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).
Padma Phyllis Turk, DRC, USA
He said, “It’s okay, don’t worry. Just think of Sri Swamiji as your brother and everything will be fine.” I was sitting on the floor in front of Him and I grabbed His knees and cried, “Swamiji I will never leave you.”
Jaya Guru Datta. I live in, and have the good fortune of being the manager of the Datta Retreat Center, West Sunbury, Pennsylvania. This is Sri Swamiji’s Ashram in the United States of America and I have been here for some years now. I met Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji in 1980 in Pittsburgh at which time I was a spiritual seeker. I had been meeting different gurus and yogis, but I wasn’t having good experiences with them. I suppose it was just that they were not my Guru. Just at the time when I decided to give up the quest of finding a guru, Sri Swamiji came to Pittsburg, accompanied by John Ramana Laird and Gene Silverblatt.
Just before coming, Gene, whom I did not know, called me at my place of work and said that he wanted to bring Sri Swamiji to Pittsburgh. He informed me that this Yogi was from India and that he wanted to introduce Him to small groups of people, but he didn’t know the ‘City of Pittsburgh’. One program was already scheduled that week at the Unity Church where I stayed as the caretaker and was also leading study groups in a set of books called ‘A Course in Miracles’. Quickly it was decided that He would come to meet those students, on the day of His slated arrival in Pittsburgh.
So here I was, I didn’t even really have an open heart to meeting this person, because I didn’t want another experience that felt hurtful. Anyhow, I called a number of people and informed them about His coming. We didn’t make any special preparations as we didn’t know what we should do, but when He walked through the door, He really walked into my heart. Later, I could say it felt like ‘Baby Krishna’. I felt some kind of joy such as I had never experienced in my life; like that of a young and holy child, it was so pure.
During that meeting Sri Swamiji did not speak very much. He said a few words in Kannada and then Ramana would expound on them. If I had a question I would try to put my hand up like a school-child and ask, but before I could do that I would get the answer. Sri Swamiji was telepathically communicating with me and then at the same time I would get all this laughter in my heart!
I didn’t know what was going on and I wanted to find out more, so I ran out of the room to see Sri Swamiji in the parking lot before He left. There were three of us there and Sri Swamiji reached down on the ground, grabbed some stones and we could actually see ‘Datta Yantra coins’ sprouting out of those stones. He gave one to each of us and said, “This is enlightenment.” One person became very fearful and he couldn’t accept it so he gave it back and we all saw it merging back into the stone.
After this program Sri Swamiji went to the West Coast for a week and then He was coming back to Boston. I got time off work and went to Boston to meet and spend a few days with Him at the home of Ammani Desai. During that trip He actually traveled alone and when He got off the plane, He had this tiny bag that He used to carry all the precious things in and we greeted Him at the airport like that.
I had such a strong impression of Sri Swamiji and horses. Once I asked Him if He liked horses and He said, “Yes!” When I was younger I had a horse, and later, after meeting Him, I heard the story about when Sri Swamiji was a young man, a white horse would come to Him every day and take Him for a ride. During my first visit to the Mysore Ashram there was a picture hanging in the dining hall, of Sri Swamiji on this beautiful white horse. That vision affected me deeply, and made me think of the Kalki Avathara. Later, I got a small copy of that photo and it still hangs in my home.
My first trip to India, in 1981, was very remarkable. Firstly, Sri Swamiji had invited me to come to India and for some reason I couldn’t arrange it. Then Sant Kesavadas arranged a tour to India at a cost of three thousand dollars, which I didn’t have, but miraculously received. When I arrived in India, driving through Bombay, in the middle of the night, I had the most intense feeling of “coming home”. When I got to Bangalore, I found out that Sri Swamiji was there! I took a friend and had my first mad auto rickshaw ride across the city in heavy traffic; the rickshaw had lost its brakes, but that was no problem, the driver still had a horn.
Upon seeing Sri Swamiji again, I cried and cried throughout the whole program. He called me and spoke to me and I told Him about the planned tour around India, and that I would rather stay with Him instead. He insisted that I must take the tour; it was a magnificent and enlightening experience. I had the opportunity to visit ashrama, including those of Sri Ramana Maharishi and Paramahamsa Ramakrishna. I even had darshan of Mother Theresa and many other saints. I went to Lord Krishna’s birthplace, the Himalayas and visited famous places and temples throughout India. For a westerner, without His grace this could not have happened.
After the tour I left the group and was ready to leave for Mysore. It so happened that the city was on strike, the situation was dangerous and I couldn’t get transport to leave Bangalore. However, Sri Swamiji works in mysterious ways for His devotees. By late afternoon I ventured to the train station with the hope of getting a ticket and joined the line. Everything was written in Kannada and I couldn’t converse with anyone. Trying to get someone’s attention, I was asking anyone for help. Then, from somewhere in the line a man asked me where I was going to, in English. What a relief!
I told that man that I was going to Sri Ganapati Ashrama in Mysore and he volunteered to help, because he said that Sri Swamiji was his Guru also. He made all the necessary arrangements and we left for Mysore. When we got to Mysore City, those people took me to their house, took care of me and later they took me to the Ashrama. When we got there Sri Swamiji came out and greeted me as a prodigal daughter saying, “Oh I sent him to find you. How did you find him?”
