Amirapu Satyanarayana, Produttur
“You must feel lucky that you are born in an age and time in which Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji is walking on the Earth”
I am a Medical Doctor attached to the S.G.S. Hospital in Mysore India since 2007. I had my first glimpse of His Holiness, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji in 1992. Before that I was associated with many spiritual organizations, especially the Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission when His Holiness Sri Ranganathananda Maharaj was the President. He was known as the Modern day Vivekananda Swamiji. I believe in the Hindu philosophy, of the existence of God, and conduct regular pooja at Home.
From 1986, my wife and I were working as doctors at the Government hospital in Proddatur. We spent twenty-two years working at Proddatur. Our arrival to Proddatur is by no means an accident; it was an opportunity to meet an Avathara. My friend the late Dr. Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, the then MLA asked me to serve the people of Kadapa region, and got us posted to Proddatur. Had this not happened we might not have met Sri Swamiji. The first glimpse of Sri Swamiji was when He was coming out of Sri Ramanjaneyulu’s house. At that time we were going to the hospital for duty. We saw Him and proceeded to the hospital. In our private consultation rooms, we had a nurse who was His devotee. During that period Sri Appaji was coming to Proddatur in the month of January and was staying for about five days.
The nurse who worked with us used to tell us about Him and kept asking us to visit the ashram and have His darshan. One day she brought a book, the ‘Life history of Sri Swamiji’ and asked us to read it. We kept it in the cupboard and forgot about it. However, she used to implore us to read it. Days were passing and dust was gathering over the cover. One day she excitedly told us that Sri Swamiji was coming to Proddatur, but we didn’t show any interest and the days were just passing.
Then, I believe that the nurse told us that Sri Swamiji has arrived and will stay for about six days and asked us to visit the ashrama. We tried avoiding it, and one day she told us that He will be leaving the next day and asked us to come. To satisfy her we went in the evening. As we entered the ashram we heard Sri Swamiji giving a discourse. We sat in the last row, as we sat we saw that ‘His Eyes’ shown like search lights. Sri Swamiji was taking about doctors and their services. We were bit taken with His reference to doctors the moment we entered. We were wondering how he know that we are doctors. We sat till the end of the session offered our Namaskaram and left.
Sometime later my wife was leafing through the ‘Life History’ and found the mention of Proddatur. Out of interest she started reading from that chapter. Later she told me the book and the life of Sri Swamiji is very interesting. Some weeks afterwards I developed a backache due to riding of scooter on very bad roads. I went for medical help and the doctor told me to take complete rest for seven days and gave me a number of tablets. I was force to take this rest so I started reading the book nonstop.
The foreword, “you must feel lucky that you are born in an age and time in which Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji is walking on the Earth” had a big impact on me; it is the best boon man can get. My wife is also so moved about this message; the simple living example of Sri Swamiji. Another part that moved us to the core was His training with Yogini Venkamma Atta in Proddatur. During those days He was asked by His Aunt to bring food by ‘Madhukara’; begging for food in five different houses. At that time He was only a small boy. He used to take that food home, give some to any guest, some to beggars and finally He was allowed to eat from the remaining amount.
However, there was a twist from Aunt Venkamma; He should not taste the food; whether it is hot, sweet, sour, etc, If He tastes it, she used to beat Him on His back. This was part of her yoga training. In this boo, the way the words are expressed brought tears to the reader eyes. The author says, “None realized that in the future, this boy appearing today as Sanyasi beggar, will be feeding many mouths and moving to many places, in cars, to bring relief to many souls. He was in fact, revealing the Datta Avathara, saying, “I am not doing this Madhukara to satisfy my hunger, but to lessen your Karma. When you give me the food of devotion, I am taking your Karma.” I have never read such a bold statement from anyone. Here He is proclaiming that anna or food is Parabrahma Swaroopa and for all intent and purpose, He is the Parabrahma. He gives food of Knowledge to all and He does not require anything, because He is it. He is satiating the hunger both physically and metaphysically.
The reading of the ‘Life history’ came to an end. This reading and many other books on religions gave me some insight, and I could read between the lines. The Biography of an Avathara is never complete, because we cannot call it as life history; we can call it as ‘the Leela or the happenings in the Avathara period of great force.’ The Life History of these Avadhoota shows the life facets of characters involved or attached with the Avathara. How can mortals write about Gods or Guru? As the Avathara passes through time these devotees are men mentioned along with Him; they are the flowers that fell at their feet.
