the country and from outside, come to him, with various objectives of their desires. His way of welcoming the visitor is very puzzling to everyone, the visitor, as well as spectators. He will welcome the visitor with sweet nectar gaze, and words, instantaneously change to utter filth, roar like lion, frightening mood of aggressive temperament, telling the most guarded secrets of the visitor, his personality, his intention, ways of peculiar nature. Good in ego smashing which others will not ever do that in public to anyone.

    In some moods he will sing, and permit others to sing, stop instantaneously the music of very good exponents singing and chase them away. Men of position and power, were scared to enter the hut of this man, enter with folded hands and pounding heart. He will speak high philosophy. Solves problems by counseling, beg from others to solve others poverty, men in high plane of spirituality and meditation will go to him to resolve obstacles in their pursuit. In some moods he will be speechless for hours, highly, indrawn / withdrawn.
    The futuristic prediction comes from this man of time surpassed wisdom, yet he is neither sooth sayer nor an astrologer. He interferes with karmic knots of his devotees and spiritual seekers to remove the obstacles for their progress. He also destroys asuric nature of persons and makes them lambs. – That is Yoga swami of Jaffna, Himalayas of Himalayan mountain.

    He only predicted all what is happening for the last twenty five years, in nineteen fifties, about the affairs of the Tamil’s future in this blessed land, and all, nay the whole world is witness, wonder struck. Even the great English poet Shelly or the great dramatist Shakespeare will find difficult to understand and sing document or write a play. Words are inadequate to translate the episode into words.
    Swami Vivekananda came to Colombo from America, after storming at Chicago, and reached Jaffna, before he set foot at Rameswaram. There was a public reception at Jaffna Hindu College, Jaffna. Swami was standing on the platform of the coach which was pulled by youngsters and children of Jaffna to the venue of the reception hall, along the route. Swamiji was on the podium of the packed hall, and sea of heads standing outside who couldn’t enter.

    “TIME IS SHORT, SUBJECT IS LARGE”, roared the Vedic lion, manifestation of all, timeless wisdom and heritage, of India. The roar stunned so many, amongst them were this tiny brat, budding boy Yogan, who was one amongst many who pulled the coach.
    This roaring, Mantra, Time is short, Subject is large, was echoing and reechoing like a sound, emanating from a C.D, or a Cassette repeatedly for years to come in the life of Yoga Swami, till his last, which he often repeats to all, and enjoys and relish this, re enacting, the pose and posture of standing, thunder voice of Swami Vivekananda, which was enjoyed by some of the fortunate devotees, who had the blessed fortune. This was the initiation and mantra deeksha to Yogan to transform him to Yoga Swami, the cub, who started roaring exactly like Swami Vivekananda, echoing and reechoing all over the world and manifesting by numerous ways.
    Why such a tiny small place of culture and spirituality, unknown dot of the of the globe, had become a subject of discussion at every place, high and low, educated and ignorant, rich and poor, theist and atheist, feared and admired. Churning the minds of all sorts of people, raking their heads and doing various actions, befitting their mental and karmic equations, to bring back a situation, what they think is right and justified, and reverse what is prevailing at present, situation of death, destruction, retrogradation of all progress the world is experiencing and witnessing, culture, values, real, imagined, absolute and relative.

    What is divine guidance and play in this episode? Is there any experience of divine manifestation, experiences amongst population of North and East of Sri Lanka, and particularly of the people of Jaffna who had the fortune of being hallowed by so many sadhus and saints? How does the people (spiritual/religious) view / accept or reject, feel about the situation.

    Is this a subject like the Ithikas of Ramayana and Maha Baratha or Chilappathikaram or combination of all, to come out altogether and be a different model, where the play of divine will is unfathomable, ungraspable and unexplainable to anyone till the full play unfolds, to small minds who could not or cannot conceive or perceive.
    But pure minds or mindless sages like Yoga Swami could perceive in 1950’s of events, to come in 1980’s to 2007 and beyond. All that is happening now would have reflected in his mental or supra mental mirror, which he voiced to some of his devotees. It is a great ray of hope. He had also told that the things to unfold after this present episode is over, and had emphatically told that, many great things to happen and glorious future to unfold, which will be admired by everyone world over.

    Countless stories are told by men and women who are adherents of religious practices and what spiritual personalities and practitioners have experienced and received instructions, from manifested forms or personalities of divinity or in dreams of events.

    How this had happened. This is because, these advanced souls who are manifestations of pure satwick minds and beyond minds and personality, the divine will, divine command manifest, reflect in their, mental, supra mental screen. Which, out of compassion revealed, to pure souls, to forewarn, to reduce the force of impact and suffering, on the devotees and good souls.
    What to take place of will happen. This is Karmic law. Karma (Pirarabtha Karma) will exhaust only after experiencing the effects of it. Experiences of divine interventions to avoid big calamities, deflected certain occurrences, which would have created unprecedented events, are in the vogue of pious Hindu people of north and east of Sri Lanka.

    How are these spiritual / religious people comprehend the events and happenings.

    World had witnessed, lots of similar incidence of destruction and reconstruction, changes in manifestation, philosophy methodology of human behavior due to power games. Changes from the existing order to a new order, new methodology, new technology had caused tremendous vibrations, and upheavals etc. This was very evident from, the two world wars and localized wars that occurred in every country and nation states.

    Swami Yogananda Paramahamsa had documented his anguish during the first world war for the destruction happened, for which Maha Maya revealed to him, the wider plan / her Leela in the world war I. His agitation and anguish of the mind had calmed down, only after he had the dharshan of Maha Maya and revelation of her will and plan, of her macro cosmic vision, target and game plan. He understood and accepted her will and quietened down and regained his composure.

