Poojya Ganjur Venkannaiah
( Direct disciple of Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj of Gondavale, and the founder of Sri Brahmachaitanya Sri Rama Mandir at Cintamani)
The birth and death anniversary of Sri G.Venkannaiah is on Chaitra Bahula Dwadashi., falls this year on 13,April 2018.
A few experiences:
Sri G.Venkannaiah had finished his Engineering Diploma and was employed as Sub-overseer in the Department of Public works of Mysore Government. In the year 1913, he was working in Chikkanayakanahally, near Hassan. A tank was being constructed in Malligere Village, near Chikkanayakana hally. Sri Venkannaiah was posted to supervise the construction of tank there.
He used to go to Malligere every morning and return to Chikkanayakanahally, by evening.
One day, in November 1913, during lunch interval, he was sitting under a tree, meditating on Sri Ram, he suddenly heard a loud voice "Maha Purush, Maha Purush", and opened his eyes to see an Ajaanubahu Saint standing before him at a distance with two disciples on either side of him. Thinking that it must be some holy person , he suddenly got up and prostrated with Deergha danda namaskar.. While prostrating, he heard a voice " Gondavalyave". But when he got up after prostrating, the saint had vanished.
Sri Venkannaiah was astonished . It was an experience of only a few seconds, but he was mesmerized.
He did not understand what was told. So, he wrote down the word "Gondavalyave" in his Diary. At the end of the day's work, he returned to his home at Chikkanayakana hally. A few of his friends used to meet every night for a chat. One of them was a person with his mother-tongue as Marathi. He told the meaning of that word as " Come to Gondavale". But, he did not know where was Gondavale.
A few days later, he had a dream in which a Sri Vaishnava was reading "Bhagavad Gita", and another Sri Vaishnava pointed out to him and told venkannaiah to go to him. He woke up wondering about the dream.
While returning from his early morning walk, he was again surprised when he met the Sri Vaishnava, who was reading Gita in his dream, coming in front him. His name was Sri Rangachar. Sri Rangachar took him to his house. There Sri Venkannaiah narrated to him about the saint who told "Gondavalyave" and the subsequent dream.
Sri Rangachar was a good Sadhaka, (Yogabhyasi) on the path of God. He asked Sri Venkannaiah to sit in the hall, and went to the pooja room for meditation. After nearly an hour he came back, and told Sri Venkannaiah that during meditation,he found out, that one has to get down at the Koregaon station on the Bangalore-Poona railway route. From Koregaon, one has to go by cart to Gondavale. He told that the Mahapurusha, Sri Venkannaiah had seen was Sri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj, who stays in the Rama Mandir at Gondavale.
Sri G.Venkannaiah went to Gondavale, accompanied by Sri Rangachar.
While travelling, he was so happy, that he was going to meet his Guru, that he did not want anything else. He was donating liberally to the beggars who came in every station. Observing this, Sri Rangachar, telling him that “if you are giving like this, we will not have money for our return journey”, snatched his purse and kept it for safe keeping. When they arrived at Gondavale, it seemed Sri Maharaja was waiting for them, after cancelling his program to go to some other town, stating that two devotees from a far-off place were expected that day..
At Gondavale, Sri Venkannaiah met Sri Maharaj, the very saint who had appeared before him at Malligere, He was overjoyed. He realized that he had met his Sadguru..
An incident happened that night. After taking food, Sri Rangachar who had the room key with him, found it missing. They searched for the key, but could not find it. When Sri Maharaj came to know about it, he asked one of his disciples to look in the plate in which Sri Rangachar dined.. By then, the plates were all cleaned and stacked. But, as Sri Maharaj, had told it, they searched among the stacked plates, and found to their surprise, the Key in one of the plates..
The next morning, when Sri Venkannaiah went to see Sri Maharaj, he was sitting surrounded by many devotees. Sri Venkannaiah stood behind looking at Sri Maharaj. Noticing Sri Venkannaiah, Sri Maharaj called him to the front, asked him to sit on his lap and initiated him "Tarak Nam". And Sri Maharaj orderd him: 1) Do Namasmarana without break.
