Category: 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).
N S Subramaniam Bhagwat, Bangalore
“I am your mother and your father, don’t worry about anything.”
In 1967 I was doing my first year degree in college and I received a post card in the mail from my uncle S K Ananta Padmanabha Bhagwat. He invited me to come to his house to meet his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. My uncle was a devotee at that time and later on he was appointed as an executive trustee of the Mysore Ashram by Sri Swamiji. I felt honored to have been the only one he invited among my eight brothers.
My uncle has been like a father to us since my father passed away in 1964. For this reason I felt compelled to make the visit. I went to his house and there were about eight persons there so I sat in the back of the room observing. Sri Swamiji completed the Pada Puja then went to the kitchen to have Bhiksha. This was my first time seeing this Swamiji and I was very nervous. After He finished His meal, He called me and gave me some of the food He left back as prasadam and told me to eat it. I ate it and He said to me, “Keep coming to the Ashrama.” I left thinking that I will visit the Mysore Ashrama for my uncle is there.
I attended all the major functions in the Mysore Ashrama. I met my uncle there and joined him in doing various seva activities. Sometimes I worked at the pooja counter or would serve food. In 1968 my mother passed away. During these times when Sri Swamiji saw me He would enquire about my welfare and one day He told me, “I am your mother and your father, don’t worry about anything.” I spent twelve years in His divine presence, visiting the Mysore Ashrama and serving.
In 1979 I spoke to Sri Swamiji for the first time. I told Him that I wanted to get married. He told me to get married to a Mysore girl. I got a few proposals from some girls in Bangalore but I did not like them. Then I got a proposal from a Mysore girl, I thought of what Sri Swamiji had said and I accepted that proposal. I went to Him and told Him, “Swamiji, I got a Mysore girl.” He blessed my marriage and today my wife is very devoted to Him.
After marriage I went to live in Bangalore in an area which was quite far from the present Bangalore Ashram. Sri Swamiji told me to look for a house close to the proposed site for the Bangalore Ashram. In 1984 my father in law had a vacant plot of land located close to the temple but it was occupied by a squatter. I went and told the squatter to vacate the property for it was not his and he was there illegally. He gave me a hard time and said that he will not move. I told Sri Swamiji about this man and He told me to go and ask him to vacate in one years’ time for the Shivaratri Festival. I went back to the man and asked him if he can move in one year time. He agreed to vacate the property very politely without any fuss. I was surprised.
As instructed by Sri Swamiji I did not bother the man again, and one year later on the day after Shivaratri, the squatter vacated the property. I told Sri Swamiji about this and He just laughed. I wanted to construct a house but the land belonged to my father in law and I did not want to ask him for the land for it was not in our custom to ask for anything free from our in laws. Three months passed, then one day my father in law told me, “Why don’t you construct a house on the land, it is just sitting there vacant.” I was happy to hear this, I immediately told Sri Swamiji and He told me to go ahead and construct my house but have it done before the consecration of the Datta Temple in the Bangalore Ashram.
I constructed my house and moved in June 21st, a few months before the inauguration of the Datta Temple of the Bangalore Ashrama. When I look back at the past twenty years of my life, I see how Sri Swamiji had prepared me. He had me serve in the Mysore Ashrama to help my spiritual growth and He gave me the material comfort of owing a house. He knows when my mind is stable and only then can I serve Him wholeheartedly. I began serving in the Bangalore Ashrama and later became a trustee of the Ashrama.
On November 5th 1987 the Bangalore Ashrama was inaugurated. Sri Swamiji came for the function and it was celebrated in a grand way. Many devotees from all over India and other countries attended the function. At the end of the day Sri Swamiji told me that He will visit my home on the next day. I was not prepared financially for this visit; all I had was two hundred rupees in my pocket. I told my uncle who was present at the function. He told me, “Sri Swamiji told you that He is coming, so don’t worry about it.”
The next day as He entered my house, He said, “This is my house, I have come.” He spent half of an hour, walking around and looking at everything. Before leaving He said to me, “I want one thing from you.” I immediately replied, “What, Swamiji?” He said to me, “I want you to hold my feet and promise me that you will serve me for the rest of your life.” I held His feet and said, “This is what I was born for Swamiji.” This was the day I will never forget, when by my good karma prevailed and my Guru asked me to serve Him. I felt honored to be His servant.
On April 17th 1989 I left for a business trip to Delhi by train. During the journey, close to the town of Jhansi, I heard a loud blast; dust was everywhere and I could see nothing outside. A postman and his family and I were in a first class compartment. The compartment rocked like a cradle, tilted to one side and stopped. When the dust cleared I saw that my compartment was on the side of the track and the compartments that were behind me had fallen into the ditch below a bridge.
In my bewilderment, the postman asked me, “Sir, who is that Swamiji you were calling for.” I was not aware that I was shouting for Sri Swamiji. I told the postman that Swamiji is my Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. We managed to get out of the compartment and got water from the other carriages ahead of us and we tried to help the wounded. About two hundred and fifty people had died. The Medical Aid came and took the remaining passengers to Jhansi. Miraculously I did not have any injuries.
I used a phone at the railway station and called my uncle in Mysore and told him to inform Sri Swamiji of what had happened. I caught another train to Delhi, completed my business assignment and returned to Bangalore. The next Sunday I went to Mysore and as soon as Sri Swamiji saw me, He said, “Have you come back, I knew that nothing will happen to you.” I replied, “Only you’re Krupa, Swamiji.” He then said, “I knew that something will happen to you but I am always there to protect you.” He assured me then, that He will always be with me, and He is.
