C S Varada Raja, Bangalore
How can mere mortals compare themselves with the almighty?
Looking fiercely into me eyes He blurted out, “you Varada, you have committed many sins and mistakes, you must improve and come to me. These were the first words spoken directly to me by my Master Kula Devata Sadguru Datta Avadootha Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. He was visiting our house in Jayanagar for the first time in November 1966. To this reprimand I could not say anything, but bow my head and walked away.
I am military personnel, the second son of Smt Sharadamma, an ardent devotee of His Holiness. I am the brother of Swami Manasa Datta. I have three other brothers and a sister. Intuitively, after this incident, my mother insisted that I accompany her to the Ashrama where my other family members were already visiting. Sri Swamiji greeted me with a beautiful smile and said; Hey! Military come here, and cautioned me to do some work; which included the repair of old useless pair of tablas, and an antique cash chess.
He was testing my obedience and loyalty, as though we had known each from previous births. As time went by, we would play around the mango trees in front of the small thatched huts. Once He went inside the hut and made me lock the door and keep the key. To my surprise when I turned around he was standing right besides me, but the door was still locked.
On one occasion He informed me that He wanted vibhuti and that I must take, a ten year old boy, Srinath, with me and go to Thiruchendur Muruga temple. I must learn how it is made and bring back two full boxes. This was a direct order. On our return He was very pleased and He blessed us.
On another occasion, He purposefully challenged a group of five boys to climb the Chamundi Hills, barefooted with Him, across from the gate from the Ashrama. A task that was completed by Him in two to three minute took us a treacherous forty five minutes. How can mere mortals compare themselves with the almighty? To compound the matter, He chided me by saying; what military, no use. I was so ashamed, as my feet were covered with thorn and blisters.
At the spring that sprouted from the spot where He was standing, Sri Swamiji took His kamandalu and poured water over our heads and bodies. He affectionately bathed us as a mother would. It was a process of washing off our sins and ego.
His next challenge was to have us lift the kamandalu. Try as we may we could not move the vessel. Then He mockingly smiled and proclaimed; that we were just useless fellows, you cannot even lift a small kamandalu. He then chided; come, go around me three times and pray, for I am Lord Ganesha. After this the kamandalu became light as a feather. Oh! We were so surprised. He informed us that there were saligrama and a shivalinga inside the pot that represented Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, hence the pot was heavy. Only Guru’s Grace can give you the power to lift it. Our return trip took Him two to three minutes versus our twenty-five to thirty minutes.
Hey Military! Come to the Ashrama early tomorrow, okay! Yes Swamiji, I said like an obedient child. Early next morning He was waiting when I came. First you must give an oil massage to My head and body. I poured warm oil over His matted hair and young muscular yogic body. It was hard work, but with immense enjoyment I started chanting Om Namaha Shivaya. He was none other that Shiva Digambara in Kaupeena.
My cousin Venkateshwara and I were ordered to perform Shiva Abhishekam; we smiled innocently, informing Him that we did not know anything. Sri Swamiji insisted that we should proceed and follow what He said. He chanted the rudram and other mantras and finally we performed mangalaarti and offered naivedium. Since that day we try not to miss a single Sivarathri.
A true devotee doesn’t have to be intelligent. In April 1972, Sri Swamiji visited our home in Tuticorin. He initiated that I should make arrangements to leave the next day on a pilgrimage to the south with my parents. My financial situation was not in a state for me to support this trip.
Suspecting my dilemma, this Enlightened One, inquired if I had money, without a reply He patted His stomach and produced a wad of ten rupees notes which he instantly handed to me. Neither did I count it nor thanked Him for the gesture. I immediately left to make the arrangements for the trip. I also applied and got a week’s time off without any hassle.
Our first stop, on this journey, was the temple of the venerable Lord Murugan in Thiruchendur. During my hurried preparation I had hired a taxi to accompany Sri Swamiji’s car. To my amazement the taxi was named Lord Muruga and was driven by a Christian gentleman.
After the vibhuti alankaram and aarti, Sri Swamiji had darsan of the Lord and then sat outside on a high pedestal. People had started to queue up for the prasadam. Suddenly the temple elephant came to Sri Swamiji and respectfully bowed to Him. All the devotees immediately started to queue up before His Holiness to receive the Holy Ash from His Hands. Sri Swamiji mockingly remarked to me whilst pointing to the Murti and smiling innocently, Varada, who is Muruga, is it He or Me?
