Grace of the Guru
Swami Gurubiksha : He wouldn’t stop staring at me. His big, deep and unusually dark eyes were focused on me for the last ten minutes. “Will he take me away with him?” – a dreadful fear arose within my tender heart, and I started to cry, seeking my grandpa’s attention, who was sitting beside me on the train. As my grandpa bent down to comfort me, the next station arrived and this yogi-look-alike man got up to go. Just before stepping off, he whispered in my ears a specific name of Muruga. It took some time for my grandpa and other fellow passengers to calm me down. When we reached our station, to my surprise, my grandpa took me to a Muruga temple of the same name. I was just five years old then, but that face – the intensity of his face that resembled Sadhguru Sri Brahma – is still etched in my memory as if it happened yesterday. Perhaps, it was the beginning of some kind of spiritual opening within me.
My father had died when I was 3 years old, and my grandpa died when I was 20. Very early in my life, I was embroiled in lawsuits regarding family properties and other financial matters. I matured too soon for my age. It was during these times I met Yogi Ramsuratkumar. He was truly an evolved being, and his grace saw me through most of my worldly obstacles in life. After completing my studies, I wanted to go for my passion – construction business – but Yogi Ram suggested that I continue the family’s moneylending and finance business. Little did I know then that this small skill would come so handy in managing the fledgling affairs of Isha, which I became part of in late 1992.
The Sangha of First Five
I grew to be a big fan of Yoga in my teens and I attended Sadhguru’s class simply because of my love for it. However, after Samyama in 1992, I felt I couldn’t leave Sadhguru, that I had to be around him. I started to actively volunteer for his classes all over Tamil Nadu, and moved to the office in Singanallur the same year. I was the oldest among the first five people who had moved in as full-time volunteers. We lived and quarreled like a family. Sadhguru and Vijji Akka often cooked for us, mediated our fights, and took care of our smallest needs – something that even parents may fail to do at times. Those were the best times of my life.
Sadhguru wouldn’t leave any opportunity to pull my leg for one thing or another. Once, while signing some papers that I had prepared, Sadhguru found a mistake. He simply corrected the mistake himself and continued signing the next paper. “Why are you not pointing out this mistake to him the way you do to all of us?” Vijji Akka playfully questioned him in front of me. “If I have to tell him about his mistakes, I will have to spend the whole day talking and explaining them to him!” Sadhguru quipped and continued signing the papers. I really enjoyed this attention, but was still confused as to who my guru was – Yogi Ramsuratkumar or Sadhguru? Soon it became clear to me.
A Miracle and A Turning Point
Later in 1993, I was planning a short visit to my hometown. “You will meet two people who will ask about me. Tell them I am good, and I enquired about them,” Sadhguru said out of the blue when I was about to leave, and repeated it before I stepped out of the house. I didn’t know what to make of this statement, but I became alert every time anyone spoke to me – be it in the train, at home, on the streets, at shops or anywhere. A day passed where no one had asked me about him, but I remained alert. Next day, I went to meet my uncle and the first thing he asked me was, “How is Yoga?” The way he asked it, he may have been referring to Sadhguru. Does Yoga and Jaggi mean the same thing? I wondered for a moment, and then replied, “Yoga is good!” Of course, I couldn’t tell him “Yoga has enquired about you too”!
“One more to go, or maybe two more to go,” I was busy thinking for the remaining two days I spent at home. Nothing happened. On my way back to Coimbatore, I stopped by my cousin sister’s place in Madurai. “How is Jiggi?”asked my cousin’s husband. “Jaggi is good,” I immediately replied, “and he enquired about you,” I added. He was taken aback to hear that Sadhguru enquired about him too. I had a hearty laugh seeing him so uncomfortable. Okay, one was Yoga, one Jiggi, but no Jaggi – I kept thinking until I reached Singanallur.
I couldn’t hold it anymore and told the entire story to Vijji Akka. She was also surprised as to what actually happened, why Sadhguru had said that. Later in the day, I went to volunteer for Sadhguru’s class. “You can’t do even one thing that I tell you to do, properly,” Sadhguru hollered at me as soon as we got some time together. What did I not do properly, I thought. But right after, he burst into laughter and said, “Vijji told me all about it.”
To date, I don’t know what that was all about, but to my simple mind it seemed like a miracle that he could foresee things, and I knew then that Sadhguru was my guru. This episode was a turning point in my commitment to Sadhguru.
The Humility and Commitment of Sadhguru
In February 1993, Sadhguru had finalized the deal for the ashram. He visited many meditators’ homes in Tamil Nadu to ask for donations to build the ashram. One time I had the privilege to go with Sadhguru to Karur for this purpose. It was unbearable for me to see Sadhguru asking for donations. Many gave a lot and some gave a little, but Sadhguru bowed down to each of them with equal devotion.
Live-in Wholeness Experience
On 12 July 1994, we were following Sadhguru’s car on the way to the ashram for the Wholeness program. It was raining so heavily that the Iruttupallam wild stream started to overflow and none of us could cross it. We stayed put with some volunteers in Alandurai, and the Wholeness had to be postponed by a day. It was the first and only time in the history of Isha when a program was postponed by one day.
For me, the Wholeness program was not about other-worldly spiritual experiences (as it was for many others). It simply took me to another level of being within myself – an intense way of living. After the first 30 days, Sadhguru split the Wholeness participants into two groups. Seven of us were in the “live-in” group, and others were in the “teaching” group, who were getting trained to be Isha Yoga teachers. Sadhguru would spend most of his time with the “teaching” group, while we seven were simply existing doing sadhana, gardening, and small chores. After some time, we felt left out, and broken-hearted to see that Sadhguru was not spending time with us. “Please spend some time with us also, Sadhguru,” I pleaded with him one day, on the verge of crying.
