Category Archive: Devotee Experiences (Bhakta Mala) ~ A Collection

Lifetime experiences of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji's devotees, collected and published by Avadhoota Datta Peetham (two 'devotee experiences' added per week).

Oct 30 2014

Devotee Experiences ~ Ashok Kumar Hasrat, Surinam

111-Devotee Experiences ~ Ashok Kumar Hasrat, Surinam

Ashok Kumar Hasrat, Surinam

Sri Swamiji is the giver of all things. Whatever one desires, He gives. He has all the answers for all questions. Slowly He is giving me what He thinks is best for me and I am eternally grateful to Him. He is my Jagatguru.

 

I met Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in July, 1981. There was an Indian engineer Mr. Laxminarayan Gonoguntla, working in Surinam for the American Bauxite Company. His parents in India were devotees of Sri Swamiji. He formed a committee with some Surinamese and they invited Sri Swamiji to visit Surinam. He accepted the invitation and the committee proceeded with the preparations.

My mother told me that a Swami from India was coming to visit and I must go and see Him. It was a Sunday so I went to the place and waited for His arrival. When the car pulled up and He came out, I noticed that He was bare-footed and He had a beautiful smile. He went straight to the Homa Kunda and began performing the Homa. He was very young then; He was only thirty-nine years old.

He sat and performed the rituals with such concentration that everyone who was sitting there was looking at Him as if they were under some sort of a spell. Towards the end of the ritual, He passed a coconut around for us to touch to perform the Poornahuti. I wanted to meet this Swamiji so I asked Mr. Laxminarayan’s permission. He told me that later in the afternoon Sri Swamiji would be giving interviews. I came then and got a chance to meet Him.

When I sat before Him, He gave me the most beautiful smile that melted my heart. I told Him about my problems and He told me to write to Him, He even invited me to visit the Mysore Ashrama. I began writing to Him in Mysore and would receive a reply at least every three months. His assistant, Ramesh used to be the intermediary. Those letters gave me a lot of guidance in my spiritual pursuits and material life.

I began meditating and performing Japa. I found that when I sat in silence, all my heaviness would leave and I would feel as light as a feather. I got a photo of Sri Swamiji from Mr. Laxminarayan and I would communicate with Him through that picture. I was following Sri Swamiji’s advice and my life improved in all aspects. I knew then that He is a very powerful Being. I told my parents and sister, Asha, about Sri Swamiji and I discussed His teachings with them. He had gifted me with a lifetime subscription of the Bhakti Mala monthly magazine. I received it every month from India. I began performing Homas and Poojas with my parents and sister. Slowly they began to have faith in Him

In 1984, I received an invitation, by mail, from Sri Swamiji to join Him on His visit to Trinidad. I was welcomed in Trinidad by a devotee, Mr. Krishna Prasad. That stay lasted for three weeks, during which time I did the Kriya Yoga course held in Arima. I also visited Princes Town where I witnessed the Homas and Poojas done by Sri Swamiji and I listened to His divine discourses. There were many devotees in Trinidad and they all loved Sri Swamiji very much. They treated me very well also and I will always thankful to them for that. I left Trinidad feeling very blessed and inspired.

In 1986, I got another invitation to visit Trinidad again with Sri Swamiji. This time my family accompanied me as they were having some problems with black magic. During their interview with Him they told Him about their problems He promised to help them. He told us that we were very lucky to be in such an intimate setting with Him, for people in Mysore will yearn to have this association. After the Kriya Yoga program, I felt the Shakti Pat from Sri Swamiji within me and the mat that I used for the Yoga was infused with His energy. Whenever I sat on it, I felt the energy.  This helped me tremendously with my spiritual progress.

When my sister, Asha, became very ill physically, she began writing letters to Sri Swamiji. Around this time, He had stopped answering letters from devotees because of the large following He had wherever He went. Nevertheless, my sister wrote her problems in a letter and mailed it to Sri Swamiji. She received answers to her problems in different ways. This strengthened her faith in Him. Her stomach problem grew worse and she began calling the ashram in India and talking to Sri Swamiji through Swami Manasa Datta. She followed the advice given by Sri Swamiji and she developed the spiritual strength to bear her Karma.

For me, meeting Sri Swamiji has changed my life totally. I stopped the vice of eating meat. I am not so restless anymore, for now I can sit for hours and read. I use my power of discrimination more wisely in making life choices. I came to understand that Moksha means freedom from the wanderings of the mind.