    Like wise, the game plan of Maha Kali is terrible to experience. Death, destruction, poverty, malnutrition, hunger, indignity, greed, arrogance ignorance, vices of all sorts, all asuric nature manifest and dance.
    The wise, righteous, honest punniya athmas adhere to values virtues, accept all happenings as leela of divine will and pray to Lord Almighty to give the strength to bear with all misery and guide, at times of difficulty which they are getting from the Ista Devata.
    The ordinary people are mentally frozen and paralyzed and had become deaf, dumb and blind, reduced to animalistic existence, irrespective of their geographic location. They use these faculties to perform the physiological functions only.
    Lord Murugan (Kartigeyan) is the presiding deity of Hindus of Sri Lanka, be it Lord of Kathirkamam of south, or at Nallur in the Jaffna of North, and all other temple deities of various other places, are the guardian deities of all people of Sri Lanka. During the difficult periods, many stories of experiences and guidance etc are being. told about the mercy, compassion, protection and other leela of miracles created, manifested, enacted to various devotees to protect them , are stories for families and friends circles, to be retold every time. Certain devotees had the vision of Wiswaroopa Dharshan of Nalluran prior to and during the time of mass exodus in 1995. Devotees with total surrender pray thus.

    For those who chant
    The Lord Murugan’s name
    (Ohm Saravana Bhava – Manthira)
    If fear appears, on the devotees face
    Then his six faces will appear
    In fierce conflict, the Vel (sphere) will appear
    With “Do not fear” assurance
    If you meditate on his feet once,
    He will appear all times.

    Only persons of spiritual eyes will see, and ears of good samskara will hear. Others are deaf and blind. Devotees feel that there is a big lesson to the world like Ramayana and Maha Baratha or Chilappathikaram or combination of all is unfolding gradually, apart from the play (the Stage) the actor, and the spectators (Seer, Scene and object of Scene). The underlining truth, the manifestation of new order that is to appear will be a lesson not only for the enlightened but also for others to reflect, world over.

    The great spiritual visionary poet of Thamil Nadu, India, is Maha Kavi Subramaniya Bharathy. His Spiritual ascetic Guru whom he had met at Pondichcheri is Arulampala Swamy of Point – Pedro, Jaffna. He praises his guru, in one of his prayer, as Lord Shiva, the Shankar who had come down in human form, manifested. Bharathy in his poem praises of his Guru’s origin, says that, Kuvalayathin Veliz poonra Yarlppanathan – “Hails from Yarlppanam , which is eye to the world”.

    He praises the Yarlppanam as eye to the world. Does it mean that Yarlppanam as eye to the world of the future. Does it mean that Yarlppanam can see things that are not perceived or not seen by the world or worldly people? Does the athma of the Yarlppanam seeing and experiencing the theater of the future world unfolding. Are these manifestations of the part of the big drama enacted?

    Every thing is Predestined – Munname Mudintha Kariyam. (T)
    We do not Know – Naam Ariyom (T)
    Nothing is Wrong – Oru Pollappum Illai. (T)
    Who Knows – Yaar Arivaar. (T)
    - Yoga swamy – often says

    The prophesy of Yoga Swami and Barathy is the ray that holds the faith of the people in relation to the time tunnel.
    Lead kindly light, Amidst encircling gloom, Lead thou me on. This is the prayer of Tamils / Hindus of Sri Lanka,. This is for reflection.
    Let us pray to Maha Kali to reveal herself, and console us to tide over shocks of her terrific leela of the past and future yet to unfold. Prostrations to divine sparks, and manifestations existing and guiding, in this difficult times.
    Cultivate Magnanimity
    Nurture Compassion and Love
    Have faith in you
    Lead clean life
    Seek refuge under the lotus feet
    Think of Karma and Dharma
    Do what the nobles do
    Meditate, Meditate, Meditate

    - Arunachalathan

  17. K. Nadanachandran says:

    A very uplifting presentation. I could sense the feeling of Peace and contentment emanating from the speaker. Remarkable clarity at this age perhaps the blessings of Yogaswami lives on. He is certainly a very fortunate being.

  18. Varadan says:

    Not even having met him, I feel so powerfully influenced by Yogaswami. It was delightful and profound to listen to these recollections and feel the transmission of that presence running between the words, even as it still runs as a living force within the lineage. And, of course, in all his predecessors and all that followed him, and are yet to follow. Even if it all was all done ling ago! Jai Yogaswami!

  19. Sarasvathi Iswarapatham says:

    Aum Sivaya

    “That’s what I do, It’s not what I am”. That’s a candid reply from
    one noble soul.
    Thank you for sharing this interview with us.

  20. Varatha shanmuganathan says:

    How lucky I am today to listen to the thoughts of Dr.George James about his meeting with Yogaswami in Jaffna. It is an enlightening
    account.

    Varatha shanmuganathan
    3rd. December, 2003

  21. K123 says:

    Eloquent, sane, comforting, & relaxing.

  22. arni narendran says:

    Thank you for that rare footage- interview with His Excellancy Mr.James George, former Canadian Ambassador to Srilanka and a contemprary devotee of YogaSwami. Through him we could feel the the presence of our Satguru Yogaswami, it was as though we were having a satsangh with the Satguru.
    My pranams to the monks at the Aadheenam
    arni narendran , India

  23. Savitri Palani says:

    Grateful remembering The Presence!
    Ambe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam

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