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Kodandam, Adivarapupeta 1994

Above:  Kodandam in 1994 at the Adivarapupeta ashram where he serves as a trustee.

Below:  Tapaswiji Maharaj ashram in Nandi Hills, 1963.  Kodandam is holding Shivabalayogi’s right side.

Tapaswiji ashram, Nandi Hills, 1963.


Sri Nallamilli Kodandam Ramachandra Reddy

Sri Nallamilli Kodandam Ramachandra Reddy, better known simply as Kodandam, like others who served Shivabalayogi closely, was unassuming and fearless.  He was content to simply serve Swamiji
and needed to ask for nothing else.

During the last four years of Shivabalayogi’s tapas, Kodandam’s in-laws and uncle used to visit Adivarapupeta often.  His brother-in-law was very devoted to Swamiji and he asked Kodandam several times to accompany him.  But he wouldn’t, saying, “I have no desire to see Swamiji.”  After several times, finally Kodandam was persuaded.  The distance from Gollala Mamidada, where they lived, to Adivarapupeta is about twenty miles.  It would be dark by the time they walked back and his brother-in-law was concerned.  This took place probably in 1958 or 1959.

They reached Adivarapupeta around three o’clock in the afternoon. His brother-in-law went inside the Dhyana Mandir for Swamiji’s darshan. Kodandam stayed outside, waiting for the walk back home. He waited two hours growing increasingly impatient as his brother-in-law was not coming out. He did not know what was going on inside or what was taking so long, but he had no desire to go inside and have darshan.

At five o’clock, Kodandam decided to wait no more.  Without telling anyone, he started walking away. It was then that his brother-in-law rushed out from the Dhyana Mandir.  “Swamiji wants you there.  Swamiji is saying that you got angry and you are walking away.”

Kodandam complained, “I am not going to wait any longer for you, even if you are afraid of the dark.  He can return with someone else or sleep here and return in the morning.”  His brother-in-law repeated what Swamiji had said, that Kodandam was angry and was walking away, and for him to come inside.  Kodandam realized that something unusual was going on.  He changed his mind and decided to see who was this yogi.

He returned, went inside the Mandir and sat down.  Swamiji asked him, “What do you want?”

Kodandam did not ask for anything but replied, “I neither have anything to say nor anything to ask of you.”

After that first visit, he occasionally accompanied his brother-in-law to visit the Balayogi.  He soon understood why he had had to wait so long on that first occasion.  Swamiji was in samadhi meditation.  People who came for his darshan would sit and wait for hours until the Balayogi opened his eyes and they could ask him for something.  Kodandam realized it had been a mistake for him to get impatient and leave.

The First Tour:  Swamiji on the Road

After Swamiji finished tapas, many people asked him to visit their homes.  Swamiji said, “No” because he had given a promise to Tapaswiji Maharaj that if he left the ashram, he would first visit Tapaswiji’s ashram.  Swamiji would first go to Kakinada and visit Tapaswiji Maharaj’s ashram there, and only then would he decide what other places to visit.

Before Swamiji left Adivarapupeta in late March of 1963, the last place he visited was Kodandam’s father-in-law’s place.  Kodandam was called before Swamiji and his in-laws told him that Swamiji wanted him to go with him to Dodballapur and they asked for his response.  By that time, Kodandam had gotten familiar with Swamiji so he readily agreed to go.

Kodandam, Ramakrishna Rao, and a couple of others accompanied Swamiji on that first tour.  They traveled by car, first to Tapaswiji Maharaj’s ashram in Kakinada, then to Madras, Nandi Hills and Dodballapur.  Swamiji stayed in Nandi Hills three months, and from there, he went to Bangalore after the ashram there had been constructed on Bannerghatta Road.  Kodandam was with Swamiji throughout all this time.

“In those early days, from the time Swamiji left a place and until we reached the next destination, he was in samadhi throughout the journey.  He came to some ordinary consciousness only if we stopped for lunch, and when we finished and got back into the car, he again went into samadhi.  If we wanted Shri Swamiji to take some juice or fruit, we wiped around his eyes and face with a towel.  Then Swamiji would open his eyes and took from what was offered.  Swamiji couldn’t even walk by himself. Ramakrishna and I would carry him in the seated position from the dais to the car.  At the destination again, Swamiji had to be carried from the car to the bed or where Swamiji had to be put.  Only after that would he open his eyes.”