I stayed there for one week and it was the most amazing time that I had ever spent in my life. Even though no one spoke English, I was able to help Gayatri in the printing press, learned some bhajans from Veda boys, such as Ganesh Avadhani and others, who were children at the time, and taught western spiritual songs to them. The best moments were when I was sweeping around the courtyard and I would hear Sri Swamiji literally singing to me from His room. Before I left for Bangalore where the group was still staying, He materialized a Siva saligrama and gave it to me. As it turned out some members of the group had to stay for another week and I could also change my ticket, so I returned to Mysore.
During the second week in the Ashrama, Sri Swamiji invited me to come along with the group to a program in Bangalore. On the way back I had the opportunity to travel in Sri Swamiji’s car. It was late at night and raining, but somewhere along the route we stopped at a roadside emporium. Sri Swamiji said to me, “I want to get you a gift, choose whatever you want.” I chose a small Ganapati Murti, which till today I keep in my prayer room.
Early one morning I heard a knock on the door and when I opened it I saw a little Veda boy standing outside saying that Sri Swamiji had sent him. He had some objects in his hand including a little white stone idol of Sri Krishna which he gave to me. Later Sri Swamiji told me what they all represented: Krishna was my meditation Guru; a picture of Ganesh for my life Guru; and a little Lakshmi Narasimha was for my married life. Then later, one day when the spicy foods were affecting me too much; I was literally thinking about and longing for plain chapattis and fruit. As I sat helping Ajji and the other ladies clean vegetables for the evening meal, a boy came to me and said that Sri Swamiji had sent me a plate of plain chapattis and fruit!
Then, when I got back to Pittsburgh I had to find a job right away. Eventually I got a good paying job and traveled to many states testing underground tanks. Everywhere I lived I would try to find a house where I could invite Sri Swamiji on His future trips. In 1984, the Holiday Inn Hotel chain instituted the first awards program for stays at their premises. Because of this job I stayed only at Holiday Inns and I received points for two tickets to India. With these two tickets, my friend, Susan Susheela Williams, and I arrived in Mysore for the 1984 Shivaratri program.
During this period I had profound spiritual blessings from Sri Swamiji. One morning I awoke very early with the strong compelling thought that I must confess to Him. That morning I went in the interview line and when my turn came I just told Him everything that I was ashamed of in my life. I was taking so much of His time but an inner force made me go on baring my soul to Him and finally He said, “ It’s okay, don’t worry. Just think of Sri Swamiji as your brother and everything will be fine.” I was sitting on the floor in front of Him and I grabbed His knees and cried, “Sri Swamiji I will never leave you.”
After that interview, I went on crying for the whole day. Just prior to this I had bought two pictures from the bookstall: one of Sri Swamiji sitting as a yogi in a perfect posture and the other of Him much younger with bushy hair and without a beard. I placed garlands on both pictures and that day the flowers on the yogi withered, but those on the other picture just stayed fresh. That indicated to me that Sri Swamiji, the yogi, knew that I identified with Him and He was taking this karma and suffering for me.
On Sunday I went to participate in the homa. I used to be almost crazy in His presence because I knew that He could read my mind. I had some doubts and I was so afraid that He would catch every thought out of my head. I was in such a state of tension. (Eventually I came to understand that Sri Swamiji’s energy brings these impurities out in us. Whatever is going on within us seems to multiply and become enormous until it is resolved.) At the homa that day I was just praying that He would take this mental imbalance away.
When the Poornahurti was offered to the fire I felt as though a big weight was lifted from me and I just couldn’t believe it. I felt like a different person. I wondered if anybody else had seen my predicament, so I decided I wouldn’t talk to anybody all day: I would just wait and see what other people were observing. After this episode, all day long Sri Swamiji seemed to show up everywhere that I was. Finally, after the evening prayers and dinner, Sri Swamiji was standing outside, near the small temples speaking to someone. I took my opportunity, went to Him and explained what had happened; my experience at the homa. He said, “Yes Sri Swamiji took ninety percent and the other ten percent is for you to work on.” That ten percent has been enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life. It was such an enormous act of grace from my Guru, Sri Swamiji.
Before leaving the Ashrama, I invited Sri Swamiji to come to America and He accepted. I asked Him to come to my house, but I didn’t have a house! I was actually staying with my parents for a couple of weeks. There was only a period of three months before Sri Swamiji’s arrived, so I had to find a house, buy it and get it ready, but I was really never there; I was always out on the road working. I didn’t have much money so I bought an older house that needed a lot of repairs. I also had to organize some programs for Sri Swamiji. Anyhow some friends and my elderly parents came and we pulled it all together.
One day before He was due to arrive, I remembered my mother and I running through a department store with shopping carts tossing in everything I could think of which might be needed to host Him. An observer might have thought I had won a shopping spree with so many minutes to fill up the buggy. When He was coming from St Louis, He missed His flight, so I had an extra day to get ready. This was a very interesting experience. Some of my friends gave up on the project, probably because I was so difficult to deal with, being in frenzy under such pressure about everything.
Anyhow, when we were all at the airport together, Sri Swamiji said, “Padma, where are we going?” Susan said, “We are going to Padma’s house.” I saw Sri Swamiji looking at me with compassion in His eyes’ twice He said pointedly, “Not Padma’s house, my house! We have won!” It was a great lesson for me in having faith to go through the experience and reach the goal, no matter what. Not only do we win by reaching the goal. We also win by demonstrating His power when we hold steadfastly to Him, the power of His Grace! And there it was, my house became His house! How can I explain what that meant to me?
