We often ignore or take the eligibility of visiting these extremely sacred places lightly or for granted. However it is the most important part of the yatra (pilgrimage) – the permission from Para Brahma to undertake the yatra and stand in HIS presence. We fail to understand that the mere permission given is an acknowledgment by HIM of HIS loving Grace on the person.
A group of five people had the privilege to visit the holy places of Srisailam and Kurvapur along with Mohanji. It was not less than a journey of a lifetime. Full of experiences and miracles, it was extremely humbling for the devotees accompanying. It was a homecoming from them.
The journey started from Hyderabad. In 6 hours we reached the outskirts of Srisailam. And the miracles started! Nandita Singh explains, “Before visiting the Mallika Arjuna temple at Srisailam, one needs to visit the Sakshi Ganesha temple which is at the outskirts of the town. We stopped there to take the permission and blessings of Lord Ganesha before proceeding further. When we reached the Sakshi Ganesha temple, it was already quite dark. We went in after buying some flowers and offerings. Mohanji asked us to sacrifice a coconut at the stone outside the temple for the benefit of the world. After the darshan we were moving out of the temple, Mohanji asked me to give some money to an old man sitting at some distance. He was sitting with his back to the deity! It is usually considered as irreverence to sit with one’s back towards the deity of the temple. I gave some money to the old man. As I turned back, Mohanji asked me, “What did HE say to you? I replied, “Aum Namah Shivaya”. I was curious and asked Mohanji who that person was. Mohanji replied, “Lord Shiva himself”! We all were stunned at the reply. He added, “Who else can sit with his back to the deity of the temple!”. Then he asked me how HIS eyes were. I replied that his eyes were “glassy” and powerful! “That’s it!” Mohanji replied.
When we reached Srisailam, we checked into a guest house which was very near to Mallika Arjuna temple. We could hear the chants of the evening aarti. The caretaker’s name was also Mallika Arjuna Reddy! He was a noble soul and was extremely helpful. He explained everything about the abhishek pooja that we had to perform the next morning. He made all the arrangements for the pooja and then took us out for dinner. We enjoyed authentic Andhra spicy food.
When we returned to retire for the day, suddenly Mohanji moved to the dining room and started eating custard apples which we had bought on the way to Srisailam. He asked us to join him. He said that if we won’t eat them, the ants will! This seemed like a passing statement but Mohanji never says anything without a reason. The next morning, when we came back to the guest house after visiting the temple, the path that led to the table was full of ants!
Shashank Jaitely narrates his experience. “We were supposed to get up 5 am as we had to reach Mallika Arjuna Temple at 6 am. I was sharing the room with Mohanji so I wanted to get ready before Mohanji got up. I woke up early and when opened my bag to take my white clothes out, I got a shock because the hair shampoo that I was carrying had leaked and had spoilt all my clothes! The only way I could wear them was to wash and dry them quickly. I did wash but as the time was short, in no way they would have dried up in time. Soon Mohanji got up and I started attending to him, praying for a miracle. As if Mohanji heard me. He asked me to check with the caretaker what we were supposed to wear for the temple. The caretaker confirmed that traditionally men don’t wear anything on top while inside the temple complex! So that was half my problem solved! When I informed this to Mohanji, he turned towards his bag and took out one of his dhoti and said to me, “Wear this now and for the rest of the trip, dress up like me”. I was stunned. In one simple swift gesture, Mohanji solved my dilemma of managing the wet and stained clothes!” Remember, I had never discussed my problem with him at all. Thus, I wore Mohanji’s dhoti and eventually got used to it and ended up buying a few more of that kind. 🙂
The visit to Srisailam was surreal. To worship Bharambara Devi in front of thousands of year old Sri Chakras and then to worship Shiva with Shiva was an experience which is beyond the purview of words. Being able to touch and do abhishek of the Shiva linga which has been worshiped by almost all the Avatars and Great Masters including Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Pandavas, Great Saints like the Datta Avatars etc, was indeed a memory to cherish for a lifetime. We also saw the Shiv Linga installed by Sri Rama which has 1000 shiv lings embedded in it as well as the Shiv Linga worshipped by Ma Sita.
After finishing the pooja we went out and sat in our car to go back. Rajesh Singh adds, “Barely had we travelled a distance of about 50m that Mohanji asked the driver to stop. He then asked me to go out and give some money to a lady sitting by the side of the road. I said, “Mohanji, I have just run out of all the change that I had.” He replied, “Please give her whatever you have.” I got off the car and took some money from my wallet and offered it to the lady sitting on the floor. As I got up to leave I saw that she had risen as well and was taking out a coin. I heard Mohanji’s voice from behind, “take it”. I accepted the coin with gratification. Then as I turned to return, I saw that she was taking out another coin. I accepted both the coins, thanked her did pranam with folded hands and returned to the car. As I sat in the car, I asked Mohanji, “Who was she”? Mohanji replied, “She was Devi (Goddess) – Herself”. Mohanji continued saying, “One coin is for inner richness and the other coin is for external richness”. The two pillars that balances a human existence. I was thrilled with the thought of having been blessed by Devi herself. I thanked Mohanji in my heart.”
