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teachings of Shirdi Sai far and wide. [ An 'apostle' means a "messenger" in Greek.]The great apostles who had the blessings of Sai in His time include Upasani Maharaj and Swami Sai Sharan Anand. Narasimha Swami , Radhakrishna Swami,Ekkirala Bharadwaj ,Sai Maruthi among others,spread Sai message and built temples and institutions and wrote numerous books.In recent times, Ammula Sambasiva Rao, Sarath Babu [ a disciple of Bharadwaj]and others had carried on this noble mission and have instituted Sai temples in foreign lands as
well. Sivenesan Swami was one of those humble apostles who lived for most part of his life in Shirdi, serving in Sainath's temple -precincts . He was a beacon light for many devotees thronging the samadhi mandir. A sadhu of saintly stature, his name was known only to a smaller following in his lifetime. You will find his samadhi mandir at a distance of 3 km from Sai Samadhi Mandir along Pimpalwadi Road in Shirdi. Early Life Sivanesan Swami was born on 12th April 1927, on the auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami, at Nayakkar Palayam, near Coimbatore ,the city of textile mills in Tamil Nadu. His
parents ,Muthiah and Alamelu ,were well off and highly cultured. Sivenesan lost his mother at a young age. He studied upto 8 th standard and showed no interest in academic studies. His mind would wander into spiritual realms ; he would be often lost in meditation, missing his meals. Before going to Mumbai, he worked on several odd jobs as he could find. He worked as a records assistant in Madras [Chennai] High court and also as an assistant in the Electricity department in Coimbatore as a temporary worker. He also served as a sales assistant in a book shop.He was more interested in reading books there than selling them--soon he lost the job . All
these temporary jobs he did before the age of 17. After his mother's demise, he left home and went to Mumbai in search of a job, sometime in 1944, that is , at the age of seventeen. There he met Muthiah Swami of Vallandu village who became his guru and mentor. He learned much of Vedanta from this householder guru. He also met Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. He was blessed with several visions--one being that of an old man beckoning him, perhaps Shirdi Sai Himself . He was not interested in earning or making a living. He was searching for the spiritual light to guide him for the rest of his life. Legend has it that he served as a porter
in Sion railway station in Mumbai,sleeping on the platform. He sold bananas, worked in a silk weaving unit and was also a scribe outside Matunga post office for sometime. One day he got disgusted with the course of his life and went in search of a real master. He walked along the railway track from Mumbai reaching Nasik and then proceeded further to Shirdi in 1953. Life in Sai temple He found inner peace and guidance at the Sai Samadhi and he spent the rest of his life there; his main task was the upkeep of Dwarkamai and Chavadi. He never left Shirdi after 1953. He cleaned all parts of Dwarkamai or the masjid , polishing the lamps and sweeping
the floor and so on. In spare time, he meditated. While he apparently had several visions at that time, he never spoke about these experiences . When Shirdi Sansthan was administered by a Court [official] Receiver, the kind officer appointed Sivanesan Swami as the house keeper for Chavadi. Soon swami was called "Chavadi Swami".He was allowed to sleep in a small room adjoining Dwarkamai. He also did odd chores like writing address labels in different languages to send 'udhi' packets from the Sansthan. For all these, the Sansthan gave Rs 15 a month as a token pay. It was a life of poverty and humble disposition for Sivenesan. He was a voracious reader and so spent lot of money
on books. He guided hundreds of devotees of Sai who needed his counsel.He knew several local languages which was helpful for his ministry. He never discriminated between rich devotees and poor ones or between young and old or between persons of different castes ad religions. He exhorted Sai devotees to do nama japa of Sai [chanting the name of Sai] . He would do 'pradakshina' ,going around Gurusthan and also Datta temple in the Lendi Bagh, from 3 AM. He started 'Chavadi bhajans' after the sunset Arati for an hour , His favorite song was 'Sai Bhavani', written by Vasant Ranpise..He performed dhuni pooja and would obtain udhi for Sai
devotees. He laid great emphasis on the practice of Dhuni pooja [fire worship.] He exhorted his devotees to build Sai temples in India and elsewhere. With his vast knowledge of Sai lore and deep understanding of Vedanta, he helped other devotees like Ekkirala Bharadwaja in writing books. Attracted by his utter simplicity and deep devotion to Sai,a vast following was found around Sivanesan Swami. He advocated 'anna dan' and poor feeding and the satyanarayan [sainath] pooja for couples. He was supported by many Sai devotees in Shirdi, especially by Uddhav Rao, son of Shama [Madhav Rao Deshpande,the great
devotee of Sai]for his everyday needs.His needs ,however, very meagre. He led an extremely simple life; Zarine Taraporevala wrote that he always slept on the floor,spreading a blanket and thick bedspread on the floor; his seat was a gunnysack with a paper-filled pillow case as a bolster. Sivanesan swami was a close associate of Radhakrishna Swami of Bangalore. Later Years His later years were spent in Sai devotions,especially chanting , and counseling numerous devotees. Many claimed that he had mystical and psychic powers, including healing powers and predicting the
future. Several devotees gathered around him, including many foreign devotees of Sai. He held the informal satsanghs in a small room under a stair case near the maintenance department. But he remained the simple swami that he became in 1953. He suffered from a terminal illness towards the end of his earthly life . He attained the lotus feet of Sainath on 12th Feb 1996. Zarine Taraporevala , a great Sai devotee and author of English translation of "Sai Sat Charita " from Hemadpant [Dabholkar]'s original Marathi verses, became a patron of Sivanesan Swami's samadhi mandir , and helped to build the mandir and institutions [Gurukulam]connected with that mandir. She had appended a brief sketch of Guru
Sivanesan Swami's life and teachings in her book of Sai Sat Charita. Much material for this article is derived from this appendix . It is the present author's deepest regret that he had not met Sivanesan Swami even though he had visited Shirdi many times since 1982 and did make inquiries about him. His 'Doha' Sivanesan swami composed a poem of 52 verses in Hindi: A few verses: Meditate on Sai day and night
Sing about Sai's Divine Sport Lord, you are present in every atom
The power of your divine Sport is great These words are spoken from expereince and fulfillment These are priceless words [This 'doha' is given in full in Sai Ananda's book.] During the four and half decades Sivanesan Swami spent in Shirdi, he became the best apostle seen in recent years.
References 1 Sai Ananda --'Light of Wisdom" Sai Spiritual center, Thyagarajanagar,Bangalore 560 028. 2 Vinny Chitluri-- Ambrosia in Shirdi-- published by the author: 304, Bhagchand Apartments, Pimpalwadi Road,Shirdi 423 109
3 Zarine Taraporevala ---Sree Sai Samartha Satcharita -Sai Press India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi. 4 Numerous articles in magazines devoted to Shirdi Sai. 5 See also the videos in " You Tube" by Allu Bhaskarreddy. ----------------
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