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).
Ian Lindsey Douglas, Clinton LA
My great blessing was to serve the karma-body of my Guru by fanning Him. It was my great fortune to fan Sri Swamiji for almost three hours. I was intoxicated with bliss. After fanning Him for about an hour, I felt something very subtle move within me.
I met Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in 1988 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I grew up in the Protestant religion and was drafted into the US Army in January, 1966. I was stationed in Vietnam for the first time in March, 1967. I had the good fortune of becoming an officer and a helicopter pilot. I loved being a soldier and served my country well. Soldiers are called upon in time of war to protect their country. In performing my duty, I killed a lot of people. Does it generate bad karma? I do not know.
Most Vietnamese were either Roman Catholic or Buddhist. While in Vietnam, I was exposed to the religion of Buddhism and when I returned to the United States after the war, I began studying Buddhism zealously. After law school, I began my career as an attorney at the Louisianan Attorney General’s Office. I continued my readings on Buddhism, which eventually led me to start meditating. I also began reading books such as ‘Be Here Now’ and ‘The Only Dance There Is’ by Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert, who used to be a professor of psychology at Harvard University and a contemporary of the infamous Timothy Leary. When he and Alpert left the university, Alpert went to India, where he eventually met his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who named him Ram Dass. After a period of study, he returned to the United States to write and lecture. His books reflected the core teachings of his Guru, especially the goal of “being here now”.
In my bookcase of law books at the attorney general’s office, I had a small section of spiritual books, including those by Ram Dass. One day, an Asian Indian engineer from down the hall, Narendra Dave, came into my office looking for notarial services. On the spine of one of Ram Dass’ books was the traditional symbol for “Om,” the most basic mantra, the symbol that resembles the numeral “3”. He saw the book on the shelf and asked about it. We began talking about eastern religion and he invited me to meet his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamij, who was soon due to arrive in Baton Rouge from India.
Narendra Dave and his wife, Nalini, were devotees of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji and were instrumental in His visit to Baton Rouge. They had just recently met Sri Swamiji for the first time in London while visiting Narendra’s father. Upon their return to Baton Rouge, Nalini wrote a letter inviting Him to come to Baton Rouge. He wrote back, accepting her invitation, and said thar He would be teaching beginners “Kriya Yoga” class. I attended the week-long Kriya Yoga class that was held in a small building across from the LSU campus. Swami Manasa Datta, then known as Radhakrishna, conducted the classes and Sri Swamiji would often visit at the end of each day. He would sit in a big chair in the front of the room; legs crossed in the traditional lotus posture, and observe the class.
Once, I saw Him materialize something for someone in the class. It appeared to be some sort of a miracle, but my typical western-trained scientific mind stopped me, saying it was just some cheap “sleight of the hand” trick. Upon completion of the course, all the students had the opportunity to go up to Him and receive His blessing. One by one, they went and bowed down before Him. I went up, but instead of bowing down completely, I knelt on one knee like Sir Lancelot kneeling before King Arthur. I looked into His eyes and it was my moment of awakening. My years of study and meditation had come to fruition. Thus began my relationship with Sri Swamiji.
Sri Swamiji returned to Baton Rouge in 1990. Another Kriya Yoga class was conducted, this time with about thirty people in attendance, including myself. As I sat in the room looking at Him, it dawned on me not only how special and divine He was, but how fortunate we all were to be in such a close intimate setting with Him; literally just a few feet away and close enough to touch Him. All around the world, He has many devotees who rarely see Him in person, and in India, thousands flock around Him just to get a brief, distant glimpse of His divine presence. And yet here He was, in the very same room with us.
I had noticed that before His visit, my mind was unsettled, with feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness. I was bewildered, trying to rationalize within my mind that Sri Swamiji was indeed the truly Divine being that I now knew Him to be. Though futile, my mind was still looking for scientific proof. Then when I sat before Him, my mind became quiet and I felt something new. Yes! He truly was Divine in spite of my inability to comprehend or explain. So, I finally gave up trying to figure it out. This miracle; this man, Sri Swamiji, required no explanation.
Later, we attended a function at Narendra’s house. The house could not accommodate all the people so a tent was set up in the yard. When I went there Sri Swamiji had just completed a pooja and was sitting cross-legged on a big chair. I did not take part in the pooja for I did not have much money to offer. I had only one five-dollar bill in my wallet. I sat looking at the devotees going up before Sri Swamiji making offerings of all kinds and receiving His blessings.
I noticed Sri Swamiji calling Narendra and whispered something into his ear. Then Narendra made an announcement: “If there is anyone here who has not yet come to Sri Swamiji, please come now.” Some part of me wanted to go but I felt embarrassed and shy. I sat there nursing my agitated mind. Then Narendra made the same announcement again. This time I was torn between going up and shrinking away into myself. Narendra made the announcement about six times. I could fight no more. With all the courage I could muster, I stood up, opened my wallet and took out that last five-dollar bill. I felt embarrassed and self-conscious, my heart pounding. I moved the few steps toward Sri Swamiji’s chair, placing the five dollars on the small tray beside Him. While looking at His face, He looked at me directly and said, “I knew”. My heart swelled and I returned to my seat, crying.
On Sri Swamiji’s next trip to Baton Rouge, in 1993, the crowd became larger with devotees coming in from other states. On the final day of the program, after the crowds had left, I ended up back at Narendra’s house with about twelve other devotees. We sat in a room with Sri Swamijji as He performed Sri Chakra Pooja. What a rare moment ; so few of us, so close to Him, close enough for me to reach out and touch His robe. At the end of the pooja, the devotees went up one at a time and received His gift of a small medallion placed into our outstretched hand by the hand of Sri Swamiji, Himself.
I sat crossed legged on the floor desperately wanting to speak to Him. I wanted to tell Him how much He really meant to me and how much I would miss Him. When my turn came to go forward, I got up, my heart once again pounding in my chest and rehearsed my line: “I am going to miss you” over and over. When it was my turn to go forward, I knelt down on one knee, stretching my right hand out with open palm to receive this precious token. He put His gift in my hand. Our eyes met and He said to me, “I am going to miss you. “ My very own words and my rehearsed line were said to me by Sri Swamiji. I clasped my token, returned to my seat and, once again with tears streaming down my cheeks in gushes.
Sri Swamiji visited Baton Rouge again in 1995, this time for Guru Purnima. A few months before His visit, I had a painful, uncomfortable sinus operation. While recovering, I had to sleep with my head up. I rented a reclining chair and sat and slept in it all day. My neighbor cooked food and brought it to me. I had my telephone next to the chair so I would not have to get up to answer it. One day, the phone rang; it was Nalini calling to tell me that Sri Swamiji was coming to town and she would like me to wear my military uniform and stand next to Him (as his military Aide dé Camp, as it were). Of course, I immediately said, “yes!” with tears again streaming down my cheeks.
I was very proud of my service in the army, I felt honored to wear the uniform and I wore it proudly. To wear my uniform for Sri Swamiji was a special honor. I got my uniform cleaned for the first time in years, polished my brass, carefully assembled my uniform and patiently waited for the day to wear it. The Guru Purnima function was held at the American Legion Hall. Before going to the program, I went to a lake near LSU where I had seen lotus flowers blooming. I put on my wading boots, plucked one for my Guru and left for the Legion Hall. When I arrived, everyone was already performing the Guru Pooja by offering rice and flowers in plates. Sri Swamiji was sitting in a beautiful chair on the well-decorated stage.
Nanlini came to me and said that it was time. I put on my uniform, placed my lotus flower in my left hand and entered the side door next to the stage. I peeped out, saw the audience and almost panicked. Sri Swamiji was talking and I did not want to interrupt Him. Prasadi was facing Sri Swamiji with his back turned to me. I tried whispering to him, to no avail. I was on my own. I did not know what to do. I stood there for a few seconds and convinced myself that “I am going to do this” and I immediately strode out on the stage. Sri Swamiji stopped His discourse momentarily and faced me. I presented Him with the Lotus flower, saluted Him, took a step back and assumed the military position called “Parade Rest”.
