K Ranga Shastry ‘Jaggu’ Jaganatha, Mysore
Each one of us sees Him differently and we each have our special connection with Him
In 1962 a young boy was making spiritual waves in the Electric Colony in Kesare, Mysore. My mother and her friends would visit this young Swami who was performing miracles, poojas and singing bhajans. He used to perform the same poojas there as he does now. A resident of the colony, Sri Srikhantaya, was the benefactor and his little home was the place where Sri Swaamiji performed His daily rituals and poojas.
One Sunday my mother took me to Kesare and introduced me to Sri Swamiji whom I thought was very young; about 23 years old. On Sundays He would give interviews to devotees after the poojas and homas. He looked at me and I was immediately attracted to Him; it was a thrilling experience and I thought that this is the Guru who can bring changes in my life. He told me that He will call me ‘Jaggu’ even though my name is Jaganathan. He went on saying that I had a lot of difficulties already for that year and that I should keep on coming to that place. I was working in Bangalore and could not get any leave except on Saturdays and Sundays, so I used to come on Saturday evenings and witness all the poojas on Sunday. I was really fascinated with Sri Swamiji. I really enjoyed seeing Him and wanted Him to be my Guru. In the next two years following I got tied up with my job so I could not visit Kesare as often as I did before.
In 1966 Sri Swamiji shifted to the new ashrama on the Ooty Road. When I came to the ashram I found that it was such a beautiful place. It was then on only about two and a half acres, with a single wooden structure, a kitchen, prayer hall and a room where Sri Swamiji used to play sitar. There were lots of mango and tamarind trees on the land. There used to be a lot of devotees here and they all were so dedicated to Sri Swamiji. Whenever He traveled out of the ashram nearly all the devotees used to accompany Him, leaving behind a skeletal staff. I began doing service there also and as time went by Sri Swamiji became my brother, mother, father; He became everything to me. He says in one bhajans “Mata Pita Hari Bandu Sakha.” I believed it.
I was the only child in my family of nine who used to come to see Swamiji. Whenever my mother came I used to accompany her. She used to come twice a day to prepare beeksha for Sri Swamiji so I became close to Swamiji because of this. He told me one day that I should not take any extension on work after my retirement, but come and serve Him fully at the ashram. This was a long way off so I did not pay much attention to it.
In 1967 I married Rohini, who is related to my father’s younger sister-in-law. The marriage took place in Mysore and after the marriage my mother took us to Sri Swamiji. When we got there Sri Swamiji was sitting on the Saraswati Peeta under a big mango tree in the ashram. He welcomed us and made us sit at His feet, and said that He was waiting for us. He then said to my mother, “She has out beaten you in devotion, she has kept me in a bandana, within her heart. Ask her what she has done.” (He was referring to my wife.) My mother was surprised and said to Sri Swamiji, “I wanted to introduce her to you as my daughter-in-law, what are you saying.”
Then Sri Swamiji said, “Right from the beginning I know your daughter-in-law, and Jaggu is very lucky to marry her. You ask her what she has done.” Then He looked at my wife and said, “Come on today you have to open and remove me from bandana, go ahead show them.” Then my wife opened a knot from a piece of yellow cloth in which she had a silver coin covered with turmeric; this she had kept from her daily poojas to Sri Swamiji. This was a reminder that Sri Swamiji is always with her. I was astonished at this. Sri Swamiji told my wife and me then, “You take me out of that knot, you are very lucky you have a wonderful husband now, and he has a lot of devotion. From today onwards you two start doing service to Sri Swamiji.” I was very happy that our married life started out like this with Sri Swamiji’s blessings.
At that time it was hard to get a house in Bangalore to settle down and my mind was always on Sri Swamiji and doing service in the ashram. I asked Him if I can move to Mysore so I can do more service and it turned out my ambition was fulfilled and we came to Mysore in 1969. We settled down in Mysore and after a few months passed my bad luck started. The company I was working for wanted to remodel their office so I was out of work. By that time I also had a child. Things were really bad. Sri Swamiji took the entire difficulties on His shoulders. He called me to the ashram and in front of all the devotees He said, “Jaggu is going through a bad time so I will keep him at the ashram for a few months till this is over.”
