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 !
I had the fortune of sitting with my grandfather.
My mother’s father only taught me this spiritual routine. He is the one solely responsible for whatever revival I am doing through the deity worship. He is solely responsible! I have seen, he may come back from the shop night one o’clock. He was a rice merchant. So, the rice loads will come from the villages in the bullock carts. Those days, bullock carts. And, lorries were not that popular. I have seen, bullock carts will come with the fire torch, or the lantern lamp and they will unload the rice bags. Night one o’clock, he may come back to the house, but he will wash himself, do the “achamana”, apply the vibhooti, and “anushtana” and keep the shop key at the feet of Mahadeva. He had a beautiful family deity: Mahadeva, Ganesha, and other two-three deities like Nandi, small Subramanya, and Devi, one Surya. It is a “panchayathana”, Shiva “panchayathana”. With Vishnu also, ranganatha, and Venkateshwara. Venkateshwara was also the family deity. So, all of them were there. He will always keep the key to them, at the feet of Mahadeva, and go and sleep.
My mother’s side is so highly cultured. My mother’s father is such a spiritual man. Even on the day he died, he was 90 he did his puja, went to hospital and died! I have never seen him miss it – cold, cough, family reasons, nothing will make him miss it.
I know the kind of a faith about his own body and mind and consciousness that my grandfather used to have! My grandfather, he died after nineties. In his whole life he got hospitalized only twice! Only twice! Such a hardworking man! The kind of faith he had about his own body! It is a mechanism, please understand. It is actually a mechanism. What you cognize about your body, your mind, you, it 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 that it never settles inside my system. By seeing him and living around him, health became my basic cognition.
Whatever time he may come back to bed, next day morning he will be up before the sunrise; it is called “brahma muhurtha”, the time a Shaivite is supposed to wake up. I have never seen him missing till the day he left the body! He will wake up before the sunrise, the “brahma muhurtha”, and take bath, do all his “anushtana”, come back to the deity, and do all his morning worship. Even when he has to go to some program at 5 o clock. He will get up at 3, he will finish up everything before that. and he will do long rituals – long pranayamas, and 11 times super brain yoga for Ganeshaand 11 times for Shiva. All these deities will be there. When he finishes, I will move the deity from this side to the other for accounts purpose that is done with that deity.
After puja he will pick up the key from the deity with the permission, and go to the shop. Every time, when he took the major decisions, or every time he leaves the house for even a small action like going to the local temple and coming back, he will go and take the permission of the deity and then go. Once he comes back, he will wash his feet. If he comes back from the temple, he may not wash his feet. If he is from any other place, he will just go to the shrine again, means where the family deities were kept. Unless he is coming back from the temple, he will wash the feet, then he will walk to the deity, and do namaskar, respond to them, or report to them what he has done. Only then he will continue with the other activities.
I tell you, just this one seed at my age back then! For around 82 years, not a single day he missed the morning puja. I don’t know whether he had the idea of enlightenment or anything but his sincerity, just such an amazing sincerity, has gone into my head. That has gone into my system. I remember early morning unless you come and sit in front of his puja, I will not feel that day is going smooth. Anything happens- if I lose my pencil or pen I will think, “Today I did not attend the puja.” So it was life and after some time because the very inner self was enjoying it becomes such a big joy. I tell you; uninterrupted spiritual routine I learned from him. I am so happy, he did it till the day he died. The day he died, he did puja, went to hospital and passed away by afternoon.
I tell you, some of the best moments of my life was when I was serving Arunagiri Yogishwara, Raghupathi Yogi, and a great sadhu in Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Gautamananda. Of course, Swami Gautamananda will never even imagine I will still be carrying so much of love and reverence and respect for him in my heart but the time I served him, I got an insider’s view of a powerful sadhu’s life. Understand, he was not an ordinary sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order; he was one of the Trustees. Ramakrishna Mission has only eleven Trustees, and he was one, and a senior Trustee. I think he now even gives initiation. In Ramakrishna Mission, only one or two people are allowed to give initiation in the whole Order. He is one of the two-three who give initiation, Mantra Deeksha. So, such a top-level sadhu. When I had the possibility to see his life very closely….Wow! I tell you, the amount of integrity and purity with the whole day spent, the amount of integrity and purity used even to take administrative decisions of the organization, not just the personal decisions, even the administrative decisions of the organization! I tell you, as long as we remain pure, we retain our integrity even in our administrative decisions, we will continue to exist.
Understand, he was not an ordinary sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order; he was one of the trustees. Ramakrishna Mission has only eleven trustees, and he was one, and a senior trustee. I think he now even gives initiation. In Ramakrishna Mission, only one or two people are allowed to give initiation in the whole order. He is one of the two-three who give initiation, mantra deeksha. So, such a top-level sadhu. When I had the possibility to see his life very closely….Wow! I tell you, the amount of integrity and purity with the whole day spent, the amount of integrity and purity used even to take administrative decisions of the organization, not just the personal decisions, even the administrative decisions of the organization! I tell you, as long as we remain pure, we retain our integrity even in our administrative decisions, we will continue to exist.
