Monday, August 15, 2016

Shivabalayogi in New England.

Video of Shivabalayogi and meditation programs in New England taken in 1990 by Peter Morales and re-edited by Tom Palotas.
As he leaves one program, Swamiji talks about being eaten by insects and rodents. He refers to his tapas, meditation in samadhi for 23 hours each day, in a field, a graveyard by tropical rice paddies, his body bitten and nibbled upon as his consciousness remained immersed in enlightenment. By one count, he endured seven cobra bites. He only felt the agony when he resumed ordinary awareness for one hour each night.
Swamiji often praised his mother, Tapaswiji Maharaj, and a handful of early devotees who helped keep his body alive during 12 years of continuous austerities, from age 14 to 26.
Swamiji always paid respect to gods and yogis. Two of these programs were at Zen centers with idols of Buddha. As was his custom, Swamiji would pause before the idol and communicate with the god or yogi, and in these two instances, with Lord Buddha.
Swamiji often said Buddha's tapas was more difficult because Buddha grew up as a prince in comfort, yet his body suffered just like Swamiji's. By comparison, Swamiji grew up as a poor villager knowing hardships.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hanut Singh

Hanut Singh, revered by those who knew him as one of Shivabalayogi's most senior and respected devotees, and a great saint in his own right, completed his earthly life of almost eighty-two years on Friday, April 10, 2015.

Since taking Shivabalayogi's initiation in 1968, Lt. Gen. Hanut Singh Rathore (ret.) practiced meditation daily without fail during front-line service in wartime (see World Peace) and throughout his active service as a senior officer in the Indian army. Even in later years as his health deteriorated, General Hanut insisted upon maintaining his meditation practice.

General Hanut's passing matched his spiritual greatness. This last Friday during his regular meditation, General Sahib simply remained in samadhi, his body and head erect. After some twenty hours in samadhi, his soul left his body.

True mahatmas, the great spiritual souls, often remain out of the public eye. General Hanut was such a spiritual giant. He avoided public controversies, and rather than talking about spiritual matters, he quietly practiced them. Yet his contribution to Shivabalayogi's devotees is immense.

Those who have read a book about Shivabalayogi and been inspired, should know that it was General Hanut who put together and wrote the first comprehensive book on Swamiji,  Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj, Life & Spiritual Ministration, which was the basis for all other books written on Swamiji.

Read more about General Hanut
at the Shivabalayogi website.

If anyone has had the opportunity to visit the Shivabalayogi ashram in Dehradun, it was General Hanut who was largely responsible for preserving it for Swamiji's mission. It was Shivabalayogi's idea that Gen. Hanut should build his retirement cottage on the ashram grounds. Shri Swamiji would spend a few weeks each year at the Dehradun ashram, but when the great Yogi was away, General Hanut's presence, his encouragement for Seenu Dixitar, the ashram caretaker, and a degree of financial support, and the General's own intense spiritual practice all helped preserve the ashram for over two decades. One can only suspect that this was Shivabalayogi's plan.

During the uncertainty and confusion after Shivabalayogi's own mahasamadhi, when Seenu was compelled to sit for five years of meditation in the Dehradun ashram, it was General Hanut who supported and protected him, enabling Seenu to assume the name and role of Shivarudrabalayogi.

Through the example and devotion of General Hanut, many other Indian army officers came to Shivabalayogi and became not only devotees, but sincere sadhakas, those who practice sadhana — meditation. They would spend time with Shivabalayogi at the Dehradun ashram and helped organize devotees' excursions to visit Badrinath and Kedarnath in the Himalayas and bathe in the Ganges.

Those who know a little about this great saint should will surely be inspired by his example. Shivabalayogi's only teaching was to encourage the daily practice of meditation. Shivabalayogi has many devotees, but few were able to take his teaching to heart. General Hanut was universally respected as one such committed devotee.

Certainly, all Shivabalayogi devotees owe a large debt of gratitude to the great soul who lived the life of General Hanut Singh.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ahalya, Anjana Devi, Vali, Sugreeva and Hanuman

Parts of this story are narrated in the Ramayana, but somehow no one seems to link them. I am just doing that. Swamiji confirmed parts of this story.

Ahalya was sage Gautama’s wife. She was famous for her beauty all over the worlds. Anjana Devi was the daughter of Gautama and Ahalya.

The Sun god was enchanted by the beauty of Ahalya. Being a ‘Kaamaroopi’ – one who can take any form as per one’s will - he took the form of Sage Gautama when the sage was not at the ashram and made love to Ahalya. Ahalya consented as she mistook him to be her husband. Vali was born to the Sun god and Ahalya. It was only when the Sage returned to the ashram later that Ahalya realized she was tricked. Indra, the king of Gods, was also enchanted by Ahalya’s beauty and played the same trick as the Sun god. Sugreeva was born of this relationship. Anjana Devi who was a child by then understood that her mother was cheated by Sun god and Indra. Sage Gautama was not aware of the cheating and took Vali and Sugreeva to be his children and all the three children were growing up together.