In 1995 a devotee from the Bangalore Ashram, Mr. C S Narasimham asked me to go and meet Sri Swamiji at the Bangalore Airport and accompany Him to his house for an inauguration function. I went to the airport and I had to wait as His flight from Delhi was delayed for one hour. I sat there in the airport thinking if only I had a nice car, I could take advantage of this opportunity and have Him ride in my car. I had a very old car, and would not even entertain the thought of putting Sri Swamiji in it. His plane came and He was taken to the Bangalore Ashram by His driver.
I followed Him to the ashram and waited for Him to freshen up to go to Mr. Narasimham house. While waiting, a devotee from Hyderabad Ashram, Mr. Narayan Rao came and told me, “Sri Swamiji said that He will ride in your car to go to His house visit.” I immediately told him, “You are joking, right! Sri Swamiji will not ride in my car, it is old and dirty.” Mr. Rao insisted, “Sri Swamiji has asked me to tell you this, please oblige.” I then asked him, “Maybe you got the wrong person.” He said convincingly, “Sri Swamiji said, tell Bhagwat I want to go in his car!”
I left immediately and went to my car and began cleaning it. Sri Swamiji came in my car, I drove, He sat next to me and I dropped Him off at Mr. Narasimham house. For the rest of the day I was in awe as to what had happened. How come He knew of my desire? Somehow He knew, and in this same way He knows of all my thoughts. I tried to think positive good things from then on.
Sri Swamiji is very affectionate and gives me the love of a mother and father. He is by my side and I have nothing to fear. Moksha is within each of us. The Guru comes and steers us on the appropriate path to re-discover that Moksha. My path is through Seva and I have full faith in Him that He knows what is best for me. Jaya Guru Datta
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Prabhakar Iyer, Hyderabad
Don’t worry about it. You have done your part. Someone else will do the rest. Nothing is permanent, even in temples.
I met Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, for the first time in Cochin along with my brother-in-law, in 1980. My brother–in-law was a staunch devotee and trustee at the time I met Sri Swamiji. During this initial meeting He informed me, “I go to Vijayawada very often. Since you are in Hyderabad, whenever you feel like it, you can come and visit.” That was the first conversation I had with Him. After that I went back to Hyderabad, worked in my business and forgot about it. Again I went back to Cochin with my brother-in-law and Sri Swamiji said, “You didn’t come to Vijayawada.” I said, “No, Swamiji, It slipped out of my mind.” Then He said, “Come there and meet Me.”
Even from that early time, for me, Sri Swamiji was God only. I thought “Definitely I have to meet Him.” During one Navaratri, I happened to go on business to Vijayawada with a Muslim friend. I asked to take me to the Vijayawada Ashram. I said, “Do you have any problem seeing a religious Swami?” He replied, “No, I’ll take you.” So we went together. It was evening time and Sri Swamiji was singing bhajans. I thought then, ‘Going near to Him on some recommendation and going and forgetting about everything is not right’. So I prostrated then and there, and said, “You wanted me to come; I have come. You are busy; you are engaged, please pardon me.” Then I left and I went back to Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, in 1982, while they were planning the construction of the Hyderabad Ashram, a Trustee whom I knew, asked me to come there. He told me that Sri Swamiji was also coming. I became some kind of a member in that group with about six of us handling the construction. I also help with cooking, singing bhajans, and whatever there was to be done. Before the construction finished, the trustees asked one other person and me to go to Madras and bring the Datta murti.
At that time, my daughter was not well. She was vomiting continuously and my wife said that blood was coming also with her vomiting. I frantically ran and brought a bottle of liquid, thinking it was some kind of medicine. After pouring some into her, I realize that it was kerosene. She vomited about ten times more, and then she fell asleep. However, she never cried. I gave her this about midnight and so I was afraid that something might happen to her still. The next morning when she awoke she looked fresh and alert. I went to the Ashram and I prostrated before Sri Swamiji, who told me, “You did not come to me, but you made me come to you.”
In my business, heavy loss was incurred even though Sri Swamiji had visited the business place. He said, “Such a big show you have put on.” Losses kept on being incurred and the state finance people said they would have to auction the property. My partner told me to resign and he would carry on the business. I resigned and gave it to my partner. Mr. Narayan Rao and other trustees were working on the construction of the Ashram. He asked me, “How can you bear this loss?” I said, “Something will have to happen. We cannot stop what is to happen.” Then I fully concentrated and helped with the construction.
I did a little trading business and every Sunday I used to cook something, like kitchoree, and share as prasadam to everyone. Then when Sri Swamiji came and the three temples were completed, suddenly I asked Him, “Can I build a Navagraha Mantapam also?” He replied, “Yes, you can do, but why are you asking like that?” I replied, “Everyone, including my mother says that if someone comes there and does pradakshina it helps with their problems.” Sri Swamiji said, “No, no, no, it is not like that. You are giving them opportunity to do puja and after visiting the three temples, they will do puja and pradakshina there. You are creating an opportunity for them to do puja.”
When everything was completed, Sri Swamiji came for Kumbha Abhishekam and somehow some of the murtis were placed in the wrong positions. Instead of Rahu and Ketu, some other murtis were placed in their positions. Some people from the Ashram, who had taken maximum interest in the works, were getting so many problems in their lives. Whoever was in charge of doing that that got many problems in their life.
Meanwhile, I had to find some means to provide for my family and I told Sri Swamiji, “One of my friends is giving me some help, can I accept?” He said, “Yes! I have instructed that the Navagraha murtis should be smashed and reconstructed. Don’t worry about it. You have done your part. Someone else will do the rest. Nothing is permanent, even in temples.”
I asked Him to touch my application to work with some other company. I don’t know what I said in my interview, but the employer, the Managing Director, was very impressed and said that I could start in a higher position right away without my certificates. He told my friend who had told me about the job that I had unique experience and I could start in a higher position. I went to Mysore after getting the results of the interview and with my official letter I again went for Sri Swamiji to touch it.
