Volume 6 - Issue 07
JULY - 2008
It was back in 1990 that Swami blessed our family with His ‘visiting card’. My father’s colleague gave us a picture bearing Swami’s beatific image. That was the first time we had ever seen or heard of Swami. Right after that we started believing in Him as our saviour. We were deeply impressed with His message which was so simple: ‘love all serve all’. And today as I look back, I can only be grateful for the inner faith that Swami bestowed upon us right at the outset.
A mere recollection of those days thrills me, for we never entertained any doubt about His divinity. And ever since that day when Swami’s picture entered our home, we plunged ourselves into bhajans, balvikas, nagar-sankeertan, service projects and other such Sai activities. For us, this progression was as natural as fish is to water. Around the same time, many miracles occurred and attracted a lot of people in our home town. It was sheer grace of Swami that our house in Semiliguda, Orissa (a state in the east of India) became a Sai center or a Samithi, as it is popularly known in India.
Service with Love, Confers Supreme Joy
My hometown is a village where a small fair is held every Sunday. The impact of Swami’s presence in our lives and the power of His divine philosophy of expansion through loving service were such that within a month of the arrival of His picture in our house, we started feeding three people every Sunday in the verandah of our house. My Mother used to lovingly cook food for the Narayans or the ‘embodiments of God’ as Swami describes everyone, while I would serve them the food.
My father used to randomly pick the Narayans from the fair. Slowly, the number of these guests increased to five and then to seven. Gradually, even other people started coming to lend a hand with the cooking, while others began to help us get the provisions for preparing the meal. Over the years, the idea has caught on so much so that today, with His grace and inspiration, my parents are blessed to feed over 80 Narayans in a week!
Even medical camps are being conducted now on a regular basis to serve them. This, I believe, is truly one of Swami’s miracles of love. He is working through us, connecting us to others so that they too can experience love in its purest form. We can only feel fortunate to serve as His instruments. The experience of serving our needy brothers and sisters has conferred on us the highest joy.
Town Blessed with Sai Spiritual Centre
In 2006 a huge Sai Spiritual Centre was constructed in Semiliguda. It was very gratifying to see our small hometown become a spiritual centre for Sai activities, with spiritual retreats taking place once or twice a year. Four to five hundred people now throng to participate at these retreats.
Today, the Sai Centre at Semiliguda has undertaken many service projects, expanding their activities to even the neighboring villages. The Sai volunteers reach out to the villagers there, conducting bhajans and teaching them about cleanliness. They also distribute clothes and conduct medical camps.
There are times when I go back home to my village and feel a bit disappointed that the place does not even have a decent shopping facility. But I immediately correct my thoughts and remind myself that Swami has given us blessings which measure far beyond such superficial desires. It is only because we lived in a developing village that we were and, for that matter, still are able to serve so many people so effectively. That my parents have been bestowed with so many opportunities every other day to serve the society only makes me more grateful to Swami.
Opportunities are galore when the intent is strong. My father of late has also started giving acupressure treatment to patients. It is not said in vain that no work escapes God’s eyes, however small it may be. True to these words, Swami appeared in my mother’s dream and appreciated my father’s efforts. To quote His exact words in Telugu, Swami said: “chaala manchi pani chestunnaru” (He is doing very good work). It is no surprise that our small village is now resounding with the divine name of ‘Sai Ram’. When I think of these astounding blessings and experiences, my shallow desires fall by the wayside.
My Education at Anantapur
It was through one of my cousins that I learnt about Swami's college in Anantapur. My joy knew no bounds, when I heard this. I started praying intensely to Swami that I should not pursue my studies anywhere but in His college. It was a very competitive entrance exam and when I got through it successfully, my family was actually astonished! Needless to say, I was on cloud nine!
But in a few days, reality set in. I had never been away from my mother and like any other girl of my age was very attached to her. The year I joined Anantapur, we had the Summer Course in Brindavan. All my relatives including my grandmother had told my mother that I would most likely return home, for I will not be able to bear this separation. Honestly, what they said was quite true. I did want to go back to my mother. But on the night when I was indulging in such thoughts, Swami came in my dream.
