In November–December 1996, the month of Marga Shirsha, a one-month Ram Nam Aradhana anusthana (worship through the chanting or singing of the name Sri Rama) was held in Rikhia. It was scheduled to begin on 26th November. However, I planned to attend for the last week and arrive on 19th December.
Before my arrival, the media was full of reports of a fierce cyclone in the Bay of Bengal. The Indian Meteorology Department forecast that this cyclone could prove devastating, particularly for coastal Andhra Pradesh and ensured that the area was cleared. Consequently thousands of people and cattle had to move out of their dwellings.
After a few days, reports came that the aggression of the storm has suddenly diminished and the cyclone had been submerged within the sea.
Although the news was received with a sigh of relief, questions arose about the efficacy of the weather forecasts. Scientists quoted scientific data to prove the accuracy of the impending cyclone, but had no explanation for its sudden submerging into the sea.
When I reached Rikhia my mind was full of information and questions, but on 21st December I was surprised to hear Sri Swamiji describe how the episode unfolded. He said, “We started this aradhana on 26th November and soon after news reached us that a powerful storm was moving rapidly towards us from Andhra Pradesh. This was not an ordinary storm, but one of the most devastating and fiercest cyclones of the century. Where we are situated in the north, even an ordinary storm uproots and fells trees to the ground. So if the cyclone reached us it would have reduced all the arrangements to dust. I know man has no control over such a fury of nature, but I thought of another plan.
“The 15th December is Shukla Panchami of Marga Shirsha, the day when Sita’s wedding took place. So I decided to celebrate Sita’s wedding as part of this aradhana and at once the weather forecast began to improve. The preparations for celebrating this auspicious occasion immediately began. The image of Sri Sita was brought from Jaipur. She was to arrive on the 15th, but I insisted that she be here on the 12th.
“Sita is shakti incarnate and the cyclone is a form of shakti, so how could Sita allow any disturbance at her own wedding? According to her wish, the storm changed its route and the wedding took place. Had it come, everything would have collapsed. I had to arrange Sita’s wedding just to prevent the storm invading from the south and it worked. It did the trick and we were all spared the fury of Mother Nature.”
Here, in the remote rural village of Rikhia, was revealed the puzzle of the cyclone submerging into the sea which meteorologists around the world could not explain.
Seemingly ordinary in his physical frame, this sage, vested with immeasurable powers, tamed the fierce cyclone through a resolve. What we know of him or claim to understand is, at best, a very insignificant part of him. He is far too great for us to comprehend any aspect fully.
I have heard and read that an aspirant has to resort to austerities, tapasya, to acquire shakti. Sri Swamiji undertook panchagni sadhana, a very difficult and onerous tapasya, for nine years. I have also read that one who completes panchagni acquires control over nature and becomes controller of the five elements. This supernatural occurrence is an example of the outcome of a tapasvi’s resolve. Sri Swamiji attributes all this to Sita’s wedding ceremony, but the fact remains that the very idea of celebrating Sita’s marriage arose in Sri Swamiji’s mind only and was solemnized due to his will alone.
Our master and inspiration, Swami Satyananda, is full of unimaginable, infinite divine powers. We are privileged to have been in the company of such a yuga purusha.
All this is God’s lila. The question we can contemplate is, “Who does God specially choose to channel His shakti – when, where and how?” It is said, Prabal prem ke pale pad kar, prabhu ko niyam badalte dekha – “God is seen changing His ways, seeing the intense love of His devotee.”