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Awestricken by Light

ShivabalayogiAfter Shivabalayogi left Adivarapupeta to serve devotees throughout India, he returned to his native place each year for a month during Mahashivaratri.  This incident took place when several Bangalore devotees traveled to Adivarapupeta to be with Swamiji, among them an older man named Narasimhaswami.

Each morning Shri Swamiji enjoyed a long and deep massage.  The devotees who got the opportunity received the wonderful blessings of being with him in such an intimate and loving setting and the privilege of touching his sacred and divinely beautiful body.  One morning during this Adivarapupeta stay, four devotees were giving Shri Swamiji his daily massage.  Swamiji was lying upon a soft cloth on the floor of his room on the second floor of the ashram building.  The four men were massaging him with oil and lemon juice and engaged in a lighthearted conversation with the Master.  Narasimhaswami was too old and weak to massage.  So he was just sitting there enjoying the company, conversation, joking.

All of a sudden, the old man jumped up in fright, the expression on his face changed from smile to fear.  Narasimhaswami ran out of Swamiji’s room, down the stairs, and out of the ashram.  The others with Swamiji were stunned.  One minute this man was sitting with Swamiji, happily talking and laughing, the next minute he was full of fear and ran away from the ashram.  “What happened to him?” they asked Swamiji.  Swamiji simply told them to ask the old man.

Some of the devotees ran after the old man and found him cowering outside the ashram.  He was obviously in fear and would not respond to any question about what had happened.  He was afraid to return inside, but finally the devotees assured him that Swamiji would make sure that no harm would happen if he returned.  Cautiously and fearfully the old man came back inside the ashram grounds and up the stairs to where Shri Swamiji’s room was located in the ashram building.  There outside the door and still visibly shaken, he joined his hands in pranam before Swamiji.  But no amount of assurance by the other devotees could coax him back into the room where Shri Swamiji was still lying, his massage incomplete.

The others asked Narasimhaswami what had happened, but he would not say.  They turned to Swamiji, “What is going on?  You ask us to ask him, but he won’t say.  A few minutes ago he was happily talking and joking, then he ran out full of fear.”  The devotees kept asking the old man, but he would not respond.  Nor would Swamiji explain, so the devotees complained that neither Swamiji nor the old man would tell them what gave the old man such a sudden terrified reaction.

The old man asked, “Swamiji, should I tell?”  Swamiji told him he should.

The old man explained that he had been sitting very happily enjoying Swamiji’s presence and the devotees’ conversation.  As he was looking, Swamiji became a very tall man, full of light.  Swamiji became Lord Shiva and the light was so powerful that the old man was blinded.  The divine vision was so powerfully awesome that it terrified the man.  He had to run away.  “I am a sinner.  Who am I to be so close to God?  I could not stand it.”

For the next three months after this experience, Narasimhaswami kept a respectful and cautious distance from Shri Swamiji.  Back in Bangalore, he used to come each night for Shri Swamiji’s darshan in the large meditation hall, but he never entered.  The man would simply do pranam from the main doors, about a hundred feet away from Swamiji’s physical form.  That was close enough, and he used to turn and leave.

The Cosmos in His Stomach

A few devotees were massaging Swamiji with oil.  There were only two or three devotees there, plus my father and I. Swami asked the others to leave the room because he wanted to take rest, but he asked my father and me to stay back.

We continued massaging and Swami suddenly asked me to put my head on his stomach. I was surprised and thought, “Why was Swamiji asking me to rest on his stomach?  What was the reason?” I did as he asked and put my head on his stomach.

He asked, “What can you hear?”

I was very surprised. I told Swamiji, “I can hear an aum from your stomach.”  I heard a very hollow, deep sound of om.  It wasn’t just an om.  It was A-U-M.  This was the sound I could hear from his stomach.  I told him.

He just looked at my father and smiled.

Decorated with Cobra Bracelets

Some time after I began living at the Bangalore ashram, I was doing Swamiji’s massage one morning.  I was working on one of Swamiji’s upper arms.  By then, Swamiji was not as muscle bound as he had been in the seventies and early eighties, so I could feel the bone.  I felt a bump, some bone spur or abnormality on the bone of the upper arm.  I was concerned that perhaps I had found some malignant growth that might prove dangerous.

I mentioned the bump to Swamiji, who simply replied, “Naaga abharana.” Swamiji was telling me he had the naaga abharana, the cobras that Lord Shiva wears as bracelets on his upper arms.  I began to understand that Swamiji was Lord Shiva.

 

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