The Village Play

draupadi1.jpg I really feel blessed that I was born and brought up in a village, where there was no T.V in those days. People ask me, ‘how do you pick up things easily? Of course I somehow pick up things very easily, very quickly. One small fact, its truth. Only two years ago I started speaking English; I studied little bit, which also in mother tongue. I started speaking English when I started coming to America, which was two years ago, 2003 August. They asked me, how do you pick up?  I continuously read. They ask, how do you read so many pages, so many books?

It is just because I never used to watch T.V; T.V straight away destroys your consciousness.

In my village, they used to recite Mahabhatratha, once in a year, for sixty days. In daytime they will tell a story, they will recite the story and nighttime a small drama, Village drama, not organized, trained, arranged people. Four people from that village itself will take the roll and they will play the drama. More than the drama, the mistakes they do will be funny.

So people will all sit and gather. People will all sit and gather and watch. Not for the drama’s sake. The mistakes they do will be really funny. Because, what comes as veena for Saraswathi, same thing will come as gadha for Arjuna, or hanuman. Hanuman will bring the same for gadhayudham; next day Saraswathi will bring the same thing as veena. It’ll be really funny and four or five people only will play all the roles. And Krishna will be an eighty-five year old man, with one stick in his hand and he will not even be able to walk. With the help of somebody he will come, and say, ‘oh Arjuna, stand up.

By the time he says, ‘Arjuna stand up’ he will fall. And it’ll be really funny to watch the whole drama; all the mistakes they do. I used to go and attend the drama every night, and only males can participate; it is done as a ritual also. The people who participate, they have to wear the sacred threads in the hand, and it is done as a ritual. They have to recite those entire poems completely and only males participate in the rituals.

That day the scene is supposed to be the vastrabharana; Dhraupathi vastrabharana – the removing of saree (outer garment worn primarily by Indian women, consisting of several yards of light material that is draped around the body) from Dhraupathi, trying to pull the saree from Draupathi, that’s the scene. And this guy had all the make-up and wore seven thin sarees. According to the scene, Dhuchadhana was supposed to pull six sarees, and by the time he pulls the sixth saree, he has to act as if he has become tired, and he is falling and he has to do some drama, and fall. Then Krishna will appear. And actually, the moment Dhuchadhana is about to fall, Draupathi will shout, “Krishna, Krishna”; then Krishna will appear. I’m remembering the whole scene; then Krishna will appear. Suddenly what happened was, when the scene started Dhuchadhana forgot the count; he forgot the, count. He is supposed to pull seven sarees totally; by the sixth saree, he is supposed to fall. Once he falls, Dhraupadhi will call out for Krishna and then Krishna will jump on to the stage; this is the scene.

This guy, he somehow forgot the number, counting. And he started to pull the seventh saree also. He started pulling the seventh saree also. And Dhraupathi, she is trying to show through her eyes, ‘hey seventh saree, seventh saree’. This guy does not understand; he thought that Dhraupathi was acting nicely, so he kept pulling. Then suddenly Draupathi started beating Dhuchadhana directly, shouting, ‘hey leave my saree, hey leave my saree. It’s my saree, it’s my saree’. Straight away Draupathi attacks Duchadhana. And we are all surprised. Morning, the story says something and evening drama says something different. And straight away he is attacking.

Actually by the sixth saree Dhuchadhana is supposed to fall and Draupathi should cry Krishna, Krishna and, Krishna should jump onto the stage. But Krishna is waiting behind the screen with beedi (Indian cigarette) he is waiting with his beedi, for the call, to jump onto the stage.  He is standing behind the stage, Waiting for Draupathi to call. And Draupathi is shouting, ‘hey Duchadhana, leave my saree’. So Krishna is thinking that the scene is still going on, still the scene is, going on; still the sixth saree is not over. He is thinking standing there, smoking the beedi! This fellow Dhuchadhana, without understanding, finally, and moreover Draupathi kicked him also, so he got so angry, he just pulled the saree completely. Suddenly he saw on the stage, with half female outfit with a pair of shorts this guy is standing. Below male, above female; all female makeup. With the long hair and the facial makeup, like a female, wearing female clothes. Above female outfit and below male outfit. This guy is standing on the stage.

