Dianan Earle Chandool, Trinidad
Sri Swamiji knows everything, past-present-future, everyone, dead-born-unborn. He knows all the karmas of each individual and how to alleviate the suffering of His devotees.
I am originally from Surrey Village, Arouca, a little village nestled in the first set of mountains that forms the Northern Range. In this village there might be the oldest Shiva Temple, with a Bilva tree and a Lingam, which exist in Trinidad. This tree and the Lingam were brought to Trinidad in 1859 by my fore parents. There is a claim that this lingam has miraculous healing powers and this was confirmed later by His Holiness Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji on one of His visits there. Also during the years this Lingam has been continuously growing.
I met His Holiness on His first visit to Trinidad in 1976. I was not part of the planning committee but I knew that He was coming. I went to the airport to see Him but I did not go into the building. The planning committee received Him and when they came outside He approached me and said “let’s go home”. I was taken back, but I brought my car, He sat in the front seat and we started for the house. I cannot remember if anything was spoken, and as we got to the house He walked straight into the main bedroom and sat down. It seemed as though He knew the layout and arrangement of the whole house. Then He said, “It’s good to be home”.
Incidentally, my family was in London on vacation, so the whole house was available for His use. He seemed to be very comfortable in the surroundings and He started to talk to me as if we had known each other for a very long time, maybe through many births. He told that the main purpose for His being here was that; firstly, there are some souls that were waiting for Him, and secondly, He had to pay respect to a river that He left many generations ago. These two activities were to be done as soon as possible.
Plans were made and early the next morning we set out for wherever we were to go. Sri Swamiji was directing the trip and He was the one in control. We were traveling eastwards on the highway while enjoying the spectacular sunrise over the trees. When we were nearing the Mausica River, Sri Swamiji cautioned me to pull over and stop. I did as was told and He got out of the car. He took with Him some water which He had brought from India and looking at me He said. “You know but the others don’t”. With that He walked into the waters and did some rituals and left. We then continued traveling eastwards under His directions.
Some years ago there was a great flood and the bridge over the river was washed away. At the point where His Holiness got into the river; two cars plunged into the swollen waters and all the occupants were drowned. I was one of the divers who retrieved the bodies from their waterery graves. Sri Swamiji had gone there to release those souls and set them free. Thousands of miles He traveled to come to perform this spiritual act of humanity. What a venerable saint.
The car reached into Waller Field, a disused American Military Base, and we pass the first river there. Sri Swamiji said that we must continue as we were not at the place as yet. From the Highway we entered the Eastern Main Road and Sri Swamiji was acting rather mysteriously. At the junction, He suggested that we should proceed northwards along the Aripo Road. After a short drive He directed that I should turn right and drive down the hill towards the river. We got there, parked the car and Sri Swamiji alighted and headed up stream to where a large stone was in the center of the water. He mounted the stone and performs some pujas and rituals. He then said that He had paid respect to this Mother River whom He had left many generations ago and the first part of His mission is completed and He was now free to continue His work here.
He then informed me that this area is very sacred, but it was not the spot He was accustomed to. The area, He said, will be located on His third visit. The first visit had just started and He was already thinking about the third visit. Without any directions from the local Trinidadians Sri Swamiji was moving as though He knew all the places and how to navigate without disturbances. He was in tune with nature and everything seemed to bow to His presence.
How effectively the turn of events were taking place; firstly, Sri Swamiji wanted to come Home, then He went to the river for those souls and He performed pujas on to stone in the river. For five years before His coming to Trinidad, I would religiously come to this spot, in the early hours of the Sunday mornings, sit on that stone and perform pujas and do my meditation. Even in the darkest of nights when I came there that area will always be lighted. In His wisdom Sri Swamiji knows your heart and graces you with His unwavering love.
As if by divine intervention, I had known of a location that was high up in the mountains of Cerra del Aripo, where there was a confluence of rivers; a place where it is rumored that in ancient times, a great sage had performed penance there. Is this the place of which He speaks? On His third visit, His Holiness was taken there and He identified that this was the place He was seeking. Today that place is known as the Aripo Datta Ganga and a Shiva Temple is constructed there for all. I realized that I was related to Him in two ways; as the ancient Rishi, and in this incarnation.
