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Spiritual Ministration

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Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj Life & Spiritual Ministration
2.
Initiation into Tapo Marg

 

The life of Sathyaraju so far is the ordinary story of an ordinary village boy.  Though Sathyaraju undoubtedly possessed certain exceptional qualities of character, there was nothing discernible in his mental make-up, or in the course his life had taken so far, which would mark him out as one destined for a life of spiritual striving and extra-ordinary spiritual attainments.  On the contrary, his ambitions and his endeavors until now were solely centered around redeeming his family from poverty, and on ensuring for them a prosperous future.  But fate had decreed otherwise.  As subsequent events will show, Sathyaraju had come to this world for an altogether different purpose; he was destined to follow the path trod by the ancient Seers of Bharat Varsha, for he belonged to that elite company of Mahatmas, Rishis and Maha Rishis who have, in unbroken succession, blessed the sacred soul of our country from the very beginning of time.

Those who are interested in astrology and allied sciences would, in all likelihood, be aware of a remarkable collection of writings on this subject known as the Bhrigu Nadi and the Kumar Nadi;  The Bhrigu Nadi is reputed to have been written by Sage Bhrigu and is in Sanskrit;  the Kumar Nadi, similarly, is reputed to have been written by Kumar Swami and is in classical Tamil.  Both these works deal with astrological predictions based on individual horoscopes, and if the relevant horoscope can be traced, an unbelievably accurate and detailed account can be found in it of the past births, present life and future births of the person concerned.  In this context it is mentioned as a matter of interest that many years later, when the Bhrigu Nadi and the Kumar Nadi pertaining to Sathyaraju’s horoscope were taken out and read, the pundits reading them out, as also those listening to them, were alike awed and wonder-struck by the divine personality of him that the horoscope revealed;  it is also interesting to note that both the Bhrigu Nadi and the Kumar Nadi corroborated each other.  Speaking of the past, the Nadis revealed that Sathyaraju had taken twenty seven earlier births, which read like a spiritual “who is who”.  These former births were Sanaka (one of the four sons of Brahma);  Suka (Suka Mahamuni, the son of Vyas who propagated the Srimad Bhagawatam to Parikshit);  Shivadeva;  Gyaneshwara;  Jayanti;  Tulsidas (renowned as the author of the Ramacharithramanas);  Kabir (the well known poet saint);  Rajabhushan;  Namdev;  Mahadev;  Jai Chandra;  Mahabala;  Nityananda;  Bhavananda;  Sri Chandra (eldest son of Guru Nanak who founded the Udasi set of Sanyasis;  this birth of his is also referred to by Tapaswiji Maharaj as will be mentioned in a later part of this book);  Lahiripatti (Lahiri Maharaj, the Guru of Swami Yogananda);  Parameshwar Prasad;  Rama Shastri;  Guru Arjun Dev;  Shivaji (the great king and Hero of Maharashtra);  Gadadhara (Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa);  Pani Mohan Bhattacharya and finally, the present birth as Sathyaraju.  Writing about the present birth, both the Nadis accurately describe the initiation into Tapomarga and devote an entire chapter entitled “Balayogibhava Charitra”, which gives a detailed account of the Tapasya that Sathyaraju would undertake.  After completion of this Tapasya, the Nadis predict a life devoted to spiritual ministration and spiritual upliftment of all mankind, both in India and abroad.

The Initiation — Sunday, 7th August 1949

Initiation into TapasThe foregoing account of the Nadis and their predictions has been included as a mailer of interest only.  The authenticity one attaches to these is a matter of one’s personal belief.  In any case at the time we write about, all these events lay in future.  On Sunday, the 7th August 1949 (Shravan Shukla Chaturdashi of Virodhi Samvatsara), Sathyaraju was exactly 14 years, six months and 14 days old; nothing had happened in his life so far to presage the extraordinary events of this momentous day, as consequence of which an ordinary village boy was transformed into a Bala-Yogi and was to eventually emerge after a period of 12 long years of Tapasya, as a Siddha Purusha and Jivan Mukta, known to the world at large as Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj and to his disciples and followers as Sri Swamiji.  It is best to recount the happenings of this day in Sri Swamiji’s own words:—

“On the day preceding the great event, i.e. on Saturday the 6th August 1949, there was no inkling in my mind of what was in store for me in the next day. I was preoccupied with the thought that I had to go to Kakinada to bring back my mother and my Nanaji (maternal grandfather);  as I would require money for this trip, I spent most of the day collecting dues from people who owed me money for purchases made from my shop.”