I was scheduled to work in Vijayawada after one month’s training. At that time there was a cyclone and some of the trains traveling to Vijayawada were either filled or cancelled, so I went by bus. On the way, the area was also flooded which made it impassable. Seeing my predicament, I was deputized to a nearby branch and I reported there. There were lots of people seeking help and the owner became elated. He said, “I don’t believe in God, but if someone is poor and struggling I will help him; I will give him one thousand rupees. I said, “Please give me the Annadanam responsibility.”
A lot of people came; even beggars would come, we would feed them and the owner was satisfied. From then he showed mercy to me. Meanwhile I was doing cooking seva in the Hyderabad Ashram for Ugadi, the Telugu New Year’s day. I was feeling very happy doing the cooking seva. That day, Sri Swamiji told me, “I have got a place for you. Will you go?” I spontaneously answered, “Yes, Swamiji!” He said that He would call me after one hour and He did so, telling me, “Hereafter you will be with Me only.” I replied, “Whatever you want I am there to help you only.”
He said, “There is a Subramaniam Temple in Nadupalani and you know the language. They need a manager. Will you go?” I answered, “You give me Shakti and wherever you want me to go I will go.” He said, “Collect the address from Vhamsy.” Again after half an hour, Vhamsy told me that Sri Swamiji will take me to Nadupalani so I should go to Bangalore. Some other Swami had constructed that Temple and he was in a coma in the hospital. He asked Swamiji to take over the temple management.
I saw it myself when Sri Swamiji chanted a mantra or something into his ear, He awoke and sat up. Then Sri Swamiji told Him, “You wanted a manager; he has many years’ experience anmd he has come to you.” He said, “Okay.” Then Swamiji said, “Touch his feet.” I prostrated, touched his feet and said, “Datta.” Because my Guru is Datta, I believe that wherever I prostrate before a holy person or God, I must say, “Datta.” Even when waking up I say, “Datta.”
Then He took me to Nadupalani and on the way He kept reminding me, “The situation is going to be very tough, because you are new here. There is no one to support you. You are the only person who is going to look after things.” They were about twenty-five acres of land and everything was like a jungle. I went back to get my son, daughter and wife to take them with me. I informed my employer that I wanted to resign as I have something else to do. He asked, “What other thing?” Sri Swamiji had told me that it was not going to be easy to leave my job and join Him. The employer did not want me to leave. I told him, “Even I don’t leave you, I wouldn’t be able to stay with you. Whatever He says it will surely happen. I have some problems so Sri Swamiji has asked me to go there.”
On that day I left and join the new place. These devotees here were poor people and they always doubted me about money matters. They took some stories to their Swami who was in the hospital and he said, “I’ll be coming there after two months, so you can leave.” Then I told him, “Sri Swamiji told me not to leave this place, no matter what happens, so I am not going to leave. I cannot leave now.” He said, “Whatever Sri Swamiji told you, you must do.”
Sri Swamiji was not in India, so a message went to Him He gave a reply. Prasadi called me and told me to come to Mysore one day before Swamiji arrives as He wants me to return immediately. I informed everyone, “I am leaving because Sri Swamiji told me to do so. If anything happens to my family, it would be very dangerous.” In Mysore, Sri Swamiji told me, “Oh you have come, be here for a few days, I will talk to you.” The trustees also met with me. Actually Subramaniam Swami is my Ishta Devata. I worship him. Sri Swamiji called the trustees and me and said, “He’ll be in Archarapakam for a few months. You know where you have to go. You can go.”
In Acharapakam, behind the Temple there is a big hill and every morning devotees would come to do bhajans and perform one pradakshina which would take about seven hours. One day I made rice prasadam, but that day not too many people came and one big potful was still left. I took it in front of Sri Swamiji’s photo and offered some with a spoon in a plate. The evening from about 7.00 till 11.30 pm, I kept waking-up for about five times and I noticed that the prasadam was still there. But at five o’clock the following morning, the prasadam was completely gone. Nobody came, but the prasadam was finished. Sri Swamiji said that Adi Devata Datta was there. Anybody can come, but devotees should not try to see His face. This place was Sahyadri Parvata.
On December 31st, 1999, Vhamsy called and told me that I should come to Mysore. Sri Swamiji had gone on tour and He’ll return in two months so you will have duties in the Datta Temple.” I started assisting in the Datta Temple with the priest, Rama Shastry. Whatever I could do, I did. Then when Sri Swamiji returned He said, “Go to the Accounts department, a lot of work is waiting there for you.”
Sometime later, I was informed that the Vijayawada Ashrama was not in a good shape and they needed a manager there. The problem was that they never liked Brahmins. Sri Swamiji told me, “If you go there to manage you will also face some trouble there, but it will not as bad as Nadupalani.” In January 2001, Sri Swamiji called me and said that I should go by car and He would be coming by plane. When He got there, He called everyone and said, “He’s my man. I’m keeping him here as the Manager. Whatever he says you people must do. If there are any problems, let me know about them.” However, instead of them complaining, I was the one who phoned Prasadi and said that these people were worse than those in Nadupalani. They don’t understand Appaji’s language.
In Vijayawada, my first job was to educate the people. Sri Swamiji told me, “If you act as a bad man, I don’t care. You can be separate, but they should not split. How you manage, it’s up to you.” In conversation, I told them that Sri Swamiji wanted only one thing; that they should cooperate with me, the manager, and they should not do what they liked. They sent a taped message to Sri Swamiji and they wanted proof of Sri Swamiji’s response. When the answers came they all agreed to cooperate.