I always wanted to teach Kriya Yoga to the children and adults in my town, but due to circumstances beyond my control, it never materialized. I studied the twelve Kriya Yogas with Sri Swamiji, but He said that we do not have to practice all of them; only one or two. Sri Swamiji is the giver of all things. Whatever one desires, He gives. He has all the answers for all questions. Slowly He is giving me what He thinks is best for me and I am eternally grateful to Him. He is my Jagatguru.

Jaya Guru Datta

111-Appaji

Permanent link to this article: http://puttugam.com/?p=14487

Oct 26 2014

Devotee Experiences ~ Anoesoeja Brijmohan-Hindori, Surinam/Holland

110-Devotee Experiences ~ Anoesoeja Brijmohan-Hindori, Surinam

Anoesoeja Brijmohan-Hindori, Surinam/Holland

From that moment, I stopped seeing Him as my Guru and began seeing Him as God.

I met His Holiness, Parama Pujya Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in 1986. Prior to this I was working at the office of the Ministry of Road and Traffic and my boss came and asked me if I knew of an Indian Saint named Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I told her that I did not and she gave me a book about Him to read. I began reading the book and came across a saying which read, “If somebody meditates on me I will give them my darshan.” I read the book over and over meditating on Him, but I did not have His darshan. I thought that maybe He only gives His darshan to certain people.

The desire to meet a saint overcame me and in 1978, I went to India to Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashrama in Puttaparthi. When I arrived at the Prashanti Nilayam Ashrama, Baba did not come out to give darshan for two weeks. However, I waited and did not leave. One day while I was sitting, on the sand in the open ground, with other devotees waiting for Him to come out, it began to rain, so we ran into the Mandir to shelter. After the rain stopped we came back out with men and women sitting separately.

During this time Sri Sai Baba walked out to give darshan to the crowd. He walked towards me and stopped directly in front of me. I touched His feet three times and I touched His hands. He asked me where I was from and I told Him that I was from Surinam; He said that He would see me tomorrow. Then I told him that I want to go back to Madras but He said, “No! You must stay here.” I left the Ashram without talking to Him again and later I went back to Surinam feeling in my heart that He was not my Guru.

In 1986, I had moved to Holland and my sister, Gayatri, told me that her Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji would be visiting Holland, England and Switzerland. Intuitively, I decided to go to England to meet Him. I reached England and went to the place He was giving darshan. I walked into the room and saw Him sitting on a chair. I looked at Him and saw His sparking eyes. I knew in my heart that He was the one, He is my Guru. After meeting Him in England, I went to visit Him several times in India at His Ashrama.

In 1994, I had gone to Mauritius, and a friend gave me a plaque with the letter OM written on it. The next day I was standing on the balcony of my hotel with the plaque in my hand, I was looking out at the clear blue sky with amazement. Suddenly I noticed an object in the sky moving closer and closer to me. I first recognized it as a chariot, and then as it came closer I saw Sri Swamiji’s form in it. Then His form merged into the OM on the plaque, which I was still holding in my hands. From that moment, I stopped seeing Him as my Guru and began seeing Him as God.

On another occasion, I was in Holland at a salon getting a Pedicure. When I was finished and came out to get my car, I realized that it was dark in the parking lot and I was afraid to go alone. Just then, Sri Swamiji came down to me from the sky held my hand and led me to my car. I got in and drove home safely. My God was taking care of me.

Once I was thinking that if Sri Swamiji is the personification of love, how much He really loves us. I was comparing our love for Him as being as big as an elephant and that I was only an ant. As I thought of this, I saw Him sitting on the swing in the tree. Then I was with Him and we swung together. He was showing me that our love for each other was equal.

Whenever I had any family problem I would call on Him and the problem would be solved. Once my husband was suffering with heart problems and was not breathing properly. I was all alone with him so I prayed to Sri Swamiji, telling Him that I am alone and if anything should happen, I will not able to handle it by myself. Immediately, my husband began breathing better and slowly He recuperated. My God was always there for me when I called on Him.

