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Sadguru’s Compassion and Grace

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

Here is a young devotee's first experience at Avadootha Datta Peetham Mysore, during the recent grand 80th Birthday Celebrations. This will bring back memories for many of you as well as excite others to take their first trip.

Inaugural trip to Avadoota Datta Peetham, Mysore India for Appaji’s 80th Birthday

Jaya Guru Datta, Humble prostrations at the Lotus feet of our Sadguru, Parama Pujya Dr. Sri Sri Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji (Appaji) and Sri Sri Sri Datta Vijayananda Teertha Swamij (Swamiji).

Like other devotees, I too dreamt of visiting Mysore ashrama at some point in my life. This dream of mine, that I had tucked away in my heart, came true in May 2022! By Appaji’s grace, my mother, sister and I visited Mysore Ashrama for the first time for Appaji’s 80th birthday celebrations.

As the taxi drove on Ooty Road, we approached what Datta devotees describe as Vaikuntha. As I glimpsed it, the excitement and happiness were too real. From seeing pictures of Mysore Ashrama to now standing in front of the heavenly gates, to then stepping foot inside the mystical compound, as I walked through the Hanuma Dwara, I could not help thinking, "Oh my goodness, is this a dream?"

I could not believe that I was actually standing inside our Appaji’s Vaikuntha. Though in disbelief, part of me felt like this was not the first time I’d been to there or to India; in my heart it felt very familiar. We were warmly welcomed with Swamiji’s darshan at Guru Bhavanam (Swamiji’s home) as He made His way to Datta Hall. Our journey at His Headquarters Ashrama began. But before I divulge more about this journey it would be remiss of me to not comment on the travel journey from Trinidad to India. Travelling for 20 plus hours I was tired and exhausted, to say the least. Through this, I have a newfound respect and appreciation for Appaji for traveling to Trinidad to bless us with His darshan every couple of years, despite the strain such lengthy travels would have on His physical body. Such is the compassionate nature of Sadguru; incomprehensible!

Mysore Ashrama, also known as Datta Nagar, is beautiful and magnificent. The architecture is nothing short of exquisite. It’s inevitably an extension of the compassion and love Appaji has for us and mankind. Going to ashrama I had no expectations; no expectations of the food, place, people or of Appaji and Sri Bala Swamiji. I was simply happy and extremely humbled to be in Appaji’s loving embrace that is Mysore Ashrama-- the place I had dreamt of visiting! The last time I had Appaji’s Darshan in physical form was in 2018, four years ago! When I saw Appaji for the first time during this trip, I was sitting in Nada Mantapa and as soon as I laid eyes on Appaji, the tears automatically flowed. Of course, happy tears only for the moment. I didn’t realize just how much I was yearning for Appaji’s physical Darshan until that moment. But Appaji knew, so He brought me there so I could have His darshan and also to save my life!

Birthday Celebrations

Birthday celebrations spanned 10 days and all programs took place in the great Nada Mantapa. The infrastructure of Nada Mantapa is top class. The renovations have enhanced its beauty and function, making it one of the best in the world. For birthday celebrations, daily Sri Chakra puja was performed by our dearest Sri Swamiji in Nada Mantapa, as well as Gau Mata (cow) puja. Daily the caretakers of the Go Shala would bring Gau Mata for Swamiji’s darshan. Gau Mata was always beautifully dressed and well groomed. The caretakers treat the cows like their own children with lots of love and affection. The Ashrama cows are unique and of various different types all co-existing. They eagerly await Appaji or Swamiji’s Darshan and also enjoy bhajans!

One day during Nagara Sankeertana around the Ashrama’s premises, the bhajan group passed in front of the Goshala singing Appaji’s bhajans. The cow’s reaction to bhajans was unexpected. The cows began running and jumping around in excitement. While doing so, their bells made noises adding to the musical accompaniment of the bhajan group. This was truly a moment to behold. Sri Appaji’s bhajans mesmerize all that’s living!