Somehow, this guy is a little spontaneous; suddenly he turned and said, ‘Krishna, just because you can’t come, you made me a male and saved my life. You converted me into male and saved my prestige’. This guy is a spontaneous guy; he managed the whole situation. Because he had to manage the mistake done by Duchadhana, and the mistake done by Krishna, because Krishna had not appeared on the stage as he was supposed to appear, but he was still waiting for the call with the beedi, waiting for Draupathi to call Krishna, Krishna. When you have spontaneity, really you can manage anything. Whenever I remember the word spontaneity, I remember this story.

Sampath Speaks on Worship as a Lifestyle

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.

Sampath Speaks on The Avatar’s House

First visit to Swami’s house

I will narrate all the incidents – ordinary and mystical – I am able to recall. But what he tried through those incidents, what happened to him through those incidents, you have to ask him only.

When we met the first day in school, he said to come to his house. I asked him where his house was. He said, “It is in Tiruvoodal Sreet, AKS complex. There will be a cycle store there. On top of that in the first floor is my house.’ Then one day I walked and went to his house. It was a Friday. Since the next day was a Saturday and holiday at school, I thought we can play happily on Friday!

When I went, his mother was washing clothes. She asked me who I was. I asked her if it was Rajashekaran’s house. She said yes. She said that he was inside and to go and see him and that there was a dog and to be careful of it. They had a dog, a very active dog. Whoever comes, it will simply intimidate them. It came barking towards me. In their house, once it starts barking they will know that some guest has arrived. Swami came behind the dog screaming, ‘Hey Mani!’ His voice used to be shrill and innocent at that time! He immediately caught hold of its collar and said, ‘Va da, va da (come, come).’ Then he told me, ‘This dog is always like this. If it gets used to you it won’t do anything. Come in.’ By that time, I had climbed on to a raised square step afraid that the dog might bite me! He came and took me inside from there.

In the house, there was a bedroom in the rear. In the center there was a hall. The hall was divided into two. In the right half, on one side, there was the kitchen with the gas stove. On the other side, on a slab, there were many idols and photos. It was evident that Swami was maintaining them. That was my first visit. He told to come the next day as well.

I went the following day. In the morning, if he starts doing his puja (offering to God), no one will know when it will finish. It was around ten or ten thirty in the morning when I went. Generally at that time, he would not have even eaten breakfast. His mother would be cooking. She cannot keep any of her things anywhere on the floor. He would have filled the floor with his things. She can keep them only on that one table that was there. Both of them will be sitting next to each other and doing their own things. He will be removing the deities’ cloths one by one, performing holy bath for them etc. He would have occupied the entire space. She would tell him, ‘Why can’t you keep your things a little away from mine? How can I take out the dhal and other things and use them for cooking?’ He would never bother himself with what she says. He would just continue with his work.

Sampath Speaks on Meeting Swamiji at School

My schooling background: Meeting Swamiji

What I am going to say would have happened between 8th and 10th grade of school. 5th to 7th grade, my father sent me to Panrotti, Tamilnadu – saying I won’t study properly if I am in Tiruvannamalai and that it is better if I study outside Tiruvannamalai. At the end of three years, I expressed that I do not wish to go back to school there and I wish to stay in Tiruvannamalai and study. Tiruvannamalai is my native town and it is world famous for its temple festivals. I did not want to miss all those festivals.

First instance of seeing Swami

I joined school in Tiruvannamalai for 8th grade. At that time VDS Jain school was the most famous school in Tiruvannamalai. On the first day of school, I attended morning prayer at 8:30 am. I arrived a little late. By that time the boys had started moving towards prayer. They told me to leave my bag somewhere and join the prayer. In the prayer, there was a table with a number of shields. Suddenly, a loud voice from behind me said, ‘Hey look here! The shields that my father gave!’ I looked back to see who it was. I saw a bright face with holy ash smeared on the forehead. His friend asked him, ‘Why did your father give this shield?’ The boy replied, ‘My father is the head of the Rotary Club.’ Actually, on behalf of the Rotary Club, they had conducted some games for the children and given some shields to distribute. Swami’s father was Rotary Club Secretary so he had apparently given the shields. He was referring to it that his father has given the shields!

