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Spiritual Ministration

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Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj Life & Spiritual Ministration
3.
Tapas of the Four Directions

 

Bala-Yogi Bitten by Cobra

In December 1949, approximately 15 days after he had shifted to the burial ground, the Bala-Yogi was proceeding to the canal for his daily midnight bath when a deadly black cobra, which was lying across his path, reared up and bit him viciously on his leg.  Blood started dripping from the wound but the Bala-Yogi ignored it, took his bath and returning to his seat in the burial ground, went back into samadhi.  To begin with the Bala-Yogi showed total unconcern and paid no heed to the snake bite.  However, this venom injected by the serpent was bound to react on the body, and so it happened.  At first there was a discolouration of the skin, causing blotches to appear all over the body.  Soon thereafter, gangrene set in as a result of which the body started emanating a foul smell.  The pain and discomfort that the Bala-Yogi had to suffer on account of all this could well be imagined.  Coming on the top of all his other troubles, the physical suffering caused by the snake bite proved to be the last straw.  Discouraged and frustrated by all that he had endured and was enduring, he decided to give up his yogic practices and to return home.  In any case, it had never been his intention or ambition to tread the yogic path.  The ‘Tapas’ he was presently undergoing, was at the behest of the ‘Jangam Veishadhari’, whom be had come to regard as his Guru.  He now felt that the yogic way of life he was following was not worth all the trouble;  it was better to return home and lead a normal life.  With such thoughts running through his mind, thee Bala-Yogi left his seat one night and started off for his home.

Bitten by CobraNow the fact was that without any previous resolve on his part, Sathyaraju had been made to enter the ‘Tapo Marg’;  hence it could hardly be expected that he would be left to his discretion to leave it off at his own will.  And so it happened:  As the Bala-Yogi neared a Banyan tree which stood on the path leading to his home, he suddenly espied the same ‘Jangam Veshadhari’,* his Guru, standing under the tree, barring his way.  Seeing his Guru, the Bala-Yogi did namaskar to him.  With a faint smile the Guru asked the boy where he was going.  “I am going home”, said the Bala-Yogi.  “Why?” asked the Guru.  Thereupon, the Bala-Yogi recounted all his woes and the troubles he had to endure ever since he started his yogic practices;  he told him all the suffering he was undergoing on account of the snake bite and ended up by saying that he found it impossible to continue any longer and hence he had thought of discontinuing his Tapas and going home.  The Guru heard him out in silence and thereafter continued looking at the boy for some time.  When finally he spoke, he told his young disciple to go back and directed him not to abandon the yogic path under any circumstance.  He then imparted to the Bala-Yogi the ‘Pancha Akshari Mantra’ and told him to repeat it dally.  He assured the Bala-Yogi that the action of this Mantra would relieve him of the suffering caused by the snake bite and that he would soon be restored to normal health.  In obedience to his Guru’s wishes the Bala-Yogi returned to his seal in the burial ground.  He felt somewhat abashed at the passing weakness which had induced him to leave for his home and he resolved then and there that he would prefer to die following the Yogic path rather than be called a ‘Yoga Bhrashta’ (one who has failed in the path of Yoga).  In order to stiffen his resolve for the future, he took a solemn vow never again to swerve from the path shown by his Guru.  Enthused afresh by the blessings of his Guru, and with firm resolve, the Bala-Yogi started chanting the Pancha Akshari Mantra.**  He soon passed into deep samadhi and, as his Guru had predicted, the repetition of the Mantra neutralised the effects of the poison, and restored him to his former health.

*  [This term means: a person wearing the apparel and having the appearance of a ‘Jangarn Devar’.
Until he came to know the true identity of his Guru, Sathyaraju used to think his Guru was a ‘Jangam Veshadhari’
and hence referred to him as such.
]
**  [Mantra is a mystic combination of se[ed] letters or sound forms; a Pancha Akshari Mantra comprising five such ls[seeds].
A Mantra is usually based on the names of a particular Deity and is required to be repeated regu[larly] (Japam) by an aspirant
as a par[t of]his worship of that Deity.
]

Collector and Tehsildar Come for Darshan

The news that the Bala-Yogi of Adivarapupeta had survived the inevitably fatal bite of a deadly cobra, spread far and wide, and soon reached the ears of Sri Bala Sundaram Pillai, the then collector of East Godavari District.  Pillai was a deeply religious man and this news, coupled with the other news that he had been hearing about the Bala-Yogi, awoke in him a desire to have darshan of this young saint.  He had also learnt that the Bala-Yogi remained absorbed in samadhi for almost the entire 24 hours and that he only emerged from his samadhi around midnight, when he took his daily bath and partook of some light nourishment that may have been placed there for him.  Accordingly, some time in January 1950 the collector, accompanied by his Personal Assistant Sri T. V. Satyanarayan Rao and the Tehsildar of Ramachandrapuram, Sri Garga Narasimha Munhy, came one day at midnight to the burial ground for the Bala-Yogi’s darshan;  no one else had been informed of this visit.  The Bala-Yogi had just then emerged from samadhi and so they were able to converse with him. Before taking his leave, the Collector asked the Bala-Yogi if there was anything he could do for him.  As it was customary to sit on a deer skin or a tiger skin seat while doing tapas, the Bala-Yogi asked the Collector to send a tiger skin for his use.  By a fortunate coincidence a poacher had been apprehended a few days earlier and a tiger skin found in his possession at the time of his arrest had been confiscated. from him.  This was now lying in the Collectorate.  The Collector sent this tiger skin the very next day, through Sri Narasimha Murthy the Tehsildar.  When Narasimha Murthy came too the burial ground to deliver the tiger skin, he found that the ground on which the Bala-Yogi sat was damp. It became obvious to him that if the tiger skin were to be spread on the damp ground, it would soon start rotting and, consequently, would start emitting a foul odour.  In order to obviate this, he had a wooden platform constructed for the Bala-Yogi to sit on and on this he spread the tiger skin.  He also got a ‘Pandal’ (improvised hut) of Palmyra leaves built to cover the wooden platform.  The elevated seat provided by the wooden platform relieved the Bala-Yogi from the torments of rodent, ants and insects to a great extent and he was now able to continue his Tapas in relatively greater comfort.

