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Swami faced a lot of hardship

   For close to five years, Swami faced a lot of hardship. Devi would repeatedly test him to gauge his spiritual progress and his conduct while leading a dual life, divine on one hand, and mundanely mortal on the other. To Swami, it often seemed an uphill task, this balancing act between his karmic and yogic lives, while being constantly monitored and reprimanded by the divinity that resided within him. It was a struggle that I cannot find words to describe, and is best left to the readers imagination to visualize and appreciate.

   Nevertheless, Swami resolutely maintained his regimen of Thursday and Friday poojais. His mission of service to humanity was beginning to take concrete shape. At the time, Swami used to spend most of his time in Kalyan, a remote suburb of Bombay. Devotees used to be scared to be in his physical proximity, especially when he uttered arulvakku (divine blessings) at the completion of every poojai. Most people came to him seeking resolution of their personal problems. Sometime, Swami used to ask for a limbu (lemon) and used to write something on it with his fingers (none till date knows this divine script) and he would then give this to the devotee. Swami would then ask for that limbu in the prayer room and once dry, cast it away in a pond, lake or river. At times, he would even poke a needle through the lemon and give that to the devotee in need.

   In the year 1987, one Thursday, when Swami was performing ekantha poojai at Kalyan, Devi revealed to Swami that she would like to settle in a permanent abode where devotees could worship her. She stated that the abode should be located at Tambaram in Madras, and that the deity there would be known as "The Divine Mother Goddess Kalyana Bagavathi" (meaning the goddess who showers everlasting happiness). Swami was in a fix as always, since he had never heard of Tambaram and did not know anybody there. He was also concerned about the logistics — where was the idol that he should install, how would he acquire the land etc., the list seemed daunting. As always, he meditated on Devi and prayed for direction. At that time, to the wonder and delight of all present, two pictures from seemingly nowhere came flying and fell into Swami's lap. One picture depicted the Devi's divine form and the other revealed it in Swami's prayer room in his hometown. Swami immediately asked one of the devotees to call his family and ask them if any idol had appeared in his prayer room back home. The following details emerged — indeed, a huge stone idol of Devi's likeiiness weighing close to 300 kilos had emerged in the prayer room, breaking through the floor. Also, a bronze lamp with a snake carved on it was found near the idol. Swami at once asked that the lamp be lit daily and that the idol be adorned with flowers. Under these miraculous circumstances, the idol that is the main deity of worship at Tambaram came to exist.

   The very same day, Devi appeared in the dream of a lady named Savithri, a staunch devotee of Devi. She was instructed to give the piece of land she owned in Tambaram to a holy man clad in red who was in Kalyan, Bombay, for the construction of a Devi temple there. Savithri had neither seen Swami nor heard of him. The next morning, she called her friend Prema and asked her to trace this holy man.

   Prema attended the poojai that day. At the close of poojai, after receiving prasadam, she was getting ready to leave. At that moment, the divine voice asked Swami to honor a lady named Annapoorni with the customary betel leaves, betel nut, coconut, flowers and fruit. Devi assured Swami that he was soon going to find out how he was going to build the temple. Swami called out for a lady named Annapoorni to step forward. Prema was astonished, and came to him at once. She said that her real name was in fact Annapoorni, and related her friend's dream to Swami. Later, Savithri came to meet Swami and both Swami and Savithri were without the least doubt that they shared a common cause, the construction of the Devi temple. Soon, both Swami and Savithri arrived at Tambaram. As per divine direction, Swami walked a certain distance on the plot of land and demarcated a small area of 800 square feet. He said that was all that was needed by Devi. Savithri immediately had the plot of land transferred to Swami.

   Later, a small sannadhi was constructed and on Swami's star birthday, 19th June 1988, the idol was consecrated by Swami as per tanthric ritual. An idol of Vinayakar as Shakthi Ganapathi was installed facing Devi. From that day on, the temple grew in fame as Kalyana Bagavathi koil. Recently, as per divine command, the temple has been renamed as Bagavathi siddhar peetam.

   Since 1988, Swami would give advance instructions as to the location of the Thursday and Friday poojais. Typically, husband and wife of the host family were asked to perform the poojai between 7.30 am and 9.30 am. Swami would fast on

   Thursday, with the exception of a few cups of milk. On Friday, the neivedyam (holy food offering) was sweet rice, ghee and jaggery pudding (neipayasam), which is also the main offering in all the temples in Kerala. Lalitha Sahasranama (1000 names of Devi) archanai would be chanted, followed by devotional songs, many rendered in a sublime, divinely melodious voice by Swami. At the end of the poojai, Swami would fall into a trance and utter arulvakku to the concerned family only, after consuming a handful of neipayasam. This arulvakku, uttered in Malayalam, a language unknown to Swami's karmic self, would contain future happenings, directions and blessings pertaining to the family. Swami himself would learn of the details of the utterances only later through the family members. At the end, mangala aarathi is done by burning camphor and lighting a lamp in front of Devi, accompanied by the chant of slokas.

   Thus, since 1974 till date, innumerable marriages and life direction to scores of families have been provided through Swami's direction and blessings.

   I will take care of your family, while you, as per divine order, proceed to ceaselessly be of service to humanity — such was Devi's command to Swami, who has unflinchingly obeyed the same, never swayed by family crises, social ridicule or financial penury. Even today, Swami only occasionally visits his family, and provides them a basic level of financial support.

   With Goddess and Gurunathar being one with him, Swami is an Avathar Purusha, relentlessly working to set at rest the agony and chaos of all that come to him, no matter how trivial their problem, regardless of social and religious standing. He is a shining light that is inextinguishable, a light that kindles the light in all of us, dispelling pervading gloom. Living as an ordinary person, he shares our joy, successes, sorrows, failures and fears as a friend, philosopher and guide.

Om Bagavathi Siddharaya Vidmahe Sakthi Hastaya Deemahi Thannor Bagavathi Prachodayath

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