Sheetal Persad, Canada
“Don’t worry; Sri Swamiji will take care.” I realized at that moment that he was answering my thoughts. He knows everything for He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is my master.
I was born in Trinidad, West Indies and have been living in Canada since the 1970s. I come from an othrodox Hindu family and grew up learning mantras from my father, who was a pundit. Nevertheless I did not believe that God existed, and so I lived in the tamasic lifestyle. From those early days, I was drinking alcohol and now I just could not live without it. I used to drink two to three bottles of alcohol each day, but not many saw me drunk. I went to work as usual and would drink in my home.
In February of 1990 I was admitted to a rehabilitation center for treatment. On the first day I woke up and saw the beautiful sunrise. Immediately, from my heart I spoke to the sun saying, if you are God, I want you to take my life for I can’t go on. I stayed there for twenty-eight days and came out with the intention to continue drinking.
On my first night out of the rehabilitation center I was the bartender at a party, but I had no desire to drink. I don’t know why. This went on for two months. All I had was this burning desire to go to India, so I kept telling my wife of my desire. Then one Tuesday morning as I mentioned India again to her, out of frustration she said that if she gets back the money she loaned to someone she would buy me a ticket for India; just to shut me up.
At that same moment the mailman delivered a letter with a certified check from the friend whom she had loaned the money. My wife gave me the check and on Thursday I was on a plane for India. Later, I landed at the Mumbai Airport. I knew no one in India so I took a taxi and drove around for about one hour to find a hotel. I found a hotel by the name of Kalpana Palace. There was one room left, on the top floor, and I took it. After I settled down I went out and bought a harmonium at a music shop, brought it back to the room and began to check it out. I played the Hanuman Chalisa, which I had known. I then took a shower and as I came out I saw Sri Hanumanji lying on the bed.
I was frightened, standing there half naked looking at this monkey God on my bed. I inched slowly towards the door to run out. I asked him who he was and he said, who you think I am, you called me and I came. After about three hours, I slowly made my way to the side of the bed and we began talking. I asked him to prove himself by showing me some miracles. I wanted to light a cigarette, but he told me to go downstairs and have coffee or tea first. I went downstairs but the restaurant was closed. I went outside and circled the entire block searching, but no place was opened.
I went back to the room and Sri Hanumanji was still there laughing at me; I still had the cigarette in my hand. He then told me that I should go back downstairs as the restaurant was open. I went downstairs and it was opened, just as he said. Someone told me that they were never closed. And so the miracles started. I went back upstairs and he told me to go and take a walk and the third person I see I must stop and tell him to ‘give me the picture’. I thought this was an easy test so I left the hotel and went out walking.
It was about 8.00 am: the first person I saw was a girl making a garland with flowers, the second person was a man selling betel leaves, and the third person was a man, sitting on a mat, making chappals. I went up to him and said, “Give me the picture.” He jumped up and angrily said, “What picture! This is a chappal place.” I kept insisting that I wanted the picture and he started shouting louder. In a short time a crowd gathered around us. I was getting scared for I was in a strange city with all these people looking at me as though I was mad. I made one last request and said, “Give me the picture.”
He then sat on the mat, lifted a picture of Sri Hanumanji and gave it to me. I hugged the picture to my bosom and ran all the way back to the hotel. I started to believe that this was really Sri Hanumanji in my room. As I entered the room He said, “Do you believe me now? Okay, now go downstairs to a store across the street, there is a bigger picture there, go and get it but do not take the lift, take the stairs.”
I left immediately and ran down the stairs, past the guard and front desk clerk, who looked curiously at me. As I was about to cross the road I heard Sri Hanumanji saying, “Come back, I made a mistake.” I ran back upstairs passing the guard and clerk once again. When I entered the room panting for breath Sri Hanumanji said, “I made a mistake; it is the store next to the one directly opposite the hotel.” I turned around and ran down the stairs again and rushed into the streets, the cars and auto rickshaws were trying to avoid hitting me. I entered the store and saw a Hugh picture of Veera Hanumanji.
I was about to purchase the picture when I heard His voice again saying, “Come back, come back, I made a mistake!” I ran back to my room. The guard started chasing me. As I entered the room Sri Hanumanji said to me, “It is in another store, I made a mistake.” I fell on my knees and said to him, “I can’t go anywhere…..” Just then Sri Hanumanji disappeared.
At that moment there was a banging on the door; it was the guard, he rushed in and started looking in the bathroom and under the bed. He asked what was wrong with me. I told him I was not feeling well and he left. I sat down and hugged Sri Hanumanji’s photo and cried, asking Him why he left me. I thought to myself, why I am crying for a picture when I had the real Hanuman. Immediately I saw Sri Hanumanji on the bed again. He said, “Now, do you understand.” I replied, “Yes, I understand.” Then I sat down and asked him the ultimate question, “Swami, everyone prays to you, I am a drunkard and I don’t believe in God. Why did you come to me?”