Shivabalayogi, Second Year of TapasConstruction of ‘Dhyana Mandir’

Soon after his first Darshan of the Bala-Yogi, Bala Sundaram Pillai, the Collector, was posted out.  Prior to his departure, he came once again for darshan.  As on the previous occasion, his Personal Assistant and the Tehsildar accompanied him.  T. V. Sathyanarain Rao, the P. A. was by now deeply impressed by the young Yogi and before leaving the next day, he discussed with Narasimha Murthy a proposal to construct a ‘Dhyana Mandir’ for the Bala-Yogi’s use.  The land adjoining the burial ground belonged to the ‘Zamindar’ of Vella village, Vattakoota Pattabhiramanna by name.  When the Tehsildar and the P. A. discussed the matter with this Zamindar, he readily consented to the construction of the proposed ‘Dhyana Mandir’ on his land.

In the meantime, the Bala-Yogi continued his Tapas in the improvised hut that had been constructed in the burial ground, with undiminished intensity.  As he sat motionless in Samadhi, day after day, for almost the entire daily period of 24 hours, his hands and legs became stiff and wooden and he soon lost control of his limbs.  By the time he completed his first year Tapas, i.e., around July/August 1950, he found it impossible to even move from his seat.  In order to enable him to perform his daily ablutions, a bucket of water had to be brought and placed outside his hut.  With great difficulty, and with the exercise of immense will power and determination, he would barely manage to drag himself to where the bucket was placed and have his bath; he would then return to his seat and resume his samadhi.  Notwithstanding all this suffering, he carried on with his Tapas undeterred.

Around October 1950, the Dhyana Mandir was ready and the Bala-Yogi was bodily lifted and carried to his new abode.  At about the same time, a person named Ramakrishna Reddy had a well dug near the newly constructed Dhyana Mandir;  this well not only catered for the needs of the Bala-Yogi, but also served to provide pure drinking water for the rest of the village.  By now Narasimha Murthy, the Tehsildar, had voluntarily assumed the responsibility for looking after the needs of the Bala-Yogi.  In order to ensure that the Bala-Yogi was not disturbed in his Tapas, Narasimha Murthy directed that the door of the ‘Dhyana Mandir’ would henceforth be closed and locked.  The key of the lock was kept with his mother Parvathamma.  From now on, he also sent regular donations of money to mother Parvathamma to meet the cost of buying fruits and milk for the Bala-Yogi;  these donations were continued by him for the entire period of the Bala-yogi’s Tapas and even after.  We are also told that Narasimha Murthy was the only person who could arouse the Bala-Yogi from samadhi:  all he had to do was gently tap the Bala-Yogi anywhere on his person and this was enough to bring the Yogi back to normal consciousness.  It goes without saying that Narasimha Murthy only did this when it became imperative and unavoidable.

Tapaswiji Maharaj & ShivabalayogiVisit of Tapaswiji Maharaj

During this period there lived a saint, popularly known amongst his followers and admirers as Tapaswiji Maharaj.  This Yogi was remarkable in many ways.  He was born in the royal family of the erstwhile Patiala state.  After a full life of action and adventure, this Prince took ‘sanyas’ in his fiftieth year and entered the ‘Udasi’ sect of ‘Sanyasins’ with the monastic name of Vishnudhama.  He practiced rigorous spiritual disciplines for a long time, under the guidance of various Gurus.  Once, when he was on a visit to Parshuram Kund* in Assam, he met a sadhu who claimed that he had learnt the almost forgotten secret of Kaya Kalpa (the art of rejuvenating the human body), but that he had not yet tried it out on anybody.  Tapaswiji, who was by now nearing his ninetieth year and had started suffering from the debility of old age, volunteered to submit to this treatment.  The course of treatment was to last for a period of three months:  After approximately 21 days of starting this treatment, Tapaswiji passed into a comatose state.  When he recovered from his coma sometime towards the end of the three months period, he found to his astonishment that he had been restored to the same state of health and youthful vigour that he had enjoyed as a young man of thirty.  Tapaswiji underwent the Kaya Kalpa treatment twice more:  once at the age of 120 years and the second time at the age of 150 years.  Eventually, he entered Mahasamadhi at Jhansi on 12th October 1955, at the ripe old age of 187 years.  During his long life, Tapaswiji successfully undertook a number of spiritual austerities including the Kadeshwari Tapas and the Panch Agni Tapas.  It was in recognition of these spiritual accomplishments that he had come to be called Tapaswiji Maharaj by his devotees.  (Only a brief life sketch of Tapaswiji Maharaj has been given here.  Those interested in more details about his life are advised to read his biography:  The Life of Tapaswiji Maharaj” by Sri T. S. Anantha Murthy).

[*  Parshuram Kund is water tank associated with the ancient Saint and Warrior, Parshuram.]

