Just a few days back we received from Australia a personal account of the Tamil man who as a boy of 18 or so took two of the rare photos we have of Satguru Yogaswami. We share his tale with you today, along with the photos. These too have a story. When the editing team had virtually completed the book last summer, they realized, “Hmm, looking at all of S. Rajam’s paintings a reader could wrongly conclude that these men and their stories are fables, storybook stuff.” So, to show the real places and persons, a 32-page photo gallery was added. In that gallery are the two photos referred to in today’s story.
This title page for the photo section of the book shows Gurudeva with his shishya in Moscow in 1972 and Yogaswami’s shishya’s carrying his body to the funeral pyre in 1964. Here is the story:
My Story of the First Pictures
By Mr. Samy Pasupathi, Australia
There were no pictures of Swami. The devotees understood that he did not wish it be taken. It was said that when attempts are made to take a picture of Swami, mysteriously he would not appear in the picture. When my father, Dr. V T Pasupati was the the Physician and OlC of the Hospital in Chilaw in 1950, we were graced by Swami’s visit to my parents’ residence. Swami stayed for a few days. My mother, Kamalambikai, a deeply religious lady, told me that we were blessed that we were able to be in his presence.
However all of Swami’s disciples would wish very much that they should have a picture of Swami for their prayers. Would I take a picture early next morning when Swami is meditating? If Swami got angry she would take full responsibility. The next morning about 5.30 or 6 am Swami was in meditation at the furthest corner of the lounge. I was not to enter that room, but was to take a picture from the adjoining room.
At breakfast Swami enquired whether anyone had come when he was meditating. My mother kept silent. Later that moming when Swami was seated in a chair out on the verandah, my mother said ‘Swami, we made a big mistake’ instance. Swami who had known my mother from her infancy, the daughter of one of Swami’s early disciples, Physician Kasthuri Muthukumaru, said, What mistake can you make?’ meaning that she wouldn’t make a mistake. Of course Swami would have known that this picture was being taken.
My mother still feeling guilty said, ‘We took a photograph without your permission.’ Swami was silent and then to our relief, he laughed aloud and said ‘many have tried to take; you have taken’ We were relieved. I was emboldened and then asked, ‘May I take one more.’ Swami responded, ‘One is enough’. A little while later he said, ‘You took one, and take one more’ That is the picture of Swami seated in a chair.
These two pictures, the first of Swami in meditation and the other of Swami seated in a chair are perhaps the only two pictures of Swami when He was physically well and are now freely available everywhere.
Thank you Samy Pasupathi.You must have been commissioned by God to do this, for us,the devotees of the Kailsa Paramparai.Otherwise there would be a void..Thank you again. It is nice to know how ‘the Lion of Jaffna’our Parama Guru looked.
So as to reflect the correct position, I’ll be grateful if you could please
replace the words –
My mother still feeling guilty said, ‘Tell him ‘We took a photograph without your permission
with the words –
My mother still feeling guilty said, ‘We took a photograph without your permission. Swami was silent and then to our relief, he laughed aloud and said ‘many have tried to take; you have taken ‘We were relieved
Bodhinatha continues with his weekly series of commentaries on The Path to Siva. In this past Sun One talk, he elucidates the four key beliefs in Hinduism, the three pillars of Sanatana Dharma and Gurudeva's three stages of faith. Primary to Hinduism is the key belief that God is within each of us. To have a well-rounded understanding and experience of Hinduism, to make spiritual progress, adhyatma vikasha, we need scripture, humility, temple worship, devotion. To fully experience God we need the guru to give the spark for meditation and deeper wisdom.