Sadhguru looked at me very lovingly, and came to meet us the next day. He sat on the “Leaning tree,” and we seven sat around him. “Just do whatever you are doing with love. Even when you are uprooting the weed parthenium, do it with love, and I will take care of your sadhana and your enlightenment,” Sadhguru told us in that meeting. This was the first ever enlightenment promise we extracted from him!
At one point during the Wholeness, Sadhguru asked the participants to discuss the norms that ashram residents should follow in the future. I was puzzled and alarmed by the rapidly lengthening list of these norms. It scared me totally. I followed Sadhguru that evening to his room. It was dark, and I remember he was carrying a torch. We stopped at his door. He looked at me and I told him impulsively, “Jaggi, I don’t want any rules.” He flashed the torch in my face. He must have seen the tears in my eyes. He said gently, very gently, “Okay, no rules for you.” Though today I follow all the norms of the ashram, just how tenderly Sadhguru addressed my childlike reaction makes that moment memorable for me.
Soon after Wholeness was over, we all became obsessed with supporting Sadhguru in consecrating Dhyanalinga. Those were days of intense activity and intense sadhana. I took care of the legal and financial aspects, and was involved in identifying and purchasing various materials that were used in the making of the dome and parikrama. Then in Mahashivaratri of 1996, I was initiated into brahmacharya – the second batch of brahmacharis.
Did I Really Know What Mahasamadhi Is?
In January 1997, Vijji Akka’s Mahasamadhi came as a bolt from the blue. I was particularly crestfallen. One, because I had a beautiful relationship with her – she was my confidante. The things I couldn’t talk to Sadhguru, I had shared with her. And two, that despite the number of times Sadhguru and Vijji Akka told me that this would happen well beforehand, I had never believed that it could actually happen. I felt like a total fool.
It was in August 1996, when I first heard Vijji telling Sadhguru that she wished to go. We were in the train to Coimbatore from Delhi after the Dhyana Yatra. “They are bantering as usual,” I thought. Another time, Sadhguru stopped me outside the T-block and said that Vijji wanted to take Mahasamadhi, and he doesn’t know how to convince her not to take this step. Yet, even then I didn’t take it seriously.
A week before her Mahasamadhi, Sadhguru asked me to come to Mysore for some work. Vijji Akka looked different to me at the time. “You look different, Vijji. What’s going on?” I asked her. “See, even he feels I look different,” she immediately turned to tell Sadhguru. “That’s because she is going to take Mahasamadhi soon,” Sadhguru replied to me. Still – still I didn’t think it would really happen. Because I knew what Mahasamadhi was and doubted, “How can Vijji Akka reach that highest state of spiritual sadhana?”
So when I heard that she was gone, I felt as if a bomb shell had been dropped on me. I have no words to explain my loss, but somewhere within me, I felt envious of her too.
Another Leap of Intensity
Though the loss was indescribable, I had no time to dwell on it. The Dhyanalinga consecration work kept us all occupied. Those were the most intense times of my life as a brahmachari. Four months after Vijji Akka’s Mahasamadhi, Sadhguru asked me to make arrangements for about 400 meditators to go to a temple in Cuddapah, Andhra Pradesh. Before we left for Cuddapah, a meditator donated her gold to get a gold kavacha made for the linga in that temple. From the goldsmith, the kavacha was brought to the ashram in a small procession, and then it was taken to Cuddapah to adorn the linga. It was here in Cuddapah that Sadhguru spoke about his guru for the first time.
He took all the brahmacharis through a powerful process that night in the same mandapam where he had sat in his previous life to make the blueprint of Dhyanalinga. The process was immensely powerful, my arm started to move up and down in a strange way, and I found myself making loud sounds all night, similar to an elephant trumpet. I continued to drift into this state for the next few months during any powerful situation. And so my intensity took one more leap after that visit to the Cuddapah temple.
What is Dhyanalinga Telling You?
Dhyanalinga was consecrated on June 24, 1999 in its full glory.
Sometime in 2000, I did my first Linga Arpanam. One day when I was plucking flowers in T-block, I happened to meet Sadhguru. “So what is Dhyanalinga telling you?” Sadhguru asked. Once again I was confused, and not knowing what to say, I blurted, “Nothing!” Later I realized the significance of what he had said. Prior to this, I was definitely serving in the temple with devotion, but it was a temple for me – a temple that Sadhguru had consecrated. But after Sadhguru asked me this, it dawned on me that Dhyanalinga is Sadhguru; Sadhguru is Dhyanalinga. They both started to seem the same to me!
During my initial journey, my commitment was only to Sadhguru. The reason why I was here and why I took up brahmacharya was that I couldn’t see myself living without Sadhguru. But after my Linga Arpanam, Dhyanalinga became just as big a presence. Even to date when I am exhausted of dealing with people outside, especially about financial matters, I come and sit in Dhyanalinga for a couple of hours and I fully settle within.
A Journey Towards Spiritual Maturity
My life as a sadhaka matured tremendously when I was initiated into Sanyas. In 2003, during a Brahmachari Meet, Sadhguru initiated ten of us into Sanyas and changed our names to what we are called now. I didn’t really understand at the time what it meant, but soon I saw something had fundamentally shifted within me. Many of my compulsions just dropped, and I got totally established on my path. Since then, I feel within me that I am liberated, but I also know that I am not.
Before concluding, I wish to share that I find people in the ashram truly wonderful. When I meet people outside, I see them entangled in so many trivial ways – in money, relationships, status, houses, cars, etc., but here it’s not like this. We may be still struggling within our limitations that nature has wrapped us into, but we have consciously or unconsciously unknotted a whole lot of unnecessary bondages. This is a blessing for me to live among such people, Dhyanalinga, and of course, my Guru.