Starting the Ashram

One night the young Sri Kaleshwar slept in the Hanuman temple on top of the hill in Penukonda. That night a star felf from the sky. At that time he was in deep meditation asking the question, "Where will I build, oh God?" Then a message came. "See where the star is falling down."

Then he came and saw this land. But the land was very expensive. He had no money at the time. He talked with the landowner and said he wanted to start a Shirdi Baba temple. The first day he said no, and wanted too much money. The following morning he came to Sri Kaleshwar and said he will give it for a minimum price." Then the next day, another person came and said he can donate the money to buy the land." First Sri Kaleshwar broke a coconut and put to Baba's picture and then the building started. Shirdi Baba told Sri Kaleshwar to tell everybody to bring this or that. They'll love to bring the cement, iron, bricks, paints, fans, cots, rose plants and marble.

But water was a big problem. The ground level didn't have much water; they made a pass at drilling a well, then another, then another. Then at night Sri Kaleshwar broke a coconut and prayed to Baba, "This is the final point - if it fails, forget your ashram. There's no water to drink, no water to do the abishek to you." Then the water started flowing and Sri Kaleshwar could donate water to the village. Because it was a big problem in Penukonda, for thousands of people, there was no water for them to drink.

The negativity came when Sri Kaleshwar started his life in this village and opening the ashram. He was also a student in the college and there were a lot of ups and downs. Especially eating was a problem. He made a deal with the college canteen that he would pay them once a month or even once every two or three months if he had no money. The old woman and man that ran the canteen still come to the ashram and are pure devotees. He told them, "I can't pay until after three months, you have to take care of me." They said, "No problem."

Once he went to the temple to get two chapathis, packed them and kept the two chapathis as his food for one or two days. Each day he ate one single chapathi. He kept them very carefully. At that time, while he was meditating and going in a deep trance, hundreds and thousands of ants were eating his chapathi! But he took it, removed the ants, and refreshed it by spraying some water to make it wet again. Then he looked at Baba's picture and said Thank you!

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The first five or six years of his life in Penukonda were very hard. In the beginning, when he had open the ashram, there weren't even doors. The first foreigner was a Japanese student. The ashram people were all really hungry. A few vegetables were there so they wanted to make a soup, but there was no rice. They had to make some prasadam, but they didn't have any rice.

In the living room there is a Baba picture and Kaleshwar was looking at that Baba's picture and said: "You really want me to go to the village and beg for food?"

Then from nowhere, the Japanese student came with bananas and a bag of rice. It was just his first visit and he came with a bag of fruit, some rice, flowers and dakshina. Kaleshwar looked at Baba's picture again and said, "Thanks. You're the problem then you're the solution." Baba creates the problem, and then he gives the solution.

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"When I started the ashram, simple hut and the Hanuman little bit there. Inside where is my Dwarkamai bed, there’s a well. Same here the firepit, this group is like three feet depth. And the rock, is there where my swing. All the Indian devotees who come, they use to sleep in the hut. The backside of apartments some toilets is there. Still my place, you’re fine. And I use to sleep there (under his tree), only on the simple rock. Somebody offered an old chair to sit. I’m sitting in front of the fire and just meditating and just walking toward the southwest going to my cave." - Sri Kaleshwar