Daily, Appaji would sit on the stage along with various other Swamis from other organizations. Appaji said He invited these Swamis so that Appaji’s devotees could have their Darshan. Each Swami addressed the audience, and I awestruck at the manner in which each Swami greeted and spoke of our Appaji; they did so with such grace, beauty and eloquence. Additionally, Chaitanya Archana Awards were distributed to various individuals whose contributions in their field were recognized by Appaji. Appaji would also give His discourse. Morning program usually ended around 1pm. Then, around 7pm nightly, music concerts were performed by some of the best singers and musicians in India.

The above schedule was briefly highlighted to mention this; Appaji was extremely busy during these ten days! Apart from the scheduled programme, Appaji would tend to His birds on mornings, perform daily puja which we would all witness live on facebook, then Appaji would grace Nada Mantapa stage for morning programme. For a few consecutive days, Appaji and Swamiji remained in Nada Mantapa, to distribute thousands of dhotis and saris, while most of us, including myself, went for lunch. Each devotee was eager to have Appaji’s Darshan and Appaji was eager to see His devotees also. Appaji met thousands of devotees and maintained His blissful smile as each devotee stood before Him. Just think for a second, thousands of devotees per day in a Darshan line and Appaji smiled beautifully and listened to each devotee intently; only our Appaji can do this! Such is the compassion and grace of Appaji!

This would take Appaji and Swamiji into the late afternoon/evening. After which, around 7pm Appaji and Swamiji return for music concert which lasted a few hours. Incredibly exhausting long days but only out of an abundance of Divine Love, Sri Appaji and Sri Swamiji endured it all. I pray we never take Appaji and Swamiji’s physical presence for granted. Witnessing all that I did has filled me with even more gratitude for Appaji and Swamiji’s physical presence, and appreciation for all that Appaji and Swamiji do for us every micro moment.

What’s a Birthday celebration without annadana? Annadana was performed three times per day; breakfast, lunch and dinner. The annadana line was very long as thousands ate freely each day. Because of this, lunch was served all the way past 4pm! This gives an indication of just how very important Annadana is to Appaji thus, there is no discrimination when it comes to it. Appaji ensures everyone (locals and foreigners) was well fed. Such is His boundless care!

Bonsai Garden

The Bonsai Garden was closed during birthday celebrations. However, one morning, a few Trinis and I decided to check if the Bonsai Garden gift shop would be open. To our surprise, it was! We purchased few items and left. Suddenly, we met one of the volunteers from the gift shop, who with a great sense of urgency wanted us to return to the gift shop for a video. We didn’t question, we just went back to gift shop. Then, we were informed that the Bonsai Garden team was putting together a video highlighting the Bonsai Garden as an offering to Appaji for His birthday. We were told that the team wanted us to be a part of the video. With excitement, we all immediately said yes. We were delighted to be a part of a humble offering for Appaji’s birthday.

Through this seva, we got the blessed opportunity to spend time in Bonsai Garden while the video was being shot. With just less than 10 of us inside the garden, we experienced the wonderful quiet and stillness of the surrounding nature while listening to the water flow through the watercourse. The bonsai plants are beautiful with a lot of character and charm as each is uniquely shaped. These plants stand the test of time as some bonsai plants are as old as Appaji! It was surreal and felt as if Appaji Himself gave us a guided tour of Bonsai Gaden! We were a few blessed souls that got a chance to experience one aspect of Ashrama that is near and dear to Appaji’s heart. For all of us this was truly an unforgettable experience at the Bonsai Garden.

Shuka Vana

Shuka Vana is indeed near and dear to Appaji’s heart. My visit to these loving birds was nothing but exciting and memorable. Walking through Shuka Vana, you are bound to notice the care, love and affection shown to these birds by Appaji and the very hardworking caretakers. Each bird has its own personality and loves Appaji dearly. My mom, sister and I had the opportunity to feed lorikeet birds. As we stood with a plate of fruits in our hands, suddenly lorikeets flew onto the plate,

our hands, our shoulders and our heads! It was simply an unexpected exciting moment and I had so much fun for these few minutes. Additionally, we visited the macaws. Each of us was given an opportunity to hold a macaw on our shoulder/hand for a few minutes. I was given a Hyacinth Macaw; blue and gorgeous! At first, I was a little intimidated by the macaw because of his size but, he proved to be quite the company as he sat on my shoulder and was very gentle. I chatted with him for a bit and fed him walnuts. He ate quietly as he listened while I spoke to him. Shuka Vana is indeed special, and the outpouring of compassion and love Appaji has for His birds is indescribable, but surely one to experience.