Once, Sage Gautama set off on a trip along with his family. It was midday when they were to cross the Thunga-Bhadra river. Sage Gouthama was carrying the two boys Vali and Sugreeva on his shoulders and his wife Ahalya and daughter Anjana Devi were following him. The sand on the banks of the river was hot from the sun and burnt little Anjana Devi’s feet as they had to walk quite some distance on it before actually getting into the waters. Unable to bear the heat, she suddenly shouted at her father, “Father, this is not fair. You have left me - your own child - to walk on the hot sand and you are carrying Vali and Sugreeva – who are not even born of you - on your shoulders. You seem to love them more than you love me.”

Anjana Devi’s revelation shocked and enraged the Sage. He threw both the little children into the waters of the river saying, “If they are my children, they will return to me. If not, they will turn into monkeys and get washed away into the forest.” Cursed thus, the two brothers were washed ashore, turned into monkeys and grew up to be the rulers of the monkeys in the forests on the banks of the river Thunga-Bhadra, which were part of the ‘Dandakaaranya’.

Ahalya was grieved by the separation of her two sons from her and cursed her daughter Anjana Devi saying, “You failed in preserving the secret of your mother and it is because of you that my children have turned into monkeys and have been separated from me. Let your child too turn into a monkey.”

The Sage, in his anger, cursed his wife Ahalya to turn into a stone as she behaved unintelligent as a stone. Ahalya fell on her husband’s feet and asked for forgiveness pleading innocence saying it was not her fault, but she was cheated by the gods. Finally, Gautama took pity on her and said, “My curse will come true. You will turn into a stone, but you will regain your human form when Lord Rama’s feet touch you.”

Later, when Anjana Devi was married to Kesari, Hanuman was born to her. But, due to his own grandmother’s curse, he was either born as a monkey or turned into one. That should explain why Hanuman is called ‘Aanjaneya’, ‘Anjani Putra’ as well as ‘Kesari Nandhana’. We know that he is the son of the Wind God (see box below) – ‘Vayuputhra’, ‘Vaathaathmaja’. Apparently, Hanuman the monkey, went and lived with his uncles Vali and Sugreeva who were also monkeys and ruled the monkeys with the city of ‘Kishkindha’ as their capital. Swamiji confirmed that a village by the name of Anegundi, close to Hosapet in Karnataka about 100 Kms from Bellary, was the birth place of Hanuman when HH visited Hosapet. When I Googled for Anegundi, I found there is a trust named Kishkindha Trust near this village.

Evidently, all this happened before Lord Rama, at the age of 16 years, set out to the forests along with Sage Vishwamitra and his younger brother Laxmana to help protect the yagna from Thaataki the lady demon and other rakshasas including Mareecha and Subahu. It was on that trip that Lord Rama’s feet touched the stone that was the cursed Ahalya and she regained her beautiful human form.

People tell us that when Hanuman saw Lord Shri Rama roaming in the forest much later, after Sita was kidnapped by Raavana, he did not know Rama. I can’t believe that because Rama was the one, the mere touch of whose feet turned Ahalya - his grandmother, from a stone back to human form. Hanuman’s grandfather – Sage Gauthama was a devotee of Rama (even before Rama was born) as were several other sages and knew all about him. Therefore, Hanuman was a third-generation devotee of Lord Rama - like some of us whose grandfathers and/or grandmothers were Swamiji - Shivabalayogi’s devotees.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hanuman is an 'amsha' of Lord Shiva

This is a story related by Swamiji – Shri Shri Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj to me Dasari Jagadish Kumar.

When Lord Shri Rama, Mother Sita and Laxmana returned to Ayodhya from Sri Lanka along with Hanuman, the citizens received them with immense joy. Then there were celebrations all over for several days for Lord Shri Rama’s coronation. Mother Sita was so pleased with all the love and respect she received from them that she wanted to host a meal for all the citizens in return. Lord Rama agreed to her proposal and she started preparing for the massive event. Hanuman supported her through all the activities of procuring the groceries and making all the arrangements working hard day and night. Mother Sita was very pleased with Hanuman’s service. She was already grateful for all the help she received from Hanuman over the past few months and was looking for an opportunity to express it. Finally, when the food was ready and the citizens were arriving to have the meal, she felt that Hanuman must be very hungry. She was concerned that Hanuman will get busy in serving the guests and he may not get the chance to eat for a long time. Besides, she wanted to serve him herself as he was like her child. She asked him to be seated and have his meal first and offered to serve him.