Consoling me, He said, “Why worry, when I am here to take care of you!” This gave me courage and confidence that I could live away from my physical mother and stay with Mother Sai. If it were not for this divine motivation from Swami, I would not have been able to study in His college. I am very much indebted to Mother Sai, who gave me the love of thousand Mothers and at the same time also educated me.
After the summer course, when my mother was returning to Orissa she was very sad at the thought of returning without me. She was on her way back in the bus, when out of the blue she had a vision. She saw Swami in a white robe with His hand raised to bless her and assure her that I would be fine. And from that moment onwards, my mother did not miss me. How could she after getting assurance from the Divine mother!
These were and still remain the most priceless days of my entire life. Though my stay in Anantapur was very short, it taught me great lessons. The teachers were very good.
They not only taught us secular knowledge but also imparted spiritual knowledge, which I can confidently confide is helping me to thrive in the outside world even today. As a student I remember being very fascinated by the way our teachers lead their lives.
I was very inspired by their devotion to Swami and their dedication to work. One of my botany teachers told us that if we find fault in others, it means that the fault is within us and that was why we see it in others. These words have left an indelible mark in my heart. Even today, when I find faults in any person, I try to see it in myself. Such simple yet important lessons were many in my life as a student in that holy campus.
The description of my college days would be incomplete without a mention of the other students there. The girls in the Anantapur campus were really amazing. The seniors were very loving and caring; they helped all of us in many different ways. They were quite selfless and would be ready to sacrifice anything to help other girls. In this context, I wish to share one instance.
Once, after we had returned to Anantapur from one of our treasured trips to Puttaparthi, we were all very sad. Coming back to Anantapur, leaving Swami behind in Puttaparthi was always a difficult thing to do. To add to it, the travel had also drained us of energy completely; we were all very tired. But the girls who were in charge of serving dinner would, despite being tired themselves, be up and ready to serve us dinner! All the girls used to sacrifice a lot for each other and this I am sure would have not gone unnoticed by Swami.
Silence is God, Talk Less to Live in Bliss
Swami says, “Silence is the key to great power, domain, harmony, health and perfection of every phase of your world. Practicing silence is the secret of all attainment.”
I never knew what silence really means before I came into Swami’s fold. I also didn’t know that talking too much is dangerous. Swami repeatedly mentions in His discourses to reduce our habit of excessive talking. Swami says if we are indulging in talk, we are also forcing the other person to talk. And that is a sin. Besides, in doing so we also lose energy and memory power. Instead we should utilize the time in thinking of Swami. When we talk unnecessarily, there is also a chance of hurting others’ feelings. Inspired by this, I used to observe the vow of silence on all Thursdays.
This was the routine during my entire stay at Anantapur; sometimes for two continuous days I would maintain silence. While the teachers never knew that I was onto something like this, it is worth a mention that not even once was I asked any question on these days. And if any teacher did ask me something, the bell, which would indicate the end of the period, would invariably ring at that time. By Swami’s grace, my personal vow of mouna vratha or silence was never broken.
My stay in Anantapur was genuinely a divine blessing from Swami. It has been such an indescribable experience to spend those precious years at Swami’s feet.
The Omniscient Swami
Once in 1997, while I was doing the security service at Puttaparthi as an alumnus, I was given the duty at the back gate of the darshan ground. Swami was in the verandah along with the VIPs and boys. He was talking to all of them and was even joking with them. Seeing that, I could not help thinking that Swami always spoke to the boys in the verandah but never to me. This thought brought tears in my eyes. Swami would have certainly heard the rumblings of my heart. Immediately, He walked from the verandah towards His residence.
