Sundaram was Sri Kaleshwar’s personal attendant, a soul mate, and ‘godfather’, as Sri Kaleshwar would affectionally call him. His stories of life with Sri Kaleshwar in Penukonda, India, offer encouragement, wisdom, and company on the path to awakening. They are priceless gifts for all students of spirituality.
At the Feet of an Avadhut:
Life Lessons Learned Serving Sri Kaleshwar
By Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
Avadhut Energy Is Not Fair
One time when I was away on a Visa jump, Swami saw an Indian cardiologist who said his blood pressure was a little high. The doctor prescribed Nitroglycerin tablets. Years ago, I had worked with an older guy who took Nitro and described what it was like to me. So, by coincidence, I knew something about it. Nitro is a medication that is used to dilate your blood vessels if you are having a heart attack, so after you take it you can get a screaming headache.
I never met the cardiologist or talked to him, but I noticed the new medication. I was asking about it, and felt like it was the wrong medicine for Swami. What I thought immediately was that the doctor should be fired. He completely misdiagnosed Swami and should have never given that medication to him. Swami had taken one and got a raging headache. I said, well, this is what happens with this medication. Even though it had been years since I worked with the guy, I did know it was an inappropriate medicine for Swami. I told him that but he didn’t listen to me, since I was not a doctor. So I had to call Constanza and tell her that some Indian cardiologist prescribed Nitro for him and he had a bad reaction to it.
She was horrified that he had taken it, and got really wound up. I told her she had to come talk to Swami since he wouldn't listen to me. She came and told him exactly what I had told him. I think she actually took the medicine away from him and strongly told him it was not the right medicine for him. Swami was so happy with Constanza that he gave her an apartment! I had to laugh. This was later in his life when he was quite avadhut. I had been taking care of him for years, and she swooped in and got a free apartment for something I had figured out! Swami was really talking Constanza up to the other students, what a great job she was doing taking care of him. Of course, he never mentioned my part or said anything to me. By then, I wasn't surprised. With the avadhut if you are trying for praise or recognition, it's a recipe to crash, so I knew better.
The ‘unfairness’ of the avadhut energy is not an easy concept to understand or to accept. He treated people differently based on an agenda that you couldn’t see. It is not externally visible; it is a soul-based criteria that only the Master can see. As a student, how do you keep from jumping into that, if you just look externally you will get upset. I could have so often had the thought, ‘I have been here longer, I have been working super hard. Why is he putting his attention on them and not me? Why did they get that boon and not me?’ Every person will have those kinds of feelings come up. They’re natural. All of us have egos, all of us want recognition and acknowledgement. But will you see that in yourself if it comes up? If you do, can you let go of it, and trust the master, trust that he knows what he is doing. Or do you hold onto it, that idea that it is not fair?
When I first went to the ashram, Swami was really learning about westerners. He was experimenting with westerners. He would give something then watch what happened, watch how they reacted, to see if their egos went up. He was testing, what are they going to do with this energy? How are they going to react? The master takes the karma for the students, so if he gives it to people who abuse it, he has to pay the price for that. As we know, the way a lineage is traditionally created is one master teaching one student. It makes more sense because the master tests that student for years before initiating them. What I saw in Penukonda was, people would come, they had their expectations and almost got to where they demanded things. That automatically disqualifies you, just by that demand you are disqualifying yourself without realizing it.
To have an open heart with an understanding of how the Master gives -- you can't force that understanding on people. They have to want that, and they have to want to do what it takes to get that. You have to know that the Master is not going to give it to you on a silver platter. You have to do work to qualify for that. You have to be eligible. That has a lot of variables, your soul capacity, your dharma in the world, your previous lives, where you are in your heart. There are a lot of hidden elements that the Master sees but we don’t. One thing I saw happen a lot is, people would get upset because they had been with Swami for years but a new person would come and get an experience. The older student would think, ‘Why am I not getting that?’ Maybe you have been a student for ten years, but maybe you don't have lifetimes of experiences, maybe they have spent much more time preparing, they have more in their soul bank account. It looks like they received more but maybe they have done more work to prepare, even if it wasn't in this life. It comes down to whether you trust the master to know who is qualified and who isn't? That was a big area where students could have doubts. Especially when what some people got did not seem fair according to our standards.
There was an incident during one public program where hundreds of students attended from all over the world. Swami gave many miracle experiences in that program. During the Q & A of the last talk, a student stood up and became quite aggressive and angry with him in front of everyone. She said how unfair it was that she, her husband, and others had been there much longer and yet these total newcomers got experiences of aghora. She was actually a teacher at his Soul University yet as smart as she was intellectually, she was not spiritually aware. First of all, it is never advisable to be aggressive with the master. Swami just smiled and let her go on. Later, privately, when talking about the incident he said, “Do you know how many lifetimes it will take until they are ready for aghora?” After that, he said that student was never allowed to sit anywhere near him during a public talk.
What Swami gave and who he gave it to did not necessarily make sense. This could be quite extreme at times. One time he was doing a process giving people nine strokes with Mother Divine. Most of the people who got that, first of all, were just coming to visit the ashram, they weren't even serious students! Most of them had no idea what they got or what to do with it. But they were given this extraordinary boon from Swami. We really don't see the full picture; he is seeing so much more of karmas and at the soul level.
We talked about the importance of taking responsibility for your mistakes. But the avadhut energy takes that one step farther -- to get blamed for mistakes that you didn't make! Swami could take that a step farther by making that blame very public. That is a really great challenge to the ego! This happened to me quite a lot, getting blamed publicly for mistakes I hadn’t made. I can say that often the responsible student was there and watched as I got blamed for something they did. Nobody was rushing to fess up to their part. Generally, they were happy to let somebody else get blamed for their mistake, especially in front of Swami. In at least one case, the person who had actually made the mistake was sitting right next to me! Not a peep out of him, not one word.
One mechanism running there was that I could take it. The person wasn’t strong enough to receive the full energy Swami was throwing. I know he did this with some other students too, like Monika and Nityanandaji. He was using them to work with other students. In public, he blamed them for things they didn't do. He would watch the reactions of the others around. Would they be happy? Would they speak up and admit their mistake? Would they be able to see the truth of what he was doing? Only a mature spiritual student could see what Swami was really doing.
So, yes, the avadhut is not fair. He is not fair to our egos, belief systems or blocks. But he is completely and totally fair in the realm of reality, in the realm of our soul development.
Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
began his studies with Sri Kaleshwar in 1997. He lived at the ashram in Penukonda India, from 1999 until Swami’s samadhi in 2012. For 11 of those years, he served as Swami’s personal assistant, serving and taking care of Swami not only in Penukonda but during Swami's travels around the world. Early in Terry's time at the ashram, Sri Kaleshwar made him promise that he would take care of him as long as he was alive. Swami would affectionately call Terry “Godfather”, and one birthday manifested a diamond ring for him saying, “You are a diamond in my life.” Terry lives at the Divine Mother Center, serves on the Board of Directors, and is Manager of Temple Buildings and Grounds Development.