Volume 6 - Issue 05
MAY - 2008
Long Cherished Darshan Is Fulfilled
1969 was the hallowed year wherein I was blessed with my first darshan of the Lord. I was doing my Masters in Sciences (Agriculture) then, in Government Agriculture College, Kanpur. The desire to see Baba after knowing about Him from a Squadron Leader of the Indian Air Force was so intense that I started off on my journey to Puttaparthi. But I had to halt on the way in Hyderabad at the request of a friend of mine and my stay continued there once I heard that Baba was not in Puttaparthi. One afternoon, the weather was dusty and very depressing. I was rather feeling low in spirits.
My chain of thoughts was broken by the arrival of a colleague who enquired if I had any plans for the next two days which happened to be holidays. I told him I had none. In fact, I was not even aware of the coming holidays. He noticed my depressed mood and gave a nod of sympathetic understanding. At that very moment, there was a telephone call from a Sai devotee, who told me that Baba had returned to Puttaparthi. My mood soared like a rocket and I started to pulsate with joy at the prospect of having Baba's Darshan. That night, I boarded a train to Puttaparthi. By the time I reached there, Baba had already given His morning Darshan ; I had to wait till the evening, disappointed and anxious.
The clock ticked the time for the evening Darshan of the Lord. He emerged from the portico of the Mandir looking majestic and great to behold. He moved gracefully, talking to someone, taking a letter from another and showering smiles on the third. Tears started rolling from my eyes; I was filled with bliss and with the awareness that for the first time, I was seeing in front of me, the Living and Loving God. Was this real; or was I day dreaming?
Most unexpectedly, Baba called me for an interview! This call was never sought or anticipated by me. But the merciful Lord knows what to give and when to give to His devotees. During the interview, Baba revealed to me the sequence of events in my life that would be during the next five years. Every word He said came true as the years unfolded. In that interview, He asked me, "What do you want?" I replied, "Baba, may I be devoted to You." Without replying to this prayer, He asked this question four more times during the conversation Every time I stuck to the same answer, and felt proud, that I was one with a firm resolve. What a folly, as events revealed shortly later!
As I was coming out, after receiving Prasadam from Baba, He asked me that question the fifth time. This time, He spoke so affectionately and sweetly, that I felt as if my mother was speaking to me. Suddenly from within me burst the following words, "Baba, give me a permanent job." He was all smiles and said, "I know, I know. You will have it." Saying so, He blessed me. I immediately realised what I had asked Him! The Lord through His bewitching smile had so subtly deflected me off my course. Nevertheless, after His Darshan and the chance on interaction, I felt I was a new person altogether; I was experiencing very soothing feelings in my heart. I felt like a bird floating effortlessly in the calm air above flying in no particular direction, just on an aimless happy wandering. How long will this feeling last, I wondered!
In 1978, my career took me to live in Belgium for five years. My wife was actively involved in Sai activities in Belgium. Once, she fell seriously ill and was admitted in a Leuven Hospital. I was alarmed when her condition deteriorated. I prayed to Bhagavan Baba for help. I wrote a letter to Mr. Curth Orefjard, an ardent devotee of Baba in Sweden, whom Baba had blessed with healing Vibhuti. His response was immediate. He asked me to come to Sweden. When I met him at Stockholm, he gave me Vibhuti for my wife. From the moment she took Vibhuti, her condition improved rapidly and within a week, she wanted to be discharged from the hospital, but the doctors advised her to remain in the hospital for a few more days for observation. I did not disclose to the doctors about the miraculous effect of Vibhuti and only prayed to Baba before them which made them realise that with faith in God, one can overcome formidable obstacles easily. It is true that those who repose full faith in God never come to harm. Bhagavan Baba says, "Medicines by themselves can not cure diseases; it is the Divine Grace that cures." So, apart from medicines, one should have Divine Grace too.
Called to Work in Belgium
I used to attend various Sai activities in different countries and often visited Amsterdam, Haarlem, Rotterdam and Utrecht in Holland. Occasionally, I was witness to Bhagavan’s Omnipresence and protection of His devotees. One on occasion, with a fellow Sai devotee, Mr. Mahade w, we were discussing Swami's miracles that were happening with different devotees in Europe, till 2 o'clock in the night. In spite of my insisting that he and his wife stay overnight with us, he decided to return home. While driving towards Holland, it so happened that both of them had a nap while the car was running at a high speed. It traveled several kilometers and when Mr. Mahadew suddenly woke up, he felt, as if some one who had been holding both his hands on the steering wheel suddenly disappeared. He then realised that Bhagavan Baba had saved their lives.
