“Please keep this friendship; this friendship did not start today. It has come from several lives”
My first meeting with Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji happened around 1970 at Kutchery Road in Madras. Firstly, I must thankfully remember my elder brother through whom I got in touch with my Sadguru. At that first instance, it was just an instinct to go near to Him, which was out of an unknown desire. However, I can truthfully say that the driving force to go to Him was the encouragement from my wife. Our first reaction, from those first meetings, was the apparent disapproval from Sri Swamiji to see us, which in turn increased our desire to meet and talk with Him.
We continued to pursue that desire, but the conflict to go nearer and the disappointments because of His disapproval continued for nearly a decade. This is something, which I cannot define even to day. Today, I can say that they were tests for us during those early days for our entry into Sri Swamiji’s fold.
At that time, ours was a small family, with two kids; three years and one year old respectively, with an above average income. Up until 1978 we remained in Madras, then for prospects of my career we moved to Mysore. At first, this change was a happy one, because we felt that our dream had come through; a dream that we should be closer, to be with Sri Swamiji. Also, my professional level had improved.
From time to time, we would visit the Ashram and witness all Poojas and listen to His discourses. During that time my family and I performed our first Pada Pooja to Sri Swamiji which continued for seventy-four times during the subsequent years. The first time we performed Pada Pooja the whole pattern of my life changed because that was the start of our spiritual journey in a holy atmosphere with an undefined friendship. The only thing that Sri Swamiji said at that time was, “Please keep this friendship. This friendship did not start today. It was from your several lives / janmas of you both”.
Subsequently, the next ten years was a period of hardships that were various in nature; professional, health, and total disturbance in life in general. The hardships started when Sri Swamiji asking us to leave and go in search of another job outside Mysore. For some time afterwards, we could not reconcile ourselves to this development. However, this period lasted for only a year.
Suddenly, one day Sri Swamiji called us and said that we should leave Mysore at once and go in search for another job in Madras. This was an unbelievably harsh order from Sri Swamiji. He gave no reason whatsoever for it. All He said was that it was for our good. We could not understand His thinking then. We sat there pleading with Him to permit us to remain in Mysore, but this only made Him harsher.
He called the late Mr. Bhagavat and implicitly told Him that His instruction in asking us to leave Mysore was for our good. We had no choice but to concede and got ready for the shift. I went in search of a job and with His blessings I took up one, out of the two options that I had. Later I shifted to Madras to my new job. In a less than six months a windfall of an opportunity came and I constructed a house which I never dreamt of and was never prepared for. With a new job and the difficulties in settling down in a new environment, the task of building the house was painful one. Basically, the thought that we were not near to Sri Swamiji was much more painful. Finances came from all unknown sources and the house was built in a record time.
During this period, my professional life was a misery. I was never was able to settle in the new place and I was constantly searching for a change. A newspaper advertisement calling for professionals for a project in Mysore was a pleasant sight for me. The advertisement said that this project was presently at a place about two hundred kilometers away, but will be shifted to Mysore in due course.
I sought Sri Swamiji’s permission and blessings to take up this job. He was quiet angry with all these inquires, because I was not able to sustain the troubles which I was facing in Madras and it seemed that I was in a hurry. He scolded me and said that I had such an unstable mind; like that of a monkey. But anyway, in the end He blessed me and said that I would come to Mysore soon. That was all I wanted to hear through His holy voice. My wife and I knew no bounds for our happiness.
I stayed in the new house for just seventeen days, left my family in it and I went to the new place. Then ill health and financial problems started haunting us. What was said to be a project that would come to Mysore in two years ended up with the total corporate office shifting to Bangalore within six months and then to Mysore in less than an year.
I cannot explain in words the joy that my family experienced when we came to the Ashram to see Sri Swamiji as soon we came back to Mysore. When we entered the compound, Sri Swamiji was sitting in the prayer hall speaking to the late Krishna Murty, the Manager of the Ashram. Seeing the four of us from at a distance coming towards Him, Sri Swamiji was addressing Sri Krishna Murty. Pointing His finger towards us and showing him, He said “This group of four belongs to me, how I can ask them to get out. I wanted them back. They did not know this when I asked them to leave Mysore a year ago. They fought with me and refused to go in the first instance. But they listened to me and they are now happy. I fought with their fortune and brought them back.” Yes! Our faces really explained all that truth.
Late, after almost ten years, it was a different experience altogether. My career growth threshold to face difficulties in my professional life and society were all due to His invisible acts and driving force. He always taught me that “Work is Worship.” That saying was instilled in me and it earned me a good name in my career. On this aspect Sri Swamiji always maintained that I should undergo all that hardships, in spite of the slow growth and obstructions that were emerging. Even with His blessings, it took almost a decade for those obstructions to vanish. The slow process of my growth stated from then and I ended my career in the third to the top management slot. However, were it not for His timely cautions from time to time, I would have fallen sick and misery would have reappeared.
The next chapter of my life was to be a life for self as defined by His Holiness. The post-retirement period from my job was the start of different experience altogether. The experience after finishing working for others and working for the self; spending almost full time at the Ashram is of a different nature. I thought I had finished my kindergarten class in work ethics. However, the syllabus in spiritual life is of a different nature; they are found in self-discipline, patience, perseverance, selflessness and many other simple attributes.
At the end of three decades of professional life elsewhere, I started to learn to unlearn what I learnt outside. I started learning good things from other devotees and taking Him as a teacher was the first lesson. Since retirement I have been serving in the Ashrama and even that amount of time is too little to say that I have done anything to strengthen it. However, to my pleasure my family has taken up the baton and that gives me a feeling of contentment.
Poojya Sri Swamiji is an unseen guest at every meal in my house and the silent listener at every conversation. It is not possible for me to know what invisible acts my Guru did to me to bring me and my family to Him. I remain memorizing this truth till my last moment of breath.
Jaya guru Datta