He told Me stories from the temple pillars
When I was just three, My grandfather would carry Me on his shoulders to the Arunachaleshwara Temple. He would take Me around the temple and tell Me all the great epic stories – Puranas. I was fortunate enough to have such an amazing person as My grandfather. I still remember him holding Me on his shoulders. He would take Me to every pillar in the Tiruvannamalai Temple and explain the stories of the figures carved on them. Some of the great stories I heard from his own mouth are: Markandeya, the great Saint Kannappa, Nachiketa and Bhakta Prahlada. I am going to honor all those stone pillars by replicating them in the Bidadi temple, with a statue of My grandfather carrying Me on his shoulder and showing all those and explaining! Thanks to the time he spent with Me, explaining all those beautiful ideals, even before I entered the human society. What an amazing preparation he did!
I still remember: when I went back home, I would have to repeat the whole story to My family. That was the way I was trained as a speaker! Apart from speaking, it was also that these great ideas were getting into My system.
Before the age of three I started giving satsangs (discourses)! Now I am revealing to you one of the important truths: never have I read any great Puranas! I would simply start narrating the story! Later on, when I got the chance to read the book, I would see that it is exactly right! Whether it is stories of temples or people, I would simply start telling the story. But later on, when I got the chance to read the book, when I read, it would be exactly the same, verbatim!
He taught consciousness, not conscience
I am so happy that I was born in such an atmosphere and brought up with these great ideas. At such a young age, all these great ideas and truths were put inside Me.
Somehow the Eastern society, at least in the villages, not in the cities – the cities can’t be called Eastern society – in the villages, you are not given morality; you are given truths. My grandfather used to explain things to Me in detail through the stories. Whenever you are made to understand, it doesn’t remain as conscience – it becomes part of your being. But when it is given as a rule, it becomes mere conscience.
Today nobody is there to talk to you; you are just given laws straightaway. Mother is busy in the office, father is busy with his job, and you are sitting here with laws, over! So, naturally, you will try to break them. Somehow, I was fortunate. My elders used to tell Me clear stories…what it is, what for it is done…it used to be an inspiration.
Recently, we got a book that I used before My enlightenment, which was there with some of My friends. So many things I have written down in that book! When I read it, I was shocked at how many people have inspired Me; in how many ways I derived inspiration! Throughout that book, I have not written a single moral. I have written many stories, with only inspiration, never laws. If you receive techniques, it will directly lead to consciousness. If you receive only instructions, it will lead to conscience. Teachings create conscience; techniques create consciousness.
He had such faith in his own body and mind
Today, the whole world is contaminated by the idea that old age is retirement, and you destroy your body and mind with this. I tell you: My grandfather used to have such faith on his own body, mind and consciousness! In his whole life, he was hospitalized only twice. Such a hardworking man! Please understand: your body is actually a mechanism. What you cognize about your body, mind, and you is a mechanism. Whatever you cognize becomes reality. And I have seen the faith he had about himself. I am so thankful to him, because he took care that the idea of sickness never settled inside My system. By seeing him and living around him, health became My basic cognition.
He was the only active earning member of the family. He had everything in his hand. But he did not own a car even till his death; such a simple personal life! And till the end, he used to say, “I will go walking and come back walking.” Till his last breath, he had everything under his control and gracefully exited.
I learned how not to ‘settle down’ in life
My mother’s side is highly cultured. My grandfather was such a spiritual man. Even on the day he died (he was in his nineties), he did his puja, went to the hospital and died! I have never seen him miss his puja; cold, cough, family reasons, nothing will make him miss it. He went walking to his office in the morning and attended to his daily office routine. Till the last day, he had the bunch of keys, meaning the control over the whole organization, which he built from the beginning. He came home from office one Saturday afternoon as usual by walk, felt uneasy and rested. They had to admit him in the hospital. He passed away on Monday. So literally, till the day he died, he attended office!
When I saw My grandfather, My great-grandmother, all of them, I saw that the concept of ‘settling down’ never existed for them. It is good that I was brought up by them. Now, these modern-day IT people think, “I will work till forty and then retire. I will make money, buy a flat and a car, and settle down by forty.” It means that even while they are studying, acquiring knowledge, the goal is just to acquire some comforts and luxury and drop out! This is the kind of inspiration they have about knowledge and life. Then, their knowledge will be so heavy on them. They will only try to constantly find cunning methods of how to know less and make more money, because the purpose becomes money, wealth, luxury, comfort. The purpose of being active or having knowledge should not be just acquiring some wealth, or luxury or comforts. I am not saying don’t acquire. I am only saying that alone should not be the purpose.
