3 - Issue 9
by Mrs. Geeta Ram
Mrs. Geeta Ram comes from a family which has been associated with Swami for the last four generations. She is the daughter of Dr. Padmanabhan, an ardent devotee and a familiar figure in 'Brindavan', Swami's ashram in Bangalore. Her great grandfather, Mr. Seshagiri Rao, came to Swami in 1943 and was the temple priest of Prashanthi Nilayam for many years. Having come to Swami at a very tender age, Mrs. Geeta Ram's life is full of wonderful Sai experiences and amazing anecdotes which are both interesting and illuminating. Currently, she lives in Washington, DC.
PART - I
Whenever I talk about my own experiences, the child growing up at His Feet or about my youth or adulthood, I always go back in time and enjoy that incident. I was fortunate enough to be born in a family, where my great grandfather came to Swami in 1943, so ever since then we have had the fortune to enjoy His physical presence since we were living in Bangalore.
In my childhood it used to take almost 11 hours to go to Puttaparthi, by train, bus, bullock cart, walking and wading in the river. We had Swami with us from 6 in the morning until 10 in the night. In fact my great aunt used to tell Swami, “Please go now we have to do our household work. You are always with us and we can not wash our clothes.” It sounds like a dream.
Now He tells us, “My blessings are with you, you can go now.” In those days He would call us and say, “Stay one more day.” I will now share with you the first incident - if not for which I would not be speaking before you today if it were not for His Grace a month ago.
On November 22nd last month at our Sai centre in South Bethesda, we had planned a very big 4-day programme for Swami’s Birthday, for Thanksgiving weekend. Our programme would begin on the 23rd afternoon, so on 22nd evening I had been very busy. I had been the Education coordinator there, and since it was a big programme I had been very busy for 3 months getting the children ready.
So on 22nd evening around 5.30pm I decided I would buy some flowers and fruits for my morning worship; so I went to a store, which happened to be in a very big shopping area. There was a crowd buying things for Thanksgiving, and on the way I went to an ATM. I parked my car to draw some money and opened the door to get out, but as I did so a man ran over the grassy area from behind and opened the back door of my car and got in. He put his left arm around me and in his right hand he had a knife which he put to my throat and said, “Drive, drive, drive!”
I could not drive the car since I had not shut the door, so I said, “Look if it is the money you want I will give it to you”.
He said, “No, don’t you see they are chasing me - drive!”
I said, “Let me shut the door” and in that delay Swami’s grace appeared. Due to that delay two police cars, which had apparently been chasing him, blocked my car from both ends. Then six police officers came towards my car. But when they realized that he had a knife around my neck they stopped fifteen feet away from my car, so they could see him and he could see them.
I could not see him, but I have a little picture of Swami stuck to my car’s glass shield and I had my hand on it. As the police were approaching I started to speak to him, “Look if you do anything to me you will be in trouble - you would be in prison for life. But if you give up now you will be in prison for 2 or 3 years. Neither can you run out of the car nor can I drive you out - so don’t you think you should give up.”
“How is Geeta?”
There was a pause and then he said, “How come you are not afraid?”
I said, “What is the use of being afraid. You have complete control over me and I cannot do anything. If it is my time to go I have to. My children are very much settled, but you will not be able to go anywhere, so you would be better off if you give yourself up.” There was a pause again, and of course all the while it was Swami who was talking through me.
Then he said, “OK”, opened the door and put his hands up in the air and started to walk towards the police officers. As he passed my car the police pounced on him and it was terrible to see police pounce on a human being who has submitted.
They dragged him away and threw him in the police car and then two policemen came to enquire whether I was fine. But I asked them why they had to treat him in that way when he submitted, and how does the law work out if a lawyer is with him? They were all thinking I was slightly crazy or I had misplaced sympathies, whereas I was supposed to be worried about a lawyer for myself. Then of course they started to ask me about what I had spoken to him so that he had opened the car door and given himself up.
So I explained all that happened and they could not believe it. So that’s what happened that day. So I guess I have been a troublesome child to Swami all through. In fact Swami joked with me once - “Everybody celebrates My Birthday and you always give Me work on My birthday.”
It happened that my parents were there in Parthi on the 24th and they were not aware of what had happened. On that day when my mother was sitting in Darshan Swami came towards her and said, “How is Geetha?”
She said, “She is alright Swami, she is fine.”
Then Swami said “Oh! Is she fine?”
My mother was taken aback because she realised that Swami knows something about me. Then she said, “Swami, I talked to her on the 10th and she was fine then, after which I did not contact her.”
Then Swami told her, “Now she is fine.”
She thought that maybe I was sick and that now I must be alright. So when she came back from Parthi, I told her of this incident and then she realized what Swami tried to tell her that day.
