C S Venkatesh, Bangalore: “Wherever you work, be honest and sincere. Pray to God and your Guru. You will come out good in life”.
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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