Terry was Sri Kaleshwar’s personal attendant, a soul mate, and ‘godfather’, as Sri Kaleshwar would affectionally call him. His stories share invaluable glimpses into the life and actions of an incredible saint. They are priceless gifts and tools for all students of spirituality.
At the Feet of an Avadhut:
Life Lessons Learned Serving Sri Kaleshwar
By Terry 'Sundaram' Clark
“The soul is very, very, very sensitive to whether there is love and devotion. The soul is cosmic energy – a piece of God. We must take care of it. The only way to approach the soul is to be relaxed, very polite, and very obedient. You must take care to be very sensitive. You cannot just issue a command for the soul to rise up. Only if you are sensitive will your light grow. “
- Sri Kaleshwar, 2020-09-03 Stages of Silence Satsang Teaching Transcript
“In Shaivism, the guru is the path, the guru represents our way. We play the guru’s way, not ours!! We go the soul’s way; we go God’s way. It is our grace to learn. It is our deepest, humble, gratitude to receive the training to talk to the soul, to know the soul's language. When the meditation isn’t deep it's because there's a harshness in your consciousness, a presence of mind that is not allowing the soul to emerge. When you have great meditations it's because you are allowing your soul. If you are listening, it's because your soul has brought you to this karma. Swami’s sensitivity was beyond comprehension, he was so sensitive to the vibrations. It was literally like somebody punched him if in a careless moment somebody knocked over a bottle or slammed a door. It was literally a visceral five elements experience, how vibrationally tuned he was, that shows how vibrationally tuned we are becoming.”
- Nityanandaji, Satsang on 9-13-20 on the Stages of Silence Process
Swami came to America to fish for souls. He was looking for students he had known from other lifetimes. He was looking for certain things. Of course, I don't know exactly what he was looking for. I had a conversation with another senior student who had some background in Vedic knowledge. With him, the hook seemed to be knowledge-based. For me, I believe it was my sensitivity. I feel that Swami was looking for someone who had sensitivity, and then developed that more in me.
Early on, Swami was doing a special teaching in the Baba Temple. He asked for all of the windows to be closed. One student jumped up and started closing the windows. He was slamming them shut, one after another. Every single time Swami jumped, I jumped. The student did not even notice and just kept on running around like an elephant in the temple. There were people sitting in the room, no one else seemed to notice how Swami was reacting. He looked and saw that I was noticing how it was affecting him.
Swami was extremely sensitive to vibrations, and his environment. Early on Swami was living downstairs in the corner bedroom behind Baba, and Westerners were staying upstairs. People would walk heavily making a lot of noise. It didn't matter how much people weighed; it was how they walked. If they weren’t paying attention, they would stomp which was really loud downstairs. Swami made comments in public about it, “They are pounding on my head!” He looked right at me when he said it. It really bothered him. At first, I thought, ‘Is he saying that I am walking like that?’ But I realized he was acknowledging that he knew it was also disturbing me!
Swami was extremely sensitive to his environment in all ways, including temperature. If he would go into the office and was warm, he would turn the AC to the coldest setting. He was fine when he was in the room, but if he would leave and come back and there was too big a difference he would comment. You just had to pay attention to him. If he got up and left, you had to raise the temperature on the AC so it would be cool but not a big contrast. The same with his bed in the winter and in summer. The cooler had to be filled and ready. In winter, the hot water bottle had to be in his bed so it wasn’t cold when he got in. Having a hot water bottle in his bed meant he was warm when he got under the covers, he liked that. I was always paying attention to those kinds of things to take care of him.
Swami was extremely attuned to my movements. I noticed that if I did anything, he would look at me. He told me he was particularly attuned to me at public programs. That meant I had to be really careful about my movements. Any physical moves I made would pull his attention. I had to learn to be still. Extremely still. Partially that’s why I sat in the back. I knew that if I fidgeted, he would look. I was there to serve him, not to pull on him or distract him. Purely, I was his support. I didn’t approach him or talk to him. If he was outside meeting with people, he didn’t want me to be seen. If he saw me, he would assume I wanted something so he would call me over. It would irritate him if I didn’t need anything.
Swami knew if he was in his swing and I was hanging around the front of the Mandir, I wanted something. There was a reason. Times like that, it was super important that my physical presence was there but I was not thinking, ‘Swami I need to ask this question.’ All that would do was pull on him and disturb him. If I needed to ask him a question or have some interaction with him, just my physical presence was enough. And I had to stay calm and maintain my clarity. Mostly if he was outside, I would stand around the corner where he couldn’t see me. Generally, if he was outside, the Indian staff would take care of him. My area was upstairs and private. But sometimes the staff needed help so I would hang around to support them. But I would not let him see me. I could be around and help them if they needed something.
Sometimes others, mostly Western students, would see me waiting and think I was just standing around waiting for Swami. They would think I wasn’t doing anything when the reality was, I had to stay really alert to be ready to talk to him. Sometimes I would be in the attendant’s room and look out the window to see if he was in his swing. It was a way I could be invisible. When he was in between things, I could run out and see if I could approach him. I knew he could feel that I had a question no matter how careful I was with my energy, but I wanted to really minimize my pulling on him. Because of his sensitivity, even me just thinking about him could be a disturbance to him.
I discovered how disturbing it was to have people thinking of me and wanting something from me. Once I told a student that I had a water filter that he could use to make water for his family. I told him it would work best for me if he could fill up a couple of cases at a time so they wouldn’t be around every day. But he did exactly what I didn't want. He was always trying to find me so he could get water. I was just way too busy for that. But the real problem was, I could feel him thinking about me. He would pull on me, by thinking about me and needing something from me. I was trying to help him but it turned into a big pain. It really bothered me when I was on duty with Swami and could feel him pulling on me, anytime he started thinking about me.