At this point, Prasadi got up, walked over to me and handed me a slender object about eighteen inches long. I had no idea what it was. I thought to myself, “What am I to do with this?” When I touched it with my fingers, I realized that is was a fan. Now I knew. My great blessing was to serve the karma-body of my Guru by fanning Him. It was my great fortune to fan Sri Swamiji for almost three hours. I was intoxicated with bliss. After fanning Him for about an hour, I felt something very subtle move within me. Several months later, a clairvoyant had told me that Sri Swamiji had taken away my Vietnam karma. Of course! How perfect! I was standing in the American Legion Hall, next to my Guru, resplendent in my Vietnam uniform, performing Seva to my beloved Guru on the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, while He quietly and barely without notice took my Vietnam karma away.
In 1997, Sri Swamiji visited Baton Rouge for the consecration of the Datta Temple and Hall of Trinity. By this time, my faith in Him had grown deep and though still inexplicable to me, I had begun to see more and more of His miracles. Many times, for instance, I had seen Him call for his “TV tray,” the silver platter and a flower from which He would manifest vhibuti, the sacred ash, or the intensely crimson kumkum. On this visit, I was sitting in the audience very close to the front and He was on the stage sitting in His chair. He called for His tray and His platter. He picked up a white chrysanthemum and as I had seen Him done countless times before, He took the flower between His hands and slowly began massaging it until either vhibuti or kumkum came out. This time it was kumkum; crimson red.
He set the chrysanthemum back on the tray and held His hands in front of Him, palms forward facing the audience; crimson red. His entire palms were covered in crimson, as were each of His fingers. He handed the tray to the attendant, who began to distribute the powder to the audience, but I could not take my eyes off the tray and the white chrysanthemum. When the program was over and Sri Swamiji left the hall, I walked slowly over to the tray with the chrysanthemum still on it.
Spotlessly white! The chrysanthemum was spotlessly white and had not the first speck of crimson anywhere on it. Yet I had seen with my own eyes the kumkum come pouring out, had seen with my own eyes the crimson covered hands which had caressed the flower to coax it forth.
In 2009, when Sri Swamiji came again to Baton Rouge, I went for His darshan. I had thought about it many times, but except for the brief personal encounters mentioned previously and a few others, I had never requested a formal interview with Him. Though I had thought about it, I had dismissed it from my mind. I considered myself too unworthy, too unsure of what to ask, what to say; too scared, too this, too that, too, too, too…. too anything and too everything to allow me to approach.
On this particular day, there was no program. A few people were gathered on the sidewalk outside the interview room, waiting their turn to go inside. Then I thought, “This has gone on long enough”. It had been over twenty years. I wanted to talk to Him. I saw my friend, Mukunda, and a few other American devotees talking quietly near the door to the interview room. I slowly walked over and joined them. “Are ya’ll waitin to go inside?” I asked. “Yes”, someone replied. We began babbling like children on a playground. Who would go first? How many would go in together? And in what order we should go?
We waited nervously, babbled excitedly. Someone handed out a single rose bud to each of us. The door opened. Two devotees exited quickly, walking away quietly. Mukunda, the “palace centurion”, or “guardian of the gate”, held the door and motioned us in. We formed a group of five and went in single file, me in the middle. Sri Swamiji was sitting in a beautiful wing-back chair with His legs folded beneath Him. The carpet under His chair was strewn with flowers and next to His chair was a small table containing a vase of roses and a small silver tray filled with token gifts; medallions, beads and such. He looked so majestic, so calm and so peaceful.
We formed a semi-circle facing Him and sat on our knees. One at a time, we leaned or crawled forward, placing our roses on the carpet with the other flowers. When we resumed our position in the semi-circle, Sri Swamiji greeted each of us with a “Hello”, and “How are you?” We each answered in our own fashion. When He turned to me I said something like: how beautiful the room was; how beautiful He was; how aglow the room was. I had no question for there was no question to ask. Then He went on to the next person and then the next. Now the time had come to go forward and receive His blessing and token of affection, given us as a reward for our devotion.
I watched with amazement at what happened next. Acting on pure instinct, like Sir Lancelot kneeling in 1988, like the military, Aide dé Camp saluting in 1995, on hustling knees, I moved close to Him, reached out with my left hand, caressed His hair and held His head in the palm of my hand. With my right hand and His together we clasped hands by our fingertips. And then, He reached out with His hand, patted me gently on the top of my head and caressed my hair. We held each other such for some few moments; who can say how long? The moment was over, I returned to my place, my water-filled eyes overflowing, sending rivers of tears streaming down my face once again.
I sat trembling, trying to compose myself. I heard His voice in the background, but took little notice of it; I was too shaken at first to listen. Then I realized He was talking to me. He said, “You have a beautiful heart. I want you to join my mission”. And so I did. I joined Sri Swamiji’s mission. Some time after that, a devotee asked me, “What do you think your mission is?” I replied, “I don’t know. I don’t have any idea.” Some people have said that I have a beatific smile. I, too, have seen its effect on others from time to time. I think it is my smile. I think maybe my smile is my mission. Jaya Guru Datta.
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Raja Srinivasa Sarma and Parvathi Ganduri, Florida
Parvathi: . Everything that Sri Swamiji does is for our benefit. He asks us to do Seva and when we serve, we are not serving Him but we are serving ourselves.
I grew up in Machilipatnam India and moved to USA upon marriage to my husband Raja Srinivasa Sarma. I am from a family of seven children, four girls and three boys. My father was a communist and did not believe that God could take the form of a human being. He believed in the traditional forms of God like Rama and Krishna. This did not hinder my mother in her spiritual practices, she believed in the concept of God and Guru, and my father never controlled or stopped her religious pursuits.
In 1984, when I was around the age of seven, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji inaugurated a Temple in Machilipatnam with Sri Narasimha Saraswati Padukas. My mother was involved with the Temple work even before its inauguration. My brothers, sisters, and I used to accompany her whenever she went to the temple. We used to do work in a playful manner. After the temple’s inauguration, we attended all the functions. Our world began revolving around Sri Swamiji.
In 1987, Sri Swamiji visited our house and my mother was so happy. We lived in a rented three-room apartment and wanted to make it beautiful for Sri Swamiji. My siblings and I drew pictures of Datta and Swamiji and decorated the walls with them. When Sri Swamiji walked into the house, He looked at us, all seven children standing in a line, looking like a ladder. He looked at the walls and said, “Oh! I love this place, Datta-Datta everywhere.” We welcomed Him and enjoyed His Company.
The youngest child, my brother, was three years old. My mother told Him about her concerns for us; her daughters and our marriage etc. and He told her, “Everything will be all right; Sri Swamiji is there and will take care.” He did take care of us. Each one of us got married and has good lives. My father did not have to search for any alliance, and he did not have big dowries to give, yet alliances from very reputable families came to him.
Once my mother and I had to attend a function in our town and my father took my siblings to Mysore to celebrate the Shivaratri Festival. On their way back home, the compartment in the train they were travelling in got derailed. It ran on the track by itself for a few miles and stopped. It remained there for some time until some people came. Luckily, no other train was coming at that time and by Sri Swamiji’s grace, none of them got hurt.
In 1986, the movie, Datta Darshanam was released and Sri Swamiji encouraged us to go to the movie theatre and watch it. We saw the movie many times. A group of us; children, used to walk barefooted going around the town shouting, “Watch the movie, Datta Darshanam!” We would sing Datta Bhajans and encourage everyone to know about Lord Dattatreya. Sometimes we were on the road for five hours and would collect ten to one hundred rupees. We would put the money in the Hundi in the temple feeling that we have accomplished such a great task for Sri Swamiji. We were not aware that He gave us the sacred opportunity to beg alms, a practice which removes the ego.
We were always at the temple ready to help. For the Laksha Patri Puja, offering of one Hundred thousand leaves with the name of God written on them, the children used to go and pick the leaves from the trees. It was fun for us to climb the trees and compete among ourselves to see who would collect the most leaves. After collecting, we sorted the leaves in bundles, and then we wrote ‘Jaya Guru Datta’ on each leaf. Anxiously we waited for the start of the sacred ritual of chanting God’s name while offering the leaves. The entire process would take about a week, but we were not aware that He gave us the sacred opportunity to perform Datta Deeksha.