Once whem Sri Swamiji visited my home in Holland, I called my mother, in Surinam, to inform her and she told me how I should prepare for Him. He came and after He left my son found four coins that He had left for us. Such is His love for us. I keep Sri Swamiji constantly in my thoughts. Whenever I get into my car, I sing bhajans to Him. I have met many saints in my life but when I first saw Sri Swamiji, I knew in my heart that He had some connection. He became my Guru and my God. I can only pray to Him to bless me that we will always be together for eternity for I cannot bear to have it any other way. Jaya Guru Datta

110-Appaji

Permanent link to this article: http://puttugam.com/?p=14481

Oct 23 2014

Devotee Experiences ~ Hima Rao, California USA

109-Devotee Experiences ~ Hima Rao, California USA

Hima Rao, California USA

“Why are you feeling so sorry for yourself thinking that you have no one, learn to live life by yourself and take care of your child; that is what is most important!”

I am originally from Bangalore but now I reside in San Diego, California. Sri Swamiji came into my life through my parents and grandparents. In 1975 my grandmother was very ill with Gangrene of her foot. It became so bad they had to amputate it. My father, Subbarao, told his friend, Mr. Bhoopati about my grandmother’s condition. Mr. Bhoopati told my family about his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji and His healing powers. He gave my grandmother some of Sri Swamiji’s vibuthi and she applied it on her sick foot. After a short time her foot was free of the disease. Her doctor saw this and touched her feet, doing namaskara saying that this was truly a miracle. This miracle drew my entire family to Sri Swamiji.

As a young child I used to visit the Mysore Ashrama with my family for all the festivals and summer-time holidays. Sri Swamiji taught us; yoga, Meditation, Bhajans, and made us attend all the Poojas. He used to plan sports activities for us and we loved the chance to play and at the same time He was keeping us physically fit. All these activities seemed like play for us but He was instilling in us discipline, tolerance, working with others and most of all, community living.

I got married in 1983, through an arranged marriage but my husband was not a good person. He gave me a lot of mental and physical trauma. At twenty-one I got pregnant and could not risk my health by staying with him so I left and went to my parents. During the early pregnancy, the doctors told me that the fetus was not healthy and the child can be born with birth defects. I prayed to Sri Swamiji and I carried the fetus for the full nine months. My baby son was born normal and healthy and now he is twenty six years old, happy and healthy.

This separation from my husband caused a lot of grief to my parents, for they felt responsible for problems. They advised me to stay with them and raise my son and don’t go back to him. They told Sri Swamiji about my situation and He told them not to feel bad for it was not their fault that I had to go through my karma. Staying with my parents them helped me a lot.

 In 1985 I was still with my parents and I visited Mysore Ashrama. I was walking around feeling sorry for myself with a sad face. Sri Swamiji caught hold of my arm and pulled me into the kitchen, where some ladies were working. He pointed to one lady and said, “This lady, she is a widow, she has nobody in life. She is doing seva for Sri Swamiji and is very happy and peaceful. She does not have a husband!” He points to another lady and said, “She was married and lost her husband and she has children who does not want to take care of her, she is practically a destitute and lives in the Ashrama, look at how happy she is!” He looked at me and said, “Why are you feeling so sorry for yourself thinking that you have no one, learn to live life by yourself and take care of your child; that is what is most important!” This was like a cold splash of water on my face. From the moment I heard His words I dropped those insecure feelings and focused on my single mission in life, which was to take care of my son.

When my son, Shashant, started school at the age of five, he came home crying one day. He said the children teases him saying that he does not have a father; he had never seen his father. I did not know what to tell him. One day Sri Swamiji came to my cousin’s, Meera Datta, house for Pada pooja. My son and I attended the pooja. I told Sri Swamiji what the children at my son’s school were telling him. He took my son, put him on His lap and said to him, “Shashant, you know what you should tell people? Tell them that my father is such an important human being that people have to make an appointment to see Him. He is so big, He has so many followers, so tell them your father is Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. And if they have any questions they can come and ask me.” I was so happy seeing his face lit up, knowing that he has such a father. Until this day my son remembers that Sri Swamiji is his father. Sri Swamiji gave my son the last name of Prahalad and called him Shashant Prahalad.

By Sri Swamiji’s grace I began living my life according to His instructions and came to realize that all that happened with my marriage was to teach me to be a good daughter to my parents, a good mother to my son and be confident and strong in myself as an individual. l also learnt that true happiness does not come from others but it starts by loving yourself first. I grew strong and confident, and then what does He do, He got me married again. I got married a second time with His blessings. I met my second husband in Washington DC USA, in 1993 when I got a job with the Indian Embassy there. Sometime, after Shashant and I came to the USA I met my husband who was also divorced and had two children. With Sri Swamiji’s permission and blessings we got married. He is not a devotee of Sri Swamiji but he does not stop me from my religious practices. By Sri Swamiji’s grace we are very happy together.