Birthday Procession

Apart from the scheduled programs for birthday celebrations, a procession with Appaji also took place. Appaji was seated in His carriage as He made His way from Guru Nilayam to Nada Mantapa. Women held kalashas with dried coconuts on their heads while some devotees dressed as gods, warriors and so on formed part of the procession, along with drummers playing different types of drums. Over 100 devotees participated in this procession, including a few Trinidadians along with other foreign devotees. Trinis got an opportunity to hold Kalashas with a dried coconut on our heads. This was a first time seva for us and with it came some doubt. Would we be able to hold kalashas? Is it heavy? Would we throw down the coconut? Few questions came to mind, but with encouragement we participated, and it was one of the best experiences! We offered this seva to Appaji’s lotus feet. The Indian women who were accustomed to performing this seva and stood near me in line, assisted me a lot with ensuring the cloth on my head on which the kalasha would rest was well formed.

Despite our language barrier, these Amma’s were kind enough to help me. Though I don’t know their names and our interaction was brief, I remember their kindness. Grateful to Appaji for sending this opportunity our way and allowing us to participate in the procession.

PS. Our fears didn’t materialize. By Appaji’s grace we walked from Datta Hall to Nada Matapa without the dried coconuts falling. Thank you Appaji! videos to watch:

What is your program?

The above question changed the course of my trip the moment it was asked. My life changed. My perspective changed. My faith was shaken and strengthened all at once.

One morning, I observed Sri Swamiji giving darshan in Nada Mantapa. I thought maybe the darshan line was for a specific group of persons and I thought to myself that those devotees were so blessed to have Swamiji’s darshan. A short while after, I inquired and was told that my sister and I could also go have darshan. My sister and I briskly made our way to the Darshan line. We were the last few devotees in line for Darshan. We made it just in time! We stood in front Swamiji in awe of Him. How beautiful is our Swamiji! Swamiji’s smile is sure to capture your heart! Swamij then asked, “What is your program?”, my sister and I responded with our departure dates. We did not expect Swamiji to inquire, nor did we analyze why Swamiji asked and so on. We were simply two happy devotees who received our dear Swamiji’s Darshan.

By the next day, I became unwell and continued to be very sick almost until the day I was carded to leave ashrama. Now I know why Swamiji asked that question. His question was not simply just a question, it was the saving grace of Appaji and Swamiji. Being unwell was obviously unexpected, but this period taught me many lessons. My mom and I were confined to our apartment and we were a stone throw away from Appaji, yet we could not have Darshan, so this definitely made us sad, but also made us strong. During this period, we experienced Appaji’s healing grace through Datta Stava. Daily we chanted Datta Stava in batches of nine and immediately after I would feel better. From being extremely weak, I could feel myself regaining my strength little by little every day! It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I encourage everyone to chant Datta Stava. It is a miracle drug! There were moments when our faith was shaken and tested, but Appaji Himself came to our rescue via another devotee, or His words of encouragement. My mom took very good care of me during this time. I shall always remember and appreciate her selflessness!

For whatever karmic reasons I became sick in the abode of my Sadguru, the best and most appropriate place for this occurrence. I am happy this happened (initially I wasn’t but now I am). I am glad I went through some sad moments and happy moments for through this balance was maintained and what better place to go through a few sad moments than in Appaji's Ashrama, in His and Swamiji's Presence! It was only through the grace of Our dearest Sadguru. Thank you, Appaji, and Swamiji for showering us with Your compassion and healing grace.