We moved to the ashram and so that I could serve whole heartedly. My first son was named Sachidananda by Him. Later, the boy could not be admitted to school since it was the middle of the year so Sri Swamiji kept him at the ashram and taught him his first lesson, how to write and he used to play with him. He was brought up in the lap of Sri Swamiji. I cannot forget those days. Around 1974 I used to assist Swamiji in the poojas and also go on tours with Him out of the ashram. Whenever the ashram called me to accompany Sri Swamiji on his tours, my manager used to give me the time off. This of course was His grace to me. I visited many places with Him for about eight months. Around this time He informed me that a house was coming up for rent and we should move into it and so we did.
I was not attracted to Sri Swamiji for His miracles. I was impressed with the way He did poojas and gave discourses. I was thrilled when I sat at His feet assisting in the poojas. One day He said to me, “You have kept me in your heart and you are so attached to me I want to keep you away for a couple of years.” I pleaded with Him saying, “Swamiji I will not go out of here. I am serving here now and working at my job. My heart will always be in this ashram, please do not send me away and give me that punishment.” He then said, “I wanted to test you.”
For the days following, confusion started within me. I was very unhappy about those words He said. My mind became completely warped with the things people were saying. Slowly I began forgetting Him and it was a bad time for me. At this time also my job site was demolished and was being re-constructed. I was in a very bad situation. But nevertheless I always felt Sri Swamiji blessings; His Abhayahasta was behind me all the way. At times different devotees used to come at my workplace to visit me and I used to ask them how Sri Swamiji was. When there were concerts in the ashram I used to go, stand at the back and listen, and when it was over I came away. I could never meet Him and I don’t know what made me do these things.
Twelve years went by. In 1987 around November, Sri Swamiji came to my house. He said,” You are having so many difficulties and are unable to come out of it; this is because of this house you have bought. Revoke the suit you put against the government and sell the house. You are like the fly going around the flame, around and around till you destroy yourself in the flame.” I had filed a suit against the government regarding the house. Sri Swamiji stayed some time and helped me through this. He asked me how much I wanted for the house if I sell it, I told him I am not greedy I only want five lakhs.
The next day a man phoned me up and said to me that I have the only house in the area that was not upgraded and he wants to buy it and re-build it. I told him that I have to revoke a suit against the government and that will take a while, remembering telling Sri Swamiji that I wanted five lakhs for the house. I told the man I will sell it for five lakhs then. The man agreed to all the conditions and showed up at my house with fifty thousand rupees down payment and no contract papers. I asked him what kind of arrangement is this. He said I believe in spiritual minded people like you. The only condition is that if you fail to get the papers in six months I will get the house registered. And if I fail to take the house in six months you can keep the fifty thousand rupees. I could not believe this arrangement, but I knew it was all Sri Swamiji’s doing. So I agreed to this deal.
I had given an old man the keys for cleaning and he never gave it back to me. One day my neighbors came to my workplace and asked me why did I give my house at such a nominal rate to a renter and because of this they cannot get their house rented. I was surprised to hear that my house was rented out. I went to my house and to my surprise the old man was living in the house. I was shocked and did not know what to do for only three days were left for me to complete the transaction on the house. I started crying.
Next day I went to the Datta Temple and after pooja Swamiji asked me, “What happened, Jaggu, why are you crying?” I told him about the situation. He immediately called Manasa Datta, the legal advisor of the ashram and two other advocates and said to them, “You people can remove banyan trees from in front of houses, can’t you remove this man from Jaggu’s house?” I filed a report with the police and left.
