Title: Devi's Grace; Authors: Karen Rajesh and Vishal Desai; Publishers: Vakils Feffer and Simons Pvt Ltd and Vishnu Sadanand Memorial Foundation; Pages: 265; Price Rs 495.
"Devi's Emerald" is a touching and beautifully written story of a small temple in Bengaluru dedicated to Mookambika Devi where, until he passed away, an electrical engineer-turned-Swami made such accurate predications that the well-known author Ruzbeh Bharucha ended up calling him as "one of the most spiritually powerful men on the globe".
V.S. Nayak, a father of five, used to work in Phillips India and was far removed from the spiritual world when he had a divine calling. It led to the birth of the temple where Swamiji, as he came to be widely known, became the Devi's medium and gave innumerable, but always accurate, predictions that turned even the most doubting sceptics into staunch devotees.
The Swamiji believed in no mumbo jumbo. He would tell visitors not to go deep into trying to understand and experience God. Have sincere faith and utter simple prayers -- that would do. Don't starve in search of God. As a sage he was very different. He liked to laugh loudly, usually avoided philosophical and religious stuff, and had no problems eating in restaurants. He would tell devotees that the best way to know God was to feed the poor and hungry. "He is the most practical Swamiji you will ever meet."
He was more than practical. Although Swamiji was on the dot vis-à-vis whatever he predicted, he was humble and truly devotional. He credited whatever he did to Devi's grace. He would predict, accurately, when people would die and when babies would be born, even how they would look like. He told people to walk out of hospitals because they did not need any operation; those who obeyed him realised he was so very right. Miles away from hospitals he would tell doctors to change their line of medication. His predictions often stumped people because they had never met the Swamiji ever before. He suggested different religious remedies for various problems; in rare cases alone he would gently say that there was no hope.
How did he manage all this? Swamiji would light camphor in the Devi temple and, he said, he could see -- yes, literally see -- answers to questions that were posed to him. "She shows me like a movie the entire place and scenario. This is why we can answer questions pertaining to past, present and future. We can answer about unseen people, dead people, living people... everything comes in front of me like a movie."
The best part of the story was that he would not charge money for his predictions; except a bare minimum that went to cover the cost of running the shrine and feeding every single person who visited it. Nobody was allowed to leave the temple without food. Swamiji had seen grinding poverty and he knew what hunger was; he didn't want anyone to be hungry ever.
"Devi's Grace" is a follow-up to the first book, by two devotees who explain how Swamiji's son, Guruji, is carrying on his father's tradition. Devotees who have benefited from Guruji's predictions tell their astounding tales to Karen Rajesh and Vishal Desai. "Devi's Emerald" introduced the otherwise little known Mookambika Devi temple to the larger world. The second book continues the miracle story.