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The Source, Sweetness and Sustenance of My life – My Sai

By Dr. Narendranath Reddy

Dr. Narendranath Reddy graduated with distinction from SV Medical College, Tirupati.  He had training in internal medicine at the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry and did his sub-specialization in Endocrinology and Metabolism at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.  He has been a practicing internist-endocrinologist in Southern California for over 25 years.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Endocrinologists and is Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. Dr. Reddy presented papers at the American Federation of Clinical Research in Boston.  He is Chairman of the International Medical Committee of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization and a member of the Prasanthi Council. He serves as a Director of the Sri Sathya Sai World Foundation which is the governing body of the Sathya Sai International Organization.


First Divine Darshan

I had first darshan of Swami in Puttaparthi when I was about five years old. I was taken by my parents to see Bhagavan during the 1950 Dasara celebrations. However, my father being an ardent follower of Sri Ramakrishna, was not attracted to Swami thinking that he was a man of miracles. Sri Ramakrishna warned that miracles are obstacles for spiritual seekers. Unfortunately, we applied to the Avatar the restriction meant for a spiritual aspirant.

For, miracles are the natural expression of the divine love of an Avatar. Because we did not have faith, even the kumkum (vermillion) that was given as prasad disappeared on our way back home. My father was surprised that Swami was taken in a procession on a palanquin just like a deity in a temple. More surprising to him was the fact that the devotees walked backward in the procession, facing Swami, unlike the normal practice of the people marching forward with their back, facing the deity.

Dr. Narendranath Reddy at the Radio Sai studio

Later on, he and the other family members learnt that the devotees faced Baba to observe the changes in His visage (e.g. as Rama, Krishna, Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati), and also to catch the sweets and medallions materialized and thrown by Him from time to time.

Later on, we heard Swami's discourse in Hyderabad in 1970. We admired His speech as that of a holy man but did not recognize Him as an avatar. Only after coming to USA, Swami attracted us to Him through the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Center in Hollywood in 1977. After my father's retirement my parents came to USA to live with us as immigrants in May 1981, and all of us regularly attended the Hollywood Sathya Sai Center. Very soon, the whole family was attracted to Swami's unique and universal teachings.

My father developed an intense desire to move back to India and stay in the presence of the avatar and do some service in His ashram. Accordingly my parents left for India in July 1983 and reached Prasanthi Nilayam on 15 July. Bhagavan Baba graciously fulfilled my father's desire of doing service in His Ashram by giving him an appointment in Sri Sathya Sai University and have him serve as a member of Sathya Sai Central Office and Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust.

‘This is the right time for you’

After my parents settled in Prasanthi Nilayam, I used to visit the Ashram periodically along with my family. During my first interview with Swami in 1984, I asked Him why He made me wait all these years, although I had been worshipping Shirdi Sai from my childhood and also I had first darshan of Parthi Sai in 1950 itself. Pat came the reply from Swami: "My child, everything has its right time and this is the right time for you. For example, when we have a cataract, the doctor operates it only when it is mature; otherwise the eye gets damaged. Also if you have a wound on your body and if you remove the scab before the wound heals completely, there will be bleeding; when the wound heals naturally, the crust will fall off by itself. Further, if there is a fruit in the tree, and when it is ripe and falls, it is very sweet. But if you pluck it when it is unripe you are wasting the fruit because it will not be sweet. Thus, for everything, time has to be right. So, this is the right time for you."

From then on, the divine romance continued with increasing visits to Swami and interactions with Swami. The main attraction which pulled us to the lotus feet of Bhagavan is His unique and universal message of truth and love which go straight in to one's heart. I have been interested in studying scriptures from my early childhood. But only Swami made me understand spirituality very clearly. Before exposure to Him, it was more like intellectual gymnastics rather than practical experience.



The Divine Wills a Family of Doctors

Swami is the master of time - past, present and future; and we should carefully listen to His every syllable and letter because He mixes the past, present, and future, leading to our confusion at times. During one of those early visits when I wanted to take leave I said as usual, "Swami I am leaving". He said, "coming and going, coming and going". Now I understand what He meant at that time because of my frequent visits to the ashram recently. Also, interestingly when Swami called our family for interview one time He introduced us to a different group that we are all doctors. At that time, only my wife and myself were doctors; but my two daughters who were not even in their teens, were also included by Swami as doctors. However, Swami's words always come true and now both of my daughters are practicing physicians married to physician husbands.

Blessings for four generations...

