Over many years, I often heard Swami Veda Bharati speak in glowing terms of Swami Nijananda Bharati, a swami who was formerly known as Dr. John Whitacre. Swami Nijananda was a psychiatrist and an advanced scholar of Western and Eastern mystical traditions. After many years, I finally had a chance to meet him and was immediately taken by his gentle, soft spoken manner, and kind and wise presence. Although I spent only a brief time talking with Swami Nijananda, from then on I had the highest respect and a sense of love for him.
It's rare to meet such a person. Just meeting him, my life was lifted.”
Last night I learned that Swami Nijananda left his body. Here's what Stephen Parker (Stoma) wrote about Swami Nijananda's passing:
This morning I received news of the mahasamadhi of Swami Veda's gurubhai Swami Nijananda Bharati (previously Dr. John Whitacre) in the 88th year of that body. Nijanandaji had been given the same initiation as Swami Veda, although his mission was never to have a big organization or a lot of disciples. Swami Rama called him a sage; he was a master interpreter of scripture from any tradition. He could just pick up a book and begin a sagely commentary. He taught from Taoist, Sufi, Christian and yogic texts. He always taught in small groups and seasoned his commentary with a wry and bone dry sense of humor delivered in a tiny voice that required a microphone even when there were only 10 students. Even late in life, students could call him up and receive spiritual guidance after he had ceased teaching publicly.
In his working life he was a psychiatrist and had many yoga students and meditators as clients. I actually worked with him for a few sessions in the 1970's. His kindness and good heart were always at the forefront, even if I didn't always understand the ironic turn of his humor.
Now, like Swami Veda, freed of the burden of maintaining a body, he can join the host of siddhas who watch over our practice and quietly lead from the center of silence.