With severe back pain I decided to visit Mysore, I told my wife of my intention and boarded the bus. Even up to today, she taunts me that I didn’t asked her to accompany me. I made the long bus journey and reached the ashrama; a modest setting. There were a few persons standing near the Hanumadwara and they told me to rush inside as Sri Swamiji was giving Holy Teertham. I had yet to take a bath, so I resisted and instead asked for place to stay. The reply was not encouraging.
In the meantime, another gentleman asked me to go to Rama Shankara Kuteera and ask for a room. The lady asks me to keep my bag in a corner and get ready quickly to go and see Sri Swamiji. I took bath, went to the prayer hall and asked a gentleman as to when I can have Sri Swamiji’s darshan, He told me it will be only in the evening and left. I was so tired with the journey and my pains that I sat in the hall with my eyes closed. When I opened my eyes I saw Sri Swamiji standing in front of me. I prostrated and introduced myself. He gave me vibuthi and He went and sat on the Srichakra pooja platform and asked few of us sitting there to come near to Him.
He told us that there will be a video shooting in Tamil showing the Ganapathy pooja of many forms of Ganapathy. He started the pooja and at the end He gave us the Holly Teertham a number of times. This is how the Guru accepts and blesses the devotee. After that I retired to Kuteera where I learnt that there will be Meditation and Healing concert the next day.
The next day, I got ready and sat through the concert. What this has done to me I cannot explain fully. When sugar is mixed in water it dissolves, but because the water is sweet it means that sugar is there, but we cannot see it. Just like that, when we see a great force or Avadhoota, we become one into it. At the end of the concert I took my bag and rushed to the bus station on my return journey to Proddatur. After the bus left Bangalore I remembered my backache, however, it is not there and I haven’t taken any tablets since the morning. I was surprised and reached Proddatur safely and without pain. He gives the first boon.
After that, our family with our two sons became regular visitors to Sri Swamiji and His ashrama and we started to regularly chant Datta Stavam and attend satsangha. We have never asked for any particular wish to be fulfilled, however, at one interview Sri Swamiji told me that you should never ask for anything, but just tell about others problems; do you want me to open your book? With folded hands, I replied, Oh’ Great Guru, my life is an open book for you? Then Appaji said I know who you were, who you are now, and who you will be, also. I know what you deserve I will give it when the time comes, so don’t ask for anything. I stuck to it. He also said, “Come to me with clean plate and I will put something on it, however if you come with dirty plate don’t expect anything. I want a clean vessel; the vessel is your Atman; prepare yourself and come to me.”
There are many ways in which He prepares the devotees to receive His benedictions. Even before meeting Him I used to do early morning pooja. During one of His tours to Proddatur, Sri Swamiji ordered Sri Sadashiva Sarma and me to conduct Ganapathy Homa on every full moon day at the Proddatur Ashram. Another time He told us to clean the temple sanctums of all God and Goddess and regular do pooja and abhishekam. We did what was ordered. After few months when we came to the Mysore ashrama Sri Swamiji was so pleased that He directed us continue saying, “You look after my temple I will look after your Home.” What other assurance one requires from an Avadhoota.
Pradosha Kala abhishekam to Lord Shiva, one of the Shiva archana propagated by the Datta Avathara of Sripada Srivallabha, Sri Narasimha Saraswathi and Now Swamiji, is a boon to me from Sri Swamiji. Up until we left Proddatur we were doing this Pradosha Kala pooja. I have greatly benefitted by this. The power and wonders of Guru is great and inexplicable.
My wife and I are Medical professionals, but neither of our sons has followed our profession. My eldest son asked Sri Swamiji what course to pursue in future and Appaji told him to go for engineering studies near to Proddatur. He joined Kadapa Engineering College and after graduation asked for future guidance, Appaji asked him to go for post-graduate work in Tamil Nadu. We wanted our second son to try for dentistry, but he declined and Sri Appaji asked him to go for Law. After graduation, he worked with a great legal brain in Delhi, then came back and settled in High court in Hyderabad. Later, Sri Appaji asked him to come and work as legal advisor to Ashrama.