Blessings for Daughter’s Wedding

Swami showered His grace on our family on several occasions but we can never forget one special occasion for which we are all indebted to Him forever. It was Swami performing the wedding of my first daughter in June 1995 in Brindavan, Whitefield. Swami decided the place and date of marriage and guided us all the way.


Before I left Prasanthi Nilayam I asked Swami when I should come. Swami said, “June 9” which was the day after the wedding. I unperturbedly said, "I will come on June 9th if it is your divine command". Swami laughed and told me to come three days before marriage. Accordingly, my wife and I arrived at Brindavan three days prior to wedding. Friends like Col. Jogarao were joking at us, "Oh! The chief guests are coming".

Though they were joking, it was true because Swami was the chief organizer who made all the arrangements like menu, military band, and accommodation for the guests, and arrangements in the wedding hall.

Swami took personal interest in every minute detail including what tablecloth to be used and how the servants were to be dressed and whether they should wear gloves and how the guests should be properly treated. One day He scolded me for not visiting and greeting the bridegroom party housed in the guesthouse of Swami. Because when I am with Swami I am oblivious to everything else.


Every detail was directed by Him...

Prior to the wedding, even while I was going with Swami in the car He was discussing every minute detail of the wedding arrangements. On the wedding day, Swami was sitting in the hall throughout the ceremony and was guiding us at every step.

He was explaining to the people sitting around Him about the spiritual significance of the Hindu wedding. He was very loving and materialized the mangala sootra (sacred wedding necklace) and came to the stage and blessed the bride, bridegroom and whole family and posed for the photographs.

Swami materialising the mangal sutra..
A marriage truly in heaven!

After the wedding when it was time for food arrangements, Swami came and personally gave directions about food items to be served and showered an abundance of love and blessings on the invitees. He gave all of us bountiful gifts in the form of clothes and jewelry but the greatest gift was His motherly love. When my daughter was 10 years old He had promised that He would arrange the wedding procession with a military band. He fulfilled the promise by arranging a wonderful military band during the wedding. He also took part in Narayana Seva which immediately followed the wedding by serving the food and giving the clothes to the few fortunate souls with His divine hands before the rest of us followed His example.

My son-in-law who was new to Swami did not realize what he was getting and was naive in his behavior. But Swami, the great divine master, made him feel very comfortable and began attracting him slowly by His nectarine pure divine love. Then there was a reception party arranged in Hyderabad after the marriage. I was not willing to go for the same. But Swami persuaded me to go and even made arrangements for our family to be received in Hyderabad airport and shown around Swami's temple ‘Sivam’ and the famous Kalyana Mantapam in Hyderabad. When His grace comes, there is a torrential downpour. There were many instances of His divine healing of various physical ailments in different family members. I would like to share some of them here.

Swami Saves Family Members

My second daughter who is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, during her teenage years after her return to USA from pilgrimage trip to Puttaparthi, developed a high fever with toxicity. We consulted an infectious disease specialist who diagnosed it to be typhoid pending the blood cultures and started her on an intravenous antibiotics. Meanwhile both my daughters started praying to Swami because this has a major implication in USA. If this were typhoid my daughter won't be allowed to come to school for many months and the whole family will be investigated for a carrier state. To our pleasant surprise as they were finishing their prayers we got a call from the laboratory that blood cultures were negative for any bacterial growth. When we made our next trip to see Swami, He confirmed how He cured her serious illness. We were all moved to tears with His Love.

My father had acute and severe back pain in 1996 when he was seventy-five years old and he was severely incapacitated. In desperation my mother summoned me to come and help them in this critical situation. I immediately started from Los Angeles and came to Bangalore where my father was brought by ambulance from Puttaparthi. The MRI of the spine was done which showed two huge disc protrusions impinging on the nerves causing excruciating pain. We consulted an orthopedic surgeon in Bangalore, a Neuro-Radiologist and a Neuro Surgeon in USA.

They all recommended that he should go through surgery right away to relieve the pressure on the nerves. When I asked Swami He advised the surgery to be cancelled and gave the best medicine: materialized vibhuthi from His Divine hands to be rubbed at the site of the pain. Needless to say the pain improved remarkably and till to-date he is able to function well without any neurological deficit. In contrast at the same time, I had a forty-six year old patient in my practice with an identical problem seen in 1996. She went through neuro-surgery in USA and was later permanently disabled and had to quit her job. This shows how our sweet Lord is better than the best neuro-surgeons.