At the end of three months, all kinds of functions were taking place. I introduced some good projects; Homa and different pujas; the people of Vijayawada accepted me as having some worth; I was doing things. I was the manager there for eight years. After that I had developed kidney and blood-pressure problems, neuropathy and diabetes.
During my stay there, under my supervision, Marakata Raja Rajeshwari Temple was constructed and consecrated. The Kalyana Mantapam was renovated, and the priest’s quarters were constructed. I lost my mind, shouted at everyone to get the work done; also my wife was not there. Then Sri Swamiji said, “It would be better if you take some rest.” So on June 16th 2009, I left Vijayawada. My son was in Hyderabad, and he asked Sri Swamiji for him to look after me. Sri Swamiji said, “He’s my son.” Sri Swamiji had told me that He knows what time to call me, so until then I should take leave and rest.
Spiritually, when I was an Executive Member in Vijayawada, people were complaining about how they had to pay for pujas. The next day Sri Swamiji came in my dream, in sadhu’s dress and said, “Bhavati Bhiksham Dehi.” My wife called and said, ‘Somebody has come. See who it is.” Then she called out that Sri Swamiji had come. In the dream I got up and did my puja. Then I saw Sri Swamiji and I prostrated to Him. He put His hand on my shoulder and said, “Come, I’ll tell you.” What He was chanting I don’t remember, but He told me that whether I have money or not, He would come to me, and I must remember this.” He was showing me that others pay and wait for the pada puja, but I did not have to pay, He would come to me when necessary. “Without any payment, I’ll come to you. Remember this!” Jaya Guru Datta.
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Swami Sahaja Datta Pada, Mysore
“Swamiji, you give so many things to your devotees, how come you never give me anything?” He looked at me and said in the most compassionate voice, “I don’t give you anything, for I have kept you in my heart.”
In 1970 I was residing in the city of Mysore in a place about one kilometer from the Mysore Ashrama. A devotee from the Ashrama, Mr. Nagaraj, used to come to my town to play tennis with my brother and other friends. One day he invited me to come and learn yoga at the Ashrama. I went to the Ashrama and began learning yoga and meditation. I grew to like it very much. I saw Sri Swamiji at the Ashrama; He used to conduct the yoga classes.
I used to go to the Ashrama around 4.00 o’clock every morning, prepare myself and wait for the class to start at 5.00 am. Sri Swamiji demonstrated the yogic postures Himself while teaching us. At times when I struggled with the postures He would come and help me and push me to do it, assuring me that no harm will come to me. My family did not like me going to the Ashrama and they scolded me a lot. Despite all the scolding and abuse I received, I never stopped going to the Ashrama. Over the course of time I left my home and went to live in the Ashrama. Even to this day my family has no contact with me. Yoga attracted me to Sri Swamiji.
In 1974 Sri Swamiji took me along with Him to Vijayawada for a Yoga Camp. It was held at the Venkateshwaram Swami Kalayana Mantapa at Labbipet. At the camp, He trained me to teach the Yoga. So I began teaching and practicing on a larger scale. I would meditate for long periods of time. One day in the Ashrama I went to my room, bolted the door, sat under a mosquito net and began meditating. Six hours passed and I was still meditating, I was unaware of time, suddenly I felt cold water falling on me. I snapped out of my meditation and saw a devotee with a bucket standing next to me. He said that Sri Swamiji was calling me a while now and they were searching all over the Ashrama for me. He said my room door was locked and he had to break the door down to get in. When I went to Sri Swamiji He said to me, “Don’t do this practice until I tell you! Just do physical service for now!” Thus I began doing chores around the ashram.
In those days the Ashrama had a lot of scorpions and snakes. I used to clear the ashram grounds by removing the bushes to ward off the animals. One day Sri Swamiji told me to start learning how to do handy-man work around the Ashrama. I started doing electrical works, helped with the water supply and buildings little things. Gradually I learned to perform these tasks like a professional. I did some foolish things in the process also, but Sri Swamiji was always there to protect me.
One day I fell down from the fourth floor of the Rama Shankara Kuteera. During that time, Sri Swamiji was in Vijayawada and He was about to offer a plate of prasadam in the pooja He was performing. At that moment, the plate fell from His hand and crashed on the floor; He stood motionless for a few seconds. When He composed Himself He told the audience there that something had happened to a devotee in the Mysore Ashrama. He was referring to my fall. He took all my injuries and pain and so nothing happened to me. Such is His love for His devotees.
On another occasion I was working on the electrical system in the Rama Shankara Kuteera. I sat on the stage working with some electrical wires. All of a sudden all the wires began to spark sending out electric shocks. I was thrown back and forth a few times until I fell into a pit in the middle of the stage. As I landed in the pit the shocks stopped. Under normal circumstances I should be dead, but under the protective hand of my Guru, I was saved.
At one period of time, I began eating a lot of food; buckets and buckets of cooked rice. Somehow I used to digest it. I was possessed with the spirit of a Brahma Rakshas, who was a dead Scholar of high birth who had performed some evil misdeeds in his life or did not impart his spiritual knowledge. This was a very powerful spirit and can only be liberated by God Himself. As Sri Swamiji is seen as God incarnate, He exorcised me of the Brahma Rakshas and freed the spirit.
In the early days Sri Swamiji used to go in the fire pit during the Shivaratri festivals. On one such occasion after He performed the very elaborate Agni Puja, He jumped into the fire pit and stayed for about twenty minutes. There was a foreigner sitting in the audience with doubts in his mind about Sri Swamiji bringing out things from the fire pit. He thought maybe it is a big trick and Sri Swamiji has planted the items in the fire pit. When Sri Swamiji came out of the fire pit, He had in His hands a lingam and a saligrama. He called out to the same doubting foreigner and asked him to open his palm. Sri Swamiji then thrust the hot saligrama into his palm. It burnt the palm of his hand. He was astonished to know that Sri Swamiji knew what he was thinking. He became one of Sri Swamiji’s angels. Thereafter, Sri Swamiji rubbed sandalwood paste on his burns and it was healed.