We then completed our breakfast. As we came out we saw that seven saints dressed in saffron color were standing on the side of the road. Mohanji asked us to offer food to the saints. Later Mohanji told us that they were Saptrishies. Mohanji ensured that all of them were given the food of their choice and asked them if we have their permission to go. We also gave them some money as dakshina (offering of money as gratitude to a saint or God)They blessed us and we left.
Rajesh Singh further adds, “After completing our purchases when I returned to the car. Mohanji was sitting in the front seat. I saw that Mohanji was talking to a saint dressed in saffron and whose hair was neatly tied at the back with a cloth, in the same way that Shirdi Sai Baba tied it. Mohanji asked me to give him money for food. This saint was talking fluent english. He told Mohanji that he is here since last 12 years and once one comes to the soul of Sri Sailam, cannot leave this place. Sri Sailam has great importance in Hindu culture. I offered him some money and we left for Kurvapur”. On the way we stopped at Sakshi Ganesha temple again and thanked him for finding us worthy and allowing us to have such an amazing experience.
We continued our journey and stopped over at Phaladhara-Panchadhara. These holy streams Phaladhara-Panchadhara signify their origin from the forehead (phaladhara) and the five aspects (panchdhara) of God Shiva. This was the place where Adi Shankracharya did penance and composed Shivanandalahari and Sowndaryalahari. Behind the stream, there was a cave where Adi Shankracharya meditated.
In the evening, we reached the ashram of Sri Sri Sri Vittalananda Saraswathi Maharaj at Kurvapur. It was like homecoming. The place had amazing temples. We visited the temple which had the portion of the stone where Shripad Shri Vallabh used to worship. There was a trishul (trident) that belonged to Sripada Srivallabha. The story goes that the trishul was given to Vittal Babaji by a very young boy. The boy told Babaji this trishul belongs to Sripada Srivallabha and he found it in the river. It’s a half broken trishul. After handing over the Trishul to Vittal Baba the boy left. Nobody saw that boy again. In the complex we did parikrama of the Audumber Tree. The audumber tree is Lord Dattatreya himself. Our tradition teaches compassion and love for all, be it human beings, animals or trees. Mohanji went in deep communion with the Audumbe tree at the temple.
Then a miracle happened. Rajesh Singh narrates it in his own words, “After doing parikrama of the audumber tree, we went up to the temple of Devi – Anagha Lakshmi. Mohanji was up ahead offering his pranam to the Devi. As he moved back, I could see the full face of the Devi. I tapped Mohanji on his left upper arm and told him, “Mohanji, the lady that I offered money to in the morning was identical to this lady. Their faces were identical – exactly the same. I was shell shocked at the resemblance between the two. I went up ahead to the altar and offered my humble pranams to Mata Anagha Lakshmi. My soul was stirred as I prostrated at the Devi’s feet. Shashank then came up to me to show some pictures that he had clicked. The first picture I was standing in front of the altar. In the next photograph there was a hazy outline of mine standing next to Mohanji and in the very next photograph I was back again in front of the picture and Mohanji a few steps behind me. I later understood that the second photograph captured the moment that my causal body was getting separated from Mohanji’s after the merger. Mohanji later explained that he had entered me to give me experiences or the eyes to see the truth so that I could recognize the connection between the incident in the morning and this idol. It was a proof of what Mohanji told us in the morning and the relevance of giving dakshina to Goddess and her confirmation of acceptance as well as her blessing. Then the impact of the event sank into me and I felt completely blessed by what I had witnessed”. In one’s lifetime, this kind of experience is hard to happen. One needs to have the eyes to see beyond the ordinary and need the grace of a true guru to attain that power. Saying something is easy. Witnessing it and experiencing it from deep within is not easy at all. That is truly extra ordinary.
Next day morning, we took the boats to go to the island temple of Shripadh Shri Vallabha. The moment we reached the bank, we could hear the chants of digamabra, digambara, shri pad vallabha digambara but we could not see anyone chanting. The chants were peculiar. Shashank adds, “Mohanji asked me, can you hear the chants? I said, I can hear the birds chanting the mantra, Mohanji. He then turned towards me, smiled and said, “Are you sure they are birds?” Then I could understand that they were the divine entities, welcoming Mohanji to the temple!”
With Mohanji’s grace we had the privilege of participating in the abhishek of Nirgun Paduka of Shri Pad Shri Vallaba Maharaj. It was not less than a celestial event. All deities from Shirdi Sai, Bhagwan Nityananda, Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva appeared. Their appearance and sights were vivid. Shashank adds, “I was sitting just behind Mohanji and during whole of the pooja, was looking at Mohanji’s hair. I could not take my eyes off. I tried concentrating on the pooja, but sight used to come back to His hair. Then I knew the reason! I could see whole of Vaikuntha being formed on his hair. Sheshnag with Lord Vishnu laying down, with Lakshmi on his side. I also saw the lotus flower and Lord Brahma sitting on it. It was a spectacle. The hair curls of Mohanji also formed the waves of the Ksheera Sagar. It was an overwhelming experience and brought tears in my eyes. After the pooja was over, I rushed to Mohanji and before I could tell him, he said, “I wanted to tell you that you will see Vaikuntha today!” I was speechless and had tears of gratitude in my eyes.”
