By Sathya Shivakumar
July 12, 2017 was “Sankatahara chaturthi”, a special day for Lord Ganesha. I had prepared steamed modaks as an offering for the God that day. My son, who had returned from school, asked for some fried modaks as well. It is an elaborate process to prepare them and as the next day was his birthday, I did not want to disappoint him and made that as well.
My son and I have our birthdays exactly a week apart. A few days preceding my birthday, I started experiencing burning sensations in my body. It started with the feet and then slowly felt them in my palms also. One fine morning, I was drawing a simple rangoli at the pooja room entrance. I usually draw a floral pattern but I was surprised to see that I had drawn feet that day. In India, we have the practice of decorating the floor with the pattern of Krishna’s feet on Janmashtami day but that was still a month away. Why had I drawn the feet, I wondered.
On my birthday, my sister made a surprise visit to Bangalore. We went on our usual weekend drive to see the progress of our new house that was under construction. On the way back, we exited from a different gate than we usually do. I noticed a board and as it was in Kannada (the local language), I asked my husband, Shiva, to read out what was on it. He said, “Sri Chaitanya Paduka Mandira.”
I connected it to Brahma Chaitanya Maharaj but wanted to find out what it actually was, so I asked Shiva to take us there. When we got there, Shiva and Radha stayed back in the car as I stepped out. I saw a few dogs and told Shiva, “One of those dogs is staring at me. Don’t want to get bitten on my birthday! ” He said, “Nothing will happen. It is all in your mind! Just go.”
As I entered the temple, I saw that the main door was closed. So I walked up to the ‘sthala vriksham’ and offered my humble prostrations and birthday prayer. I knew the main tree in a temple’s premises houses the consciousness of divinity but did not at that point in time know that it was an Audumbar (fig) tree. The watchman told us that it would open in an hour’s time but that seemed like a long wait for the others. So I left with the desire to come to the temple another day.
A couple of days later when we went back to supervise the construction, I asked Shiva to take me to the temple again as it is just a few minutes from our new house. We went inside this time and had the place to ourselves as there was no one in there at the time. It was such a unique shrine. We quietly walked up to the second floor that houses the padukas of several masters along with their pictures. I did not recognize some of them. My husband patiently read out the nameplate in Kannada and I bowed to each one. I felt some energy going up my body and prayed that I should be healed soon as the lingering sensation in my legs continued to bother me.
I had initially consulted a general physician for the burning sensation and he diagnosed it as a Vitamin B12 deficiency. But the supplements were not helping much. While my haemogram results showed improvement, the burning now seemed as if it had reached the head. Some days, instead of heat, I felt that my head was feeling like ice.
I wanted to explore other solutions to my problem and started yoga classes regularly. When I explained what I was going through physically, the senior yoga teacher could not comprehend the problem. She told the lady next to her, “These days people get strange problems!” She was kind and empathetic but could not understand my situation. Therefore, while I continued the yoga sessions, I did not wait to explain the other sensations such as numbness, pricking, etc. that I was going through.
I, myself, was surprised by the strange sensations that I was experiencing. It was because, it was not all pain, all the time. Occasionally, I had blissful raindrop sensations. It was as though something was constantly trickling in my head. Every morning, even as I stepped down from the bed, I would experience a pull going from my foot to the top of my head. I would have mild pain during yoga or while in the pooja room but would start increasing through the day. I had to learn to word all that I was experiencing to explain to the doctor. The symptoms brought all guesses ranging from diabetes to thyroid issues and these were eliminated with tests.
Even as I was physically undergoing some struggles, I also had beautiful dreams. Some of them felt so real. The dreams augured something beautiful would unfold. Whenever my fears reached their peak, signs of assurance kept flowing in and calmed me down. I always meditated on two lines of a Tamil verse “Anju Mugam thondrin Aarumugam thondrum” which means “When you fear, the six-faced Lord appears!” There is another explanation to this verse that my father told me – “When the five-faced Lord Shiva appears, Lord Skanda appears.” (Anju also means five in Tamil)
In October, my music teacher organized a programme at her house during the Navarathri festival. Throughout the programme, I felt heavy pressure on my eyes and made up my mind to consult a neurologist. After returning home, I called my father and sought his advice. He asked me not to worry and that he would do an “Anga-pradakshinam” at Tiruchendur to help me tide over the crisis. I thanked him and also mentioned to him that I would consult a neurologist as well.
The neurologist diagnosed it to be a nutritional deficiency. Although the heating and cooling sensations could not be explained, he gave me some medicines to subside the pain. I did not discuss the problem with anyone except Shiva and my parents. I felt that it was a wasted effort. If a senior yoga teacher and a neurologist could not understand it, I was pretty sure that my sharing this with others would only invite more flippant responses than solutions. With the help of guru google, I had narrowed it down to one of two things – If it is bad, it is some neuro problem and if it is good, it is related to the Kundalini experience.