The next morning the police inspector phoned me up and said that the old man had dropped the key of and ran away afraid that we might man handle him. Before Manasa Datta and the advocates could have done anything Sri Swamiji took care of it. And so the final sale of the house went through and on the request of Sri Swamiji we moved close to the ashram where He can reach me whenever He wanted me to do ashram work. I took a house about two kilometers from the ashram and my full service in the ashram resumed.
For my sixtieth birthday I invited Poojya Sri Swamij for pada pooja and Bhiksha at my house. I also invited some of the ashramites to attend. I had also invited some of the officers from my company I worked with. Sri Swamij came to my house and stayed for one hour. He said to me, “I am going to give you a present tomorrow that you will not forget for seven births.” One of the top officers from my company went and prostrated before Sri Swamiji and then said to Him, “I want one small favor Swamiji.” Sri Swamiji replied, “Yes, what do you want?” The officer continued’ “ Instead of extending Mr. Jagannath’s service for another ten years we are presenting him with two stores to run where he can earn about two and a half lakhs per month. He will continue to offer His services at the ashram. Kindly allow us to give this to him.” Sri Swamiji replied, “Ok give it three days.” With that He blessed them with prasadam and they left.
The next day Sri Swamiji called my wife, my children and I to the Datta Temple. He sat in front of us and said, “Jaggu wants to continue his service for another ten years, the company is giving him this opportunity. What do you say about this? What is your opinion?” My children said, “Our father had three heart attacks which you took care of and he is already sixty years old however, he thinks he is a sixteen year old boy.” Then Sri Swamiji said, “My feelings are the same, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings, they are going to pull your neck, remember a long time ago I told you about this. I have kept a place here for you and now I am going to give that to you.
If you want heaps of money, there is the place for you, but if you want peace of mind, it is here you must be. Don’t put your legs in two boats. You make a choice. If you want peace of mind, in front of Datta or Venkataramana keep your hands folded like this and he will give you everything. If you travel in the other boat thinking of making money, you will not get peace of mind. The choice is yours.” I said, “Swamiji I will accept your proposal.” He asked me to come to the Venkataramana temple the next day. I went and sat in the temple office there. Later Sri Swamiji and Prasadi, his secretary, came. He took and chair and sat down and said to me, “I am Venkataramana, let the money come.” To my surprise within a fraction of a second fifty-five thousand rupees were collected.
There were a lot of people in the temple and seeing Sri Swamiji coming into the office they started pouring money. Then His Holiness said to me, “This is the job you are going to do from now on. You will be the person to supervise everything here.” So from then I started my work at the temple. The new temple was being constructed and I had no experience in construction, I had to look after electrical, plumbing, stone work, marble cutting etc. Sri Swamiji filled my mind with His ideas for I knew nothing. He wanted me to write down the progress of the work everyday for three hundred and sixty days till the job was completed. This was a wonderful experience for me.
Ten days before the inauguration a staunch devotee Sri Swamiji, Lunami, a granite merchant from Eluru in Andhra Pradesh came to see me. He said he had a dream where Sri Swamiji came and told him that he had constructed Sri Swamiji’s Guru Nilayam with marble windows and now Venkataramana Temple had steel windows. He then proceeded to measure the windows to replace them with red marble. He put in about ten marble windows in one week. The original mantap for Garuda was not suitable and we were worried about time for its replacement. Somehow, Lunami brought a mantapa for Garuda with perfect measurement and when I asked him how he knew the correct size he said that Sri Swamiji had given him the information. All this was because of Sri Swamiji’s grace only. Shortly after the mantapa was constructed Sri Swamiji came and looked at it and said to the man, “How did you know I wanted this, I had forgotten to tell you.” Lunami replied, “You told me Swamiji! You told me in a dream.” This is all Sri Swamiji’s leela and grace; not ours.
