Learning and spiritual experiences of Mrs Suma Puthalat (from Kerala) while performing satseva at Mumbai Seva Kendra


1. First meeting with Gurudev ji : In November 1993, my husband Mr Sudish Puthalat and I went to Ruia college at Matunga, Mumbai, to attend a spiritual discourse of Sachchidananda Parabrahman (Dr) Jayant Athavale (Gurudev ji). After the discourse, Gurudev ji asked if anybody had any questions. I had several questions, such as – ‘Which Deity’s Name should I chant, since it is a practice in Kerala to chant the Name of one’s maternal Family Deity. Also, which Deity’s Name should I chant since I came from the Christian religion’. I raised my hand to ask these questions. Gurudev ji then called me on stage. As I walked to the stage, I felt a bright light emanating from Gurudev ji towards me. From that day onwards, I never had a thought of going away from Gurudev ji.

2. Being attracted to Gurudev ji after seeing His Priti for the seekers : We then attended Gurudev ji’s 3rd spiritual discourse in Thane, where He announced that if anyone wished to perform satseva, they could come to Sion Sevakendra. Sudish ji and I happily went there the next morning. It was Gurudev ji’s Priti towards everyone that attracted us to Him. We felt safe in His presence.

3. Chanting the Names of the Kuladevata and Dattaguru began immediately after understanding its importance. Gurudev ji asked us to chant the Name of my favourite Deity, Shiva, since I did not know my Kuladevata : Since I came from a Christian background, my family wanted me to follow everything as per Christianity; however, I followed the Hindu religion of my in-laws. Later, when I attended Gurudev ji’s spiritual discourse and learned about the importance of chanting the Names of the Kuladevata and Deity Dattatreya, I began chanting immediately. Just like other Keralites, we did not know who our Kuladevata was. Generally, Keralites are devoted to Shriram and Shiva. When I asked Gurudev ji which Name to chant, He said that I could choose whichever Deity I liked more. Since I was devoted to Shiva, I began chanting His Name. Many years later, one seeker told me that Gurudev ji had told her that I was a devotee of Shiva in my past life.

4. Gurudev ji standing next to His Guru, Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj, and calling each seeker, thus teaching through action how to introduce a seeker : Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj (Gurudev ji’s Guru, fondly called ‘Baba’) came to Gurudev ji’s residence in 1993. Gurudev ji had invited all seekers for Baba’s darshan. It was our first meeting with Baba. Baba’s devotees too came for His darshan. After their darshan, Baba asked Gurudev ji to call us for His darshan. At that time, I noticed that Gurudev ji stood beside Baba and introduced each of us, like a father introducing His beloved children. From this gesture we learned how to introduce seekers to society or when somebody visits the Ashram.

5. Losing self and the sense of surroundings as I bowed to place my head at the feet of Baba while He was sleeping, and Gurudev ji telling us that we cannot tolerate the consciousness that radiates from the feet of Saints when they are asleep : Once Baba came to Sion Ashram. Gurudev ji invited us for Baba’s darshan; however, when we reached there, Baba was asleep. Gurudev ji asked us to pay Him obeisance as Baba was to leave early next morning. When I bowed to touch Baba’s feet, I lost my body-awareness. Gurudev ji then touched my shoulder and asked me to get up. He explained that when a Saint is sleeping, Divine radiance emits from His feet, and it leads to a high level spiritual experience.

6. Gurudev ji and His wife Dr (Mrs) Kunda tai taking care of all the seekers very lovingly without any discrimination, and the same love being instilled in us : From childhood and even after marriage I had noticed that men in the family received preferential treatment. They got the best of food and more quantity, while women had to remain satisfied with whatever they received. When I visited the Sion Ashram, I noticed that all seekers were treated equally. Gurudev ji’s wife Kunda tai took good care of all seekers. If a seeker was expected to arrive late for a meal, she would tell the seekers in the kitchen to keep food aside for that seeker. She even knew which seeker had what dietary restrictions for their health. Gurudev ji and Kunda tai would always first offer tea and snacks whenever we visited the Ashram for satseva. We would begin satseva only after eating the Prasad. This feeling of love for everyone was automatically imbibed in other seekers too. This was very helpful for us when we started a new satsang in Vashi, Navi Mumbai. Seeker (Late) Amarjeet Singh and his brother, Narendra Dhillon would keep our house keys in those days. They would sometimes cook dinner for us so that I could comfortably go for satseva after returning from office. We learnt this aspect of bhav (Spiritual emotion) we had for each other from Gurudev ji and Kunda tai.

7. Failing to guide Gurudev ji to a seeker’s house where I had gone many times with Sudish ji, and hence, realising the personality defects of ‘lack of learning attitude and dependence on others’ : Once Gurudev ji, Kunda tai, two other seekers, and I went to see a seeker, Rohan Bhojane in Bandra. Although I had been there many times along with Sudish ji, I was unable to show the way, as I would blindly follow Sudish ji and never thought of remembering the location. Gurudev ji said, “If you don’t know the road, let us ask someone”. This made me aware of my personality defects of lack of learning attitude and dependence on others.

