“Sri Swamiji asked for carrots, and as we started cooking we noticed that we had no carrots. As it was a Sunday, we couldn’t get some anywhere, so we went to Sri Swamiji. Very calmly He said, ‘Don’t worry, they will come’ and then you came with such beautiful carrots”.
By profession I am a psychologist, but I also studied dance. I combined both disciplines and developed a technique called ‘Dance Therapy’. While doing this, I sometimes experienced how I would be switching into the patient’s body and understand their problems from within. I did not know what to do as I had no one to help me understand this new ‘world’ that had opened up. I was attracted to reading books about India and her Gurus. I thought that, maybe, if I could find a Guru I could tear away this doubt. I said to myself, that this is what I need: A Guru to guide me in this world I cannot see.
I prayed, for over two years, and waited for this Guru to come. Then in 1983, one day a friend, Peter, informed me that his Guru, Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji was coming to Switzerland and Germany. I mentally debated if I should go to see Him. One night I had a dream where an Indian saintly man was playing a piano in a church with Peter standing next to him. I also had interest in music, so this dream convinced me that I should go to see Sri Swamiji in Germany.
I went to the venue where Sri Swamiji was staying and sat with the others awaiting His entry. I did not see Him or His picture before, so I did not know what to expect. After some time, Sri Swamiji entered the room, went straight to a Grand Piano and started playing. This incident amazed me, as it seemed almost exactly as the dream I had. I sat there and wondered as to how an Indian Guru can be so accomplished on the piano. This was my first meeting.
After this, the next Sunday, we were invited for a Homa performed by Sri Swamiji in Switzerland. I wanted to go and I knew that it was customary to take some flowers. I searched my garden and could not find any that were really beautiful, but I had grown very nice carrots that year which I took. I had an interview with Sri Swamiji and I offered Him the carrots. He took them, handed them to His assistant and mentioned something to him.
One week later I went to another program and the same thing happened. I handed Him the carrots and again He called the assistant and said to him, “Please tell her what happened”. Ramesh, the assistant explained, “Sri Swamiji asked for carrots, and as we started cooking we noticed that we had no carrots. As it was a Sunday, we couldn’t get some anywhere, so we went to Sri Swamiji. Very calmly He said, ‘Don’t worry, they will come’ and then you came with such beautiful carrots”. When Ramesh finished talking, Sri Swamiji looked at me and with a big smile, He asked, “Would you like to come to India”, very happily I said, “Yes! I would love to come”.
My first trip to India was set so I went to the Mysore Ashrama and stayed for six months. I was very fortunate to travel with Sri Swamiji on His tours outside the Ashrama for that period. Christmas time was coming and I wanted to spend that time with Sri Swamiji. Sometimes traveling with Sri Swamiji to small villages was a problem for me to adjust, but I did it somehow. One day Sri Swamiji called me and said, “I think that you should go back home, these trips are too strenuous for you”. I answered, “Oh no! Swamiji, I want to spend Christmas with you”. He replied, “Okay, but do not complain”, and I simply said, “Yes Swamiji”.
The next day a young girl came up to me and said that Sri Swamiji had instructed her to take me to her house and make me comfortable. I was touched; I was experiencing His motherly care. He had said that I shouldn’t complain, yet He was providing all the comfort for me. Everywhere we went; the local people were taking care of me.
On the eve of Christmas, the group was camping in Pithapuram, near the temple that was dedicated to Sripada Srivallabha, a previous incarnation of Sri Guru Dattatreya. In the temple there, a very old murti of Dattatreya was installed. I was invited to sit just in front of the murti to see the milk abhishekam. As I was meditating on the process, I experienced the Lord Jesus Christ. This experience was so real. Feeling His presence my soul jumped: Oh, He really exists! I was raised in the Christian belief and heard all the stories about Christ in my religious education, but it was Sri Swamiji who made me experience His real presence. This experience opened up many channels within me to meet that higher truth.
After I met Sri Swamiji, the experiences of transgressing my physical body had stopped, instead, He gave me new experiences, or the seed of spiritual life. Once a priest was explaining the meaning of Sri Swamiji’s bhajans, and he told us to sit and meditate on His Holiness. At that moment Sri Swamiji was walking pass us. He came up behind me and gave a gentle tap on the top of my head, the Sahasrara chakra. Immediately I fell into deep meditation for almost two hours. This was my first initiation.
