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Powerful Reminiscences of His Presence
By Mrs. Asha Pai

Asha Pai was born in a Sai family in Bangalore. She was blessed to be a Sai student from Grade 9 till she completed her Bachelor’s degree from the Anantapur campus of the Sri Sathya Sai University in 1991. Currently, she lives in Malawi, in Central Africa, where she spends a lot of her time and energy in social service initiatives of non-governmental organisations, especially the Sai Organisation. In her spare time, she also enjoys fabric painting, specialising in African themes.

Swami and Me Radha

Isn’t it so uncanny that each one of the millions of Sai devotees has a personalised account of how Swami drew them to Him, like a bird with a string tied to the foot? What is even more extraordinary is that each of these experiences is special and unique, and includes the blissful recall of His constant guidance in the devotee’s life, in matters both spiritual and mundane.

Going down the memory lane, I see my family’s experiences with Swami as a testimony to this fact, for He has been our omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent guardian angel, forever giving us proof of His love and concern.

In early 1967, even before I was born, my father lived in Bangalore where he worked for a multinational firm. Despite the physical proximity to both Brindavan and Prasanthi Nilayam, my parents were not inclined to go and see Swami because they had read a negative media report about Him in a periodical.

Finally, three and a half years later, in August 1970, the miraculous cure of my 13 year-old cousin peaked the curiosity of my parents to explore the phenomenon that is our Bhagavan.

Miracle Cure Brings Family To Sai

My father’s elder brother’s son in Mumbai used to suffer from an excruciating backache. My cousin was being treated by the late Dr. Choubal, a leading orthopedic surgeon of Mumbai. During Swami’s visit to that city in 1970, my cousin was taken to Dharmakshetra (Baba’s abode in Mumbai) and made to sit in the enclosure for sick persons. Being a 13-year-old, his mother was allowed to be beside him. During darshan, as Swami glided along serenely, without being told about his problem, He came near him and casually put His hand on my cousin’s spine, under his shirt, and lo and behold, in an instant, he was relieved of the excruciating pain of several months!

A week later, when the boy was taken for the follow-up to the orthopedic surgeon, the doctor repeatedly looked at the latest x-ray taken after Swami blessed him at Dharmakshetra and compared it with the one taken about a month prior. Noticing the doctor’s predicament, my uncle asked whether there was anything wrong with the boy.

The surgeon replied that there was absolutely nothing wrong; he was just baffled trying to understand from the two x–rays the incredibly rapid healing process which was nothing short of a miracle. My uncle narrated the happenings at Dharmakshetra to the doctor who then remarked that though he was not Swami’s devotee, he had to admit that the remarkable improvement in such a short span of four weeks was indeed inexplicable.


The surgeon replied that there was absolutely nothing wrong; he was just baffled trying to understand from the two x–rays the incredibly rapid healing process which was nothing short of a miracle. My uncle narrated the happenings at Dharmakshetra to the doctor who then remarked that though he was not Swami’s devotee, he had to admit that the remarkable improvement in such a short span of four weeks was indeed inexplicable.

My cousin’s experience in 1970 was my family’s passport to the sacred journey to Sai. Along with my two older brothers and I, my parents began to frequent Whitefield and Prasanthi Nilayam to be in His most auspicious presence.

He Loosens Our Bonds

It was sometime in October 1970, when I was about 13 months old and could barely walk, that we experienced Him as an active presence in our lives. My mother had to take care of three of us and my cousin who was barely four months old. For the most part, this was not at all a problem as we were staying in a large joint family along with my great-grand mother in a huge house. However, once it so happened that only my mother and I were at home.

Swami and Me Radha
Asha's vibrant fabric work of an African dance

Before going for her shower, my mother tied my legs to a piece of cloth which was tied at the other end to the window bar and around me were many toys – the idea was to make sure that I do not drag myself under the furniture or pull things which could injure me while she was busy in the bathroom. Therefore, on that particular day, leaving me in this fashion at one end of the house, my mother went to the restroom which was at the other end.

When my mother finished her shower, she was astonished to see me standing near the bathroom door by leaning against the wall – at that time I had not even started talking. She was surprised all the more because to reach to that end of the house one had to pass through three rooms and two passages. She wondered how I could make it without straying into the other bedrooms, kitchen or the shrine room en route. When she took me near the window where I was tied, my mother asked me who untied me. I am told I had pointed at Swami’s photograph which was on our bedroom wall!