Dr. Reddy with his parents in a private interview

There was a major health crisis in February of 2000 when my father had convulsive seizures and we had to call paramedics for emergency medical attention. He was unresponsive and was taken to the closest emergency room immediately. He had extensive medical work up and the neurologist feared he might be having a brain tumor. However the final diagnosis was encephalopathy due to electrolyte imbalance namely severe hyponatremia. By Bhagavan's grace and blessings to our pleasant surprise all this was corrected by intravenous fluids and he was discharged home within 24 hours. When the paramedics were attending on my father, my mother ran to the shrine room where she was loudly and frantically calling for Swami's help. During our next trip Swami was telling us how my mother was holding on to His feet and crying for help. Again this shows His omnipresence and prompt loving response to the devotee's prayers.

In 1985, I was involved in an auto accident in California, USA when a large 30-foot-truck hit my car. The car was badly damaged, but I didn't have even a minor injury. When I saw Swami in Prashanthi Nilayam, He narrated the details of the accident and how He saved me from the danger. In addition, He remarked that I remembered Him only after the accident, but not at the time of the collision. Compassionate Lord! He remembers and protects us all the time, though we forget Him at times.

Swami’s Personal Lessons

Once when I asked Swami that if life is a dream, whether He is also a part of the dream. Right away came the answer from the Lord of Truth—that He is in all the four states of waking, dreaming, dreamless and turiya (transcendental) states. Thereby He revealed that He is the Supreme attributeless and formless Brahman, everything, everywhere, forever. For all the grace and love Swami showers on us I felt we never did enough service to the Lord. In my humble way I expressed to our dear Lord Sai my desire to do service by translating His discourses on the life of Shirdi Sai from Telugu into English.


However, Sai Shiva gracefully admonished me with the revelation that real service is to find out "Who am I." I pleaded with the Lord about the difficulty of this path, because of the Vasanas of several life times, standing as obstacles. Bhagavan kindly encouraged me by saying that one can get rid of the darkness of a cave prevailing for thousands of years in an instant by lighting a lamp. So does the light of wisdom dawn on us with His grace and our sincere yearning.

My chosen deity was Shirdi Sai before I came to Swami. So in my first encounter with Swami I told him that during my worship I offer flowers first to Shirdi Sai and then to Sathya Sai. Swami in His large-heartedness said it is all right to do that because all names and forms are His. In fact He said I could put flowers on my own head because I am also Divine. Another time Swami conveyed a similar message when I was going in the car with Him. Many devotees throw flowers on Swami's car and one western lady devotee was trying to throw a flower on Swami's car but because she was weak it fell on herself and it did not reach the car. Swami looked at me and said, "See the poor lady. She wanted to worship Swami with a flower but it fell on herself; without knowing she did the right thing because she herself is Divine".


During our first visit to Prasanthi Nilayam my wife was seriously ill with dysentery and could not come for darshan for three days. I felt she had to be taken to Bangalore to be hospitalized but by Bhagavan's grace she recovered and came for darshan on the fourth day and sat on a chair along with disabled people. That day Swami came to me while sitting in the darshan line on the sand and said, "Your wife has come".

I did not realize that she came for darshan till I went home to my room. I wondered how He knew her among thousands of devotees recognizing her presence. As He says, God knows everything but pretends as if He knows nothing; whereas man knows nothing but pretends as if he knows everything. Another time when we were in the interview room, there were many devotees and one of the men was trying to introduce a young boy as the son of his brother devotee. Even before he introduced, Swami said he knows everyone and confirmed the statement made above.

During my first interview I gave a book for Swami to bless with His signature and right at that time lights went off and there was no electricity. I wondered how He could see and sign. Meanwhile, He looked straight into my eyes and said, "I can see even in darkness a small ant crawling at a distance".That time I was wearing glasses and Swami pointed out how His vision is better than mine even without glasses. I said, "Swami, that is because of your Divine power".

But Swami corrected me saying that He does not use His Divine power for such personal things but it is because of His disciplined way of living and eating. He said I could also have similar capacity if I also lead a disciplined life like Him.

Let me relate an incident, which indicates Bhagavan's spontaneous revelation of His divinity in a casual conversation. One time we expressed concern to Swami that the small amount of food He takes cannot sustain a human being and prayed to Him to increase His caloric intake. My father remarked that like Yogis, Swami perhaps derives energy directly from the five elements. Spontaneous was the Divine rebuff that the five elements depend on Him for their sustenance!

