Reading “The Power of Prayer” reminded me of an experience of Venkappanna. One time I happened to be sitting near Venkappanna during a large celebration, when Gurumayi began speaking about him. She thanked and praised him, saying how great he was, what wonderful things he had done, and that he was key in her own sadhana
. Through all of these words of gratitude and praise, Venkappa sat totally
still with his attention completely on Gurumayi, without showing emotion, not even a smile.
I was amazed to observe someone with so little ego. It inspired me to wish to have the strength of heart that he had.
Ohio, United States
This story brought up a sweet memory for me! Years ago, when I was 19, Venkappanna came to San Paulo, Brazil, and I offered seva
as his driver during the seven-day visit.
On my way to pick him up from the airport, I was nervous and didn’t know what I would say to welcome him. As I met him and his group and we walked to my car, I got even more nervous, still not knowing how to address him. In my car, I still didn’t know what to say. Suddenly, out of my mouth came the words, "I like to eat bananas!," and I immediately regretted it. But Venkappanna, the embodiment of compassion, responded with, “I love bananas too! In fact, I can eat them even without teeth.” And he took out his dentures!
We laughed a lot and had wonderful days during his visit.
San Paulo, Brazil
What a beautiful account of Venkappanna’s Guru bhakti
and Guru seva
I was touched by his visit to Uluru, the large, red rock in Australia sacred to the Aboriginal people, where it had not rained for a year. And I was as amazed and humbled as the Aboriginal people themselves were when, following Venkappanna’s pujas
and prayers, the rain came down, drenching the parched land!
This story increases my faith in prayer and in the teachings of the Guru.
I met Venkappanna on his visit to the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Melbourne in the early 1990s. My young daughters were standing with me as I spoke with him after satsang.
With glee in his eyes, Venkappanna suddenly looked at my eldest daughter, who was about 8 years old at the time, and said to her, “Do you know how to speak to Gurumayi?” She shook her head, her eyes transfixed expectantly on Venkappanna. Venkappanna placed his hand on his heart and said, “You do this and say, ‘Gurumayi. Gurumayi. Gurumayi. Gurumayi. Gurumayi,’ and then she is there!” He was beaming, his eyes fixed on my daughter's beautiful, shining face. She giggled, beaming back at him. He nodded and then looked at me, with a clear, steady gaze. “Good,” he said. I thanked him, so grateful and full of admiration for the love this man had shown me and my daughters, and for the deep assurance he brought us in that gentle, generous moment.
London, United Kingdom
Twenty years ago it was my good fortune to spend a month at Gurudev Siddha Peeth, and to spend a lot of time near Anna. I offered seva
as a cashier every mealtime, with Anna to my right at another table. I was nervous about the seva
, and I found his presence very calming. I soon came to understand that Venkappanna was a vehicle of the Guru's shakti
—I could feel it!
One day, while in a small elevator with Anna, I was carrying a cup of water which I hadn't finished drinking. He watched me closely, looking back and forth from the cup to my face. I wondered what he was trying to tell me.
Only now, after contemplation, do I understand. While in the Ashram, I had been wanting Baba’s darshan
so much, but time seemed to be slipping by. I was seeing the cup as half-empty! Yet Baba had appeared to me in many forms, including that of Venkappanna, every day. Anna was telling me to change my understanding!
London, United Kingdom
I am grateful for this tribute and remembrance of Venkappanna. The photographs of him are filled with radiance, reflecting his lifetime of unwavering devotion and service to Bade Baba, Baba, and Gurumayi.
As a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth in the 1990s, I remember how special and timeless it was to see Venkappanna every day going to lunch in Annapurna. Seeing him was “a Baba moment.”
I also remember one December in Shree Muktananda Ashram. Venkappanna wanted to offer prasad
to those who had never heard his stories of the early days with Baba and Gurumayi, and he received Gurumayi's blessing to do so. He shared story after story of his experiences with Baba, of chanting, cooking, following Ashram dharma, and offering whatever seva
was needed as the Ashram expanded. He also shared a few treasured stories of our beloved Gurumayi as a young sadhaka
in the Ashram with Baba.
Anna was Baba's and Gurumayi's Hanuman, with their names emblazoned on his heart through his abiding love for the Guru.
Maryland, United States
The most beautiful experiences I’ve had of Venkappanna were at Shree Muktananda Ashram. Venkappanna had arrived after touring some countries and giving cooking workshops. Having recently arrived from Gurudev Siddha Peeth myself, I was offering seva
in one particular department. As a newcomer, I had faced some interpersonal difficulties that week and had shed some tears in private.
Venkappa came to my department, and began to share his traveling experiences. Suddenly, he completely changed the subject and started talking about how we should treat each other well as we offer seva,
and how no one should make anyone else cry. When he said that, I felt this amazing balm of love had reached my heart and tremendous peace overflowed my entire being. He looked right at me and then continued speaking about his experiences.
That he knew my secret sadness did not surprise me. And after this experience, my enthusiasm for the seva
I was offering grew and grew, and I found the courage to transcend all the previous difficulties.
New York, United States
I love this story of Venkappanna at Uluru! Thank you for sharing this as we continue to offer our prayers for Australia.
I remember seeing Venkappanna in the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland, probably in the 1990s when I was living in the Ashram community. All I knew was that his shakti
filled up the room.