“On Sunday the 7th August 1949, I had a light breakfast of rice and curds and went out to play with my friends. We played marbles from 6a.m. to 2.p.m. I appeared to have a winning streak that day and won all the games. Around 2 p.m. I began to feel hungry and so I decided to go home. I retained the cash I had won, but distributed the winnings of marbles among my friends. I then bought some vegetables and took them home to my sister, to be cooked for my lunch.”

“While I was waiting for my lunch to he ready, my friend Gangaraju came to my place and suggested that I accompany him for a bath in the Godavari Canal which flows on the outskirts of our village.  I replied that I was feeling rather hungry and weak and hence did not feel inclined to go.  However, Gangaraju persisted and as my sister said that lunch would not be ready for another half an hour at least, I agreed to accompany Gangaraju.  When we reached the canal, we found the game of marbles still going on and we joined in. I again won.  It was by now nearing 3 p.m. and as I was feeling very hungry, I purchased and ate two vadas and drank a cup of coffee from a nearby hotel, with the money I had just won.”

“We then started off for the canal for our bath.  On the way there was a grove of palmyra trees and as we were passing this grove, three palmyra fruit fell down of their own accord.  The boys who were with me ran to pick them up and, as I was the acknowledged leader of our group, they brought the fruit over to me.  A palmyra fruit can be broken into four equal pieces; as there was twelve of us, including myself and Gangaraju, I distributed the twelve pieces equally, taking one for myself.”

“After the snack of vadas and coffee at the hotel, I had lit a cheroot and was still smoking it;  with the cheroot stuck in my mouth, I peeled the palmyra fruit and started squeezing it to extract the juice.  Just then, for no accountable reason, my body began trembling all over;  I was wondering what had happened to me when all of sudden I saw a ‘Jyoti’ (light) emerging from the fruit in my hand; almost simultaneously, the “Omkar Dhvani” (the sound of ‘Om’) also started coming from the fruit.  Mesmerised, I continued to stare at the palmyra fruit; the Divine light and sound emerging from the fruit engulfed me in blissful waves, as a result of which the trembling of my body ceased in my mind became calm and peaceful.”

“As I continued to observe this strange phenomenon, the fruit I had been holding disappeared and I saw instead a Shiva Linga in my hand;  this Shiva Linga was black in colour and approximately a foot or a foot and half in height;  the ‘Omkar Shabad’ continued to resound all this while and the Shiva Linga continued to emit the same dazzling light.  I was watching this Shiva Linga intensely when all at once it broke into two half pieces and fell apart, (it was at this time, I think, that the palmyra fruit also fell from my hand),and a man in the attire of a ‘Jangam Devar’* stood before me.  This man was well over seven feet tall, with a strong, well knit and beautifully proportioned body.  He had a dark complexion and an extremely handsome and attractive appearance, with large and beautiful eyes;  his long ‘Jata’ (matted hair worn by Yogis) was piled up on his head in the manner of the Rishis of yore;  he had a necklace of Rudraksh beads, with a small Shiva Linga suspended from this necklace resting on his broad chest;  he wore a white dhoti, again in the manner of the old Rishis.  A bright effulgence emanated from his being which blotted out all other vision;  I could only see this Yogi, surrounded by a bright radiance, and nothing else.  The Yogi spoke to me in Telugu and asked me to sit down.  I asked, ‘Why do you want me to sit down?’  But the Yogi again repeated his command to me to ‘sit’.  So I sat down.  He then told me to sit in ‘Padma Asana’ (the lotus posture).  I replied that I did not know how to sit in Padma Asana.  Thereupon the Yogi placed my feet in the correct position and made me sit in Padma Asana.  He then told me to close my eyes.  I once again protested:  ‘Why do you want me to close my eyes?’  He replied:  ‘Close your eyes, then I will tell you’.  So I closed my eyes.  He then touched me at the Bhrikuti, (the spot between the eyebrows) with his middle finger and gently tapped me on the head;  immediately I lost outer consciousness and went into deep samadhi.  I became totally unaware of my body and my surroundings;  all I could see was the same black Shiva Linga that had appeared earlier in my hand, surrounded by dazzling light, and all I could hear was the ‘Omkar Dhvani’;  my mind was completely absorbed in this vision and sound, to the exclusion of everything else.”