Hanuman obeyed mother Sita and sat down to have the meal. As she served the food one dish after the other, Hanuman kept eating. To her surprise, she found that Hanuman did not appear satiated. He kept on eating. He was eating so much that that she started wondering if he would eat all the stuff that was cooked for the thousands of citizens. She started worrying but could not stop serving him. She excused herself and ran to Lord Rama and explained her fear to him. Lord Rama asked her, “Who do you think Hanuman is? He is an ‘amsha’ of Lord Shiva. Therefore, any amount of either food or any material stuff - however precious will not satisfy him. The only thing that satisfies him is devotion.” Mother Sita agreed, “I thought he was your obedient devotee and I consider him my child. Thanks for disclosing who he really is. But please tell me how to satiate him now. Otherwise I will be in trouble. We will have to start procuring all the groceries and begin cooking again and the citizens won’t be able to wait for long.” Lord Rama responded, “Sita, you will have to prostrate to Hanuman to satiate him. But, because he also considers and respects you as his mother, he won’t tolerate it if he sees you prostrate to him. Prostrate to him from behind him so he does not see you, and pray to him.” Mother Sita rushed back, and quietly prostrated to Hanuman from behind him and prayed to him, “My lord, forgive my ignorance. I realize who you are now. It is my mistake to think that I could feed you enough to satiate you.” Within a few moments, Hanuman burped and got up saying, “Mother, I had enough of this wonderful food. Thanks. Let me now make sure that all the guests are served properly. They must be waiting.”

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Question on facebook: Did Swamiji talk about Destiny?
Jagadish: Yes. Swamiji did talk about destiny. Before we proceed, what do we mean by Destiny? Do we mean God’s will? Or do we mean ‘karma phala’ often just called ‘karma’ to mean the result of past actions?

 By ‘Destiny’, I am trying to address here the issue of whether the occurrence of events is predetermined. In the context of Swamiji’s life and teachings, the ‘nadis’ – ancient astrological scriptures that predicted Swamiji’s prior births and tapas definitely point to such destiny. It is surprising to note that even names of the numerous incarnations of Swamiji are correctly mentioned. In this life time, Swamiji’s name is mentioned as ‘Sathya Raat’ ‘Raat’ in Sanskrit is the same as ‘Raju’ in Telugu, meaning King. Don’t we all think that the parents of a child just think of a name to be given to the child? How could such minute details be predicted with such accuracy? Isn’t that destiny?

The prediction of ‘Kalki Avatar’ – the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, which is estimated to be revealed any time now, is also another clear pointer to the legitimacy of ‘destiny’. Swamiji confirmed the veracity of Kalki Avatar many times.

Swamiji Himself often said “The (right) time has to come for it to happen (or occur)…” in contexts where devotees asked Him whether and when a certain event would happen. One example is about Sathyaraju being initiated into tapas. Swamiji used to tell us, “The time was ripe for Shankar Bhagwan to initiate Sathyaraju.” Such “right time” is beyond cause and effect. It is but destiny.

Asked when a disciple will find his/her Guru, Swamiji used to say, “The correct time has to come.” – irrespective of the effort or sincerity of the disciple. At the right time they will find each other “automatically”. That word automatically was used by Swamiji often to refer to destiny.

Having written all the above I need to stress that Swamiji gave a lot of importance to our own personal will and effort too. Tom writes in ‘Swamiji’s Treasure’: When Swamiji told stories of his childhood, Swamiji was making a point. In the subtle play between destiny and free will, there is a role for individual effort.

A devotee from Agra narrated his discussion with Swamiji to me and Tom in 1996. One evening when Swamiji was in Agra, this devotee was tired on returning from work and lied down on the bed. He would not miss even a single evening program during Swamiji’s visits to Agra. His wife made some tea for him. A while after having the tea, he dressed up, took a bus and reached the Badawar House where the program was being conducted. After the bhajan that evening, during the course of the usual discussion between Swamiji and devotees, the subject somehow turned to destiny. This devotee argued with Swamiji that everything was destined. He told Swamiji, “I was not in a mood to come here tonight. However, you willed that I be here. You called me, that is why I am here.” Swamiji argued, “It is true that Swamiji called you here today. However, you are here also because on your part, you got up from bed, dressed up, walked to the bus stand, took a bus, got off the bus and walked to this venue. Therefore, while destiny plays a part, the individual has to act. He has a role to play.”

There is a whole sub-section in Swamiji’s Treasure dedicated to the discussion between Swamiji and devotees on Destiny = Karma. Here is an extract to encourage you to read the whole chapter

Q       What is the role of free will and destiny in our lives? What if one’s astrology predicts something bad?

Swamiji: “You have the power to change your destiny. You can avoid the danger that astrology predicts by using your intelligence [buddhi]. Let us say an astrologer tells you that you might be involved in a car accident. While driving the car, if you are very cautious and if you use your intelligence then you can avoid the accident. If you think the accident is going to happen anyway and hence you close your eyes and drive, then you will definitely meet with an accident.”

Shiladitya, who interpreted for Swamiji in 1989, and who was well versed in Astrology told me, “Knowledge of Astrology is like being able to glow a torch on the path in the dark. It lets you see the pit so you may go around it.”