For the Shivaratri Festivals we would stay awake mainly to re-dress the Gods every three hours for the poojas. We enjoyed doing this and then we would chant the prayers for the poojas. The night of vigil devotion would come and go and we were not even aware that He gave us the sacred opportunity to perform Tapas.
When we became young adults, we used to attend Sri Swamiji Yoga Camps in the Temple. Daily we would wake up, take our bath and be ready for Him at 5.00 Am. in the Temple for our Yoga Class. Around this time, I began doing parayana by reading His autobiography, I read it many times and each time I would experience it differently. I was not aware that He was teaching me discipline.
Whenever Sri Swamiji visited the Machilipatnam Ashrama, He would casually sit and talk with us. We used to ask Him questions like, why did Lord Rama send Sita Devi into the forest. He would give us the answer in a simple way that our young minds would understand. Once I asked Him, what is Maya? He explained it telling the analogy of the snake and the rope. He said, “In the dark if you see a rope on the ground it would seem like a snake, but if you put light over it, you will see it is a rope. In the same way if you have the light of knowledge, Maya will not affect you.” Sometimes He taught us Bhajans and Prayers. Other times He helped us with little skits. We had little training in dance and music but we danced and sang like professionals. We were not aware that He gave us the sacred tools of devotion.
I got married in 1998 with His approval and blessings. He gave me a wonderful husband, two daughters and a son. We are presently living in USA. I do think of the wonderful times I spent with Sri Swamiji in Machilipatnam, India and it gives me strength to live my life. I realized that He did everything in my life for me, because He loves me. Everything that Sri Swamiji does is for our benefit. He asks us to do Seva and when we serve, we are not serving Him but we are serving ourselves. We build Temples and other institutions saying it is for Him, but we are the ones who use it. When He asks us for money, does He take the money for Himself? No, He uses the money for the many Humanitarian Projects that He has initiated. In the end, Sri Swamiji does not lose nor gain anything from us. He is our Kalpavriksha. Jaya Guru Datta
Raja: He found me, He set the stage for me, He gave me a role to play, He taught me my lines, He opened the curtains and the play began, I am performing. The name of the play is, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji
I am originally from Machilipatnam India and presently residing in Florida USA. I met Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji for the first time in 1982 when He visited my home town. He came and stayed at a devotee’s house and conducted a public program in a Kalayana Mantapa in the town. I was twelve years old and in High School. I grew up in a family which participated in daily rituals and poojas, so it became a part of my life. I understood what was expected of me and I followed in the tradition.
Once, our landlord told us that his Guru was coming to conduct a program; we were open to the concept of Gurus and spiritualism so we attended the program. When I saw Sri Swamiji at the landlord’s house, I took a liking to Him and so did my family. I felt that there was something different about this Guru. We began attending His temple in Vijayawada for big festivals and in our town we began having Satsangha once per week at various devotees’ homes.
The following year a devotee donated some lands to Sri Swamiji and He gave His devotees in the town permission to construct a temple. I helped in whatever way I could, cut bushes to clear the land etc. In 1984 He came and inaugurated the temple with the installation of Sri Narasimha Saraswati Padukas. I began attending the temple frequently, learning the bhajans and prayers. The temple activities were fun to do. I performed tasks with children of the same age and we imbibed spiritual concepts through play.
On one occasion the children and I were collecting leaves to perform, Laksha Patri Puja. (An offering of one hundred thousand leaves with the name of God written on them.) I had to climb up a very high wall to reach the branches of the tree and I slipped and fell on the side of the wall facing the road, and I fell unto the roadway. I lay there for about a minute, then got up and walked away with only a sprain in my foot. By Sri Swamiji’s grace the busy roadway was clear of traffic and I was not hurt.
After the Temple was inaugurated Sri Swamiji made many visits to Machilipatnam. I used to spend all my time in the temple. He used to sit and talk to us about spiritual concepts through stories and taught us how to sing Bhajans and recite mantras. He made this a fun experience for us. On one of His visits, He went upstairs in His room to rest and the contractor was finishing some work around the Sri Narasimha Saraswati Padukas. He was pounding close to the Padukas and it seemed that he would accidentally hit the padukas. Sri Swamiji told someone upstairs, “Go and see what is happening, someone is hitting my Padukas.” The man came downstairs and saw that it was the contractor. We were surprised that Sri Swamiji felt the blows from all the way upstairs.
My parents became very devoted to Sri Swamiji and His blessings fell on my entire family. We were five children, and Sri Swamiji told my parents that He will take care of us. This He did throughout our lives till now. Once my younger brother was doing some electric work in Nuzividu Ashrama with the electricity turned off. Someone came and accidentally turned on the breaker. My brother received an electric shock over his entire body; by Sri Swamiji’s grace he had no permanent injury.
Later on my brother developed a skin allergy on his foot.. He visited the doctor and was prescribed medication to ease the itching. Six months passed and the allergy was still there, itching and looking bad on his skin. My family visited Mysore Ashrama for Shivaratri Festival and he went to help with the washing of the dishes for the three days festival. At the end of the three days his skin rash disappeared completely. Sri Swamiji, like a loving parent took care of him without him even asking for help.
My father was a heart patient and would suffer frequent attacks. The attacks would come at any time so my mother would sit at his bedside during the night to watch him. One night she fell asleep and my father went to the bathroom, he got an attack and fell unconscious and woke up after two hours. When he visited the doctors they were puzzled as to how he survived that attack. Sri Swamiji told my mother that He had extended my father’s life.
My sister fell off her bicycle one day and injured her toe. She neglected to take care of it and after three weeks, it became infected and began to pain. We took her to the doctor who said that surgery had to be performed to remove the toe for it would infect the other toes. My sister did not want this, for missing a toe. She asked my brother to take her to Sri Swamiji in Mysore. When they arrived there Sri Swamiji was not in the ashram. They spent three days doing prayers in the temple and she did Pradakshinam to GuruNilayam several times and returned home. My sister’s toe healed slowly and she did not require surgery. Sri Swamiji heard her prayers even though He was not there physically.
In 1992, the week before Navarathri I got this strong desire to study the Mother Goddess. I read and studied the meaning of the Lalitha Sahasranama, and then I went to Mysore Ashrama for the Navarathri Festival and took part in the poojas. One day, during the program, Sri Swamiji gave me upadesam for the Mother Goddess. When I received the mantra from Him, I already knew the meaning of it. He knew that my upadesam would have taken place at this time so He prepared me for it without me being aware of why I was doing it. Like this, He orchestrates everything in my life.
I went to Sri Swamiji and asked Him for His guidance before I did my bachelors degree, masters degree and job placement. Whatever He told me to do, I did it, I did not question the advice He gave, even for a second. Friends used to say to me, “What does a Swami know about engineering stuff?” I used to tell them He is my engineer.
My family used to always talk about Sri Swamiji in our house. When we met Him later He would tell us exactly what we were saying. In this way He revealed His omnipresence to us. My family and I would always accompany Him on His Andra Pradesh tours and enjoy His lectures, bhajans and poojas.
Sri Swamiji blessed my marriage to Parvathi, who is also from my place, growing up together with Him in our lives. After marriage we moved to USA. We have two daughters and a son. In December of 2009 a devotee accompanied us on a road trip from Florida to the DRC in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. We were taking our nine month old son to Sri Balaji for his hair cutting ceremony. On the way back to Florida in my mini van, I was driving with the lady devotee in the front passenger seat. My wife was holding my son in the second row and my daughters were in the third row. Suddenly our van skidded and went on the opposite lane and collided with an oncoming vehicle.
The impact deplored all the air bags in the van. I came out of the vehicle; I was fine and so was everyone in the van. The passengers in the other vehicle were injured and taken by ambulance to the hospital. Both vehicles were totaled. The owner of the other vehicle pursued a legal battle for financial settlement in the maximum amount of four hundred thousand dollars. We spent some sleepless nights over this but knew deep in our hearts that Sri Swamiji knows all about this and He knows what is best for us.
This gave us an opportunity to reinvent our spiritual relationship with Him. We prayed for His strength to face our Karmas. My wife and I did a forty day Audumbara Deeksha and on the forty-first day we got news from the lawyers that we are relieved from all financial obligations to the other party. We suffered very little financial loses with this incident but gained a lot of spiritual strength. Sri Swamiji saved us from a deadly accident even though we did not call on Him. He was with us at that moment.
