“This is not your time” said Appaji
Updated: Nov 15
Kesh Datta or Uncle Kesh as he is affectionately called by members of the Datta family is happy to recount his first meeting with his Guru Sri Swamiji! He willingly shares with us some of his most treasured experiences as a devotee of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji
The Greatness of the Guru we follow
When I first laid my eyes upon Swamiji's physical form was in the year 1994. It was the year before the great Jana Samrakshana Maha Yagna in Trinidad. The year preceding this in 1993 I was living at the time at my Dad’s residence in Penal. Things were getting hard in the country and I was searching for a permanent place of my own without much success. I had heard of Sri Swami through a friend and co- worker at the school where I was working. This friend had met Sri Swamiji at a temple in California during one of his many travels throughout Trinidad and encouraged me to seek His blessings, through prayer, during this time.
Guru to the rescue
One day I sat down and decided to pray to Swamiji, as things were not improving and life was getting quite difficult. I mentally prayed and asked him, “Swamiji you have to work something out for me”, and somehow miraculously it happened in that way - a friend came forward and put me onto someone who was selling a place in Claxton Bay. The owner told me he would sell me the place, without any troubles. Just like that my Guru secured a place for me effortlessly. His grace and compassion knows no bounds. It may seem coincidental but those who know the subtle workings of our Sadguru, know His ways are subtle and mysterious.
I moved to Claxton Bay from Penal and started going to the Datta Temple over the next six months, in 1994 during the preparations of the Vishwa Shanti Maha Yagna. It was during this auspicious occasion that I had my first encounter face to face with my Sadguru. He was coming straight from the airport to inaugurate the new kitchen for the Maha Yagna. That memory is vividly etched in my mind. My first eye to eye moment with Him left me in amazement even though I had never met Him before. His gaze when He held me in His sight was as if His eyes were pure, clear crystal, the reflection and energy behind them was so powerful! This was my first impression of His physical Presence which strongly imprinted in my memory.
During my lifetime with Sri Swamiji I have been blessed to have many experiences, but I would like to share especially my recent trip to Kasi in November 2019. I had gone for Navaratri with my wife Indira and Sam Surjan and his wife and we had just returned to Trinidad less than two weeks, when Swamji’s announcement kept running in my mind. During Navaratri Swamiji had announced an Ati Rudra Yagna and extended an invitation to His devotees to come to Kasi as it was a special bond and experience to be with your Guru in Kasi. I felt strongly that I should return to India to be there. Sam and I both decided we would definitely go. So, leaving our families, we left Trinidad on the 3rd or 4th November to spend one month in Kashi.
The most mysterious and venerated city of Kashi center of the 14 worlds.
Anyone looking into our passport would see the following stamped : Trinidad to Canada, Toronto to Ukraine, Ukraine to Delhi, Delhi to Lal Bahudar airport in Kasi. Having arrived in Delhi it would take us to Kasi in one hour. We were so excited that we had the blessings to travel and meet our Guru at such a sacred pilgrimage site. Comically, when we arrived at first sight it seemed as if the place was a contradiction and we thought we got dropped in the wrong place, we even called home to enquire if the hotel booked was the same hotel. However, once we circumvented the alley where our hotel was tucked away, the city unveiled itself before our eyes mysteriously.
Kindness was extended from all directions, the people living there were so kind and welcoming to us, some into their homes and they also brought things for us to eat. We were able to visit and see the site where Sri Swamiji was doing the Yagna, with the homa kunds set up and visited a few small temples and a Veda school next door. The River Ganga itself was pure and uncontaminated, and surreal, it was so amazing to witness.
Swamiji guides our footsteps
We were blessed and fortunate to attend the consecration of the new Datta temple in Kasi, the first of our Guru's there, though this was not planned on our itinerary. It happened that one particular day while walking around we ended getting quite lost through various alley-ways, yet somehow we came upon Swami Sahaja whom we knew well. It seemed as if Sri Swamiji, Himself had directed our footsteps that way! He had led us somehow to the exact spot of the new consecration without our knowledge of when it would happen or where. This was how we were blessed to attend the program in two days from that encounter and witness the beautiful ceremony and have the Darshan of the beautiful marble murthis of Lord Dattatreya and Lord Hanumanji!
Every day walking in Kasi is remarkable. The city is built like a yantra- when you walk you feel that energy. There is little that would do justice to describe the inherent spirituality of the trip. We went and bathed in the Ganga-Ma. Just the feeling emanating from the river is like a different purity, experiencing the boat rides up and down the ghats in the evening and at sunset with such great majestic beauty—no words! Being in Sri Swamiji’s Ashram was like Vaikuntha and truly out of this world, witnessing the many contradictions-- the beauty of life and the solemnity of death seeing the bodies being cremated and lighting of fires! But the city itself is hard to describe, yet so majestic.