*  [Jangam Devar: A sect of devotees of Bhawan Shankar.]

While this spiritual drama was being enacted, it is interesting to note that the other boys, the playmates of Sathyaraju, heard or saw nothing;  they were absorbed in eating their share of the palmyra fruit or in simply playing around.  However, they soon noticed that Sathyaraju, instead of joining them in their play, was sitting apart in a yogic posture, with eyes closed.  Thinking that he was play-acting the role of a Sadhu, they first began to tease him and when they got no response, they became more rough.  Some tried to pull him out of his Padma Asana posture, whilst others punched and slapped him.  Finding him unmoved, they then smeared the juice of the Palmyra fruit, as also mud brought from the canal, all over his body.  When Sathyaraju failed to react even to this, they carried him bodily to the canal and put him in the water.  But Sathyaraju was totally unconscious of this ill treatment being meted out to him by his playmates and hence there was still no response from him. By now it became apparent to the boys that this was no play-acting on Sathyaraju’s part, but at the same time they could not make out what had come over him.  His unconscious and seemingly lifeless condition frightened them.  Apprehensive that they might be accused of having caused this condition, they washed off the dirt they had smeared on his body, carried him out of the canal and seated him on the canal bund.  They then ran home and informed his relatives that something strange and inexplicable had happened to Sathyaraju.

It will be recalled that Sathyaraju’s mother and maternal grandfather had both gone to Kakinada.  So when the news about Sathyaraju’s strange condition reached his home his uncle, accompanied by four or five other persons, went to the spot where Sathyaraju was silting in samadhi.  Bewildered and not knowing what to do, they simply stood around watching him.  One among them, a person named Gora Mallanna ventured to suggest that Sathyaraju was probably possessed by a ghost or a spirit; in order to exorcise this supposed spirit, he began belabouring the boy with a stout, wooden club that he was carrying;  in the process, he accidentally struck Sathyaraju on the same spot between the eyebrows where the boy’s Divine Guru had touched him.  As a result of this blow, Sathyaraju’s deep samadhi broke and he regained just enough consciousness of his surroundings to realize that some people were standing around him but that was about all; the vision of the Shiva Linga, surrounded by dazzling light, continued as before and this obstructed his normal vision.  He vaguely recognised his uncle among the group around him and he asked him for a dhoti to put on in place of the shorts that he was wearing.  His uncle gave him a piece of cloth that he was carrying and when Sathyaraju got up to put on this cloth, two among the group took hold of him by the arms, one on either side, and more or less carried him home. All this while those who had come to see Sathyaraju were pestering him with all sorts of questions, in order to decipher the strange condition in which they found him.  Some asked him if he had been possessed by a ghost or a spirit;  others asked whether the village deity had possessed him;  some others wanted to know whether he had become a Sadhu.  But Sathyaraju made no reply;  he was only dimly aware of what was going on around him and his mind in any case was almost totally absorbed in the Divine Vision of the Shiva Linga that remained continuously in front of his eyes.

When the party reached Sathyaraju’s house, the boy found that his legs had become stiff like wood and he could not negotiate the verandah steps;  so he was carried up onto the verandah, but as they tried to take him inside the house, his legs got stuck on the door still and, try as they might, the people who were with him could neither bend his legs, nor take him through the door.  After futile attempts towards this end, for over an hour, they finally gave up and decided to make him sit down in the outer verandah of the house;  even this they accomplished with great difficulty.  In the meantime. word of what had happened had spread in the village and people in large numbers thronged to see Sathyaraju.  They kept pestering him with the same sort of questions as had been put to him earlier and when their questioning elicited no response from Sathyaraju, they began to conjecture amongst themselves.  Some said he was possessed by some occult spirit;  others diagnosed it as hysteria and some contemptuously dismissed it as bluff and play-acting.  Only one amongst the assembled crowd appeared to have an inkling of Sathyaraju’s true state;  he was an old man of 60 years, a Harijan, named Peddakamaraju, who made bold to suggest that Sathyaraju, under some Divine influence, had been transformed into a Yogi.