A similar miracle happened with Mr. N. K. Dhir of Rotterdam. Bhagavan gave a new life to his family when his car along with him and his children slipped from the highway and went down into a deep ditch on a winter morning. They were all saved miraculously. Mr. Dhir had a vision of Swami saving his life. I have seen many such miracles happening with devotees in Holland and Belgium. Bhagavan Baba is always with us to guard, guide and protect.
In Belgium, I used to be busy from the evening of Friday to Sunday during every week traveling to different cities to attend Bhajans and other Sai activities. One evening, while I was returning to Leuven after participating in a Bhajan session at Aartselaar Sai Centre in Antwerp Province, I suddenly pondered “Why not save the four hundred Belgian francs that I spend every week coming to this Centre.
After all it is well established.” The same thought crossed my mind repeatedly during the three hours of my journey from Aartselaar to Leuven which I made by train and bus. “Yes,” I told myself, “it makes sense to save the money,” and I finally decided to discontinue my participation in this Centre from the following Sunday.
To my utter surprise, the moment I opened my door, I found new notes of four hundred Belgian francs lying on the floor! I was shocked at this coin-Sai-dence and then I heard a voice coming from my heart which said - 'If you want to discontinue My Mission and save money, why from next Sunday, do so from this very Sunday!'
I was dumbfounded and I started reflecting that coming to Belgium and getting the opportunity to establish Sai Centres in the three provinces of the country was nothing but a rare opportunity given to me. I took it as Bhagavan's design to make me drop the plan of saving money by reducing my participation in Sai activities. I immediately realised my folly. I was full of remorse and decided to continue my participation in all the Sai Centres till my departure from Belgium.
Rejoicing in His Advent at the Indo-Pak Border
In 1983, after five years in Belgium, I was transported from a developed and sophisticated society to a rural society in Jammu and Kashmir. I could well understand that this change with altogether different dimensions was not without significance. I was glad that Bhagavan wanted me to be His instrument in rendering service to the villagers who needed it most. "What tasks I am to perform here, Oh Bhagavan, lead me on," I prayed. I chose to serve in the Agriculture University in Jammu and Kashmir, and was selected for the post of Associate Professor-cum-Senior Scientist. I was to work in R.S. Pura town near the Indo- Pak border.
I started to move around, in order to locate such centres where Sai activities were being conducted in R.S. Pura. I learnt that there were no such centres, as the people did not know anything about Baba. I recalled that in Europe also I was given an opportunity to be a humble instrument for acquainting the people of Belgium with the Avatar of the Age. Now, I was faced with a similar situation in this Northern most state of India.
After some time, I spoke to my colleagues at the research station in R.S. Pura about Baba and a few of them showed interest. Soon we started Bhajan sessions every Tuesday in a school in R.S. Pura. Steadily, the number of devotees increased. Bhagavan Baba's Mission had begun to take root. We maintained strict discipline during the Bhajan sessions and advised our friends not to discuss any worldly matters and maintain complete silence in the hall. In the beginning only I used to sing Bhajans for an hour as I did in Belgium until new singers were trained. A few select singers were given more time to sing in order to create a deeply devotional atmosphere. This attracted many people to the Bhajan sessions.
We adopted the villages of Banota, Railway Line Gagian and Drawate which are very close to R.S. Pura. Later, we shifted our activities to the Indo-Pak border villages. One day I went to see the border which is only 5 kms away from the university campus. After visiting the border, I went into a few border villages and decided to undertake service activities there.
My aim was to involve the villagers and motivate them to undertake such sacred work every day in their villages. It is not possible for one to go to the villages every day.Therefore, when we involve the villagers in training camps, they will learn to help themselves and understand the importance of community service. This will also help them in creating a cordial atmosphere in the villages. Slowly, we adopted many villages like Bera, Raipur, Bega, Choga, Leiyan, Baspur, Rangpur, Chanduchak, and another five more. These were all situated along the border from where one could see a few Pakistani villages.
Spreading His Love Through Service Camps
In the first year of our adopting the border villages, people had many doubts. They raised many questions. I must thank two local newspapers, "Daily Excelsior" and "Kashmir Times," which regularly published news about our camps in these villages. Our motive behind publishing information about these camps was not to get publicity for ourselves, but to spread awareness in these areas.