In 1982 when I first saw Sri Swamiji in our landlord’s house, I had done nothing to make that happen. He made that landlord his excuse to find me. He found me, He set the stage for me, He gave me a role to play, He taught me my lines, He opened the curtains and the play began, I am performing. The name of the play is, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
Jaya Guru Datta
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Manu Peter Seglias, Florida, USA
This gave me firm conviction that He is my Guru, He was in my past lives, He is now and He will always be. He is there even when I do not know. He is more than a Guru; He is a part of me.
I am originally from Switzerland and now reside in Florida USA. My first physical meeting with Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji was in the spring of 1983. I was born into a Christian home and began asking my parents about things like reincarnation and God. They used to refer me to the priest in the church. I never got an answer that made sense to me. The main message I got from the church is that seventy five percent of the world is doomed to hell because they are not Christians. This made no sense to me. I saw only dogmas and rules in the church and this turned me off. I became an atheist. I began living my life on the edge, taking chances and enjoying life.
I loved snow skiing and would ski on some extreme dangerous terrains, where one fall could kill you. I became tired of this thrill and a friend introduced me to Meditation. I calmed down a lot when I started meditating. Once in my meditation I heard a voice in my head saying, “You come to Ashrama!” I had no idea what this was and dismissed it. Then came spring of 1983 and my friend told me that a Guru named Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, was coming from India to conduct a Kriya Yoga Course and I should do this course for it will help with my meditation.
The course was to be held in Langenbruck, Switzerland. I went there as a nervous, doubtful and sarcastic individual but I when I finished the weeklong course I left as a different person. At the end of the course, the Guru called the participants up for a private interview. When I went to Him all He said to me was, “You come to Ashrama!” I was blown away. This was the big bang of my spiritual life; I remembered those words I heard in my meditation. I knew I had a connection with this Guru and strange enough I felt like I had found true love. I returned to Lucerne and while walking on the street to my house, people were looking at me, I had nothing strange about me for them to look at, but they were attracted to the energy I had within me, the energy of my Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
Sri Swamiji was continuing His tour in Switzerland, Germany and France. I became so excited about Him I did the tour with Him. On one occasion, I asked Him if I could come to the Ashrama in fall. He said yes, you could come. Things began to work themselves out for me to leave Switzerland. My sister’s boyfriend came from New Zealand and he was in the same field of work as I was, so he replaced me at my job and he took over the payments on my apartment. I left Switzerland for a six-month trip with Sri Swamiji in the Ashrama.
When I got to the Mysore in late 1983, the Ashrama was not very crowded then. There was only one foreigner, a German lady who became my guide and friend. I had some good quiet times to reflect on my life and changes that were taking place within me on a subtle level, which I cannot rationally express. I took part in the Shivaratri Function in early 1984; at that time I met an American girl, Susheela, who later became my wife. I accompanied Swamiji when He toured within India. At times, I had no money and miraculously everything was provided. In the Ashrama, Gayatri taught me how to sing bhajans and I translated some bhajans into English and when I went back to Switzerland, another devotee helped me to print the Bhajana Mala books one and two. While at the ashram He gave me the name Manu. I left the Ashrama after my six-month stay and as I sat on the train for Delhi, I felt like I was coming out of a bubble of loving energy into a chaotic atmosphere. I dreaded going back to my life in Switzerland.
When I got back to Switzerland, I got a job in Zurich selling private lessons for a school. This was good for me for the school was closed four weeks for summer and two weeks for winter. This gave me the opportunity to visit Sri Swamiji during these times. I used to go to Him wherever He was. I ended up in India, USA, UK and Trinidad. In those days there were not many devotees around Him as there is today, so that was a bonus on my spiritual journey with Him. Just being in His presence taught me lessons. I had the honor to arrange His visit to Yellowstone National Park, and be His chauffeur.
With Sri Swamiji on a trip in Trinidad and had the good fortune of riding in His car. I was sitting in the back seat and He was in the front seat admonishing the driver on his driving. I asked Sri Swamiji, “Do you intervene in your devotee’s life when they are driving?” He replied, “Yes, I remember that accident you had in California.” I was blown away for I did have an accident in California about ten years back, I was driving on a mountain road, fell asleep and the car veered to the left and hit a tree, if it had veered to the right it would have fallen down a two hundred feet cliff. I did not even know Him then. This gave me firm conviction that He is my Guru, He was in my past lives, He is now and He will always be. He is there even when I do not know. He is more than a Guru; He is a part of me.
In the mid eighties Sri Swamiji visited Mr. Kesarinath in Bay City, Texas. I accompanied Him on a visit to an amusement park. On the way back I was riding in a station wagon with Gautam, Kesarinath young son. We were following Sri Swamiji’s car. While driving the station wagon overheated and the radiator blew. We stopped to get it repaired. The radiator shop was out of the part needed to repair it. Sri Swamiji told us to search for the part, and He would visit a nearby animal park. We could not find the part. Sri Swamiji returned and told me to drive the car. I got in a little scared, of course, but I drove for one hundred miles to Bay City and the car never overheated. When we reached, Sri Swamiji told us to take the car to a repair shop the next day. The following morning I took the car to a nearby shop and when I got there, the car overheated. My mind was trying to find a logical answer to what had happened yesterday and today. I could not find one.
In August 1986, Sri Swamiji was in Pennsylvania conducting a Kriya Yoga Course. I attended, along with my girl friend Susheela. On a Thursday Sri Swamiji called both of us and in an impromptu ceremony, He married us. The people who attended were the devotees sitting there for the Kriya Yoga Course. Swami Manasa Datta performed our wedding song; then he was known as Uncle Radha. I still have our wedding song on tape to this day. It was a fantastic wedding. We did another ceremony in India in 1987 for Shivaratri. Moreover, to make it legal, we got married a third time in the USA. I am happy to say that by His grace we are still married and living in the USA.
My last trip to Mysore Ashrama was for Datta Jayanti in 2005. He showered His grace on me in an unseen and unspeakable way. This was the trip where the cord of wanting always to be in His physical presence, was cut. I cannot explain what happened but I have not been back to India since for I feel Him present in my heart and do not have to need to travel to India to see Him. I do,, however, get His darshan when He visits the USA.
The day I met Sri Swamiji my atheistic attitude began to change. During my trips spent with Him, I got the answers to my questions by listening and observing Him and the people around Him. I embraced the concept of Reincarnation because nothing else made sense. Because of Sri Swamiji, I have made that reconnection to Jesus Christ and I appreciate His teachings much more. I can walk into any church and experience God.
Our lives are a learning path from birth to death. I was put on the path by Sri Swamiji and given the tools of His teachings to walk the path successfully. I use the tool of discrimination to make the better choice and not the seemingly good choice in life. If Sri Swamiji did not wake me up from the ignorant sleep of my life, I would have destroyed myself. He has blessed me with a peaceful disposition within and the secret weapon to protect it. I use the secret weapon to ward of fear, adverse situations and obstacles. That secret weapon is the Datta Mantra. Jaya Guru Datta
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Madhuri Tiwarie, Vadodara
Then He looked at me and smiled; at that moment I felt a jolt of current rushing through my body and I couldn’t understand what was going on
In 1990 I used to work, as a teacher, in the basic school with Ms. Rama Devi, an ardent devotee of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. During the recess period she would tell me about her Guru, from Mysore. Her conversations were such that I would sit and listen to her without questioning. Amazed at what she used to relate to me I started telling her, that these discussion are so beneficial for everybody so we should invite all our colleagues, at her place or my place, and tell them about Him.
Before this I had never seen nor heard of Sri Swamiji, but His life seemed so different to others. I wanted to learn more and so I wanted other to do the same. Rama Devi was enthused by my request and she invited a few people to her house. However, only about six persons came and she started telling us about the power and compassion of Sri Swamiji. She showed us some music cassettes and said that He heals people through His music. She informed us that if we intently sit and listen to His music any disease that is present in your body will be healed.