In January 1951, Tapaswiji Maharaj happened to come on a visit to Vishnu Sevashram, located on the Pithapuram Road in Kakinada.  There he heard about the Bala-Yogi of Adivarapupeta and expressed a desire to meet him.  Consequently, in this first week of January 1951, Tapaswiji Maharaj, accompanied by Bulusu Sambamurthy, the then speaker of the Madras Legislative Assembly, came to Adivarapupeta from Kakinada and had special darshan of the Bala-Yogi.  At the time of their visit, the Bala-Yogi was in deep samadhi and hence Tapaswiji could not converse with him;  nevertheless Tapaswiji Maharaj immediately realised the high spiritual status of the Bala-Yogi.  He sent for some flowers and devotedly placed them at the feet of the Bala-Yogi, and instructed his companions to do the same.  Deeply impressed by this first darshan, Tapaswiji Maharaj came again on a number of subsequent visits, but it so happened that every time he came, he found the Bala-Yogi immersed in samadhi.  On one such occasion, Tapaswiji sat in front of the Bala-Yogi and went into dhyana to find out the antecedents of the Yogi.  On emerging from dhyana he informed his companions that the Bala-Yogi was a ‘Siddha Purusha’ who had re-incarnated himself of his own free will for the spiritual regeneration of mankind.  He further told them that in one of his former incarnations, the Bala-Yogi had been born as Sri Chandra, son of. Guru Nanak and the founder of the Udasi Sect of Sanyasis; in that birth he (Tapaswiji Maharaj) had been one of Sri Chandra’s disciples.  The companions of Tapaswiji Maharaj were naturally awe struck and filled with wonder when they were told these facts by this venerable Saint.

One day mother Parvathamma informed the Bala-Yogi, about the frequent visits of Tapaswiji Maharaj and his keen desire to meet him.  The Bala-Yogii readily agreed to this meeting and the news was conveyed to Tapaswiji Maharaj at Kakinada.  Tapaswiji Maharaj came the very next day and this time when he arrived, the Bala-Yogi was not in samadhi.  When Tapaswiji Maharaj entered the Dhyana Mandir the Bala-Yogi did ‘namaskar’ with folded hands;  in fact, so far, the Bala-Yogi had continued to follow the customary practice of greeting all his elders by doing ‘namaskar’ to them.  But when he greeted Tapaswiji in this manner, the Saint reverently told the Bala-Yogi:  “You are a Mahatma whereas I am only an ordinary sadhu;  you must not do ‘namaskar’ to me;  in fact, you must not do ‘namaskar’ to anybody in future.”  From that day the Bala-Yogi discontinued the practice of greeting his elders by doing ‘namaskar.’  Tapaswiji then sat on the wooden platform, facing the Bala-Yogi, and had a heart to heart chat with him.  Among other things he told the Bala-Yogi that he had met a number of ‘Tapaswins’ in the Himalayas who were engaged in similar Tapas as the Bala-Yogi and that all of them took some form of regular nourishment, albeit in limited quantities.  He therefore advised the Bala-Yogi to take a measured quantity of milk every day.  If he did not do so, and if he continued to starve himself as he was doing at present, it was very likely that his body would perish for want of nourishment within the next 15-20 days.  Before leaving, Tapaswiji bought a cow and presented it to mother Parvathamma so that she could have an assured supply of milk for the Bala-Yogi.  Later, at a public meeting held in his honour at Kakinada, Tapaswiji Maharaj extolled the spiritual status of the Bala-Yogi of Adivarapupeta in highly laudatory terms and also informed his audience that the Bala-Yogi had been his Guru in a previous incarnation.  Such eulogy from a deeply venerated saint like Tapaswiji Maharaj naturally raised the Bala-Yogi in the esteem of the people of the area and they began to flock to Adivarapupeta in even larger numbers for his darshan.

Sometime later that year (1951), the Bala-Yogi was suddenly afflicted by a burning sensation all over his body.  The agony became unbearable and although he clenched his teeth and made a determined effort to retain mastery over his emotions, tears began to involuntarily stream from his eyes.  While he was thus writhing and weeping with pain, he passed into samadhi.  Though he was now unconscious of the intense pain, his body continued to bum and became hot to the touch as though it was being scorched from within;  at the same time a foul smell began to emanate from it.  At this time Tapaswiji Maharaj was residing at his Ashram in the Nandi Hills near Bangalore.  He saw the plight of the Bala-Yogi in his dhyana and immediately left by train for Kakinada, with a bottle of medicated oil that he himself had prepared.  From Kakinada he came straight to the Dhyana Mandir and with his own hands applied the oil he had brought all over the Bala-Yogi’s body.  The application of this oil immediately relieved the burning sensation, and the bad smell that was emanating from the body also disappeared.  Tapaswiji later explained that some one out of hatred or jealousy had practised black magic on the Bala-Yogi and the burning sensation and smell were caused by that.  That apart, as the Bala-Yogi used to sit in almost continuous samadhi with his palms joined and his fingers interlocked, they had gradually become stiff and rigid and eventually they got locked in that position.  With the application of the oil brought by Tapaswiji Maharaj a certain degree of suppleness and flexibility was restored to the palms of his hands and he was eventually able to separate them, though he still had no control over his limbs.

Tapaswiji Maharaj again visited the Bala-Yogi in the month of October 1952.  On this visit, he offered to impart the ‘Surya Upasana Mantra’* to the Bala-Yogi and the Bala-Yogi readily agreed.  Accordingly on the ‘Kartika Poornima’** of the year 1952, Tapaswiji Maharaj initiated the Bala-Yogi in this Mantra.  During the same period, the Bala-Yogi’s Divine Guru also appeared on one of his periodic visitations.  The Bala-Yogi informed him of what had happened.  His Guru approved of his doing Japa of the Surya Mantra but told him that the Mantra imparted by Tapaswiji was incomplete;  he then initiated him into the full and proper Mantra.  When the Bala-Yogi next met Tapaswiji Maharaj he informed him of his error of omission in imparting the Surya Mantra, and Tapaswiji readily admitted his error.  From then on the Bala-Yogi started doing Japa of the Surya Mantra daily for two hours;  the rest of the time he spent in his normal Tapas.