Eventually, our little group got Sri Swamiji’s permission to start an organization in the USA. Susheela and I had heard about a course, which was being held in downtown Pittsburgh, where people could learn everything they had to know about how to incorporate and become a non-profit organization without hiring a lawyer. We took this course and met with Mr. Channarasappa from the Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh. He advised us every step of the way and we got the paper work done and started the Datta Yoga Center.
In 1986 the Datta Yoga Center, USA was inaugurated. We had the official permission from the government and we had all the forms signed. In the backyard of the little house in Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, we held the inauguration ceremony and Sri Swamiji talked about the need for a temple for protection for the United States. He mostly talked about the difficult times ahead, after 2000.
He stressed the need to find a suitable place as soon as possible. At our Kriya Yoga event at the ‘Center for the Light’ in Massachusetts, He outlined in detail His vision for a Center. We didn’t know what to do, really. How were we going to find a place to start if He wasn’t going to be here to see it? There was a six acre parcel of land that has been in my family for some time, but it was so remote, about a two hours’ drive from the Pittsburgh Airport, depending on traffic and weather conditions. Also there was no big population center close by and it just didn’t seem like the ideal situation, but it was something.
I took a map and very hesitantly showed Him the location of the property. He seemed keenly interested and what happened next was the greatest miracle. He was supposed to have a program in Spain and somehow He cancelled it and came back to Pennsylvania with us. So we had a week with Him without any scheduled programs. We stayed in Susan’s parents’ mountain house, out in the Laurel Highlands and we were just casually enjoying the time with Sri Swamiji. Then He asked to go to Jamestown, New York to see Joe and Patty Panebianco.
On that road trip, along the way, we went to look at that property, it was sheer wilderness. The land was completely covered with trees and shrubs; there was not even a path to enter. I actually bought tennis shoes for Him, He didn’t want to wear them, but then in the end He did. A little distance down the hill the trees were bigger and within them Sri Swamiji found some huge rocks. He indicated to us that this is where we would build the temple, as these rocks had been calling out to Him. He identified the rocks as the Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma rocks, Datta rocks in fact.
He then indicated to us exactly what we should do and how we should take care of them. He stressed that they are precious rocks; they are really living souls and they are ancient spiritual healing rocks. It was a very deep experience, but we really didn’t understand very much. We were just so thrilled that Sri Swamiji would find this to be such a wonderful place and that we could begin the Center here. Actually, when I went with Him to Trinidad in 1981, I even mentioned this land to Him asking if I should sell it. He was starting to say “Yes! Why not? But then He said, “Oh no, no! There is some plan, I think.” Today this Ashrama consists of nineteen acres, much of which was donated by devotees later.
Sri Lakshminarayana, one of those devotees who donated land here, was skeptical about the location and literally fought with Sri Swamiji over it. Sri Swamiji told him to go and experience the rocks. When he came and touched the rocks he got something like an electric shock and after that he approved of the location. Later, when he had some serious job problems he made a pilgrimage here and everything was handled just by praying at the rocks. Many other people came and had their problems solved by these rocks.
In those first two years, some of us came out and stayed in tents, made some attempts to tame the land, and plant roses. We even got together, built a little shed which eventually housed a tiny kitchen and became officially known as “Sri Datta’s Hotel”. We got electricity installed to a pole with four outlets, in the middle of the woods. As years passed, with each new building, we would plug it into one of the outlets! None of us had good paying jobs and for everything we had to do a lot of fund raising. At that time we purchased a used mobile home and it served as an all-purpose building. We had to get a septic system installed and water well drilled; we were just like pioneers!
In 1988, Sri Swamiji came and stayed for about two weeks. In preparation, we cut down some trees and put up a big blue tarp tent which became almost permanent for several years; we called it the “Ganapathy Big Top.” We had black plastic wrapped around poles for shower stalls in the middle of the woods with an electric water heater sitting there – get your bucket of hot water and go bathe! There were strings of lights through the trees of the forest and blue plastic drums for drinking water. All the volunteers were sleeping in small camping tents. In spite of the primitive nature of things, we had many programs and guests were housed at the Slippery Rock University nearby. There were Kriya Yoga courses, puja, discourses, even a small concert and a wedding! The main event however, was unplanned. Josh and Carol Capy had carried with them two murti from India – Datta and Anagha. They together with Josh’s sister Bethann Ortiz donated the murti to Sri Swamiji. Afterwards He then had an altar built at the Siva Rock and installed the deities, as well as having the Datta Yantra engraved and painted on the huge Vishnu Rock. The temple began, without having a building to enclose it.
In May of 1990, Sri Swamiji was expected in for the inauguration of the temple, but the construction was far from being completed. Carol and I rented a truck to go out to eastern Pennsylvania and pick up the pavers for the floor and a blizzard came up. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike we were involved in an accident with about seven vehicles when our truck skidded and swerved on the ice. Although no one was seriously hurt, it was serious for us, because the truck was rented under the Datta Yoga Center. The Yoga Center was now in jeopardy if there were any lawsuits against us.
When Sri Swamiji came for the inauguration, we had the floor stones temporary installed. During the inauguration we had the Nadaswara music played on a boom box and Swami Manasa Datta had a steel plate on which he was beating the percussion, as Sri Swamiji proceeded to the temple top. After the inauguration Sri Swamiji called us all together and said that we could not move forward with anything else now as we were stuck until all lawsuits were finished. He was really disappointed that we had created this problem for His ashram.
