Easwaran visited Gandhi’s ashram to observe the Mahatma closely in his interactions with others. One evening, during Gandhi’s prayer meeting, Easwaran watched spellbound as Gandhi sat meditating on verses from the Bhagavad Gita. The experience inspired Easwaran to look at the scripture with fresh eyes. “It was when I heard Gandhi say that the Gita contains the answer to every problem that life has to offer,” said Easwaran later, “that I began to grasp its true significance. Gandhi had meditated on the Gita for half a century and had made it the reference for his every action. Systematically, little by little, he had translated his highest ideals into daily life.”
This insight would later come to Easwaran’s rescue. As his middle years approached, his nights became troubled by insistent questions about the meaning of life. These questions followed him through years of inner turbulence that would see the breakup of his arranged marriage and eventually the separation from his two sons.
In early 1948, Gandhi’s life was cut short. A month later, Granny’s life came to an end. Easwaran had lost his “two guiding stars.” By then, he would recall, “All my success had turned to ashes.” Easwaran decided to move his mother away from the village, where everything reminded her of Granny, to a new home in the nearby Nilgiris, or Blue Mountain.
The bottom had dropped out of his world, but the seeds that his grandmother had planted in his consciousness were soon to bear fruit. Turning to the Bhagavad Gita for consolation and meditating on its passages brought profound peace and led to the regular practice of meditation. Progress was remarkably rapid.
He turned to the writings of the world’s great mystics for guidance. Most of the accounts were by monastics, whose way of life, although he respected it, did not appeal to him. “I wasn’t going to drop out of life and head for the Himalayas,” said Easwaran. “That wasn’t my Granny’s way, nor had it been Gandhi’s. But I found a few who had chosen not to withdraw from life but to seek a higher reality right in the midst of everyday affairs. I had stumbled upon a way to bring meditation into daily life.”
This discovery led to another. Slowly, a recognition of his Granny’s spiritual stature dawned on him. Though her many responsibilities to her community engaged her from morning till night, he said, she lived in unbroken awareness of the imperishable, divine presence hidden in all things and beings. This had been the secret of her vibrant life of untiring service, unfailing courage, and unshakable security: “She never forgot God for a moment.”
Granny, like the saints and sages he was reading, was a living force who would continue to support him. Her guidance would accompany him to America as he set off in 1959 on the Fulbright exchange program, and the work he had been longing to do.