A Momentous Event Fifty Years Ago

Swami Dharmashakti Saraswati

From Valmiki’s heart emerged the river of Ramayana. I dove into this river of compassion and reached the ocean of Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and the Puranas. The yearning to meet a real sage manifested and carried me to the feet of Swami Sivananda. An important wish was fulfilled. He gave me a very special blessing. Carrying it in my heart, I returned home. The story is fifty years old. The year was 1958. Now it is 2008.

After receiving Swami Sivananda’s blessings, new aspirations entered the thoughts I had on guru diksha. The desire for receiving initiation became stronger. But whenever the subject came up in a satsang or discussion, Swami Satyananda would say, “I will never become a guru or make an ashram.” Perhaps Mother Providence laughed and said, “One day not only will you become a guru but jagat guru, and you will create an ashram as well.”

In 1958, Swamiji spent his chaturmas in a small village on Nagpur Road. Everyone at the BMC Mill, the young and the old alike, would visit him constantly. They requested him to come to the Mill on Sundays and said that if he didn’t come, they would all arrive at his place for the whole day. Finally it was decided that every Sunday at four in the morning, Satyabratji would go and bring him over to our house before sunrise, and on Monday morning drop him back before sunrise.

On Sunday mornings, Satyabratji would get on his motorbike and ride to Swamiji’s village. It was slightly inconvenient, but Swamiji would come. The entire building would be waiting for him and then everyone would spend the whole day with him. They would take their meals also with him and stay on till ten at night. No one wanted to be away from him.

On 24th August, 1958, while leaving in the morning Swamiji said, “On 28 August, Rakhi Poornima, you will get a new birth. Invite everyone and make prasad. I will come before sunrise.”

I could not understand what he meant. I simply thought, “Just as God wills.” On 28 August, Thursday, Satyabratji left like every Sunday morning and Swamiji arrived. I touched his feet and he asked, “Did you invite everyone and make prasad?” I said, “Swamiji, I have prepared prasad and made some other preparations also, but I could not fathom what to write on the invitation card.” Swamiji laughed and said, “Write: ‘My birthday is about to be celebrated. Please come to give your blessings’.” So we wrote that on a piece of paper and sent errand boys to all the officers and workers of the mill, to our relatives’ houses and other areas of the town. When people got to know, they arrived at our apartment full of surprise. At about nine in the morning, the initiation ceremony began and was completed with everyone chanting Om together.

Mrs Dandekar, wife of the chief engineer of the mill, said, “Swamiji, until now we have seen that during initiation, the mantra is whispered in the ear amid chanting, sounding of the conch and cymbals. That is how even I was initiated, but the way you performed the initiation is completely different.” Swamiji said, “Forget that old method. My Guruji says that if you want to abuse someone, whisper it in the ear and if you want to utter God’s name or a mantra, say it aloud so that everyone can hear it. Even I have heard that the mantra should be whispered in the ear, but with all the bells, etc. that are rung, the initiate cannot even hear the mantra properly and has to ask for it again afterwards. From now on, every time you hear about a diksha, you will remember this occasion.”

After some time, Mrs Dandekar again spoke: “Some of the women here who have never before been initiated want to ask you if they can also consider you their guru since they also chanted the mantra along with Didi, and if you will give them a mala.” Swamiji replied, “If you want to consider me your guru, you may. However, remember that once you call someone your guru, it has to sustain forever. It is a sacred relationship. But I don’t have any malas with me. Whosoever wants a mala can speak to Satyabrat. He will get them for you from Rishikesh.”

Swamiji continued, “With her initiation, your Didi has received a new birth. Now, instead of Basanti Didi, she has become Ma Dharmashakti.” Then he laughed and said, “From today, your Didi has become my first disciple and my brave daughter also. I kept on dilly-dallying about diksha, but she had to become my disciple. And not alone, she brought along so many others. Right? Now don’t forget to feed prasad to everyone and don’t forget to feed me also.”

Everyone was happy, the children started jumping and people conveyed their good wishes. They said, “Swamiji, we cannot forget you. What we have received from you is indescribable. We are also grateful to Satyabratji, for it was only due to him that we could have you here. That this day should dawn is a matter of great fortune for us.”

As for me, I was so overwhelmed that I could not even speak. That I should have found a guru, a god-like guru, a very reflection of Swami Sivananda, was a momentous experience. Swami Sivananda had blessed me with the words, “Your guru will come to your house” and today, that came true.

In these challenging fifty years, I have done a few things through the blessings and protection of my guru. And what I have received is indescribable. In the waves of my heart, thousands of words shine, but I find myself unable to express them. My only prayer is, let my faith in my guru remain steadfast.