Swami said he had thousands of people thinking about him. I just had one and that was terrible for me. It was disturbing. I made some comment to Swami about how disturbing it was, and the next day it was gone. It wasn’t the only time that happened. I believe it was a boon I had that when I told Swami about something like that, he would just cut it off and it would stop. That one I didn't mind though; I really did not like it! I could feel a person thinking and pulling on me and it made me uncomfortable. It was not fun, most of the energy is pulling and blaming. Saints deal with this all the time. People always want something from them. That’s why they are called saints!
As an empath when I go into a store or a crowded place, I feel everyone’s energy. I can feel what other people are feeling, and when they talk to me and feel their emotional undercurrent, not so much their words but the emotion they are pushing that with. Sometimes I see that I am reacting because they are pushing me emotionally even though their words by themselves are not pushing. But the emotion underneath is. Often, that is what people get back from me, the emotion. It’s not what they say, it’s what they are projecting.
Swami was extremely sensitive to his environment, but also to energetics. Part of the sensitivity you needed to have around him was to never engage him before he was ready. Especially if it was negative news, or you needed something from him. It was his energy that was leading, not mine. I had to surrender to his energy. If you started to pull on him before he was awake or ready it wouldn’t end well. With an Avadhut, you want to be positive, and create a positive environment. For me, that was one of the biggest things was to try and maintain his environment, and take care of all the simple things so he didn't have to think about it. And, most importantly, to be sensitive and attuned to his energy and the situations surrounding him.
Swami told me not to let people touch me. Because I was close to Swami, he expected me to act appropriately in public. In general, I would not stand close to women, I would not smile too much, I was being judged by the Indian staff by Indian standards even though I was a Westerner. I had to be careful about who I talked to. The Western thing is you haven't seen someone in a while and they would hug you. There were a few awkward moments that I would step away from someone who would go to hug me. Even if it was in front of everyone, but I would have to say it's better if you don't touch me.
Swami had said that if people touch him, he would feel their energy for three or four days. What would happen for me is if people touched me, they would come in my thoughts. When I was quiet, they would be circling. I would think about them, they would intrude on my silence. It became important to me to minimize who I touched. So, it was a social etiquette thing that he had me do, but it was also a protection. I am still really sensitive to touching people.
Swami loved to complain in public about me being too sensitive. What I believe was one of the main things that allowed me to take care of him was his favorite target. He said he was going to make me tougher, in fact he made me more sensitive. I went completely the opposite direction from what he said!
Satsang with Nityanandaji, Guru Purnima, Mother Divine Center, 2019
Nityanandaji: You promised to take care of him. Let's get back to the names, you had a lot of names. One name Swami called you was godfather. You were taking care of his soul; a godfather takes care.
Terry: It was watching him. Mostly Swami didn't talk about what he was doing. You are there, you have to see what is normal and what's not. For me, it was an awareness to pay attention to what he normally does. Especially at program times when he could do anything and his routine would completely change. You had to be flexible and quick. As you said, Swami sees something and indicates it with his eyes or a little nod of his head. I had to watch him, I had to be looking at him when he indicated with his eyes or nodded his head.
Nityanandaji: You already caught that early on. That's something you had already, you were noticing that and watching him. He said to always watch the master, don't look at anything else. In temples, it was easy to get distracted and totally lose the thread there. Even in a group of 300 people, you should be watching him. You were sitting in the back corner on the stairs but he might give a communication to you in the talk and expect you to catch it and it would all be with his eyes. And you caught it, you were really good at that! It was a high-stress job.
Terry: Well I didn't always catch it!
Nityanandaji: But you caught it most of the time.
Terry: With Swami, by the time he had to say it, it was too late.
Nityanandaji: Yes, he was mad or there was some energy behind it.
Terry: There was energy behind it! Like, wake up!
Nityanandaji: ‘Yes, I already told you!’ Nothing had been said but to him, it was already said. You brought amazing sensitivity into your relationship with Swami, and that just continued to develop ever since.
Terry: Of course, in public, he would say I was way too sensitive. That he needed to toughen me up.
Nityanandaji: He was saying that in public? Well, that's the right place to say it! He didn't talk to you about your sensitivity in private?
Terry: No, never. One of the things he loved to do was misdirection. Like saying, “Oh you are too sensitive,” or having me repeat mantras in public and singing bhajans, all the things I am not so good at. He would use that as protection. Because Swami was saying something, it had to be true, right? He would say it in public and misdirect everyone to think that I had a fault or defect. That prevented people from getting jealous of my proximity to Swami. But in private he was doing something completely different. That was a protection. He did that numerous times. I knew he would say things directly that were counter to what he was doing. Ok, it's Swami, he's telling me something, I need to listen and need to consider it, but it doesn't necessarily make it true.
Nityanandaji: It’s also a compliment, he was always working so many angles, the public speech was one thing, private another. There was a purpose when he was talking to you publicly. That sensitivity was not a defect; it's a beautiful heart. You have that sensitivity to the vibrations which was a blessing to Swami in his life.
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.
Nityanandaji (Clint Thompson, MD)
After experiencing the power of Sai Shakti Healing firsthand from Sri Kaleshwar, he gave up his Western medical practice to study healing in India. For 15 years, he was trained directly by Sri Kaleshwar to train other healers in the West. Nityanandaji was Sri Kaleshwar's personal physician; he is the author of The Awareness of Healing. He founded the Divine Lineage Center in 2004.
Mataji & Nityanandaji now reside at the Divine Lineage Center in Mendocino County, Northern California. They give teachings, healings and shaktipat transmission at the Center and via remote transmission all around the world. They have led processes in which many students received the darshan of the Divine Mother.