Arya Sangha or Assembly of the Wise

The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka (3)

This was no everyday ascetic, but one who loved a drink and a cigar, says Manik Sandrasagra as he writes to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of the enigmatic German Swami Gauribala Swami.
German Swami Gauribala (1907-1984) inspiration for the 'Irish Swami' of Earthman
German Swami Gauribala (1907-1984)
Photo Dominic Sansoni
Swami Gauribala at Sigiriya in the 1960's
"Garden of the Soul": Swami at Sigiriya in the 1960's. German Swami's research transformed the way scholars interpret Sigiriya

On his rare visits to Colombo in the seventies, German Swami attracted people from Archaeological Commissioner Raja De Silva to Chitrasena. He danced with them both, dropping titbits on Sihagiri as he called Sigiriya for Raja's benefit and striking matching postures with Chitrasena. Raja several years later on the 30th of September 2002 inscribed my copy of his book Sigiriya and its Significance with the words "The debt to Swami Gauribala's wisdom is recorded here". This man performed no siddhis or miracles on demand as modern gurus do but played with words and ideas.

Stranger than fiction

I remember once when Captain Leslie de Silva of Air Ceylon called on me. My house guest Swami Gauribala answered the door. Since I was not in he soon left but called me the very next day to inquire as to who had answered the doorbell. When I told him who it was he told me an amazing tale.

He was the pilot of an Air Ceylon plane plying between Jaffna and Colombo. One day a saffron robed European swami was one of the passengers. Since the flight had been delayed, the swami insisted that he wanted to get down at Katunayake Airport, since he was meeting the Canadian High Commissioner James George who was arriving there from abroad in one hour.

Leslie laughed and advised Swami to take a taxi from Ratmalana. The flight took off and just when they were approaching Colombo the visibility was so bad that the plane was forced to land at Katunayake. Swami disembarked, thanked Leslie and left.

Leslie was left dumbfounded and he had not met this man thereafter. Seeing him at my door several years later rekindled his memory and that evening he came home to enjoy a drink of Chivas Regal with Swami.

Kavichandra Alexander

Another incident concerns Kavichandra Alexander. Kavi is from Batticaloa and is today one of the world's most respected Recording Engineers cum Producers with his label Waterlily Acoustics having twice won the ‘World Music' category in the Grammy Awards.

Gauribala Swami and Haro Hara Amma ‘misappropriated' Kavi's ear ring in Kataragama Perehera season when Kavi was quite young and returned it after seven days having blessed it. Acoustic sound is Kavi's specialty and he has recorded most of the great masters from around the world.

Kavi attributes his keen sense of hearing to Murugan, God of Kataragama who transmitted this power through Swami and Haro Hara Amma. Kavi, whom I have never met in the flesh, found me magically on the Net because I had in the past written about the very two people who had changed his life. We are now great friends.

Co-incidence, siddhi, call it what you may, these things happened. When such things happen it is beyond belief. All those who really ‘knew' Swami now know that fortune smiles in the presence of a siddha. I bear witness to this with my own life which is the greatest miracle that I know.

Go to "The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka" Part 4

Courtesy: The Sunday Times of 16 September 2007

"The Lion's Roar: Siddhas of Lanka" Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |

Life and Times of German Swami | The Bohemian Swami