Though Sathyaraju had missed his mid-day meal as a consequence of these unforeseen events, and though he had been very hungry when he started off to have a bath in the canal, Sathyaraju’s appetite had vanished;  he felt no inclination to eat and declined to take any food.  Notwithstanding his refusal, his relatives forced him to take some milk.  Then as time passed, the initial excitement soon wore off, and by about 8 p.m. that evening people began to return to their homes though some, more curious than the others, stayed onto see what would happen next.  These people kept sitting around Sathyaraju, talking amongst themselves and as the night advanced, dropped off to sleep, one by one.  Around 11 p.m. that night, Sathyaraju at last found himself alone, all the others having gone off to sleep.  The Divine Vision of the Shiva Linga surrounded by the bright radiance was still continuing and so also was the Omkar Shabad.  It now entered Sathyaraju’s mind to go back to the canal bund where the Divine Experience had been originally vouchsafed to him.  When he got up to go, one of the boys, Govinda, also awoke and tried to follow him, but Sathyaraju gave him the slip and made his way back to the same spot where his Divine Guru had first made him sit down.  But when he sat there again, he found that he could not now close his eyes.  However, this caused no hindrance to his dhyana for he continued to see the Divine Vision even with his eyes open and his mind remained fully absorbed in this Vision.  Soon after he reached the canal bund, it began to rain heavily and the rain continued throughout the night, but Sathyaraju was quite indifferent to all this; even though he was thoroughly drenched, it did not occur to him to move to some other place where he could get shelter from the rain.

The Second Day — Monday the 8th August 1949

Next morning, i.e. on Monday the 8th August 1949, a Harijan boy named Pantapatti Viraraju, brought and offered some raw milk which Sathyaraju accepted and consumed.  Soon after, villagers who were curious to know what had happened to Sathyaraju came to his house and, when they did not find him at home, they came to the canal bund to see him.  Finding that the boy was being drenched by the rain, they carried him to a Banyan tree near the village and seated him under the tree; they then placed a palmyra leaf umbrella over him to protect him from the rain. While all this was happening, Sathyaraju was aware of the activity around him, but was totally indifferent to what was going on.  As his eyes continued to remain open, he could see the people around him, but only as shadowy figures flitting in the background of the bright vision that remained steady and constant before his eyes.  If some faces came into focus, he would vaguely remember that he had seen them some where before but he could neither recall their names, nor did it occur to him that they were his friends or relatives or fellow villagers; for the fact of the mailer was that the touch of his Divine Guru had obliterated these thoughts from his mind and, at one go, had snapped all his early connections.

Though it rained throughout the day Sathyaraju was quite oblivious to it;  he continued to sit under the make-shift shelter of the palmyra leaf umbrella. totally absorbed in the vision that he continued to see all the time.  At or around 9 p.m. that night, some Harijan boys who were passing by heard the ‘Omkara Dhvani’ emanating from the spot where Sathyaraju was sitting.  Not knowing what this strange sound was, they ran and informed the people in the village.  Some villagers came to investigate and they too heard the ‘Omkara Dhvani’ coming from that direction;  this continued for nearly three quarters of an hour whilst the villagers stood at a distance, listening to it in awed silence.  Eventually, when this sound ceased, they made bold to approach Sathyaraju, lifted him up and carried him to his house.

At home, his sister gave him some milk to drink.  After he had consumed the milk, the Divine fervor that had gripped his mind so far abated somewhat and as Sathyaraju felt drowsy, he went to sleep.  Little did he know then that this was the last proper sleep that he was going to have for a long time to come for, during the twelve long years of Tapas that followed, Sathyaraju hardly ever slept at all.  He may have dozed off once in a while, for a few minutes, during breaks in his samadhi, and that too without ever leaving his seat or ‘asana’, but he never lay down to sleep again during the rest of the Tapas period.

