After attending another amazing retreat with Pranaji and master Raj, meeting all the new members of Pranashakty in Pune, one of the many highlights of India was my trip to Valdulur to walk the path of Swami Ramalingam…On the morning of going to Pondicherry to stay the night, my friend Hellen Lahey and my self were waiting eagerly for our driver, named Gunna to pick us up. One hour late, he finally arrived. In Australia Gunna is a slang word meaning (going to).

So being warned about how fast Indians drivers like to speed,  we hoped Gunna wasn’t gunner gun his car down the road.. In Australian context this means drive like a bat out of hell down the road. To our pleasure he was a very good and safe driver for the next three days. I felt safe any way always knowing that all our Masters are with us.  I always asked if we could be forewarned of any impending danger when on our travels so we have time to right a wrong situation. Well hell swami wasn’t going to let us die when we were coming to visit his home town.

Not far from Pondicherry we were driving down a two lane highway. There was a bus coming towards us on the other side of the road and a cement barrier on the other side of us. All of a sudden a car pulled out and was trying to over take the bus. I knew the car wasn’t going to make it. The car had nowhere to go! We were heading for a head-on crash. Our Driver hit the brakes and we were sliding down the highway starting to go sideways. I saw the car in front of me and braced myself for the impact. I don’t remember as things went blank, the next thing I know somehow the car was behind us still on our side of the road and we skidded to a stop. Gunna was so stunned at this point that he kept shaking his head and looking back. Both Hellen and myself felt that some how this car had passed straight thought us and we were saved. There are no other words for this although Pranaji may be able to explain further. We yelled out and clapped our hands and the clapping pulled Gunna out of his stupour and a smile lit his face. Gunna, having no English, was unable to voice his thoughts on what had happened, which is a shame. Not long after this a huge downpour of rain started. We were now having a cleansing from Mother Nature.

I was glad to reach Pondicherry and was relived. One more sleep and we were of to Vadulur, going to sleep that night I was in a now where state, I heard the strangest sound in my head. My whole body was vibrating and it felt like it was fragmented into a million pieces and then slowly being put back together. I have never in my wildest dreams experienced any thing like this before, I then drifted of into a broken sleep. Waking early I was so excited the day had finally come, I was off to swami’s home ground.  Leaving Pondicherry with Gunna and Hellen we had just forty km to go, everything thing was clean and fresh because of the heavy downpour from the day before. Going along dirt roads, dodging pot holes and puddles we went through villages, as we went further and further out into the farming community, seeing bullocks working the fields, and daily life unfolding, Thatched houses started to appear, the villagers started calling out to us and waving to us. We even came across a truck load of women all standing on the back holding on to each other. I waved to them and a few waved back, then as we come up beside them I blew them a kiss. Well every one waved and blew kisses back, we all laughed out loud. Getting closer to Vadulur we started to see signs of Swami, pictures of him on the side of the road. Pulling into Vadulur Gunna asked for directions to swami’s temple.

I saw my first glimpse in the distance; a huge rush of adrenalin ran through my body. I turned the video on. We turned the corner and there it was. The temple. I had drooled over this Image on the internet for so many hours in all my research. Swami’s temple is like a beacon of light, huge, brilliant and shimmering in the suns rays, right in front of my eyes. Hellen and I kicked off our shoes and we were out the car like a shot. Walking towards the temple I could hardly believe I was here. We walked into the temple and were soon greeted by a priest. He sold us a book on swami and a video. No English was spoken. There was an Indian who was visiting and he told us that the devotional prayers were at 10.30am. The door was closed to the great white light, and it was only opened at those times, There was an excitement in the air, but we would have to wait another half and hour.  A young fellow stepped up to me, although he couldn’t speak English we seemed to communicate that we wanted to know where the food house for the poor. Unbeknown to me he was going to be our guide for the day and show us places I didn’t find on the internet or read in any books when doing my research for the trip and talks I have given on swami. The next stop was walking across the paddock over to some buildings in the distance…. The young man took us to a wall of art work of swami, I was awestruck at how well they were painted and the detail, Its a shame that they are out side under a veranda. We were then led to a shrine out side to the feed house for the poor. We were greeted by a priest and the surprise on his face when he saw us was priceless. He said a prayer in front of the small lamp and swami picture then he came over to us and placed sugar in the right palm and gestured for us to eat. He then placed ash on our forehead in to my right hand I placed this on my heart and crown chakra which properly tumbled all over me. I felt truly blessed. We thanked him with a donation of money.