During His third visit also, Sri Swamiji advised us of His intention to construct an ashrama in Trinidad. A plot of land was located in Arima and He laid the foundation stone. However, He intimated to me that He was doing this because of His love of His devotees, but nothing will come out of this, and this was not the place for the ashrama. That place will come later. It would be some years later, but a five acres parcel of land was presented to His Holiness during His 1986 tour. Two years later after performing the Bhoomi Puja and laying the foundation stone; a Datta Temple was constructed on the site within fourteen days and the Kumbha Abhishekam was performed.
Up to 1990 I headed the organization as the President. During my tenure we constructed the temple structure and the Guru Nihliyam. We turned, what was once a rice paddy into buildable lands. Sri Swamiji’s mission in Trinidad had taken full roots. Today, as I look at the administration, all I can see is individuals jostling for power, with the notion that I am this and I am that. The real intent of the mission is being lost. Over the years I have traveled and spend a lot of quality time with His Holiness but I sincerely believe that my formidable relationship with Him was to set down the foundation for His Mission in Trinidad, and through His grace and divine will, we were able to do that. I still visit the ashrama periodically, and only in a private capacity. There are a few very important incidents that happened in my life that I would like to relate.
Several years ago I attended a conference in the Philippines and at the conclusion I thought that I could go the Mysore Ashrama for the Shivaratri festival. I had difficulties in getting a flight, but then I learnt that Air India was having one flight to Chennai. I managed to get a ticket on a plane that was named Shivaji. I arrived in Chennai and again I had problems for transport to Mysore. A family I knew, and who were great devotees of Sri Swamiji, came to my rescue and took me to hotel, and later arranged a flight to Bangalore. During the flight the person seated next to me started a conversation, and I intimated to him that I was traveling to Mysore. In Bangalore he had his driver take me to the bus depot where I got a seat on a tourist bus that was leaving for Mysore City. I traveled to the Ashrama and was well received by the ashramamites.
Later, during a conversation with Sri Swamiji, He said, “I know that you want to visit the Divine Mother, come and let’s go”. His Holiness got into the driver’s seat, and Krishna Kishore Persad, another Trinidadian, and I got into the car along with Him. He started driving towards the roads leading to the Chamundi Hills. From the main road there were narrow one-lane roads that led up to the Chamundeshwari Temple on top of the hills. On our way up, with only room for one vehicle we saw a lorry shooting down the hill towards us. I closed my eyes and prepared for death. A few moments later I opened my eyes and I saw the lorry barreling down the hill and the car cruising up the hill. I did not record even a shake that the vehicles passed each other.
Sri Swamiji drove into the temple’s compound and there were literally thousands of people there. The chief priest noticing Sri Swamiji approached and motioned Him to come forward. With compassion Sri Swamiji motioned for me to follow Him. Once inside the Sanctum Sanctorum, I was given a basket filled with fruits and flowers and was asked to perform pujas to the deity. After that we left and went back to the Ashrama. Sri Swamiji granted me the seva opportunity of feeding the members of the leper colony and in assisting another person with his developmental project; a person who Sri Swamiji saved from impending death.
In 1990 I was sent to Switzerland, on a program, sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). While I was coming down the western ramp of the airport, Sri Swamiji was coming down from the eastern ramp. We met in the immigration area and greeted each other. I was not aware of His program in Switzerland. Sri Swamiji invited me to join His group, an invitation which I embraced. I was able to complete my program and join His Holiness for a few days. At that time, the Jammat al Muslimeen had staged a coup in Trinidad and was holding the duly elected government hostage. I sat in meditation and asked His Holiness if He would allow His group to pray with me to seek redemption for the country. Sri Swamiji agreed and we started performing some pujas. At the end of the pujas, when the coconut was broken, we heard that the leader, Yaseen Abu Bakr had laid down his weapons and surrendered.
