There was a great Siddha, Padiyar Swami, also called Swami Sadananda of Kanhangad, who was one of Bhagawan Nityananda’s foremost disciples. He used to say, “You do not have to do anything except do your duty first. Strive for excellence. The key word is Ulgas.” In Konkani language this means constant remembrance, constant chanting, being present and being aware by allowing your mind to become completely absorbed within. This can be accomplished easily through Japa and Chanting. This is an excellent means to attract the Grace of the Guru to you. It is the means of “stealing” the Guru’s Shakti and absorbing it into yourself. The Siddha then guides you at the pace that your capacity and personality will allow, and in a very safe manner, so that you reach the other shore permanently.
Mr. Padiyar (before he was given the name “swami”) had come to Mumbai from Karnataka. Since he was from the community called Gowda Saraswat Brahmins (G.S.B.) and knew Sitaram Shenoy (my uncle), he checked in at Sitaram’s hotel in Mumbai. All the youth from the G.S.B. community who came to Mumbai in search of work were welcomed at Sitaram’s place. They slept in his gymnasium at night and went searching for jobs during the day. They were fed all their meals in the hotel until they found a job. Padiyar was one such youth whom Sitaram took a liking. It was obvious to Sitaram that Padiyar had to be introduced to Baba Nityananda. Mr. Padiyar made repeated visits to Bhagawan Nityananda during Bade Baba’s stay in Mumbai (early 1930s) and later at Baba’s Ganeshpuri Ashram. These visits slowly transformed Padiyar into a devoted disciple. He soon gave up his search for a career and started spending more time in Ganeshpuri with Bade Baba.
Bhagawan Nityananda did not give formal public programs nor did he demonstrate any particular set of spiritual practices like other Acharyas who conduct classes. In those days, people received Shaktipat from Baba just by being in His presence and remaining open to His Grace. Often he laid down on his side facing a wall with his back turned to the congregation. Thousands of people experienced God’s Grace through him in this way. He was like the ocean. The ocean doesn’t come looking for you. You have to go to the ocean and, depending on the size of the vessel you are carrying, that’s the amount of water you’re able to take away with you.
This is the way it was with Bade Baba. He was always available to everyone without any disparity. Those who came looking for their mundane desires to be fulfilled were often disappointed. In Baba’s presence all you needed to do was to be aware and remain open to receive His Grace. The rest just happened automatically. All Bhagawan Nityananda wanted was your love and devotion. In exchange for this He took you to the height of ecstasy, completely absorbed in Shiva Consciousness.
One day Padiyar had become very frustrated with his lack of spiritual progress. He felt nothing was happening for him. So, in a state of frustration he told Bhagawan Nityananda, “I am leaving for good.” Bade Baba asked, “Where to and for what?” This simple question resounded in Padiyar’s being like a mantra. Where to? Yes, where will you go? If you want God and you cannot attain His state here at the very seat of Grace, where else can you find it? What will you accomplish by going elsewhere? Why put it off for later? Your time is here and now so why postpone it by leaving? If in the company of a Maha Siddha you cannot attain peace, where else will you find it? These were the questions that reverberated inside Padiyar’s being. So, he decided to stay. Later, he was renamed Sadananda Swami by Swami Janananda Baba of Kanhangad, one of Bhagawan Nityananda’s closest disciples.
During one of his visits to Mumbai, Head Master (Mr. Devrai Pai) went to Ganeshpuri for Bade Baba’s dashan. When Bade Baba enquired about his general welfare, Head Master expressed that his daughter, Minakshi, had grown up and that it was time for her to marry. Bhagawan Nityananda recommended that she should marry Sitaram Shenoy’s son, Ratnakar. Devrai Master’s elder daughter, Sunita, was already married to Sitaram’s brother Raghunath (my father). In those days it was parents who got their children married and children had no say in the matter. Children had to obey the elders and surprisingly those marriages were life-long.
When Sitaram’s mother passed, he and Ratnakar visited his native Padbidri in Karnataka. Both of them then visited Kanhangad to have darshan of Shri Janananda Swamiji. Swamiji asked them to visit Head Master and have lunch at his place. Both father and son went to Devrai Master’s house and, during lunch, Devrai Pai told Sitaram that Bhagawan Nityananda said that Minakshi and Ratnakar should marry. Because Devrai Pai was a most respected devotee of Bhagawan Nityananda and, hearing that it was Bade Baba’s will, Sitaram agreed to the proposal. It was thus finalized and the duo returned to Mumbai.
