T S R Murty, Mysore
When we view all these things, they appear ordinary and incidental, but when we introspect and begin to think internally, we get the glimpse of the mysteries and mystical experiences of saints, sages and avadoota.
My name is T Sri Rama Murty of Andhra Pradesh. I am from a middle class orthodox Brahmin family, where my father and forefathers were purohits. However, my father thought he should provide his children with a good academic education. That is how I finished my educational studies and joined a bank. When I was about thirty-four years old I began having thoughts of finding a Guru. I met many Gurus, but I was not feeling any connection, maybe I was not serious enough or I just haven’t met the right one.
In May of 1980, I was transferred to Khammam in Andhra Pradesh. The manager, Mr. Prasad, whom I was replacing, wanted to hand over the job immediately as he wanted to leave to go and meet with someone very important. Out of curiosity I asked him who the person he was going to meet was. He said it was his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, who is visiting that place. I asked him where this Guru will be and he said at Vimmalamma, a devotee’s, house. Then courteously he invited me to accompany him to the house. I accepted and we both went. When we arrived there Sri Swamiji was performing a homa. I looked at this Swamiji and He was different to all that I have seen before, somehow I felt I was not good enough to be in His presence and I told Mr. Prasad that I will take leave.
Over the next few years I kept on being devoted to my work and in 1986 I was transferred to Guntur. All this time I was praying to Lord Raghavendra, my family deity. One day, one of my executives was coming to visit and I was asked to get accommodations for him. I went to a lodge, Vijaya Krishna International, and as I walked in the lobby I saw a big picture of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. There were lighted lamps in front of the picture and broken coconuts on either side. Instantly I got a desire to meet Him. I enquired from the person at the reception desk about the picture and he told me that they were His ardent devotees; they even have a room in the lodge for Sri Swamiji whenever He visits. It is kept with His photo when He is not physically there. Then Sri Venkat Reddy, a partner of the hotel, came in and I spoke with him. Afterwards, I booked the room for my visiting executive and left.
When I went home I told my wife about the photo and how life-like Sri Swamiji looked with a radiant glow on His face. Later, Mr. Venkat Reddy came to our bank to apply for a car loan. Knowing of him from the lodge I approved the loan. I then asked if I could spend some time with him to learn more about Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. He narrated some of his experiences with Sri Swamiji to me. I was thrilled and asked him to introduce me to Sri Swamiji whenever He comes to stay at His lodge. He said that Sri Swamiji normally comes when He is visiting Vijayawada and surely the next time He comes he will let me know.
He then mentioned that no one can introduce anyone to Sri Swamiji, but he will take me to Him. You will have to sit and if it is His will, He will make contact with you. He then told me that Sri Swamiji had given him a large photo of Himself with Lord Dattatreya in the background and told him to keep this photo in his place, for it is very special. He said he had it now for about three years and he wants to give it to me. I told him to give me five minutes; I phoned up my wife and asked her if she wanted the photo for our pooja room. I had to ask because in our tradition we do not keep any pictures other than those of the traditional gods like Rama, Ganesha etc, and already we were worshipping Lord Raghavendra. Then my wife and I agreed to take the photo for it is not good to refuse something that is given to you. I told Mr. Venkat Reddy I will take the photo, he left and came back within fifteen minutes with the photo and said he will let me know when Sri Swamiji will be visiting Guntur again.
On that same day at around 4.00 pm, I got a phone call that Swamiji was passing through Guntur on His way from Nellore to Vijayawada and will give darshan there. I phoned up my family and also invited our neighbors (Mala, Sitaram’s mother.) to come along for darshan. We all went to Chilakaluri Peta where people were gathered to welcome Sri Swamiji with Poorna Kumba. I was excited, puzzled and nervous at all this happening so fast. However, at around 5.30 pm there was no sign of Sri Swamiji and people began to question whether they got the right information. During this commotion, a man named Ram Kota Rao came and offered to Mala and I, photos of Sri Swamiji wearing a rose garland. We took the photo and then Ram Kota Rao said to give one hundred rupees each for they are raising funds for Sri Swamiji’s temple. Just then the crowd became restless and decided to go until they got some updated information on His Holiness visit.
The crowd dispersed leaving only my group and Mr. Rao and his wife. Suddenly, some cars pulled up; it was Sri Swamiji. Mrs. Rao welcomed with Poorna Kumbha and He looked at us. He looked as radiant as He did in the photo. He touched and blessed the photos in our hands and then He left for Vijayawada. When we returned home that night I could not sleep thinking, how on this day I received two of His photos and His darshan. This could be no coincidence! I remembered six years ago in Khammam, where I had met Mr. Prasad who introduced me to Sri Swamiji. I regretted wasting those years by walking away from Him. Then it dawned on me that He was in my life even before I met Him.
