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S. Veereshaiah

S. Veereshaiah standing between his wife, Leela, and a fellow Bombay devotee, Mr. P. N. Raikar.  April, 1996.

S. Veereshaiah
Shri Swamiji the Great Savior

S. Veereshaiah described himself as having been a non-believer of all sadhus.  He would regularly read in newspapers about the frauds committed by various individuals who claimed to be god men.  But when he married Leela, the daughter of Mr. K. S. Veerabhadraiah in 1970, little did he realize that he was marrying into a family devoted to Shri Swamiji.

Mr. Veerebadraiah passed away in May of 2013.  This is part of his story.

Marrying into Swamiji's Family

Veereshaiah was born into a very poor family.  He had a teacher who was impressed with his abilities and urged him to study for university.  Veereshaiah had to ask for donations so he could pay tuition.  Most turned him down or made him feel embarrassed.  Only Veerabhadraiah was generous and supportive and gave him a substantial gift.  Veereshaiah never forgot that generosity.  When he completed his education, got a good job and became a very desirable match, many families offered him a daughter, but he accepted the offer from Veerabhadraiah to marry Leela.

Swamiji’s devotees from Bangalore Ashram attended the wedding and presented a wedding invitation for Veereshaiah and Leela, nicely framed with glass.  Swamiji’s photo was printed in the corner of the invitation.  It was a very strange wedding gift.  Typically in India, the bride’s and the groom’s family print the invitations.  Often each family prints its own and distributes them to friends and acquaintances, usually delivering them in person.  It was very odd to get one’s own invitation back as a gift.

It had been Swamiji’s own idea to frame an invitation and present it as a wedding gift.

Veereshaiah did not realize the importance of this strange gift for many years to come.  After their wedding, Leela placed the framed card on the altar and worshipped the miniature photo of Swamiji.  Even though Veereshaiah did not believe in Swamiji, Leela had full freedom to worship her god, Shri Swamiji, which she silently performed every day.

In 1975, when Veereshaiah was visiting his native place of Kollegal, about 100 km. from Bangalore, his twelve-year-old brother-in-law Ashok got Shri Swamiji’s trance.  Several of Veerebadraiah’s children used to get trance during bhajans, and on this occasion Ashok was doing arthi when Swamiji came upon him.  Some others asked questions of Swamiji on Ashok.  Veereshaiah was skeptical and decided to test the trance.  In an almost taunting attitude, Veereshaiah asked some personal questions related to his job and got convincing replies.  But Veereshaiah did not take the incident very seriously.

Before leaving to return to Pune where Veereshaiah was working as a design engineer, his father-in-law suggested that he visit Bangalore for Shri Swamiji’s darshan.  At that time, in 1975, Shri Swamiji’s Bangalore ashram was at Bannerghatta Road.

Veereshaiah described his first meeting with Shri Swamiji as unforgettable. When he entered the darshan hall, he witnessed the great sight of Shivabalayogi seated on the dais. His sparkling face had a miraculous effect at first sight. In those days, Swamji was not wearing even a shawl. His youthful body and graceful face gave the effect of a divine presence in the hall. A number of devotees were dancing in trance while the bhajans were going on in the adjacent room. This was Veereshaiah's first experience with a Swamiji who was controlling the movements of many people in trance simultaneously and talking to devotees at the same time.

As was Swamiji’s custom, he asked Veereshaiah whether he had anything to ask.  Veereshaiah asked the same question about his job that he had asked of Ashok in trance a few days earlier.  Swamiji's simple reply was, “I have replied to these questions to you in your native place yesterday.  Why are you repeating these questions?”  Veereshaiah was amazed at the great powers of Swamiji who can travel in his astral body to various devotees at their places hundreds of miles away.

This was how Veereshaiah became a devotee of Shri Swamiji. His father-in-law, Veerabhadraiah, told him that only people who had connections with Shri Swamiji in previous births could become his devotees.  Veereshaiah felt privileged to have married into a family devoted to Shri Swamiji.

Cured of Leukemia 

In 1979, Veereshaiah's wife Leela returned to their native place to give birth to their youngest son, leaving Veereshaiah alone in Bombay.  One day he noticed some rashes all over his body.  The family doctor gave him a course of treatment for five days, but there was no improvement.  Veereshaiah got himself admitted to a nursing home where five days of intense treatment also resulted in no improvement.  Then the doctor referred him to a famous hematologist in Bombay.  Though it was a Sunday, the specialist gave Veereshaiah a thorough check-up, then referred him to Tata Memorial Hospital for more detailed tests.  After a thorough examination, Veereshaiah was diagnosed with acute myloblastic leukemia — blood cancer.