The Truth, from the Lord of Truth

 When in Brindavan Whitefield Swami used to call me along with late Mr. V.K. Narasimhan, Sanathana Sarathi editor and on many occasions He used to talk about spiritual topics with us. One day Swami was talking highest advaita because He mentioned everything is a dream and said what we experience in the daytime is daydreaming like the night dreams we have in the night. After our session when I was with V.K. Narasimhan who is a strong vaishnavite and follower of Ramanujam, he expressed strongly that the Advaita philosophy of Sankara has ruined India. He said, "Who will be interested in God where all the flowers are of the same color and there is no variety of the flowers, and who will be interested to see the empty screen when there is no projection of the beautiful pictures on the screen?" I just listened to him and kept quiet though I did not agree with his views.


The next day again Swami called both of us and I innocently told Swami about the discussion we had in the previous evening and I wanted Swami to tell me the truth. Swami replied clearly, "I am telling you the absolute truth that experience of oneness is alone real and everything else is an illusion like a dream. Don't be influenced by V.K. Narasimhan's viewpoint which is applicable to him but not the highest truth." On another occasion I was with Swami in his house in poornachandra during a session when Swami poured lot of love on me.

I exclaimed, "Swami, let this bond of love be for ever, and I want to be born again in Your next avatar to love You and serve You". Swami said, "That is not correct; your aim should be to have this as your last birth and you should desire for no rebirth. How can you be sure that you can be close to Swami like this in your next birth?" I also told Swami, "Let this relationship of love be permanent and never changing". Swami said, "Why should you have such doubt? I am a powerful magnet and always will attract a pure needle and metal. If metal is not attracted that is because of the rust and dust covering the metal. So keep yourself pure and your relationship will be the same forever".

When I said, "Swami, let me have prapthi (fulfillment) like this". He said, "If I want I can create prapthi; I can make the vessel bigger so that it can receive more grace. It means that Divine grace can transcend all spiritual laws".

Another time when I was going with Swami in the car, Swami said, "Emi Samacharam (what news?); say something". I said, "Swami, please grant me the boon that I will always remember your divinity and never be deluded by your world-bewitching maya". Swami said, "Do you think you are greater than the sages like Vasishta, Viswamitra and Jamadagni who were also deluded by the maya of the Lord? Be always alert."

Miracles in Kodai

In 1994 Swami invited me and my wife as His guests to Kodaikanal. During that time we had many wonderful experiences including going on a picnic with Swami. During one of the days, Swami went to one devotee's house and plucked two plums from a bougainvillea vine and gave them to two of the students to eat. I felt I wish I could have them. We were resting in a house arranged by Swami that evening and when we woke up next morning, there were two plums on the nightstand next to the bed. Myself and my wife shared them both and enjoyed the delicious plums. Then we enquired if anybody had left them there, but nobody was aware of the plums. Then I realized how Swami fulfills even minor desires of His children without even asking. Swami gave me a chance to share this incident in Trayee Brindavan with the students after our return from the Kodaikanal trip.

With the Lord at the sylvan Kodai hills
Swami plucking plums from bougainvillea

During this trip Swami gave me a chance to sing to Him on two occasions. When in Kodaikanal it was cold in the mornings and I used to wear a sweater. Swami pointed out my sweater and mentioned how He was simply wearing a robe without sweater. From that day onwards I did not wear sweater learning a lesson from Swami to transcend the pairs of opposites like heat and cold. When we went for picnic with Swami there was a big caravan that went with Him. When we got down I was wearing my sports shoes and then Swami pointed to them; then I got the hint and right away I removed my shoes. Consequently I didn't have a fall because of the floor that was slippery due to soft pine tree branches on the ground. Some of the students who were wearing shoes fell because of the slippery ground. Following Swami's hint saved me from the fall. During this trip Swami gave me five chances to speak in front of Him and He was telling how though I was in USA I was good in Sanskrit and that I learned devotion from my mother.

But during my last talk Swami cut me short suddenly with a sharp remark when I quoted a Bhaja Govindam sloka about how man wastes his energy during his childhood playing with toys and when he is youth with sensual pleasures. Swami felt it was not proper to say such things in front of students. However, late Mr. Sampath, V.C. of Swami's University supported me saying that it was Adi Shankara's composition. Still Swami did not agree. Then I realized that Swami was trying to crush my ego which was showing its head because everybody including Swami was praising my talks. Swami is thus an ego-crushing machine because for spiritual seekers ego is the greatest obstacle.

How blessed and fortunate we are to have this beautiful, Sweet and loving Lord to protect us and guide us! Let us make use of this unique chance to adore Him, Worship Him, practice His teachings and merge in Him, Who is our Source.

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Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
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