Maurice Clarke, Trinidad
I attribute all these incidents to the grace of Sri Swamiji. What would have been my life without Him? I don’t know and I have no interest in knowing. All I know is that I have Him and He has me.
In the early years of my life I was brought up and lived in Belmont, a suburb of Port of Spain where the population was primarily Afro-Trinidadians, secular in reasoning, and Christianity was the popular religion. My family belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and as such there are priests and nuns who are members of my immediate family. However, my father was open to different religions and cultures. So with my father’s influence, in my youth I felt the need to see a connection between religions and a validity of all religious expression.
When I was about seventeen years old, one day I walked in front of the television on which a program on Sri Sathya Sai Baba was being broadcast to commemorate His birthday. This telecast had a strong influence on me, and there and then, a thought that came deep with me that almost instructed me, that someday I had to study this Master.
Later on, when I started engineering school at the University of the West Indies, my mind could not settle to normal studies. While perusing books in the library, I came across a whole shelf of books on Sri Sathya Baba. This led me to start a project on studying His life. It changed my life. I was provided with a completely new foundation with which to see the world. Sai literally opened up my mind. I read all those books without stopping and literally abandon the study of engineering. In fact, my friends grew very concerned as I was failing my courses. But for me this was more important that engineering.
In one of those books, ‘Sri Satya Sai Speaks’, I found a chapter titled, Yoga Marga; the yoga path. By this time I was head over heels in love with Baba and I expected and wanted Him to be my Guru. However while reading this chapter I came across a sentence that said “I am not your Guru and you must have a Guru”. With that, another thought or a feeling from deep inside me came, a feeling of the knowledge that I wanted a Guru, I must have a Guru. With that thought my body became electrified and started to shake involuntarily. This shaking was quite surprising to say the least.
I had known that my elder brother, Richard, was involved in some type of yoga, so I went to him for advice with my dilemma. I showed Richard the book with the passage where it said that “I am not your Guru…………….”. He did not say much, but directed me to Sri Swamiji’s Kriya Yoga classes conducted by Sri Krishna Maharaj at the California Hindu Mandir. Within three weeks I was enrolled and started attending the sessions there. During the sessions I was slowly being introduced to a formidable Guru, Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji of Mysore,
At about the same time that this happened, I travelled to a tiny island off the Trinidad mainland a few days before I was to start a holiday job, while waiting for University lectures to start back. While walking around the beach there, I stepped on a piece of broken glass and received a severe painful cut on the sole of my foot and I was taken to the hospital for stitches. This was a great setback, as I should begin working in less than two days. The very next day, while lying on the couch in the living room contemplating what excuse I can give to my new employers, I suddenly felt a wave of heat entering into my back moving slowly down my leg and into the wound in my foot. The pain that was there before had vanished and I was able to stand erect without any discomfort. I was amazed at this occurrence, and I was able to start the job as scheduled. I attribute this to Sri Swamiji looking after me.
In March or April of 1990, I saw this gigantic personage for the first time. By this time I was doing Kriya yoga for nearly a year and a half and I was full of excitement and anxiety to see Him. I remember He looked at me for not more than two seconds expressionlessly and turned away. That’s all that was needed.
After my meeting with my Sadguru, many incidents kept playing in my everyday life. For instance, I would be driving down the road listening to Swamiji’s music and get the beautiful smell of vibuthi or another time, roses.
Three times Sri Swamiji has materised objects for me: once it was a little Siva linga crystal; once it was a nine stone navgraha amulet and another time a pearl. That last one, he gave me a putty-like substance and when walking back to my seat, the substance began to get warm and vibrate in my hands and when I re-examined it a pearl was there! Another time, much earlier, a similar event happened. He was graciously giving the congregation amethyst stones which were loosely threaded. He put one in my hand and again I was walking back to my seat, what was put in my hand got warm and vibrated slightly. When I checked it out again, a complex set of knots were artistically holding the gem that were not there before. Actually, the automatic knoting occurances happened several times during this period with other gems that He gave me.
The wondrous thing my life was turning out to be made me re-trace the steps as to how it all began. In fact I had an exact copy of the Sai Baba book with the chapter on Yoga Marga. I have read it over and over again, but the lines “I am not your Guru. You must have a Guru” are just not there in the book. I was confused for a while, but I have to conclude that those sentences were put there only for me. To such an extent my Gurudev had come to collect little me, has me in awe even today. I guess the introduction to the Kriya Yoga was His way of bringing me to Him so that I can finally be with my Guru.
I attribute all these incidents to the grace of Sri Swamiji. What would have been my life without Him? I don’t know and I have no interest in knowing. All I know is that I have Him and He has me. When I wanted to get married, I consulted Him and He approved and blessed the marriage that produced His two beautiful daughters. They are two healthy and bright children growing up in His being.