While He usually went back only after the bhajans were over, on that particular day, Swami started well before the bhajans concluded. As Swami walked past me, He looked at me and asked, "Where are the B.Ed girls?” My prayers had been answered! I was really astonished, but was very happy. He had talked to me for just two minutes. My heart had cried yearning for Him. The omniscient Lord had read my mind and spoken to me! It was a thrilling experience and has always reminded me that Swami is always in the know of all our thoughts and actions.
Transforming my Husband
In one of the interviews to Anantapur students, Swami had said that He will be present in our in-law's house even before His students step into the house and that He will always protect them.” It was this constant thought that gave me courage to go to my in-laws house after my wedding. I had never been to their house before that. My parents had brought a picture each of Shirdi Baba and Sathya Sai Baba as they wanted to send the laminated pictures along with me to my in-laws house.
But when my mother was bringing the photos inside, my mother-in-law did not allow her to bring it into the house. She forbade my mother because she thought bringing the photos would bring bad luck to them. My in-laws were not believers in both the Sais. So, you can imagine my happiness when I saw an idol of Shirdi Baba in their house. Swami was indeed present their even before I had come!
Ever since, I was married, I have constantly prayed to Swami that my husband and my in-laws should also develop devotion to Him. Compassionate that Swami is, He heard even this prayer of mine.
Everyday, when my husband got up in the morning, he would look at his own face in the mirror. This was a routine he followed so as not to blame others if his day went bad. One day, he saw Swami's face in the mirror instead of his! He was amazed. He pinched himself but continued to see Swami's face in the mirror for one entire minute. And the same day, he got a job offer from a US-based company.
My husband had to leave for the United States the very next month. In US, while he was boarding a plane to California, Swami granted him a darshan physically, by appearing on the runway with hands raised in a blessing gesture. Those two incidents had a great transforming impact on my husband’s life and brought him into Swami's fold. That was enough to make my husband a devotee of Swami.
My husband now reveres and respects Swami very much. Swami is everything to him. In the beginning of our marriage, I didn't have the courage to tell him about Swami’s teachings, but after he had this miraculous darshan of Swami, I began to share my experiences with him.
My husband never drank milk and to compensate for that he used to drink coffee a lot. But a few months after our wedding, when I told him that Swami doesn't want us to drink too much tea or coffee because it was an addiction, he simply let go of it. Since that day he has never touched coffee and now he drinks only milk. He doesn't do anything without Swami’s consent. Though a very competent computer engineer, I remember he used to get very stressed about his projects before. But now, he offers not only every act but also the fruits of his actions to Swami. All his tensions and worries have disappeared. Such transformation in such little time. Only Swami can bring that about. Tears roll down my cheeks when I recollect these memories of how Swami transformed my husband.
In days that followed, my husband had many dreams of Swami. The Lord started talking to him through these dreams and guided him personally in all his endeavors. So much so that, he is now a staunch devotee of Swami! In the year 2000 when I had come to India, my husband was not very happy as he was left all alone in the house. One night he skipped his dinner and went to sleep on an empty stomach.
That night Swami came in his dream and consoled him saying that He was always there for him. Swami, then, went into our kitchen, made dosas (a south Indian dish) on the pan and fed him two dosas with His own divine hands. Believe it or not, my husband later confessed to me that, he felt really full after that divine meal! Who would not after God himself decides to feed you?
But my husband’s transformation did not stop with that. Of late, he has even taken to learning all the slokas (hymns) and vedas which I had learnt in Bala Vikas. He also does the morning and night prayer that we used to say as students in Anantapur. Both my husband and I chant the vedas and sing bhajans daily in our house. I am very happy and grateful to Swami for this miracle in our lives, as it has made our lives so much happier and peaceful.
Swami – The Core of my Life
For all these experiences and the joy that has been bestowed on us, I will forever remain indebted to Swami. The gift of the awareness of His holy presence in our lives has shielded us from the ups and downs of the transient world. I cannot imagine our lives without Swami! Swami is our heart and our soul.
May we always remain at His sweet Lotus Feet.
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Vol 6 Issue 07 - JULY 2008
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