8. Feeling proud of Gurudev ji, that although He was a Psychiatrist and did not have experience in drawing, He noted the subtleties in a picture with precision : Public meetings were being organised in some places along with spiritual discourses. As a part of their preparation, a picture of Shrikrishna and Arjun was being drawn on a big banner. This satseva began towards the end of 1996. A lady-seeker, who had an education in Arts, was coming to the Sevakendra for this satseva. Gurudev ji was guiding her in order to make the picture look complete. He used a stick to explain corrections in detail. At that time I thought that Gurudev ji is a Doctor by profession and has no experience of drawing, yet He could guide with so much accuracy, and I felt very proud of Him.

9. Gurudev ji once asked me to wake Him up when a seeker was to come. I tried to call out to Him twice after the seeker arrived, but He woke up only after I surrendered to God and prayed. I then learnt that every issue can be resolved when we surrender to God : One day Gurudev ji wanted to discuss some matter with a seeker, who was to arrive late. So, He told me that He would rest for a few minutes, but asked me to wake Him up when the seeker arrived. The seeker came a few minutes later, but Gurudev ji was asleep by then. I went to wake Him up, but did not know how to do so and tried twice. First, I called out to Him gently but there was no response, then I touched His hand gently, yet there was no response. I then prayed to God and asked for help to wake Him up as I also wanted to obey Him. With a heavy heart, I walked towards the door and then I saw that Gurudev ji had woken up, and asked me if the seeker had come. This incident taught me that when we surrender to God, every issue gets resolved.

10. Having a lack of body-awareness due to the grace of Gurudev ji, and being able to perform satseva sitting outside the temple, next to the beggars and those looking after the footwear : During the early days, tables and chairs required for exhibiting our Texts were not easily available. However, by Gurudev ji’s grace, due to a lack of body-awareness, we readily sat on the road keeping our slippers under us. Sometimes we had to share our spot with beggars and those looking after the footwear of visitors to the temple. Gradually, we became friendly with all of them, and they started keeping a place for us even if it was very crowded. All this was possible only because of Gurudev ji’s teachings. He treated all of us equally without any caste barriers.

11. Being able to persist in spiritual practice only due to Gurudev ji’s Priti for seekers, experiencing that Gurudev ji is God and only the Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) in Him can transform one : Sudish ji and I have persisted in our spiritual journey only due to Gurudev ji’s Priti for the seekers. Whenever I get any negative thoughts about my spiritual practice and lack of efforts, I either recall the past events with Gurudev ji or Sudish ji calls me and narrates some incident of Gurudev ji or Baba, which helps me regain positivity and continue my spiritual practice. Just His mere thought is enough for us to return to our spiritual path. This proves that Gurudev ji is God and only the Chaitanya in Him can transform a person.

12. Faced a lot of resistance from our families when I quit my job and became a full-time seeker; but now family members feel that there must be something good about Sanatan : In April 2000, after we decided to quit our jobs in Mumbai and shift to Kerala to become full-time seekers, we faced a lot of resistance from our families, but because Sudish ji was by my side, it was easy to take a unanimous decision. There used to be a lot of heated arguments among our family members about our decision, their main concern being our son. Till today, my brother does not talk to me for quitting my job and becoming a full-time seeker. My elder brother-in-law, who had initially objected to our decision, felt that we will return after some years, realising that we had taken a wrong decision; but when he saw that we were persisting, he felt there is something good about Sanatan.

13. I feel that if I had not started on spiritual practice, I would not have been able to handle situations in my life and would have become aimless : If I had not become a full-time seeker and remained in my job and family, my ego would have reached its peak, and I would not have been able to handle situations in my life. It would have become just like my friends – shopping, sightseeing, eating out, buying food Online, etc.

Before my association with Sanatan, I used to think about the purpose of my life – will I lead an ordinary life cooking, working, looking after my son, eating, sleeping and following the same routine the next day ? I would have become aimless if I had not begun spiritual practice.

Gratitude : Dear Gurudev ji, gratitude at Your feet for taking me back to our old days and reviving all the good times we spent at the Sion Sevakendra.

Before I began writing this, I prayed to Gurudev ji to remind me of those events from which the readers and seekers would benefit. Consequently, I could recall the events. I am grateful to Gurudev ji for holding my hand and taking me ahead. Although my steps are small, He is still helping me cling tightly on to His hand. I am grateful to Gurudev ji for helping me hold on to Him whenever I feel low and for giving me the energy and Chaitanya to perform my satseva as He has taught me.

Tons of gratitude unto Gurudev ji’s feet for all this. Gurudev ji, I offer all that is written as gratitude at Your Holy Feet.

– Mrs Suma Puthalat (Kochi Ashram, Kerala, 21.2.2024)

Gurudev ji’s thought is enough for us to return to our spiritual path. He is God and Chaitanya in Him can transform a person !