Shiva cheered me and said, “If your thinking is positive, only good things will happen. Maybe your chakras are opening!” I felt as though he was brushing aside my problem. Although he was being his usual self, he did not really understand what I was physically going through. It had gone to the extent that when he entered the house he would lift his headphones and ask, “Hot or cold?” If I said, “Cold”, he interpreted this as being in a good mood and would talk. Otherwise, he would place them back on and take his calls. It made me realize that when there is an internal problem one is going through, which is not visible to the naked eye, however understanding people are, none can perceive the actual problem or the intensity of it. No matter how empathetic or compassionate they are, they can only help to an extent. Beyond that one has to journey alone to find the answers.
Speaking of journeys, we went to Chennai that year to celebrate the last three days of Navarathri with my parents. On the way, we reminisced about our fabulous and memorable trip to Kathirgamam (Kataragama) which has a fascinating back story and I went into a reverie…
About 65 km from Chennai, there is a place called Tirukallil which has the ancient Sivanandeswarar temple where one of the first and foremost Saivite saints Tirugnanasambandar sang in praise of the Lord and as such it holds a special place in Tamil history. The main priest of this temple, Arumugam gurukkal was 107 years old. He had great love for the temple and the deity was his life. As the gurukkal had got on with age, he had requested my father to assist him with performing abishekams on special days. He was a great inspiration to me because I used to be amazed by his love for God. He would come all the way to attend social functions in Chennai so he could mobilize funds for the sustenance of the temple’s festivals.
The visit in July 2016, was extra special because it was the “Pre-Kailash Pradosham” as my father used to call it. My father was booked to go on the Kailash parikrama with Mohanji. I did not know who Mohanji was at the time. All that we knew was my dad had met a Master and was keenly looking forward to his upcoming trip. Chennaiites rarely have a stock of winter clothing because of the climate. So I bought some jackets and travel items that would be needed for such a trip. On that day, the abishekam was splendid. I really opened out in the serene atmosphere that surrounds the temple and with no inhibitions whatsoever, sang with gay abandon, assured that the Lord was enjoying my rendition.
After a really fulfilling visit, I headed back to Bangalore the next day. I was on the way home from the railway station when my dad called me and said with equanimity – “I am not eligible for parikrama according to the new Chinese rules. I am not doing Kailash this time. It was a reminder to me that God has his own plans.
My father had given me the book “Muruga, the embodiment of beauty and valour!” In the book, it is mentioned that Kathirgamam (in present-day Sri Lanka) is referred to as the “Dakshina Kailash” or the Kailash of the south. Kathirgamam is in the same longitude as Kailash and a pilgrimage there is equivalent to a pilgrimage to Kailash. Almost a year later, on one of our weekend visits to Chennai for the panguni uthiram celebrations at home, the topic of a trip to Kathirgamam came up, and Shiva said that it would be his birthday treat to my father. As things turned out in the course of that discussion, we ended up with an unplanned and spontaneous booking to go to Kathirgamam as a family!! It was a big group with my parents, mother-in-law, children and two nieces!!
The trip was filled with fascinating and myriad experiences. We landed in Colombo and immediately left for Galle, where we stayed overnight. Galle is a beautiful beach town. We spent time walking around the scenic town with natural rocks, gardens and Buddhist shrines overlooking the beach. After a good night’s rest, we left for Kathirgamam the next morning. It was a long but scenic journey by road and we took in all the experiences we had along the way, soaking in the stories of Murugan’s exploits that my father shared with us in his inimitable way.
Kathir means Light. Kamam means Love. The etymology also says that Kamam came from “gramam” meaning village and the place was called Kathirgamam by the Lankans to indicate that it was “The village where Lord Muruga was standing as Light”.
Unlike in India where one gets to see the deity in the sanctum sanctorum of the temples, in Sri Lankan tradition (in our experience, this is in Murugan Shrines only), the temple sanctum is covered by curtains that act as a “veil” to the deity inside. The prayers are offered inside where only the main priests are allowed and for the general public, the aaratis are performed to the pictures of the God, on the curtain – considered equally powerful. It is the same in Kathirgamam as well. We can observe the image of Lord Muruga on the beautiful curtains. During the “mangala aarati”, the rhythm of the temple bells eas so powerful that it transported us to a different plane. One can really feel the energy in the air. The two snake-like bronze images also captured our attention. Being in the presence of Kathirgamam Murugan on our wedding anniversary was such a blessing and not something that can happen because of human planning.
The next day I had wanted to have a second darshan. However, Shiva had booked for the “Yala Safari” for the kids and wanted me to go with him and the kids.