I live my life doing His Seva and following His instructions, and He takes care of everything else. Whenever I need to speak to Him I go in front of His photo and talk. He hears me all the time. For my family and me, we learnt that meeting a Guru does not mean a blissful life without problems. Our Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji came into our lives, held our hands and walked with us on the path. He gave us the tools of His teachings to work out our karmas and at times when we got tired, He picks us up and carries us. He is making the journey with us and we would not want it any other way. We have the unique honor and distinction to be His devotee and I pray to Him that my children’s children be given that honor also.

Jaya Guru Datta

Sri Swamiji Says:

 Many devotees start their day by obtaining the Sadguru’s protective glance upon them by looking at His photograph. In spite of that, if some small mishap occurs, you must realize that because of Guru’s grace only a small mishap occurred, and not anything more serious. Mother Goddess and Sadguru always protect you.

 The Lord knows what you want and is pleased only with your sincere devotion.

Permanent link to this article: http://puttugam.com/?p=14473

Oct 19 2014

Devotee Experiences ~ Sri Datta Yogi Raj, USA

108-Devotee Experiences ~ Sri Datta Yogi Raj, USA

Sri Datta Yogi Raj, USA

“From now on you will be known as Datta Yogi Raja, go and spread the message of meditation and music therapy like you have been doing.” That was the moment our association for many, many births got re-connected

I met Sri Swamiji for the first time in 1993. At birth I was given the name Raju Ramanathan, I was born in Kanya Kumari, a town in South India. While growing up I used to wander near the waterfalls; the place where legend has it that Sage Agastya lives. One day, at the age of seven, I sat chanting the Yoga Menakshi Strota, a prayer dedicated to the goddess Menakshi that was composed by Sage Agastya. A sage came to me and said, “You are chanting so well for a little boy.”

Later, I began chanting the Soundarya Lahari, a poem written by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. When I completed it, the sage took a Rudraksha bead from His mala, squeezed water out of it and told me to drink it. He said, “You will grow a lot spiritually.” I asked, “How can I grow without a Guru?” He then said, “Guru Sachchidananda Himself will come.” He walked away and I went home and told my grandmother what had happened. From that young age, I knew that my Guru would come to me one day.

As a young man, I consulted the Nadi Grantas, a great book of subtle knowledge of peoples lives written by the Saptha Rishis. I got a reading from the Agastya Nadi by giving my thumbprint. I was told everything about my life including that I would have two Gurus in my life, one will have the name of the sun and the other will be named Sachchidananda. Even though I could have chanted mantras, and I knew that my life was destined for the spiritual path, I was drawn to the path of the material world. I studied engineering, then I went for my masters, and then for my doctorate. These engineering studies brought me to America at the age of twenty-seven.

I was working in my profession but I was still searching for that being whose mere sight can bring about spiritual changes in me. In 1981, Rishi Prabhakar, a friend from Bangalore, and his mother, Ramadevi, came to visit me. This pious lady was a devotee of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. Prabhakar is another word for sun. She told me that she and her son have the same Guru. I began working with Rishi Prabhakar conducting meditation camps and teaching Yoga in India, America and Canada.

I wanted to see his Guru but the time was not right. Once he brought me a music cassette from Sri Swamiji and I kept it in my bag. I was teaching a class to a tough group of prisoners, working with their emotions, but I could not keep them under control. I remembered the cassette in my bag and I pulled it out and played it. When they heard the music, the entire class settled down and became calm. After the class, they said that the music did something to them. I was amazed myself; I thought here was something mightier than Einstein’s theory of relativity. I wish I could meet the one who made this music. I dismissed that thought soon after and kept going in my scientific world. The time was not right yet.

In 1993, I was in Canada and Rishi Prabhakar came to visit me. He said, “Do you know that He is here? Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.” Without hesitation I asked, “Where is He?” He said, “He is at the house of a devotee named Jairajh and they are forming an organization today, let us go there.” We both went to that house and when we got there we saw Sri Swamiji talking to the devotees. He had inaugurated the start of the Datta Yoga Center of Canada. This was the last of a three-day program and people were beginning to leave.

