First death I faced in my life: my father’s elder brother’s elder son. He died. He fell into the village well. He went for a vacation to his one of his relative’s house. You all know in Indian villages, if the school holiday, immediately we will pack and go to some aunts house uncles house, two-three days run around there and come back. It’s a only way of vacation. He went to vacation; nearby village. My family is a tight knit family. They don’t marry even outside community not even outside the family. They will marry inside, inside, inside, inside, inside, you pick up one person he will have ten way of relationship with other persons. So this boy, he used to be dumb and deaf little. So he can’t speak fluently. He went for vacation and the villages will have a wall, the well without wall. So this guy was running around and fell into that well and died unfortunately.
So when his body was brought, first time its reality for me. Somebody whom you saw till few days before will not be with you anymore. I can say in a way he was my first devotee. He used to have a great devotion for me. He is the one who will bring water, flowers, everything for my puja. He had a tremendous love and respect for me. Even though I am younger to him he will bring all the things necessary for my puja, help me in puja. Very religious person. And I used to give him lot of attention. I am the only person who can play with him or who can entertain him. You see, in all other play you need to talk, you need to interact, you need to be equal. But my play is sitting with the deities and playing, doing puja. There you don’t need to talk much. And only I will be able to accommodate him in my play. Nobody can accommodate. So he used to have a tremendous love for me and my first assistant maybe I can say and a great devotee.
Suddenly, he is not there. Apart from my practical problems of who will assist me in my puja and all that, who will fetch me water, who will get me flowers, who will get me sandal paste, then with that only you can do puja. I was thinking who will do all this work; such a big shock. The basic understanding that death is inevitable got drilled in me. Actually I can say this awakened the sense that I have to be dependent only on me, only on my body and mind for anything I want to do. Society will not be a permanent help. That reality was completely experienced by me. I can say surely it has awakened a very deep, next level strands of DNA in my body. It’s a independence. I can say this was one strong shift in my body. My body has become, started becoming yogic body. See my whole idea of depending on somebody was lost. I have to be completely dependent only on the six feet frame for anything I have to do.
And he was one more close disciple of Raghupathy Yogi. Raghupathy Yogi was actually working on him to make him speak. I have seen, Yogi actually made him speak at least on three occasion very fluently. But that boy finally asked Raghupathy Yogi “No, no, no, I think I will be better if I just live the same way I came, so that I will not have much responsibility in the world.”
Again the conscious decision. I have seen Raghupathy Yogi made him speak at least on three occasions very fluently. He gave some herbs and asked him to keep on the last part of the teeth and hold. And he started speakining fluently. That funny thing is, holding his teeth he was speaking fluently. That’s the most funny thing. Still I remember, the jaws are completely holding the herb, but he is speaking, he is able to create the sounds very properly, very clearly. That was the most funny part. Still I am not able to understand how Raghupathy Yogi made it.
Anyhow, the first death, that is responsible for my body becoming yogic body. Oh God, because he used to bring me the nagalinga flowers which will grow, which will, the flowers will happen in the tree at least some six seven feet high. He is little taller than me. He will climb that tree and get that flower. The flower will be like a thousand hooded snake and inside there will be Shiva Linga. It’s called nagalinga flower. So he used to climb the tree and bring the flower. First time I realized, Oh God, now I have to climb by myself. Even though Raghupathy Yogi has trained me climbing pillars and all that, the necessity to become an independent yogic body has happened in me with that first death.
He was an Outcast
And I threw this group out; I would never mingle with that group, so naturally we two became close. In my case I never felt attracted to or attached to this whole group. You should know my whole life I have never played any sports or games or went around and played with the boys and the kids at the school time. Only after my Enlightenment I started playing golf; after I started a public life only. I’m playing or I can say seeing the world. Never ever felt connected to any of these things related to childhood: sports or games or playing or TV or cinema. Never went to cinema.
Once they forcibly took me and I ran away and came back in between. One of my own family members owned the theatre in Thiruvannamalai. And one day there was a movie, a super hit movie, the whole family wanted to go and they didn’t want to leave me alone in the house. I was a small child. They wanted to take me also. I said, “I’m not coming”, so they forcibly took me there. I saw some scene and started shouting and ran away.