Our journey then took us to Kanyakumari, Suchindram, Nagercoil, and Madurai. On the way He mentioned that we should look out for an old man who was looking for Him. Not long afterwards an old man stop the car, Sri Swamiji spoke to and bless him, and we continued our trip. In Dhanushkodi, a place where Ram Pariwara took bath after the victorious battle at Sri Lanka, Sri Swamiji and I took bath there. At Suchindram, a resplendent fifty foot tall Murti of Lord Hanuman majestically stands.
My third child, Datta Prasad, a baby boy, was born on January 1st, 1978 at 7.20 p.m. Although it was a government restricted holiday, I was attending to some work at my office in Annanagar. Just before lunch and to my surprise, Sri Swamiji telephoned me and started a conversation; Varada, what are you doing? I responded that I was doing some work. He said, I want to give you a News Years gift. What do you want? I became dumbstruck and kept mum. He continued, are you not worried that you have two daughters and no sons? Today a son will be born to your family at 7.20p.m. You must name him Datta Prasad, since it was my sankalpa during the Datta Jayanti celebrations.
In late 1983, Sri Swamiji visited Sriharikota, where I was staying and stayed for a day. Devotees were allowed to perform Pada Puja. His Holiness visited the Ganesha temple, sang bhajans and spoke to the audience. The next day He visited the launch pad of the SLV-3 vehicle. The launch was scheduled for the following April 3rd. 1984 at 9.00am. Sri Swamiji predicted that the launch will occur at 9.07a.m instead. Under protestations from the scientists and engineers on the ground, things happened as predicted. Later that year a cyclone devastated the island with little causalities, and this too was only the Grace of my Omniscient Sadgurudeva, Sri Swamiji.
Sri Swamiji had come to Calcutta for a visit and I was summoned to be there with Him. First He visited Kalighat and performed puja to Sri Kalimatha. Placing His right hand on the murti, He calmly reminded me that He was verily the venerable Sri Kali. Later He visited Sri Ramakrishna Mutt and the Sri Kali temple, on the shores of the Ganges.
After visiting the several Shiva Lingas at the temple, Sri Swamiji sat on the exterior steps to rest. I sat immediately behind Him. Suddenly He turned to me and said, Varada, at this present time the planets are in their correct benedictory places, you must ask for three boons. I hesitated, but He insisted twice. Under protestations I finally succumbed and the boons asked for were granted. They were;
1. That I should remember Him always,
2. That His name will be on my lips and I will have His darsan at the time I depart my mortal coil, and finally;
3. That He will always be with me.
During a posting in Besant Nagar, I have had wonderful opportunities to serve in the Vellachery Ashrama. I would have a few boys with me, dressed in uniform, to help with the security details when He visited. Sri Swamiji was very impressed.
After awhile, with His observation, His Holiness asked if I would be able to organize security and VIP security training for some Ashrama boys. Emphatically, I happily responded to the affirmative. He kept quiet, give me a crystal stone and finally said, “You come to Madras”.
Sri, Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji has been a physical and spiritual instrument throughout my like. Every step of the way; He was either carrying me or holding my hands while we walked. I cannot recollect a period when He left me alone, to proceed by myself. If ever I had doubt Sri Swamiji would appear to me as some holy person to allay my confusion.
Miracles were constantly occurring, for my family and everyone around me. I was fully engrossed in my Master’s work. Everything He predicted came true. Every command He gave, if followed, was sure to yield results. Unconsciously, all my work was being done with a fair amount on ease. All the diseases from my body were being treated. All my footsteps were surefooted as I walk behind Him with the full knowledge that He will always be there.
Twameva mata cha pita twameva, Twameva bandhushcha sakha twameva,
Twameva vidya dravinam twameva, Twameva sarvam mama deva deva .
Kayena vacha manasendriyairva, Buddhyatmana va prakrite swabhavath,
Karoomi yadyad sakalam parasmai, Narayanayeti samarpayami.
You are my mother and my father; you are my relative and friend, You are my knowledge and my wealth, you are my all oh lord of lord. Whatever I do with my mind, body, speech or with other senses of my body, or with my intellect or with my innate natural tendencies,
I offer everything to Narayana. Jaya Guru Datta