Spiritual saga of seventy steps

Celebration

Come last week of May every year, the foot of Chamundi Hill on Ooty road, comes alive in celebration. A magic starts unfolding as thousands from all over the world congregate to celebrate the birth of a simple man of many dimensions. N Niranjan Nikam visits the Sri Ganapati Sachichidananda Ashrama, even as the 70th birthday celebrations of the swamiji are on, to fathom the myths, the fantasies and the miracles of this supreme being. 

A myriad of thoughts waft through the mind, lying reclined on the beautifully designed soft sofa with ear phones on, listening to the soothing voice of the Sri Ganapati Sachichidananda Swami and his music at the Nada Yoga Raga Sagara Research Centre in the Sri Ganapati Sachichiananda Ashrama premises on Ooty Road. 

As one of the disciples Siddartha guides me to the third floor wanting me to see the music room, after having seen the lovely Bonsai garden and the Nakshatra garden, the mind should have adjusted to the many miracles on display. But being the skeptic that I am and already lost in mundane thoughts, it hits hard to enter the music room suddenly to experience one more miracle.

It was just about a week ago, sitting at the feet of the Goddess Rajarajeshwari in the private chambers, listening to the simple thoughts of the swami, the only thought that came to my mind was, here is a man who can only be described as ‘innocence personified.’

No wonder, one of his closest disciples, H V Prasad, 44, the articulate trustee in the ashram when asked to describe his 32 years of experience with the swami, told City Herald, “It is once in a million years experience. I do not have an atomic second of regret.” 

Prasad had just then come from overseeing the work at the Nada Mantapa, and sitting in his office, where one of the most beautiful photographs ever seen of the swami sitting with each and every detail of the body, the clean palms, the flowing white beard, the orange ochre robes, the benign smile, it was almost like he was having a private conversation with his disciple.

And truly, when I asked the swami about his disciple, he said, “He is like my pen which never runs out of ink.”

Every year come the swami’s birthday, there is a contribution to the city of Mysore. As a result over the years there are many tourist attractions the ashram has been offering. This year it is going to be the 70-foot Anjaneya idol that is going to be installed in December in the ashram premises. 

How do such things transpire? “For five years we had been looking for a proper stone and the time has come now to install it,” said the swami and adds Prasad, “December 26 is Hanuman jayanti and we plan to install it then. The stone is quartzite granite and it was found in Mallela village in Cuddapah district in Andhra Pradesh. It weighed 300 tons and once it is sculpted it will be weighing 190 to 200 tons. The swamiji shifted the location of the idol by 30 feet. We had to approach the corporation again for permission to shift the idol.”

Swamiji’s constant mantra is to be humble with the people. It was in ample evidence on the first day of his birthday celebrations on May 31. Everyone was in awe of the swami. But he looked like he was untouched by all the trappings and the happenings surrounding him. The Nada Mantapa was packed with more than six to eight thousand people occupying every inch of the space patiently waiting for the swami’s arrival, to watch the pada pooja. 

How could he have a calendar of events for the whole year set in advance when he himself says that he cannot give guarantee for anything? “I still maintain I cannot give guarantee for anything. It is the disciples, the devotees who plan everything. I do not expect you to believe in anything. But if you have faith in God then everything falls into place,” said the swami.

Swami is going to perform in the Royal Albert Hall, London on September 22.  How did this come about? “In 1976 when I was on a tour of England, after seeing various tourist places, I was taken to the Royal Albert Hall. The volunteers came to know of my interest in music and they arranged to take me inside. But I did not step inside. I told them I will come to perform one day. It has taken 36 years for it to happen,” he recalled.

Ask him why he did not start educational institutions like some of the mutts for instance, he said, “May be even I would have started them like many mutts have done. But they all started it much before independence and I was too young to start then. I do my own little bit for the cause of education and I do not want to talk about it.”

He has already appointed his successor Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha, 36. “I found in him a suitable successor who has mastered the Vedas and the shastras. It was always painful for me when the many seers who came here accepted my offerings but did not really accept them. Now with his appointment, they have also started accepting me,” he said mysteriously.

Chancing upon his personal physician Dr M A Shekar, I asked him how was swamiji’s health and he said, “he is fit and fine.” What is the secret? He replied, “Swamiji is still like a child, he is so innocent and that is the secret of his health.”

How true. Whether one believes in the miracles or not just look at the ashram and one can fathom every inch of it.

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