In those days, the poojas for all the festivals were more elaborate and went on for longer periods. For the Navarathri Festival Sri Swamiji would sit for the nine days in the Peetham and perform the poojas. We had the good fortune of lifting Him bodily and shifting Him in different directions for the performance of the poojas. One grand festival was when Sri Swamiji performed the Purnima Feeding. On every full moon day He would feed all the people gathered, including myself, and then He would eat. In order to eat with Him we used to have seconds. Those were some of my cherished intimate moments with my Sadguru. This Purnima Feeding still goes on today at the Sri Datta Venkateshwara Temple. Even now, sometimes the students in the Veda Patashala get the great opportunity to eat with Him on this occasion.
Over the years, as time passed my entire life became Sri Swamiji’s. I lived and served in the ashram, which is my home. The Datta devotees became my family. Sri Swamiji used to take me along with Him on His trips to numerous places in India. I had the good fortune in 1995 to accompany Him to Mount Kailash. Then ten years later I went back to Mount Kailash with Sri Datta Vijaya Ananda Teertha Swamiji.
For the celebration of Shivaratri in 2000, I was with Sri Swamiji in Haridwar, North India. A few days before Shivaratri, He told some devotees that He will give them Deeksha on Shivaratri day and He instructed them to perform various religious rituals to prepare for this event. The morning of Shivaratri came and Sri Swamiji asked me, “Will you take Deeksha?” I told Him, “I will do whatever you want Swamiji.” He then said, “OK be prepared to take it.” Later in the day He initiated me into Sadhana Deeksha. He gave me orange clothes to wear and He gave me the name Sahaja Datta. The name Sahaja came from the first of the scale of musical notes Sa, in the musical scale of the notes Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. These notes are the shortened forms of the names, Shadja, Rishabh, Gandhar, Madhyam, Pancham, Dhaivat and Nishad. The name given to me by Sri Swamiji was formed from the base word of Sa in Sagara, (ocean) referring to the Samskara, the ocean of birth and death. I became Sahaja Datta on that day and my life changed directions. I took the path chosen for me by my Guru, Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji.
I used to be close to Sri Swamiji when He interacted with His devotees. I saw Him materialize many trinkets, talismans, puja items, idols etc. Observing this over a period of time, the thought came to my mind that He had never given me anything. I nursed that thought until one day I could take it no more I asked Him, “Swamiji, you give so many things to your devotees, how come you never give me anything?” He looked at me and said in the most compassionate voice, “I don’t give you anything, for I have kept you in my heart.” I stood there frozen, until He said, “If you want I can give you something….” I quickly interrupted Him and said, “Swamiji, I just want to be at your feet and serve you, in all my births.” He said, “You just chant Guru Deva; that’s all.” I was humbled by His nectarine words. Those words still echo in my heart, even to this day. “I have kept you in my heart.” Jaya Guru Datta
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G G and Vimal Shelke, Bangalore
“I have to pay the builders and I have no money; I will not take food till they are paid.”
In 1963, my brother Captain Shelke told me about a young Swamiji who was resident in the Electric Colony in Kesare, Mysore. I was very skeptical about meeting Him because I did not know who He was and what philosophy He represented. However, he kept on insisting and within a course of time I agreed to go. My wife, Vimal, my children and I accompanied my brother to the home of an Electric Board employee, Sri Srikhantaya. Sri Swamiji used to stay there with this old man.
I went into a room and He called me but I did not want to go near Him, so I stayed in the back. Then He called my daughter, Savita, and then He called the little kids who were playing there. He wanted some fruits, but the children had eaten the fruits and were afraid to come forward. He sent my daughter to look behind Lord Ganesha’s photo and when she did, she found an orange which Sri Swamiji subsequently gave to her. Since that day Savita calls Him, Orange Swamiji.
After this meeting, I began visiting Him with many spiritual questions in my mind. I asked Him some questions and He gave the answers. Then to some questions He said I would get the answers myself. He said that we must ask our own selves, who is Sri Swamiji? What does He do? And the answers will come to us. Then we must ask Him if those answers were right or wrong. That day I boldly told Him that I want to know who He is. He simply replied, yes! I thought of leaving Him, but something kept me back, there was some belief there, so I decided to stay and learn from Him. My family and I visited Him in the electric colony for a few times and then He shifted to the present Mysore Ashrama.
In 1966 we began visiting the ashram on Sundays to participate in the homas. My children used to go on Saturdays and Sundays. I saw people putting money in the Hundi and Sri Swamiji would take the money and share it to devotees. After some time I told Him that He must open a bank account and start saving some money for the ashram. He listened to my request and I opened a bank account and began depositing the money that was placed in the Hundi.
I used to walk daily to the ashram with milk for Him and my friend used to tease me and ask me why I go there, but I ignored him. In the following years, I had the divine opportunity to present to Him on the occasion of His birthday, a pair of sandalwood padukas to commemorate each one of the Datta Kshetras that He intended to install. When the sixteenth Datta Kshetram was completed and inaugurated, somehow sandalwood became very difficult to acquire. Receiving those sixteen pairs of sandalwood padukas was His divine plan only.