Veereshaiah was surrounded by neighbors and friends who took care of him as if he were a member of their families.  This was most unusual in a busy city like Bombay.  His wife and relatives had no inkling of what was happening because Veereshaiah did not want his pregnant wife to worry about his illness.  At some point during those chaotic days, his father-in-law in Bangalore was informed of some sickness.  Shri Swamiji was staying at Dehradun, so the father-in-law sent a telegram requesting Swamiji's blessings for Veereshaiah's well being.  Immediately he got a reply not to worry, that Swamiji will take care of Veereshaiah.

After a month, Veereshaiah felt frustrated and missed his family.  He asked a friend to send a telegram to his father-in-law saying that he was on his death bed.  Immediately, Veerabhadraiah, Leela, and two childhood friends rushed by air to Bombay.  They straight away rode to the hospital where Veereshaiah had been admitted.  His father-in-law, a close disciple of Shri Swamiji, passed into trance and held his hand over Veereshaiah's head for over a minute.  Veereshaiah had a great experience of a spiritual treatment.  While leaving the hospital, friends observed that his face had undergone a great change during this one hour.

After every treatment of injections, one every day, Veereshaiah's bone marrow test indicated that he was having miraculous improvement.  The doctors had never seen a patient recover like he had.  Within four months, Veereshaiah was back at work.

Hosting Swamiji 

In the month of October, 1983, Veereshaiah received a letter from his father-in-law that Swamiji and other disciples were unable to leave Adivarapupeta due to a cyclones in that coastal area.  Immediately without realizing the real problem, he wrote a return letter asking him to invite Shri Swamiji to Bombay since they were nearby.

The relationship between weather and geography was confused, and that is the story.  Veereshaiah wasn’t really thinking because if the cyclone kept Swamiji stuck in Adivarapupeta and unable to return to Bangalore, he was equally unable to travel to Bombay.  In addition, Veereshaiah had the mistaken notion that Bombay was sort of on the way between Adivarapupeta and Bangalore.  In fact, it is very much out of the way.

Veereshaiah got a reply.  Shri Swamiji stated, “I know he is inviting me for a long time.  Tell him we will go there soon.”  After this Veereshaiah forgot about having invited Shri Swamiji to Bombay.

Two months later, he got a letter from Veerabhadraiah that Shri Swamiji was scheduled to visit Bombay the following week.  Two days later, Veerabhadraiah was in Veereshaiah's house at Dombivli (a suburb of Bombay) with instructions from Swamiji to help Veereshaiah prepare for Swamiji's visit.  It was the shock of Veereshaiah's life because he had never organized any function and he was to organize the visit of Shivabalayogi in Bombay.  He got overwhelming help and encouragement from all his friends and the most remarkable help from Mr. P. N. Raikar.

They organized a separate flat for Shri Swamiji’s stay, a hall for Shri Swamiji’s public darshan, and different bhajan groups for all four days of His stay in Dombivli.  They placed ads in local newspapers.

They received Shri Swamiji at the Bombay airport.  The drive to Dombivli was about two hours.  Raikar was driving the car in which Swamiji was seated.  On the way, Swamiji engaged the devotees in his sweet and spiritual talks which even an uneducated person can perceive.  At one spot, asked the car to be halted.  He got down and went a few steps into the open underbrush.  He came back with a serpent’s dry skin and gave it to Raikar asking him to keep it in the car always so that it will protect him.  How he could exactly spot the location where the serpent skin was lying is only known to him.

Shri Swamiji gave public darshan every evening while bhajans were going on in the hall.  In spite of his busy schedule and the lack of time for preparations, Shri Swamiji conducted the opening ceremony of the printing press of one devotee, the naming ceremony of Veereshaiah's youngest son, Vijay, who was born on the day Veereshaiah was admitted to Tata Memorial Hospital for leukemia, and the griha pravesh (opening) of Veereshaiah's new flat in Dombivli.

The simplicity with which Shivabalayogi moved in Veereshaiah's house and talked to the devotees was a great experience of itself.  When Shri Swamiji left for Bangalore, each devotee had tears in their eyes which could wash his lotus feet with devotion.

 

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