Sri Hanumanji replied, “You forgot! You forgot you prayed to the sun? I am his sishya, he sent me for you.” I remembered then, the prayer I made to the sun when I had checked into the rehab center. I realized that he had come to take me; I held his hand and said, “Prabhu how can you take me when I now know that you exist, I want to worship you, don’t’ take me.” Like this I kept begging. It was Saturday around noon and I kept begging all through the night, all through Sunday, till Monday. I kept falling asleep and waking up begging.
Ultimately, I said, “okay I give up; if I have to die, tell me what I have to do.” He then had me take a bath, wear one piece of cloth and lie on the bed and chant, “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.” I kept holding his hand while chanting. Then I felt something sweet filling up my mouth and my chanting became softer and softer till it came out in a whisper. Suddenly I found myself by the balcony door with Sri Hanumanji next to me. I looked across the room and saw my body lying on the bed. I looked at Sri Hanumanji and he said to me not to worry and with that he pointed to the body on the bed and said, “Fly, my son, fly!”
The body flew of the bed and shot through the window and was suspended in air for a while. Then it began to fall. It fell on one of the small houses and went through the roof. Three people came out of the house carrying the body and laid it in the street. Cars were honking their horns and it became chaotic. The guard from the hotel came and put the body in the back seat of a car and took it to the emergency room. At the hospital, some men pulled the body out of the car and threw it on a gurney. The doctor came and confirmed that it was dead, so they covered it with a white cloth.
All this time, I was with Sri Hanumanji watching everything. I asked him why they were treating the body like that; he said, “You are not that body.” Then I realized that without the body only the consciousness remains for it can only operate and serve God through a body. I pleaded with him for me to go back in the body, and asked if there was anything that he could do. He looked at me and said, “There is only one person who can help you, but if He helps you, you belong to Him.” I asked, “Who is this person, please tell me.”
Sri Hanumanji pointed to the back of us, and there standing halfway behind a pillar was a man with a black beard, long clothes and a red band tied across His forehead. He just stood there looking at me. I did not like this person for I thought somehow He had caused all this to happen. Nevertheless, I wanted to go back into my body, so mentally I offered my pranams to Him and prayed to put me back into my body. The strange man kept looking at me and the body. He did this a couple of times and then with a loud scream I entered the body.
The doctors came and rushed the body into the hospital. They were trying to pull the legs out as they had gone into my pelvic area when I fell. I witnessed everything they did to my body. Several parts of the body were broken up. They performed some operations and I lay on a bed with hands and feet in slings. All through this the man, with the beard, was standing nearby, observing. I could not move physically, I could only close my eyes. When I saw the bearded man again, I began calling Him, ‘my master’. Sri Hanumanji was nowhere to be seen and I was not thinking of him; I was only focusing on ‘my master’.
I was in the hospital for three days and for some unknown reasons, I wanted to leave. The doctors advised me that I should stay for three more weeks. However, very late one night I gave an orderly some money, asking him to bring me a wheelchair and call a taxi, so I could sneak out of the hospital. I went to the airport, caught my flight and headed home to Toronto Canada. I left Canada alive, died in India, and now I was returning to Canada alive. What a leela of the Almighty.
Only my wife knew about what happened in India. I could not tell anyone else for they would definitely think I was crazy. By the beginning of 1991, I was feeling much better and I was able to move around. I applied for some jobs and on a Friday I got a call from a print shop offering me a job to start working on Monday. The following day, in my meditation, my master told me to go to Trinidad on Monday. I said that I had no money and furthermore, my wife will not let me go. He insisted that He will take care of everything. I became a little annoyed and said to Him; okay if you say so then I will do it.
As I came out of the prayer room the telephone rang; it was my wife’s friend, who was a travel agent. She said a lady, with the same name as mine, had purchased a ticket and had fallen ill so she cannot travel and if I wanted to go to Trinidad, for free. I looked at my wife and she said, “It is a free ticket you can go, but what about your job and spending money.” About twenty minutes later the phone rang again; it was the manager of the print shop. He said that he was having some mechanical problems and asked if I can start in two weeks. He gave me one week’s pay to assure that I show up for the job. Now I had money and job so I was off to Trinidad.
In Trinidad, my master’s voice directed me to the school I had attended when I was a child. In the school, classes were held on the ground floor because of the dilapidated roof. I met with the principal, who was one of my former class teachers and she asked the reason for my visit there. I sponteanously told her that I had come to do a concert to raise funds to repair the school roof. The principal was very happy.