I just sat there looking at Sri Swamiji. Then an announcement was made that tomorrow there will be a mantra initiation program. I left that place excited to attend that program. Early next morning I went to the house, there were five of us waiting to see Sri Swamiji. I went in and saw Him; He gave me Mantra Deeksha in a spiritual way. I felt His energy within me as I left that place. I did not want to lose that energy so I began practicing the mantra He gave me. I chanted the mantra more than a million times.

In the late nineties, I was always invited to attend one of Sri Swamiji’s temple inauguration ceremonies. In 1997, my sister living in Little Rock Arkansas called me in Canada and said that Sri Swamiji was coming to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to inaugurate a temple and she wants me to come and take her there. I went and sat in a corner and witnessed the entire function. He did not speak to me. The same thing happened in St. Louis, I was present for the inauguration ceremony and Sri Swamiji did not talk to me. I kept a low profile and observed everything.

In 2002, when Sri Swamiji visited Chicago, I was invited there since I had done meditation camps in nearly all the hospitals in Illinois. I was at a devotee, Kris Raman’s, house and I got a call that Sri Swamiji has just came in and wants to see me, I met Him at the airport and after talking for a while I told Him, “Swamiji I am working on this temple construction in the Chicago region and I want you to come and bless it.” He replied, “Raju, my programs are totally filled here, I do not know if I will have time.” I left and the next day, early in the morning I got a call from Prasadi, saying, “Raju at around midnight Sri Swamiji got up and told me that He is feeling bad because He told you no, but He said He will use His meditation time around 5.00 am, to go to the temple with you.” I was astonished and happy.

We both went to the temple site at 5.00 am in the morning and He told me, “The Temple will happen here and you will be a part of it, a new community will happen here.” I was happy for this news but even happier that He had sacrificed His meditation time for me. What love and compassion He embodies!  On this same visit in Chicago, I was sitting in a corner of the temple and Sri Swamiji called me and said, “I want you to come to India.” I said, “Yes, Swamiji.”

I started to think if I could make it for I had some work to do with two doctors. The next day Sri Swamiji called me again and said, “You are coming to Mysore for Datta Jayanti, aren’t you?” Before I could answer, He pointed to the two doctors next to Him and said, “You bring him to India on December 19th.”  Sri Swamiji knew that I had an obligation to these doctors, which would have prevented me from coming for Datta Jayanti, so He worked it out so that I can be in Mysore for Datta Jayanti.

On December 19th 2002, I was in the Mysore Ashrama. I went to the temple to witness the Thaila Abhishekam of Lord Dattatreya. I was instructed to sit up front. Suddenly Sri Swamiji called me up, put a garland on me and said, “From now on you will be known as Datta Yogi Raja, go and spread the message of meditation and music therapy like you have been doing.” That was the moment our association for many, many births got re-connected.

Around 2000 I had an accident and developed a back injury, which made my back weaker and weaker as time went by. On His visit to the DRC in Pittsburg in 2005, someone told Sri Swamiji about my back. He told me to practice Kriya Yoga and it will help the injury. I learnt the Kriya Yoga as taught by Sri Swamiji and began practicing it. It definitely helped my injury. I then took a teachers training course and now I teach this practice to many devotees and associates.

In 2009 when Sri Swamiji visited Dallas for Guru Purnima Celebrations He called me on the stage and told me to teach Kriya Yoga. I have been doing that and the name has been changed to Datta Kriya Yoga. I met Rishi Prabhakar in 1981, and he brought Sri Swamiji in my life as predicted by the Agastya Nadi. Today is July 15th 2011, exactly thirty years since I am physically connection with my Guru Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.

Jaya Guru Datta.

 108-Appaji

Permanent link to this article: http://puttugam.com/?p=14432

Oct 16 2014

Devotee Experiences ~ Ian Lindsey Douglas, Clinton LA

107-Devotee Experiences ~ Ian Lindsey Douglas, Clinton LA

Ian Lindsey Douglas, Clinton LA

My great blessing was to serve the karma-body of my Guru by fanning Him. It was my great fortune to fan Sri Swamiji for almost three hours. I was intoxicated with bliss. After fanning Him for about an hour, I felt something very subtle move within me.