In 1969 we were living in Vontikoppal, a suburb of Mysore. I was a banker by profession. One day Vimal called me from home saying that she was not feeling well. I told her that I had a lot of work to complete and could not leave. After work I took a doctor and went to my home. Vimal did not want to see the doctor but insisted that I take her to Sri Swamiji. She could not walk, so I held her feet and my brother held her shoulders and we carried her to the Ashrama. When we arrived there bhajans were going on. We laid her in a corner and sat down.
When the bhajans were over, Sri Swamiji asked, “Who from the Shelke family has come to see me.” I got up and Sri Swamiji followed me to my wife. I held her hand to help her up but Sri Swamiji told me to leave her alone. He took a Tulasi mala from around His neck and began rubbing on it till it formed a ball. Vimal was too weak to even stretch her hands to take it from Him so He put it in her mouth and told her to swallow it. After ten minutes she sat up and felt better. Then Sri Swamiji told Vimal, “The place where you are living now, someone had passed away earlier there, the place is not good, and I will not send you back to that house.” I took Vimal to my brother’s house for the night and the next day my children and I vacated that house. I found another house shortly after.
One day the construction of the old Datta Temple was going on, it was a Saturday around noon and Sri Swamiji was called to have His Biksha. He said, “I have to pay builders and I have no money, I will not take food till they are paid.” No one knew what to do. Mr. Krishnamurthy, the manager of the ashram, said that the banks were closed. Sri Swamiji said, “Someone will come.” No one knew what He meant. At around 2pm Vimal and my children arrived at the Ashrama. On that day Vimal made a monetary offering to Sri Swamiji, she lay three hundred rupees at His feet and left. She was unaware of the situation. Sri Swamiji took the money and gave it to Kusumakka and told her to pay the workers. Kusumakka went for a while, paid the workers and returned. It was exactly the amount needed for the payment. Sri Swamiji then took His food.
Once Sri Swamiji gave Vimal and I a ring and said that we would see Him in it. After our daily morning pooja we would actually see His face in the ring. To this day we still get His darshan in the ring. Another time I found a picture of Lord Ganesha in a calendar; I cut it out and framed it. I kept the photo in my pooja room. One day my son saw Sri Swamiji with a white vastram in the feet of Lord Ganesha. He told us but we did not believe him till we went and saw it for ourselves. Sri Swamiji gives darsan to His devotees in unsuspecting places at unsuspecting times.
Sri Swamiji used to make impromptu visits to our house in Mysore. Sometimes, He would come late in the night, around midnight, and in order not to wake us, He would remove His padukas and tip toe into the house. He would come and play with the children, sometimes wrestle with my sons. He was a part of my family. He encouraged the children to come to the Ashrama on Saturdays and Vimal and I should go on Sundays. One Saturday it was late in the night and the children did not return from the Ashrama. My wife got worried and kept pestering me to go to the ashram. I told her, “Why are you worrying about them, they are with Sri Swamiji.” Then at midnight Sri Swamiji brought them home in a car. He went straight to my wife and said, “Why are you worrying about them, they are with Swamiji!” He repeated the said words I had spoken a while ago.
My family and I moved to Jaya Nagar in Bangalore because of my work. On one occasion I had to go to Pune on a business trip, so I left my family for a few days. We had the practice of putting money in the Hundi and offering it once a year to Sri Swamiji on His birthday. We never counted the money. Vimal felt somehow that some money was missing from the Hundi. She hesitated to open it up and check it for she was afraid that I might get angry at her. I did not like to count the money; I used to take whatever was in there and lay it at Sri Swamiji’s feet.
Curiosity overtook Vimal and she opened the Hundi and she discovered that some money was missing. She blamed our son, Satish, who was about seven years then. Satish repeatedly told her that he did not take the money. She wanted him to go to Mysore in front of Sri Swamiji and speak the truth. I returned from my business trip and no one told me anything. We all went to Mysore Ashrama to see Sri Swamiji. We were all sitting right in front of Him and for some reason He seemed to be avoiding us. We sat all day there, Satish went and had a good lunch and came back and Vimal was upset with him. She was not taking any food till she got the matter settled. Then at 5.30 pm Sri Swamiji came and asked Vimal what was wrong. She explained the whole incident to Sri Swamiji and He said, “Your children are good children, they are not like that. It was me! I came and took the money.” Satish began poking fun at Vimal, for he was telling the truth all the time.
In 1972 we began construction on our present house, here in Bangalore. We invited Sri Swamiji to do the ground breaking ceremony. He came took a coconut and broke it on a particular spot and said that there will be no dearth of water here. As He broke the coconut, water began to ooze out of the ground. At that time much water was not available in the surroundings area, so this was a great blessing for my family and the water flows to this day.
In October of 1977, the house was completed but we did not move in fully, we were in the process of shifting from the rented house in Jayanagar. Sri Swamiji visited Bangalore and told us that He will be visiting our new house. We scrambled to get there before He did, we did not have sufficient time to prepare for His visit. Vimal did not want to buy any food from the stores for Him but to offer her own preparation. She had a small amount of sooji flour and she managed to get forty sweets from it thinking that will be sufficient for Sri Swamiji and His guests, which were about seven to eight devotees.
She prepared the pooja items and waited. He came to the house and was accompanied by about seventy devotees. We panicked thinking how shameful it would be if we did not have enough food to offer our guests. Vimal told me to break each of the sweets in two so we would have more to share. I told her not to do it, just offer it to Sri Swamiji. He came and walked through the entire house saying that this is not Shelke’s house but His house. He went into the kitchen and I offered Him the tray with the forty sweets. He accepted it and began sharing them out, one by one until there were seven left in the tray; six, for my family members and one, for Sri Swamiji. This is His house, His food, and His children; there was no need for me to worry. On His way out of the door, He said to me, “Get prepared for a big function in this house, coming soon.” One year later in 1978, on the same date October 17th my daughter’s marriage function took place in this house.