Mohanji was feeling at home and took us around the complex showing and explaining the significance of each place. We came across the sacred tree of knowledge, the tree of the tradition! The sacred banyan tree at the temple whose roots connect straight to your soul! Mohanji asked us to hold the roots and feel the vibrations!
A little further there was a cave of Datta avatar Mahayogi Vasudevananda saraswati or Tembe Swami. Mohanji asked Shashank to enter the cave and said, “You will find me inside”. Shashank narrates, “The cave was very small and only one person could enter at a time. When I entered the cave and reached the place where Mahayogi Vasudevananda Saraswati meditated, I felt Mohanji was behind me. I wondered how he could enter the cave as it could only accommodate one person. When I turned, I did not see him, but felt his presence all around. The cave was dark as there was no light source. I switched on the flash of my camera and saw a spectacular site inside the cave. There were so many “M” on the wall and the eyes of Mahayogi Vasudevananda Saraswati in the picture were very familiar J. Glassy eyes! I did find Mohanji inside.”
After spending some more time, we took the boat back to the ashram of Sri Sri Sri Vittalananda Saraswathi Maharaj. Then we saw a breath-taking view. A golden snake was swimming in front of us, showing us the way to the shore. The snake then vanished in the grass which was in the direction of the snake pits outside the ashram. Before it vanished, it lifted its head up from the water and blessed us. Later Mohanji explained that the snake pits were the path to the Nag lok and the golden snake was the celestial snake that came to bless us.
At the ashram, a yog workshop of Siddha Samadhi yoga was being held. Acharaya Jagan Guru ji was conducting the workshop. He had had an instant connect with Mohanji and he requesedt to address the students of the workshop. Mohanji agreed to address. Mohanji later said, “It is such an honour of giving talk at of Sri Sri Sri Vittalananda Saraswathi Maharaj ashram, the same place where the Great Sripada Srivallabha used to conduct his Satsangs, centuries ago. All because of the blessings of Vithal Baba ji and Lord Sreepaada.”
Later in the day we went to the place near the Krishna River where Sripad Shri Vallabh used to do surya namaskar in the morning before going for meditation and satsang. Dhritiman Biswas says, “Grace of Lord Datta continued on the group. HE allowed us to stand on the stone on which HE used to stand and walk on. HE also allowed us to touch the place where he used to sit and meditate. This was near the place where the swyambhu Ganesha is kept to whom we all bowed down to and prayed. The final Grace was showed, by the presence of Lord Datta himself in the form of a divine bird as we walked back to the ashram”.
Sreepada Sreevallabha used to spend the nights at the island Kuruvapuram, which is the other side of the river Krishna, and used to come to this bank during every dawn. He used to take bath, worship Shiva and Ganesha, do Surya Namaskars on a rock and sit and meditate for sometime and then conduct satsangs to Humans at the place where the current ashram of Vittal Babaji stands. This was in 1300AD. In the evenings, he would walk on top of water and go back to the island. The place he used to sit in Samadhi is the current nirguna paaduka temple of Sreepaada. In the nights, many celestial beings used to come to meet him and he used to conduct satsangs for them. The banyan tree is the celestial portal. What a divine place, so filled with vibrations of the highest order!
We spent the rest of the evening enjoying the love and hospitality at the ashram. While Mohanji was interacting with the people at the ashram and feeling at home, a duck came from nowhere and started cuddling with Mohanji as if it found someone it was looking for lifetimes. It started kissing him all over his hands and arms. Then it climbed Mohanji’s feet and sat there with authority. This went on for 25 minutes. In its expression of love, it plucked a few hairs from Mohanji’s arm and then carried it around in its beak as a precious gift!
Next morning we headed back to Hyderabad. There we had the honour to visit Sri Sri Sri Vittalananda Saraswathi Maharaj. The group received a warm reception. Dhritiman adds, “Meeting Swami Maharaj Vittal Babaji was the icing on the cake. His boundless love overwhelmed each one of us, especially his discourse from an ancient book about a story on Lord Rama, Mata Sita and Lord Hanuman. It left many of us in tears. Grace kept on flowing till the last as Swami Maharaj Vittal Babaji blessings verily from Lord Datta himself, melted us and fused us all in one consciousness.” Vittal Baba later accepted the invitation extended by Mohanji on behalf of Shirdi Sai Baba samiti of Pallakad for the inauguration of a Shirdi Sai temple at Pallakad on 14th to 16 January. The group was later blessed by Vittal baba as he gave us the onerous task of proof reading the English translation of ” Sripada Vallabha Leela Vybhavam and the English and Hindi translation of a yet to be launched book written in Telugu, “Sri samaratha ramdas swamy charithamrutham.” We left the place fully gratified at the huge service opportunity that had come our way fully gratified at the love showered on each one of us.
Jai Guru Dev Dutta!