Swami Is Always With Us
When Swami came back to Brindavan on 2nd of December, my father was there - he is the man who walks behind Swami to collect letters. Swami described to him all that had happened to me. And Swami said, “She is crazy, she is always crazy, she was asking for a lawyer for that fellow.” The point I want to make here is that Swami is always with us and He will take care of us, but sometimes we don’t know or believe it, because the quality of life we lead is sometimes not up to Swami’s expectations. So things like this reassure us that Swami is always with us and He knows every thought, word and action.
This is How Life is - Snakes and Ladders
In those days Swami used to come and stay with us in Bangalore and He was part of our family. For many years in my childhood He was a wonderful uncle for me. He used to talk with elders in the evening but also had a special time for us children where he used to tell us either stories, or play some games with us. Even though He would play games with us He used to teach us lessons in His own way. One of the games He would always play with us was Snakes and Ladders.
We children would say, “Swami we don’t want to play this game with You, as You always win.”
The dice would roll the number He wanted. Then He would say, “No, no I will play like you.”
Then He would be behind for some time losing and suddenly He would be again right at the top and then say, “Look at you useless people - you don’t even know how to play Snakes and Ladders! This is how life is, full of snakes and ladders. Sometimes you go up and sometimes you come down, but your goal is to reach 100 - divinity. To do that you have to face both snakes and ladders, at the same time you have your set of dice in the hands of God. He will take you across in a boat.”
This incident happened to me when I was eight years old. At that time, my grandmother who lived in Parthi was sent by Swami to Bangalore for an eye operation. When she went through the checkup she was told that she needed surgery. She had deep faith in Swami and wanted to go back to Parthi to pray for Swami’s blessings.
But my father said, “Why do you want to go? He sent you.”
“No, these doctors will make me blind, so I need His blessings,” she replied.
My father did not agree to the request. That night my parents had gone somewhere and my grandmother was telling me that she is dependent on my father to take her to Parthi and he was not ready to take her, but she wanted Swami’s blessings.
Suddenly the phone rings and there was a long distance call from Bukkapatnam and Swami was there on the telephone! Those days there was no phone service in Parthi. He said, “Is this Geetha?” I said, “Yes, Swami” He said, “Is the old lady complaining? Put her on the phone.” Then she started complaining to Swami that she is not allowed to come to Him and that the doctors will blind her and all other things possible.
On the other side Swami said that His blessings are with her; but then my grandmother replied, “Your blessings are there but I want your Vibhuti, without it how can I go.” That was the kind of personal love she had for Him. Swami says, “You can demand. I am your mother.”
So I think He said to give the phone to me, and then He said, “Geetha, do you find a piece of paper anywhere there.” I said, “Yes, Swami.” “Put it near the phone.” So I put the telephone down and there came a mound of Vibhuti onto the paper, enough for the whole month! I knew that the phone service does not provide such things, so I was surprised!
And then Swami said very sweetly in Telugu “Vachinda? (Did you get it?) Give it to the old woman - she will be very happy.”
Her Only Refuge
I was very happy and excited about this experience, but later on after all the excitement had gone down I started to think that if we believe Him to be God He can do anything. But looking on the other side of the miracle, the old lady’s faith could draw Swami from across 100 miles, across the telephone wires, and He responded to her whose only refuge was Him. And I learnt that the greatest miracle is the Lord’s response to the devotee’s prayer made in complete faith.
Swami taught this lesson to us children, who were then so troublesome. It used to happen that Swami would create Paries chocolates, and we used to ask Him to create some other chocolate such as Cadburys which was rare. So from that kind of mentality I realized that He is not here for creating such petty things but something more. So in this way, due to His love, I started to learn many lessons.
One such wonderful lesson I learnt during the Summer Course. Swami always tells us that we should not destroy anything because we are not capable of creating anything. During a Summer Course I happened to be there with a friend and that particular day the subject for discussion was non-violence. We heard many speeches and in the evening my friend and I would make notes sitting down in the lawns. As we were talking and making notes for the day we were pulling grass from the lawn and in between us was created a heap of grass.
Then my friend said, “Look at this Geetha - we talked about non-violence and we have pulled out so much grass.” I said, “Why do you continuously speak philosophy, it's just grass,” and that was end of the conversation.
Every day during the Summer Course we had to get up at 4 am and go for Omkaram, Gayathri chanting etc. but I was not a person for all these - I wanted to sleep. So I would sit at the back of the hall and would sleep. One day as I was taking my nap there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Swami, catching me red handed sleeping in meditation. I thought that that He would kick me out of the course and what would my father say?
I said, “Swami, I don’t remember anything about yesterday.”
Then He said, “No, no what were you doing with your friend?”
I said, “I was all the time talking to her Swami”.
“Not talking - did you not pull grass! How can you pull out a living thing? It is not an inanimate thing, come here.”
