The Surfing Swami Propagates ‘Live to Give’ Philosophy
Surfing is a surface water sport in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward or deep face of a moving wave, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore.
Waves suitable for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or in rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore. However, surfers can also utilize artificial waves such as those from boat wakes and the waves created in artificial wave pools.
Surfing can be done at any age. When surfing was not at all popular in India, this man from the USA thought of bringing the change which was missing in our country.
Jack Hebner alias Narasimha Swami (70), popularly known as Surfing Swami, surfs with the waves and the Internet. Hebner hails from Jacksonville, USA, and has been surfing for the past 50 years.
Speaking exclusively to mangalorean.com over a cup of tea at Dhananjay Shetty’s guest house at Sasihithlu, Narasimha Swami shared many interesting things about his life and surfing in India:
“I have a Sanskrit name. I have also written a translation of the Bhagwad Gita. I used to do very traditional meditation and ashram practice. Then I stepped outside of it and brought some very unorthodox ashram activities like surfing.
“My reason was this. In earlier days, you could go to a temple and learn martial arts in Kerala. You could learn Bharatanatyam, Vedic medicine and so on. So why stop there?
“Thousands of years have elapsed since then, so what should the temples be doing today? Now, bhajan bands use electrical engineering. You cannot ignore the world. There are many beautiful things in the world and surfing is one of them.
“Surfing is a great thing to people, both boys and girls, men and women, young and old. But safety and training is required because the ocean claims many lives. Two things don’t mix – the ocean and alcohol. Alcohol has its place. If you take it to the wrong place, it will be the end of you and someone else.
“We teach the sport of surfing, the art of living. Because we are in the ashram, we can introduce some morality to the sport. Our friends are all in the professional world of surfing sports,” advised Jack.
When asked as to how he felt about India, he replied, “India is the greatest country; it was, it is and it ever will be. There are a few snags in between. But there are homeless people in New York too. Donald Trump lives in the Trump Tower, but if you walk 300 meters from his front door, you’ll find someone who has no home. No house, poverty, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, mental problems…these problems exist everywhere in the world.
“So I don’t think it’s good for the world to live selfishly, and especially for a swami to live in a big fancy ashram. I don’t do that. I serve the ashram from my pocket and my brother’s pocket and I give it to these kids by teaching them surfing.
“In the end, we may see them on TV, they may become stars, you may see them holding an Olympic medal in surfing in the future. India is great and has great people.”
Calling the people to be more generous towards fellow human beings, he said,”When Jonty Rhodes came to Sasihithlu, he played with the local kids and this filled them with joy. People who are good-hearted and famous, they’re like Jonty; he’s a surfer too, he promotes, he talks and he shares with people, and the world needs more of them – less fanaticism, more generosity.
“Live to give is our motto. Most people think ‘give me’. But too much consumption is not good. Give to others; there is joy in that. Teach others, help others. If you have enough for yourself and your family, then how much more do you need? How much more do you need before you feel safe and happy?”
On wealth and misery, he said, “The richest people are the most miserable people I have ever met in my life. The richer they are, the more miserable they are. They’re paranoid; they have security shadow their children even when they go to school because they think that someone will kidnap them. Fear fear fear…with too much money, you have more locks on your doors.
“Don’t get me wrong, money is a good thing if you use it for a good purpose. Just stocking it when so many have nothing is not good. Also, just giving it to people is not good. Give opportunities to people so that they can come up. This weekend there’ll be a hundred surfers over here at Sasihitlu beach from around India. All these surfers now have their own surfing schools and are spreading knowledge of the sport and giving opportunities to others too.”
When asked about the Mantra Surf Club, he said, “In 2004, a few young boys from South India Surfing Baba and I setup a small surf club in Mangalore. The Mantra Surf Club is an ashram; it is a place for spiritual enlightenment.
“At Mantra, we start our day at 4 am with meditation. At 6-30 am, we chant Bhajans and conduct Puja. The main mantra for our meditations is called Maha Mantra or the Krishna Mantra. Our club is open to anyone who is willing to join surfing classes.
“Mantra Surf Club can accommodate 8 guests at a time. We also carry out some activities like web designing and selling coconuts to run the club. We teach our surfers to respect the environment and be its custodians. We also teach them not to pollute the rivers, forests, ocean and mountains.”
There is good news for the surfing lovers that the Surfing Federation of India in association along with the Mantra Surf Club Mulki and the Kanara Surfing and Water Sports Promotion Council will be organizing a three-day “Indian Open of Surfing 2016” at Sasihitlu from May 27.
When asked about his views on Mangaluru, Jack replied, “Mangaluru is a very beautiful place with beautiful beaches like Sasihitlu and Mulki. I love to surf anytime in these beaches but the problem is people do not understand. They consider beaches as open toilets and people defecate on the beaches. Beaches are virgin and need to be kept clean. Defecating on beaches should be stopped.”