On another occasion, during darshan at Whitefield, when Swami came and stood before my mother, she urged my brothers and me to seek His blessings by prostrating at His feet. For some reason, my second brother hesitated to touch Swami’s feet, and just sat looking down. Swami, on the other hand, waited patiently almost for nearly three minutes till my brother finally took padanamaskar.

Finally, upon reaching home, we discovered the reason for my second brother’s hesitation. It turned out that my maternal uncle had warned my three-year-old brother not to go anywhere near Swami as there were “serpents in His hair”! While none of us had any clue about the reason behind my brother’s mental block, the all knowing Lord knew what had happened the previous night in our house. Thereafter my father advised my uncle to remain silent even if he did not have faith in Swami.

Swami and Me Radha
A celebration of African culture with colourful motifs - by the author

My two brothers and I were fortunate to be enrolled in the Sai Spiritual Education classes in Bangalore. The values instilled in our hearts by our teacher, Mrs. Geetha Mohan Ram have stood us in good stead. As children, we found ourselves riveted to the wonderful Sai experiences of Geetha Aunty and her mother, Mrs. Kamala Padmanabhan, which they joyfully shared with us.

One unforgettable lesson that I learned from her was the need to play every role life throws at us with self-confidence. Once, when Mrs. Kamala Padmanabhan had to go out of town, Swami asked her daughter, Geetha Aunty, to conduct Balvikas classes.

When Geetha Aunty expressed her reluctance to play the role of a teacher to her own friends, Swami advised her: “If you behave like a teacher, they will listen to you.”

And true to His word, I have come to realise that many students hesitate to teach their own colleagues or harbour reservations regarding their ability to carry out an unexpected task. Yet each of us has it in us to surpass any self-imposed barriers we may have and rise to the occasion, as needed.

Close Conversations with The Lord

March 2, 1981 marked a major milestone in our lives. That day, our house help came late to work. When we asked her to explain her tardiness, she told my mother that it was due to the elaborate cleaning she did at the other house where she was working and added that Swami was visiting that house that evening, which belonged to Dr. Kuchela.

Immediately my mother went to that doctor’s house and requested permission for us to be present when Swami came to their house, However, Dr. Kuchela, who was the Professor and Head of the Department of Physics at Bangalore University, told my mother that Swami’s visits are meant strictly for the inmates of the house and it was not proper on his part to agree to her request. On my mother’s perseverance, he reluctantly agreed to allow only my parents to come.

My parents reached Dr. Kuchela’s house before Swami arrived, and when they disclosed to their host the manner in which they had slipped out of the house without any of us knowing anything about their destination, Dr. Kuchela yielded and called the rest of the family including all the children. And so, we were all present for the wonderful darshan and discourse of Swami which went on for more than two and a half hours.

Swami and Me Radha
Asha with Swami

On this very same occasion, my mother requested Swami to perform the Upanayanam (the traditional thread ceremony) of my two brothers, and He readily agreed. In a private ceremony, that lasted about 45 minutes, Swami performed their Upanayanam on May 22, 1981 in the interview room of the old bungalow at Whitefield. It truly was a never-to-be-forgotten event for our family.

Being the perfect host, Swami had made all arrangements. On arrival at Brindavan, we were seated at the Kalyana Mandapam hall. Swami called me even before physically seeing members of our family and asked me to take out a stool which was under the table and keep it close to His chair.

I was left wondering about the reason for this unusual move. Then He asked all the family members to come to the interview room and sit down, and then made my great-grand mother sit on the stool He had made me place near Him.

While holding my great-grand mother’s hand, my father was advising her not to step on the rangoli, a decorative flower arrangement laid on the ground, as she walked into the interview room, but Swami immediately remarked “it doesn’t matter”, demonstrating His compassion and consideration, for nothing is too small for the Lord!

After the thread ceremony, Swami also mentioned that my mother had slept very late the previous night preparing the sweets and rinsing in turmeric the new towels to be worn by my brothers, as per the tradition. Those days Swami used to eat paan – the betel leaf. When my mother asked my brother whether he had packed “chunnam” in the bag, Swami replied in Konkani (the language we spoke at home) that it is in the bag! Truly, nothing escapes the attention of the all-knowing Lord, who is conversant with the language of the heart.