It felt like a planted seed just beginning to sprout. Sri Swamiji was opening the spiritual door of His domain. I did Kriya Yoga classes with Him, even to this day I continue with the practice and also started to teach. Before going to the Ashram for the first time I had the idea of going there and do nothing else but meditate the whole day. But Sri Swamiji made it clear and said, “Fifty, fifty”, half meditation, half work. Which reminded me of the Latin phrase, ‘ora ed labora’ (pray and work).
During my extended stay in the Ashrama, besides yoga, I also learnt; bhajans, Kannada, Telugu, pujas and how to play the harmonium. All these skills have accompanied and supported me in pursuing my spiritual goal and attainment of ‘peace of mind’. By His grace, I further had the strength to complete my graduate degree in Indological studies at the University of Zurich, next to my challenging schedules; as a career advisor and my involvement in His DYC Switzerland seva. I feel so fortunate to experience His loving and wise guidance in my daily life.
The greatest miracle that Sri Swamiji does is the transformation He has caused in me and in the devotees that surround me. I have experienced Him as mother, as father, friend and teacher. In different instances, He has shown the qualities of each, helping me on the emotional level to evolve from the clusters of day to day sorrows and happiness. Like a mother, He has shown me unparalleled compassion, and helped me to develop self confidence. He handles all our problems in a hidden, subtle way. Often I would realize it only after the challenged situation was over getting a sudden flash of how He had walked with me through the difficulties. At times I still cannot grasp what it really means to have the good luck of being safely taken over the wild ocean of life in the boat called Guru.
For almost thirty years I have been in His fold, and I still wonder; Swamiji, who are you? What are you? Every time I visit the Mysore Ashrama, or see Him, it is like the first time. I have no answers to these questions, I just experience. How does He do the things He does? It is beyond our mental capacity to grasp it. All I do is bask in His energy and feel its warmth. He is truth, in fact, He is my life.
In silence, without expectation, He takes care. Sri Swamiji used to tell me that I should write my experiences so that other can benefit from them. In 1995 a publication, ‘The Silent Teacher’ was released. This book contains the very subtle experiences with Sri Swamiji. After that, Sri Swamiji said, “Swamiji teaches through these experiences”.
He looks after the smallest details of our lives; gives suggestions for our health and wealth, our conduct and work. He is at the same time Guru and Guide for millions of people and yet present for our individual needs. He says, “No one comes to Me, I have the responsibility to bringing them, this is my sankalpa”. When He calls, there is usually a hidden hand that guides one to meet Him, like a person who would suddenly appear and tell: Oh, that is exactly where I have to go, please follow.
During a longer stay at the Mysore Ashrama, Sri Swamiji requested that I teach yoga classes to the women who would come to the Ashrama. Smt. Gayatri had taught me step I and II of the Hatha Yoga Sri Swamiji had developed, and now I had to teach. He instructed that I should come early to the class room, and stay there whether one person, several persons or non would come to the class. If no one would show up I should sit and practice Hatha and Kriya Yoga. Many times there was no one, so I was able to sit and practice. I used to feel that I was elevated to the heavenly abodes. In the afternoons I used to do garden work or any other work. Many times I said to myself: This is how it must be in heaven.
He had said, “Don’t ask for experiences again and again, just think about the ones you have had, they will again strengthen you.” Yet He continues to give; again and again and again. Whatsoever He says or does, is very precious to me. I would normally write down every detail and reflect upon them. I observe Him, and I am still amazed as to how He can attract so many people from different levels of society. Some of them might not be interested in spiritual matter, but at least, He keeps them from involving themselves in negative karma.
Sri Swamiji is complying with modern life. He has developed a face-book account, Puttugam. He wanted to keep His multitudes of children involved, so He created this account to interact with them. He interacts with His devotees whom He lovingly calls His children. For Him there is no distinction between; age, color, creed, race, social standing, educational achievement, and all the dogmas of society. Everyone receives something from Him.
Seva is an opportunity, given by Him, where our spiritual discipline can be enhanced. Sri Swamiji has created an environment where He allows devotees to participate in Seva. He preaches, ‘Service to Man is Service to God’. He gives certain projects to certain individuals so that they can alleviate the burdens of their karma. Jaya Guru Datta