My Guru, My inspiration – part 1

My Guru - Srhi Swami Samartha MaharajMany a times I have had these images flashing in my mind’s eye, images of an infant Prasad crying out loud, sitting in a pool of tears, saliva and food. These disturbing images had always puzzled me and made me sad as I could not put them in context.

A few years ago, around five years to be precise, Swami Samartha Maharaj visited me in my dream. Maharaj was always a part of my knowing as a popular Saint, but that’s it. I used to honor and respect him as it is a part of our custom and that is what you were supposed to do. But the experience that I had that night changed the course of my life.

Swami Samartha Maharaj of Akkalkot is the incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, the presiding deity of Hatha Yogis. He manifested for 22 years in which He inspired many on the path of Yoga, Self exploration and devotion. He left his physical manifestation in 1878.

That particular night, Maharaj manifested in my dream and told me in a stern voice that it was time for me to “wake up”. I could observe myself in the dream being speechless and joyful sitting at the feet of this radiant Saint. Words were failing me and my mind was numb but my heart was full of love and devotion. Not knowing what to say, I asked him to give me his blessings and thanked Him for visiting me. Looking at me with his penetrating gaze He laughed and said, “This is not the first time I am involved with your life”. I was surprised and elated. Sensing my pause and shock he continued, “I was in your life when you were an infant, that time you needed guidance for safety, now you need guidance to carry on your spiritual work. Who do you think protected you from Bai (nanny) when you were five years old, who do you think alerted your neighbors?” The next thing I know is that I wake up in the early hours of the morning puzzled about the whole dialogue.

In the afternoon I happily shared my experience with my mother. I expressed to her my inability to understand what Maharaj had said, something that had left me nervous and puzzled. My mother smiled and said that we were indeed blessed to have Maharaj amongst us and started putting things in context, something that only a few people knew about.

It so happens that I am the youngest child of my parents and have two elder sisters. My parents had to work fulltime to support three children and therefore were out of the house for a major part of the day. Since I was four I was under the care of an old woman called Bai who used to come home to take care of me for five to six hours a day.

One day, as my mother returned home from work the neighbor complained to her that in the afternoons she could hear me screaming and crying but no one seemed to be pacifying me. No one would answer when the neighbor rang the door bell. She was inquiring with my mother if the nanny locks me up and goes out in the afternoon. My mother decided to investigate and returned home early one day. The moment she opened the door with the spare keys she found me sobbing in a pool of tears and curd rice which was forcefully fed to me for lunch some hours back. The old nanny sensed my mother’s arrival and woke up from a deep slumber only to be immediately fired by my mother.

As my mother was telling me all this, the past memories came back to me. I was in shock, as if it was happening to me right at that time. My system remembered the fear, pain and agony of being beaten, force fed and left alone as I sat there crying and screaming for attention and love. I remembered how the four and half year old Prasad had spent afternoons of horror in trauma for nearly six months till Maharaj intervened and alerted my neighbor.

Over a few days I gently recovered from the deep emotional trauma. Whenever my mind would sink, some unknown force would pull it back. I knew it was the persona of Maharaj. When the mind would come up like a whale rising to the surface, my heart would literally explode and tears would roll down my cheeks. There was a deep sense of gratitude and a faint sense of strong, stable hands gently guiding me.
I owe a lot to Maharaj, in fact I owe Him my life. I make an effort to walk on the spiritual path knowing that He is always with me. I offer my success and failure at his feet and allow Him to guide the journey of my life. I understand fully that I am responsible for the life that I choose to create but the Trust in His blessing and my immense gratitude for his guidance makes the journey much easier.