Once, I was playing with my younger daughter, spinning her around, when suddenly I felt that I would smash her head into the stairs. With this thought I stopped swinging her and placed her on the floor, then there was a missing period of time; a period I cannot account for. To my amazement I saw a scar on her forehead that was completed healed and I know that there was no scar there before. I became very remorseful at the incident for I understood that that incident could have been fatal, however I know that in His grace, Sri Swamiji prevented that fatality for I know that He is always with me.
In 1993, during Sri Swamiji’s visit to Trinidad for His fifty-first birthday celebrations, we were given a mantra, a peace mantra; ‘Om Aim Hreem Shreem Shiva Rama Anagha Dattaya Namaha’, which we were supposed to chant for ninety million times. My brother and I would go to the Datta Yoga Center on Saturday mornings and sit and chant with other devotees. On one Saturday, a terrible hurricane was heading towards Trinidad. The metrological office was watching this phenomenon; they were forecasting that this storm could totally wipe out the island. Richard and I decided to hazard the risk and still go and do the mantra. But with the threat of the storm, nobody else was present. The ashram was peaceful and quiet. Notwithstanding the impending impact of the storm, we sat there chanting the mantra with only the thought of Sri Swamiji. He had said that if the targeted sum was reached, He will perform a Maha Shanti Yagna in Trinidad; a sacrifice for world peace. While chanting, a third and distinct voice was heard. The voice appeared in the same accent as Sri Swamiji. We were thrilled, but we were not scared and continued in an even happier mood than before. Incidentally, the storm miraculously changed direction and bypassed Trinidad with very little damage to the island.
In 2001, Sri Swamiji sent a message to all devotees, that those who can make it to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at a specified time, should make it there. Two other devotees from Trinidad and me journeyed to Orlando, Florida to the home of Mr. Edward Bharath. From there the four of us traveled by car to Baton Rouge. This was just three months before the 9/11 incident in the US. When we got there we were told that His Holiness was traveling to the US and had met with an accident on His way to the airport. We were stunned and there were no words to explain or express our feelings.
When we got there I wanted to have the darsan of Sri Datta Murti, so I went to the temple entry. As I opened the door, I felt as though something “physically” pulling me towards Datta. I felt the warmness of an unseen being and my body was being guided to the Datta Murti in front of me. I could not explain what was happening, but I was in imperial bliss with my Datta Guru. One year later the phenomenon repeated itself in the Mysore Ashrama. To this Datta Guru I offer my revential pranams.
These incidents, I jokingly tell myself, had their genesis in an earlier happening in the Trinidad Ashrama. During one of Sri Swamiji’s visit to Trinidad I was becoming so attached to His physical form that I was not leaving the ashrama as long as He was there. I started identifying myself with Sri Swamiji and all that I thought He stood for. The evening before He would leave us, I was very sad that He was leaving. I was standing some distance from the base of the stairs leading up to His quarters and Sri Swamiji was ascending the stairs and was almost to the top of the landing. I was thinking, ‘how can He leave, He must not leave’. With this thought I felt as if my heart leapt out of my chest, and I grabbed Him. He almost toppled down, but in His benevolence Sri Swamiji looked at me and was just smiling.
I believe that He constantly reminds us that when we pull Him towards us He will definitely pull us towards Him. With or without His physical presence I can feel His energy permeating the makeup around me. Even if He screams at me or doesn’t look at me; if He presents me with things from the void, even if I think that He ignores or avoids me, I find solace in Him. He is in everything.
The greatest gift that I have from Sri Swamiji is the knowledge and forbearance that have made me who I am. Frequently too, I am so, so filled with happiness, I cannot explain. His mere acceptance of me, being a non-indian with a non-hindu upbringing is in itself a miracle. I understand that far from our thought train, He sees only our soul. He preaches that one must not change his countenance, no matter what, in order to be with Him. By probability, I can assume that I should not be here, but His wonders are endless and glorious.
Other salient things have kept me married to Him; some can be explained and some cannot. I believe He is always teaching and testing me. Many questions I think are answered silently. Many questions I would have in mind, would be answered within a discourse with Him looking directly at me at that point in the discourse. For instance, I was confused by how the devotees greet each other with ‘Jaya Guru Datta’. This was not explained to us but we did it involuntarily. I wondered about this for a long time. Then In 1995, when He came to Trinidad to do the Maha Shanti Yagna, amidst all the rituals, I believe He gave me the answer silently. I summed up that ‘Jaya Guru Datta’ was the same as saying ’Lord, thy will be done’. This I understood from a Christian upbringing. It was a reference to surrender. I was ecstatic and thanked Him profusely for the answer. These little things have created great impacts in my mind.