When the lawsuit came up, Carol and I were scheduled to go to the court in the Laurel Highlands. Many devotees gave lots of advice about how to prepare for this. We wore our Datta Rakshas, bracelets and beads. Everything that was Sri Swamiji’s that we could think of, we had on our bodies. We got to the court steps, turned around three times, did Datta Stavam and when we got into the court room everybody was wearing long faces. The judge was very tough and everybody seemed to be losing their cases. Then we learned that the lady judge who used to preside in that court had passed away and the new judge was from out of town. Our case was called and we went into the court room. The judge read our information and said, “Oh! So you are from West Sunbury; that area is actually my jurisdiction area. I am just here temporarily, but I grew up in West Sunbury; my family owned a grocery store in the town. You know Thomson’s market?” Carol said, “Oh yes! I buy all my peaches for canning there.” After some negotiations, a ‘not guilty’ verdict was returned in our favor. We continued our construction phase and everyone was full of life!
In 1993, Sri Swamiji started His Nada Prasara tour of the USA and the Caribbean. Right from the beginning He called me and said, “I have some good news and some bad news for you. First, the bad news: I am going to close the Datta Yoga Center in Pennsylvania and you have to tell the people there. Second, the good news: Sri Swamiji is taking you back to India for awhile.” The good news helped me to accept the situation and absorb the information given. Then He said “if Swamji tells you to jump off of a bridge you have to jump”, because He knew how tough it was going to be for me to give this news to everyone.
Later, during the Pittsburgh phase of the tour, Sri Swamiji arrived at the Center and immediately said that He wanted to rest. He went into His accommodations and Eshwari and I went down to the temple. Within a short time Sri Swamiji came into the Temple and said, “I cannot close this Temple. Bala Datta says I cannot close this Temple.” People became excited and they were all coming towards the Temple and everyone started crying.
Then He said, “I have a plan, I want sixteen people who will pledge fifty dollars a month for the rest of their lives for the maintenance for this Center. I will name each one for sixteen manifestations of Datta. You will be permanent members of this Center.” After this I went to India and stayed there for five years. I was quite convinced I was not coming back to Datta Retreat Center, because He told me, when you come back you can start some other center, maybe in southern California. However, in 1998, before my return to America, he called a DYC USA meeting in Mysore, where many devotees had gathered for the inauguration of Nada Mantapam. At that time, He established that I should serve as manager of Datta Retreat Center and all the details were worked out.
When I stayed in India and went on the Andhra tours, Sri Swamiji would speak only in the local language, but this did not affect me as I was more interested in receiving the vibrations from those discourses. Even the Bhajans, even though I didn’t understand their meanings, I still love listening to them and singing them. Once, we were sitting in the crowd and Sri Swamiji was doing all His discourses in Telugu. Intellectually, we didn’t understand what He was saying, but He was telling this wonderful, funny story. I just started laughing heartily and Sri Swamiji stopped speaking and looked across at me. Although He was speaking in Telugu, He knew that I really got the whole story completely.
One of the most important moments I had in my life was in 1991 when Sri Swamiji called me in London and candidly told me that we have been together in all of the life times and if I become lost He searches the universes to find me. That’s the real miracle in this life. Sri Swamiji found me. I was a coal miner’s daughter from western Pennsylvania, without any experience of such things. He found me, He loves me, and He guides and protects me. He has given me a life time of living within His ring of protection, allowing me to serve Him in some small way.
Whatever struggles I have suffered, I know it is all my karma and He is helping me to bear them with His safety and protection around me. How can I have this relationship with this God-Man, whom we know in this form, as Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, who comes from India to be with us in these woods? He has stayed with us regardless of how little or how much we have done in our lives. Whether we are good or bad, He comes. He is with me, He is inside and He is outside. Continuously, He has been there with me through all the years. How is it possible? I cannot even comprehend. I can only humbly accept! Sri Guru Datta
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Janardhan R Tallam, Ohio, USA
With Swamiji every day is a different drama and we need to learn from that and try not to criticize.
I do not remember when my associating with Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji started. I do not know how to relate it: is it from a recent date or from childhood? Seeing Him is enough or talking with Him is what counts. I want to share my connections with Sri Swamji from my childhood so that people can understand why so many thoughts go through my mind. Looking back at my relationship, it is who I am and how my life was changed. I wish I had a much deeper and closer contact with Sri Swamiji from childhood, however I think we should be content with what we have.
I lived in a small town called Yerraguntla, about twelve kilometers from Proddatur. Those who visited Proddatur should go through Yerraguntla. When I was young, our school played field hockey with another High Scholl in Proddatur. I remember the day; it was mid-morning, I was standing and looking at the school building, comparing it with my school. Ours was a much smaller school. I was observing students going from one class to another. I remembered seeing one of the students, a boy about my age, wearing a dhoti and with vibuthi smeared on forehead, smiling with His white teeth quiet obvious, talking with His classmates and walking in the hallway. I did not pay much attention to Him and I went with the game.
Later, twice I saw this person at a different place. Normally, I would visit my sister in Jammalamadugu and the bus from the village stops in front of the Arya Bhavan, a small restaurant. It was always mid-afternoon and the place serves great masala dosa. Usually, I would stop, sometimes after school, to have afternoon tiffin. A few times I noticed the same lad from the high school waiting at the tables and smiling. It happens that the cashier of the place was my next door neighbor from Yerraguntla. I could never forget the smile on that boy’s face. Later I will explain how I remembered all this. However, still there were no communications with Him and no words exchanged.
