[Editor’s Note: Sri Kodi Swami was rumored to have lived for over 300 years, before attaining Mahasamadhi in 1993. Some families had been visiting him for generations. He was spoken of as belonging to the saints of the highest order by spiritually acclaimed people and other saints who came to seek his darshan.]
In Hinduism, a siddha is ‘one who is accomplished’. It refers to a perfected master who has achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. Siddha may also refer to one who has attained a siddhi, paranormal capabilities.
In my life, I came across not one but three siddhas – the ‘Kodi Swami’ from Puravipalayam near Pollachi, Coimbatore, the ‘Sinchuvadi Swami’ from Sinchuvadi village near Udumalpet, and ‘Yogi Ram Surat Kumar’ from Thiruvannamalai.
If you were to ask the need for their being introduced here, a teacher should know the connection between spirituality and teaching. The role it plays and the influences on the life of any teacher, will be clear if you get a chance to meet these purest of pure in hearts, self-less ones with no expectations – an example of a very rare phenomenon which proves many things you may not understand, you may not believe, and will sometimes find difficult to accept.
Let me start with “Kodi Swamigal” from Puravipalayam, Pollachi. At that time I was on deputation with the district collectorate as a Mass Media Coordinator. One fine morning my team head said, “We have to move to a nearby village, the District Collector is supposed to participate in a program there and we have to videograph the event.”
We followed the collector in a jeep. During the travel one of the team mates asked, “Has any one of you heard of Kodi Swamigal? We said, “No.” Our team mate continued, “You should be very careful with this siddha; when one of my friends met him, he asked him for his gold watch and he had to give it as there was no other way.” When he had finished his sentence, and we looked ahead, the collector’s car was not there ahead of us, even though we had been following him closely. The driver who was very thorough with the route had got confused, and he said, “I do not know what happened, but we missed the correct route.” This happened somewhere near Puravipalayam. With much difficulty, we arrived at the venue later on, with much delay, and attended the function.
My mind thought that perhaps the team member’s comment had been heard by the siddha, and he had given us a warning signal.
The teacher, who wants to become a role model, and wishes to achieve something in his career, needs to have these types of acquaintances, although they are very difficult to come across.
After returning to college service, one day I asked one of my friends who hailed from a village near Puravipalayam about ‘Kodi Swamigal’. He said he knew of him, and added that the saint is about three hundred years old. I am not a person who takes everything at face value. I searched and researched and found that many of the villagers and their forefathers had seen the saint in the same palace (Yes, in the Puravipalayam Jameendar’s Palace).
I decided that I would meet this saint, and requested one of my colleagues who was from a nearby village to help me to meet the saint. We went there, and found that there was a long queue waiting to see him. The queue went up slowly to the first floor. There I saw an old man sitting on a chair. (When I made enquiries, people said it was very rare to see him getting up from the chair, and that he did not attend to nature’s calls, nor did he take food or bath). At very first sight my mind told me that he is different and unique. It is my practice never to touch the feet of anybody other than my father and mother. However, I prostrated before him and touched his feet, got his blessings and left the place.
After marriage, when the birth of our first child got delayed, my wife became very much worried. I told her, “We will go to the saint.” So we went, and on that day too there was a long queue. We stood patiently. I told my wife to pray sincerely, and that the saint could grant our wish. We were just behind another couple, they prostrated and the saint blessed them and they left, and in a second, we were standing before him and prostrating. He blessed us, and within months we were blessed with our first baby.
I used to smoke nearly five packs a day and I could not stop this habit. It was my practice to meditate in front of the saint’s photo in my house daily every evening. One day while I was praying the lights went off and I was in complete darkness. I prayed to the saint, “I trust in you, I want light now, I do not know how you are going to do it, it should come, when I say ‘now’, and that too not in the normal way, it should come as if high voltage is there (more bright luminance than normal). If it comes I will stop smoking.” I said, “Now”, the light came on with full brightness and then slowly became normal. I stood up, went to my room and took my cigarette pack and was about to throw it away. My wife noticed this and asked me, “What happened?” I narrated the event to her, and she said, “Why you are wasting the money, you just smoke that also and then throw it away!”
A teacher, when he becomes spiritually attached, can surely come out of any of his negative habits. Days passed. It was my practice to visit the abode of ‘Kodi Swamigal’ every Saturday. I would start in the afternoon and used to reach Puravipalayam mostly by 6 PM in the evening. This was because the door which leads to the first floor where the saint was seated was closed by 7 PM. I had to change nearly four buses to reach Puravipalayam as there were no direct buses to this place.
One Saturday, due to lack of buses, it was past 7 PM when I reached Puravipalayam, and the door leading to the saint’s room had been closed. I was upset, I prayed in my mind, “I took all efforts to meet you and you know well it was not my mistake. I will meet you today.” I made up my mind and sat in a corner in front of the Zamindar’s palace.
Although it was a full moon day the place looked dark to me. I was not afraid as my full concentration was on meeting the saint. Suddenly I saw a car slowly approaching. The car stopped before the palace gate, a lady came out from the palace and welcomed the group of people who arrived by the car. They went inside, and I too accompanied the group knowingly or unknowingly. I saw a cinema like set up inside the room like we see in movies – a seat for the king and two parallel rows of seats in front of the main seat. Suddenly I remembered that I did not belong to this group.
I came outside and nobody noticed me. I just looked at the door which led to the first floor. The doors were open. I do not know what happened after that; the next moment I was just standing before the saint. In the place where he was sitting, I could see only a light at which I simply could not look at. It was so bright and powerful. I prostrated and apologised in my mind for entering the room without the permission of the saint.
When I was coming down the stairs thereafter, the group which had come earlier was coming up. The lady who had welcomed the group asked me, “You?” My answer was, “I am a professor, a devotee of the saint.” They never questioned me and let me off. The identity as a teacher and being a teacher often saves you in times of need.