My daughter, Sadhana had her marriage date fixed and Sri Swamiji told her to spend some time in Mysore Ashrama before she go to her in-laws home after marriage. When she was leaving the ashram Sri Swamiji asked her what she wanted. She said she only wanted His blessings. He went to the area where He performs the Sri Chakra pooja and took a ruby necklace from there and gave to her and blessed her as she left. He treated her like His own daughter.
In 1985 I got a silver plate for Sri Swamiji, I could not make a trip to Mysore so I told Vimal to take the plate and offer prasadam on it to Sri Swamiji. My elder son Shivraj, who is no more today, accompanied Vimal to Mysore; he was fussing about it and was telling his mother not to give away a silver plate. Nevertheless, my wife offered it to Sri Swamiji with some prasadam on it. He took the plate and gave it to devotee sitting next to Him, telling the devotee, that he wanted one to perform his pooja with this and here it is.
Shivraj told Vimal that she had given it to Sri Swamiji and He gave it away, what was the use. Vimal told him, “Do not think like that, you give it to Sri Swamiji and He will return it to you in some form or the other.” Some time passed and we made a trip to Mysore for blessings on Shivraj’s marriage and Sri Swamiji gave us all very expensive, beautiful clothes which summed to an amount close to the cost of the silver tray that Vimal had offered Him earlier. By the grace of Sri Swamiji, Shivraj realized his mistake in thinking the way he did.
On one occasion I went to Mysore and told Sri Swamiji that I was making a trip to Bombay with my family. I had the custom on informing Him before I go anywhere. He blessed me and said, “I want you to stop in Ganagapur and bring back some mud for me, bring the mud from the place where Datta walks after He takes His bath.” I told Him yes I will and left. We visited Ganagapur and took a bath in the river and wanted to get the mud but did not know where Datta walks after His bath. Just then they saw a tall man wearing a black loin cloth, a hat and He had four dogs with Him. He was singing, Datta Digambara and the dogs were also singing and looking at His face while doing so. We approached Him and asked Him, “Where is the way that Datta walks after He comes out of the river.” The man kept on chanting, Datta Digambara, I offered five rupees to Him and He said that He wanted only two rupees to feed His dogs. I gave Him two rupees and He pointed to a place on the ground. We all looked at the spot He pointed at and when we looked back for Him, He was not there. We looked all around but we could not see Him. We collected some mud from the spot He was standing on for we realized that He was Lord Datta Himself. We took the mud to Sri Swamiji and He put in at the Audumbara Vriksha area in the Mysore Ashrama.
I began suffering with heart problems and one day it got so bad the doctors told me that I had to have the operation immediately. The operation would cost from two to three lakhs. My son Satish and his cousin went to Mysore to seek Sri Swamiji’s guidance. He was not in the country but the ashrams contacted Him by telephone and after Satish told Him about my situation He advised me to, check in a good hospital with a good doctor and not to worry about the money. My family took my medical reports to a doctor in a good cardiac hospital and after four days passed the doctor said that I did not need surgery and he prescribed some medicine. My wife was relieved that I did not need the surgery but we were concerned that I had not checked in to the hospital as Swamiji had advised me to do.
Some time later Sri Swamiji returned from His foreign tour and came to the Ashrama in Bangalore. My family and I went for His darshan. We could not get to the front of the hall because there were so many people, so we stayed at the back. Then Sri Swamiji beckoned for us to come on the stage to Him, everyone thought He was calling them and began to move forward. Sri Swamiji got tired of saying, not you, not you till He shouted, “The Shelke Family!” We went to Him and I told Him about the incident and He said to me, “Don’t worry, I did the surgery myself.” Since that day to now I had no heart problems.
In 1987 our house was flooded with water; it was so bad, that we had to vacate the house. We left the lighted lamp in the pooja room; it was our practice to keep a light all the time. That lighted lamp in the room never went out, it floated on the water and the flame never went out. Vimal used to keep some food items for Datta Bhiksha in a box in the kitchen. The kitchen got flooded but the vessels floated around in the water and the Datta Bhiksha box was completely dry inside, none of the food stuff got wet.
Throughout my life I tried to understand who is Sri Swamiji? What He does and why He does it? I got some answers which satisfied my mind and some questions my mind could not formulate into words but I got the answers by experiencing them. Then there were those eternal answers, which did not require questions to bring them to light. Now, I have no more questions! I have come to the conclusion that Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji is the question and He is the answer. He is all. Jaya Guru Datta
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C S Venkatesh, Bangalore
“Wherever you work, as a clerk or an engineer, be honest and sincere and pray to God and your Guru. You will come out good in life”.
I met Sri Swamiji for the first time in October 1966. My parents, Mr. C N Srinivasa Rao and Smt. Lakshmi Narasamma, had three sons and two daughters. I’m the youngest among the sons. In January 1955, when I was just fifteen years old and appearing for the tenth Class exams in Bangalore, my father passed away. He had inherited a lot of property from his father, Mr. Nanjunda Rao. With all the court cases and upon the death of my father, my mother inherited it. She became a millionaire, one whose wealth was valued over ten million rupees. Fate played a different game for us when my father’s younger brother, sister and brothers-in-law took up a battle with my mother in the courts.
For thirty-two years she fought in the court and travelled every now and then, alone to Coimbatore to face the courts. As time pass, she got tired of feeding the flames of greed and destruction and stepped back from the court mater. Once, she observed two farmers, both brothers, who occupied either side of the property fought with sickles and machete. On seeing this situation, she withdrew from all court cases and surrendered the crores of rupees of property. She knew that her Guru, Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, will take care of her children. This being the situation, I was forced to become the breadwinner for my family. I had to struggle a lot for the education of my brothers and sisters. Without any basic facilities, I struggled and became a science graduate in April 1960, from Central College, Bangalore. My mother’s maternal uncle Mr. H.S. Hirannaih, who was the Chief Secretary to the Govt. of Karnataka, told me, “Wherever you work, as a clerk or an engineer, be honest and sincere and pray to God and your Guru. You will come out good in life”. I uphold that principle even to this day.