Third Day — Tuesday the 9th August 1949

Balayogi, one year of tapasAfter a refreshing night’s sleep, Sathyaraju got up and at about 6-30 a.m. he partook of a light breakfast of idlies and chutney which his sister had prepared for him.  When he had finished his breakfast, the Divine Vision of the Siva Linga, surrounded by light, and the sound of the ‘Omkara Dhvani’ once again gripped his mind and so he went back to the canal bund where he had first had the Divine Experience.  On reaching there he felt severe bodily discomfort, which was followed by vomiting and diarrhea.  At that time one of his playmates, Govinda, who had accompanied him, looked after him and tended to his needs.  Soon after, he became absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Vision.

Later that morning, a lady from the village came to where Sathyaraju was sitting on the canal bund and with firm faith that Sathyaraju was now a Bala-Yogi (boy yogi), she worshipped him with incense and flowers, and made an offering of a coconut.  Having finished her worship, she distributed pieces of the coconut as prasad.  That same morning some of the villagers of their own accord decided to erect a pandal of palmyra leaves for Sathyaraju, under the nearby Banyan tree.  The construction of this pandal was completed by about 3-30 p.m.  The same villagers then approached Sathyaraju and requested him to sit under the newly erected pandal;  Sathyaraju agreed to their request and took his seat there.

At about 5.30 p.m. that evening, Sathyaraju’s mother and grandfather returned home from Kakinada.  When they were informed of the strange happenings of the past two days, they became greatly alarmed and immediately rushed off to the canal bund in order to ascertain the true state of affairs.  On reaching there, they observed Sathyaraju seated under the Palmyra leaf pandal, beneath the Banyan tree, absorbed in Samadhi.  Deeply agitated both Parvathamma and Goli Sathyam repeatedly called out to the boy by his name, but there was no response.  Sathyaraju was oblivious of the outer world and totally unaware of their presence.  Seeing her son in that condition, Parvathamma could not control herself and became almost hysterical;  weeping loudly, she clasped the boy to her bosom and began asking what had come over him to make him behave in this inexplicable manner.  The loud wailing and sobbing of his mother gradually brought Sathyaraju back to conscious awareness of his surroundings.  Observing that her son was now aware of her presence, Parvathamma beseeched him, with tears copiously flowing from her eyes all the while, to return home with her.  Sathyaraju’s mind was by now totally detached from worldly relationships and hence he was unmoved by his mother’s tears and pleading; he calmly told her that he had embarked on The Divine Quest and that he would not leave this blessed path and go back home.  Having said that he sat back, totally detached, and no amount of weeping or protestations by his mother could make him relent.  Finding that the boy was firmly resolved to continue on his chosen path, his Grandfather blessed him saying that the path he had chosen to follow was no doubt excellent and hence he should adhere to it resolutely.  At the same time he could not help expressing his disappointment.  He told Sathyaraju that they had looked upon him as the hope of the family and the prop of their old age; now there would be nobody to look after them.  In reply to this Sathyaraju assured them that they would not have to face any problems, financial or otherwise, and that everything would be well with the family.

After this brief conversation, Sathyaraju closed his eyes and again passed into samadhi.  The grief stricken mother however, could not bear to leave him sitting there and return home alone.  Not knowing what to do next, nor knowing how to resolve this strange situation, she too sat down nearby, perplexed and disconsolate.  From time to time she would look al her son and then weep softly into the folds of her saree.  On one such occasion, as she looked up towards Sathyaraju, there suddenly flashed before her eyes the entrancing vision of the ‘Trimurti’ (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh).  Thinking that it was a hallucination, she rubbed her eyes and looked again;  the vision was still there in all its dazzling splendor and soul enthralling beauty.  Now, whichever way she looked she saw only the ‘Trimurti’ and nothing else.  How long this lasted, she was unable to tell, for time itself had come to a standstill.  This vision made her realise that her son was under Divine protection and she need not fear for him any longer.  This brought peace to her troubled mind and she returned home happy and contented.