My father was also in Rotary Club. I was thinking that only my father was associated with the Rotary in a big way and how come this boy was saying this about his father. I asked him who his father was. He replied: Chandru. His father was known by the nickname Chandru at that time. I told him my father was in the Rotary Club and that he only would have given the shield. To that he replied, ‘My father is the head.’ Then I thought probably there was a head and he might have given. Anyhow, by that time, he had put his arm around my shoulder. And he said, ‘Your father is also in the Rotary, my father is also in the Rotary. Then you sit next to me.’

The first day itself I got a chance to sit next to him. Soon after prayer got over, we went to the classroom. I didn’t have to search for a place. He used to sit neither too much in front nor too much in the back – in the third or fourth row. He made me sit next to him. All the students had fixed places, but somehow he organized things and arranged for me to sit next to him. From that day onwards, till 10th grade, whichever class or classroom we went to, I would sit next to him only.

Devotion Filled Bicycle Rides to School

My older brother used to take me by bicycle everyday to school. On my way to school and back , I would stop by at every temple and offer worship.  He used to curse me saying that it was bad enough he had to pedal me to school, I also made him stop at every temple on the way as well!

By the time I visited these temples and reached school, it would be almost time to return. I was perpetually late. I used to mark my attendance with all the deities and only then  go to school. At every temple, I would prostrate before each and every deity and then only leave the temple. I had a special and long mantra for each deity. If I missed this morning routine due to some urgent work, I would recite the mantras twice the next time, to make up for the lost day, fearing that the deities would be angry with me! I would request them to adjust the previous day’s account appropriately!

I would have camphor pieces in the pocket of my trousers, carefully folded in pieces of paper, with the name of the temple and deity written on each paper. Camphor tablets were expensive, so I used to buy camphor chunks and cut them into small pieces. When cutting the camphor chunks, I was very careful to cut them equally, so that every deity got an equal share! If by mistake a piece turned out bigger than the others, that piece would go to Arunachaleshwara at the main temple. For Arunachaleshwara, I had no problem giving the big piece. There was no scope for comparison where He was concerned!

If I missed lighting the camphor pieces before any deity in the morning, I would light two pieces on my way back, to make up for the loss. On those days, it would take that much longer to reach home! There was an order of temples… First it was Karpaga Vinayagar Temple, then the Police Station Mariyamman Temple, then Arunachaleshwara temple, then Vallabha Vinayagar temple, then the temple in front of Sri V. Thaanmal Sowkar Jain Higher Secondary School, then I would go to school, that’s all!

My brother used to feel very bored and would keep cursing me when he was waiting outside every temple. I would not just bow down to the main deity and come away. I would bow down to the dwarapalakas (the two deities that guard the entrance to the main shrine), enquire after their health, offer worship to Nandi (the bull that adorns the temple entrance) and so on!

My brother would pedal fast whenever a temple approached, hoping I would miss seeing it, but I never missed it! I would scream out, ‘Hey! The Vinayagar temple has come, stop! Stop!’ And he would stop. On the days his patience wore thin, I would walk to school instead of getting a ride, but after two or three days, he would feel sorry for me and offer to take me by bicycle once again!

You can Bhagavan on the far left of his brothers just as they were at this age

I never learnt cycling before the age of 12. And after my first experience at the age of 12, I couldn’t ride a bicycle anymore. (At this point in time, one of the disciples commented, ‘Swamiji, even at that time in Tiruvannamalai, you had a driver!’ to which He laughed and concurred.) I never knew that my inability to ride a bicycle was because of my spiritual experience. I was not aware that it had to do with decreased body consciousness that happened after that experience. I used to think I did not have the ability to ride a cycle, that’s all. I was also never aware that there was something different about me. I used to think that everyone was like me. I simply took it for granted. Only later on I realized that it is not for all.

First Ever Satsang

I started giving satsangs even before the age of three! The Ganesh deity was given to me by my father because I narrated the whole story of Shiva and Ganesh. When my grandfather took me to the temple, I heard some preachers and priests reciting the story. I came back and repeated verbatim! See, because my first satsang was on Ganesh, and my first puja was done to Ganesh, my life is successful; he removed all the “vignas” (obstacles)Ganesha dDeity !

First Incident About Wealth

Even now I can remember 1st incident about wealth in my life. In Indian villages during the festivals the uncles and aunts give money to kids. Me and my brothers were given some coins by my uncles. I asked my father what should I do with this?