In 2007 Appaji called us from Switzerland and He straightaway asked me, “Satyanarayana do you remember that you have offered you services to the ashrama long time ago, do you stand by your word? My wife and I asked Him for twelve hours to prepare ourselves and I submitted my services. Sri Appaji was so happy; He said that He is happy to have such devotees. In turn He gave us five months’ preparation time. When He came from Switzerland He identified suitable rooms to us in the Ashrama.
In retrospection I learnt that when we are with Sadguru we have to be humble, we must not display our qualities like love of money, power, anger, or showing up our ego. Guru does not like the show of these qualities. In silence, without expectation, He takes care of us. I pray to my Guru with devotion that is result of surrender.
It is said that at the Parayana of Guru Gita that the Guru appears by the time the last word is finished. As a reality I started Guru Gita Parayana and on the Last day I had to come to Mysore. By the time we reach the Srichakra pooja is usually over. I sat under the Audumbara tree and started Guru Gita. When the last word was finish, Sri Swamiji appeared to do Cow or Go pooja, which was being offered to Guru. The powers, wonders and whom the Guru blesses with His love are amazing.
As discussed earlier, my wife and I were having a private consultation. The consultation room has Sri Appaji’s photo. One day we admitted a lady with dead fetus. We induced artificial labor pains to remove the dead baby. The procedure sometimes takes from one to three days. After the first day the lady developed high fever with the baby still in the womb. Our Datta Stavam chants usually goes on without any stop unless we are highly involved in other matters. After the second day, there was still no delivery. We prayed to Guru for His intervention. This was our first wish that was expressed openly.
We were praying for the welfare of the woman and on the third day at 5.00 am, our nurse rang up and informed us that the baby is expelled. We told her to keep the patient on the bed till we came. We went and examined and told her she can move now. The lady walked into our room and saw Sri Appaji’s photo and asked us whose photo it was. We replied it is our Guru who stays in Mysore. She immediately said that she saw Him and He is near to her for more than twelve hours holding a small doll in His hands. At 4.30 am that morning He threw away the doll and blessed her. She asked us to give her the photo. See how benevolent Sri Appaji is?
Another time, I was at a function in the temple and I made a comment in the ear of the priest there. When I came to Mysore after one month Sri Swamiji repeated the same words; after which I asked for His forgiveness. These are some of my most remembered Anugraha upadesam of Guru. I like to call whatever Sri Appaji says as Upadesam, as Guru’s words are nothing but orders for good conduct of devotee. There are a varieties of Guru that a person comes across; the first being mother, then father and the teachers in school and college. The Guru that teaches the way for Salvation is the Spiritual Guru. He teaches the disciple how to get over the accumulated karma of various births, and attain the feet of Lord.
Sri Swamiji is the Guru of Dattatreya lineage. His Holiness is available for the devotees all the time with a silent prayer at the Image of His or the Kalagnisamana Moorthy in the prayer hall. Now we are in the Ashram it is mandatory that whenever we go outside Mysore, we inform His Holiness, or Balaswamiji. Staying near to Him; the Guru, one should not take advantage or misbehave. Even the actions of mine are watched by many people who come to Ashram to see His Holiness and during major festivals or functions.
Once, I had an audience with Sri Appaji on a family matter on the birthday of the Lord. At the end He says, “Satyanarayana, do you think that Sri Rama was not aware of the location of Sita, did He require the help of Hanuman?” With folded hands I bowed to Sri Appaji and said “Swamiji I know or we all know that we are here to play a small stage role on your world stage; you are the producer and director, we just play in your creation. Looking at my son He said, “Things happen according to my plan; in my plan so many people are involved, I draw individuals from every part of the world to act in the drama of mine, so I called you to this Peetham. There are Hundreds of people who are willing to serve in the Hospital, but in Datta’s lottery your name has come, this is Swamijis lottery.”
Like this He searches through His devotees and find those that have their tasks to perform, when the right person fills up His requirements He calls them up; He allots them a task and they should perform them with devotion. One need not feel jealous of person whose work keeps them near His Holiness, because their roles were fixed a long time ago.
Datta Jayanti is the birthday of Lord Dattatreya. Sri Swamiji celebrates Datta Jayanti for three days. I found, like Navaratri, enormous Yogic vibrations are released by His Holiness. The waves are so penetrating that no worldly thoughts come to the Mind. I tried thinking of other things, but I failed, the thoughts come back to “Dram Dattaya Namaha”. On one such occasion, His upadesam talk consisted of “I am here” I was taken aback, how such simple one sentence speech carries millions of words and meanings in them is made. Yes! it is true, He is there, He is here, and He will be there. Only ‘I am’ has a question mark. I don’t know about yesterday, but today I am with Him; tomorrow is the question mark. If one lives in this sentence, that is the real Guru Krupa.