I was drawn to look at this man. I would see him in the Amrit Café at mealtimes and think, "Who is that man?!" He was filled with light, so much light, and with the shakti
of Bade Baba, Baba, and Gurumayi. He looked like Bade Baba, and I felt Bade Baba's presence whenever I saw him. It felt ancient and it felt comforting.
Florida, United States
The last few times I ever saw Venkappanna, he had been in Shree Muktananda Ashram for several months. One of my favorite times of the day was when I had casual encounters in the lobby with him. His silence then was more powerful than words.
One day I saw Venkappanna outside his room, just standing there barefooted. As I respectfully asked his permission to pass by, suddenly my awareness completely shifted and my mind became supremely quiet. When I was very close to him, I saw his feet were as beautiful and soft as two lotus flowers. The Indian scriptures speak about “the lotus feet”of saints but I had never before had a visual experience of this.
I almost stopped and bowed to him. But knowing his humility, I bowed deeply in my heart and mind instead. After I passed by him, my eyes brimmed with tears. I felt so honored to have had that darshan
of this beautiful, fully committed disciple.
New York, United States
Reading this, my heart has burst open with loving memories of Venkappanna. When I saw him long ago, during visits to Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I could sense his quiet humility, gentle serenity, and peaceful stillness. I wanted to serve Gurumayi as he did. I looked to him to understand how love and devotion can be expressed with one’s entire being and purity of heart and mind. By merely catching glimpses of him, my whole being would fill with respect and love, and I felt I was learning how to serve the Guru—by being fully in my heart and surrendering to love.
Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Reading these words, I felt a tremendous joy arising as I felt the devotion and fruits of Venkappanna’s seva
. As I read, with the eyes of my inner vision I saw Anna standing in front of the cave seeing Baba and Gurumayi. Inside my own heart, I saw them standing there. And I experienced the rain pouring down inside me to nourish and moisten my own heart. The feeling arose that the sacred mountain lives within me and the Guru is always showering blessings. I am so grateful for this narrative. I feel so blessed and renewed.
New Mexico, United States
I was drawn to the image that accompanied this narrative. As I read, I began to feel very calm. As the story unfolded, I felt I actually knew Venkapanna! I'm so grateful for the writings I discover on the Siddha Yoga path website. The truth and goodness they reveal allow me to touch that source within myself. To me, authentic and humbling experiences like this make this world shine and allow us to shine in it.
London, United Kingdom
Reading the story of Venkapanna and seeing the photos refreshed my memory of seeing him in 1978 in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, as he served Baba. As I came to the last image of him, the portrait, time seemed to stop. I felt his eyes were looking at me, but I felt they were Bade Baba's eyes. Then I felt they were Baba Muktananda's eyes. Then they seemed like Gurumayi's eyes. It seemed that all the manifestations of the Gurus he had served were alive in him. As I was seeing this in Venkappanna, I could hear Baba's teaching, "God dwells within you as you." I realized what I was experiencing in Venkappanna was also within me.
North Carolina, United States
I remember Venkappanna with so much love. When I was at Gurudev Siddha Peeth back in 1997, I saw him several times in the very early morning in the courtyard, wearing his white loincloth and white sandals. My heart melted every time because I had the feeling I was seeing Baba.
Once, during darshan
with Gurumayi in Guru Chowk, the shakti
was so strong that I couldn't get up, so I stayed seated until the darshan
was over. Venkappanna was seated on a step at the end of the hall with a little child. When I passed by, he was singing a very sweet and joyful song, but I didn't understand a word.
I went to the meditation cave to meditate. During meditation I recognized the meaning of the song, and understood it was for me. I heard it as: "You belong to the abode of Siddhas. We love you. Come back home; come!”
I treasured his words in my heart. They are still very alive today, as is my love for Venkappanna.
The devotion, focus, and clarity of purpose of Venkappanna have touched my heart deeply. What a story of love between the Guru and the disciple! When I remember what tremendous power resides in the heart, which can uplift everything, it fills my whole being with longing for discipleship.
I am grateful to Venkappanna for his inspiring love for our Master, Gurumayi.
I am so touched by this beautiful story of Venkappanna, and his complete devotion to serving first Bade Baba, then Baba, and then Gurumayi, no matter what they asked of him. This is a state of devotion that I would love to have myself.
I am also grateful to read how his devotion brought the miracle of rain for the people in Australia, while he humbly took no credit for being a great saint himself, but attributed every miracle to Gurumayi. May we all learn to be like Venkappanna, to serve as instruments for the blessings this world needs now.
Maryland, United States
I remember Venkappanna’s visit here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The joy of his devotion was contagious! He shared great stories of Baba; he was so sweet and devoted. It was pure prasad
to have had his luminous presence here with us.
Today when I heard the news that it rained in Australia, I remembered Gurumayi’s teachings about the power of prayer. Reading the story just now of Venkappanna at Uluru was a great confirmation of it.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Years ago, I was offering seva
at Shree Muktananda Ashram when I came upon Anna, sweeping the carpet in the lobby. I was immediately struck by his devotion and humility. I have never forgotten that moment; all these years later it remains etched in my heart.
New York, United States
I was moved to read of Venkappanna’s deep devotion toward the Guru, and of his unconditional surrender to Shri Guru’s command. I am inspired by his self-effacing manner when offering seva
. His genuine prayer for abundant rain showed his generous heart with no expectation of rewards.
I am grateful for this profound teaching.
Bedford Gardens, South Africa