Kadaitswami Saves the Fisherman 3

Gurudeva gave hundreds of talks in Siva temples, translated here by Mr. NK Murthy. His message was of courage and of the power and spiritual potencies found in Saivism. He would later write perhaps the most succinct summary of what he meant:

“The Natha Sampradaya has revealed the search for the innermost divine Self, balanced by temple worship, fueled by kundalini yoga, charted by monistic theism, illumined by a potent guru-shishya system, guided by soul-stirring scriptures and awakened by sadhana and tapas.”

In the lineage stands Kadaitswami, who always carried a black umbrella to shade him from the Jaffna tropical sun. He spent his days at Jaffna Grand Bazaar, walking about or sitting under a huge, shade-giving banyan tree. The shops on the northern and western streets of this marketplace belonged mainly to the Chettiars, or trading community. Muktiyananda did not say his name, so people took to referring to him as Kadaitswami (kadai means “shop” in the Tamil language, so his name simply meant the swami who frequents the marketplace). It is common in Tamil culture to name holy men after places, for they often do not let people know any other name. History also knows him as Adikadainathan, “Lord of the Marketplace.”

Saving a Fisherman

One stormy evening, Kadaitswami arrived shortly before dark at the house of a man who owned a fishing boat. The fisherman was not at home, and the swami acted strangely, so his wife was reluctant to let Kadaitswami through their compound gate. So adamantly did he insist that she relented.

Entering the front yard, he went to a tree and sat down. About two hours later, the wife, who was still waiting up for her husband’s return, noticed that Kadaitswami was holding a stout pole and sitting on the ground digging in the dirt beside him as if he were trying to push himself along with this makeshift oar, all the while repeating “Ellello,” a word fishermen chant when working together to pull their nets.

Yes, she thought, it looks as if he is pretending to row a boat, sitting in the mud in the dark. She went out in the torrential rain and pleaded with Kadaitswami to stop, afraid of the weird goings-on in her garden as much as what her husband would say when he came home to fi nd the yard dug up. But Kadaitswami would not desist; in fact, amid the intensity of the storm and his work he seemed not even to hear her.

Three hours passed as the lanky sage performed this strange and strenuous drama. Unable to chase him away, she kept watch from the safety of her home. Finally, the swami stopped, rose to his feet and disappeared into the moonless night.

The husband did not return until dawn, something that had never happened before. Many local fi shermen’s wives had lost their husbands to the turbulent sea. The wife was waiting anxiously at the gate when her beloved approached, deeply relieved to see him but afraid of the scolding he might give her when he saw the yard. Mustering her courage, she shared the tale of the swami’s visit and the wild rowing episode. Hearing this, her husband prostrated at the spot where Kadaitswami had been sitting. Only then, dishevelled and exhausted, did he go to the open well to bathe.

She brewed fresh coffee as he recounted that a severe storm had ravaged the sea just before dusk, capsizing his small boat. Struggling in the churning waters, he grew fatigued and felt death near, but wrestled with all his might to turn the boat aright. It was not working, and he grew weaker with every effort. Suddenly, one of the oars whacked him on the head, knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he found himself clinging to a plank, the boat right side up nearby in a becalmed sea.

He told his astonished wife of a vision he had just when death seemed certain, a vision of Kadaitswami rowing the boat toward him, rescuing him from the sea. He had been saved, he said, by the grace of the guru. Both marveled at the miraculous interconnectedness of their experiences.

They knew they had been touched by something rare and beyond their understanding. For the rest of their lives, they spoke of Kadaitswami’s supernatural efforts to save a drowning fisherman.

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