2) Spread or propagate Rama- Nama
3) Construct a small Mandir for Sri Ram.
4) Carry on Upasana.
After doing upasana for a few days, Sri Venkannaiah returned to Chikkanayakana hally with a heavy heart. Sri Maharaj gave him a Rupee coin with blessings. He took his Guru Paduka to his house and continued Japanushthan.
While at Gondavale, Sri Maharaj had asked him to brush his bathing place before taking bath. Following his Guru’s advice, Sri Venkannaiah, up to his end, always used to clean the bathing place, before taking bath.
About a month later, he received a telegram, stating that Sri Maharaj had left his body. Sri Venkannaiah felt very unhappy and went to Gondavale for the ceremonies.
When he returned to Chikkanayakanahally, he received an order of transfer on promotion to Gundlapet, Mysore District.
He did Upaasana wherever he was and celebrated Sri Rama navami inviting many people. He used to go to Gondavale, for Sadguru Aradhana, every year.
While at Gundlupet, he was cycling for his place of duty, the path crossed the forest. One day, while returning from his duty, in the evening, he noticed a large tiger sitting near his path. He had come very close to it and he felt that there was no chance of going back. So, praying Sri Maharaj, chanting “Guru Maharaj Guru Jai Jai Para Brahma Chaitanya Sadguru”, he cycled faster on his way, in front of the tiger and passed out of danger. The Tiger just looked at him.
An incident happened during Sri Rama navami ,( the very first one after the darshan of Sri Maharaj) in Gundlupet. Afer the ceremonious pooja, at noon,while distributing Kosambari ( a preparation made out of Greengramdahal, coconut cucumber, which is usually taken as MahaPrasad ,for lunch on Sri Rama Navami day), and panaka (juice prepared out of lemon or some other fruit, with Sugar or Jaggery), he noticed a madhwa Brahmin, a stranger to him. He repeatedly served Kosumbari to every one. Though the others were eating to their stomach full, the stranger was not eating. So Sri Venkannaiah asked him for the reason, he told that as his wife and children have no food since three days, he wanted to give them and eat later. Sri Venkannaiah forced him to eat there, and gave him sufficient quantity of Kosambari and panaka for his family. He asked him to come again in the evening.
When the Brahmin came back in the evening, on inquiry, he told that he was working as a Shakedar (a government job in revenue department) in some place, and was suspended three years back, for some reason. Since then he was living by begging in one place or the other. Sri Venkannaiah gave him 2 saers (one saer weighs a little more than one Kilogram)of Rice, redgram dhal (Togari bele) and Two rupees and asked him to come again when he was in utter necessity.
Five -six days had passed.. Early morning, at about 5 a.m. Sri Venkannaiah, after bath, and finishing the Pooja, was sitting doing Japa. During meditation, Sri Maharaj appeared and told him to give the Rupee coin he gave, to the Brahmin who visited him on Sri Rama Navami day.
After some time, he noticed the Brahmin waiting outside his house. Enquiring about his welfare, Sri Venkannaiah asked him for the reason of his visit. He told hesitantly, that he had a dream that morning in which a hefty Brahmin appeared and advised him to go to the house he visited on Sri Rama navami day and all will be well.
He said, he does not know whether it was only his imagination and felt a little ashamed to tell him. Then Sri Venkannaiah told him, “ You need not be ashamed. I have also an order from my Guru. It seems good times are approaching you”. Stating this, Sri Venkannaiah, gave him the Rupee coin, which he had kept for pooja and was given to him by Sri Maharaj during Anugraha, along with one more rupee as dakshina.
After this incident, within a month and a half, the Brahmin received the order from his office to re-join the duty.