Anyway that’s it. Never mixed with the other kids, never had a regular life like other kids.
This guy was my secretary, almost like he was everything. When I did puja he was my security to stop other kids who came to snatch my naivedyam. See I’d keep some food items for the deities and these kids would come when I was sitting with the closed eyes – steal it and eat it and go away. When I opened my eyes I wouldn’t know if the gods ate, or Buddha ate. He was my security. Why I’m describing this whole scene, you know, is because you’ll be able to understand these next incidents if you know the background.
It’s a very old type of lifestyle. The house was three hundred years old, large size house. If you’re from southern part of Tamil Nadu, you’ll understand. Southern part of India, you’ll catch the scene I’m describing.
It was a large house built in Teakwood and stone. Each family, see, when a girl got married she would get a share in jewels. When a boy got married he got a share in the land. And in the house each room was given to one family. If a boy got married he was given a room.
And outside on the veranda all these kids would be rolling. You don’t know whose kid was who. And they would make Hell! God! I still remember those guys would go and directly drink the milk from the cow. And the grandmother would go to milk the cow but the milk would not be there and she would come and throw the vessel and always there would be some drama going on: one ran away and hit at the other, one ran away and stole 25, one ate the other’s candy. It was a continuous ruckus.
And fortunately I never even heard the idea of child abuse. Forget about going through or seeing somebody going through or hearing about somebody going through, even the idea never existed. Only now when I hear I am shocked! Even from Indians I hear in the childhood they went through some abusive things. Somehow when I grew up in that area I never heard about this.
That is one good thing. Because of that any kid could go to any house and eat anywhere and sleep there itself. I still remember those four streets we would be walking around, all the kids would be playing in the street. I may not be playing with them, but I would be roaming around.
In those days the automobiles were not frequently going on the road. You would not see a car or bus that frequently. Only cycles, that’s all you would see. Whole day only a bus would come three times inside the town. That was the atmosphere.
This guy, he was literally everything to me so every morning for me to do puja for worship he would bring the flowers from the plants. And in those days you had a stone on which you had to rub the sandalwood with water. Only then the paste would come for puja, no sandalwood powder. You had to rub a stone and a small bit of sandalwood would be there. It was big work. And that fellow would hold the stone and I would rub the wood. He was a great helper.
One day suddenly he went to a nearby village after my morning puja. He told me, “Swami, I’m going to Perema’s place”, means aunt’s house. “I’ll come back by tomorrow. Till then manage our puja.”
I said, “Alright go.” He can’t speak but he showed in the sign language. So I said, “Okay, go, go.” He can create sounds.
You all know in Indian villages, for the school holiday, immediately we would pack and go to some aunt’s house, uncle’s house; two, three days run around there and come back. It was the only way we had vacation. They’ll give you ten rupees and a new dress and bag full of mangoes that grow in the garden.
A Friend is Lost
So he went. Unfortunately in the agricultural farmhouse there was an open well in which he fell and died. Everything was over within 10 minutes. In morning he left after helping me with the puja. And maybe it was an hour bus, half an hour bus, I don’t know. Anyway he went to that village and he was playing with the other kids, in that village, and it seems he went to bring some mangos. He ran into the farmhouse. See in villages behind the house itself the farm would be there. Farm and house would be very connected.
So he ran and it was an open well, he fell and died. And because he didn’t come back after ten minutes the other kids went in search of him. He went to bring mangos; very easy. They went and saw his body floating in the well. I think the way he fell… he must have fallen and hit his head on the wall or steps. Otherwise in ten minutes you can’t die in the water. And these guys know swimming. So I think maybe there was some damage and he died.
So they’re bringing the body. It was evening when they brought and put the body in the house. I think it must have been late evening or night. I could not understand. First time I was seeing death. Please understand, I always thought everything was permanent. Like when I woke up in the morning, I would come out and see how the Arunachala hill was there. The temple was there. House was there. I thought, same way, all the people around me were permanent.
First time I was slapped. I was hit by the idea of impermanence. First time I realized things change in life. This was the first time I perceived things change in life.
I asked my grandmother, “What happened to him?”
