I picked up that exact lifestyle from him. I never slept without reading a spiritual scripture, till I started My public life, till I realized My Avataric mission! After that, I was not able to read for more than one-and-a-half to two years. Then, when I started My public life, naturally when you are falling into samadhi, there is no need to read any books. After I started teaching, I started reading for the sake of teaching. But till then, I never missed reading a spiritual scripture before going to bed.
When something goes inside you when you are a kid, and becomes part of your bio-memory, and muscle-memory, it becomes an experience, a cognition; you just radiate it with so much of strength and power! Just recently in the temple, a Gurukul (residential Vedic school) kid was chanting mantras for homa (fire ritual). I stopped him and said, “You are doing inauthentically. That is why you are not able to bring rain. Sit and bring yourself to completion and start chanting.” The kid realized he had some incompletions, went and completed with everyone, and came and did the homa. It started raining! Understand: It is an experience for kids! It is not just a story! It is an experience!
The little bit of Tamil knowledge I have in Thevaram, Tiruvasagam and all such verses, was what I learnt from My grandfather, from chanting every night. I tell you: read some sacred sentiments, like these spiritual scriptures, before going to bed. It enriches the quality of consciousness in which you sleep, in which you function, in which you act and in which you flow – in which you carry your whole day!
You may think, “Oh, I know all these ideas…what is there?” No! Your brain needs to be reminded all the time, again and again and again, because forgetfulness is the basic quality of your mind. Reminding yourself again and again is the highest spiritual practice.
He put the seed of puja inside Me
When I was young, I used to hear the Shiva Purana being sung on the loudspeaker every day in the temple. Growing up, it was literally the background music to My life.
My life started with puja.
It is Ganesha puja with which My whole life started. Actually, had I not taken up public life, I would have been a pujari – temple priest! Not author or orator, only pujari. I would be doing only puja! I would have been a pujari just sitting in some remote corner, of a Shiva temple, from morning till night, maybe just sitting and pouring water on the Shiva linga, or chanting some shlokas or the mantras I know. That would have been My favorite time-pass or life-pass!
In a way, I owe My whole mission to My grandfather! From the time I remember Me, I used to be with him for puja. When I was just a few months old, My mother used to put Me where he does puja. So, only hearing his morning puja bell, I would open My eyes! Most of the days, his puja’s naivedaym (food offering) would be milk, and it used to be the first food I would consume. I really thank him for the sincerity in puja, which he put inside Me. Fortunately, it grew, it was nourished by My other mentors, and culminated in completion with Arunagiri Yogishwara’s blessings!
Venugopal (Venu), the second of the three maternal uncles (mother’s brothers) of Bhagavän, shares his brief observations of Him as a child, when He would come home and interact with His grandfather, Raju Mudaliar (Interviewed on 31 October 2017):
My father would do all the pujas. At that time He (Swami) would be standing and watching. Sometimes He would sing songs. He would sing Shiva Puranam. Shiva Puranam is the song that my father taught all of us.
My father would wake up at five a.m. and perform the Ganesha puja every morning at six a.m. At that time, he would ask us to compulsorily sit, and he would teach and make us sing the Shiva Puranam.
After puja, my father would have breakfast and go to the shop. He would return only in the night. Then he would read books related to spirituality for some time before going to sleep.
Swami would also come and participate in the puja during functions like Deepavali, Pongal, Saturday worship, etc. We would offer puja to Lord Venkatachala pathy during the Tamil month of Purattaasi.
Jnanashekaran (Jnanam), the youngest of the three maternal uncles of Bhagavan, who is only five years older to Him, recalls Him involving in the puja of Raju Mudaliar as a child (Interviewed on 7 November 2017):
He would mingle a lot with my father. He would be familiar with all at the temple. He liked that a lot. From a young age, His entertainment was inclined only towards the temple and its activities. He would sit with my father during his puja, learn all the songs, and help as well. After my father poured water on the deities, He would drape the cloth around them. He would help in applying sandal paste on the deities and so on.
Anbazhagan (Anbu), son-in-law of the family, Bhagavan’s mother’s younger sister’s husband who took responsibility for Him many times alongside His father till He went to the polytechnic institute, also mentions the ‘grandfather relationship’. His more detailed sharings will be found across this volume and the coming volumes (Interviewed on 7 November 2017).
From a young age, He would have a lot of devotion to God. Whenever His grandfather, Raju Mudaliar thatha (‘grandfather’ in Tamil), went to the temple, He would go along with him.
Senthil, Bhagavan’s older brother, an eye-witness and playmate during the days spent in Tiruvannamalai, is exhilarated to share about the times in grandfather’s house. Needless to say, Senthil’s memoirs are spread across this volume, with many instances recounted in all their delightful details! (Interviewed on 21 December 2017)
We used to hardly be in our house in Tiruvoodal street. We would be only in grandfather’s house most of the time. Our grandfather used to take Swami and me to the temple every time he went. Inside the Goddess Unnamulai Amman shrine, he would point out the depictions of Hindu saints on the pillars and the wall paintings and narrate their life stories to us. I recall hearing stories of Kannappa Nayanar and Bhakta Prahlada. I remember that one of the paintings portraying Kannappa Nayanar was donated to the temple by my grandfather and it would carry his name on it.
Our grandfather would come home late from the shop. He would always read books before going to sleep. We learnt everything only in our grandfather’s house, whether it was reading or chanting or singing devotional songs. The Shiva Puranam was an integral part of our life. Like how the morning prayer was to school, Shiva Puranam was to our life! Initially, our grandfather sat us down and taught a few lines for us to repeat. Then, we picked up from him singing aloud during puja, and later, we would sing and he would do puja! We also learnt devotional songs on Lord Ganesha like ‘Paalum theli thenum…’ and on Lord Muruga like ‘Yerumayil yeri vilayaadum…’ I recall listening to Skanda shashti kavacham and Venkateshwara suprabhatam during the appropriate seasons. In the Tamil month of Margazhi, we listened to songs like Tiruppavai and Tiruvempavai.