By Krishna (Phil) Milgrom
Tharsan Sathyaseelan laughs as he recounts his first experience arriving at Downingtown Yoga and Meditation Center to attend the free Swami Sunday. “I was surprised to see mostly white yogis sitting in the room. I saw Swami. She is white, too!” Of this he says, “I was still stuck in my small-s self, perceiving everyone as separate and different. When I saw the photos of Nityananda and Muktananda, I thought to myself: “OK. Here are Indian sages…” I felt more at ease. I chanted with everyone — I’ve never done that before. I recited the Guru Gita — I didn’t know what the Guru Gita was until then.”
When I first met Tharsan, aka Darshan, I was immediately struck by his unassuming nature, his humility, and a ready smile that shone from deep within. Such a gentle soul.
“I needed help,” he answered, when I asked how he got to that first Swami Sunday. He told me he left Sri Lanka, his birthplace, ten years ago to come to the States, settling in Downingtown. “I came because of the greater freedoms available here,” he said. “I would smoke, drink and party with my American friends. They seemed to be happy.”
But a deeper happiness was being unveiled to Tharsan. Somehow, he was beginning to experience a profound sense of bliss and joy. He had never been so happy before. “I felt then like I was going to be a millionaire,” he elaborated. “I now had everything I wanted in my life. I was in a state of bliss and joy 24/7. So I quit my job.”
This was early in 2017. He was still smoking and drinking with his friends periodically, but he was glowing from something else. His friends started to notice. They thought he was crazy or on drugs. He could not explain where his extraordinary experiences were coming from. “It all seemed to come from nowhere,” he says. “I was learning then about computer networks. I began thinking that all humans are connected some way, too. But I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I started reading books and searching online for answers.”
Tharsan came across online videos of people explaining what they called “Kundalini experiences.” He recognized some of their experiences as similar to his. They mentioned yoga and meditation, but Tharsan had only done a little yoga when he was younger and never meditated. So he ventured into the woods behind where he lived. He explains, “I wanted to experience nature, to know about God. I did a few yoga poses and then Shavasana. I dived deep inside and awoke an hour later.”
“That evening I went home to bed, closed my eyes and saw the most amazingly beautiful sky within. It was a spacious purple and dark blue sky speckled with many colors. I awoke the next morning feeling fully refreshed. I didn’t realize it then, but I had been meditating all night long. That’s why I felt so refreshed.”
“I needed help understanding what was going on. From my Hindu background, I knew about ashrams and what they offer. I thought maybe I could get help from one.” He googled for the ashram closest to where he lived. And that, of course, was Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. He called and was advised to attend a Swami Sunday.
Tharsan observes, “In retrospect, I knew then that I was being guided by Grace. The Ashram was only ten minutes from where I lived.” Laughing again, he said, “The yoga and meditation center was located directly across the street from the pub where I had been drinking with my buddies!
“After the Guru Gita at my first Swami Sunday there was darshan [an opportunity to see a holy person, in this case Swami Nirmalananda]. I went up to Swami and told her that I needed help understanding my experiences. She said she would see me after the program. So later she approached and asked, ‘How are you?’ I answered, ‘I am having beautiful experiences. I never meditated before. I don’t know what I am doing. I am lost.’”
“Swami explained what had been happening to me. She then gave me mantra. She encouraged me to come to all her free programs: Tuesday evening satsangs, Thursday morning Guru Gita satsangs, and Swami Sundays.
“I attended these for two or three weeks; then Swami gave me the mantra again, gave me mala beads and an asana. I didn’t know what an asana was. It was a beautiful red silk cloth that I was to sit on for meditation practice. She told me she infused the asana with her energy. She asked me to repeat mantra three hours a day while sitting on the asana.”
Tharsan immediately set up a place in his room to meditate, and repeated the mantra three hours daily. In a few days, his body shook during meditation. “I didn’t know where these physical movements were coming from,” he says. “But I had faith in Swamiji, so I continued meditating. It was very intense.” The next Sunday he told Swamiji about the shaking. “She told me my Kundalini was awakening. She said she is a Kundalini Master.”
Tharsan was thrilled. Then, in September 2017, he attended a Shaktipat weekend with Swamiji. It was the icing on the cake. He recalls, “Before that, when I meditated, I wasn’t going deeper. Shaktipat got me going deeper. I realized the awareness within me was Me, my Self. I didn’t know before that there was a small self and a higher Self. I now understood the play of the mind and play of ego, and who was having all these experiences and identities. It was Me, my higher Self. All my experiences now made sense.”
Tharsan was no longer lost. He had googled “ashram,” found his Guru, and through her, found his Self. Tharsan continues to this day working for the Ashram. He is also a Lyft driver part time. Next time you need a ride to or from Downingtown, call Tharsan. You will definitely get a lift. His glow is contagious.