After hearing these things I took interest in Him, and we met frequently to discuss about Him. Every Sunday, it became a habit for us to gather to do yoga and hold informal discussion with Rama Devi. During and after these meetings we were all experiencing relief from our ailments. At that time my legs were almost paralyzed so I couldn’t walk. I would go there and sit on a chair for the whole program. Rama Devi gave a cassette on Inner Healing and I used to take my medication and listen to the tape. Slowly I was able to lift my legs and then I started to walk. I attributed this to the blessings of Sri Swamiji, although I had not seen Him by then.
We were told that Sri Swamiji wanted to come to Vadodara to perform in a musical concert. During those days, there were just a few of us and we had little money. The concert was going to cost a lot so we thought that we should beg for donations. Because He had given me back the use of my legs, I thought that I should do something in return for Him. Every day after school I would go from house to house asking for money for the project. At many places people were giving different amounts and at the end I collected more that seventeen thousand rupees. Some homes that I went to, the people were chasing me away, insulting me and sometimes even spitting at me, but in my mind, I had to do this. I wanted to see Him so much.
When the time came and He arrived in our city, I went to see Him. Lots of devotees were crowding around Him so I stayed far back in a corner. Then He looked at me and smiled; at that moment I felt a jolt of current rushing through my body and I couldn’t understand what was going on. I observed Him moving His lips but I couldn’t hear what He was saying, but I could identify that He was calling Madhuri, Madhuri. Then Rama Devi came and held my hands and took me to Sri Swamiji. When I came in front of Him, I realized that he was blessing me and I became numb.
Rama Devi said that Sri Swamiji wanted to give me something, but I was unable to stretch my hand forward. Then she lifted my hand and He placed a Rudraksha mala in it. My body was shaking and I was crying uncontrollably. I thought that I heard Him saying that all through the time that I was collecting, He was with me. I never said a word nor was I able to touch His Holy Feet, I was just stunned. I never saw a mala in His hand but He gave one to me, as if by magic. That mala is still in my puja room. Then He said to everyone, “See this lady here, she is the one who brought me here.” Since then I daily write, without fail, ‘Sri Datta’ in a notebook.
Then one day Rama Devi asks me to accompany her to Mysore to have the darsan of Sri Swamiji there. I told her I will go if my health permits, but my daughter, Swathi, said that she will take me there. At Mysore I sat in the public area but He saw me and called me by my name. Later I came to realize that there was a bond between us for many generations that cannot be broken or shattered. I am His and He is me.
Once my grandson met with an accident in Chandigarh, and till today no-one knows what happened then. Swathi got a call that her son had met with an accident and she needs to come and take him away. When she got there and saw the condition of the boy, she thought that it was impossible for her to take him back to Vadodara. Somehow he had fallen from a rooftop terrace and no-one saw anything. Anyway, after three years he was doing well and every chance that he has he will go to Sri Swamiji. Such is the grace of this benevolent Guru.
I have been to Mysore only one time and I don’t have the need to go there. If I follow His words and do His work, that’s all He needs. Why should I go and bother Him. I do my poojas, write my japa and think of Him only. There is no need for me to go to Him. He met me and He knows me, I have full faith in Him only. If I have or do not have problems I still pray to Him. There is no need to run and try to touch His Feet; He is everywhere, even sitting with me now. Jaya Guru Datta
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J Rambabu and Hemalatha, Vijayawada
Rambabu: I had no other alternative but to talk to Sri Swamiji. I said to Him in my mind, “If you are really that divine Lord Datta, please let me find my brother’s place.” I began riding and chanting ‘Jaya Guru Datta, Sri Guru Datta.’
I grew up in Hyderabad as an atheist and had no belief in god or Guru. In 1981, my sister, Mani, took me to see Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji in the Hyderabad Ashrama. At that time my parents were also His devotees. I took the trip as a joke and poked fun at Sri Swamiji. I was not very good in academic studies so I got into the transportation business as a career. In 1983 I got married to J Hemalatha and it turned out she was also a devotee of Sri Swamiji. I told her that she was free to visit Him and do as she liked but do not force me to come with her. This did not stop her from asking me to go for Sri Swamiji’s darshan.
Later, my daughter Madhavi was born to us, she grew up singing Sri Swamiji’s bhajans beautifully. I did not know Sri Swamiji but I came to love His Bhajans through my daughter. I loved one particular Bhajan she sung, ‘Lankayam Shankari Devi.’ I loved it so much I began calling my daughter, Shankari. My father used to play Sri Swamiji’s music in the house also; I joked at him and said that one day when I make a movie I will hire Sri Swamiji as the musician for the film.
In 1986, I began suffering from epileptic fits; the doctors could find no cure for me. I used to get the fits at night so my wife would lose her sleep looking over me. During this time, my wife got pregnant with our second child and it was difficult for her to look after me. She pleaded with me to go with her to see Sri Swamiji. Feeling sorry for her, I gave in and said I will go. So in January, 1987, through my wife, I went to meet with and have the darsan of Sri Swamiji in Machilipatnam.
My wife went before Sri Swamiji and started to say something, then broke into tears. Sri Swamiji scolded her and said, “Get away from here, cry outside and come back.” She went outside, composed herself, then took me to Sri Swamiji and said, “Swamiji my husband is not well.” He said to her, “I cannot do anything here, bring him to the Mysore Ashrama.” We left and returned home. I told my wife, “He cannot do anything for me, He is not a doctor, if He could have helped me, He should have done it right there.” With thought like these, I ruled out visiting Sri Swamiji again.
However my wife did not leave it there, and one day she asked me, “Can you promise to do only one thing for me?” I said, “Yes!” Then she said, “Come to Mysore with me.” I got hooked and could not go back on my promise. The next day I went to purchase the tickets and I got pick pocketed. I was happy in a way for I would not have to go to Mysore. I went home and told my wife and she began to cry. Just then, my elder sister, Mani, who is a devotee of Sri Swamiji, came to our house. I do not know how she came to Hyderabad from Nuzividu when she was so ill. She cannot get off her bed in the morning unless someone brings her a coconut to drink. Then only she gets some energy. My wife told her what had happened and she said it was a leela of Sri Swamiji testing us. Then she volunteered to take us to Mysore. My father also came along with us. I could not talk my way out of this so I ended up going.
In December, 1987 while the Datta Jayanti Celebrations were going on we reached Mysore, I fell in loved the Ashrama as soon as we entered. I saw Sri Swamiji performing poojas but I did not sit down, as I did not believe in the rituals. My father introduced me to Mr. Shankar in the canteen. I saw him serving food, coffee, tea and washing dishes at the same time. I offered my help and he accepted. I began washing the dishes. Just then, my wife and her parents, whom she met in the Ashrama, and my family, came to the canteen for coffee. My wife on seeing me, was shocked, and began saying that she had a dream some time back with me washing dishes in this same place. She was excited for me, for she thought this was a good sign. Many years later, she related this experience to me.
The festival lasted for five days. On the fourth day, I went in the temple area to see what was going on. Sri Swamiji did Abhishekam and alankaram for Lord Dattatreya and He had vibhuti all over his body. He sat down and a queue formed with people carrying dried coconuts; they took the coconut to Him and He broke it. Up to three hundred people went with coconuts for Him to break. I thought He must be tired. At the completion of the function Sri Swamiji went inside and I went back to the canteen to help. Some time later someone came around saying that, the Teertham from Sri Swamiji’s bath is being distributed. I told my wife, “How can anyone drink the water from another’s bath? If you go for that water I will leave you here and go.”
Somehow, my father got the Teertham in a bottle and came with it. I took it from Him and kept it, I did not want my wife to get it for she would give it to my daughters. That night, in order to keep it safe I slept with the bottle under my pillow. Little did I know that the Teertham works even if you do not drink it. On the last day of the festival, Sri Swamiji called my wife and the family for an interview. She held my feet, and she pulled my trousers pleading with me to come with her. I could not take her nagging so I went in the interview room with her. My entire family was already in the room,
I did not offer my namaskaram to Him and I just stayed at the back. The first thing He did was to snap His fingers and asked me, “You, what is your name?” I said, “Rambabu.” He then asked, “What are you doing?” I told him, “Transportation.” He said, “You have come one year late.” He then looked at my daughter; I had just cut her hair so she looked like a boy. He asked, “Who is that child?” I said, “My daughter Madhavi.” He said, “I thought it was your son.” He gave us all Prasadam and told my sister and wife to perform Anagha Pooja in Bangalore. After this, we left the ashram.