He has taught me how to surrender, and what to surrender. How can I define my life without Sri Swamiji? My future is defined by Him; He is the precursor of my existence. One of my most treasured relationships with Sri Swamiji, particularly, is my practice of Kriya Yoga. When I practice the Kriyas I feel very, very happy and feel a sense of accomplishment. It is an intense happiness that emanates from within, notwithstanding the outward tragedy or comedy movie that is being played before my eyes.
In 1993 Sri Swamiji was conducting a Kriya Yoga class in the Trinidad Ashrama, and He was complaining about a particular Nadi that causes anger. Then His Holiness vehemently commented that He has to talk to Brahma as to why he created the Nadi. To me this statement was both hilarious and ridiculous so I was laughing. To my knowledge; how can Brahma complain to Brahma? I know that He is everything that I can think about, and therefore He will have the solution. Then as if to vindicate myself, Sri Swamiji looked at me and started laughing also. He knows my every thought.
Another interesting episode happened when Sri Swamiji was in Toronto for a program. I wanted to attend that program to be with Him. However, it did not worked for me. This program was supposed to be telecasted and Trinidad would be able to receive it. Although I was not in the habit of making tea or chai, I made a cup of chai and sat to watch the program. As the program got underway, Sri Swamiji looked into the camera and said, “Okay, so you are sitting with your chai and looking at the program, go ahead relax, drink your chai and watch the program”. I was surprised, but this reinforced my conviction that Sri Swamiji knows all the thoughts of His devotees and that He is aware of everything in their lives.
After my introduction to Sri Sathya Sai Baba I saw a world that had more questions than answers. I saw Baba as Jesus, and at a family gathering I showed how I realized my beliefs. Then when I came in contact with my Sadgurudeva, I came to the realization that if I can try to live my life to the dharmic qualities of Sri Rama, then Jesus is everywhere. In the book, Heart to Heart, Sri Swamiji has exposed the ‘big secret’ that “Sri Datta is Verily the Lord Jesus”.
How many births I have traveled with Him and how many more I will be with Him, I do not know; and I do not want to know, but for now, all I want, is to ‘Follow Him by Following His Words’, enjoy the sublime bliss that He bestows to His devotees and to be ever in His company. Jaya Guru Datta
Sri Swamiji Says:
All ponder over and over sorrowfully about their past and bad experience and are afraid of what is to befall tomorrow. They always carry their past into the present. That should not be so. Even during visits to the temple, they cry over yesterday’s happenings. You should neither pity the past nor fear the future. Think of the present and learn to face it courageously.
Jaya Guru Deva Datta!!!
Thank you so much Mr.Clark, for sharing your experiences and reminding us of some of Sri Swamiji’s ‘silent’ works on His devotees that keep the faith in Him. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and I also ‘find solace in Him’.
JGD. Very interesting. May Sri Swamiji bless us all with complete faith in Him. SGD.
It is so amazing to me that even though I traveled to all the different ashramas throughout the world, met and collected almost six hundred devotees experiences, listened to thousands of devotees tell their stories, and met with even more who were strangers till then, it gives me pleasure to read each story again. These experiences have further shape my life and have caused me to have both implicit and explicit faith in my Sadgurudeva. Altogether, many people, such as Maurice’s experience have created salient attrition to that faith hence allowing my thoughts to be cemented to HIM.SGD
Jaya Guru Datta! What a wonderful account. Sri Guru Datta.
This was so wonderful to read! I don’t know why but your story is making me feel so much joy right now
😀 😀 😀
Dear Maurice, Your account is very heart-warming and inspiring. In the end, it appears there is so much we all share, in spite of very singular experiences tailored just for us. One of the most fascinating revelations to me is, where as I used to think not so well of those who follow a Guru or exhibit traits of being “not like the rest of the world” as I knew it, now I find immense pleasure in claiming relationship to the entire Datta family. There is no way we can thank Sri Swamiji enough for this and so many other wonderful happenings in our lives, leave alone spiritual life ( of which I know nothing). Thank you my friend. Jaya Guru Datta
JGD, one more blessed soul to get the grace of Rev Appaji. Our humble Pranams to Sadgurudeva. SGD.
JGD.Mr.Clarke,your real life experience,a open heart narration,the association with Our APPAJI,in any form whatsoever,physical or abstract,is an inspiring guide to develop a strong faith in Him.More over the incidence of His is on account of our Praptam(occurance) and the result of His S’ANKALPA to guard us in all aspects towards the life goal,as Lord Krishna assured in Bhagavadgeeta.SGD.
Maurice I have read your testimonial and I am so happy that you have continued on the path you chose to enlightenment.May you continue to be blessed for you always were pure of heart and a gentle soul. I pray that Baba will continue to Bless you always.