Swami and Me Radha
Swami with the boys in Muddenahalli

My father harboured the wish that all three of his children should be blessed to study in Swami’s school and college. With His divine grace, this wish came to fruition.

In 1981, my brother was fortunate to be accepted at Bhagavan’s school in Muddenahalli. Since he wanted to pursue engineering, after Grade 10, he moved to Bhagavan’s college in Whitefield to purse his pre-university course. My other brother, who was interested in studying Commerce, joined Swami’s college at Prasanthi Nilayam. Thus, both of my siblings were blessed to be His students, just as my father had wanted.

My turn came in the year 1984. On the last day of my Grade 8 final exams, I saw Swami in a dream. We were in my school building at Bangalore, and Swami told me: “Come to Puttaparthi – this school is not fit for you”. Even though I could not accompany my parents, they proceeded to Puttaparthi to request Swami for my admission in the next grade, which was IX class.

Upon reaching Puttaparthi, they learnt that the last day for submitting application for admission was over, and they were perplexed as to what to do next as the school did not accept new students in the next grade which was the X class. This meant that we would have to wait for two years and try to admit me at Anantapur College for my pre-university courses.

‘The school is built for you’ - Baba

At this moment of confusion, by some strange co-incidence or should I say ‘Sai-incidence’, my father got the chance to sit in a good spot at darshan and he was able to hand over the letter about the matter to Swami. While the Lord took the letter in His hand, my father requested Him to admit me in the IX grade for which I had missed the deadline. Swami remarked, Bangaru (golden one), the school is built for you – go and talk to them", and moved forward leaving my father perplexed as to whom he should contact.


In the year 1983, he was worried about a structural change in his company which would have affected him. Faced with the problem, he was able to pass on a letter to Swami, requesting His blessing. Though the reengineering envisaged by his management was implemented, by Swami’s Grace he was elevated to a higher position.

Coming out after the darshan, my father met a friend who enquired about his conversation with Swami. My father explained his dilemma to this gentleman as Swami had not mentioned the name of the person to be contacted. That friend advised that my father should contact the School Administrator, and further explained where and when she would be available.

The advice relieved my father’s tension and after two meetings with the concerned official, I was on my way to joining Grade IX, at His school in Puttaparthi, as per Swami’s command in my dream. From there, I moved on to His college at Anantapur, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1991.

Swami’s grace shielded my father even in his professional life. In the year 1983, he was worried about a structural change in his company which would have affected him. Faced with the problem, he was able to pass on a letter to Swami, requesting His blessing. Though the reengineering envisaged by his management was implemented, by Swami’s Grace he was elevated to a higher position. But the interesting part of this is yet to follow.

When the news of his promotion came, Swami was at Whitefield. When my parents entered the Brindavan Campus there, bhajans had started and they saw Swami coming out of the Trayee Brindavan gate. The volunteer on duty in the old ‘Sairam Shed’ made my father squeeze by the back of the Krishna statue. My father had a very pleasant surprise to find Swami coming straight to him and saying in Kannada “Santosha, Santosha, Bahala Santosha” meaning “Happy, Happy, Very Happy”. My father conveyed the good news to Swami who accepted the letter and granted padanamaskar.

If this was not enough, on the ladies’ side, my mother too got padanamaskar and Swami accepted a similar letter from her as well.

In 1987, when I was a student at Anantapur Campus, during one particular darshan, Swami enquired why I look worried, I replied that my father was being posted at Mumbai. Swami replied, “Happy, very happy". While Anantapur was close to Bangalore and Mumbai was far off, I felt reassured by the Lord that there is nothing to worry even if it means my parents would not be able to visit me as frequently as they used to from Bangalore.

Today, this message resonates with my life experiences more than ever, as I live in Malawi, in Central Africa, with my husband and son. In every situation I realise that in the end, as long as we remember Him as our constant companion, we have every reason to be “happy, very happy”, as He told me to be some 21 years ago!

We are grateful to Swami for His presence in our lives, His kind guidance in all areas and His abundant Grace throughout. The ball now is in our court - to prove ourselves worthy of being His devotees. May we always prove to be His loving instruments!

Jai Sai Ram

Artwork created by the author


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Vol 7 Issue 02 - FEBRUARY 2009
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