On the way back to Hyderabad we stopped at the Bangalore Ashrama and Mr. Manohar, a member of the Ashrama asked that my sister, Mani, to perform the Anagha Pooja at his house. Sri Swamiji had blessed my sister to perform these poojas. I thought I should accompany her to his house for she had bought my tickets for this trip; my family remained at the Bangalore ashram, I visited my brother who lived in Bangalore, took his bike and got the directions to Mr. Manohar’s house. I met my sister there. They were not prepared for the pooja since it was arranged so suddenly.
My sister asked me, “How much money do you have?” I told her, “Only enough for the tickets to get home.” She told me to go and buy pooja materials and I hesitated telling her we would not get home. She told me go, Lord Dattatreya will give it back. I went because after all it was her money. I got the materials and my sister performed the pooja. Around 9.00 pm, the rest of my family came from the Bangalore Ashram and joined us. Later, after the puja, Mani saw someone waving outside the gate. She went out and saw it was a friend from Delhi, waving his friend goodbye.
She invited both of them for Prasadam; they came in and we began chatting. Her friend said that he was from Hyderabad. I told him that we are also are from there. He then said, “Why don’t you come with me in my car to Hyderabad?” My sister said, “See how Datta has provided!” We decided to ride back to Hyderabad with the man, but I had to return my brother’s bike before leaving Bangalore. We headed out to his house, and I was following the car on the bike. It started raining heavily and I got lost. I had no money, no cell phone, and the bike was low on fuel. I asked different people for directions and that did not work. It was now 11.30pm at night.
I stopped the bike and I remembered overhearing devotees’ conversations in the canteen and how they would only say, ‘Jaya Guru Datta, Sri Guru Datta when they were in trouble.’ I had no other alternative but to talk to Sri Swamiji. I said to Him in my mind, “If you are really that divine Lord Datta, please let me find my brother’s place.” I began riding and chanting ‘Jaya Guru Datta, Sri Guru Datta.’ I thought I would drive and not stop to ask for directions. After a few minutes, while driving slowly a man came from behind and asked me, “Where are you going?” I told him the name of the place and he said, “Follow me I am going there.” With that, he got in front of my bike.
I followed him until he stopped in front of my brothers’ house. As I stopped, He left. That was the moment of my second birth, the time I knew that my Guru is Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. It was 8 December 8th 1987 at twelve midnight. Thus began my spiritual journey. When I went to my brothers house I found out that my wife was taken to her parent’s house to deliver our second child. I went to Hyderabad without her. I sent her a letter telling her about what happened to me in Bangalore and my feelings for Sri Swamiji. I opened the letter with, ‘Jaya Guru Datta Sri Guru Datta.’ She was shocked when she got the letter, she thought I was playing a joke on her, but when she read the rest of the letter, she knew my feelings for Sri Swamiji. She was very happy for me.
From there my family and I, along with my brother from Bangalore and his four daughters went to Mysore Ashrama for Navarathri Festival in 1988. Sri Swamiji announced He is taking a project from the TTD, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthana to propagate Hindu Dharma and would need volunteers. It was going to be a six-month project. I immediately raised my hand. My wife did not want me to go and leave her alone with the two children so she asked Sri Swamiji’s permission to accompany me. He said she could go but come back after fifteen days. My wife was happy.
Sri Swamiji enquired about my health and told me to keep taking the prescribed medication. We went there and when the fifteen days were over, Sri Swamiji told me to stay, and so she stayed for the six months. I enjoyed serving on the tour. Mr. Kuppa Krishnamurthy used to give speeches in different villages about Hindu Dharma; I used to help in setting up the stage and preparing the food. After the project, I came to Vijayawada and met Sri Swamiji for the Ugadi Celebrations. I took His blessings and went home.
In 1989, we visited Mysore Ashrama for Sri Swamiji’s forty-seventh birthday celebrations. An announcement was made for a priest to go and serve in the Mekadatu Ashrama; they also said that if the person were not a priest, he would receive training. I volunteered to go to the Mekadatu Ashrama. A few other people volunteered and Sri Swamiji called us in and spoke to us. He took the time of His busy schedule to enquire about our affairs. He discussed with me if I can afford to leave my job etc. Mr. Krishnamurthy was present in the meeting and asked me what kind of salary I want from Sri Swamiji. I told Him I only want to serve in the Ashrama.
I told Sri Swamiji that the only pooja I can do is Anagha Pooja and He told me to continue that in Mekadatu. He then explained in detail about the Mekadatu Ashrama saying that it is a remote place with no electricity, water, schools, and that there was a lady staying there with mental problems and she might bother me. I simply told Him that I would be honored to serve Him. He sent us from Mysore Ashrama to Mekadatu in a car. He took so much care to send us off, He packed the car with one month’s grocery, and He gave us clothes, cooking utensils and money. He saw us off as if we were His own children going away.
When I first saw the Mekadatu Ashrama from the hilltop, it was beautiful and I thought I had seen this place before. When we got down in the Ashrama and I looked around at the desolate place, I thought of my children and wondered if I had done the right thing by bringing them here. Then I reassured myself by thinking that Sri Swamiji sent us here and He will take care of us. We settled in and I began doing daily Anagha Pooja in the temple. One day I did my pooja and was lying on the temple floor when I heard the gate opening. I looked up and it was Sri Swamiji. I became nervous for I had neither Poorna Kumbha nor aarti to welcome Him. I simply prostrated and He came in. He said, “How are you? I came to see you.” I was weeping thinking that He has come all the way from Mysore to see me. He took us into His room and said to me, “Don’t worry about the future of your children, they are my children, I will take care of them.” And so He has done. He has taken care of them.
We spent five and a half years there with our two girls, four years old and one year old. We never needed the services of a doctor for them. Sri Swamiji was their doctor. My brother used to visit us on some weekends; he would come on Saturday and leave on Monday morning. One Saturday night I was waiting for him with torchlight outside the gate. I heard my younger daughter crying, I ran to her and saw a snake running away. I applied Sri Swamiji’s vibhuti on the swollen spot and she fell asleep. In the morning as my wife was folding up my daughter’s bed, she saw a large deadly scorpion under the sheets. Luckily, it did not sting my daughter. We chased it out the house. On His next visit to Mekadatu, we told Sri Swamiji about this, He told me not to go out of the ashram gate, to stay inside, and nothing will happen to us. From that day, we did not go out of the Ashrama unnecessarily.
One day an elephant strayed away from its herd and came across the river. The elephant was scared. The nearby villagers went with torches and drums to chase it back to its herd. The elephant came instead to the Ashrama fence and stood there. We heard the noise and got up. Everyone was scared. The watchman’s wife threw some fire at the elephant and he became very fierce and began charging the fence. My little daughter who was three years old at this time said that the elephant is Lord Ganesha and we had done something wrong, we should pray for his forgiveness. Then she put her hands together and said, “Lord Ganesha please forgive us for what we did wrong, we will give you sweets if you don’t harm us.” Just then, our dog ran out to the elephant and began teasing it and it followed the dog into the forest.
I used to take medicine for my illness and when I went to Mekadatu, I stopped. One day I fell ill and could not move. There was neither phone nor doctor so my wife got frantic. Just then, a car pulled up with two foreigners. They said they had come for Navarathri Celebrations in Mysore and Sri Swamiji told them to come to Mekadatu. One of them was a doctor, he came in with his kit and checked me out and gave me medicine. When I saw Sri Swamiji I told Him that my attack came back, He simply said, “Why did you stop taking the medicine?” He knew I had stopped it. I did not listen to Him and suffered the consequences.
In 1989, we celebrated Datta Jayanti at the Mekadatu Ashrama. About three hundred people came. I knew that the food would not be enough. I just said the Datta Stavam and began feeding the people. Everyone ate sumptuous meals and enjoyed it. Someone who was present there told Sri Swamiji about the function and He said, “Feeding three hundred people is a small thing for Datta, come near to Him and you will see more.”
