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The first divine encounter

   It was Friday, the year 1988. The early October morning sun's rays were filtering into our pooja room. The morning frenzy of activity that marks our day-to-day banal existence had just begun. There was a telephone call from one of our relatives asking for my husband. It was the late Mr. Kalyanasundaram. He had a lengthy telephone conversation with my husband and invited us over to his house for a Laksharchana and pooja with flowers, which was being conducted under the auspices of Kalyana Bagavathi Swami. He wanted us to at least come over for one evening, knowing that we had a busy work load, so that we can have darshan of Swami who he said was the divine incarnation of Chothanikkara Bagavathi.

   On that day we got held up due to some unavoidable reasons and we could make it to his house only by nine at night. We were introduced to Swami who was wearing a red dress and was seated in a room lit by a small red light. We paid our obeisance to him. He materialized a baby Krishna idol in a crawling posture. While giving the idol to my husband he enquired whether his business was just like the idol (in its infancy). My husband confirmed this. We both were very thrilled and startled to see him materializing the idol from thin air. My husband then started telling Swami about our family, about our daughter's health problems. To our surprise and delight, he took out an Ayyappa dollar and asked us to hand it over to our daughter. He told us that she would successfully complete her studies. He asked us whether our daughter's personal God was Ayyapan and indeed it was. While we were leaving he gave us a Mookambikai dollar for our son and told us that he will do very well in his studies and that he had a bright future ahead of him. He did not give me anything (maybe because he knew that I was skeptical of so-called holymen who materialized things). Our first reaction to Swami was mixed — one of belief mixed with fear. We could sense his divinity as he was able to predict our past and present with uncanny accuracy. Since we had witnessed Swami materializing so many idols we were also fearful, an inbuilt fear of the unknown. We initially kept all the idols in our prayer room and then after we got close to him we started wearing all the lockets he gave us. Such were the piquant circumstances of our first darshan of Swami.

   Turning Point

   After our initial encounter with Swami we were unable to meet him for the next 18 months or so. We then met him when there was the weekly two day Devi pooja at my sister's house. This left a lasting impression in our minds. We realized that Swami was indeed holy and divine and then started attending the Thursday and the Friday poojas regularly. Our confidence in him started growing as we took baby steps in our devotion towards him. We expressed our desire to have him over for lunch. He was silent for a few minutes and then he gave his approval. He told us that unless he gets permission from Devi he would not go to anybody's house on his own accord.

   Swami first visited our house in November 1989. We were excited to have him over and I was anxious as to whether he would like the dishes I prepared for him. He arrived at 10.30 am with my sister and brother-in-law. We welcomed him with mangala aarathi and chants of Om Shree Shakthi Bagavathi Narayanee Namoh Namah. We paid our obeisance to him after garlanding him with flowers. My son and daughter did namaskarams. My brother-in-law briefed Swami about our family condition. I wanted to speak to him in private and asked his permission for that. He agreed and went over to the other room. I briefed him about the mental dilemma I had at home. My husband was from a highly strict orthodox family and because of that he always insisted on strict orthodox practices being followed at home. My daughter being brought up in Bombay and studying for medicine was not at all happy and at times she used to become furious over what she thought were archaic and unfair rules. Though my husband was an electronic engineer and worked for Atomic Energy commission for over thirteen years, he never wanted to give up the strict orthodox principles that had been instilled in him. Often, I used to revolt against my husband's views. Due to this, there used to be petty quarrels, clash of bruised-egos and misunderstandings. Moreover, my husband was a perfectionist and a highly principled man who could not tolerate anything done in a slip-shod manner. My son who was seven years younger than my daughter used to be a silent spectator and often used to correct and advise me to be patient and keep my cool. I bothered Swami with all the family problems and prayed to him to bless me and guide me as to how I should run a smooth day-to-day life without petty squabbling. Swami patiently listened and then handed me a photo of Lord Balaji with a prayer written at its back. He asked me to chant that prayer daily. It was a miracle from thin air, which I witnessed with wonder. I fell at his lotus feet and prayed for his blessings. I showed the photo to all others in the next room. Swami asked my husband whether any trip to Lord Venkatachalapathi of Tirupathi was pending. My husband replied politely that there was an urge in his mind to go to Tirupathi and that our last visit was ten years back when our son Rajesh was one year old for offering his hair to the lord. Swami explained the significance of offering one's hair to the lord. Hair is that which lends beauty to the face. By offering the hair we are symbolically sacrificing our desires and give up that to which we are most attached. We thus seek God's blessings so that our destiny be shaped so as to help us tide over the ocean waves of hurdles of the materialistic world. He suggested that we visit Lord Balaji immediately. He also added that our trip would be a very special one and we would have a very special darshan. He added that we should come back and narrate all the happenings to him. He paused for a moment and asked my husband whether the Siva pooja being done in their family had been discontinued suddenly.

   His forefathers had been performing Siva pooja, his eldest brother took over the Siva pooja. After a few years, he was also unable to continue the practice this was unfortunately discontinued at some point of time. Then afterwards He deposited the lingam in Kanachi Mutt. We all were struck with wonder as to how Swami knew the past history of the individual by just looking at him. Later, when there was a Bagavathi Pooja and Swami materialized a bronze Siva lingam and gave it to my husband and asked him to do abhishekam to it every Monday. By doing this all our problems would get solved, he said.