*  [A Mantra meant for the worship of Surya Devata, i.e. the Sun God.]
**  [Last day of the bright fortnight of the Indian month of Kartik, corresponding to October/November.]

Dhyana Mandir with GopuramThe Dhyana Mandir which had been constructed for the Bala-Yogi was a small, single room structure, measuring 12ft x 12ft.  It had no windows or ventilators and as the door was kept locked in order to prevent disturbance, it became very hot and stuffy inside the room.  During the summer months particularly, the heat inside was almost unbearable.  Sri Garga Narasimha Murthy discussed this problem one day with Tapaswiji Maharaj and asked him what should be done about it.  Tapaswiji suggested that a ‘Gopuram’* should be built on top of the Dhyana Mandir.  In accordance with Tapaswiji’s directions, a Gopuram was constructed by Seshagiri Rao, an engineer, who happened to be one of his disciples.  The Gopuram was completed on the day of Maha Shivaratri of 1953, and, thereafter, the effects of the heat caused by the burning rays of the sun were greatly reduced inside the Dhyana Mandir.

*  [‘Goparam’ is the name given to the pointed roof structure, normally seen in the temple architecture of India.]

Siddhi and Sakshatkara

The Divine Guru, whom the Bala-Yogi continued to regard as a Sadguru of the Jangam Devar sect up to almost the very end of his Tapas, used to visit his disciple once in every 3 or 4 months;  sometimes sooner, in case some particular necessity arose.  The main purpose of these visits was to give fresh directions for the continuance of the Tapas, or to remove any difficulties or obstacles that may crop up from time to time, or to infuse fresh courage and enthusiasm in the young disciple whenever he felt disheartened or his resolve wavered.

As has been mentioned earlier, around July/August 1950, when he had barely completed one year of his Tapas, the Bala-Yogi had lost control over his limbs as a result of which he found it impossible to attend to even his basic minimum requirements of taking nourishment, having a bath, or attending to his bodily functions.  The Bala-Yogi endured this crippling handicap for three long years but sometime in June 1953, he got sick and tired of it all and, so to speak, went on strike.  He stopped the various spiritual practices he was doing, discontinued his samadhi and just sat around in a dejected mood.

Sure enough, this brought the Divine Guru promptly onto the scene and, even though he must have known what was irking the boy he, in a teasing mood, asked his rebellious disciple what was troubling him now.  The Bala-Yogi seized on his opportunity to give vent to all his frustrations and told his Guru of the difficulties he was facing on account of his incapacitated limbs.  As usual, the Guru smiled benignly and then ran his hands over the arms and legs of his disciple.  Lo and behold!  No sooner had he done that, then the limbs which had been virtually crippled for almost three years, were now whole again and once more perfectly under control.  The Bala-Yogi found to his relief that he could move about once again and could attend to his basic needs without the requirement for assistance.  Whereas the rest of his limbs became normal, the fingers of his hands continued to remain bent as, over the years, the flesh of the joints of his fingers had grown into each other in such a way that they became permanently bent and they remain thus bent to this day.

Shivabalayogi, Third Year of TapasThe Bala-Yogi now resumed his Tapas with fresh vigour.  Around the end of September/beginning of October 1953, he went into deep Nirvikalpa Samadhi.  This samadhi became continuous and even the short break that he used to take every day at midnight, for his daily bath and refreshment, was dispensed with.  The Bala-Yogi remained thus, in continuous samadhi, for one whole month.  On the night of Wednesday, the 28th of October 1953, he was aroused from his deep absorption by a tap on his leg.  As he slowly returned to consciousness he became aware of a bright effulgence, of intense luminosity, illuminating the entire Dhyana Mandir.  He gradually began to perceive that this effulgence was emanating from a Divine Presence, but it was so intense that he found it difficult to look in that direction;  then, as his eyes got accustomed to the light, he beheld standing before him the snow white and divinely beautiful form of Shankara Bhagavan.  The Bala-Yogi’s whole being thrilled at that wonderful vision and his heart overflowed with joy.  Though thus enraptured, the Bala-Yogi was nevertheless perplexed as to the identify of this obviously Divine Person, because he had never seen, known or heard of anyone like him before.  He intuitively felt within his heart that the Person standing before him was none other than the great God Shankara, but in order to confirm whether his intuition was correct or not, he asked the Divine Being who He was.  Maheshwara gave an amused smile and said:  “They call me Shankara Mahadev.”  Lord Shiva then expressed appreciation of the resolute manner in which the Bala-Yogi had carried out his Tapas and asked him if he required anything, or whether he wanted to ask for any boon.  The Bala-Yogi replied that he wanted nothing, nor did he wish to solicit any boon.  Shankar Bhagvan then sat on the wooden platform opposite the Bala-Yogi and conversed with him for some time.  Finally, telling him that his Guru would come and direct him what to do next, Shankar Bhagvan disappeared.  The Bala-Yogi spent the rest of the night quietly, in ecstatic contemplation of the Divine Vision that had been vouchsafed to him.  This ‘Sakshatkara’ (realisation) of his Ishta Deva established the Bala-Yogi as a Siddha Purusha (Realised Soul) and marked the culmination of the first phase of his Tapas.

Shivabalayogi after Three Years of TapasYuga Tapas, Dik Tapas and Dik Siddhi

According to the ‘Yoga Shastras’, a period of twelve years is known as a Yuga Parva and Yuga Tapas entails doing Tapas for a full period of twelve years.  During the course of this Yuga Tapas, a Yogi is required to do Tapas facing each of the four directions in turn;  this is known as Dik Tapas.  Each particular Direction has its own specific Mantra, which is repeatcd when doing Tapas of that Direction.  The Tapas of a particular Direction is to be continued until Siddhi is attained; this is known as Dik Siddhi.  The peculiarities of Tapas of each of the four Directions are summarised, very briefly, below:—

(a)    Eastern Direction — When doing Tapas of this direction the Yogi has to face problems and difficulties but these are, comparatively speaking, of a minor nature.  Siddhi is gained soonest by doing Tapas facing East.

