As we entered the era of the twenty-first century, most of us made heavy weather getting over the anxiety of whether the world's computers would crash and ensuring they were Y2K compliant, an exercise in wasted effort for the most part. We stepped slowly, gingerly but without incident into the new millennium. In this modern age of Kaliyuga, the supersonic speed with which science, industry, transport and communication have progressed is remarkable. We now live in a jet age where in most of the western world, computers and robots do most of the jobs in no time, jobs that people like you and me used to slog at, consuming enormous amount of time and strenuous physical effort even a few decades back. Nowadays, in the developed world, most hard, repetitive tasks are done at the press of a button. The giant leaps in the telecommunication field are phenomenal and quite unbelievable. We are able to communicate to anyone in any part of the globe, all the while seated comfortably in front of a computer, using the all-pervasive internet, all within a fraction of time. This outstanding progress has suddenly transformed our lifestyle to one of overwhelming comfort and convenience. The bar is being raised almost daily, fueled by new inventions cropping up every other day.
Expectations and desires of the common man also go on mounting — is even the sky the limit?
When we look at the western developed countries, the people live a luxurious life with enormous comforts and conveniences compared to their counterparts in the rest of the world. But alas! What is happening to their mental peace? In their materialistic world without a breath to spare, they often lack even the basic interaction among the family members. Most children watch their precious years of childhood slip by unnoticed at the day care centers or with nannies while their parents work. No wonder then that they get addicted to television and are exposed to life's good, bad and ugly only through the influential media - they see, hear and feel only what the media moguls decide to offer them, not a very exciting prospect. The aspects of genuine love, affection and caring for one another have diminished significantly. It would be safe to say that a family gets time to interact and exchange their views mostly when they go on long drives, trapped within the confines of their vehicle. What a pathetic and paradoxical situation this is!
When we turn our attention towards our country, in India also the developments in science and technology are phenomenal. In urban cities, computers are must-haves in most houses. The standard of living for most has improved unbelievably in the last two decades. Cell phones, computers, luxury cars and many electronic gadgets have flooded the major cities. Even most of the remote villages are now well connected to each other via satellite communications. Slowly the trends of the west have permeated native culture, particularly among the affluent community. The urban children are so addicted to video games and television that they do not want to step out and play during their leisure. Social interaction has deteriorated considerably.
So where is all this talk taking us? In the entire world, in spite of all comforts and easy going life, man is not really happy. The ethics, moral values, human culture itself is decaying. Greed, jealousy, anger and violence have begun their conquest of man. He has become a puppet of these vices and a victim of all possible evil habits. To achieve his set goal, he does not hesitate at even violent killing. Human compassion, love and sympathy are becoming old-fashioned values, worthy only of ridicule. In the so-called modern and scientific era, terrorism, violence, plane hijacking, rape, suicide bombs and bomb attacks, gang wars, chemical warfare and nuclear threats vie for our attention in the daily newspaper. In the name of democracy and freedom, we live a pseudo happy life with zero mental peace and happiness, in spite of our perceived high standard of living. In our mad pursuit of acquiring wealth and comfort in this materialistic dream world, our basic code of conduct and moral values have started disappearing. So much so, the virtues of patience, endurance, compassion, the courage to face adversity and human sympathy have deteriorated in inverse proportion to our technological progress. Seldom are we happy and mental peace is at a premium. When things do not go our way, our blood pressure shoots up due to mental hypertension and we fall prey to myriad diseases.
The next step in this passage to hell is marked by mental depression and addiction to medicines and intoxicants to relieve agony. Man in his selfish motto of fulfilling his own desires builds up his own imaginary kingdom only to get trapped in its dungeons. When a calamity occurs, he becomes helpless and pathetic. The ego hidden in him clouds his understanding of the real goal of life, to know the Real Self (God) in him. Even a trivial matter upsets him so much that he is unable to find a solution using his intelligence. At that time, he turns in desperation towards God. Many a times, he blames God for his misfortune. Some times, he feels that it is his fate that he has to undergo a miserable life. Much engrossed with his mortal body, he forgets the real Self hidden in him and never heeds to the Divine consciousness within him. When he interacts with anyone, if the wavelength of the latter matches his own, he quickly befriends them. He expects others to respect his opinions and fancies, no matter how whimsical and totally ignores the likes and dislikes of the other person. Thus we find that God-fearing qualities of righteousness, dharma and spiritual life — all these have no place in man's day-to-day life. The violent, law of the jungle like environment in which we live, paradoxically contributes and is the outcome of this way of life.
Whenever righteousness and dharma among humankind deteriorates, God descends to the earth to protect the dharma and righteousness — so declared Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. In the history of man, there have been many divine figures who were capable of demonstrating the super natural powers in a most concrete way and who have also experienced the absolute reality and also assured that they are in fact the divine reality; thus proving no duality exists (i.e. jivathma and paramathma) and that they are merged into the oneness of the Self. They are no doubt divine incarnate themselves. The attainment of absolute bliss, the question of absolute truth behind Kundalini, the siddhis, the ultimate limits of man's potential, the real purpose of human life, the divine path which can lead to the reality of God - all these profound questions beseech one to confront them so that one can lead a rich life seeking the absolute truth. Many of these questions are answered by the appearance of many divine magnificent beings. Their appearances on the earth have had tremendous impact on humanity. They show and demonstrate by their very nature, quality and rhythm of their life, the reality of higher dimensions, the mystery of something beyond the ordinary human mind. By the miracle of their love and encouragement, they give faith, strength and direction to our lives, creating in many the bliss and love which can only come from contact with the divine.