Another time, I had gone to New York JFK airport, and after clearing my luggage, involuntarily my eyes moved to a notice board where I saw a note addressed to me for me to visit a particular person at his place, so I took a taxi to the location. Meanwhile, Sri Swamiji had informed Sri HV Vishvanath that someone was coming to see Him and he should wait outside for him. When I got there Sri Vishvanath and I introduced ourselves. Then he told me that Sri Swamiji was waiting for me. I had no idea that Sri Swamiji was visiting the USA. No one knew how this note got there. But it directed me to where Sri Swamiji was at that time.
If one goes to His Holiness with an open mind, and without the thought of wanting or receiving something from Him, that person will definitely benefit from His association. He is the benevolent being that does not see beyond the real; He is the humane majesty that takes care of all His subjects according to His will. When He gives a command, we are to follow it without adjustments to our meaning, we must do it without recourse or refrain.
During a visit to Trinidad, Sri Swamiji told me, “Boysie, I have to go to Guyana as soon as possible, tomorrow”. Arrangements were made; we left the next morning, and stayed at the home of my friend, Dr Rama Sahadeo. Sri Swamiji informed me that another one of my friends was coming to visit Him. To my amazement, I saw my driver, Mohammed ‘Dooks’ Yusuff and his family coming towards me and he said in a very compassionate tone, “Sir, I would like to see the boss man”. Arrangements were made and he was taken inside to meet with His Holiness.
The family sat and had a hearty conversation with Sri Swamiji, and at the end He said to Mr. Yusuff, “Dooks, I want to talk with you”. The family came outside and the two souls were left inside for about three hours. At the end I jokingly told Him that I have now realized the reason for His coming to Guyana. Sri Swamiji then ask me about my realization, I told Him that I recognized that that person was a devotee from a long time ago. His Holiness confirmed this and started to laugh and told us that He owed this to him. The next morning we were informed that the gentleman had expired during the night; although a Muslim by birth, he was buried with full Hindu rites later. Sri Swamiji said that not only was this person a great devotee, but he was also a good friend. After that we returned to Trinidad.
On another occasion He wanted to go to Surinam. I recognized that His Mother from a previous incarnation had now taken birth in that blessed country. With great excitement all arrangements were made for the trip. When we got to Surinam, I was directed to approach a family. I did as was told and I also advised the lady of the home that Sri Swamiji will be performing a Homa the following day and she should supply all the necessary materials needed. She must also prepare seven headbands; each of a different color for the program. Everything was prepared and Sri Swamiji came to the Homa Kunda.
Sri Swamiji knows everything, past-present-future, everyone, dead-born-unborn. He knows all the karmas of each individual and how to alleviate the suffering of His devotees. To our amazement we witnessed, for the first time, Sri Swamiji bowing and touching the feet of someone, that lady, His relation. That lady started to weep and explained that when He touched her she felt that she had intimately known Him before. I explained the relationship and the lady was very happy.
When the priests of the Surinamese Temple heard that Sri Swamiji was coming to perform the Homa at the temple they became very irate. They viewed Swamis coming from India as people who came begging for money instead of teaching spirituality. For them this Swamiji was no different. On the morning of the Homa, as Sri Swamiji entered the temple premises, the Chief Priest started to confront Him, but as he approached His Holiness, unconsciously he prostrated before Him. Where his hands touch the ground two coins appeared in his palms, one with the Devi and the other with Lord Shiva. He were mesmerized, then Sri Swamiji invited the Chief Priest to help with the Homa offerings.
My relationship with Sri Swamiji goes back many thousands years ago, through several of His incarnations. In one incarnation I made a promise that I would help Him with His mission in Trinidad, and I have fulfilled that promise. Our relationship has been a joyous and memorable one. It has nothing to do with personal wants and gains. He is my mentor, and as such I share a high level of comfort with His cosmic being. As a child I was blessed to have the guidance of spiritual giants and was tutored by two great sadhus. Neither of them became my Guru as they saw that I had come from the linage of Lord Dattatreya. Only when I came in contact with Sri Swamiji was this reinforced in me. Jaya Guru Datta.