(b)    Northern Direction — This is the best direction from the Point of view of ease of Dhyana.  The Yogi faces little or no problems or obstacles, enjoys good health and experiences ‘anand’ (bliss) during dhyana.

(c)    Western Direction — This is the most difficult direction for doing Tapas and is fraught with danger.  The Yogi has to cope with seemingly insuperable mental obstacles, and/or endure almost unbearable physical afflictions;  in addition, he is also subjected to severe tests.

(d)    Southern Direction — This is a neutral direction, having no particular benefits, nor any obstacles.  Dhyana continues normally; there being neither ‘Ananda’ nor ‘Ashanti’ (lack of peace).

Tapas and Siddhi of Eastern Direction

During the initial few years, the Divine Guru gave no formal instructions to his disciple to sit facing towards any particular direction.  However, as a result of His unspoken will it so came to pass that the Bala-Yogi sat facing East for the first four years of his Tapas, i.e., from 7th August 1949 to 28th October 1953.  Consequently, when the Bala-Yogi attained Siddhi on 28th October 1953, he also thereby, attained ‘Dik Siddhi’ of the Eastern Direction.

Tapas of Northern Direction

Shivabalayogi, Fourth Year of TapasAt midnight on 29th October 1953; the Divine Guru again appeared before the Bala-Yogi.  The Bala-Yogi recounted to his Guru all that had transpired the previous night, the darshan he had of Shankar Bhagavan, and the conversation that took place between him and Bhagavan.  The Guru appeared well pleased with all that he heard.  He then told the Bala-Yogi that as he had acquired Siddhi of the Eastern Direction, he must now resume Tapas facing North.  He instructed him to discontinue Japa of the Panchakshari Mantra, and imparted to him a new Mantra, appropriate for Tapas of the Northern Direction.  That apart, he instructed the Bala-Yogi to observe Mowna (silence) from that day onwards.  Having thus initiated him into Tapas of the Northern Direction, the Guru disappeared.

One of the results of gaining Siddhi of the ‘Pancha Akshari Mantra’ was that the Bala-Yogi, as of that day, became immune to the venom of snakes and other poisonous creatures.  He experienced a dramatic demonstration of this beneficial effect shortly after he commenced Tapas of the Northern Direction.  One night, while he was proceeding to the well for his usual midnight bath, a Naag (Cobra) bit him on the leg and struck to it.  Undaunted, the Bala-Yogi pulled the snake away and threw it to one side.  This time, notwithstanding the vicious nature of the bite, the venom injected by the serpent had no effect and he continued his Tapas undisturbed.

Surya Sakshatkara and Visit to Surya Mandal

As recounted earlier, from the Kartika Poornima of 1952, the Bala-Yogi, with the approval of his Guru, had been doing Japa of the Surya Mantra for two hours daily.  This continued for almost two years.  Then, in the month of Kartika (October) 1954, the Divine Guru appeared one night on one of his periodic visits and told the Bala-Yogi that his Japa of the Surya Mantra would soon bear fruit and that ten days hence, Surya Dev would manifest before him.  And so it came to pass; on the Kartika Poornima of 1954, the Bala-Yogi had Sakshatkara of Surya Dev and thereby gained Siddhi of the Surya Mantra.

The next night the Divine Guru appeared again and, as was his wont, the Bala-Yogi recounted to him the happenings of the previous night.  After that, on a sudden impulse, the Bala-Yogi asked his Guru if he could take him to the Surya Mandal (the sphere of the sun) as he wanted to see what it was like.  The Guru readily agreed to take him there.  Before starting, he instructed the Bala-Yogi to close his eyes and not to open them until he (the Guru) told him to do so.  The Bala-Yogi thereupon closed his eyes.  In no time at all, it seemed, the Guru told him to open his eyes again.  When the Bala-Yogi did so, he found himself looking down upon a landscape very similar to that on earth;  he saw mountains clothed in forests and interspersed by and river valleys;  he also remembered having seen some of the mountain peaks covered with snow.  After a brief sojourn, he asked to be taken back.  However, for the return journey, he did not close his eyes.  The Divine Guru made the Bala-Yogi sit on the palm of his hand and they shot back towards Earth with almost the speed of thought.  On the way back they had to pass the blazing orb of the Sun;  they flashed past in the fraction of a second, but the heat was so intense that the Bala-Yogi felt he would have been reduced to a cinder, had it not been for the protection of his Divine Guru.  Notwithstanding this protection, and even though the exposure to the fiery orb of the Sun was for the briefest possible time, the Bala-Yogi suffered intensely from the heat.  Therefore, in order to give his disciple relief, the Divine Guru gave him a dip in every river that they happened to cross, both in the astral sphere as also on earth.  As the Bala-Yogi had never, so far, travelled away from home he could not recognize any of these rivers;  the only river he recognized was the Godavari, when they dipped in it near Raja Mundhry.  This process of bathing in all the rivers that they passed appears to have established a precedent because, ever since then, Shri Swamiji (as the Bala-Yogi is now called) cannot resist having a dip in any and every river that he happens to cross over.

Recalling this experience in later years, after he had completed the full twelve year’s Tapas, Shri Swamiji said:  “It is possible in the state of samadhi to travel to the Surya Mandal and return alive;  this is in my own experience.  Those wishing to achieve this can do so by practicing dhyana.”  In the same context he cautioned those who aspire solely for such experiences that:  “People should strive for Atma Jnana (Self knowledge);  they should strive to know themselves and their True Nature, which alone will bring peace to the world.”