The State and Central Intelligence agencies were watching my movements with suspicion due to the sensitive nature of the area. I came to know about this only at the time of my leaving Jammu and Kashmir to take up a new assignment in New Delhi, in the Ministry of Defense. Unbeknown to me, a local official was closely watching my movements and activities in the border area as part of his duty. He was so much convinced about the selfless nature of the work, that he himself became a part of our Seva activities!
After retirement, he became even more involved in them. Bhagavan Baba says, "Always believe that truth will save you in the long run. Stick to it regardless of what might befall you." If we do not stray from truth, our success is assured. This came true in my life and in spite of many hurdles, I succeeded in my mission.
After one year, people realised the real objective of our activities and started extending help. I never felt that I was alone. I knew that Baba was always guiding me. Once I sent a compiled report of a few camps to Prasanthi Nilayam which was presented to Baba by Dr. Pran Nath Kaul, the then President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, J and K. Baba said, "Very good work at R.S. Pura." Dr. Kaul conveyed this to me which further strengthened my resolve.
Several camps were organised in the villages. All these camps were conducted under the banner of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, J and K. Discipline was given utmost importance. At times, we had to walk long distances in the early morning since there used to be no transport available at that time.
We carried out 124 Seva camps, divided under various heads like (1) Agriculture Production camps (2) Medical camps (3) Blood Donation Camps (4) Eye camps (5) Eye Donation Camps (6) Health and Hygiene camps (7) Veterinary camps (8) Horticulture camps and (9) Camps for Education in Human Values.
The response from doctors and compounders of the veterinary hospital, R.S. Pura, was overwhelming. They extended full co-operation in conducting the camps with zest and enthusiasm. Organising four eye-camps at the Primary Health Centre in R.S. Pura in which over 6,000 patients were given outdoor treatment and 337 were successfully operated for cataract was one of our noteworthy achievements.
The zeal and enthusiasm of the local population and the spiritual fervour with which every activity was being conducted, impressed the army authorities, and voluntary contributions to each eye camp in the form of tents, cots, water storage tanks, security guards and several other utilities were made by the Miran Sahib Army Brigade and the Border Security Force of India.
The Health Minister, being an ex-Indian Air Force Officer, was always willing to do everything for the successful conduct of the camps. Invariably, most of the eye camps were graced by the presence of the State Health Minister and the Principal of Jammu Medical College as the chief guests.
Many Touched By His Grace
People living in these villages also experienced in many ways the Grace of Bhagavan Baba. Many sick people were cured, simply by taking Vibhuti. Many a time, it even baffled the doctors. A very loving friend of mine was once admitted to a Jammu hospital after a paralytic stroke. He got relief after I gave him Vibhuti and later he became completely better. Now the whole family is devoted to Bhagavan Baba and has visited Puttaparthi many times to have His Darshan. The family has also been participating in Prasanthi Seva. An acquaintance of mine was so inspired by the teachings of Bhagavan Baba that he offered his hand of friendship to a person who was his sworn enemy for twenty years. His family also is now devoted to Baba. Bhagavan Baba's Grace was at work changing hearts in so many ways.
Once a snake bit a man while he was cutting grasses for his horse in the field. It happened just an hour before the Bhajans were to be conducted in his house as usual on each Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. He decided first to attend Bhajans and go thereafter for treatment to the Primary Health Centre. It was his firm belief that Bhagavan Baba will protect him. Nothing happened to him and Bhagavan appeared to him in the night, touched his whole body and disappeared.
One gentleman of Baspur village was so motivated on hearing about Swami that he left liquor for ever and changed to the extent that he contributed daily 27 liters of milk for 100 eye patients in one of the free eye camps for 9 days. This person grew up to become a very rich man. From then on till now, he visits Prasanthi Nilayam every year bringing his friends and relatives with him.
A very unique transformation, hitherto unknown anywhere in India, took place in the village of Leiyan in the border area of Jammu. The villagers were so motivated towards community service that all of them without exception pledged their eyes. A detailed report on this event was published in newspapers and telecast by Doordarshan from New Delhi. This event goes to prove the power of selfless service is changing the hearts and minds of people in a positive direction.
Let us never lose sight of the fact that it is He who offers us the opportunity to serve, it is He who accepts the Seva and it is He who performs the Seva. In my life, I learnt that Seva is an opportunity given by the Grace of the Lord; for He creates such situations that one gets the inclination to undertake this beautiful sadhana. In life, everything is now, the present moment, tomorrow may never come. Serve today, serve now, and in this way let us sanctify our lives. To be able to serve the needy and forlorn is nothing but Sai Anugraham, the blessing from Sai!
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Vol 6 Issue 05 - MAY 2008
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