“After a few years, Swamiji would keep his eyes open more often, perhaps sing or talk, gaze out at what was going on by the road, or drift off into a light sleep.  But even if he wasn’t in samadhi, he would typically fall asleep or slumber which the car was moving.  He could go totally limp within a second.  He would be talking to you and the next second snoring quietly.  He would fall in the lap of the person next to him.  Then a couple of moments later, he would wake up and ask what we had just said.  We knew that he was traveling outside his body.”

“Often I sat in the back seat next to Swamiji.  He used to call me koti [monkey].  At times, Swamiji was snoring, then stop for a while. I would check and find that he was not even breathing. That happened plenty of times.  Some times I checked to see if his heart was beating.  I put my ear to his chest and Swamiji would wake up to catch me in the act.  ‘You monkey, what are you doing here?’

Walking for Exercise & Didbagiri Swami

“Until we reached Dodballapur in 1963, it was very difficult for Swamiji to walk.  It was there that I told him, ‘Swamiji, henceforth you will have to learn walking because you need to walk.’  Because he was going more into the public, Swamiji and I thought he should get more exercise walking. It was then that he started walking regularly to exercise.”

“While we were staying at the Nandi ashram, I used to take Swamiji out for a walk some time after midnight.  We used to take his trishula (trident) along as a weapon of self defense.  One such night, Swamiji went up on a hill and sat down in meditation. He sat for a very long time. After Swamiji arose, I asked him, ‘Swamiji, you have been sitting a very long time in meditation.  What happened?’ ”

‘There is a great saint here who is doing tapas. I wanted to contact him.’

“I asked, ‘Who is this swami?’  Swamiji gave the name of Didbagiri Swami.  We didn’t know the actual name of the person.  This was how Swamiji called him.”

“We came off the hill and back to the ashram.  Nobody else knew about this.  There were some people from Bangalore staying at Nandi Hills who had been devotees of Swamiji since the early days.  One of their girls used to get the trance of Krishna.  So the next day this girl went into trance.  When we asked who the trance swami was on the girl, the spirit responded that he was Didbagiri Swami.  People started wondering who was this Didbagiri Swami to come in trance.  Then the girl in trance was called in front of Swamiji, and when Swamiji asked him who he was, the trance swami replied,  ‘Why are you trying to act now?  Did we not meet last night?’ ”

The others questioned Swamiji. “What is this Swamiji?  He says he has met you last night.”

Swamiji replied, “That happened last night.  Why do you think Tapaswiji Maharaj selected this spot for doing his tapas?  There are lots of such people doing tapas here. It is a very sacred area.  That is the reason Tapaswiji chose this.”

“This is the way things happened.  Only Swamiji or I could have known about Didbagiri Swami. The next night we saw that person in trance.  There was no way this girl could have known about this name.”

[Interestingly, when Kodandam was sharing this story in 1994, he said that he did not know the reason for the name.  It turned out that Didbagiri was the name for some hills in the Nandi Hills area.]

Above, clockwise:  Shivabalayogi, Veerabhadraiah, Kodandam (playing "flute"), & Ramakrishna Rao.

Below:  Kodandam and Veerabhadraiah with Swamiji, whose matted hair is swept forward.

Leaving for the First North India Tour

Shivabalayogi opened the Bannerghatta Road ashram on August 7, 1963, the second anniversary of his completion of tapas.  Kodandam did not return to his home until three months later.

Shivabalayogi returned to Adivarapupeta for Mahashivaratri of 1965.  There he planned his next India tour, this time to North India where he had been invited by B. S. Lamba to establish an ashram near Dehradun.

Kodandam had married and his wife, Rajalakshmi, was pregnant.  Swamiji asked Rajalakshmi’s family for permission to take Kodandam on the North India tour.  They were understandably reluctant.  There was some concern that the delivery might be difficult and the husband’s support and assistance would be important.  By this time, the date for leaving on the tour had been established and Kodandam’s wife was not expected to deliver until some time later.  Swamiji assured them that Rajalakshmi would deliver without problem and before they would have to leave.  The in-laws agreed that they would have no objection if Kodandam left after the delivery.

The day came when Swamiji was to leave for the North India tour.  Kodandam was worried.  His wife had not yet delivered.  That night, at nine o’clock, she delivered a baby girl, Sureka.  Swamiji was scheduled to leave in one hour, at ten.  As soon as Kodandam got the news, he threw his things together in a bag and rushed out the door.  “By the time I got to Adivarapupeta, Swamiji was already waiting in his car.  The car door opened and Swamiji told me to get in.  I got in, the door closed, and we drove off.  I did not even get a chance to see my wife or our new baby girl.  I saw my child for the first time when I returned six months later.”