We were then taken around to the feed house for the poor. They showed me a small pile of rice to feed the poor covered with a well worn cloth, my heart sank, with all the wealth in world everyone should be able to eat well. I looked up and saw the fire that swami had lit some many years ago still burning brightly and well cared for. There were steel cans to the right, steamers I think on the wall to the left. In front of the fire there is a small cement box containing cow paddies. The priest kept pointing to the cow paddy, and I thought he wanted me to throw a cow paddy on to the fire. So I picked one up, and then there was a big commotion-heads being shaken-not to pick it up, so I meekly put it back down. Then the priest came over and rubbed his hand on top of the cement box and placed it on his fore head, laughter then broke out. So with cow paddy on my right hand I rubbed my hands on the box and placed the cow paddy with sacred ash from the fire on my forehead. I then turned around and sugar was placed in my right hand and I now had to eat cow paddy, sacred ash and sugar. Yes I have been laughed at every time I tell this story. But I knew I was never going to get sick as I was divinely looked after, swami’s energy was forever present that is why, I never hesitated to just do it. Now I was blessed in more ways then I could have imagined. Ha ha. Oh and by the way I never did get sick. Now feeling totally blessed we moved on to the historic building where someone had carved beautiful figurines of Swami’s life encased in little glass boxes.  It was a mural of Swami’s life, something like a nativity scene.  Above it was written in Tamil and English the story of his life. It was quite badly neglected, but still very informative and moving and I learned much about Swami that I hadn’t read on the internet. By this time, we had gathered a small group of inquisitive Indian villagers around us and we moved off into the little gift shop and bought some Swami images and medallions. 

The shop became so full of people that we couldn’t move. I then went into the Temple for the devotional prayers.  There was a small room on the left where the priests had started their chanting and they came down the stairs and across the floor to the right where they did more offerings.  They then went up the seven stairs to the huge gold painted doors which were opened by the priests, showing the beautiful Jothi lamp.  It was wonderful to at last see the Jothi light that had been lit by Swami Ramalingam so many years ago. I sat down on the floor amongst the villagers and we sang the Arut Perum Jothi together- an older lady chanted the song and myself and the villagers sang it back. A few villagers were surprised that I knew the chant!  The whole room was alive with the energy of Swami-pure bliss. At the end of the chanting the priests blessed us with the ash and a brown substance was put into my hand which I realised that I had to eat after being directed by the lady who had led the chanting. The priests allowed me to take some photos before they closed the door. Lucky! Afterwards I spoke to the older lady and thanked her for her beautiful singing. Then I left.

In the car on the road as we headed to Swami’s home village we eventually pulled up outside a house where villagers were sitting on the ground eating rice with watery korma.  This was a small feedhouse for the poor.  We went into a shrine and a priest blessed us with some ash. He took my mala beads, put them on the altar, blessed them and then gave them back to me. It was very special. Back in the car we moved on to Swami’s bath house which was a hole in the ground with a type of cage over it. This is where the villagers and Swami had bathed and washed their clothes It is still used as a bathouse today. There is also a group of mango trees and a shrine where Swami used to rest in the heat of the day. The people here seem to be so very poor, and even so, very joyous. An old man dressed in a loincloth appeared out of a cornfield and I gave him a little money. He nodded and seemed very happy, then he held his hand high holding the money and ran off back into the cornfield. We than proceeded onto Swami’s home. His hut was very small with a huge building-a shrine-built in front of it. His home consisted of a sunken courtyard with an open roof. To the left was the beautiful door where Swami entered his home. It was draped with flowers and fairy lights. I walked over to the door and I placed my hand on the door and closed my eyes. I immediately felt a message from Swami that he went ‘puff’ into a gaseous dust and just floated to the floor when he dematerialised. I sat in the courtyard then and meditated with the priests. Some of them sang. One of the priests put a little rose flower in my hand.I felt like I was ‘home’. On the way out of the courtyard one of the priests said to me…you will come back please? I said I would one day. I don’t think that the priest realised that I lived on the other side of the world. Leaving Swami’s home I felt so torn and I was grief stricken for the next few days. I experienced such a strong longing to go back which has only subsided a little since being back in Australia. I know that Swami will be forever in my heart and that he is well and truly alive today in Valdulur and in his home town.

Sri Jothishakti Ma