When I had taken up the post in Khammam there were a lot of problems with the union and Mr. Prasad. I started my personal file with these matters. The first case in the file was about Mr. Prasad and his involvement with Sri Swamiji’s mission and how it affected his job performance. There were good letters in favor of Mr. Prasad written on Sri Swamiji’s stationary with His photo on it. All these things I had kept in my personal file. I realized that Sri Swamiji was there all along without me recognizing it. Time passed and we would visit Him whenever He came to Vijayawada.
In 1989, a customer came and told me that Sri Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswati Maharaj of Kanchi wanted to see me. I told the customer that I didn’t know this person and as I already had a guru; I cannot see him. The customer came back with the same request, so I visited Sri Jayendra Saraswati Maharaj. He said to me that His organization was rendering service to the poor out in remote areas and He knew that I have been involved in this kind of service through my bank. He then asked if I can talk to his volunteers about this service. I agreed since this would not come in the way of my spiritual practice. I did the talk, took prasadam from Him and then He invited me to visit Kanchi.
In May of 1990 I got a promotion to go to a bank in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. I had two things to do before I leave for Bhopal. I wanted to visit Sri Jayendra Saraswati Maharaj in Kanchi and Sri Swamiji in Mysore. I went to Kanchi and was allowed to perform paduka pooja for Sri Jayendra Saraswati Maharaj. He blessed my family and told me to visit Paramarcharaya. I did so and the saint asked for my gothra to read my horoscope. He sent the results with one of his followers back to me. After this meeting I went to Mysore to see Sri Swamiji. When I arrived Prasad was doing Pada pooja to Sri Swamiji with milk. When it was over we got the milk as prasadam, then Prasadi took me to meet Sri Swamiji. I did my pranams and told Him that I was leaving for Bhopal on a job transfer. He said to me, “Go and come early.” I left the ashram and headed to Bhopal.
On the first day of my job in Bhopal, I asked the driver to take me to a temple so that I can offer my pranams. He took me to the nearest temple which was a Dattatreya temple. I was a bit surprised to see a Dattatreya temple here. I did my pranams and left. Some days later my wife and I went to the market to get some vegetables and we saw a huge crowd inside the temple. I asked what program was going on and someone said it was Datta Jayanti and people were reading Guru Charitra. I went up to a counter and there was an IAS officer, I asked him if this Dattatreya temple has any connection with Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji of Mysore. He said he never heard about Sri Swamiji but a man, Nana Maharaj, who is very old now, had built this temple.
The IAS officer continued to question me about Sri Swamiji. I told him that Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji is an Avathara of Lord Dattatreya. He asked if he could see a photo of Sri Swamiji, I told him I had one at my house and I can’t go now for it for I want to stay and do pooja. He said that Lord Dattatreya comes in many forms and today I have told him of an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya so he must have His darshan. After much insistence from him, I went to my house and brought the photo of Sri Swamiji. The IAS officer called the purohit and instructed him to do pooja for the photo. The photo was then placed next to Lord Dattatreya’s idol and it was garlanded; even given chandan and aarti.
The officer said that I should leave the photo here for the next three days during the festival and I can come here and worship it. I agreed, so every day I went and did my poojas. On the fifth day I went to take the photo back to my house. When I got there an elderly couple was doing pradakshina to the photo. They inquire as to who is in the photo and why I was removing it. I began telling them about Srim Swamiji and how I met him in Guntur; it was a thrill to talk about Sri Swamiji. The couple said that I cannot take the photo for Sri Swamiji is now installed here next to Lord Dattatreya, and why should I disturb Him and take Him away. They continued that I should listen to them and I realize that the photo does not belong to me anymore. I had no other choice but to leave the photo there. I thought about this photo and how it was given to Mr. Venkat by Sri Swamiji saying it was a special photo. Then the photo was given to me and now it ended up in a Dattatreya temple in Bhopal. This has to be the leela of Sri Swamiji.
Shortly afterwards I went to Mysore to collect another photo for myself. When I got there a big function was taking place. I had this great desire to see Sri Swamiji. I asked Mr. Kuppa Krishna Murty to take me to see Him and he obliged. When I met His Holiness I told him that I had come from Bhopal. He said to me that people have come from far off places like England, America and West Indies and what is Bhopal to Mysore. He said they are all waiting to see Him; I should not be so emotional and I too should wait. He then went and sat on the dais and a man came with a bag of padukas and put it at His Feet.