Sakshatkara and Siddhi of Northern Direction

The Tapas facing North proceeded apace.  During this entire period the Bala-Yogi enjoyed good health and experienced great ‘ananda’ (bliss) during samadhi.  Around 15th July 1955, the Bala-Yogi once again went into deep, Nirvikalpa Samadhi which continued without a break for 15 days.  On the night of 1st August 1955, the Bala-Yogi once again had Sakshatkara of Shankar Bhagvan and thus attained Siddhi of the Northern Direction.  As on the previous occasion, Shankar Bhagvan conversed with the Baja Yogi for some time.  Before leaving, Siva asked him if he wanted anything but the Bala-Yogi replied that he desire nothing;  Bhagvan then disappeared.

Shivabalayogi, Fifth Year of TapasTapas of Western Direction

Though the Bala-Yogi attained Sakshatkara and Siddhi of the Northern Direction on 1st August 1955, his Guru did not appear immediately to give fresh directions for the continuance of the Tapas.  Knowing the rigours that lay ahead, the Guru apparently wanted his disciple to rest and recoup for a few days before starting on the next phase of Tapas.  So the Bala-Yogi had a break and rest from 1st to 6th August 1955.

On the midnight of 7th August 1955, the Divine Guru appeared again.  He informed his disciple that in the next phase, he would be required to do Tapas facing West.  He warned the Bala-Yogi that he would have to face many difficulties and obstacles in this phase of the Tapas, which may at times be severe, but he should not lose heart and must on no account give up.  He then reassured his disciple that whenever he needed help, he (The Guru) would come to his assistance.  Finally, he imparted to the Bala-Yogi the appropriate Mantra for Tapas of the Western Direction and, with a parting word of good cheer, the Divine Guru Disappeared.

When he warned his disciple about the dangers that lay ahead the Divine Guru was reiterating and re-affirming the warnings contained in the scriptures about the dangers and difficulties that lie in store for a Yogi who undertakes Tapas of the Western Direction.  Many well known Tapaswins have come to grief when doing Tapas of the Western Direction, the best known instance of this being the great Sage Vishvamitra;  for it is said that it was while doing Tapas of the Western Direction that the Apsara Menaka seduced Vishwamitra and thereby succeeded in making him break off his Tapas.  Be that as it may, the Bala-Yogi got a foretaste of what was in store for him on the very next day of his starling the Tapas; for, suddenly and inexplicably, he developed a severe stomach ache.  Then, as if this was not bad enough, he was once again afflicted by the burning sensation that he had experienced earlier.  Agonising as they were, these were only the beginning of a series of bodily afflictions that the Bala-Yogi would have to suffer, almost continuously, throughout the entire period of this phase of his Tapas.

On 15th August 1955, i.e., within eight days of commencement of the Western Tapas, the cow that had so far been providing milk for the Bala-Yogi, suddenly died.  A new cow was bought but that too died within the next fifteen days.  Thereafter, as soon as a cow would be bought for the Bala-Yogi, or any cow whose milk would be procured for the Bala-Yogi, would die.  This posed a big problem as the only nourishment that the Bala-Yogi was taking was a measured quantity of milk, once a day at midnight.  To compound this problem, the Bala-Yogi soon developed nausea for milk and would immediately throw up any milk that he tried to consume.  As a consequence he was soon reduced to carrying on his rigorous Tapas without any nourishment at all.  Obviously, this state of affairs could not continue for long;  some way had to be found out of this impasse and that too soon, else the Bala-Yogi was unlikely to survive for long.  This dilemma was finally resolved by D. Sillayamma, the wife of D. Ramakrishna Reddy, who hit upon the idea of substituting Horlicks in place of the daily glass of fresh milk.  When this was tried out, to the immense relief of all his devotees, the Bala-Yogi was able to consume the glass of Horlicks without any adverse effects, and so a major problem was thus resolved.  From that day onwards, for the entire duration of his Tapas of the Western Direction, the Bala-Yogi subsisted solely on this daily glass of Horlicks.

On 12th October 1955, Tapaswiji Maharaj attained Mahasamadhi at Jhansi, but the Bala-Yogi was not yet aware of this sad fact.  At midnight of the same day, as the Bala-Yogi opened the door of the Dhyana Mandir to go for his daily bath, he saw a huge Naag (serpent of the cobra family), of a shimmering amber hue, lying coiled up across the doorway.  The moment this Naag saw the Bala-Yogi, it reared up with a loud hiss and, spreading its massive hood, it began to sway to and fro, intently watching the movements of the Yogi.  Now it is an inviolable rule in the cult of the Yogis that when faced with an obstacle on their path, they may either remove it, or they may avoid it by going round it, but they must never be deterred into turning back, particularly if such action smacks of fear.  Thus it happened that when the Bala-Yogi found this Naag barring his path, he calmly looked round for some way to circumvent it, but there was no way he could do so.  Finally, finding no alternative, he stepped on the coiled body of the serpent and walked across.  That, of course, was asking for trouble and with an angry hiss the Naag bit the Bala-Yogi on his left thigh.  Undeterred, the Bala-Yogi proceeded to the well and had his bath.  When he returned to the Dhyana Mandir after completing his bath, he found the Naag still there coiled up across the doorway.  Once again he had no alternative but to step across the Naag in order to re-enter the Dhyana Mandir and this time also me Naag bit him;  this second bite was on the big toe of his right foot.  Unperturbed by what had happened, the Bala-Yogi closed the door of me Dhyana Mandir, preparatory to resuming his samadhi, but by this time the poison from the two bites had begun to take effect and before he could take up his ‘asana’, he fell unconscious on the wooden platform.*

*  [By the repetition of the ‘Panch Akshari Mantra’ the Bala-Yogi had undoubtedly obtained immunity from the venom of snakes
and other poisonous creatures, but this Naag was no ordinary snake;  it was the same Naag that hangs round the neck of Shankar Bhagavan
 in the form of a garland.  When Shankar Bhagvan gave darshan to the Bala-Yogi at the conclusion of his Tapas, the Bala-Yogi
recognised the Naag and pointing to it, he told Shankar Bhagvan that this was the serpent that had bitten him.
At that the Naag hung its head in embarrassment.  The Naag had obviously been sent by Shankar Bhagvan to test the Yogi’s fearlessness
.]