I met Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in 1988 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I grew up in the Protestant religion and was drafted into the US Army in January, 1966. I was stationed in Vietnam for the first time in March, 1967. I had the good fortune of becoming an officer and a helicopter pilot. I loved being a soldier and served my country well. Soldiers are called upon in time of war to protect their country.  In performing my duty, I killed a lot of people. Does it generate bad karma? I do not know.

            Most Vietnamese were either Roman Catholic or Buddhist. While in Vietnam, I was exposed to the religion of Buddhism and when I returned to the United States after the war, I began studying Buddhism zealously. After law school, I began my career as an attorney at the Louisianan Attorney General’s Office. I continued my readings on Buddhism, which eventually led me to start meditating. I also began reading books such as ‘Be Here Now’ and ‘The Only Dance There Is’ by Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert, who used to be a professor of psychology at Harvard University and a contemporary of the infamous Timothy Leary. When he and Alpert left the university, Alpert went to India, where he eventually met his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who named him Ram Dass. After a period of study, he returned to the United States to write and lecture. His books reflected the core teachings of his Guru, especially the goal of “being here now”.

             In my bookcase of law books at the attorney general’s office, I had a small section of spiritual books, including those by Ram Dass. One day, an Asian Indian engineer from down the hall, Narendra Dave, came into my office looking for notarial services. On the spine of one of Ram Dass’ books was the traditional symbol for “Om,” the most basic mantra, the symbol that resembles the numeral “3″. He saw the book on the shelf and asked about it. We began talking about eastern religion and he invited me to meet his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamij, who was soon due to arrive in Baton Rouge from India.

            Narendra Dave and his wife, Nalini, were devotees of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji and were instrumental in His visit to Baton Rouge. They had just recently met Sri Swamiji for the first time in London while visiting Narendra’s father.  Upon their return to Baton Rouge, Nalini wrote a letter inviting Him to come to Baton Rouge. He wrote back, accepting her invitation, and said thar He would be teaching beginners “Kriya Yoga” class.  I attended the week-long Kriya Yoga class that was held in a small building across from the LSU campus. Swami Manasa Datta, then known as Radhakrishna, conducted the classes and Sri Swamiji would often visit at the end of each day. He would sit in a big chair in the front of the room; legs crossed in the traditional lotus posture, and observe the class.

            Once, I saw Him materialize something for someone in the class.  It appeared to be some sort of a miracle, but my typical western-trained scientific mind stopped me, saying it was just some cheap “sleight of the hand” trick.    Upon completion of the course, all the students had the opportunity to go up to Him and receive His blessing. One by one, they went and bowed down before Him. I went up, but instead of bowing down completely, I knelt on one knee like Sir Lancelot kneeling before King Arthur. I looked into His eyes and it was my moment of awakening. My years of study and meditation had come to fruition. Thus began my relationship with Sri Swamiji.

Sri Swamiji returned to Baton Rouge in 1990. Another Kriya Yoga class was conducted, this time with about thirty people in attendance, including myself. As I sat in the room looking at Him, it dawned on me not only how special and divine He was, but how fortunate we all were to be in such a close intimate setting with Him; literally just a few feet away and close enough to touch Him. All around the world, He has many devotees who rarely see Him in person, and in India, thousands flock around Him just to get a brief, distant glimpse of His divine presence. And yet here He was, in the very same room with us.

            I had noticed that before His visit, my mind was unsettled, with feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness. I was bewildered, trying to rationalize within my mind that Sri Swamiji was indeed the truly Divine being that I now knew Him to be. Though futile, my mind was still looking for scientific proof. Then when I sat before Him, my mind became quiet and I felt something new. Yes! He truly was Divine in spite of my inability to comprehend or explain.  So, I finally gave up trying to figure it out. This miracle; this man, Sri Swamiji, required no explanation.

            Later, we attended a function at Narendra’s house. The house could not accommodate all the people so a tent was set up in the yard. When I went there Sri Swamiji had just completed a pooja and was sitting cross-legged on a big chair. I did not take part in the pooja for I did not have much money to offer. I had only one five-dollar bill in my wallet. I sat looking at the devotees going up before Sri Swamiji making offerings of all kinds and receiving His blessings.