We were associated with many institutions in Bangalore; one of them was the Ragigudda Prasanna Anjaneya Swamy temple in Jayanagar. In1966, my cousin, C.S. Narasimah, who lived in Mysore, invited my mother and me to have darshan of Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji. By then I was about twenty-six years old. When we got there we found that the Ashrama had only a small hut. We went and prostrated before Sri Swamiji, He asked me about my personal particulars and I explained it to Him. Sri Swamiji asked, “Can you go out of ashram right now?” I asked Him, “What prevents me from going out? Is there any obstacle?” He simply looked at me and said, “You can try”. Somehow, some force was keeping me in the ashram. Then He asked me, “Do you have interest in God?” I replied, “By looking at you, Swamiji, I feel like I’m having darsham of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Maheshwara through you.” He then said, “In that case, prostrate before me and participate in nine or twenty-one Shivaratris that takes place at the ashram every year”. I promised Him that I would and returned with my mother to Bangalore.
Since that day, we have visted the Mysore ashram at least once every four months. We attended all the major functions and up to 2012 I have participated in forty-seven Maha Shivaratis. It was possible only by the Divine grace of Sri Swamiji.
In 1986, I became a trustee of the Bangalore ashram branch and am continuing to do so.
In 1968, I took my mother to Mysore to attend the Shivaratri program. Sri Swamiji took about seventy devotees, including myself and my dear mother, to Chamundi Hills situated opposite to our Ashram at Mysore. We climbed the hill and at the mid point area, He stopped and began looking at something. There was an opening in between two rocks in the middle of the mountains and to our amazement; water began to trickle out of it. He collected some and sprinked it on each one of us. He then took a danda in His hand and stood on a rock. At that point, I saw the form of Lord Subramanya in Him and offered my pranams.
He took an empty steel vessel and collected some water, closed His eyes and uttered something silently and performed aarti to that hole in the rock. Immediately, I heard a sound coming from the rocks and wondered what it was. This was my second year of participating in Maha Shivaratri and could not understand what was happening. All of a sudden He pulled out from the steel vessel, a beautiful silver platform with idols of Lord Ganesh, Sri Subramanya, Sri Parvathi and Sri Ishwara, with a seven headed cobra. They were covered with beautiful ornaments in red color at the edges. He showed it to all of us and began praying “Lord Shiva, you have blessed us with your darshan and now bless us something to eat.”
While saying this He rubbed His stomach and then took His hands to the hole in the rocks and pulled out a beautiful sugar candy of Lord Ganesh; three inches in width, six inches in height and one inch thick. He gave it to me and asked me to share it with the rest of the devotees. It was the best sweet I ever had. We then wet ourselves with the water from the rock and collected twenty-one pots of water to perform abhisheka to Shiva, in the evening.
In 1969, Sri Swamiji told me that I should marry a girl from a poor family who is cultured and well behaved. I told Him that whomever He chooses would be my partner, but Sri Swamiji must be present to bless us on the wedding day or the day when my wife is brought home. Sri Swamiji told a devotee sitting next to Him, “See how he is talking. This is the kind of firmness of mind that my devotees should have. I like it. He came to my marriage. When I asked Him His blessings, He said that I was going to see a miracle soon.
The marriage took place on May 7th , 1969 in Bangalore. When I went upstairs in the marriage hall, and prostrated before Sri Swamiji’s photo, I saw three packets at the Feet of His photo; one with Kumkum, one with Turmeric and one with Vibhuti. After prostration, when I got up, I saw that the kumkum has become turmeric, turmeric has become kumkum and the Vibhuti became red. I brought this to the attention of my wife and mother. We all agreed it was Sri Swamiji’s blessings.
My wife, Girija, was brought up with a lot of love from her family, especially her uncle, Mr. K S Suryanarayana and his wife Mrs. Nagalakshmi. They did not have any children and asked me to take them to Sri Swamiji for blessings to have a child so we went to Mysore for His darshan. Sri Swamiji said, “Give me three months time; I have to talk with God”. After six months, when we went back to Him again, He said, “You are not going to have children due to the curse of your ancestors, since the annual ceremonies were not performed.” Sri Swamiji then called me said that I would get a child in two years. He then called my wife and said that she would bear a beautiful child who is Saraswati, the Goddess of learning. However, she should hand her over to Him after her birth. Sri Swamiji asked us to agree to this and place tulasi leaves at His feet and we prostrated before Him. In March 1979, a daughter was born to us. We named her Ashwini after her birth start. We kept the child with us for eight months and then as advised by Sri Swamiji, the baby was handed over to Mrs and Mr. Suryanarayana.
During one of Sri Swamiji’s visits to Bangalore, in 1986, Sri Swamiji wanted some land to be purchased for Bangalore ashram. With the help of Mr. Krishna Bhat, K R Krishna Murthy and Mr. T Naganna, I landed in Girinagar along with Mrs. Usha Narasimha. Sri Swamiji selected the present ashram place and said that in due course of time; it will become a very big ashram and a busy place. Sri Swamiji told me to use this place for Bhajans and for performing Puja.
In 2003, I was hospitalized for a blocked artery. By Sri Swamiji’s grace, I underwent a surgery successfully. Since then, I’m in good health and have been serving my Lord. What else can I ask of Him? Jaya Guru Datta
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