The Rose Touch of Pure Love
Then He took me to a rose bush and touched a tiny little rose bud, which was nowhere near blossoming. And just as you would see in a video the rose bud began to grow bigger and bigger, finally blossoming into a red rose. A foolish thing came out of my mouth, “Swami, You can do it but I can’t.”
Swami replied “No, no you can do it too; come here.” Then He held my hand and made me touch another rose bud. The same thing happened - it grew bigger and bigger and turned into a rose. Swami said, “If you show love to anything in this world, it will respond. But you have to show it the way I do it, that is what you have to learn; learn to show love, don’t destroy. Go and sit down.”
So I survived the Summer Course. But I had learnt a great lesson not to hurt anything. Then in 1988 Swami told me “Go to America.” I said, “Swami when You had me married You promised me that you would keep me with you.” Swami replied, “I kept you for 10 years - now you go to America”. So I went to America. In the first summer my husband was mowing the lawns and I told him, “Mohan, for pulling out a few blades of grass I got into trouble and you are going to cut the whole area. I cannot go back to Puttaparthi.”
The Correct Medicine
In 1992 Swami had called us for an interview. As soon as I entered the interview room Swami said, “In America you have to cut the grass.” By now I was a grown up lady with two children and that experience had happened when I was young girl. Swami laughed and said, “That is just a haircut.” When I was 15 I needed that lesson, now when 30 I knew the difference. So Swami’s teachings changes depending upon our age. Swami says, “When three patients come with stomach pain they have to be given different medicine; they cannot have the same medicine.”
He always says, “We have to have harmony in thought, word and action.” He is the right person to see it personified in. I will tell you two incidents.
When He told me to go to America I cried that I would not, but then He finally said I have to go. So my husband came before me and two months later I came along with my children who were five years old. I had heavy baggage since all my relatives and friends were giving things for their people in America and in this way my luggage was increasing.
Then my father started telling me, “What is this? Swami says less luggage and you are carrying so much. You are not following any of Swami’s teachings.”
“I Will Lift Her Suitcase”
He generalizes in this way and so we had a little argument in the car about this. We went to Brindavan and there Swami said, “What - Padmanabham as usual scolding you?” My father said, “Swami she is not listening to any of Your teachings; she is taking three suitcases.”
So Swami said, “Why are you worried - it is her suitcase, let her carry what she wants.”
Then my father said, “Swami, it is very heavy she cannot lift it.”
Swami said, “Are you lifting it? I will lift her suitcase.”
All this was in fun and we all laughed. I did not give much thought to it and landed in San Francisco. As my father had predicted I could not carry my suitcases, as they were so heavy. My problem was to put them on the trolley, which I could not do and my five-year-old sons (twins) were going here and there.
Somehow I managed but then there was an announcement on the PA system announcing my name, to come to the Singapore airlines counter. There a lady told me that there is a gentlemen here waiting to help you out with your luggage. There was a very nice Afro-American gentleman wearing identification and a badge. I forgot about what happened in Brindavan; instead I thought what a wonderful man my husband is, he has sent somebody to help me.
Since this was the first time I was coming many papers had to be cleared and all this time this tall man was with me. And when we came to customs, he said, “Are you going to open up the suitcases - the poor lady has been here for an hour.” So customs cleared us.
We came out and my husband was there, he turned the car and as he put the luggage in I said, “We have to pay the porter.” We searched for him but he was not there. And then as we were going in the car I narrated all that had happened in the interview with Swami: the argument with my father and the final word of Swami that He would carry my luggage. As I said these words it struck me.
The next morning as my father saw Swami, He said “You were right Padmanabham - what did she carry in those suitcases, they were so heavy.” Ever since then, I make sure that if I ask Him for help I will never pray to Him to lift my luggage. When I later met Swami I said, “Swami, I made you lift my heavy suitcases,” Swami replied “What? I came to lift the burden of the world, how do your suitcases matter?”
PART - II
Sometimes He even answers prayers which come out of anger. One day after I just came to US, I had not even unpacked my luggage, one elderly lady had come to my house and I had wanted to give her fruits and kumkum (vermillion), a south Indian custom.
I was looking for the silver container which had the kumkum and did not find it. Since my childhood my parents have brought me up in such a way that I don’t come with any problem to them. So that day I was very irritated within. And I was telling my husband, “Why does He put me through this kind of test; can’t He give me a better test; I am eligible for a better test.” Anyway, I unpacked my boxes next day and not finding the silver container I became even more upset.
And in that irritation I said to myself that He is all the time so busy with these college students, so He does not remember us. I had hardly said this and half an hour later there is a knock on my door. I opened the door and there is an Indian person that I don’t know, who asked me whether I am Geetha, Padmanabhan’s daughter?
She said, “I am on my way to the airport; in India your parents wanted me to give a small package to you, telling that Swami had given this package to be given during the birthday celebration.” I open the package and inside it was a silver container with kumkum in it!
‘I Have Come to Your Home’
Vol 3 Issue 9 - September 2005
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