A few days before the inauguration, Sri Swamiji stood in front of the Venkateshwara Temple and was looking on the top of the temple at the Garuda Stamba that was placed right in the middle. He called the engineer, Mr. Krishna Iyengar, and said to remove material about the size of a brick and make a hole. We thought this was not a good thing to do since we had two days left before the opening and all the murtis were already painted. When the workman removed the brick to all our surprise there was another girder right under the one taken out and it made no difference in the appearance. The engineers were surprised as to how this could have happened. Swamiji then stood looking at the hole and said to fix glass around it so people can have Shilhara Darshana of the Golden Kalasha. He said to me, “I am going to Europe; from tomorrow I want you to start daily observing the sun rays coming in through hole and mark them on the wall.
I did this for some days not questioning why. One day I noticed that the pattern being made when the sun was out and showing brightly; was that of seven rays streaking through the opening at a ninety degree angle and falling on the Murti, starting from the necklace to the feet. It reminded me of Lord Surya and his seven horses. That night Sri Swamiji phoned me from Switzerland and asked me, “Jaggu what happened with the markings today? Did you have darshan?” I felt so happy; I knew this was His blessing. He then told me that twice a year the seven sun rays will fall like this on the Murti for six to seven days and when it does it lasts for two hours from 6.30 am to 8.30 am. He said I must call Him to perform pooja when the rays come on the necklace on Fridays and He will perform the abhishekam Himself.
The consecreation of the temple was on June 24th, 1999. Sri Swamiji was on top of the temple and when He started doing the milk abhishekam to Lord Venkateshwara, each drop look like a pearl falling of his body. He was standing in the hot sun next to the idol and devotees were very concerned about this. I was thinking that Sri Swamiji is standing in the sun; someone should hold an umbrella over Him. As soon as I thought about this, a beautiful rainbow formed in the clear blue sky and it shaded Him. He said that you all thought it was too hot for me so Sudarshan Chakra formed and sheltered me. It was a beautiful sight for all gathered there, even the TV station and ashrama photographers caught the phenomenom.
One year passed and on that anniversary day May 24th Sri Swamiji’s birthday celebrations was going on in the Nada Mantapa. Sri Swamiji stood up and announced that those who did not have Sudarshan Chakra darshan must immediately go to the Venkateshwara Temple and witness a miracle. Exactly at 12.00 noon the rainbow formed and all witnessed this miracle.
During Mandala Pooja, one day Swamiji came to the temple at 11.30am in the morning. There were lots of devotees there. He asked for filter paper, went inside, climbed the step ladder and put the paper on Lord Venkateshwara’s cheek. Tears were dropping from the eyes of Venkatesha onto the paper and Sri Swamiji kept changing the paper. He said they were tears of happiness. What a great miracle.
Once, I observed a hunchbacked old gentleman on the temple stairs and I realized that he could not climb the stairs. I immediately instructed the watchman to bring a wheelchair and assist the old man inside the temple. This was done. Once inside the temple I took the old man straight up to Lord Venkateshwara inside the temple since he was so old and could not walk. He sat at the feet of the Lord and started weeping; I did not want to disturb him with his prayer. After He was finished, I gave him prasadam and he went away to his place called Mangalore.
After some days I received a long letter from this old man. He mentioned that he had prayed to Lord Venkateshwara for the cure of his hunchback which he got when doctors did the wrong operation on him some time back. And he also prayed for his two year old grandson who was losing his eyesight despite all the doctors’ efforts. The doctors told me only god can help my grandson. He continued in his letter saying that when he returned to his place his grandson has regained his eyesight and he himself can walk properly. He said he wants to come to the ashram and do some service for the help he has received from Lord Venkateshwara. He offered his gratitude to Sri Swamiji for building such a temple in Mysore for the people. He finally asked to let him know how he can serve here in the ashram. After about ten days he came to the temple and I could see that his hunchback was not there, he did his seva and left.