The entire marriage ceremony was planned, supervised and organized by Bade Baba and took place in Ganeshpuri. Very few were blessed to have Bade Baba playing the role of parent. He arranged for lunch, priest, and accommodations for guests. Every person who attended the marriage considered Ratnakar and Minakshi to be blessed, as they had the Grace of Bhagawan Nityananda for their marriage.
One person however, was not pleased at all. That person was Sushila Shenoy, mother of Ratnakar. Sitaram was a well-known figure and a successful businessman. She had wanted her son to marry a rich man’s daughter in Mumbai with great pomp and celebration. Her eldest son was married to Gulab Amma, a poor widow’s daughter, who used to manage the Managudda Ashram of Tulasi Amma). Since Ratnakar was very handsome-looking she was expecting to marry him to rich girl. She wanted that the marriage to be held in Mumbai in a good hall with all relatives attending. She was thoroughly disappointed by the fact that the marriage was held in the jungles of Ganeshpuri. Although she was a devotee, the mother within her had certain expectations for her son.
Years later, the marriage of her third son, Shivaji, was arranged. This time Bhagawan Nityananda was not involved in the preparations and she decided the wedding ceremony would be done her way, and that it should take place in Mumbai. Everything was arranged. A good hall was booked, cook and menu were fixed, and invitations were printed and posted to all the relatives and friends. She personally supervised all the necessary preparations declaring, “Shivaji’s marriage will be done in the best possible manner, unlike the marriages of my other two sons.”
It so happened that, just two days before the marriage, as the bride and her parents were travelling to Mumbai for the wedding ceremony, the bride’s mother died. Sushila received the sad news through telegram. The bride’s family had to cancel the wedding to perform the last rites of the mother. In Mumbai, there was total chaos. All the preparations had to be stopped. All relatives were informed of the cancellation of the marriage. All the efforts of Sushila thus went to waste. After few months a new date for marriage was fixed and this time the venue was Vajreshwari! Alas! Bhagawan Nityananda was not there but there were local people dancing in the marriage procession. It was nowhere near what Sushila had planed for her favorite son’s marriage nor did it match the G.S.B. style. At least for Ratnakar’s marriage there was Bade Baba’s Grace.
When the joint families of Raghunath Shenoy split and properties were distributed among the brothers, Raghunath was not happy with what his elder brother Sitaram offered him. He had his eye on hotel Nityanand Bhuwan, opposite the Sandhurst Road Railway Station. He went to Bhagawan Nityananda and expressed his desire. Bade Baba told him not to take anything from Sitaram and suggested that he should accept Madhu Niwas, a hotel in Ganeshpuri owned by Lokannå. My father did not follow what Bade Baba told him. He accepted the hotel from Sitaram as his share in the family property. Years later we had to sell this hotel because it never added any value to his life. Again when the other two brothers of Raghunath, Vittal and Ramkrishna, were at loggerheads over their partnership shares in their shop, they approached Janananda Swamiji to mediate. When the suggestion given by Swamiji was not up to what they wanted, they just ignored it. As a result, years later both brothers failed at their business ventures.
When we have the opportunity to witness and appreciate Guru’s Grace, we should accept it with great humility and total surrender. If we keep our ego and sabotage the Grace, the outcome is not pleasant and not what we really need. Once you approach a Guru for advice and guidance you should follow your Guru’s guidance, irrespective of whether you like it or not.
When Bhagawan Nityananda lived in the old Ganeshpuri Ashram (Vaikunth), he used to take a regular walk in the compound. He always walked barefoot. The compound was full of very small and sharp stones that were very painful to walk on barefoot. One day Ratnakar Shenoy and Padiyar (Sadananda Swami of Kanhangad) decided to cover the place where Baba walked with fine sand. Both of them worked very hard for the whole day. They finally covered the entire area with sand, making it comfortable to walk on.
After accomplishing this job they washed their hands and feet in the Kunda (hot spring) and went to have Bade Baba’s darshan in Vaikunth. They bowed to him. Bhagawan Nityananda opened his eyes and slowly slipped his hand below the mattress on which he was sleeping. He removed some money. He offered this money to them as compensation for their work. Ratnakar refused the money, as he felt that it was not proper to be compensated for serving his Guru. But Bade Baba insisted saying, “You have sweated for it.” On the spiritual path, compensating one’s Guru is considered impossible, even if you dedicate your entire life and all other future lives in service to the Master. And yet, Bhagawan Nityananda was compensating his disciple! Bhagawan Nityananda always found a way to compensate those in dire need, even after granting them his Grace.