Later an announcement was made that devotees can purchase the paduka at the pooja counter and Swamiji will bless it. My wife was telling me to make sure I am committed to doing poojas to the paduka if I was getting it. I got one and took it up to Sri Swamiji and He blessed it by wearing it. He was smiling all the time. I told Him I was from Bhopal and He said that He knew. Then for the first time I touched His Feet and He made direct eye contact with me and my family. My wife was crying ceaselessly. Sri Swamiji then said that we must come to Mysore more often. I was so happy.
In January of 1992 my family went to Mysore and my wife asked Swamiji about our two sons’ upanayanam ceremony. He said that He was going abroad and when He returns He will take care of it. Then I started relating the incident regarding the photo in the Datta temple in Bhopal. As I was telling Him, His face lit up and He said, “Stop, don’t say anymore”. He called Vamsi Krishna Ganapati and said, “You remember when we were crossing that bridge going to Vijayawada and I was asking you to go to Bhopal for my sishya is calling me and I have to go there?” Vamsi then said, “Yes! Sri Swamiji told me that His sishya is calling and it is very urgent.” Then His Holiness put some raksha in my hand and said to me, “Go and put this on Nana Maharaj in Indore, Bhopal and come back; this is my order, you must go on your own cost.” My daughter then spoke to Sri Swamiji and we left. Everything became serious for me I could not understand all the leela of Sri Swamiji. That night I could not sleep.
Nana Maharaj of Indore, who was then ninety-five years old, was considered an incarnation of Dattatreya by many people. I have never met Him nor went to His place in Bhopal and I was wondering how I would approach Him. Next day I went and told Prasadi that I cannot do this task for I have limited connections to approach such a saint like Nana Maharaj. Prasadi asked, why I told Sri Swamiji all these things then. I asked him to take me to Sri Swamiji one more time. He did and I prostrated before and told Sri Swamiji that I cannot go to Bhopal. Sri Swamiji said that I have to go, it is very urgent. I told Him I will go if I get the assistance of someone from Datta Peetham. He said that He will send someone, but only to assist with the luggage. He then called a devotee, Raman Kumar, and told him to accompany me, so we both left for Bhopal.
I did not know where the ashram was so I went to a house and enquired about Nana Maharaj. The owner of the house happened to be a devotee who house was a shelter for other devotees coming to see Nana. This was no coincidence in us approaching the right house. We told the owner of the house our mission and he said that he has never heard of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji, but we can stay there for the next three days till Nana Maharaj returns from His tour.
Raman Kumar insisted that we should not stay there, but we should go to the Ashrama. The man phoned up the Ashrama to make the necessary arrangements and to his surprise he found out that Nana Maharaj had cancelled His tour. He had heard about our coming and was waiting for us at the temple, so we were taken to this venerable saint, Nana Maharaji. When we got there Nana Maharaj was sitting with His eyes closed. With all reverence I approached Him and He gave His hand to me to put the raksha on. Raman Kumar offered a vastram. Sri Swamiji’s cassette “Bhaja Bhaja Dattam” was playing and Nana Maharaj was enjoying this music. All the devotees gathered around were surprised to see Him so blissfully happy after such a long time. It was beyond my comprehension to evaluate that how the great sage who is used to behaving like an emperor with his devotees spoke to us like a child. This happened just after we told him that we came on orders from the Pontiff of Dattapeetham, Mysore, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji.
We then gave him an invitation on behalf of Sri Swamiji for him to come to Mysore for Sivarathri. He said to us, in Sanskrit, that we should tell Sri Swamiji that He will come on or before Sivarathri and get His darshan. He gave us coconuts as prasadam and we left. We returned to Mysore and went to Sri Swamiji and He said that we should not say anything now; the time will come when I will have to speak of this. Sri Swamiji then left for His tour abroad.
About two months later we received a message that Nana Maharaj had passed away. Again it is beyond my grasp whether how and where Nana Maharaj in his invisible form had the darsan of Sri Swamiji. I was wonderstruct when I heard that Sri Nana Maharaj had made his journey, in his own world, in the week after Shivaratri. When we view all these things, they appear ordinary and incidental, but when we introspect and begin to think internally, we get the glimpse of the mysteries and mystical experiences of saints, sages and avadoota.
It is my firm belief, to say, that the appearances of that imnumarable Lord Dattatreya in different parts of the world come under the integral banner of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji, who is no other than the indivisible form of Lord Dattatreya. The above concept of the perfect sage (Avadoota) can be understood only when we view the Swaroopa (Tatwa) through psychological vision. We should listen, understand, recall, confirm, believe, follow and act implicitely to realize the Truth, beauty and goodness that is latent in such incarnation as Sadguru Sri Swamiji. To come in contact with Sri Swamiji is itself a blessing that we receive as a result of the good deeds that were performed in our previous births.
