Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara..Guru Sakshat, Para Brahma, Tashmaye Shri Guruve Namah
Pujya Guruji was born on 31 July 1968 in Lautoka, Fiji Islands to Mr & Mrs Kaliwarda Goundar. On this day was Durga Maa's puja, a significant day in Hindu calendar.
In accordance to the reflections of Guruji's parents he was very spiritually focused and dedicated from a very young age. His maternal grandmother had such a profound influence of Guruji in shaping his early years. She was in charge of the village temple in Velovelo, Lautoka where she was responsible for daily lighting of diya and performing aarti. Guruji accompanied her on a day to day basis whereby he learnt to perform this practice with accuracy and integrity. In 1975 his grandmother became the caretaker priest, which was quite a unique accomplishment as this assignment was generally handed out to a male recipient. Looking back this was a blessing from the almighty to lead Guruji into the spiritual and humanitarian path.
Whenever there was large puja gatherings in the village more qualified and experienced priests would come to the village temple and Guruji would always look forward to such occasions. His main objective was to be around with the priests to become immersed in the knowledge of all aspects of the religious activities. He always associated with people much older than himself and found been around children of his own age not interesting and stimulating. It was observed by the leaders that Guruji had forged for himself behaviours that were not usual. During Ram Naumi puja one year he received his first dhoti (traditional men's garment specially worn in religious ceremonies) at an age of just eight years old and till this day he has fond memories of how he felt that day and the impact it had on him. Many elders in the village predicted that one day Guruji would become a head priest of a temple in Fiji and serve their people in spiritual guidance and leadership.
As the years went by Guruji's commitment and dedication towards spiritual pathway became an ever increasing aspect of his life. He would replicate the different types of annual pujas. He would walk long distances with other boys from the same village to trace the steps that were taken by the priests to the seaside vicinity where the priests have previously performed the prayer. Guruji knew where the temple key was kept in his grandmother's room. This enabled him to access the temple very easily. The boys would ensure that they have at hand the necessary tools to conduct the puja. This went on for years without anyone noticing. One year whilst returning home from the prayers they were trapped on the other side of the stream due to high tide. No one knew how to swim and it was getting dark. None of the family members at home knew where the boys had gone so any search and rescue effort would have been very difficult. Everyone in the group was getting scared and nervous. Guruji prayed to "Ganga Maa" (the sacred river goddess) for aid so that everyone can get to their abode safely. Within seconds of concluding the prayers the boys saw a snake wiggle down the stream and with it the water level receding radically. Having witnessed this miracle had a profound impact on all present. This was an astounding experience.
During Ram Lila's Guruji would play the roles of Ram, Lachman and Sita. It allowed him to take part in the celebrations in the most spiritual way. During these times Guruji was getting the vibes of anugrah / shakti (could feel the presence of external powers), however he did not think anything of it at that time and never shared these experiences with anyone else. This kind of energy was becoming more and more frequent within his body and mind. This evoked Guruji towards defining and focusing on a spiritual journey.