On another occasion, during Ashada Friday, we were doing Lakshmi pooja to Mother Padmavati. The routine was to decorate the goddess murti and set lights all around her while the worship was going on. From where I was sitting in my office I could see the entire image of Goddess Padmavati. When the Aarti began the electrical lights were switched of so all can enjoy the glow of the lighted deyas only. I was in my office enjoying the darshan of the mother in her red saree; red roses on her and her golden jewelery sparkled. What a divine sight. At that moment a thought flashed through my mind that if Swamiji was here physically present he would enjoy this pooja. At that moment the phone rang and I hesitantly picked it up and answered, “Hello, Jaya Guru Datta.” Swamiji was on the other end of the line, he said. “Jaggu, why are you disturbing me, I am right behind you (there was a photograph of him on the wall) I am there, I am seeing everything!” I said to him, “What a blessing Swamiji, to see mother Padmavati and to hear your voice at the same time.” I was very happy. This shows that he is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, all powerful, all present and all knowing.
Earlier on a Datta Jayanti day, early in the morning at about 5.30 am Sri Swamiji phoned my home and spoke to my whole family for about thirty minutes. I was happy for this being such a holy day. He instructed me to write my experiences since coming to the ashrama. He told my wife also, but she said that she has forgotten some from long ago. He told her to start writing and He Himself will become the pen and write. Of course she started writing and everything came to her. I wrote also and put some old black and white photos. My son being a graphic designer helped me to do this. I later gave Sri Swamiji about two hundred pages of my experiences written in my local language. He had instructed some older devotees to do the same.
Once, I had a dream in which I was asking Him; “Swamiji, croes of devotees from all over the globe come to you and serve you with love and devotion, how come I got this blessed opportunity to serve you through ‘Lord Venkateshwara’? Then although I couldn’t see Him I heard Sri Swamiji’s voice saying, “It is like this Jaggu: your ancestors have selected a bank and kept their money there and now that they are no more. They had also selected a Guru and since then they were serving me. On that accumulated amount you are paying tax. Here Guru is like the bank and your devotion is the money. Since you have followed your ancestors by selecting a Guru, although the devotion (money) has acculumated to the Guru (bank) for this you are not paying any tax. In the Guru’s bank, even though you have a hugh collection, you were not permitted to draw it out; only the ‘Guru’ can do that. I have drawn a portion of it and given it to you. The remainding amount will be used for your future generation. This is how you were given this opportunity; now you are cleared” This was the dream and how he answered my question. This proves that the food we take, the air we inhale, the bliss we feel, it is all His.
During Sri Chakra Pooja, a devotee would daily bring a cow that would give two liters of milk; one for Sri Datta Abhishekam and the other for Sri Venkateshwara Abhishekam. After that, no more milk will come from the cow’s udders. During the month of November, 2003, Sri Swamiji asked me to come to the temple at 5.30 am for my service. When I arriver, I saw the cow tied to the main gate with her eyes fixed on Lodr Venkateshwara. The keeper had gone to deliver the milk to the priest inside. I noticed that milk was pouring out from the udder for a couple of minutes. I collected a handful and drank it as prasadam. After that the milk stopped flowing.
On enquiry the keeper said that it was impossible for the cow to give milk that soon after he got the two liters. I assumed that the cow had recollected its past life while looking at Sri Venkateshwara, who is non other than Sri Krishna. From this experience, I feel that I was blessed by Lord Venkateshwara through the grace of my Sadguru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
What Sri Swamiji has done for me spiritually cannot be explained in words, I am immersed in His spiritual ways, and He has taken the time to reveal tiny specks to me. In this material world He has made me realize that all things are temporary, they last only for a while to serve their purpose and we should not get attached to them; for example, family and wealth. Only devotion to our Guru is lasting and beneficial to our spiritual growth. Daily as I listen to His lectures I feel like I am in another world, no other happiness can compare to this. I have seen Sri Swamiji as a young boy, through His middle age, and now He is like Datta Swarupa to me. Each one of us sees Him differently and we each have our special connection with Him, we feel that He is our personal Swamiji. I see Him as Guru Datta Swarupa. I pray that in my next birth I am graced with the opportunity to serve Him once again. Jaya Guru Datta.