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Childhood Stories

The daily pattern of Sathyaraju’s childhood was typical of the other children in the village. His day began at five in the morning with a bath and a light breakfast of curds and rice. He worked at the looms until ten o’clock, dexterously weaving cloth in the vivid hues that were a specialty of their family. After a hurried lunch he attended school until four in the afternoon. When school was over the boys went out to play until they were called home for dinner, which was around six in the evening. After the evening meal Sathyaraju would sit with his grandfather, Goli Sathyam, for an hour or more and tell him all that had happened during the day. Thereafter, at around seven o’clock Sathyaraju would join a bhajan party if there happened to be one or go out again to play with his friends. Finally, the boys would go to bed around ten at night.

Sathyaraju had an outspoken nature and a great intolerance of dishonesty. In Adivarapupeta, people nicknamed him with the English word “Against” because he was so contrary. He would play practical jokes or otherwise get even with anyone taking advantage of others, and he went out of his way to expose the dishonest.

Swamiji's Own Stories from Childhood

Swamiji used to tell devotees how his grandfather taught him to confront fear. Others in the village tried to be protective of him. An example Swamiji gave was how he liked to jump from a high bridge into the Godavari River. His mother asked him to promise never to jump off the bridge, but he would not promise. Similarly, the villagers tried to prevent him from swimming in the ocean as they thought it was too dangerous. But Sathyaraju liked to swim in the ocean. Only his grandfather was supportive and allowed him to take risks.

Another story Swamiji told was from when he was only six years old. Sathyaraju noticed a village procession and followed it. It was the funeral of a village rowdy. The local people had a custom where they threw clods of dirt onto the corpse to begin the burial. The villagers began to throw dirt onto the corpse and Sathyaraju picked up and threw a fairly good sized rock. It hit the corpse’s head and split it open. The villagers were upset and frightened the boy by telling him that the dead man would come back and give the boy trouble for throwing the rock.

Sathyaraju ran to his grandfather and told him what had happened and what the villagers had said. The boy was afraid the dead man would come back to get him. Goli Sathyam reassured the boy and instructed him to return to the graveyard that night to confront his fears. The boy went back and saw the jackals and dogs carrying off the corpse and eating it. He realized he had nothing to fear from that corpse.

Swamiji told this story and said that since that time, he has not been afraid. He said that most people in India were afraid of ghosts. They would believe a ghost was haunting a particular place, like a tree. However Sathyaraju learned not to be afraid. Instead he would wager that he was not afraid of the ghost. People didn’t believe him and they would accept the bet. Sathyaraju would fearlessly walk up to the haunted tree, then return to collect his winnings.

A Pompous Sadhu

This is another story that Swamiji used to tell devotees. The original meaning of “sadhu” is a holy man, but the word also has come to refer to someone who merely earns a living at it. There was a sadhu who came to the village, a boastful and pompous fellow who threatened dire consequences to anyone who crossed his path. One of his repeated threats was that he would curse people to turn them into one or another of some low animal species. The simple village folk readily believed these threats so they went about in awe and fear of this angry old man.

Not surprisingly, Sathyaraju took an instant dislike to this sadhu. He was convinced in his own mind that the sadhu had none of the powers he boasted of, and so he secretly resolved to expose him. One day everyone was sitting in the presence of the sadhu and he was holding forth in his usual boastful manner. Sathyaraju asked him what he would do if someone were to steal any of his things. The sadhu promptly threatened to turn the person into a tiger. Sathyaraju pretended to express awe and wonder but remained quiet. A short while later the sadhu happened to go out. Sathyaraju found himself alone in the sadhu’s room, so he quickly took the sadhu’s bow and arrows and hid them on a ledge just above the place where the sadhu normally slept. He then left the room unnoticed.

When the sadhu returned he found his bow and arrows missing. Inquiries were made and a search conducted but they could not be found. The sadhu lost his temper and began complaining and yelling about what he would do to the culprit. Sathyaraju, who was an interested spectator of the whole scene, suggested in a seemingly innocent tone that the sadhu, by his powers, should be able to locate his missing bow and arrows as well as the culprit. This only enraged the sadhu further and Sathyaraju was quickly hustled away by anxious relatives for fear the sadhu would curse him.

The sadhu’s terrible anger made Sathyaraju somewhat anxious, so he ran to his grandfather and told him in all innocence, “I hid the sadhu’s bow and arrows. If he turns me into a tiger, then the people will hunt me down and kill me, so tie me up inside.” Goli Sathyam could not help being amused. He told the boy not to worry but wait and see what would happen.

Reassured by his grandfather and realizing that some time had already passed yet nothing had happened to him, Sathyaraju became firm in his original conviction that the sadhu was a hoax. He presented himself before the sadhu who was surrounded by his usual gathering of admirers. The boy bravely told him that he had hidden the missing bow and arrows and then showed the sadhu their hiding place. To the astonishment and horror of his relatives, he now challenged the sadhu to transform him into a tiger as he had been threatening to do all along.

The sadhu fretted and cursed but Sathyaraju boldly stood his ground and nothing happened to him. Sathyaraju was soundly reprimanded by his uncle and others for his impertinent behavior but the boy had proved his point. This sadhu never again made such boasts, nor did he ever succeed in terrorizing the villagers again.



His Life

childhood stories
beginning tapas
early obstacles

dhyana mandir
& Tapaswiji

four directions
tapas completion
Linga & Devi
India travels
Banagalore ashram
Adivarapupeta ashram
in the West

His Words

spiritual leaders
Jesus & Buddha
forms of God
Swamiji's mission
initiation, vibhuti
samadhi (enlightenment)
tapas & Self realization
bhajans(devotional song)
bhava samadhi
(spiritual trance)
world conditions
Swamiji's words
Virtual Darshan

Shiva Home

Shri Shivabalayogi Maharaj
International Trust
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