We are all aware of many such divine figures like legendary Krishna and Rama in Hindu philosophy, Buddha and Jesus Christ. Many sages have come down to this world with a mission to spread dharma, love, peace and happiness among the human race. Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Ramana Maharshi, Sivananda, Swami Vivekananda, Shirdi Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba and Matha Amrithanandamayi are among them. Many of us have heard about them and are familiar with their divine spiritual tasks of leading mankind to the path of righteousness.
There are other types of so-called holy men, fake posers who demand money in the name of God from the people who approach them. They claim that they would use the amounts given to conduct special religious yagnas and holy offerings to God on behalf of the gullible people in need who approach them, not knowing any better. These pretentious holy men demand money in exchange for their giving divine articles that are supposedly remedies for their sufferings. Many illiterate, even so called educated people in despair, fall prey to such deceit. These gullible souls are then threatened with the wrath of the almighty. They are told that their suffering is a consequence of not having performed religious rituals to a chosen God. They are thus cheated of their money and become victims to blind superstition.
In a spiritual land like India, there are different castes of people with diverse customs, traditions and rituals worshipping a,plethora of gods. Close to half of India's population is illiterate and live below the line of poverty. Victims of circumstance, these people are mired in superstition. When they fail to find a way out of their often insurmountable day-to-day problems, they seek relief and solace in Godmen. Naturally, the godmen these people find are rarely men of god, and waste no time in duping them.
As said earlier, India has a large number of divine personalities who have made the peace and happiness of all their sole purpose in life. In this book, I propose to introduce the reader to one such holy man, Swami Bagavathi, alias Bagavathi Siddhar. At an early stage of acquaintance, I used to wonder if it is only a weak mind that allows us to feel dependant on superhuman souls. My background as a research scientist at BARC for 11 years and a professor of college physics contributed to a large extent to this line of thinking. However, after all these years, I am convinced beyond doubt that this sort of dependency is real. Since man in reality is fragile and longs to make contact with divine personalities and move into the real dimension of a higher reality.
Who is Swami Bagavathi? Is he divine? How did he come to possess supernatural powers? How does he bring about a change in people leading them to realize their innermost selves?
I started my pursuit to find solutions to these questions. If you are still with me, I welcome you to join me in this journey of interactions with this divine personality. It is indeed an exciting adventure as we find out how Swami moulds, guides and finally uplifts the devotees from their petty materialistic grievances.
Swami stretches the realm of human possibility beyond imagination. He is living proof of a higher reality - none other than the reincarnation of Goddess Chothannikkara Bagavathi, the divine mother who is worshipped in Hindu philosophy as the nucleus of all creation, Aadi Parasakthi. I have devoted a separate chapter of this book detailing the legends of miracles and divine grace of the Goddess. Swami has openly proclaimed time and again that Devi is in him. Yet, like you and me, he moves freely and openly among us allowing us to experience, enjoy and cherish the divinity he embodies. Full of sympathy and understanding, he lovingly leads us away from our petty concerns and enables us to understand and seek the real meaning of life - that is Self Realization even as we continue our day-to-day activities. He teaches us that the deepest, most profound inner urge is the spirit of self-enquiry, the quest for the true self within us, and gives us the resolve to unswervingly follow the path, no matter what life's obstacles may be. He is living proof of the shortsightedness of scientific theory and knowledge when it fails to recognize the reality of the spiritual dimension. In short, I strongly fee! that Swami is the ultimate teacher. He is beyond definition and boundary.
To relate the life and times of a siddha purusha like Swami is a difficult task even for a seasoned writer, and me being a rank amateur, I used to be plagued by self-doubt at the outset and feared ridicule. At the same time, the inner voice in me was relentless. There was this burning desire that Swami's grace and blessings, his divine teachings and riveting parables should be shared with as many as possible.
Swami rarely, if ever, quotes hard to understand, archaic philosophy. His teachings are not about unattainable, lofty ideals, but simple, interesting and highly instructive. If listened to ardently and meditated upon, one will definitely start seeing changes in personality for the better, and give oneself a chance to attain the ultimate - eternal bliss.
I sincerely hope that this book will provide the reader at least a peek into such a state of peace and well-being. With all these thoughts in mind, I hesitantly approached Swami and sought permission to write about him, his life and teachings. With his blessings, I make this humble attempt. Swami, to me, is the divine mother in human form, with whose guidance and grace, I am at a stage of peace and contentment today after crossing over a sea of hardships. I am overwhelmed with tears of happiness and thanksgiving when I recall the divine experiences over these years of association. Naturally, such feelings are hard to express in words, and to appreciate the extent of the feeling, the reader would have to experience Swami first-hand. I pray to the almighty that this collection of various events about Swami, his miracles, his sayings and the interactions with him - all these would be most beneficial and delightful to all and especially to those who have not yet had a chance to see Swami, to be blessed by Swami's darshan.
While writing this book, I have often felt his divine voice encouraging me, strengthening my resolve and flow of thought.
I realize now that this endeavour is my opportunity to understand him fully, to uplift myself to the level of a worthy individual. I pray that I do full justice to this task, and request the reader to bear with any mistakes, literary or otherwise that may have been unknowingly committed.