            I noticed Sri Swamiji calling Narendra and whispered something into his ear. Then Narendra made an announcement: “If there is anyone here who has not yet come to Sri Swamiji, please come now.”  Some part of me wanted to go but I felt embarrassed and shy. I sat there nursing my agitated mind. Then Narendra made the same announcement again. This time I was torn between going up and shrinking away into myself. Narendra made the announcement about six times. I could fight no more. With all the courage I could muster, I stood up, opened my wallet and took out that last five-dollar bill. I felt embarrassed and self-conscious, my heart pounding.  I moved the few steps toward Sri Swamiji’s chair, placing the five dollars on the small tray beside Him. While looking at His face, He looked at me directly and said, “I knew”.  My heart swelled and I returned to my seat, crying.

            On Sri Swamiji’s next trip to Baton Rouge, in 1993, the crowd became larger with devotees coming in from other states. On the final day of the program, after the crowds had left, I ended up back at Narendra’s house with about twelve other devotees. We sat in a room with Sri Swamijji as He performed Sri Chakra Pooja. What a rare moment ; so few of us, so close to Him, close enough for me to reach out and touch His robe.  At the end of the pooja, the devotees went up one at a time and received His gift of a small medallion placed into our outstretched hand by the hand of Sri Swamiji, Himself.

I sat crossed legged on the floor desperately wanting to speak to Him. I wanted to tell Him how much He really meant to me and how much I would miss Him. When my turn came to go forward, I got up, my heart once again pounding in my chest and rehearsed my line: “I am going to miss you” over and over. When it was my turn to go forward, I knelt down on one knee, stretching my right hand out with open palm to receive this precious token. He put His gift in my hand. Our eyes met and He said to me, “I am going to miss you. “ My very own words and my rehearsed line were said to me by Sri Swamiji. I clasped my token, returned to my seat and, once again with tears streaming down my cheeks in gushes.

            Sri Swamiji visited Baton Rouge again in 1995, this time for Guru Purnima. A few months before His visit, I had a painful, uncomfortable sinus operation. While recovering, I had to sleep with my head up. I rented a reclining chair and sat and slept in it all day. My neighbor cooked food and brought it to me. I had my telephone next to the chair so I would not have to get up to answer it. One day, the phone rang; it was Nalini calling to tell me that Sri Swamiji was coming to town and she would like me to wear my  military uniform and stand next to Him (as his military Aide dé Camp, as it were).  Of course, I immediately said, “yes!” with tears again streaming down my cheeks.

            I was very proud of my service in the army, I felt honored to wear the uniform and I wore it proudly.  To wear my uniform for Sri Swamiji was a special honor. I got my uniform cleaned for the first time in years, polished my brass, carefully assembled my uniform and patiently waited for the day to wear it. The Guru Purnima function was held at the American Legion Hall. Before going to the program, I went to a lake near LSU where I had seen lotus flowers blooming. I put on my wading boots, plucked one for my Guru and left for the Legion Hall.  When I arrived, everyone was already performing the Guru Pooja by offering rice and flowers in plates. Sri Swamiji was sitting in a beautiful chair on the well-decorated stage.

            Nanlini came to me and said that it was time. I put on my uniform, placed my lotus flower in my left hand and entered the side door next to the stage. I peeped out, saw the audience and almost panicked. Sri Swamiji was talking and I did not want to interrupt Him. Prasadi was facing Sri Swamiji with his back turned to me.  I tried whispering to him, to no avail. I was on my own.  I did not know what to do. I stood there for a few seconds and convinced myself that “I am going to do this” and I immediately strode out on the stage. Sri Swamiji stopped His discourse momentarily and faced me. I presented Him with the Lotus flower, saluted Him, took a step back and assumed the military position called “Parade Rest”.

            At this point, Prasadi got up, walked over to me and handed me a slender object about eighteen inches long. I had no idea what it was. I thought to myself, “What am I to do with this?”  When I touched it with my fingers, I realized that is was a fan. Now I knew.  My great blessing was to serve the karma-body of my Guru by fanning Him. It was my great fortune to fan Sri Swamiji for almost three hours. I was intoxicated with bliss. After fanning Him for about an hour, I felt something very subtle move within me.  Several months later, a clairvoyant had told me that Sri Swamiji had taken away my Vietnam karma. Of course! How perfect!  I was standing in the American Legion Hall, next to my Guru, resplendent in my Vietnam uniform, performing Seva to my beloved Guru on the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, while He quietly and barely without notice took my Vietnam karma away.