She said, “He’s dead”.
She said, “He has gone to Swami.”
Then I said, “No, I’ll go to the temple and bring him back.” Swami means God, and the temple was there, I’ll go and bring him back.
My grandmother said, “No, he has gone to Tolaitūra swami”
Those days ‘Tolaitura swami’ means Sabarimala.
I told her “OK, next time I go to Sabarimala I’ll bring him back.”
My grandmother did not answer. She just left it. “I thought, OK, I’ll go to Sabarimala. I had my plans, and kept quiet.”
Then when my dad came and cried, I told him, “No, no, he’s in Sabarimala only. You and me and the grand uncle”I told, “You and your elder brother and me, all three of us would go Sabarimala and bring him back. If I tell he will listen.”
In the house also, anything needs to be told to that boy, they would tell through me only. They would also tell, “You go and tell; he will listen.”
He was such an obedient assistant, but deaf and dumb. I think my first assistant itself: deaf and dumb, but very nice guy, very nice kid. Above all he was very emotionally attached; very attached and the only person I was relating to in life. Other than Raghupathi Yogi and Kuppamal, this guy was the only person I related with.
You may call it fortunate or unfortunate, but at the age of three, when I was three, my father and mother were both convinced I was a swami. They never called me by the name they gave. They never addressed me like “dear’. Of course I never expected, so they called me only Swami. So I said, “We three will go and bring him back.”
Then my father said, “No, no. he’s not in Sabarimala, he’s gone to the place where he’ll never come back”
That shook me. First time I understood life is impermanent. A lesson of impermanence entered into my system. Suddenly I started shivering, shaking, I felt, “Oh God, if this boy is not there today, means, then tomorrow maybe the temple I am seeing will not be there. The hill I am seeing will not be there.”
Especially ‘temple may not be there’ was the thought I could not tolerate. My whole life was temple. I was playing only there, I was sitting only there. My whole day I was spending there. It hit me that things may not be there permanently.
Please understand, even in your life you see death but unfortunately you get diverted into something else. You do not allow the death to hit at you properly and teach you the lessons you need to learn.
So the idea of impermanence entered into the system. I started feeling like, “Oh, God, what will happen if one day someone takes away this hill. I will not be able to go and play there.”
I did not know the temple is made out of stone; the hill is made out of stone, which cannot die. At least they are going to live longer than you. All that I did not know. But that impermanence hit at my inner space.It started penetrating my whole thinking. It started getting assimilated into my whole being. My consciousness started assimilating the truth of impermanence. In Tamil we call it ‘illayami’.
In Sanskrit we call it astirata. We call it sachala. Achala means immovable, stable, established. Sachala means moveable or impermanent. So the impermanence has hit at my inner space continuously, my whole thinking, consciousness.
I had a banyan tree in the Arunachala temple that was my pet.I ran to the temple and hugged that tree and said, “Let me hug you now itself cause if you die after that I don’t know what will happen.”
So I went and hugged the tree because literally I grew up with that tree and said, “If you also go away to Swami, what will I do?” and then I told the tree, “If you go away to Swami tell Sena, I want him to come back.”
Such a big shock – the basic understanding that death is inevitable got drilled in me. Actually I can say this awakened the sense that I have to be dependent only on me, only on my body and mind for anything I want to do. Society would not be a permanent help. That reality was completely experienced by me. I can say surely it awakened a very deep, next level strand of DNA in my body.
Independence. I can say this was one strong shift in my body. My body started becoming a yogic body. See my whole idea of depending on somebody was lost. I had to be completely dependent only on the six feet frame for anything I had to do.
Swamiji says that this very experience, “awakened the sense that I have to be dependent only on me, only on
After this, Swamiji says that “My body started becoming a yogic body” . Every idea of depending on somebody else was lost. He continues “I had to be completely dependent only on the six feet frame for anything I had to do.”
Sena’s death was a rude shock to Swamiji’s life up until then. But as he says, “You do not allow the death to hit at you properly and teach you the lessons you need to learn” Every rude shock is another blindspot within us that is revealed. The fact that Swamiji allowed this at such a young age proves how immense of a being he truly is.