We did not have any movie theatres in Yerraguntla, so few students used to go to late movies in Proddatur; most of the times the late movies start around 10.00 pm and finished by 2.00 am. After the movie, all of us would go to the bus-stand and sit near the Shiva temple discussing the movie; sometimes being loud and sometimes singing songs. One time, an old woman, Venkamma, came and chased us out of the temple and made it clear that we are not welcomed there. Later, I left India for the United States and I forgot about all these events.
I am now living in Youngstown, Ohio. One day after working the night-shift and having just a few hours of sleep, late in the afternoon I went to Sri Venkateswara temple in Pittsburgh. It is my habit to visit this temple once a week. This was because I went to medical school in Tirupati and have a close association with Lord Venkateswara. When I got there I saw a harmonium sitting at the main temple. I asked priest, Varadachari, about the harmonium and he explained they have a visitor from India, a good singer who would give a performance. This was great entertainment for the staff. The next week, at the same time, while walking in the hallway I saw Sri Swamiji going to the quarters, probably for an afternoon rest. Still there was no communications, even at this time.
When I left India, I left everything to my brother, Ananda Rao. I was under the impression that they were all doing well and did not pay much attention to them. However, I communicated once a month by letter. I used to receive letters from my brother asking me to meet with a Swamiji from India. I had several letters, but pretty much I ignored them. I get confused when you have more than one teacher; and on God.
We had some serious financial problems in India and at one time, my family was going to lose everything that my father built. I remember getting a phone call from Anasuya, Ananda’s wife, who was crying and requesting my help. I was not sure that I was in any position to help them out that much, but I promised that I will help them. I also advised them that the best thing to do is to leave everything to the debtors and let them take what they can. Later, I understand that Ananda went to Mysore and after ten days of sleeping in the old Datta temple, he got the chance to see Sri Swamiji. When he met with Sri Swamiji, He told Ananda that he cannot help him, however it’s only your brother that can help you.
Somehow, my thought of my family suddenly changed and I decided to help them. After several phone calls and discussion with several people, the family was saved and everyone was happy to stay in the same house where they loved to be. Since I was not financially well-off, I was sending money to them every two weeks. The last check I remember writing was for three thousand dollars. When I saw the return check it was written for thirteen thousand dollars. Everyone understands that you can make mistakes with numbers, but on a check you still have write the amount in words. I was not sure how that happened and I never will make a mistake like that. Fortunately, there was money in the bank and everything went well. Once, while driving back from Pittsburgh, after visiting the temple, it dawned on me that there was a major force behind this and someone was trying to get us closer in order to save the family.
One day I got call from Dr. Prakash Rao who introduced himself and explained his role with the ‘Datta Yoga Center, USA’. He explained about Sri Swamiji works and mission and requested me to be part of the organization. Since I was involved with another temple and did not have much time, I respectfully y declined. Later, I received a cassette tape with Sri Swamijis songs and you will not believe how many times I played it; I still have the cassette at home.
Then later, in the 1990s, I started reading the publications of Bhaktimala which automatically started coming to my house: I am sure Ananda Rao must have given my mailing address to the ‘Bhakti Mala’ office. From reading these little books, you could realize how the ashram was; going through difficulties times with new buildings, transportation and most of all, keeping the visitors comfortable.
Then I found out that my nephew was spending time in Mysore and he was very happy. Suddenly, one day I was informed that he had an accidental death, but I could not do anything from where I was. Today, my mind searches as to why this happened; he is related to a person who saves lives, but Sri Swamiji let him go. Of course, my nephew did not follow Sri Swamijis advice and no one in the Ashram was watching him. Many times these thoughts go through my mind as to why this had to happen. Then one day I realize that it’s ones Karma and when your time comes you need to leave this world. I never heard my family making any negative comments about Sri Swamiji after that tragic accident, but they have gotten closer to Him.
Finally, in 1996 I met Sri Swamiji at the Pittsburgh Airport and I saw Him shedding tears when I mentioned about my nephew. Later, I had an interview with Sri Swamiji at West Sunbury; it was brief, probably for one minute. During that interview, suddenly I asked Him, “Can you be my guru.” He waved His hand and my interview ended. After reading Sri Swamiji’s life story, about His rather hard life in Proddatur, I realized that He was none other than that boy I saw in my adolescence years. I also learnt that as a child, Sri Swamiji used to have a few hours of undisturbed sleep and wake up early in the mornings to practise yoga asana.
After meeting Him I decided to visit Mysore. My first visit to Mysore was nothing but troubles; from the Airport in Bangalore to Mysore City; I was cheated by the taxi cab and the porter at the Railway station. When I got to the station the train was moving and the porter threw the luggage and collected a good amount of money. I never even purchased a ticket. I was tired, hungry and thirsty, but finally I reached the Mysore Ashram. My brother misunderstood my date of arrival and did not come to the Airport. However, I never felt mad or had any thoughts of canceling my trip to the Mysore Ashram; I spend about a week at the Ashram. I also had a lot of problems to go to Hyderabad to attend my nephew’s, Srinivasulu, marriage, but with the help of Sri Swamiji I was able to get there, on the day of marriage.
Looking back at the events, I feel this are not troubles, but challenges one has to face to meet the right person. First, I want to say why did Swamiji did not reply to accept me as His devotee. After ten years of listening and reading, I realized that He is indirectly teaching us how to be good students learning from day to day life experiences. By reading His sayings, you do not need to read and learn all the ancient scriptures, if you follow what Sri Swamiji is saying, that is enough to change your life.
