Sample from Boundless Giving – special double edition of Integral Yoga Magazine
By His Holiness Sri Swami Satchidananda
As many of you know, when Sri Gurudev was in residence at Yogaville, he answered questions at Saturday evening satsangs. During the satsang that was held on April 11, 1987, just nine months after the opening of the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS), someone asked Sri Gurudev: “Would you tell us about your background?” At first, Sri Gurudev jokingly responded: “My background, hmm? I don’t know whether I have any ground at all!” And then he warmly yielded to the request.
I can just say that I am fortunate, in a way, to have been born into a family of pious parents. Mother and father were my first teachers. They instilled faith in God in my heart. And, somehow, from then on, I never worried about anything. Everything just fell into the proper places. Even while I was a little student, I always felt that God was guiding me.
From school I went into business. There, again, one after the other, I got my hands into everything-jack of all trades and, even today, master of none. Yes; I got my hands into everything: automobile engineering, electronic engineering, cinematography, temple management, the agricultural field; a little bit of everything. Then everything just naturally dropped away. One after the other. Luckily, our home was a place where almost all the sages and saints who walked that way used to come and stay. That’s another great benefit that I got. Any time someone walked into my childhood house, that person would always see some saintly person staying there.
We were able to serve these people, and they, in turn, were able to bless us or instill in us a little more of God’s knowledge. So, naturally, when all my worldly jobs were over, I automatically went to the places of these saints and sages. I sat at their feet and learned a lot. For eight years, I stayed in various places, at the feet of many sages and saints. Ultimately, I heard of another great saint in the Himalayas. I went there to see him and that was, more or less, the culmination of my search. Swami Sivanandaji, was well-known all over the world. He was a great ecumenist. People of all religions used to go to his Ashram.
Even after that, I had no idea of going out to do anything-preaching, teaching. No. It just simply happened. Some devotees who came to Rishikesh, Himalayas, saw me. I don’t know what they saw in me. But they wanted me to come to their country, Sri Lanka. Maybe they thought that I could speak their language [Tamil] well. For some reason, they called me to come for a few months. I went there and got stuck for thirteen years! And from there, I was invited to Japan, Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, and other places. I went only by invitation. I went and came back.
After I had been in Sri Lanka for thirteen years, a filmmaker from America came to the area. You see how Providence works? The filmmaker, Conrad Rooks [Siddhartha], happened to be staying in a nearby hotel, and he had been casually asking the hotel owner, “Is there anybody who can teach me a little Yoga?” The hotel owner was the mayor of the city, Kandy, and he said, “Why, yes; I do know of someone. I practice Yoga with him, and I can introduce you.” And that’s how Conrad Rooks came to know me. He was sort of a skeptical and naughty boy. You know, 1960s hippie. He called me and said, “I’m not going to take much of your time; fifteen minutes is enough. I have just one or two questions about kundalini and this and that.” I said, “Well, fine; come. After 10 o’clock everyone at the Ashram goes to bed, and I can give you a little time.” So, he punctually arrived at 10 o’clock. For fifteen minutes, I thought. And we started talking and talking and talking. All of a sudden, he looked at his watch; it was 4 o’clock in the morning. Something had happened. He wanted to stay with me; he didn’t want to go back. Then, his lawyers, who had business in Paris, sent telegrams asking him to come back because there were some problems there.
He went back, and after three or four weeks, without even asking me, he sent me a ticket to Paris. British Airlines phoned me and said, “There is a ticket waiting for you to go to Paris. When are you going?” I said, “I don’t know; who sent the ticket?” The man told me the name, and I said, “All right. But I can’t just leave everything and come right away. Give me two weeks.” He replied, “Okay; anytime you say, we’ll book you.” So, after two weeks, I came, thinking that maybe I would spend a month in Paris. But then, Conrad wanted me to visit other places, to meet all his friends. He wanted me to go to New York. I was to come to New York for two days. But the two days became five months. Still, I couldn’t stay continuously, even though they insisted, because my ticket was to expire. I couldn’t stay any longer; the time for my departure was nearing. Everyone agreed that I had to go, but they said that they would see to it that I would return. I flew to Colombo, and who was there to receive me? The American Ambassador to Sri Lanka himself, who was a close friend of mine. He said, “I don’t know what you have done to our people in America. They have sent me letters and telegrams asking me to pack you up and send you back there.”
And that’s how I came to America. It was not anything that I did. Something, Providence, pushed me, pushed me…
Read the rest of this article in Boundless Giving – special double edition of Integral Yoga Magazine.