Set in a rounded face, the brown eyes of Sri Jayanthi Kumaraswami, also called Swamiji, always seem ready with a smile.
That’s because she believes laughter is one way to attain God.
Kumaraswami is one of many female swamis (a spiritual teacher often found in Hinduism).
But there is something special about her. Unlike other swamis who usually “belong to a lineage of gurus” or are “born to a spiritual family,” she is swayambhu, which means her power was “created by its own accord, at birth.”
Since 2004 she has been visiting TT. She is here again until January 14, 2020, and hopes to host public interactive meetings, meditation programmes and personal meetings.
She will also host a national day of prayer in the form of a homa (havan/fire ritual) and hopes to go to the Women’s Prison to teach the inmates meditation and mindfulness.
Her personal secretary Visham Balroop, said her style is very different: she builds a big fire, sits and chants mantras. Kumaraswami and members of her mission are inviting people of all faiths to participate in the day of prayer, as “fire is for everybody.”
Ultimately, she hopes to bring peace and happiness to TT.
Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Southern India, Kumaraswami's parents realised there was something different about her. She was only seven then.
Her website says, “During Swamiji’s early childhood, her parents understood that their child was not normal. Instead of playing with her schoolmates, Swamiji would always sit alone and chant mantras and repeat the name of God.”
She said in an interview at Newsday’s Pembroke Street, Port of Spain office that when she told her parents about her power they could not understand, as they felt she was just a child.
But at 11, she began telling the people in the village the future and seeing it immediately happen. As word of her ability spread, “a very big crowd” formed in front of her home. After this she began visiting other Indian states and amassed a huge following.
“Somebody from the Caribbean heard about me and came to India. She asked me about her future and I told her after two years I will be in your island,” Kumaraswami said.
Some months later she had a visit from an African pop star (name not called) living in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) who asked to bring her to the BVI. As word of her work spread throughout the region, she began visiting other islands like Guadeloupe, St Lucia and Martinique.
Balroop said people from Martinique told TT people about her, and families came together and invited her here. His family was one of them.
At that time, Kumaraswami had not even heard of TT. She knew of the West Indies but did not know TT was a country in the West Indies. But when her feet touched the land there was a “magnetic effect.”
“When I drank the water and touched my foot to the land I realised there was something more than other countries; some power attracting me here.”
So much so that it led to her setting up a local chapter of her Jai Sathya mission in 2016.
In 2017 she visited Ghana (during the interview she referred to it by its ancient name, the Asante Kingdom) and was adopted as its daughter and awarded for her spiritual work.
Kumaraswami is known as the "roaming saint" as she’s visited many countries around the globe such as the UK, France, Amsterdam, Germany, Malaysia, Singapore and St Lucia spreading her message of peace and love.
There are two aspects to her spirituality, Balroop said. One is her divine aspect, in which she helps people spiritually, tells people about their lives and has the spiritual energy to tell people about their past and how their suffering today is connected to their past.
She subscribes to the concept of karma, he said.
“She believes that everyone, no matter the negative things done in their past life, should get a second chance to live happily. So she comes to give that opportunity to people.”
While she is not ritualistic, she does rituals like pujas for other people’s sake.
There is also a charitable aspect, he said. Through Kumaraswami’s Jai Sathya mission of TT she provides assistance to underprivileged families, the elderly and homeless with food, clothing and other necessities. She provides educational tools for children such as books, school supplies and educational programmes.
She also promotes youth and women empowerment; the green revolution and animal welfare; hygienic knowledge and healthy lifestyles; protects the rights of people oppressed as guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and provides counselling and rehabilitation programmes for prisoners, victims of rape and abuse and drug addicts.
He said on Kumaraswami’s birthday (May 14) the mission does charitable work, such as distributing hampers and household items for poor families.
As a young boy Balroop often felt someone talking to him and touching his hand when he slept. When he accompanied his family to meet Kumaraswami on her first visit to TT and saw her, he felt a strange vibration.
“And I told my mother that this was the person who spoke to me,” he said.
He also told his parents he felt she was his real mother. Though he was then a small boy, he began asking to accompany her to India. She told him first he had to go to school, get an education, experience life and after that she’d accept him.
Four years ago when Kumaraswami accepted him, he left his job and has been travelling full-time with her. Through those travels Balroop has seen many “miraculous things.”
He has seen women who doctors said were infertile become pregnant after she prayed for them. He has seen her pinpoint where bodies were buried in houses in Vietnam.
Besides her miraculous works, Balroop sees people’s attraction to her “practical philosophy”: there are no hard rules and she won’t force people to do what they don’t want to do, he said.
Whenever she visits TT, many people from the region also come to see her.
While the mission has an office, it plans on getting property to construct its own building.
As her visit to Newsday ended, she prayed for this reporter leaving a message for the reporter and TT: the key to peace was to treat everyone equally.
Swami Sri Jayanthi Kumaraswami can be reached at (868) 397-6599 or 357-7123.