Though I am trained as a surgeon and have been practicing for quite a few years, I work in a busy Emergency Department for more than thirty years. Most of my patients are critical need patients and several times a day there are life threatening situations and I am constantly saving lives. People expects us to know everything and save every life. I am happy that I choose to do what I am doing and today I know that there is someone guiding me to make my job easier.
Sri Swamiji is in my life every minute, every hour and all day. Every time I have to make a decision about a critical problem at work, I would always consult with Him and He is able to help me. Several of my colleagues make positive comment to me. Once, I was told that twenty years is burn- off period for any Emergency Room Physician, however I am doing this since the 1970s and I am still continuing to work.
I am not sure when I am going to stop, but friends usually asked me what the force behind this is. I try explaining to them that they should have faith in whatever they do at all times, and do the right thing; do not look to get riches or gain power. I have given many books on Sri Swamji to a few of my friends and daily I forward by emails, simple teachings from His life to them. Finally, if you have faith, serve Him sincerely and do not try to become selfish. With Swamiji every day is a different drama and we need to learn from that and try not to criticize.
I want to thank Sri Swamiji for taking care of my family and protecting them from evil things. Though I am first male person in the family and by rights they are supposed to listen to me, I have no doubt that Sri Swamiji is the eldest brother and we all come after Him. Since I met Sri Swamiji, I do not know how many times, of course in my mind, I argued with Him and became angry. I debated on everything that was done. Later I found that the reasons why these happen; is that physically I am not close to Him, but internally I am closer that I think. Jaya Guru Datta
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Ashok Kumar Hasrat, Surinam
Sri Swamiji is the giver of all things. Whatever one desires, He gives. He has all the answers for all questions. Slowly He is giving me what He thinks is best for me and I am eternally grateful to Him. He is my Jagatguru.
I met Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in July, 1981. There was an Indian engineer Mr. Laxminarayan Gonoguntla, working in Surinam for the American Bauxite Company. His parents in India were devotees of Sri Swamiji. He formed a committee with some Surinamese and they invited Sri Swamiji to visit Surinam. He accepted the invitation and the committee proceeded with the preparations.
My mother told me that a Swami from India was coming to visit and I must go and see Him. It was a Sunday so I went to the place and waited for His arrival. When the car pulled up and He came out, I noticed that He was bare-footed and He had a beautiful smile. He went straight to the Homa Kunda and began performing the Homa. He was very young then; He was only thirty-nine years old.
He sat and performed the rituals with such concentration that everyone who was sitting there was looking at Him as if they were under some sort of a spell. Towards the end of the ritual, He passed a coconut around for us to touch to perform the Poornahuti. I wanted to meet this Swamiji so I asked Mr. Laxminarayan’s permission. He told me that later in the afternoon Sri Swamiji would be giving interviews. I came then and got a chance to meet Him.
When I sat before Him, He gave me the most beautiful smile that melted my heart. I told Him about my problems and He told me to write to Him, He even invited me to visit the Mysore Ashrama. I began writing to Him in Mysore and would receive a reply at least every three months. His assistant, Ramesh used to be the intermediary. Those letters gave me a lot of guidance in my spiritual pursuits and material life.
I began meditating and performing Japa. I found that when I sat in silence, all my heaviness would leave and I would feel as light as a feather. I got a photo of Sri Swamiji from Mr. Laxminarayan and I would communicate with Him through that picture. I was following Sri Swamiji’s advice and my life improved in all aspects. I knew then that He is a very powerful Being. I told my parents and sister, Asha, about Sri Swamiji and I discussed His teachings with them. He had gifted me with a lifetime subscription of the Bhakti Mala monthly magazine. I received it every month from India. I began performing Homas and Poojas with my parents and sister. Slowly they began to have faith in Him
In 1984, I received an invitation, by mail, from Sri Swamiji to join Him on His visit to Trinidad. I was welcomed in Trinidad by a devotee, Mr. Krishna Prasad. That stay lasted for three weeks, during which time I did the Kriya Yoga course held in Arima. I also visited Princes Town where I witnessed the Homas and Poojas done by Sri Swamiji and I listened to His divine discourses. There were many devotees in Trinidad and they all loved Sri Swamiji very much. They treated me very well also and I will always thankful to them for that. I left Trinidad feeling very blessed and inspired.
In 1986, I got another invitation to visit Trinidad again with Sri Swamiji. This time my family accompanied me as they were having some problems with black magic. During their interview with Him they told Him about their problems He promised to help them. He told us that we were very lucky to be in such an intimate setting with Him, for people in Mysore will yearn to have this association. After the Kriya Yoga program, I felt the Shakti Pat from Sri Swamiji within me and the mat that I used for the Yoga was infused with His energy. Whenever I sat on it, I felt the energy. This helped me tremendously with my spiritual progress.
When my sister, Asha, became very ill physically, she began writing letters to Sri Swamiji. Around this time, He had stopped answering letters from devotees because of the large following He had wherever He went. Nevertheless, my sister wrote her problems in a letter and mailed it to Sri Swamiji. She received answers to her problems in different ways. This strengthened her faith in Him. Her stomach problem grew worse and she began calling the ashram in India and talking to Sri Swamiji through Swami Manasa Datta. She followed the advice given by Sri Swamiji and she developed the spiritual strength to bear her Karma.
For me, meeting Sri Swamiji has changed my life totally. I stopped the vice of eating meat. I am not so restless anymore, for now I can sit for hours and read. I use my power of discrimination more wisely in making life choices. I came to understand that Moksha means freedom from the wanderings of the mind.