I had read that Lord Muruga appeared in mysterious ways to the pilgrims who had taken the forest route in the past when it was still a dense jungle, and travel to Kathirgamam was possible only through the forests which were dotted by wild animals. The safari was interesting and the kids had a great time. We saw peacocks, pigs, deer, elephants, and even a leopard but what I deeply connected to was the strutting rooster (Seval in Tamil) that passed in front of our jeep and then disappeared into the bushes to our right, just as our safari was coming to a close. What are the chances that you will see a rooster in a forest safari?
“How cute was that Seval?” I asked my husband..as I broke out of my reverie!! The radio in the car was playing and just then, I heard the sound of a rooster crowing on the radio!!
Was I imagining all this? I wasn’t. It was actually the rooster crowing sound as part of a song that followed after. We were on the outskirts of Chennai and as I shook my head in disbelief, we saw a big billboard that read “Tamil Kadavul Murugan – Coming soon ‘STARTING OCT-2ND’. We rarely watch TV programs but a serial on Murugan seemed interesting.
My thoughts shifted again to the physical sensations and pain and just then, I saw another sign – in bright bold letters on an auto that read
This message hit home deeply. Was all my pain going to result in some gain? What life-transforming outcome was I being led to through this serious examination of my physical and mental faculties?
On one of the days during the visit, I went to my uncle’s house. As we were talking, the sensations were back. When he asked me “How are you feeling?”, I replied “I am okay!” despite the discomfort. The sensations were overwhelming but my face did not reveal it as I had by now made up my mind that there are certain things in life that we have to face individually.
Soon as we returned home, I left for the Mylapore Kapaleeswar temple with my father. This temple premises also has a shrine for Murugan. The few minutes that I sat in the inner premises of the Murugan Shrine, I did not experience any pain or discomfort!! No sensations whatsoever!! I was feeling normal. But that did not last long. Once I left the shrine, things were the same again. We returned to Bangalore and I continued my routine and some assuring signs were constantly coming through.
Around this time, there was a Shirdi Baba temple inauguration at Sriperambudur by Mohanji which my parents and sister went for. This was also the time, we were asking my parents to move to Bangalore along with Radha and they had finally decided to make the move. When my mother met Mohanji at the temple, she sought his blessings and said “Mohanji, we are moving to Bangalore shortly”. He responded enthusiastically “I am also coming there!”
I still did not know who Mohanji was but as my father was connected to him, out of curiosity, I had started reading the Atmananda blogs online. After my parents moved to Bangalore, I got the opportunity to visit him at the Boulevard Retreat for the first time in March, 2018.
When I went to his house and got the opportunity to speak to him, I said to him:
“I connect to you through the Atmananda blogs, but I haven’t taken your permission.”
His answer was succinct.
“It is like Prana (vital breath). Do you take permission to take Prana?”
The second time I got to meet him was on my father’s birthday in April that year. My father told me “I have prayed for you at Tiruchendur. We don’t have to trouble Mohanji about it!” I didn’t bring up the topic as discussed with him but at one point when there was a pause in the discussions, my mother prodded me from the back to share it with Mohanji.
Mohanji looked in my direction and asked “What?”
I started, “I experience rain drop sensation.”
He told me something that I had been waiting to hear for a long time.
“It is a good thing!”
The word, “good” brought so much mental relief.
“It is Ma Kundalini. Welcome her. Accept her!”, he continued and then added “You know Ida Pingala? (he knew that I knew all that!) It is like Alakananda and Bagirathi coming together.”
I replied, “The heating is too much!”
“Do Suryanamaskar and vertical breathing. Reduce your medicines!”
I knelt to take his blessings. He placed his thumb on my forehead and blessed me. (Now I know that I received Shaktipat but didn’t then).
With folded hands and connecting to my family deity, I received it. On our return, my anxious mother asked me if I felt something. I said, “Nothing!”
However, the next morning as I woke up and got out from the bed I felt the difference!! That strange pull that had been my unseen companion for the previous 10 months was gone! Every step I took, I felt the difference. I conveyed this to my doctor that very day! I started to reduce the dosage and the heating also considerably reduced, and I finally stopped medicines completely in October. Life has flown by and now I only have “filtered” sensations once in a while.
With the blessings of Mohanji, I have been able to take up the Acharya training too which is another fascinating story for next time, on how Grace carries us forward!
Today, on my birthday when I think of why I drew the feet that day when I started having the sensations, I am sure I know the answer….
Guru banda, Sadguru banda |
Dattatreya Avadhoota banda ||
Lalitha sahitha Gurunatha banda ||
The Guru has come, the Sathguru has come |
The Dattatreya Avadhoota has come ||
along with Lalitha Devi (Goddess of Kundalini) ||
|| JAI BRAHMARISHI MOHANJI||
Compiled, Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 25th July 2019
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One thought on “No Pain, No Gain ”
Beautifully written dear Sathya. Blessed blessed! Really enjoyed reading…..thanks!