Another aspect of Sri Swamiji that has captivated me is the Kirthans on Lord Venkateswara, especially “Yedukondalavada Govinda Eedukalada neeku Govinda”. A poet-saint, Tallapaka Annamacharya wrote a large number of Kirthans on the Lord and they are all great, In Sri Appaji’s bhajan the word: Eedukalada” carries voluminous meaning. It says Oh’ Lord there nothing that can be compared with you. Sri Appaji’s one word upadesam are thought provoking and He leaves it for us to infer. I like a Veda Hymn that means; once you see the Face of Guru there is nothing else to be seen; once you speak to Guru there is nothing else to speak and once you touch the Holly Feet there is nothing to ask. Guru takes care of everything; it’s from silence that He appears and does your work.
After our retirement from Proddatur, we went to Tirupati, but He called us to Mysore. He says looking after the affairs of your children is my duty. I will settle their affairs. Within twelve hours of His phone call, our first son’s marriage was fixed. In Bharatha varsha, settling the affairs of the children are parents’ duty. If the parent happens to be the GURU, what more you can ask for?
After coming to Mysore my first thought was smoking, I used to be a compulsive smoker. My fear is if some devotee sees me smoking, what is the use of staying with Guru when I myself is not practicing what He teaches? One day I made a firm resolution and went to the Datta temple. Sri Appaji was in the USA. I stood before Kalagnisamana Datta and prayed to Him; please Appaji if you give me firmness for a millionth of a second, I will achieve what I want. Lo and behold, it was a miracle. He gave me strength and I stopped smoking; this all happened in an eye’s blink.
Later I went to America and Sri Swamiji granted me an audience in New Jersey. His first question was, “Satyanarayana, how are you? What is the news?” I replied. “Appaji, I know that you are always there in Mysore and I asked my Guru to me strength for a second. He gave that strength and I stopped smoking. He was so happy and He asked me, “Who is that great Guru of yours?” When I told Him, He asked Sri Prasadi to take a photo with both of us.
Is it actually necessary for a Guru to allow Himself precious time to speak with His devotees? He is so compassionate that He wants to hear the truth from His devotee with His own ears. Sadguru feels proud when His teachings take root. Sri Swamiji’s love and compassion for devotees is unconditional. He cares for us as a mother will, protects like a father, plays like a grandparent and supports like a teacher and friend. Every act of ours is watched.
One day in Proddatur we were singing the Bhajans of Appaji and there was a power cut about 3.00 pm. My wife who is also practicing suddenly asked me, is the cooking gas cylinder is closed or open? I casually told it is the gutter smell. After some time I also smelled the methane. I put down the bhajana mala book, took a lighted candle and went into kitchen. When I entered and saw the gas cylinder the gas tap was open and cooking gas was coming out that I could listen to the sound. When I saw that, I was rooted to the spot because methane gas is highly volatile and I had a lighted candle in my hand. You can easily read my thoughts. Leaving the thoughts to Guru I put out the flame, closed the tap, opened all doors and came back to the front room. My wife asked if the cylinder was open. I said, yes! But I closed it. She was looking at me with disbelief and wanted to know what happened to the candle. I told her to forget it. However, one person who did not forget was the Guru. Later, when we came to Mysore He blasted one and all saying, “Do you think the duty of Guru and Datta is to look after your gas stoves, your homes, purses etc.” We were overwhelmed by His pure Love.
In 2001 there was a mishap in which the car carrying Sri Swamiji saved the lives of many by coming the way of a truck, in this Sri Appaji was hurt. The message from the ashram was that devotees are requested to avoid coming to ashram to enquire about His health. I didn’t make the trip. Later, when I came for Sri Swamijis darshan, the first word from His mouth was, “so you have come.” It was a rebuke for not coming immediately. I apologized and tears came to my eyes; I asked His forgiveness, because I became very disturbed. I told Him, “Appaji, why do you stay here and suffer for people like us, why don’t you go away to Himalayas and have peace?” He smiled and said “that is your love towards me; I still have a job to complete, so this has to continue.” Jaya Guru Datta