The Bala-Yogi had earlier informed those looking after him that during the current phase of his Tapas, they could enter the Dhyana Mandir only on the third Saturday of every month, between 7 p.m. and midnight, for cleaning and other purposes and to receive any specific instructions that the Bala-Yogi may wish to convey.  On all other days, a glass of Horlicks was to be slipped in through the window; nobody was permitted to enter or disturb the Bala-Yogi in any other way.  The third Saturday of October 1955 was yet four days away with the result that the Bala-Yogi kept lying unconscious on the wooden platform all these days, without any one coming to know about it.  Finally, at 6 p.m. on the fourth day after the snake had bit him, which also happened to be the third Saturday of the month, the Divine Guru appeared and aroused the Bala-Yogi from his unconscious state.  The Bala-Yogi sat up and resumed his usual Asana, but he felt extremely weak as a consequence of the ordeal he had just gone through.  At 7 p.m. mother Parvathamma and other members of the committee formed to look after the Bala-Yogi entered the Dhyana Mandir.  They found the milk of the past four days lying untouched.  When they inquired from the Bala-Yogi the reason, he conveyed to them by signs, all that bad transpired.  He was then informed about the passing away of Tapaswiji and this news must have saddened him, because he had developed great regard and affection for this venerable Saint.  The coincidence did not escape him that he was bitten by the Naag on the very day on which Tapaswiji attained Mahasamadhi.

Throughout the entire period of his Tapas of the Western Direction the Bala-Yogi continued to suffer from various ailments of the body.  He could disregard these when in samadhi because, during that period, he was unconscious of his body and its aches and pains.  However, when he emerged from the samadhi state, he became acutely aware of the pain caused by these afflictions and this quite naturally caused him distress and ‘ashanti’ (lack of peace).  his ashanti was often aggravated by news he received from time to time of the passing away of friends and relatives, or of various troubles being suffered by them.  The Bala-Yogi, therefore, decided that the best way of mitigating his suffering was to reduce the period when he was out of samadhi to the barest minimum and, to the extent possible, to cut off contact with the outside world.  With this in mind, he conveyed to his mother and to the members of the committee looking after him that he was passing through a difficult and crucial phase of his Tapas and hence he wished to be left completely undisturbed.  He instructed them that if they found his body decomposing or emitting the stench of death, then they should inter it and perform the last riles as prescribed for a Yogi;  otherwise, he should be left strictly alone.  Having sent them away with these grim instructions, the Bala-Yogi shut himself in the Dhyana Mandir and, notwithstanding the extreme agony or body that he had to suffer, he resolutely continued his Tapas.

As is customary with yogis, when the Bala-Yogi went to the well for his midnight bath, he used to carry with him his ‘Kamandlu’ (water pot) and his ‘yoga-danda’ (a forked arm-rest).  One night, when he was half way through his bath, a very old man came there and asked the Bala-Yogi to give him water to drink.  The Bala-Yogi discontinued his bath and poured out water for the Old Man from his ‘kamandlu’.  When the Old Man had drunk his fill, he asked the Bala-Yogi his name.  The Bala-Yogi motioned with his hand that he did not know.  The old man then asked the Bala-Yogi to leave him home.  The Bala-Yogi again conveyed by signs that this was not possible.  Suddenly the old man flared up:  “Why do you keep making these signs?  Why don’t you speak to me?  Come, you must accompany me to the village.”  With these words he grabbed the Bala-Yogi by the arm and with surprising strength began dragging him towards the Bala-Yogi’s former house in the village.  This placed the Bala-Yogi in a quandary because, due to the intensity of his Tapas, and because of the various illnesses that he had suffered, the Bala-Yogi had barely enough strength left in his body to attend to his daily bath and other needs;  he could hardly hope to resist this amazingly powerful Old Man.  In desperation, therefore, he seized his ‘yoga danda’ and with all the strength that he could muster, he struck the Old Man a blow on his arm to make him release his vice like grip.  The ‘yoga danda’ broke into two on impact and, at the same time, the Bala-Yogi momentarily lost consciousness.  When he recovered a minute or so later, he found the Old Man had disappeared.  Thinking no more of this incident, he completed his ablutions and returned to the Dhyana Mandir.  To his surprise, he found the other half of the broken ‘yoga danda’ lying on his Tiger Skin asana.  The Bala-Yogi then realised that the Old Man had come to test his resoluteness and his strength of purpose.