He taught Me not just integrity, but charity too
My grandfather was a person of such charity. Every night, even if it was one o’clock, two o’clock in the night, only after signing the ledger and completing the accounts of the shop, he would go to bed. I learnt that habit from him. In those days, there was no computer; it was only in the notebook. And the most important thing was – he had a box. On that box, there would be a board called magamabandu. It means, he would put ten percent of his net income in that box every day, and that was kept aside for charity. So when people came asking for donations for any temple function, religious function, temple inauguration or annadaan (free food distribution), based on their expense level, he would give a donation.
Once, I asked him, “What is the use of giving money like this, of giving donations like this?” He said, “The result of giving donations is: more people will come to receive more donations, that’s all.”
Understand: reward for wealth is more wealth; reward for love is more love; reward for work is more work; reward for charity is more charity opportunities; reward for integrity is more integrity. Cognizing the joy that integrity brings in you, the powerfulness you experience through integrity; cognizing that integrity is the ultimate will lead to not having blind spots.
In anything, whether in your relationship with your body; or your relationship with life; or your relationship with Existence; or your relationship with the ultimate Source; or your relationship with society; or your relationship with humanity and its laws, at every level, cognize integrity as your strategy – be true to the thought current you are living.
He fed the sadhus every day
My mental setup of giving food to people, I got from My grandfather. He would go to the temple every day; search for sadhus (monks) near the temple; bring them home, make them sit down and recite some stotras (devotional songs) or verses from the Puranas, like Shiva Puranam; offer them arati (ceremonial waving of lamps); offer them dakshina (money), then feed them, and only after that, he would eat. He never taught Me anything, but he was such a strong influence on Me!
Once, I caught a guy who had come to our house dressed as a sadhu doing something else during other times. I came home and told My grandfather that he was not a sadhu. My grandfather just said, “Don’t bother. Even for that half an hour, if he is wearing all the Shaivite symbols like kumkum (energized processed turmeric) and rudraksha (sacred beads), just give him food. At least for the sake of food, he will remember Shiva and will be tuned to our tradition. Then slowly, he may become that way permanently!”
In India, if you live like a sadhu, all the basic needs will be fulfilled. That trend should be maintained in the society. I learnt that mental setup from My grandfather. Now that I have the money, thousands of sadhus are given free food in our Aadheenams!
I can say one thing for sure: in the whole world, the lifestyle of sharing food freely at no cost exists only in India. It is part of the Vedic tradition because we are a grain-based civilization. All religious ceremonies include the sharing of prasadam (consecrated food), and sharing food is not just part of social or religious ceremonies; it is a lifestyle.
I grew up in ten houses!
In Indian villages, you don’t grow up in one house; you usually live in ten to twelve houses – the houses of relatives, neighbors, friends! For four or five days, you stay in one house, and then for four or five days, you stay in another house! Saturday and Sunday, you stay in another house. That is the way we all grew up and there will not be any particular reason for it! Just like that, I would go to My grandparents’ house, and would not come back home for even twenty days! I would just stay there, because My school and everything would be close by.
And I have seen that all those houses would be always open to everyone, whether they are visitors or guests or sadhus or beggars. All the villagers who came on business to the town would straightaway walk into My grandfather’s house and have their meal and leave. And it is not as if they would inform My grandfather beforehand about their arrival. If they were coming to town, they knew that in Mudaliar’s house, food would be available. And My grandfather or grandmother would not even ask who they were or where they were coming from – nothing! There would be an area allotted specially for guests. If anybody came and sat there, the two or three ladies of the house would first serve them water and then ask, “Have you eaten (lunch or dinner or breakfast)?” And the guest would say, “No, I came here to eat only.” So they would bring a banana leaf and start serving them food. It was the regular routine.
In Indian villages, this was the normal lifestyle. Only when I describe it now, it looks like a big thing. Actually, only when I started traveling outside India and saw the lifestyle in other countries, I even understood that it is such a big thing! I saw that even if it is your own son’s house, you have to make two phone calls and confirm that you are coming at such and such a time! I was really shocked.
Sharing food is the most dharmic principle. Research says that the most common past-life causes for morbid obesity are: starvation in one or more past lives that leads to the constant desire to overeat and fear or guilt from past lives of depriving others of food. Both lead to karma that lands in your system and create the effect of making you overeat. So, sharing food should be a lifestyle in our sangha (spiritual community). In all your houses, the kitchen should be open for anybody who is hungry. It should be a rule.
He lived an enlightened lifestyle so casually
I can tell you, the enlightened lifestyle is much more than enlightenment! I can tell you from My experience – whatever I started living after enlightenment, My grandfather used to live it very casually. I have seen it. Sometimes I look back and think, “God! To live this way it took enlightenment for Me, but My grandfather used to live it so casually!” His idea, his way of thinking, his way of functioning, was so casually centered on this.