I left wondering how I would organize this concert. On the way home I saw a drunken man. My master asked me to go and speak with him. I said, “He is drunk”, and my master retorted, “But you used to be like that.” As I approached him, he asked me to buy him a drink. I ordered the drink and before I could say anything he gave me a business card and said to come see him in his office the next day: he was the editor of a local Newspaper and related to some of Sri Swamiji’s devotees. While waiting to cross the street, a young man, whom I had taught in scool, stopped and asked me what I was doing in Trinidad. I told him about the concert and he volunteered his music system.
On the way, I saw a movie theatre and I thought this would be a good venue for the concert. I enquired about the place and was told that the owner will be back in two hours, so I went home. While sitting at home, a man came and angrily told my mother, “Your son has come to do a concert, but he did not come to me, I am willing to offer my cinema at no charge.” Within two weeks we did the concert, and used the funds to repair the school’s roof l. This is how my master works.
Up to this time I did not yet meet my master physically, but for me He was Shiva, Rama, Hanumanji and all the gods. In 1993 I again visited Trinidad and a friend had given me a package to deliver to someone. When I visited that person he asked me if I would come and play some music for his Guru who was visiting. I did not believe in Gurus and Swamis, but I loved playing music, so I agreed. He also asked me also if I knew anyone who played the steel pan. That evening, while sitting at home with my mother, a man came and called out to her. He said he had heard that I played music and would like for me to teach him. He said the only instrument he played was the steel pan. I told him I would start teaching the harmonium in about one week and he was welcome to play his steel pan.
The next day we went to the place where the Guru was. When we got there, I was asked to start singing. I closed my eyes, focused on my master and started playing music. All of a sudden the place became quiet, so I opened my eyes. I saw everyone getting up and looking outside. Suddenly a form emerged from the doors and began walking down the steps. It was my master, He is a human being and He is heading in my direction. For three years I have known my master, in my mind and heart, and now I am seeing Him physically coming towards me. I was spellbound. He was walking with His eyes piercing the crowd searching for something. I stared at his flowing black hair and black beard; my master!
His eyes caught mine and He came straight up to me, put His hands on my shoulders and said, “Yes Sheetal, it is I, your master, you keep doing.” He recognized me; my master recognized me. I was elated. Tears flowed from my eyes. Later Sri Swamiji called the man who was going to play the steel pan and I. He was telling me to play the steel pan. I went on the stage, took the sticks and although I never played the steel pan before, I began playing and I knew the ragas which I have never heard of or played before. I knew it was not me playing, but my master. I looked up and saw Him smile. Yes! He is the one playing the music, my Master, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
When I was finished Sri Swamiji called me, took a garland, and said, “This is so big, this is so beautiful.” He threw it up in the air and as it came down it became smaller and smaller and when He caught it with His finger; it became a beaded mala. He put it on me and blessed me. This was my first meeting with my Master, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda.
Some time after this initial meeting I was sitting in the audience listening to Sri Swamiji sreak about how He teaches His devotees. He said the first step is like the cat and her kittens. The cat takes her kittens all around with her mouth without hurting them. She moves them around for protection. So to, Sri Swamiji is with His devotees in the initial stage. He continued that the second stage is like monkeys. The babies hang on to their mothers’ back and jump place to place with her. They have to be careful that they don’t fall off. So too you have to hold on to Sri Swamiji and don’t fall off. The third stage is like fish. The little fishes just follow the direction of the mother’s eyes.
As Sri Swamiji was saying this He looked down on the floor at the side of me. I too looked down and I saw the microphone cord tangled up. As soon as the cord was untangled, a lady came running up to offer a mala to Sri Swamiji and her feet went on the same spot where the cord was previously tangled. If I did not move it she would have tripped and fell.
Sri Swamiji showed me His omniscience when He gave Music for Meditation and Healing concert t in California in 1999. The concert began with Sri Swamiji playing the bhajan ‘Pranava Swarupa’. Just then I began thinking that this His last concert for the tour and we will all go back to our respective homes. When will I see him again? I don’t want to leave Him; I wish I could stay with Him all the time.
Immediately Sri Swamiji turned his head towards me and said, “Sheetal, you see how Sri Swamiji is jumping around like a monkey on the keyboard, you come to the Mysore Ashram and jump with Swamiji.” I stopped playing but He said to keep playing. I continued playing and my thoughts started again as to what would happen if I go to India when my mother is ill in Trinidad. Once again Sri Swamiji turned to me and said, “First visit mother in Trinidad, then come to Mysore.” I continued thinking where would I get the money for all this. Once again Sri Swamiji turned to me and said, “Don’t worry Swamiji will take care.” I realized at that moment that he was answering my thoughts. He knows everything for He is omniscient, omnipotent and omni present. He is my master. Jaya Guru Datta