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The Cowherd — Swamiji Mistaken for a Thief

In the early days after completing tapas, Swamiji often appeared to people in different forms.  Then as now, devotees invited him to their homes and family functions, offering their hospitality to the guru.  One of my grandfathers was a devotee and during darshan, he asked Swamiji to visit his house.  Swamiji said, “If I do, you will mistreat me.”

My grandfather and his wife protested, “No, you are our guru.  Why would we mistreat you?”

To which Swamiji replied, “I will show up and you will say, ‘No food.  Go away.’”

My grandfather returned to his village and shortly thereafter, while his wife was in the house and he was having his food, a cowherd came to their door.  Such people are common in rural India and this fellow looked typical.  He was poorly dressed and carrying a walking stick and some belongings wrapped in a rough bag.

The cowherd called my grandmother by name saying “Annapurna.”  This of itself was very unusual, not only because the cowherd knew her personal name, but because this name would only be used by her friends of an equal social rank.  The only other person who would address her in this familiar was Swamiji.  Others would call her simply “Amma” (mother), which is how any respectful cowherd should have addressed her.

When she came to the door, the cowherd told her, “I am traveling and I am hungry.  Please feed me.  I will be by here again tomorrow.  Please allow me to leave my bag here until then.”

My grandfather overheard this and called to his wife not to let the stranger inside.  “These people are thieves,” he said.  “All they want is to come inside and see what there is to steal.  Then they come back and steal the valuables, using the bag they left as an excuse should they be caught.”  He refused to allow the cowherd in and they sent him away.

The next day, my grandfather and grandmother went for Swamiji’s darshan.  As my grandfather passed through the ashram gates, he heard Swamiji talking to some devotees.  Swamiji was saying, “People invite Swamiji to their homes with offers of great hospitality, but when he went they turned him away.  All he wanted was to leave his bag for a short while and have some food, but he was driven away like a thief.”

My grandfather immediately realized what had happened the day before and did pranam (bow) before Swamiji asking for forgiveness.

Shivabalayogi as a Tiger

I used to correspond for Swamiji.  We were so busy during the day, I could only get to this duty late at night around midnight. `This was at the old Bangalore ashram.  While I was so working, a tiger used to come and sit in front of me.  This was not a dream.  The first time this happened I was thoroughly frightened.  I was trapped inside the room where I was working.  The tiger would come quite often.  I used to get shocked, but then I got used to it.  It would just look at me.  I realized it was Swamiji.

Once while traveling with Swamiji, four of us were passing time at night playing cards.  Suddenly a tiger appeared, to our great fear.  Then we heard the soft laughter of Swamiji coming from his room.  The tiger was Swamiji.

Shivabalayogi as a Sadhu — the Munsif's Sick Child

The grandson of the munsif (a village official) of Chodavaram was sick with a dangerously high fever.  There was nothing they could do about it.  A sadhu (holy man) went there who looked like a jangam devara (with the appearance of Shiva).  He accurately described the child’s symptoms: a fever of 105 degrees in the mornings, in the afternoons so much, and then in the evenings so much, and that every day it was continuing like this.  The sadhu said that the boy could not be cured with medicines so would they please let him tie a thread of protection on his arm.  Only then could he be cured.

The grandson could see the sadhu clearly and he shouted, “Grandfather, that is Swamiji.  Swamiji has come to our house.”

But the munsif would not believe and said, “We don’t need any threads to be tied by any sadhu.”  He told the sadhu to get lost.  “We have our own Swamiji and we will use his vibhuti (blessed ash).  We don’t need you.”

After a few days, the munsif came for Swamiji’s darshan and I also came to the ashram that evening.  As I entered Swamiji’s room, he complained to me, “Look Amma. I had been to their house and this fellow threw me out.  He asked me to go away.”

Suddenly the munsif realized and asked, “Swamiji, if you come in that form, how can I recognize you?  I asked you to go away was because I had your vibhuti with me.  I said I would treat my boy with your vibhuti and not with the sadhu’s thread.”

Swamiji replied, “But your grandson was warning you.  Your grandson told you that Swamiji had come, but you didn’t listen.”

Shivabalayogi Invites Himself to a Wedding

water buffaloSwamiji always used to tell my parents that he wanted to come to our house.  They would say, “No, no, you are a very great saint.  We are not worthy of receiving you in our house.”  But again and again he would ask.  Then he told them that he would come in some form or another.

Some time later there was a wedding conducted at the house, and my parents invited Swamiji to attend.  My father was busy taking care of all the arrangements and the guests.  A tent had been set up in front of the house where people could sit and eat.  A buffalo wandered into the area and tried to eat the food.  My father shouted at one of the servants to shoo the buffalo away.  The servant went and hit the buffalo on the back several times with his hands and drove it away.

The next Sunday my father came to the ashram as usual.  Swamiji complained that he had gone to the wedding as invited, but they had beat him.  Swamiji asked him to look at his back and he could find the marks of three hand prints.  Then they realized it was Swamiji who had come to their wedding.

 

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