Please understand, Hinduism never existed based on the definitions of the West, but we existed in our own way and will continue to exist in our own way. Sanatana Hindu Dharma will continue to exist as long as we carry integrity and purity even in our administrative decisions. For example, one guy, when he is forty-five, he becomes CEO of the Company. The time he was an ordinary manager, or deputy manager reporting to manager, that time he always remembers with lot of pain: how he has to run around getting tea, tiffin, breakfast for his seniors, and how he has to report. Always the CEOs remember when they were in the bottom rung of the ladder, that period, with a lot of pain and not that comfortable. But, I tell you, I remember my early days with so much of comfort, love, respect, reverence, and the great lessons I learned from this great sadhu. Even while doing the administration, even the administrative decisions where he has to choose, he will tell me, “Hey, Guru Maharaj [Shri Ramakrishna] says he can give up everything, but not Sathya (truth). So, let us stand by that and take decision.’ I used to think in those days that people only preach, but when it comes to their administrative decisions, they will see what is practical. But, never I have seen Swami Gautamanandaji taking any decision based on the idea of practicality. He will always be spiritual in his decision. Which is right as per Dharma, he will only look into that. I tell you, it really, really, really helped me constantly to align myself.
Even while doing the administration, even the administrative decisions where he has to choose, he will tell me, “Hey, Guru Maharaj [Shri Ramakrishna] says he can give up everything, but not sathya (truth). So, let us stand by that and take decision.”
I used to think in those days that people only preach, but when it comes to their administrative decisions, they will see what is practical. But, never I have seen Swami Gautamanandaji taking any decision based on the idea of practicality. He will always be spiritual in his decision. Which is right as per Dharma, he will only look into that. I tell you, it really, really, really helped me constantly to align myself.
Please understand, if you see somebody constantly aligning themselves to Dharma around you, you will be inspired constantly to align yourself to Dharma. This is the whole theme of teamily. Now, when I look back, I see that without even having this concept of teamily, I automatically had all this kind of ambiance and teachings in my life. I was looking back thinking who were my teamily who put me in Advaitha, who always reminded me to be in the space of Advaitha. When I look back, all my acharyas, teachers, gurus with whomever I got to spend time, all of them acted as a teamily, starting from Annamalai Swamigal, Arunagiri Yogishwara, Kuppammal, Raghupathi Yogi. I can say, I never had a single guru; I had a teamily as my Guru! My teamily was my Guru! All of them have contributed so much in me stabilizing myself into the space of Advaitha. Arunagiri Yogishwara, he supported me in a totally different level, the level of bio-memory. Raghupathi, he supported me in the very core of the body, the level of the physical completion with the body. Kuppammal, she supported me in vedanta, the vedic mind. Each one of them supported me from one space. Annamalai Swamigal gave that advaitha anubhooti, the advaithic experience.
Gautamanandaji contributed authenticity in administration. I tell you, I don’t have any problem, I will not restrain myself to praise him, because I have seen so many mathadhipathis, peethadhipathis, adheenams, guru mahasannidhanams, gurus, leaders, who administrate an organization. But, while even when they are administrating, the amount of integrity to what they believe! You see, what they believe is highest or not, we don’t need to bother; that will automatically grow till enlightenment, and grow, grow, grow, expand; but whatever they believe, being authentic to that.
In this scale if I see, I can never compare anybody with Gautamanandaji. He is altogether a different class! He will go to the extreme of how a person got the money which he donates to the organization; to that extent he will go! If he sees that person’s business and personal decision-making cognition, his lifestyle, or business decisions are immoral, he will not touch that money. He will not accept from them.
He will say, “No!” Even if he is told, “No, it was not illegal.” he will say very clearly, “I don’t bother about law; I bother about Dharma!”
He will not touch anything immoral. Even if the money comes from a person who has not earned it in a moral way, if he gets the tip or some information, he will say, “No! Reject!”
That kind of integrity in every step! Hats off to their integrity and strength which they infused into me. I tell you, the teamily will constantly remind you to get into the space of powerfulness. Because of that attitude, the kind of power he commanded on himself and others….Wow! The grace with which he lived! When I was serving him, he must be about sixty-five or seventy. At that age, the kind of power he had over his mind or his body! Night till two o’clock, he will be sitting and doing japa; means, repeating mantra, the ishta mantra! And the command over his body! At that age, I have seen, he will run and do Sirshasana [head stand]! He will run and just stand upside down! At that age, the command over his body and the command he had over his mind!
I tell you, when you are integrated and authentic in your decisions, when you are integrated and authentic in your every-day thinking, the command over your body and mind you will have, and the powerfulness you will enjoy over your body and mind!
I tell you, when I look back, the way my teamily supported me, molded me~ having a teamily is having a living Master twenty-four hours around you, literally living with the Master! Sometimes, even Master feels bored, ‘Alright, what to tell! Okay…it is okay…I will tell him later on.’ But the teamily has so many mouths, they will never be tired, they will go on telling you! That is the power of teamily!
Understand, the teamily can support you and stabilize you in the space of Advaitha in all directions. It can make you feel powerful in every level. The way Arunagiri Yogishwara contributed, he made the whole Cosmos as my teamily!