One more incident happened at Gundlupet, which shows how Sri Maharaja’s Grace was always on him. :
He was a Sub-overseer, and as per the requirement, he sanctioned certain money to the contractor who constructed a traveler’s bungalow. The money was paid. But, later, it was found that a mistake was done and there was an excess payment of Rs.400/- to the contractor. This issue was taken up as a serious offence by his senior officer . He sent a complaint to his higher officer. Actually, when the measurement was made, Sri Venkannaiah was at one end of the tape, and the contractor who was at the other end had given a wrong measurement. Sri Venkannaiah felt very bad and unhappy.
After a week, The higher officer asked him to send the measurement book to his office.
But the book which was with Sri Venkannaiah was nowhere to be found. He and the other colleagues searched everywhere in the office, but the book was not found. This caused Sri Venkannaiah more worry and tension. Afternoon, during lunch hour, in the office,he was sitting tired of searching for the book, doing Jap of Rama naam, he was in a trance, suddenly Sri Maharaj appeared and patted him on his shoulder telling him not to worry..
About 10-15 minutes have gone by. An old villager came near the window where one clerk Sri Puttu Rao was working. He asked the clerk to give a post card and offered money for the card. Sri Puttu Rao told him that it was not Post-office, and told him to go to the next building. Then the villager, showed him a book and told him that he found that book on the way and enquired whether it can be given to his son to write on it.
To his amazement, Sri Puttu Rao realized that that book was the missing one, which they were searching for. He took the book and told the villager, that was a Government book, and if his son writes on it, he would be put in jail. Then the villager asked Sri Puttu Rao, to keep the book, and went away.
Sri Puttu Rao gave the book to Sri Venkannaiah. Sri Venkannaiah felt happy.
He took the book personally to the office at Mysore. The details were verified. And the excess amount paid was deducted from the bills due to be paid to the contractor.
And the issue was closed.
After this incident, Sri Venkannaiah was not happy. One day Sri Maharaj appeared in his dream and told him not to worry and good things happen with in two months.
With in a month after this, he got a transfer to T.Narasipur. and no problems occurred in future.
(The two incidents at Gundlupet were told by his colleague and good friend Sri A.P.Subba Rao of Mysore, who became a staunch devotee of Sri Maharaj, and visited Chintamani Mandir on every occasion till his very old age. The Tiger incident was however told by Sri Venkannaiah himself).
Sri Brahmanand Maharaj invited Sri Venkannaiah to Beladhadhi to attend Sri Rama Navami Celebrations which was celebrated for nine days in a grand manner.
So, Sri Venkannaiah applied leave for ten days. The permission had to come from his head office, and he did not get any advice from his office. He thought he did not have approval for the leave, So, thinking that he could attend at least the first day, being Sunday , he went to Beladhadi on Saturday, thinking that he could return to his duty on Monday.
Sri Brahmanand Maharaj welcomed Sri Venkannaiah with affection and took care of his accommodation etc. Sri Brahmanand Maharaj used to affectionately call him “Mysore Buva”. (A part of the present Karnataka was Mysore , a country ruled by Maharajas of Mysore).
Next day, when Sri Venkannaiah met Sri Brahmanand Maharaj to take his blessings for departure, as he had no leave, Sri Brahmananda Maharaj just told him to stay. As it was a great saint’s order, Sri Venkannaiah, remained there. It was a very pleasant atmosphere of the company of saintly persons, divine Poojas, Bhajans, Japanushthan and Annadaan . But he had an inkling of fear that he had no permission from his office for absence. So, after two more days, he again went to sri Brahmanand Maharaj and asked his permission to return. But, Sri Brahmanand Maharaj again pressed him to stay. Sri Venkannaiah with all his fears about the office, could not disobey Sri Brahmananda Maharaj. So, he stayed.
Next day, he was surprised to receive a post forwarded to Beladhadi, from his office stating that he had been granted 10 days leave. Sri Vnkannaiah was very happy and thanked Maharaj for his kindness. He would have missed the celebration, if he had not obeyed Sri Brahmanand Maharaj.