In 1990, we went to Mysore Ashrama for Datta Jayanti. An announcement came that who wanted initiation from Sri Swamiji should gather in the hall. My wife and I got some offerings ready and sat with the others. Sri Swamiji came by and told Ramana to remove us from the group for he had already given upadesam to us. We remembered that He had given us upadesam in our dreams on separate occasions, but did not think it was real. This incident convinced us that His dreams are real.
In 1992, Sri Swamiji visited Mekadatu and told us, “Because you are serving Datta here, He will come to you and I will take him away.” We did not know what He meant. Then in 1993, a son was born to us and he is now in Mysore Ashrama studying in the Veda Patashala. We left Mekadatu in 1994 and went to Vijayawada Ashrama. I have been here since serving as a priest.
Sri Swamiji has given me everything and takes care of me as a mother would take care of her baby. What else can I want in this life? On one of His visits to Mekadatu He asked me if I had any debts. I told Him just one with the store. He told me, “I don’t want you to have debts anywhere with anyone and don’t borrow anything from anywhere.” He sent someone to the store and cleared the debt. What soothing words this was to my heart, I felt He was telling me I am His and He will always take care of me. Jaya Guru Datta
Hemlatha: “I want to tell you few things about ashram life; do you work, pray to Datta and leave the rest to me; I will take care of you and your family.”
I had first darshan of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji in 1979, with my sister-in-law. We lived in Eluru when I went to attend His program in Vijayawada. We were waiting for His arrival, standing outside the gate and discussing about Sri Swamiji. We were thinking about how He spends His time. People usually spend time at work, but what does He do? Like these we had many doubts. Sri Swamiji came out and as soon as He started the program He said, “Why do people need to know about my time table and my schedules? What is it for them to know about His work and what He does? Sri Swamiji does not sleep, there is no sleep for Him, He will move around without people knowing about Him, so one should not comment on His activities.”
After hearing these words we became scared and surprised as to how He could exactly reply to our conversation without even hearing us. Then we realized that He is very powerful and He can read our minds. During the Bhajans time we were mesmerized with His voice and forgot everything that happened and enjoyed the session. This incident made us developed respect towards Him.
Later, I got married with an understanding from my husband who did not believe in Sri Swamiji, that he will not to stop me from going to Him or will I pressure him to come with me. In reality, my father –in-law’s interest was doing Bhajans every Sunday. I used to learn from him. Initially, my husband never liked Sri Swamiji and whenever he saw His picture he used to be upset and get very angry with me, but I loved Sri Swamiji and pray him.
After a few years, my husband became ill and I used to put Vibuthi on his forehead without his knowledge. Within five minutes he would be alright. Then I started believing more in Sri Swamiji and I used to confident that He will protect me always. I know that my husband was suffering so secretly I would place a small picture of Sri Swamiji under his pillow. I used to chant Sri Swamiji’s name usually until midnight without sleeping. Only when I felt that my husband was okay did I go to sleep. I couldn’t tie raksha to my wrist or wear Datta Kankanam. I was not allowed to have vibuthi, or any kind of Sri Swamiji’s related articles, even His pictures. If my husband sees them he would throw them away. When I met Sri Swamiji and told Him about my predicament He told me to bring my husband to Mysore.
During my early days of my marriage my sister-in-law advised me to write a letter to Sri Swamiji whenever I had some problems with my husband, his health or any other issues. I wrote a five pages letter to Sri Swamiji about my problems, my wishes and everything, without my return address. After some days all those problems whichever I mentioned in the letter got resolved automatically and I forgot them just like that, so it was a big surprise for me. He is so far from us but He changes our mind and thinking, and corrects us always. He guides in all ways.
When I was pregnant for the second time, during the Navaratri period, I had a dream where Sri Swamiji appeared as “AMMA”. He was sitting on His throne and both my husband and I were standing near to Him and He told us, “I am the Mother Goddess and I will take care of your family in the form of Goddess Lakshmi, do not worry.” I was so happy, so I told the dream to my husband but he was not surprised nor did he react. He told me that I was thinking about the same thing, so was the dream.
Somehow I managed to take him to Mysore. He did not want to step into Ashram even though he came there. He sat down in the canteen and did not come in the hall. I attended all the days’ functions alone. Later, Sri Swamiji gave us opportunity to perform Pada Pooja and my husband spoke to Him and He sent him some vibrations to cure his disease. There are two important things here; my husband and I had two different mentalities, I was totally into Sri Swamiji and my husband was not Devotee. However, Sri Swamiji accepted him and brought a profound change in him. Sri Swamiji accepted the total family; He made us to walk on Datta pathway together.
During one of His Andhra tour, in Vijayawada I asked Sri Swamiji to bless me with a baby boy as I was pregnant. He told me, “Sri Swamiji knows whom to give and when to give, do not ask, and now touch my feet.” I understood that He gives me what I deserve so I should not ask Him for anything. At the end of the tour, He came to our home in Hyderabad and we all sat down near to Him praying and massaging His Feet. Then, pointing towards my stomach, Sri Swamiji said, “The lucky one is the one in her stomach, not you all.” I felt that I was blessed from many births and felt happy with His words.
Later, Sri Swamiji sent us to Mekedatu and initially we were scared as it is a forest, but once we experienced the atmosphere we forget everything. One day I started suffering from a stomach pain. I was thinking about how I can get it treated when all of a sudden, a film director, Mani Shankar, came and told me that Sri Swamiji was coming there for some shooting for a movie, ‘Nada Brahma’. I was excited and I jumped for joy when I heard that news. Then I realized that all the pain was gone.
At the completion of the shoot Sri Swamiji blessed us and said, “You people are lucky enough to see this, after ten years copies of this movie will be difficult to acquire, but everyone will know more about Sri Swamiji.” Next day He went for a Holy Bath in the Kaveri River and many people accompanied Him. I asked Him for permission to take bath along with the group and initially He said “If you come along with me who will take care of the ashram?” However, upon my insistence He agreed to my request.
Sri Swamiji into the river and sat on a rock and few people were in the river. Suddenly, Sri Swamiji started manifesting ‘Datta dollar coins’ from the water and distributed to everyone. I was eager and waited for my turn, but I did not get one. He gave to everyone except me. I realized that it was meant for the people who came with His permission, but as I insisted, I did not get received one. From then I never crossed His words and it was a lesson for me.
Once, my daughter was plucking Tulasi leaves to prepare a garland from a small Tulasi plant. After she left that place I observed that the Tulasi plant was swinging and went to it to see what had happened. I saw a snake coiled inside the plant and I was surprised that even though she was hanging around the tree for so long it did not hurt her. Sri Swamiji had said that snakes would not hurt you. Whensoever you are in trouble, just chant the name of ‘Datta’ and the problems will go away.
When we came to Mekedatu we even do not know the local language. Not only that, I was not a good cook, I could manage cooking for my family. When people came with Sri Swamiji from different places, by the hundreds, I used to prepare the food although I didn’t even know how I managed cooking for so many people. People from Karnataka used to feel as if is their food and they liked it, and so too were the people from other areas. I used to be amazed at this.
Sri Swamiji taught me how to lead a pious life and pure life. One day He told me, “I want to tell you few things about ashram life; do you work, pray to Datta and leave the rest to me; I will take care of you and your family and you will get a son, Datta, in few years.” In 1989 He told me these words I was blessed with a boy in 1993.
When I used to clean the Guru Nilayam I used to see Snakes around that place. Once, a snake was sitting on Sri Swamiji’s bed and another time one was hanging on the door to the Nilayam. During one of Sri Swamiji visits to Mekedatu, we were all sitting on the floor and all of a sudden a snake came. Sri Swamiji told us not to move so it will go on its way peacefully.
We used to stay near the Datta temple and one night I came out to call maid to help clean the ashram. I saw a great wonder emanating from the temple; a bright green colored star appeared and within a fraction of second it traveled towards the Arkavati River continuing towards the Brahma Kunda. Sri Swamiji used to tell us that Datta still wander in that place.
Once, early in the morning I smell a very pleasant Vibuthi fragrance, so I got up but I saw nothing. I lay back down and just closed my eyes; I did not completely go into sleep. Meanwhile, I saw Sri Swamiji in pure white clothes coming near to me and He called, asking me to get up. He caught my hand and took me along with Him high in the sky and there He gave me Mantro Upadesam. At that time He appeared as fresh as dew drops on the grass during morning hours, I could really feel the freshness and was mesmerized with the beauty of the sky and Sri Swamiji. Afterwards He disappeared and as I opened my eyes I realized that I was in my home.