[Kodandam’s daughter Sureka, like so many in his family, was deeply devoted to Shivabalayogi.  Swamiji would say that Sureka had been his birth mother in a previous life.  He loved her very much.]

Mataji Comes to Swamiji

“The six months that Swamiji spent on this North India tour, Swamiji had terrible trouble.  We had to go through a lot of problems.  Until Swamiji got Mataji, he could not get beyond these problems.  He was happy after that, but until then he suffered a lot.”

The North India tour was on the invitation of Lamba.  He had been asking Swamiji to visit him at Dehradun.  He said he had about thirteen acres of land near Dehradun and had constructed an ashram, and so he invited Swamiji.  What Lamba had was a big house and a small one. He used to tell Swamiji that if Swamiji came to Dehradun he would give that building to Swamiji, but after Swamiji actually arrived, Lamba started asking Swamiji, “See Swamiji, I have constructed this building for my daughter.  So how do you like it?  Is it nice?”  Swamiji understood that Lamba had dropped the intention of giving it to Swamiji, and he didn’t ask him about it.  [Read the story of Lamba’s dog.]

“Swamiji never used to drink or eat any cooked food that they bought on the roadside.  We always carried juice or fruit with us and he would have only that.  Right up until the time he met Mataji, he was on a diet of fruit and juices.  Mataji explained to him that as long as he was sitting in a room and not doing any physical activity, it was all right to take only a liquid diet.  But once he was traveling around a lot, he would not be able to sustain himself on a liquid diet.  She insisted that he needed to take some solids.  She would force him to take either puri (fried bread) or rice, whichever he liked.  She herself would prepare it and give it to him.  Swamiji would ask her to bring the stove up to his room and he would do the cooking with Mataji.  That’s how she started getting him on solid food.”

Traveling with Shivabalayogi

“The others who used to travel with Swamiji those first years — Ramakrishna Rao, Ramo who used to be in the trance of Ravana Asura, Venkataraju, and others — would be with Swamiji until dinner was over and we would talk for some time.  Then the others would retire to their rooms.  I was the only one that was allowed to sleep in Swamiji’s room.  I used to sleep on the floor in Swamiji’s room.”

“Swamiji would sing songs, typically at night, one o’clock or later in the very early morning.  Suddenly he would wake up at four in the morning and start singing.  He would make up the songs.  Most of the time he sang about Parvati or Shiva or on the rivers where he went to take baths.  Sometimes he would be thinking about the problems he had at hand and while thinking about it, he would create a song and weave the problem into the song.  Swamiji often repeated the names of Shiva and Parvati.”

“Swamiji liked to play, and he loved to figure things out.  He would play with children.  Swamiji would throw fruit in the air and cut it midair with a knife.  I remember a tape recorder that was given to Swamiji.  The others would spend time reading the literature and checking the switches to find out what each one was about.  But Swamiji wouldn’t do that.  He would just bang one switch and start singing.”

“The sheer pleasure of being with Swamiji and accompanying Swamiji and taking care of Swamiji, only that was in my mind.  I didn’t have an eye or ears for what miracles Swamiji was performing or whatever.  I had complete faith in him.  My intention was to see that there was no harm to Swamiji.  I was always taking care of that.  My job was to keep Swamiji happy and safe.  This was what was on my mind all the time.”

Bathing with Shivabalayogi in the ocean near Kakinada, March 13, 1994, two weeks before the mahasamadhi.  Kodandam is holding Swamiji's right arm.

“When Swamiji gave darshan he often would ask people, ‘What do you want?’

“Once when Mataji, the Maharaja, and several other people were with Swamiji, they were all asked what they wanted.  Each one asked for something or the other.  I always kept silent.  Mataji was wondering and she asked me why I never asked for anything.  I replied that I didn’t need anything and I didn’t want anything from him.”

“All the time I was with him, there was no difference between him and me.  It’s not that I became Swamiji.  It’s that I become an extension of Swamiji, going with him everywhere and doing his work all the time.  So in that way, there was never anything I could ask for.  The only thing I should ask him is that I can remain at his feet doing his service all my life.”

“What is it that I have done to have received so much good fortune to be with this yogi for such a long time?  I enjoyed every minute I was with Swamiji.”