Early Difficulties

Though Parvathamma was thus reassured by the Divine Vision, her motherly heart continued to remain solicitous about Sathyaraju’s well-being and so she endeavoured to feed him and look after him.  However, Sathyaraju declined to accept her services and went to the extent of dissuading her from visiting him.  This grieved Parvathamma, but she had no choice except to comply.  At this stage Gora Mallanna, whose house was adjoining the place where the Bala-Yogi sat, took it upon himself to look after the young Yogi.  Though well intentioned, Gora Mallanna was totally unversed in spiritual matters;  it may be recalled that he was the same person who had awoken Sathyaraju from his initial Samadhi by striking him with a club, in the mistaken belief that he was possessed by a spirit.  Now this Gora Mallanna remembered having heard somewhere that the great Rishis of yore, when doing Tapas, used to draw sustenance from Vayu (air) alone.  He therefore, advised Sathyaraju to do likewise and Sathyaraju agreed to his suggestion.  In pursuance of this suggested course of action, Gora Mallanna began to gradually reduce the meagre quantity of fruit and milk that Sathyaraju was taking.  Eventually, he stopped giving him anything altogether, with the result that now Sathyaraju was taking no nourishment at all.  When mother Parvathamma heard of this, she was greatly agitated;  taking some milk with her she went to where her son was sitting and beseeched him to partake of the milk.  Moved by her entreaties, Sathyaraju drank the milk she had brought.  This greatly annoyed Gora Mallanna who remonstrated with the Bala-Yogi but Sathyaraju simply answered that he could not refuse anything when it was offered to him with love and devotion.  This further annoyed Gora Mallanna who angrily retorted:  “If I bring meat, will you eat that also?”  The Bala-Yogi looked at him calmly and then, in a soft voice, said: “Yes; if you offer it with Bhakti (devotion), I shall eat it.”  Gora Mallanna, however, was not mollified and stomped off home in a rage saying that henceforth he would have nothing more to do with the Yogi.  From that day onwards he not only stopped rendering the small services that he was doing for the Yogi, but began to actively deride him also.

It is a strange but an inevitable fact that when an aspirant sets out on the spiritual path, he always finds detractors putting obstacles in his way.  This happened in the case of Sathyaraju also.  Though the people, by and large, had come to recognise Sathyaraju as a Bala-Yogi, and were treating him with veneration, there were nevertheless some among them who failed to see the light.  Prompted by envy, or, simply to create mischief, they would subject the young Yogi to all sons of torments, when he was immersed in samadhi, particularly when there was no one around to check their misdemeanours.  When Gora Mallana left in a huff mother Parvathamma began ministering to the needs of her son.  However, she could not remain by his side all the time and when she left him to go home, some of the boys who had feared and disliked Sathyaraju, but had not dared to show open hostility towards him earlier, would now creep up and beat him to their hearts’ content.  On one occasion, some particularly venomous individual soaked a piece of cloth in kerosene, set it alight and threw it on the Bala-Yogi when he was sitting in Samadhi.  As Sathyaraju was quite oblivious of his body, the neither knew nor felt anything at that time and so the lighted cloth caused deep and painful burns on his hands and legs.  Disregarding the excruciating pain from these burns, the Bala-Yogi continued his Tapas as before.  When word about this incident spread in the village, one kindly old man prepared an ointment for these burns; he came daily and applied the ointment to the affected parts even while the Yogi sat immersed in samadhi and then quietly went back.  Through the ministration of this good man the bums gradually healed up but the scars left by these burns can be seen even to this day.

