Shaddarshanam Vijaya Lakshmi, Produttur
“Somasundara Sharma should have passed away a long time ago, but I kept him alive for a while longer, however, his time had come and he had to go.”
As a boy, in the early 1950s, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji lived amongst and with us in Produttur. My family had known the boy, Satyam, when He used to stay with His paternal aunt, Venkamma at the Shiva Temple. He attended the Anne Besant Municipal High School where my father, Shaddarshanam Somasundara Sharma, worked as a teacher and had a close relationship with Him. When He was young, Satyam was like an ordinary boy and nobody suspected that He would attain the pinnacle of spirituality. During those years my brother was privileged to be one of His classmates.
For a period while staying in Produttur, Satyam, a shorten form of Satyanarayana, His original name, did “Madhukara Vrata.” He went to five different houses, one each day, to receive Bhiksha as per His aunt’s instructions. He visited our house on Mondays as His aunt, Venkamma, instructed Him to visit our house for Bhiksha first, and then He was allowed to go to the other four houses that she selected. My mother was very fond of the boy and with excitement she used to offer Bhiksha to Him in those early days, in 1955.
I was not yet three years old, but when He came to our house I used to play with Him. As was customary, my mother would tell Satyam that He should take care of the baby while she prepared His Bhiksha. I don’t recall a whole lot of about those days, but I knew that the way He played and took care of me was no different that my mother.
After Satyam became Sri Sri Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, and was being worshipped by several devotees, He came to Produttur many times. Each time He came He would want to see my father, but my father never went to have His darshan, as he did not believe in Swamijis or living God in those days. He used to just strictly follow his spiritual practices and daily austerities at home.
In 1973 when He came to Produttur, Sri Swamiji sent a message asking my father to come and meet with Him. Instead, he asked me, a young woman, to go and meet Him, but he adamantly refused to come along. I went to see Sri Swamiji and that was my first darshan of Him as a Sadguru. He talked with me very lovingly and affectionately. He inquired about the welfare of all family members and especially my mother who prepare His Bhiksha in those early days. Unfortunately, she passed away in my childhood.
My father was a very peculiar and stubborn man. If he wanted to do something he will do it with the grace and time that was required. Once, when the boy, Satyam was in his school, the school bully was very abusive. Identification of class status was through the earrings worn by the individual. Satyam wore copper earrings only and so He was taunted by this bully.
One day this bully got hold of Satyam’s earring and tore it from His ear which caused it to bleed. With anxiety, the other boys ran to my father to complain on the situation. Very carefully and cautiously, he attended to the boy and stopped the bleeding. He then scolded the bully and reprimanded him for his behavior. Satyam, who had loved my father very much, was pleased with the attention and told him, “This incident you must remember.” Many years later, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji came to Produttur and wanted to see my father, but he refused the many invitations.
In 1974 Sri Swamiji sent a money order to my father asking him to come to Mysore. My father then went to Mysore for the first time. He went there feeling more like it was an obligation but returned home very happily and sincerely said that he had seen divinity in Sri Swamiji and recognized that He is none other than that immutable Lord Dattatreya Himself.
He was reminded about the earlier incident and couldn’t believe that Sri Swamiji was the same boy, Satyam, whom he had loved so dearly. Since then we have been coming to Mysore ashrama very regularly. My father had written several books on Sri Swamiji and Vedas/Puranas/Upanishads etc. He had written the famous “Sri Guru Samitha” in Telugu language.
My father told all his children, that Sri Swamiji is Lord Dattatreya and our Sadguru. We should believe in Him as He is the imperishable Lord. His words were very strong and all the children listened to him and followed his direction. Now everyone in the family is an ardent devotee of His Holiness. The way he spoke and the manner he used when he was referring to Sri Swamiji made devotees of many who didn’t believe in Him. His manner in life changed and in his final years nothing was closer to him that the thoughts of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
In 1975, I came to the ashrama, with my father, for Sri Swamiji’s thirty-third birthday celebrations. The ashrama was not yet very developed. Sri Swamiji was sitting behind a small table with a bowl full of small chocolates. He asked all the youngsters there to form a line, to come and take one chocolate each. He asked us to close our eyes for a few minutes and then open the chocolates. There were about twenty of us that took the chocolates and about six got a ‘Rudraksha’ inside the wrapper. I was one of the fortunate ones that received a Rudraksha. I still have that in my puja room after all these years. That was the first miracle that I have witnessed.
Every Shivaratri I used to come to Mysore ashrama. One year I could not come but I watching the program live on Gemini TV. Sometime during the telecast, I started falling asleep and suddenly I felt a slap on my back and heard a voice saying, “Why are you sleeping.” I looked around to see who could have said that, but I realize that it was just my husband and I in the house, and he was asleep in another room. I believe that was Sri Swamiji Himself and confirming my thought, and I felt the strong sweet smell of sacred vibhuti.
Another time, I had a desire to go to Kashi (Varanasi) but at that time, that did not materialize. However within one week, Sri Swamiji announced that He was going to Kashi, and I was so excited. I told my husband that we should seek His permission to accompany Him. Miraculously, we were given permission to go at the time while He was in there. I feel very blessed.
Once, when I went to Mysore, Sri Swamiji asked if I would still want my father to live. I did not understand why Swamiji was asking like that, as my father was still alive, but I said, “Yes Swamiji! I would like very much for my father to live longer, but He just smiled. I returned to Proddutur wondering what was there behind the question. Later on, after two years, my father passed away. He had gone to Bommeparthi and got a sun-stroke and when he came back home to Proddutur, he passed away. I started crying before Sri Swamiji’s photo saying, “Why did you take my father away that early.” To comfort us Sri Swamiji personally telephoned my sister-in-law and told her, “Somasundara Sharma should have passed away a long time ago, but I kept him alive for a while longer, however, his time had come and he had to go.”
The first time I saw Sri Swamiji, after His Poorva Ashrama, I saw ‘Devi Goddess’ in Him. He exudes such austere luminance that I felt that He was so close to me. Since then I kept chanting His name at all times. I don’t have children but to me He is; my son, my father and my mother. Whatever problems come along in life I just think of Him and we will definitely find some resolution.
Spiritually, since coming into Swamiji’s fold I have gained more concentration. I feel my life is so much happier and peaceful because of Him as He takes care of everything, as long as you have complete faith. I definitely see a positive change in myself, and I am certainly growing spiritually. Jaya Guru Datta