I was inquisitive about this whole incident involving myself and meeting Nana Maharaj. I wanted to know why Sri Swamiji referred to Him as His ‘Sishya.’ To satisfy my curiosity I read a book called ‘Guru Charitra’ and in that book it stated that Nana Maharaj’s name was Shankar Shastry. He was married twice and then He became a renounciant. Once He went into a deep meditation and a sage, Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj cancelled His tour and immediately came to Nana Maharaj. He gave Nana Maharaj mantra deeksha and in doing so He became His Guru. He then said to Nana, “Why have you undergone this deeksha and called me, I had to cancel my tour and come.” With this He left. Nana Maharaj is now considered an incarnation of Dattatreya and this made me even more curious to know who this Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj was.
Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj had written the Guru Charitra and is considered an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya. His is a contemporary of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. In the last pages of His life history I read where He had composed the Datta Stavam. This Datta Stavam is a prayer glorifying Lord Dattatreya and it is the main prayer at the ashram of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. I wanted to know why Sri Swamiji adopted this prayer and made it universal. I could not approach Him with this question so I went to Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swami, also known as Bala Swami. I put my questions before him and He said that once Sri Swamiji had gone to Surat and some devotees came and presented Him with a life size picture of Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaji. When He saw the picture He said to them, “Why have you brought this picture? If you put a mirror in front of it you will see me.” After hearing this I came to the conclusion that Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda and Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj are one.
I kept this knowledge in my mind but I still wanted to know why Sri Swamiji adopted the Datta Stavam prayer. Then one day on Gemini TV during one of His Holiness discourses, He said, “In Datta Darshanam the book, Vishnu Sharma called Lord Dattatreya along with Surya Deva and Agni Deva for His father’s ceremony. When Lord Dattatreya appeared, He recited the Datta Stava and said that this prayer will be composed again in a future incarnation and will be propagated all over the world, by another incarnation.” This confirmed to me that both Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda and Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati are both incarnations of Lord Dattatreya. What is striking to me is how Lord Dattatreya took care of His devotee in another form, as in the case of Nana Maharaj (Sishya.) Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati Maharaj (Lord Datta) took the form of Sri Swamiji (Lord Datta) to give his sishya (Nana Maharaj) mantra deeksha.
I would like to add two incidents relating to my children with Sri Swamiji and how Sri Swamiji takes care of even our family matters. Sri Swamiji’s grace is like that of a mother; He takes care of my children without me even asking. Regarding my son, Sri Swamiji told us that He will select the bride for him; that we should not select. We agreed. Whenever anyone approached us with a marriage proposal we would refer them to Sri Swamiji. One family went to Sri Swamiji and put a marriage proposal for my son; He told them that He was waiting for that girl to come and join this family and marry my son. He got married and settled down with a good job. After some time he got ill and had to leave that job. He found another job and the day before the interview he became very ill. My son asked us to tell Sri Swamiji about this dilemma. It so happened that same day He told all of us in the ashram that we should not to come to Him with these small problems.
Not knowing what to do, we prayed at His padukas and left the matter there. I went to the ashram to attend a homa and without saying anything about my son’s problem; Sri Swamiji gave me a raksha and said to me that my son will be okay. He had heard our prayers. Of course, by Sri Swamiji’s grace he got the job and his health got better. My daughter got married to a non-devotee and by his association with Sri Swamiji he has come to love Sri Swamiji so much.
My daughter lives in Singapore; she became pregnant but could not carry the baby full term. She had to do an operation to remove the foetus. She was very sad, but while she was in the hospital, Sri Swamiji phoned her and spoke to her. We did not tell Him anything about her situation. He consoled her saying, “My daughter this had to happen, don’t worry I will take care of you. I will give you another child. Now you must focus on your health. I will send your parents to be with you.” We went to Singapore and stayed with her for awhile. Later on, she conceived and had a boy. When she delivered the baby in the hospital a child specialist was present there from another hospital. It so happened that on delivery the baby was not breathing. So this child specialist helped the baby so he could breathe. Afterwards the doctor told my son-in-law that he does not know why he was at that hospital and why the other doctors allowed him to help the baby. He said you people are lucky, God has helped you. Such is the grace of our Swamiji.
Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji is my Lord Dattatreya who is everything to me, He takes care of my family and I even without asking. The physical appearance of Lord Dattatreya changes from age to age but His consciousness is eternal. Jaya Guru Datta