Though most people by now believed that Sathyaraju was genuinely engaged in Tapas, still there were the usual crop of doubters who scoffed at the whole idea.  One such person was a man named Dora Viraraju, a resident of Adivarapupeta.  Dora Viraraju decided to take it upon himself to expose the Bala-Yogi and, for this purpose, he solicited the assistance of a friend of his, one Chinta Suranna, who was an Ayurvedic Pundit hailing from Someshwara near Ramachandrapuram.  One evening both these persons came to where the Bala-Yogi was sitting under his pandal of Palmyra leaves, ostensibly for his darshan, and then waited there until everybody had left.  As soon as they were alone with the Bala-Yogi, Chinta Suranna, in order to lest the intensity of the Yogi’s Samadhi, pulled out his legs so as to unlock the Yogi’s Padma Asana posture.  He succeeded in pulling out the legs but they remained where he left them.  He then tried to awaken the Yogi from Samadhi by prying open one of his eyelids with his fingers;  his eyelid too remained half opened, but the Yogi’s samadhi continued undisturbed.  Having some knowledge of these things, Suranna was by now convinced that the Yogi’s Samadhi was genuine and he fell abashed for what he had done.  He now tried to close the half opened eyelid and put the Yogi back into the Padma Asana posture but his efforts were of no avail.  He struggled at this task through most of the night but could not succeed.  Finally, when the Yogi emerged form his samadhi, Suranna fell at this feet and begged his pardon for what he had done.  The Bala-Yogi smiled and readily forgave him.  Next morning Suranna went to meet Parvathamma.  He told her that her son was a ‘Mahatma’ and he entreated her to look after him well.

Sojourn at Pasalapudi Ashram

The Bala-Yogi put up with these varied torments for full two months without letting them affect his Tapas, but continued disturbances of this nature began to eventually affect his peace of mind.  He would often restrain himself from going into samadhi lest his tormentors took advantage of his unconscious stage to inflict further tortures on him.  On such occasions, when he was in deep dhyana but not in samadhi, he often caught people in the act of trying to beat him in the mistaken belief that he was lost in samadhi; the startled culprits would then plead forgiveness and he would let them go.  Be that as it may, he finally got fed up and decided to move away from there so that he could carry on his Tapas undisturbed.  Ruminating in his mind as to where he could find a peaceful place for his Tapas, he remembered having heard of an Ashram at Pasalapudi, a village approximately eight kilometres from Adivarapupeta, where a sadhu was reputed to be engaged in Tapas.  Hoping that this Ashram might meet his requirement, he left for Pasalapudi at 10 p.m. one October night, barely two months after he had begun his Tapas.  He found the Ashram he was looking for but as he entered, the sadhu who was inside began making weird noises; apparently, the sadhu had assumed that some vagabond youngster was trying to gain entry into the Ashram by stealth and had made these noises to frighten him away.  The Bala-Yogi, on the other hand, interpreted this strange behaviour of the sadhu to imply that the sadhu did not want to be disturbed and so the young Yogi withdrew and came and sat outside.  Now it so happened that during those days communist bands used to roam the countryside in that area, trying to terrorize the villagers.  In self-defense every village had organised posses of armed men who used to patrol the area around their respective villages and apprehend any suspicious characters who they may find loitering in or around the village.  One such posse happened to pass by the Ashram and they saw this young boy, who was obviously a stranger, sitting outside.  They immediately surrounded the boy and started interrogating him.  In the stale of mind in which he was, the Bala-Yogi could barely comprehend what was going on, let alone answer their questions coherently.  This strange behaviour of the boy further aroused the suspicion of the villagers and an ugly situation might have developed.  Fortunately, just then, one of the men recognised the boy as the Bala-Yogi of Adivarapupeta.  When the posse learnt that the Bala-Yogi had come to Pasalapudi to stay at the Ashram, they called out the manager of the Ashram and had the Bala-Yogi conducted inside.  After accommodating the young Yogi, the manager asked him that sadhana he was practising.  The Bala-Yogi could hardly give a satisfactory reply, because he had followed no specific sadhana;  he had simply become immersed in samadhi as a result of the Divine Touch of his Guru.  So he simply answered “I don’t know.”  “If that be the case,” said the manager pompously, “I shall initiate you.  From now on, repeat the Mantra “Sadguru” at all times.”  With that he left him and went back to bed.  The Bala-Yogi, at last finding himself alone and undisturbed, went back into samadhi.  Next morning the manager came to see him again and promptly inquired whether the Bala-Yogi had done Japa (repetition) of the Mantra that he had given him.  When the Bala-Yogi replied in the negative, the manager was visibly annoyed.