My father said, “You can buy whatever you want, you can buy.”

I said “I want a Ganesha. I have it, what should I do?”

My father said, “You can give it to anyone you like.”

I called my cousin and he grabbed all the coins from me. I thought okay what is there I can use if I want if not I can give away. This is the 1st memory and I still live with it. I have not created any relationships with wealth, any joy, suffering, with wealth. I know just wealth is living with me. Understand wealth is your very personality!

Ganesha Inaugurated My Spiritual Life

My spiritual life started with Ganesha. Ganesha eating the food I offered is the first spiritual experience that happened in my life. And I can say, my spiritual journey was successful and unfolded with all its glory, beauty and depth after that!. It was such an auspicious beginning… that is why my life is continuously extraordinary and auspicious incidents. I am trying to trace the day Ganesha ate food when I offered. We will declare that day as Annapurna day in our mission!

I can tell you that I have become successful in my life because I started in my life with Ganesha. My first spiritual effort in my life was trying to feed Ganesha!My first satsang (talk to a congregation of seekers) was on Ganesha and my first puja was done to Ganesha!.

Ganesha: The Sweetheart of Hindu Children

I can say, the largest worshipped deity in India is Ganesha. Almost every street will have a Ganesha temple. You don’t need a big ritualistic pooja from him. A village lady after her bath, comes, offers water to the Ganesha deity on the banks of the river, worships and goes. You cannot worship any other God like this without much ritual. His very form is a powerful representation of the cosmos.

Ganesha is still the sweetheart of Hindu children, especially the exam-going children! He is pleased just by a coconut. From the time I remember myself all the examinations are written by Ganesha only! He is a powerful divine being.

Ganesha is also the lord of the Muladhara Chakra the basic energy center at the bottom of the spine. He is a very powerful expression of the cosmic intelligence. He has four hands – the upper right hand holds the ankusha – the elephant goad, the left upper hand holds the pasha – noose, the lower right hand holds his own tusk and the lower left hand holds a sweet.

The ankusha – is a very small instrument which can goad a huge elephant. It actually represents unclutching (simply dropping the shaft of thoughts continuously being formed by the mind). It means that an elephant-sized mind can be controlled by a small key – unclutching! The mind which is a wild elephant can be controlled with just a small ankusha, a small tool like unclutching.

Pasha or the noose signifies ‘attachment’. When you add attachment to thoughts, they become engrams (engraved memories). It means that because attachment is under his control he does not allow the thoughts to become engrams. So on the one side, thoughts never become engrams because the pasha is under his control, and on the other side, because of the ankusha, even with thoughts, unclutching happens! So his inner space is completely under his control.

The lower right hand holds his own tusk. You need to know the history of the tusk. Once, Vyasa wanted somebody to pen down the Mahabharata, the longest Hindu epic. Vyasa is a genius. He was not able to find anyone for his speed. He finally requested Ganesha to pen it down. The Mahabharata is the largest and longest poem written on planet earth even now. Nobody is able to cross Vyasa’s achievement till now. We have so much technology, computers but Vyasa still stands! His record is unbroken.

He asks Ganesha, ‘Can you pen it down?’ Ganesha replies, ‘Sure, I will pen it down. But the speed with which I write will be too much. If you cannot cope with my speed, I will stop writing and go away.’ Vyasa replies with a condition, ‘Alright, I agree, but you should also write only after you have understood every word.’ Ganesha agrees. The agreement was ready. Vyasa was supposed to match the speed of Ganesha and Ganesha was supposed to understand and only then pen down.

It started and went on and on and on. Neither Vyasa nor Ganesha got up for anything. Whenever Ganesha finished quickly, Vyasa put in some complicated words, so that Ganesha would have to understand it, catch up and then pen down. It was a big game going on.

Suddenly, Ganesha’s pen broke. Now, this clause was not there in the agreement: what to do when the pen breaks? Whose responsibility is it? Naturally not Vayasa’s because Ganesha is the one penning down. But Ganesha cannot miss even one word. Vyasa’s expression was happening in full speed. The whole thing happened in Badri – the source of the sacred river Saraswati, the place where she emerges out. She is the source of Ganga, Yamuna and all the other Himalayan rivers. Saraswati here is not Lord Brahma’s consort. No! Here, she is the feminine consciousness. I had darshan of Saraswati in Badri – such beauty and grace! The enchanting grace….I made our Anandeshwari (presiding female deity of the mission) exactly in the same mould and jewels as her! Anandeshwari is made out of my darshan of Saraswati in Badri. The face, structure, jewels, especially the shoulder jewels….you will never find them anywhere else.