He was being transferred from one place to another. He could not construct a Rama Mandir, as per his Guru's instructions. He even thought of resigning from his job to take initiative to construct the mandir. But, he was dissuaded from resigning, as he had duties to perform. Meanwhile, his father died. Apart from his wife and children he had look after his mother, and younger brother, who was about 25 years younger.than him. However, the entire family lived in Ganjur village, which is near Chintamani. His first wife died leaving two young daughters. So, he had to marry his wife's younger sister, Smt Lakshmi Devi. But, an unfortunate accident happened. His second wife had gone to the well to wash clothes. The younger daughter of her sister, aged 5 years had accompanied her. It was an open well. The daughter accidentally fell in to the well. Trying to save the child , the mother also fell into the well. The two lives left in a moment..The mother had left a one year old daughter at home. A Void hovered over the family.
So, the family decided to leave their native village of Ganjur, and shifted to Chintamani, which was about 5 miles from there.
Sri Venkannaiah was 39 years old, when his second wife died. He did not remarry.
His wives belonged to Benakanakere, a village in Tumkur District. His inlaws were in Benakanakere. He arranged marriage of his eldest daughter Smt Sundaramma to Sri B.Suryanarayanappa of Benkanakere.
He was transferred to Chintamani. By that time the family consisting of his Mother, younger brother , and his youngest daughter had left Ganjur and were residing in Chintamani.
From Chintamani, he had to cover different areas like Hindiganal,, Jangamakote, and other surrounding places. He was sub-overseer and had to look over the civil works of the government. When he was transferred to Chintamani, he was provided with a horse and cart with a driver. So, when he went to places like Hindganal he had to stay overnight. Wherever he stayed he did his Anushthan,and Bhajans. The people who came into contact with him in those places, became the devotees of Shri Maharaj.
This helped him to construct the Mandir. To mention a few names: Sri A.P.Subba Rao, Sri H.V.Nanjappa, Sri B.S.Ramaseshaiah, Sri H.Gundu Rao, and many others.
While in Chintamani, he bought a big site for the Mandir.
In the year 1935 he was going to Gondavale accompanied by his mother and many other friends. They were waiting for the train in the railway station after taking tickets. Sri Venkannaiah had not observed the changed timings of the train. So, they were waiting on the platform though the train was ready to depart. Suddenly, Sri Maharaj appeared and shouted, in kannada, “Simpletons, Your train is ready to start. Do not be unhappy afterwards”. By the time Sri Venkannaiah uttered the word “Maharaj”, he had vanished. No others saw him.
Immediately they got into the train which moved soon after.
In 1938, he still had two years of service. But, as he could not concentrate or work for constructing the mandir, he took a voluntary retirement.
In 1939 a small garbhagudi was built, and the poojas were conducted to the Photos of Sri Ram and Sri Maharaj. Japanushthan was maintained.
Sri Venkannaiah was planning to install beautiful marble idols . He did not know where to get them made. Finally, Sri Maharaj himself suggested to go to Jaipur.
At Jaipur, he waited nearly for two months for the final design, with his friend Sri Y.Subrahmanya Iyer, and his assistant Sri Subbarayappa.
Finally, the divine marble idols of Shri Ram, Sitha, Lakshman and Shri Brahmachaitanya Maharaj were installed on 13th June 1949, in the holy presence of Shri Tatya Saheb Ketkar Maharaj, Shri Kundagol Narayanappa Maharaj and thousands of devotees.
When Sri Venkannaiah became old, he received a letter from Sri Baba Belsare, a message from Sri Maharaj (received through Sri Tatya Saheb Ketkar Maharaj’s Vani), as follows:
1. You have done enough of Sadhana. Now leave the rest to me. Do as much Japam as you can very conveniently do.
2. Rama is great. He will get done what you want. You should have no sankalpa about anything.
3. Upasana gives beauty to a Mandir. A faithful Japam of Ramanam is Upasana. Try to keep upasana intact. Great souls will visit the Mandir.4. Do not be afraid. If you call me, I am always at your bedside.