            In 1997, Sri Swamiji visited Baton Rouge for the consecration of the Datta Temple and Hall of Trinity. By this time, my faith in Him had grown deep and though still inexplicable to me, I had begun to see more and more of His miracles. Many times, for instance, I had seen Him call for his “TV tray,” the silver platter and a flower from which He would manifest vhibuti, the sacred ash, or the intensely crimson kumkum. On this visit, I was sitting in the audience very close to the front and He was on the stage sitting in His chair. He called for His tray and His platter. He picked up a white chrysanthemum and as I had seen Him done countless times before, He took the flower between His hands and slowly began massaging it until either vhibuti or kumkum came out.  This time it was kumkum; crimson red.

            He set the chrysanthemum back on the tray and held His hands in front of Him, palms forward facing the audience; crimson red. His entire palms were covered in crimson, as were each of His fingers. He handed the tray to the attendant, who began to distribute the powder to the audience, but I could not take my eyes off the tray and the white chrysanthemum. When the program was over and Sri Swamiji left the hall, I walked slowly over to the tray with the chrysanthemum still on it.

            Spotlessly white!  The chrysanthemum was spotlessly white and had not the first speck of crimson anywhere on it. Yet I had seen with my own eyes the kumkum come pouring out, had seen with my own eyes the crimson covered hands which had caressed the flower to coax it forth.

In 2009, when Sri Swamiji came again to Baton Rouge, I went for His darshan. I had thought about it many times, but except for the brief personal encounters mentioned previously and a few others, I had never requested a formal interview with Him. Though I had thought about it, I had dismissed it from my mind. I considered myself too unworthy, too unsure of what to ask, what to say; too scared, too this, too that, too, too, too…. too anything and too everything to allow me to approach.

 On this particular day, there was no program. A few people were gathered on the sidewalk outside the interview room, waiting their turn to go inside. Then I thought, “This has gone on long enough”. It had been over twenty years. I wanted to talk to Him.  I saw my friend, Mukunda, and a few other American devotees talking quietly near the door to the interview room.  I slowly walked over and joined them. “Are ya’ll waitin to go inside?” I asked. “Yes”, someone replied. We began babbling like children on a playground.  Who would go first? How many would go in together? And in what order we should go?

We waited nervously, babbled excitedly. Someone handed out a single rose bud to each of us. The door opened. Two devotees exited quickly, walking away quietly. Mukunda, the “palace centurion”, or “guardian of the gate”, held the door and motioned us in.  We formed a group of five and went in single file, me in the middle.  Sri Swamiji was sitting in a beautiful wing-back chair with His legs folded beneath Him. The carpet under His chair was strewn with flowers and next to His chair was a small table containing a vase of roses and a small silver tray filled with token gifts; medallions, beads and such. He looked so majestic, so calm and so peaceful.

            We formed a semi-circle facing Him and sat on our knees. One at a time, we leaned or crawled forward, placing our roses on the carpet with the other flowers.  When we resumed our position in the semi-circle, Sri Swamiji greeted each of us with a “Hello”, and “How are you?” We each answered in our own fashion. When He turned to me I said something like: how beautiful the room was; how beautiful He was; how aglow the room was. I had no question for there was no question to ask.  Then He went on to the next person and then the next. Now the time had come to go forward and receive His blessing and token of affection, given us as a reward for our devotion.

            I watched with amazement at what happened next. Acting on pure instinct, like Sir Lancelot kneeling in 1988, like the military, Aide dé Camp saluting in 1995, on hustling knees, I moved close to Him, reached out with my left hand, caressed His hair and held His head in the palm of my hand.  With my right hand and His together we clasped hands by our fingertips.  And then, He reached out with His hand, patted me gently on the top of my head and caressed my hair. We held each other such for some few moments; who can say how long? The moment was over, I returned to my place, my water-filled eyes overflowing, sending rivers of tears streaming down my face once again.

I sat trembling, trying to compose myself. I heard His voice in the background, but took little notice of it; I was too shaken at first to listen. Then I realized He was talking to me. He said, “You have a beautiful heart. I want you to join my mission”.             And so I did. I joined Sri Swamiji’s mission. Some time after that, a devotee asked me, “What do you think your mission is?” I replied, “I don’t know.  I don’t have any idea.” Some people have said that I have a beatific smile.  I, too, have seen its effect on others from time to time. I think it is my smile. I think maybe my smile is my mission.            Jaya Guru Datta.

107-Appaji

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