Laksha Sri Sukta Maha Yagna

On my last day, I was finally able to return to Ashrama-- after what felt like exile. This was the second day of the Laksha Sri Sukta Maha Yaga. This began a few days after birthday celebrations ended. Appaji barely took rest, yet participated daily in the Yaga. The ashrama transformed with homa kundas and was beautifully decorated.

As I did pradakshina around the perimeter of the Yaga, the mantras being chanted filled the atmosphere with uplifting, purifying vibrations. The Vedic chanting was beautiful and soothing to the ears. It was unlike any chanting I have ever heard.

Apart from the homa kundas in which various pundits made offerings , there was one homa kunda that was designated for Appaji. Devotees had the blessed opportunity to sit and perform homa with Appaji. My mother and I participated in homa, and we were blessed to be seated near Appaji. We would have never dreamt of a moment like this with Appaji. Even as I write this, I am in disbelief that this moment happened.

As my mom and I sat along with other devotees around the homa kunda with Appaji, Appaji guided us through the rituals, and we all followed along. For the duration of the homa, I couldn’t keep my eyes off Appaji. I admired and gazed at Appaji as much as I could’ve. After all, there were many days when I didn’t have Appaji’s darshan, so this moment definitely made up for lost time.

It was truly a chance I did not take for granted because moments like these may probably never repeat itself, so I seized them with all my heart! While staring at Appaji I could’ve seen the intensity with which Appaji prayed for His children and the world. It’s as if there was no other thought on Appaji’s mind at that time; just simply praying to Mother Goddess for His children and the world. Though, there was a level of seriousness with which Appaji prayed, we could’ve also seen and felt the gentleness and love that emanated from Appaji. Pure love. Only our Appaji can display such compassion and grace!

At the end of the homa, my Mom and I mentioned to Appaji that we were leaving that night to go back to Trinidad. From the moment Appaji heard “Trinidad,” He turned and looked at us. Glowing as He looked at us with the most beautiful, gentle Devi-like smile across His face, once again, our Hunter of souls captured our hearts all over again. We conveyed our love to Appaji and suddenly I don’t know how my body went from being maybe 2 or 3 feet away from Appaji to now directly in front of Him! I have no explanation for this. The next thing I realized was my hands were opened and Appaji placed a beautiful flower in it. My mom and I prostrated before Appaji, and I could’ve heard my mom’s sniffles. Her tears were happy tears. There was no way to prevent those tears. Needless to say, I cried too.

Being in that moment with Appaji, I felt Appaji knew everything my mom and I went through while I was unwell. These beautiful moments spent with Appaji during homa made that period all worth it in the end. It was as if we had won a battle; a karmic battle, and Appaji was cheering us on, and the reward was participating in homa. Datta Appaji Ki Jai!

The moments spend with Appaji during the homa were truly special, priceless and unexpected! It was only possible through Appaji’s grace, and I offer this experience at His lotus feet.

Being in His Ashrama, I got firsthand knowledge of Appaji’s compassion for nature, His children and society. I witnessed a lot that we don’t normally see through live stream. It was an eye opening and humbling experience from seeing the way people live, earn livelihoods, the kindness of Indians and the foreign and Trini Datta family. Most of all Appaji's, Swamiji's and Jayalakshmi Mata’s compassion and love!

Mysore, the city that will forever have a special place in my heart! The experiences in Mysore Datta Ashrama from the first to last day were unexpected, memorable, unforgettable and pure. My immense gratitude to Appaji, Swamiji and Jayalakshmi Mata for bringing my mom, sister and me to His abode, our true home!

Video links;

Thank you for everything Appaji. We are truly grateful and pray our thoughts words and deeds align with all that is divine, through Your grace. I offer these experiences to Your Lotus feet, for this is from where these experiences emanated!

Happy Birthday Appaji! I love you!

Datta Appaji Ki Jai!

Sri Guru Datta,

Vasudha Andrew

Trinidad and Tobago

Photo Credit :Avadootha Datta Peetham and Vasudha Andrew.

Visit Avadootha DattaPeetham for those who wish to find out more and travel there.

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