So, on the banks of Saraswati the writing is going on, and suddenly the pen broke. What to do now? Ganesha has to complete, he cannot miss; and he cannot run for a pen also! If he runs for one more pen, he may miss a few words. He cannot ask Vyasa to stop either. Ganesha immediately breaks his own tusk and starts writing!

Understand, this shows two things: one, his spontaneous decision making, and two, his courage to sacrifice for the cause. He does not tell Vyasa, ‘Stop, I will run and get a pen.’ No! It is just spontaneous decision making and courage to sacrifice – his own tusk. See, this writing is a small part of his life. He could have asked Vyasa to wait. But the courage to sacrifice! Therefore the tusk symbolizes the courage to sacrifice and the spontaneous decision making power.

So his two upper hands represent his pure blissful inner space while the lower right hand represents his courage and spontaneous decision making. When these three are there, life is sweet which is represented by the sweet in his lower left hand!

His elephant face represents the extraordinary awareness and sensitivity. It is also the symbol of Omkara. The elephant’s eye sight or its ability to smell, is extraordinary. His big pot belly represents the whole cosmos. The whole cosmos is inside him! He is the cosmic intelligence. His mouse represents the playfulness! With the mouse, even though you have a little fear of it, it always creates playfulness in you! Whenever you see it, you start laughing! The mouse can create a playful feeling inside you. That is why Tom and Jerry is so popular. SO Ganesha is doing this whole thing so playfully. That is what it means.

When you tune into Ganesha, you can imbibe these three things: unclutching from the mind, not being attached to thoughts and allowing them to become engraved memories, and having spontaneous decision making and courage to sacrifice. Then the whole cosmos will be in you and you will have extraordinary sensitivity to live life in the inner and outer world. And naturally your life will be sweet like Ganesha’s modaka (name of the sweet he holds).

Ganesha means Ganapati, the Vigneshwara. He represents extraordinary power of achievement, the pure efficiency. When you understand the sacred truth of pure efficiency…Please understand pure efficiency without obstacles is Ganesha. If you imbibe the idea which I expressed now, pure efficiency with no obstacles, just pure efficiency, means life, you will experience Ganesha in you. When you meditate on this sacred truth of pure efficiency, the non-mechanical parts of your brain will be awakened which will look exactly in the form of Ganesha. You may think what mystery it is? It is mystery but truth.

I can say, that in Hinduism, the largest celebrated festival is Ganesh Chaturthi, the celebration of the happening of Ganesha. Ganesha is the only god worshipped by Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Shaktas, and his own group – the Ganapatyas. Even the Kaumaras, followers of Subrahmanya worship Ganapati!

There is only one god who is worshipped by all these seven sampradayas – traditions, and that is Ganesha! Usually, the Shaivites don’t even look at the Vishnu temple! By mistake they may look! But Vaishnavites, even by mistake they won’t look at a Shiva temple! If they look at a Shiva temple, they will do completion!

So understand, Ganesha is the only god worshipped by all the seven sampradayas. Even in Vishnu temples Ganesha has a place with the name ‘Tumbikkai Alvar’. That is why I say, Ganesh Chaturthi is the most celebrated festival in Hinduism, or I can say, in the whole world!

Ganesha outlives all philosophies. He feels all philosophies are boredom. He is like a modern day teenage kid who eats left and right, and sits with the Facebook all the time and does not bother about any serious philosophy, but who has all the powers!

Ganesha doesn’t come under any rule or regulation but he has all the powers and he is the embodiment of Satchitananda – the auspiciousness, intelligence, and energy. Above all, he is a close being to our heart. There cannot be any philosophical explanation about him. He is just a part of us, that’s all.

The Watchful Gods

I saw 11 bhairavas constantly. But I used to think all kids see them. Sometimes I used to get scared of them. It takes/took 6-7 years for me to realize I am someone unique, even though I had a conscious birth. The nervous system gets shaken when you see extraordinary beings. So it took them some time for them to show me they are in action.