While in 3rd form (1st year of secondary school education) Dr Ponswamy Gounder spoke to Guruji's grandmother to send him to Subramani Swamy Temple in Nadi to help out with breaking coconuts, getting flowers ready for the chief priest and cleaning around the temple for 10 days in the school holidays. D S Mahalinga Gurukul the resident chief priest saw how diligently and conscientious he was in his duties as an assistant at the temple. The chief priest was interested in teaching Guruji as he showed a lot of attention, shraddha (faith) and bhakti (devotion), which touched the heart of the chief priest. He advised the temple committee members that he had a lot of potential, a keen learner and if given the opportunity could one day become an invaluable member of this temple. Once again Dr Ponswamy Gounder was involved as a key negotiator and influence in persuading the parents of Guruji to send him to Subramani Swamy Temple on a full time capacity. Even though Guruji's parent's were reluctant at first to depart from their youngest child they knew he has chosen a spiritual journey which must be supported and blessed so that he can serve God and humanity. Guruji was ready to leave home. The good news was conveyed to him at last and Guruji was on his way to a new world of learning and experience at age thirteen. This was an extremely rare opportunity. At the temple his job primarily was to take care of the chief priest. There were strict rules and guidelines set out for him and without doubt were a test for Guruji. Every morning the wake up time was 4am. Early morning duties included getting hot water ready for the priest for bathing, boil saijan bhaji (drumstick leaves) and warm milk for his breakfast. During the puja ceremonies (Shiv Puja, Murgan Puja etc.) Guruji was not allowed to enter inside the temple. His role was to ring the ghanti (bell) from outside the temple. After a few months the priest invited him to come inside the temple and granted him first updesh. The temple had 3 steps. He was only allowed to get to first step at this stage. When the chief priest left the temple to go to another township Guruji was tasked to play the caretaker priest role which he thoroughly enjoyed. Guruji ticked all the boxes as an apprentice from the chief priest's point of view.
In 1987 when the first military coup took place in Fiji the Indian High Commissioner and all the expatriate Indians were told to leave the country in a short notice. The chief priest at the Subramani Swamy Temple was in this category of people so he had no choice but to leave suddenly. Few well known dignitaries from around Nadi took him to the airport and farewelled him. It was a dreadful experience for many people who worked closely with him who were a part of the temple management. With all this adversity became a huge opportunity for Guruji to take on the responsibilities of a head priest at the temple. To assume such important role at the age of nineteen years showed the true character of Guruji. He was ready to take on the leadership role and perform to the best of his abilities. Through God's anugrah (blessings) Guruji was able to deliver the duties of a priest in a very gifted form. Whenever he prayed for God's assistance he would see in his dreams the same night and get the answers, especially in how to conduct the prayers that he hasn't done before. Anything new he had to perform came naturally to him as if God has installed a tape recorder in his brain and all he needed to do was like pressing the play button. To this date the same happens to Guruji every time help is sought. One will never witness Guruji referring to any books or publications while engaging in any prayers.
In one of the annual puja's at the Nadi temple a priest by the name of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniaswami visited from Hawaii. He was really impressed with the way Guruji was conducting the prayers and going about his daily rituals so he invited him to come to Hawaii for further education and training. The temple management agreed that it was an opportunity not to be missed. Guruji was awarded a scholarship by Sangam Society of Fiji to receive Sanskrit training under the guidance of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniaswami for two and a half years. In September 1988 Guruji was awarded a certificate of completion in Rudimentary Hindu Priest Training by the Saiva Siddhanta Hindu Church based in San Francisco, California, USA. He did his practicum for 6 months at Palini Hill Temple under the leadership of Ravi Chandran Gurukul.
Guruji returned to Nadi temple from San Francisco after hearing that his grandmother was really ill, however on his arrival heard the news that she passed away. It was a very sad occasion for Guruji. Her influence played a huge part in his success. Guruji took part in the sixteen days of prayers of his grandmother and afterwards stayed at the Nadi temple for six further months as the head priest. Dr Ponswamy Goundar and Satguru Sivaya Subramuniaswami encouraged for another stint on further studies. Guruji received yet another scholarship to study in India. Spent the next 5 years at Vedham Paathsaala Ardiwaram South India, Palani mastering in many of the different types of pujas. Everything taught in the school was in Sanskrit. This is where Guruji learnt how to do sankalap, yagna, abhishek, dressing up and parading of hindu Gods on palanquins in the procession of the Gods. Generally the intake of students to these prestigious schools and universities are open to the families of existing recognised priests, and applications are accepted predominantly for domestic citizens only. Studying techniques practiced in these schools are very complex. Students have to recite lengthy prayers and mantras without looking at any notes or books. Guruji would get the shakthi in his dreams and just like a song is played from a tape recorder he would recite everything taught once from start to end without making any mistakes. This level of success impressed his teachers. Guruji credits his memorising skills to anugrah from the lord and countless hours of meditation.
