The Old Guard

Telling the Truth

Recognizing Mahatmas

Yogis with Ego

Spiritual Leaders’ Powers

Old & New Devotees

Silent Teaching

Swamiji Doesn’t Forget

A Yogi’s Dramas

Associations with the Famous

Guru Brothers & Sisters

Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams

Bhava Samadhi

Explaining Swamiji’s
Use of Spiritual Experiences

The book Swamiji recommended

Perspectives on the Mission Today

About this Writer’s Corner


news about Swamiji & devotees




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  Telling the Truth
—  Yogis Don't Spin the Truth

  Recognizing Mahatmas
—  Get to Know Them

  Yogis with Ego 
—  Not Everyone Who Completes Tapas Is without Ego

  Spiritual Leaders’ Powers 
—  Not All that Glitters Is Gold

  Old & New Devotees 
—  Making Way for the New

  Silent Teaching 
—  Swamiji Discouraged Using Words to Teach Meditation or Describe Spiritual Experiences

  Swamiji Doesn’t Forget  —  Remembering His Devotees

  A Yogi’s Dramas  —  The Shiva in Shivabalayogi

  Associations with the Famous  —  If Swamiji is famous, it is because he has done twelve years of tapas

  Guru Brothers & Sisters  —  It Makes Sense Only If You Add It All Up

  Gurus, Obedience & Ashrams  —  A true yogi doesn’t tell others what to do; ashrams are for devotees.

Not Everyone Who Completes Tapas Is without Ego

Many people assume that a lot of meditation is evidence that someone is a saint.  Lack of ego is evidence of a saint.  Shivabalayogi meditated a lot, but what makes him great is that he never wanted anything out of it for himself.

The way Swamiji explained tapas, sometimes translated as penance or spiritual austerities, tapas means at least twelve hours of continuous meditation in samadhi (enlightenment) every day.  Tapas is successfully completed when one sees God with one’s physical eyes (God realization, sakshatkara).  You can read what Swamiji said about tapas.

During the early years, we know that Swamiji initiated at least four people into tapas.  Of those, two completed twelve years.  Swamiji was disappointed with both.

Mr. Gopanna, one of the Adivarapupeta trustees, told me how Swamiji expressed his disappointment in one of these tapaswins (a person who undertakes tapas).  About two years after this person first sat in tapas, Swamiji called some of his devotees together and told them to go visit and see how this tapaswin was doing.  Actually, Swamiji told them that he was upset because this tapaswin was not putting any effort into it.  It was Swamiji who was doing all the work.  He gave them some vibhuti (blessed ash) to take to the tapaswin.

When they arrived, the tapaswin immediately said something like, “So, he has sent you to spy on me.”  The tapaswin refused to take the vibhuti and the devotees left.

When they reported back to Swamiji, he told them very sternly that they should not visit that tapaswin again.  “There is no need for you to go.”  Swamiji told Mr. Gopanna that he should never pranam (bow) to that tapaswin.  Time went on and this tapaswin started up an ashram.

The other tapaswin completed twelve years of tapas and Swamiji declared it successful.  But Swamiji wanted to see how much the tapaswin had attained on his own and how much ego he had.  It turned out that he had not gained much in the way of powers and he had too much ego.  Instead of offering service to his guru, this swami asked Swamiji for a car and an ashram.  He was too interested in starting his own ashrams and collecting money.

This swami used to visit Bangalore for the August 7th functions.  He would come with several of his devotees and they were assigned rooms on the temple side of the ashram.  Swamiji always showed a lot of respect for this swami, and he would be made to sit on a dais on the same level as Swamiji.

The ashram had a rule that anyone staying there had to do a few hours of work every day.  One year the swami and his devotees stayed at the ashram after the function was over.  Swamiji called Jagadish and asked why those people were not joining in the ashram work.  He made Jagadish go and tell them to do a few hours of work in the garden beginning the next day.

The next day the swami’s devotees started doing work in the garden.  Swamiji again called Jagadish and complained that the swami was not among them.  Jagadish had to tell the swami that either he did ashram work with the rest of the devotees or he had to leave. The next morning the swami and his devotees left the ashram.

This was the same swami who, when Swamiji nearly died in 1991, privately asked him to be appointed his successor.  “He came to ask for Swamiji’s ashrams.  He is a devotee who knows how to sit in tapas, so he could do tapas to help his guru.  But instead of wanting to serve his guru, he wants to succeed him.”

Shivabalayogi explained that if one undertakes tapas with a desire in mind, only that desire is attained.  Those who undertake tapas with no desire become what Swamiji called the agents of God.  You can read about what Swamiji said about different kinds of tapas results.