“Don’t cry, after some time I will reappear to you as a young boy. That boy will guide you in the future.”
In 1966 I saw Sri Swamiji for the first time in Kesare at the Electric Colony. My maternal grandmother, Shrimati Kaveramma, was a devotee of the saint from Mallenahalli, Shimoga District, named Sri Shankaralinga Bhagawan. She loved this Swami very much and used to call him, Appavaru. She used to visit His temple along with her children. My mother Sharadamma was one of those children. She was also called Chikkamma by Sri Swamiji. They used to perform poojas, bhajans and seva. When Sri Shankaralinga Bhagawan was about to take Maha Samadhi, my grandmother became very sad and started to cry. He consoled her by saying, “Don’t cry, after some time I will reappear to you as a young boy. That boy will guide you in the future.”
My mother Sharadamma got married to my father C R Shankaran. I am the only daughter of six children to my parents. She taught us many slokas and chants. She was very strict with us regarding our prayers. I remember she would not let us eat until we recited the prayers. My parents moved to Mysore in 1966 and my mother’s friend, Sitamma told her about this young boy in Kesare with miraculous powers. One Sunday, Sitamma took us to Kesare to see the young Swami. This was the first time I saw Sri Swamiji. I was twelve years old and in the seventh standard. When we arrived there Sri Swamiji had just finished the Ganapati Homa and was distributing prasadam. We joined the long line of about one hundred devotees.
I saw Sri Swamiji holding a container in His hand with a few sweets. I knew that it will not be enough for all the devotees and waited to see if it might finish before my turn came. I went before Him and received the sweet and saw that the container still had sweets in it. We all saw this and were surprised, and became curious to know more about this young boy. My mother began visiting Sri Swamiji more often and she used to take us along with her.
Later in 1966 Sri Swamiji moved from Kesare to the Mysore Ashrama and we began making visits there to see Him. My father, Mr. Shankaran became ill at the age of fifty-two. He suffered a stroke on the right side of his body and was hospitalized. It was a Thursday morning and my mother went to meet Sri Swamiji in the Ashrama. She waited for six hours until she got a chance to talk to Him about my father. He told her, “I cannot tell you anything about your husband, I will give you vibuthi and kumkum, and whatever comes you have to face it.”
I remember how steady her faith in Sri Swamiji was then. She replied, “Whatever happens, Sri Swamiji, all I want is your grace.” She took the vibuthi and kumkum and applied it on my father’s forehead and nursed him back to health. He came out of the hospital in one month’s time feeling much better but his right side was still paralyzed. He learned to write with his left hand and to walk with a stick. One year later he was offered a post as a headmaster in a junior school. Six years later, he retired and one year later, he passed away.
During this time my mother used to do her daily household chores in the morning and then go to the Ashrama and join with the other ladies of the Matrumandali; Lalithamma, Sarojamma, and Annapoornamma. The Matrumandali then was a group of ladies who looked after the feeding arrangements for the Ashrama. They used to cook in large quantities for the ashramites and the visitors.
In those days they did not have much kitchen facilities so they used to cook on firesides using wood as fuel. My mother did whatever seva there was to be done in the kitchen and would return home at the end of the day. She garnered every opportunity to serve Sri Swamiji; she served Him regularly and punctually. Her life was a great source of inspiration for all her children.
In my tenth standard of school, I had to write the yearly board exam but I fell ill and was diagnosed with water in my lungs. I could not study and feared that I would not write the exam. Sri Swamiji called me and asked me what was wrong. I told him about my illness and He touched my forehead, gave me vibuthi and said, “Go and write the exam, you have to pass the exam.” I applied the vibuthi and my doctor brother took me on his bicycle to the exam hall. I was so weak, my hands trembled and could hardly hold the pen, by Swamiji’s grace only I completed the exam. My brother was waiting for me outside and he took me home. When the results came out I had passed the exam. Through this experience, Sri Swamiji taught me the power of determination and perseverance.
My siblings and I completed our education. Upon the advice of Sri Swamiji I took my teachers training. After my father passed away, we moved to Bangalore to my elder brother’s place. We used to visit the Mysore Ashrama regularly until the 1980’s when we formed a small group in Bangalore and subsequently the Bangalore Ashrama was inaugurated in 1981. We formed a Matrumandali group in Bangalore Ashrama I became very active with that group. In 1975 I began my job as a teacher and Sri Swamiji had told me that I must offer something from my earnings to the Ashrama.
I used to receive two hundred rupees per month and I used to donate fifty rupees to the Ashrama. Unknowingly to me Sri Swamiji was teaching me to give and not hoard; a lesson in non-attachment. Then in 1986, I applied for a teaching post in an esteemed private school. I took the interview, months passed but I got no reply from the school. On two occasions Sri Swamiji asked me about that job and I told Him that I had heard nothing.