I always wanted to teach Kriya Yoga to the children and adults in my town, but due to circumstances beyond my control, it never materialized. I studied the twelve Kriya Yogas with Sri Swamiji, but He said that we do not have to practice all of them; only one or two. Sri Swamiji is the giver of all things. Whatever one desires, He gives. He has all the answers for all questions. Slowly He is giving me what He thinks is best for me and I am eternally grateful to Him. He is my Jagatguru.
Jaya Guru Datta
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Anoesoeja Brijmohan-Hindori, Surinam/Holland
From that moment, I stopped seeing Him as my Guru and began seeing Him as God.
I met His Holiness, Parama Pujya Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in 1986. Prior to this I was working at the office of the Ministry of Road and Traffic and my boss came and asked me if I knew of an Indian Saint named Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I told her that I did not and she gave me a book about Him to read. I began reading the book and came across a saying which read, “If somebody meditates on me I will give them my darshan.” I read the book over and over meditating on Him, but I did not have His darshan. I thought that maybe He only gives His darshan to certain people.
The desire to meet a saint overcame me and in 1978, I went to India to Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashrama in Puttaparthi. When I arrived at the Prashanti Nilayam Ashrama, Baba did not come out to give darshan for two weeks. However, I waited and did not leave. One day while I was sitting, on the sand in the open ground, with other devotees waiting for Him to come out, it began to rain, so we ran into the Mandir to shelter. After the rain stopped we came back out with men and women sitting separately.
During this time Sri Sai Baba walked out to give darshan to the crowd. He walked towards me and stopped directly in front of me. I touched His feet three times and I touched His hands. He asked me where I was from and I told Him that I was from Surinam; He said that He would see me tomorrow. Then I told him that I want to go back to Madras but He said, “No! You must stay here.” I left the Ashram without talking to Him again and later I went back to Surinam feeling in my heart that He was not my Guru.
In 1986, I had moved to Holland and my sister, Gayatri, told me that her Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji would be visiting Holland, England and Switzerland. Intuitively, I decided to go to England to meet Him. I reached England and went to the place He was giving darshan. I walked into the room and saw Him sitting on a chair. I looked at Him and saw His sparking eyes. I knew in my heart that He was the one, He is my Guru. After meeting Him in England, I went to visit Him several times in India at His Ashrama.
In 1994, I had gone to Mauritius, and a friend gave me a plaque with the letter OM written on it. The next day I was standing on the balcony of my hotel with the plaque in my hand, I was looking out at the clear blue sky with amazement. Suddenly I noticed an object in the sky moving closer and closer to me. I first recognized it as a chariot, and then as it came closer I saw Sri Swamiji’s form in it. Then His form merged into the OM on the plaque, which I was still holding in my hands. From that moment, I stopped seeing Him as my Guru and began seeing Him as God.
On another occasion, I was in Holland at a salon getting a Pedicure. When I was finished and came out to get my car, I realized that it was dark in the parking lot and I was afraid to go alone. Just then, Sri Swamiji came down to me from the sky held my hand and led me to my car. I got in and drove home safely. My God was taking care of me.
Once I was thinking that if Sri Swamiji is the personification of love, how much He really loves us. I was comparing our love for Him as being as big as an elephant and that I was only an ant. As I thought of this, I saw Him sitting on the swing in the tree. Then I was with Him and we swung together. He was showing me that our love for each other was equal.
Whenever I had any family problem I would call on Him and the problem would be solved. Once my husband was suffering with heart problems and was not breathing properly. I was all alone with him so I prayed to Sri Swamiji, telling Him that I am alone and if anything should happen, I will not able to handle it by myself. Immediately, my husband began breathing better and slowly He recuperated. My God was always there for me when I called on Him.
Once whem Sri Swamiji visited my home in Holland, I called my mother, in Surinam, to inform her and she told me how I should prepare for Him. He came and after He left my son found four coins that He had left for us. Such is His love for us. I keep Sri Swamiji constantly in my thoughts. Whenever I get into my car, I sing bhajans to Him. I have met many saints in my life but when I first saw Sri Swamiji, I knew in my heart that He had some connection. He became my Guru and my God. I can only pray to Him to bless me that we will always be together for eternity for I cannot bear to have it any other way. Jaya Guru Datta
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Sri Datta Yogi Raj, USA
“From now on you will be known as Datta Yogi Raja, go and spread the message of meditation and music therapy like you have been doing.” That was the moment our association for many, many births got re-connected
I met Sri Swamiji for the first time in 1993. At birth I was given the name Raju Ramanathan, I was born in Kanya Kumari, a town in South India. While growing up I used to wander near the waterfalls; the place where legend has it that Sage Agastya lives. One day, at the age of seven, I sat chanting the Yoga Menakshi Strota, a prayer dedicated to the goddess Menakshi that was composed by Sage Agastya. A sage came to me and said, “You are chanting so well for a little boy.”
Later, I began chanting the Soundarya Lahari, a poem written by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. When I completed it, the sage took a Rudraksha bead from His mala, squeezed water out of it and told me to drink it. He said, “You will grow a lot spiritually.” I asked, “How can I grow without a Guru?” He then said, “Guru Sachchidananda Himself will come.” He walked away and I went home and told my grandmother what had happened. From that young age, I knew that my Guru would come to me one day.
