My spiritual inclinations – worship as a lifestyle
It used to be very interesting for me to be with him. From when I was young, since I used to stay very near the temple, early morning, I used to go to the temple everyday. At that time the offering at the Arunachala temple in Tiruvannamalai used to be perfect. The priests at that time followed the ancient tradition that their forefathers had followed perfectly. At that time, although the temple was very famous even then, there were not so many people moving inside the temple at any given time. The local people used to come there for the various offerings and the priests lived out of the money that they got with the few people who visited the temple. They used to be very sincere. Anything they did they felt they did for Arunachala and whatever He gave them, they took back happily. That was the attitude at that time. I used to observe all this at that time.
As early as when I was in the 5th grade, every day I used to go with my father for the ritual of waking up the Lord in his chambers at 5am sharp every day. It used to happen every day at sharp 5am. At that time, the temple elephant used to go to Kumara Gopura Street, pick up the holy water, and proceed with the Odal drums (special drums famous in Tiruvannnamalai) and cymbals to the temple. A temple priest used to accompany the elephant. He would ride on the elephant, bring the holy water, pour it in the main steps of the sanctum, open the door, enter the sanctum, perform the offering for the Sun and Moon God, followed by the fire ritual, and then only attend to the Shiva Linga (Shiva deity).
When we watch those priests offering, devotion will swell in us automatically. They will do it so sincerely. So from those early days, my father took me to the temple and I had observed everything for many years. Whether I had devotion or not, the attachment to such things happened in me automatically.
Concepts like we have to pray to Arunachala, we should be with devotion, going to the temple is fun, one should not waste time in other things etc., entered me deeply. That is why I struggled and studied for three years from my mother’s older sister house, away from my hometown. After I joined there for my 5th grade, every time I came back home, a big war used to happen at home.
Common interests that caused the bonding
Once I finished 7th grade, I came back to study in Tiruvannamalai. And since I was with spiritual inspiration, the moment I saw Swami, I felt an instant bonding and attachment to him. I felt he was different and that it would be fun to join him in his activities.
My mother used to offer to Lord Ganesha every day at home. She used to ask me to sit with her for offering. She would read Vinayagar puranam – verses on Lord Ganesha, on Divine Mother. So when I saw Swami doing similar things, I would tell him all that my mother used to do worship at home. When he heard all that, he developed an instant attachment to me.
These days, in no one’s home they do such elaborate offering. They generally have a slab on which they keep two pictures of some deities and offer some thing to them. Because of this the children these days do not develop a great attachment to God. Since we were brought up with the attachment to God, for play also we wanted only offering for God and for devotion also, we wanted the same thing. Anyhow, when he spoke about these things to me, I was able to talk about it and so he developed a good impression about me!
He asked, ‘Do you have Ganesha deity in your house? I have a separate Ganesha deity.’ And he showed me his deity. I said that we too had and showed him our one. Then he said, ‘Both of us have everything in common! Let us both do everything together hereafter.’ So any activity, we both would do together thereon.