On an occasion before this, I was in Mysore and He told me, “You will get this job, I am Sri Datta Venkataramana Swami, you owe a lot to me, when you get this job you will contribute to this Ashrama, mark my words.” When I returned to Bangalore I got an appointment letter from the school. I have been at this school since 1986 to the present date. From my meager salary of two hundred rupees per month, I am now earning a very comfortable amount with no dearth of money in my life. I learnt that whatever I give with a good heart, I receive it back bountifully multiplied.
On May 16th 1979 I got married to H L K Prasad. I was following the words given to me by Sri Swamiji prior to my marriage, He told me, “You should go to a Guru Bhakta Family, so there is continuity in this service.” On May 20th Sri Swamiji came and blessed my husband and me and we performed Pada Pooja for Him. He said, “In ten years your responsibility will be over.”
My husband was the only son of seven children. Two of the girls were married and there were four more to get married. The family was not wealthy, so the support came then from my husband, my father-in-law and me. Just as Sri Swamiji had said, in ten years time all the daughters got married. Before each marriage I used to give Him the first invitation and by His grace the money came for all the marriages. One day He asked me, “Where did you get the money to perform such nice marriages?” I simply answered, “You are doing everything Swamiji!” On becoming a part of this family I learnt to be a better wife, daughter- in -law and sister in law by performing my karmic duties with unconditional love.
In 1983 my husband and I and my five year old son Susheen Datta went to Mysore for Sri Swamiji’s darshan. He said to me, “Sujaya, you have come; you are going to get a daughter.” I said, “It is not possible Swamiji, I have my work and my household duties.” He continued, “It is Datta’s Sankalpa, you are going to have a daughter.” We left the ashram and returned to Bangalore. In October 1984, a daughter was born. Sri Swamiji named her, Shruthi.
She grew up under Sri Swamiji’s guidance and used to spend a lot of time at ashram. Sometimes my husband used to stop her from visiting the ashram for he thought that she spends too much time away from her school work. Sri Swamiji used to say that if we bring our children to the Ashrama, they will develop faith, discipline and they will learn human values.
At times when Sri Swamiji is in Bangalore, Shruthi would leave school and go to the Ashrama without telling her father. She is involved in ashram activities and when the Karya Siddhi Hanuman Trust was formed, she was named as one of the trustees. Sri Swamiji says that she is like her grandmother, Sharadamma. Once she appeared before the IBM Company for an interview for a software engineer post and was asked to sing a song. She sang one devotional song and spoke about ashram activities. She was hired for the job. She knew it was all Sri Swamiji’s doing. My son, Susheen Datta, also has a very close relationship with Sri Swamiji and he followed His instructions to become a doctor. Once he visited Ujjain with Sri Swamiji and they visited the Mahakala temple. Sri Swamiji made him sit on the same spot where Sri Krishna sat when He was taught by His Guru, Sandipani. Sri Swamiji told him that it was auspicious to see a peacock there; after ten minutes a peacock appeared and Susheen was very happy to get that darshan. Sri Swamiji even tied a raksha on his hand.
In 1988 Sri Swamiji visited Bangalore for Deepavali. My husband and I went for His darshan. He asked my husband and I to build a house on the plot of land we had, which was twenty five kilometers away from the Ashrama. My husband told Him that we cannot afford it at that time and did not want to take a loan. Sri Swamiji gave my husband a one rupee coin as prasadam and said, “Start the construction with this coin, go ahead, these are my words. Bring the plans to me tomorrow!”
My husband is an electronics engineer but very good at drawing plans also, that night he drew a plan of the house we would like and the next day we took it to Sri Swamiji and got it blessed. We took a loan and began constructing our house. Within one year it was completed and on October 18th 1989 Sri Swamiji came to the new house for Pada Pooja. We spent twenty years in that house. My children grew up in that house and received their education in the schools in that area. With Sri Swamiji’s guidance and blessings, my son Susheen Datta became a doctor and my daughter completed her studies as a software engineer. He gave me that home and the means to raise my children and to be a good mother to them.
In 2006 Sri Swamiji asked us to move closer to the Bangalore Ashram. My husband and I took a while to come to terms with this. We had to sell the house where my children grew up and which Sri Swamiji himself had blessed. Friends used to say that it was a loss of money to sell such a property in Bangalore at that time. Through His grace only we made up our minds and put the house up for sale. We received some offers and upon the approval of Sri Swamiji we accepted one and so we sold the house. In 2008 we leased a house, very close to the Ashrama and shifted there. Now we are close to the ashram and my entire family has more time to perform seva at the ashram. He has taken away the object of attachment, which was a home full of memories. He was teaching me that all this is temporary and only Sadguru is permanent.
In my life I try to live each moment as Sri Swamiji would, for He is perfection. He says, “Follow the Master, Faith in God, Face the Devil, and Finish the Game.” I am following Him in Bhakti and Seva, I have faith that He knows what is best for me, I face my karmas with His strength only, and may He shower His grace on us always. Jaya Guru Datta