As a young man, I consulted the Nadi Grantas, a great book of subtle knowledge of peoples lives written by the Saptha Rishis. I got a reading from the Agastya Nadi by giving my thumbprint. I was told everything about my life including that I would have two Gurus in my life, one will have the name of the sun and the other will be named Sachchidananda. Even though I could have chanted mantras, and I knew that my life was destined for the spiritual path, I was drawn to the path of the material world. I studied engineering, then I went for my masters, and then for my doctorate. These engineering studies brought me to America at the age of twenty-seven.
I was working in my profession but I was still searching for that being whose mere sight can bring about spiritual changes in me. In 1981, Rishi Prabhakar, a friend from Bangalore, and his mother, Ramadevi, came to visit me. This pious lady was a devotee of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. Prabhakar is another word for sun. She told me that she and her son have the same Guru. I began working with Rishi Prabhakar conducting meditation camps and teaching Yoga in India, America and Canada.
I wanted to see his Guru but the time was not right. Once he brought me a music cassette from Sri Swamiji and I kept it in my bag. I was teaching a class to a tough group of prisoners, working with their emotions, but I could not keep them under control. I remembered the cassette in my bag and I pulled it out and played it. When they heard the music, the entire class settled down and became calm. After the class, they said that the music did something to them. I was amazed myself; I thought here was something mightier than Einstein’s theory of relativity. I wish I could meet the one who made this music. I dismissed that thought soon after and kept going in my scientific world. The time was not right yet.
In 1993, I was in Canada and Rishi Prabhakar came to visit me. He said, “Do you know that He is here? Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.” Without hesitation I asked, “Where is He?” He said, “He is at the house of a devotee named Jairajh and they are forming an organization today, let us go there.” We both went to that house and when we got there we saw Sri Swamiji talking to the devotees. He had inaugurated the start of the Datta Yoga Center of Canada. This was the last of a three-day program and people were beginning to leave.
I just sat there looking at Sri Swamiji. Then an announcement was made that tomorrow there will be a mantra initiation program. I left that place excited to attend that program. Early next morning I went to the house, there were five of us waiting to see Sri Swamiji. I went in and saw Him; He gave me Mantra Deeksha in a spiritual way. I felt His energy within me as I left that place. I did not want to lose that energy so I began practicing the mantra He gave me. I chanted the mantra more than a million times.
In the late nineties, I was always invited to attend one of Sri Swamiji’s temple inauguration ceremonies. In 1997, my sister living in Little Rock Arkansas called me in Canada and said that Sri Swamiji was coming to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to inaugurate a temple and she wants me to come and take her there. I went and sat in a corner and witnessed the entire function. He did not speak to me. The same thing happened in St. Louis, I was present for the inauguration ceremony and Sri Swamiji did not talk to me. I kept a low profile and observed everything.
In 2002, when Sri Swamiji visited Chicago, I was invited there since I had done meditation camps in nearly all the hospitals in Illinois. I was at a devotee, Kris Raman’s, house and I got a call that Sri Swamiji has just came in and wants to see me, I met Him at the airport and after talking for a while I told Him, “Swamiji I am working on this temple construction in the Chicago region and I want you to come and bless it.” He replied, “Raju, my programs are totally filled here, I do not know if I will have time.” I left and the next day, early in the morning I got a call from Prasadi, saying, “Raju at around midnight Sri Swamiji got up and told me that He is feeling bad because He told you no, but He said He will use His meditation time around 5.00 am, to go to the temple with you.” I was astonished and happy.
We both went to the temple site at 5.00 am in the morning and He told me, “The Temple will happen here and you will be a part of it, a new community will happen here.” I was happy for this news but even happier that He had sacrificed His meditation time for me. What love and compassion He embodies! On this same visit in Chicago, I was sitting in a corner of the temple and Sri Swamiji called me and said, “I want you to come to India.” I said, “Yes, Swamiji.”
I started to think if I could make it for I had some work to do with two doctors. The next day Sri Swamiji called me again and said, “You are coming to Mysore for Datta Jayanti, aren’t you?” Before I could answer, He pointed to the two doctors next to Him and said, “You bring him to India on December 19th.” Sri Swamiji knew that I had an obligation to these doctors, which would have prevented me from coming for Datta Jayanti, so He worked it out so that I can be in Mysore for Datta Jayanti.
On December 19th 2002, I was in the Mysore Ashrama. I went to the temple to witness the Thaila Abhishekam of Lord Dattatreya. I was instructed to sit up front. Suddenly Sri Swamiji called me up, put a garland on me and said, “From now on you will be known as Datta Yogi Raja, go and spread the message of meditation and music therapy like you have been doing.” That was the moment our association for many, many births got re-connected.
Around 2000 I had an accident and developed a back injury, which made my back weaker and weaker as time went by. On His visit to the DRC in Pittsburg in 2005, someone told Sri Swamiji about my back. He told me to practice Kriya Yoga and it will help the injury. I learnt the Kriya Yoga as taught by Sri Swamiji and began practicing it. It definitely helped my injury. I then took a teachers training course and now I teach this practice to many devotees and associates.
In 2009 when Sri Swamiji visited Dallas for Guru Purnima Celebrations He called me on the stage and told me to teach Kriya Yoga. I have been doing that and the name has been changed to Datta Kriya Yoga. I met Rishi Prabhakar in 1981, and he brought Sri Swamiji in my life as predicted by the Agastya Nadi. Today is July 15th 2011, exactly thirty years since I am physically connection with my Guru Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
Jaya Guru Datta.
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