Some days later, once again at the time when the Bala-Yogi was having his daily midnight bath, an entrancingly beautiful girl approached him at the well and requested for some water to drink.  As he remained absorbed in contemplation at all times, it did not occur to the Bala-Yogi to inquire what a young and beautiful girl was doing at that time of the night, all alone, at the village well.  He simply drew some water, filled his Kamandlu and poured it out for the girl to drink.  All this while the girl tried in various ways to engage the Bala-Yogi in conversation, but the Bala-Yogi did not respond.  She then tried various artful ways to make him break his ‘Mowna’ and speak to her, but she was equally unsuccessful in this.  With an apparent show of disappointment, she left the place and the Bala-Yogi, having finished his bath, wended his way back to the Dhyana Mandir.  As he neared the Northern door of the Dhyana Mandir compound, he found to his surprise the same girl standing on the path and barring his way.  He tried to skirt round her, but whichever way he tried to go, she would run and playfully bar his way again.  Nonplussed, the Bala-Yogi went round and entered the compound from the Southern door.  As he approached the Dhyana Mandir, he heard the rhythmic and pleasing tinkling of ‘nupur’ (bells tied around the ankles and the waist when dancing) coming from within.  Somewhat puzzled, he opened the door and to his surprise and consternation, he discovered the same girl standing inside in a dance ‘mudra’ (pose);  a strange luminosity appeared to emanate from her, which filled the inside of the Dhyana Mandir in a glow of light; bathed in that light and standing in that graceful ‘mudra’, the girl looked captivating and divinely beautiful.  Suddenly, responding to the beat of some unseen choir, the girl broke out into an ethereal and disturbingly alluring dance.  By now the Bala-Yogi had realised that this was another test he was being subjected to.  So, ignoring the girl and her dance, he quickly went and sat down on his ‘asana’, closed his eyes, withdrew his mind from external awareness, and was soon absorbed in samadhi.

Shivabalayogi, Sixth Year of TapasThe above incident took place on or around the 24th May 1956.  The next night the Divine Guru appeared and the Bala-Yogi related to him all that had happened since his last visit, particularly dwelling on the strange visitations of the Old Man and, on the previous night, of the Dancing Girl.  The Guru simply smiled on hearing all this.  He then told the Bala-Yogi that he should now merge his mind in continuous samadhi and only emerge from it when Shankar Bhagavan came and aroused him from the samadhi state.  He further added that Bhagavan would appear before him in about a months time.  After the Divine Guru had left, the Bala-Yogi told his mother to fetch the other members of the committee.  When they arrived, he informed them that he would be in continuous samadhi for the next one month and that he was not to be disturbed during this period, under any circumstances.  He then sent them away and locked himself in.  By now he had completed well over nine months of his Tapas facing West.  During this period, his body had been racked by illness and afflictions of all kinds and it was, by now, on the verge of collapse; the skin had cracked open at a number of places exposing deep fissures and wounds which used to bleed regularly;  in fact, the body had reached the limit of its endurance and it was a wonder that it kepi going at all.  But the woes of the body did not disturb the serenity of the Bala-Yogi’s mind, for he had long ago realised through direct, personal experience that he was not the body but the indwelling Atman, which was not afflicted by the afflictions of the body.  Firm in this realisation, he continued his Tapas, totally indifferent to whether the body survived or whether it perished.  But the worst was by now over and the goal was in sight.  He sat calm and unconcerned on his Asana and, as directed by his Guru, passed into deep Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

Siddhi of Western Direction

The Nirvikalpa Samadhi continued without break for one month.  Then around midnight of 25th June 1956, the Bala-Yogi felt a light tap on his person which slowly brought him back to consciousness.  As he began to become aware of his surroundings. all he could see was a dazzling light; he could not quite decipher whether the light came from within himself or was without;  he was sunk in untellable peace and bliss and he might have once again passed into samadhi, when he felt another light tap.  This time he opened his eyes and there, standing before him in Nataraj Swarup, were Girija and Natesan, i.e., Gauri and Shankar dressed in the garb of the jungle folk.  This Sakashatkara of Gauri Shankar caused divine bliss to well up in the Bala-Yogi, making him speechless with joy and wonder.  As the Bala-Yogi looked on with unsatiated gaze, Shankar Bhagavan said with an approving smile:  “I have been trying to wake you up, but you would not get up.”  “Is that so?” replied the Bala-Yogi, somewhat surprised.  “I knew or felt nothing at all until now, when you tapped me.”  Then both Natesan and Girija sat opposite the Bala-Yogi on his tapas platform and talked to him for a while.  Finally, Shankar Bhagavan told the Bala-Yogi that he should continue his Tapas until he had completed the full period of twelve years; after that he would tell the Baja-Yogi what he wanted him to do.  Natesan and Girija then disappeared.

Tapas of the Southern Direction

The Bala-Yogi obtained ‘Sakshatkara’ of Gauri Shankar and Siddhi of the Western direction on 25th June 1956.  The next night, i.e., on 26th June 1956, the Divine Guru again appeared and told him to sit facing South and to commence the Tapas of the Southern Direction.  He then vanished.

The month long samadhi from which he had just emerged had cured all the bodily afflictions of the Bala-Yogi and he was now at ease, both in body and mind.  He had to face no serious obstacles and his Tapas continued undisturbed.  However, serpents of the Naag family had dogged his path from the very beginning of his Tapas and during this period also, he encountered a Naag one midnight sitting across his path, when he was proceeding to the well for his bath.  Unconcerned, he picked up the Naag and threw it aside.  In this process, the Naag bit him on the hand, but the venom had no effect on the Bala-Yogi.

Sakshatkara and Siddhi of Southern Direction

The Tapas of the Southern Direction continued for a little over 10 months.  In May 1957, The Bala-Yogi again had Sakshatkara of Shankar Bhagavan and this marked the attainment by him of Siddhi of the Southern Direction.  With the completion of the Tapas of the Southern Direction, the Bala-Yogi attained Dik Siddhi of all the four directions.  According to the Yoga Shastras, it requires a minimum period of four years to attain Siddhi of any direction, which means that it would take a minimum of sixteen years of Tapas to attain siddhi of all the four directions.  As compared to this the Bala-Yogi attained Dik Siddhi of all the four directions in little less than eight years, which in itself is an indicator of his spiritual eminence, and of his perseverance and resolute will in doggedly following the ‘Tapo Marg’, in accordance with the directions of his Divine Guru.

 

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