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Speaking in Tongues

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Speaking in Tongues

Shivabalayogi_translationTranslating for Swamiji

One of the programs in Portland was in a restaurant space.  The bhajans were particularly good that evening, some people passed into bhava, and Swamiji himself said that the program was very special.

I was in Swamiji’s car on the return to the house where he was staying.  His interpreters, Bheemaraju and Shiladitya Singh, somehow ended up in another car which either got lost or ended up going someplace else.  When we arrived at the house, there were about ten to fifteen people there.  Some were new and I recognized some devotees.  They wanted to ask Swamiji questions, but they didn’t know there was no one to interpret.

One person asked Swamiji a question and he said something in Hindi or Telugu — I couldn’t tell the difference.  Swamiji looked at me and the devotees looked at me.  So I explained in English what Swamiji has said.  A second question was asked.  Swamiji replied and I translated.  A third time it happened.  As I found myself translating Swamiji’s fourth answer, I started to realize what I was doing.  I knew no Hindi or Telugu, yet here I was translating what Swamiji was saying.  Suddenly I couldn’t do it.

Swamiji got angry at me and insisted that I translate his answer.  I understood what he was saying to me, but my mind had gotten in the way.  I could no longer understand or translate for the others.

Shivabalayogi Adivarapupeta 1963Speaking in Tongues during Forty Days of Meditation

I pleaded with Swamiji to sit me in tapas, but he teased and tried to frighten me.  “You can sit in the room above the temple, but there are a lot of sounds there and snakes will come and frighten you.”  I insisted that I was ready and would not run away.

Finally Swamiji agreed to make me sit in meditation.  This took place after he had completed his own twelve year tapas, but before he consecrated Ardhanarishwara linga and Devi in the Dhyana Mandir.  Arrangements were made for me to sit near the shed that served as the ashram’s kitchen and bhajan hall.  I was given one of Swamiji’s own loin cloths (kaupina) to wear.

Swamiji initiated me and I passed out of ordinary consciousness.  I had no mind.  I had no thoughts about parents, wife, job, eating or anything else.  I was merged with God.  All I was conscious of was getting up very early in the morning and having a bath.  Swamiji’s own mother used to give me a cup of milk.  I would drink the milk and then go back to meditation.  That was all I knew through my ordinary awareness.  I had no prior meditation experience and I had done no previous spiritual practice, so it was obvious that it was Swamiji’s power.

After forty days, Swamiji made me get up and sent me home.  When I complained, he explained that forty days were all I had earned and that I was unable to do tapas because I was married and had family responsibilities.

After I returned home I found out that  I had been giving spiritual discourses during those forty days.  The villages called them dhyana sutras (meditation sayings or aphorisms).  I would speak of the importance of courage, or the value of meditation, or how a bad man could not understand the significance of bhajans or spiritual trance.  I had no awareness that I was doing any talking and it was not possible that the discourses came from my mind.  I had attended the village school only to fifth class, and sometimes the discourses were in Hindi or English, languages I never studied or knew.  Much of what I said was recorded and written down, but they have been lost.

The forty day meditation had permanent effect on me.  In childhood I had a reputation of being a dumb fellow.  But the meditation sharpened my mind and increased my capacity to learn.  I taught myself Hindi well enough to teach children in grammar school.  I also found it easy to study English and I have even learned some Urdu by myself.  I simply study from books, something which comes to me easily.

If forty days of meditation can make an ordinary fellow so knowledgeable, imagine what could happen from many years of meditation.

Swamiji’s Knowledge of English

B. K. Bhadauria, an advocate (lawyer) in Agra and a devotee, was involved in litigation on behalf of the Maharaja of Bhadawar, also Swamiji’s devotee.  The lawyers had prepared a draft of a legal document which Swamiji had asked them to prepare.  Being a legal document, it was written in English.  Swamiji wanted it read aloud, but did not know English — or so he acted.  Bhadauria read out loud a section in English, then the king would translate to Hindi for Swamiji.  Then Swamiji would tell them where to correct and what to change.

This went on for some while and it was almost time for kirtan.  Then Swamiji told Bhadauria, “Come on, you read it quickly.”  He started reading it in English without translation, and Swamiji started telling them in Hindi the corrections to be made in the original English.