Karri Subbi Reddy, who was president of the Pasalapudi village council and who also controlled the running of the Ashram, visited the Ashram later in the morning.  On seeing him arrive, the sadhu who was staying there got up deferentially, did ‘namaskar’ and urged the Bala-Yogi to do the same.  However, the Bala-Yogi continued sitting unconcerned, immersed in Dhyana.  Reddy, who was full of his own self-importance, felt offended at being ignored in this manner.  Barely suppressing his annoyance, he curtly asked the Bala-Yogi what diet he was taking.  The Bala-Yogi replied that his diet was restricted to milk only.  There upon he peremptorily told the Bala-Yogi that milk could not be made available for him and that he need not stay at the Ashram any longer.  The attitude of these Ashram functionaries made it quite apparent to the Bala-Yogi that his presence there was not welcome, so he decided to return to Adivarapupeta.  He started soon after dusk and by 10 p.m. he was back in his native village, after a brief absence of about 24 hours.  On reaching the village, he did not return to his original location; instead, he went and sat under a Banyan tree on a piece of land which belonged to his uncle.  Next morning, when the people of Adivarapupeta learnt that the Bala-Yogi was back, they were overjoyed and came in large numbers for his darshan.

The Tempest

The East Godavari District, being near the sea, is often subjected to cyclonic storms.  One such storm of unusual intensity struck the region sometime in November, 1949.  A severe gale, followed by torrential rain swept across the countryside; starting at about 2-30 a.m., it continued unabated until 5.30 a.m.  Trees were uprooted. houses collapsed, the whole area was flooded and the people were in great distress.  In such calamitous conditions, mother Parvathamma naturally feared for her son’s safety and so she ran to where he was sitting even while the storm was in full swing.  It was a rash thing to do and she narrowly escaped death when a large branch, tom off by the hurricane, struck her a glancing blow on the head.  Though stunned by the blow, she soon recovered and spurred on by her anxiety for her son, she somehow managed to reach the Banyan tree where the Bala-Yogi was sitting.  To her great wonder, on reaching there she found that the spot around the Bala-Yogi was an oasis of peace amidst the raging turmoil elsewhere.  The Bala-Yogi was immersed in deep dhyana, undisturbed by the havoc all around him.  The place where he sat remained calm and clean and not a leaf was disturbed under the Banyan tree.  Relieved and not a little astonished, Mother Parvathamma went and sat near him.  As the storm abated and the day dawned, she discovered in the growing light that swarms of large red ants had taken refuge in the area where the Bala-Yogi sat.  The Bala-Yogi’s body was also covered with thick clusters of these ants.  This greatly perturbed mother Parvathamma and she started brushing the ants off his body, but the Bala-Yogi told her by a sign not to do so and to leave them undisturbed where they were.

Move to Burial Ground

The Bala-Yogi continued his Tapas under the Banyan tree but once again he found himself the victim of harassment by the children of the village and even by some of the older people who were not kindly disposed towards him.  During the day these people dared not do anything as there was a constant stream of visitors coming for darshan of the Yogi.  However, they got their opportunity at night when the visitors and those looking after the Bala-Yogi went home and the Bala-yogi was left all by himself.  He was thinking one day on what steps he should take to rid himself of this nuisance when it occurred to the Bala-Yogi that if he shifted to the village burial ground, these misguided people would be afraid of following him there, particularly at night and be might thus obtain peace.  So on 18th November 1949, the Bala-Yogi shifted the venue of his Tapas to the burial ground on the outskirts of the village.  His intuition proved correct, because people generally look upon burial and cremation grounds with awe and fear, and try to avoid these places if they can.  Because of this fear, no one dared to go near the burial ground at night and so the Bala-Yogi was thus relieved of their harassment.  But this relief was short lived. for he soon discovered that the burial ground swarmed with insects and rodents who were habituated to feeding on the flesh of dead bodies buried there.  When these insects and rodents came across the Bala-Yogi, seated motionless in samadhi for hours at a stretch. they naturally took him to be a corpse and started nibbling at his flesh causing any number of wounds, particularly on the lower parts of the body which rested on the ground.  Then, when the Bala-Yogi went for his daily bath in the canal, the fish in the water would nibble at these open wounds.  In effect what it amounted to was that though by shifting his location he found relief from the mental harassment caused by mischievous boys, he had to pay for it in physical suffering caused by the insects. rodents and reptiles inhabiting the burial ground.

 

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