Now I noticed that the whole place was suddenly very dark, and naturally I was a little afraid. I prayed to the saint, “Oh saint, it is so dark here, show me the way.” The next minute I saw that somebody was behind me showing a torch light to guide me. I turned back and found a small boy who was lighting the way for me. I did not ask him anything; the only thing I remember is that he was with me up to the Bus stand where there were plenty of street lights.
While I was waiting for the bus, I said in my mind, “If you can show me the way up to the bus stand, why can’t you accompany me up to my house?” The bus arrived and I occupied my seat. The person who was sitting beside me asked “Sir, where are you going?” In reply I asked him where he was from, and he replied that he was from the palace and was going to the same place where I had to go. I was a little shocked but never showed it outside.
I reached my place. It was a full moon day. I had to walk a little way to reach my house. On the way, on my left side I saw a very divine looking snake with the full moon shedding light on it as if it is blessing me and guarding me.
Every spiritual event in your life makes you more fit enough to be a good teacher.
‘Sinchuvadi Swami’ the saint from the village Sinchuvadi in Udumalpet gave me a better direction in my career and life. At that time I was suffering a lot financially, so much so that truly I was not able to make both ends meet. My family expenses were shooting up. Although my wife was a government employee, I made it a point not to take her salary for household or any other expenses, as I considered it as her own hard earned money and I should not accept it at any point of time. (When she got her first salary after our marriage she was about to hand over her full salary to me, but I told her you keep this for your expenses as you earned it). I got married while I was a National Service Scheme Program Officer so I told my wife’s family that I would not accept anything whether it is in money or in kind and that I would bear all the expenses of the marriage. (In fact I had to sell my only house in Kerala which I had built out of my savings for the marriage expenses).
One day while talking with one of my friends he told me that I should meet Sinchuvadi swami. I asked, “Why?” He said that he had once gone with his friends to meet him, and at that time the swami was picking up some broken bangle pieces from the road and collecting them very seriously. His friends made fun of the swami and passed some comments. The next minute what they saw was the face of the swami as a vishwa roopa (face alone as a big image). Now you understand what is what, they left the place immediately.
I decided in my mind that I have to meet him. I took the help of one of my students who hailed from that village and went with him to meet the swami. The saint was inside a Perumal (Vishnu) temple and the door remained closed. He was inside the temple seeing us through the grill gate, and he shouted at us, “Go away, do not come here.” But I did not go away, and sat there deciding that I would not go until he opened the gate. Time tick ticked away and at last he opened the gate. We went inside but he went outside. I was waiting patiently when he came back, sat in a corner and started talking to somebody as if he were talking through a mobile, “…oh is it so, ok and…” like that. I could not understand anything but my mind told me that he was talking to somebody whom you cannot see, perhaps to the Divine.
He simply ignored us and never asked us anything. Sitting before him for some time praying, I left the place. After that whenever I got time I used to go to him and he became familiar with me and started saying, “he is digging and digging and continuously digging.” I did not understand the meaning of this at that time, but later I understood that he meant that I would become a researcher and do knowledge mining and keep myself engaged in search and research of knowledge.
At another time he called me by name and said ‘education’. (I understood later that although I had wasted a lot of money and time on starting different kinds of businesses and lost money, he wanted to tell me that I would shine only in the field of education). I was really shocked when he told me one day, “the train goes on no driver only guard (god).” Whenever I met him after that he would ask me, “You did not understand the meaning of what I said” (for the meaning of which, even today I am searching).
He guided this teacher towards the right path; perhaps in some corner of the world some saint will be waiting for you, who knows? Therefore search and research until you find him.
I used to discuss spirituality with my wife most of the days and one evening my wife asked me, “Do you know this saint from Thiruvannamalai, Yogi Ram Surat Kumar?” I said, “No.” “On seeing the photo of the saint my inner self told me you should meet him.”
I take decisions very fast in spiritual matters. I told my wife, “Ok, we will go and meet him and get his blessings!”
With our children being very young, we found it very difficult to board the town buses which were always full. Somehow we reached Thiruvannamalai, and as we had enough time we went to the Ashram of Bhagavan Ramana and sat there silently for some time. I have never felt so much divine bliss anywhere.
I understood why religion and education are closely linked. I learned an example of patience there. I came to understand that Bhagavan was in penance in a cave and worms penetrated his skin, but he sat still as he was not in this world but in a divine world.
Time came to meet the great Yogi Ram Surat Kumar who used to say, “I am not a good teacher, I do smoke and I cannot stop this.” How many of the saints in mother India or elsewhere can admit this so frankly?
I was in the queue when I saw the Yogi sitting as an example of simplicity, seriously reading a book; he was not bothered about who was standing there or why they were standing there.
I remembered what some of my friends from the police department had told me about him. In the beginning the Yogi used to be on the streets. It was his habit to grab food from the vendors and run away. The vendors got annoyed and they went and complained to the local police who sent a van full of policemen to catch the Yogi. Seeing the police after him he ran with the police following him closely. Suddenly he stopped and lo, what the people saw was a lion standing in front of them. They immediately left the place and reported this to their superiors and soon an abode was made for him.
As in banks there is a KYC (Know Your Customer), I had a habit of KYS (Know Your Saint). My research about him revealed that he was a professor in Philosophy from Banaras Hindu University. It was my wish to sing in his ashram, but I was very shy to ask permission for this, fearing that they would refuse. After the Yogi attained Samadhi, I went to the ashram, sat before his statue and started singing about him. People there tried to stop me but one lady who was in charge of the ashram, told them not to disturb me.
[ Please also read: Kodi Swamigal – The 300 Year Old Saint of Puravipalayam ]