Later when I went to Mysore for Mantro Upadesam, Sri Swamiji said, “I have already given Mantro Upadesam to her.” I was shocked and had a small doubt as to whether the incident was a dream, but then I realized that Sri Swamiji had really come; it was a not dream. It is a wonderful experience to be felt.
Before going to Mekedatu, in an interview Sri Swamiji told us, “There will be no schools there for your children once you go there, but do not worry Sri Swamiji will take care of you.” When we live there the children did attend school. However, my daughter, Madhavi, used to sing well and I had a wish in my mind that Sri Swamiji should listen to her singing. Surprisingly, once when Sri Swamiji came He called her and said “I heard that you sing well, can you sing a song for me?” She sang a beautiful song, then He told me to take her to my in-laws place, teach her music and join her in school.
Even though she never went to school before she wrote an entrance exam and joined in third grade. It was only because of Sri Swamiji’s blessing. Not only with her education, but Sri Swamiji took care of her marriage as well. At the time of her marriage, Sri Swamiji took the bride and groom and walked around the Mantapa, then He took them both to Lord Venkateshwara Temple and blessed them and gave them a fruit. After blessing the couple He made them sit for the marriage ritual.
In every difficulty without even knowing it Sri Swamiji takes it away and we will know that only after the incident happened. There is nothing to say, which is without His miracle in our life. We cannot discriminate which is His miracle and which is not. We have completely surrendered to Him. It is only His grace that is making our lives move.
During the early days, the Mekedatu Ashram was a very small place and even the Guru Nilayam was a small hut with minimum facilities. We stayed happily there and used look forward for Sri Swamiji’s darshan. I was so blessed to have an opportunity to clean His cottage, and during cleaning time we used to chant Guru Gita. Now when Sri Swamiji describes each sloka I remember those days when we chanted them, even without knowing the meaning, how blessed we are to get such a great opportunity.
Once, I was preparing ghee and I was trying to pour it into a container when, it accidentally fell on my hand. I got a large blister and my hand was swollen. I was helpless and it was paining a lot. It was a small village and there was not any facility for emergency medical help. Some villagers came and advised me to dip my hand in buttermilk so that the blister would heal; unknowingly I dipped them in buttermilk containing salt which increased the pain. I stayed calm, chanted Sri Swamiji’s name and surprisingly, by the next morning I got relief and only the blister was left. I did not even bother to go out to get vegetables for cooking. As this place was heavily forested, we need to get our vegetables and fruits, and we need barks and twigs to prepare food. I was trying to get some twigs from a tree and one pierced into my blister and all the fluid came out it healed itself.
He took care of me in every aspect. In that place there were lots of snakes. Once, we went to get some vegetables and we saw a big poisonous snake. It crawled on my leg and started to hiss and I started shouting ‘snake, snake.’ Everyone came with big sticks and tried to kill it but it got so angry; it stood on its tail. Unknowingly I was about to stump on it. It was in so much pain that it could have bitten me, but surprisingly it did no harm to me and it went away.
Prior to us entering the ashrama, my husband was a lorry driver, so he used to work from six in the morning to ten at night. I used to be worried that he was so busy that he does not find time for the family. I used sit in front of Sri Swamiji’s picture and cry a lot. Sri Swamiji used to give me solutions for every one of my problem. He has made my husband a priest at the Ashrama and he doesn’t have to go away for work. Before meeting Sri Swamiji, my husband before had a bad mouth towards Him and he used to say terrible things about Him. I realized that Sri Swamiji had punished him in such a way that He has blessed him to chant God’s name everyday; hundred of thousand of times. In this way Sri Swamiji is reducing his sins and helping him, so there is no limit for His grace.
In 1984, when I was pregnant, during Ganesha Chaturdhi, I went to Eluru to my parents place. Sri Swamiji had a program in Vijayawada. I was excited and wanted to attend the program along with my mother. However, my husband came from Hyderabad to see me and was not happy to hear that. He did not want me to go there. I pleaded with him and finally he accepted, so my mother and I took a bus and left. During His discourse Sri Swamiji said, “A lot of people came here with so many difficulties; some fight with their mother-in-laws and some fight with their husbands, but don’t worry Sri Swamiji will take care of all.” I related this to my situation and felt happy that He took care of it.
Later, when we returned home, my husband, though he initially agreed that I can go for the program, was still angry, wrote a letter to me saying, “You can come to me whenever you want, I am leaving this place. I came for you and you went to see your Swamiji. I felt very bad about that so I am leaving now.” In this way he left. When I learnt of the situation, my brothers, mother, father and every one of us felt very hurt and I started to cry. Because he left in this way, I was crying for the whole night.
In the morning, my father heard someone ringing the door bell; it was my husband who came back. We all were surprised, but I felt so happy. He told me that even though he went back to Hyderabad that day, he was feeling as if someone was pushing him to come back and see me. I knew it was Sri Swamiji who changed his mind and made him come back to me. After that, by 1989, he also became a devotee of Sri Swamiji.
After this change in his life, Sri Swamiji advised him to become a priest, but he said that he does not know any mantras or puja rituals. Sri Swamiji advised him to just chant “Datta”, and then he will come to know everything. In that way he started learning slokas, homas and Vedas and now he has become a priest, through the grace of His Holiness, Sri Swamiji. He took care of us completely by holing us in His arms. We pray to Him to let us stay near His feet, forever. The seva we do to Him is very small in comparison to what He is doing for us.
In Mekedatu, my son was sick I took him to Mysore. When we got there I was informed that Sri Swamiji was leaving to go abroad later that day, so people were thinking that there would be no darshan in the morning period. I kept praying to with my son sleeping in my lap. Then, to our surprise, Sri Swamiji came out, and not only did we have darshan but also He called everyone s to take Teertham. When I went near to Him He gave holy water to my son and told me to take him to Dr Saritha and he would be alright. I took him as directed and later he recovered.
In the early days when I would meet Sri Swamiji I used to have lot of wishes in my mind, and I used to get confused and ask Him many things, but after getting closer to Him I realized that there should be no wishes for a true devotee, He take cares of everything we need. Not wishing for anything; this kind of transformation I could see in myself. He changed me spiritually and gave me courage to withstand the situations. He helped us spiritually, financially, mentally, physically and in every aspect He is taking care of us.
I have been going to Mysore ashram since I was twenty two years old, and even now I have the same excitement for going there which I had at the first time. So this is an amazing experience and one should feel rather than tell about them.
For some mission for Tirupala Tirupati Devasthana (Tirupati) Sri Swamiji sent my husband for six months to Tirupati, and during that time I have stay alone with the kids. During this time I started getting more aquatinted to Him. The one main thing during that period was the Bhakti Mala which made me so courageous and helped me to withstand loneliness that it became my friend.
My father-in-law compiled all the Bhakti Malas for two years into one book and gave it to me to read. I used to read a book a day for six months continuously. When I read them they gave me a lot of strength. I felt that it was just the mirror reflection of Sri Swamiji; to understand about Him. Bhakti mala and Anaghastami Vratam are two are very important aspects to me. These made me come closer Him. There are endless experiences in our lives with Sri Swamiji. Sri Swamiji has changed our ways of thinking, brought us in the Datta path; that is the main miracle in our lives. Jaya Guru Datta
Sri Swamiji Says
There is a symbolic meaning to the kind of things Lord Krishna did. He robbed clothes from Gopis and robbed butter, milk, etc., from others.Many are shrouded with “clothes” called ego and pride. Lord Krishna steals them. He also steals ignorance. Unless these are stolen from us, we can not make significant progress in the path of spirituality. So, all the ordinary people can be called as “Gopikas”. Once the process of spirituality starts, Krishna comes and steals the unwantedcharacteristics in us.
Every one sins. One should be pure in thought, word and deed. One should be pure in the dealings of body, mind, and wealth, in all three states of wakefulness, dream, and sleep. One should truly repent for one’s mistakes. Then God forgives
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