It was a real pleasure to meet Santhosh Ravel today. He's the man behind SwanandAshrama and the lynch-pin around which all the activities of this wonderful ashram have revolved since it started in April, 1990.
HPR and i met him outside the Varasiddhi Vinayaka temple around 11 o'clock one night in the late 1990s and we chatted past midnight! Again i met him at a Ganesha function at ICICI Bank on 05.NOV.1999 and he graciously invited me and my family for Diwali at the ashram that year. There were some unusual incidents, bordering on the miraculous, later that month. Ever since then, i have been going to the ashram.
I think it's safe to say that Swananda speaks through Santhosh. With little training, he's composed some lovely songs, inspired by Swananda, such as:
During our discussion today, we found a wonderful analogy with Sri Ramakrishna's observation on the various types of devotees: (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, The Festival at Panihati, page 265, middle)
The inferior devotee says, "God exists, but He is very far off, up there in heaven." The mediocre devotee says, "God exists in all beings as life and consciousness." The superior devotee says: "It is God Himself who has become everything; whatever I see is only a form of God. It is He alone who has become maya, the universe, and all living beings. Nothing exists but God."It's been the same with me on the first two counts. Initially, Swananda was out there in the ashram. Last August, he was unveiled at home.
Don't know whether one can ascend to the third level, but one has Santhosh for inspiration. He meets everyone cheerfully and gives out a lot of love and everyone is touched by it. The main reason for that is his great ability to see Swananda in everyone.