An ‘incredible’ experience
Five days before the Rudra Homa started, I spent time walking around the stage and taking pictures to send to our people back home in Trinidad. Previously I had a kidney stone and for some reason it started acting up. I was lucky to meet a doctor there and told him I was having a lot of pain. He gave me a prescription to get some medication to use. That day, the pain was unrelenting so after the program, I didn’t go back for the evening program as I usually would. The next day it started to act up a little more. Sam came back and got sick with the flu as the dust was affecting us gradually. It could have been that we were not used to the environment. Kumar who also travelled with us got ill as well and had to go to the pharmacy to get a doctor to visit us in the hotel. He checked Sam gave him medication for weakness and a lung infection.
I will now relate an incredibly strange, “unreal” experience. However I know this was real. During those three days when I was ill, my wife Indira would call me. Strange to say, I died there! I died there in Kasi! That night I recall going to sleep uncharacteristically early. Sam and Kumar would come to my room and like good friends, we would usually recount the days happening, talk about the program and Kumar would get medication. Indira was calling me and she wasn’t getting through, so apparently, Kumar knocked on the door and it appeared to him that I was asleep. So he told her to call him back in a little while. Little did he know that while this was going on I, Kesh Datta was having an out of body experience.
I have not shared this with anyone outside of my immediate family before, but this is how best I can describe it. It was as if I was out of my physical body, and my soul, or what was known as Kesh Datta was watching my body lying down on the bed. While in that indescribable form and atmosphere which was neither light nor dark, spirit nor smoke, manifest nor unmanifest, Sri Swamiji appeared. I became aware of His presence in the same unusual form I was in, beside me, and it was as if we were both watching the body of Kesh Datta on the bed. Sri Swamiji was sitting in a lotus position, next to me and watching the body.
During that state I had no feeling, I was watching my body on the bed lying down, as if it was a thought. He then said “No! No, this is not the time for you. This is not your time. It is not your time to leave this body yet. I have to send you back, I didn’t bring you to Kasi for that. I didn’t bring you here for that. I have to send you back there!” That is all I remember Him saying.
I was aware of the presence of Swamji, but I wasn’t aware of when I went back into the body. It felt like an electric shock in the body when the phone was ringing. It was an out of this world experience - the last day of the program! This miraculous experience happened to me, and this was what was my prasadam. Due to my illness I was not physically there to receive the Rudrashka bead and a small Shiva linga, or the Rudraksha Mala that Sri Swamiji was personally putting on devotees who attended the program. But for me this was The greatest Prasadam and Blessing! To know The greatness of Sri Swamiji, to know how he is, Who He is - it was out of this world. You always hear Pujya Bala Swamiji saying that you cannot describe the greatness of the Guru, Who He really is - what He really is and what He would do for His devotees. Wherever you are Swamji is always with you. He is like a guiding light always showing you when something goes wrong. He is always touching you and devotees have to realise that Swamiji is God! He is God! This is my honest experience which I humbly submit to His Lotus feet in gratitude.
Form of Devi, Universal Form
He takes many forms. I draw my mind back to another strong memory of this. It happened in the year 2016 during Navratri. There were two musician brothers performing on the stage and I was fortunate to be holding the staff on the right and left of the stage. Sri Swamiji was going around the Mantapa and during the program He left and went and sat on the table to listen and enjoy the music. To my eyes, as I stood on the stage instead of Sri Swamiji’s form there manifested the form of Durga Devi - with all the arms, resplendent, with all the weapons. He then appeared as a bright ball of fire of different colours and the mantapa vanished from the stage replaced by the form of a ball of light - I understood this to be a vision of what the universal form of Sri Swamiji was like!
Sri Swamiji has said, “Guru is your navigator who will guide you from birth to immortality. Of course it is difficult to get on that boat. Only a select few get on such a boat. All those present here are lucky souls.”
To my Compassionate Beloved Sadguru, I offer my humble thanks for taking me in His boat and offer my sincere Pranams to His Lotus Feet.
“Ganapati Gurumekam Sachchidananda rupam
Vibudha Nivahasevyam Yoga Margadhi Rudham
Saranamupagatanam Arti Sanghadri Vajram
Mama Hrdaya Nivasam Bhakti Namro Namami.”
Photo Credit Kesh Datta Roopchand