After returning from studying in India Guruji worked again at Nadi temple as a chief priest for some time before migrating to Vancouver, Canada in 1995. Since 1995 he has been the chief priest at the Subramaniya Swamy Temple of British Columbia.
In 2005 Guruji went to Haridwar, India for Ganga Snaan. His parents accompanied him during this trip. While in Haridwar visiting the Lord Shiva statue a sadhu sant was seen standing right in front of the statue and it instantly caught the eyes of Guruji. Guruji quickly reached for his pockets to offer the sadhu some money. The sadhu replied that he doesn't need any money from him. He said that the reason he was standing right in front of him was because he wanted to meet him (darshan). The next conversation that the sadhu had with Guruji was if Guruji knew who he was. Guruji without hesitation replied that he knew who he was. You are a sadhu sant and I am really pleased to have met you. Sadhu then asked Guruji if he knew who he was himself. Guruji replied by saying that the reason he has come to this place was to find out exactly that ie who he is, and identify why he was born on this planet, and what he has to accomplish while on this planet. After hearing what Guruji had to say the sadhu asked Guruji to look down at his feet and grab some soil and give it to him. Sadhu took the soil before asking Guruji to open his hand and he returned the soil back to him. He asked Guruji to close his hand, and open it again. Guruji noticed that the soil has transformed into a little stone (to this date Guruji has this stone in his possession). Guruji was fascinated at what has just happened. The sadhu said that he is going to tell Guruji who he really is and what he is doing on this planet. You have been born on this planet to do a lot of things, and you are one of the avatar purush (god sends sadhu/sants to serve the people to represent god) chosen to perform these duties. In your previous life you were unable to accomplish everything that you were sent out to do. This time around you will be a very well known and recognised person that will travel all around the world helping people. He also said that in the future you will get the powers (shakthi) of Devi Durga and will be able to materialise whatever you wished for and God will provide you with that gift. You will be able to bless the people (kaliyan). The sadhu also said that Guruji will have lots of shishya's and there will be ashrams in various parts of the world. Through this you will be able to help and reach out to a lot of people and help them. Guruji thanked the sadhu for what he has said and walked back to his vehicle to get some dakshna (donation) for him. When Guruji turned around he could not see the sadhu anywhere. He disappeared completely out of sight. The group of people that was with Guruji could not see the sadhu anywhere either. All Guruji could see was the large Shiva statue in front of him. Guruji heard many of these similar stories before but experiencing it first hand was never something he expected. It has proved that he was talking to the sadhu but the message was getting conveyed by God. Without a doubt Guruji believes that the future will unfold exactly like what the sadhu has said. After the Ganga Snaan trip to India Guruji had a feeling that he will be able to fulfil many of his dreams by helping people. Over the last few years Guruji has already experienced many of the things the sadhu had said. Some of the experiences that Guruji would like to share with us are:
- Durga Maata shakti - in 2008 a day after the Navaratri puja kumkum was coming from Maata's Padham (foot print)
- Durga Maata Shakti - Guruji was able to materialise a Tri Soolam (trishul) from a flower and from this day onwards Guruji has materialised numerous religious pendants, rings, mangalsutras (wedding necklaces), outpouring of sacred ash (vibhuti), red saffron in many different colours (kumkum)
Currently Guruji is heavily involved in working with the shishya's in various parts of the world in making sure that humanity is served. He is the founder of a recently formed charitable trust called Sada Shiva Bhakti Sewa Pariwar. Through this organisation Guruji will be able to serve the people around the world.
Special thanks to the following people that has made an enormous difference in Guruji's life:
- Guruji's parents, Guruji's uncle (father's older brother), maternal grandmother.
- Management of the Nadi temple, especially Dr Ponswamy Goundar
- Mr & Mrs Y P Reddy for the financial contribution towards studies abroad.
- Nataraj for the accommodation and meals while studying in India.