Volume 11 - Issue 07
July 2013
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Posted on: July 01, 2013



Sri Sathya Sai - The Eternal Presence

Even After 'Mahasamadhi'

After Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, who?

It was some time during my college days, more than a decade ago, that I faced a funny question from an aunt who did not have much idea about my Lord and Master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

“After Sai Baba, who will take over as your next guru (Master)?” she asked in all sincerity and seriousness. I was stumped for a moment because I myself had not thought in that manner. The surprise must have been apparent on my face because she immediately continued, “I mean, he is in His 70s now you say. You are in your twenties only. Surely you don’t expect Him to guide you for your whole life?”


My aunt had been into ‘spirituality’ for quite a while. She was following a master and organization where a ‘succession plan’ was in place. Her master had already appointed an heir apparent and the disciples were assured of continued leadership and guidance. And her master was not even in his sixties then. It was natural that she felt that Bhagawan Baba had pushed the ‘successor planning’ for too long! But things are bound to be different when God Becomes the Guru!

I answered completely in an intuitive manner, “Swami is my guru and so He alone will be my guru till my last breath. He will ensure that I do not have to take another birth and in case I have to, once again, He alone will be my guru in my next birth(s) too.”

The answer surely surprised my aunt but she was also impressed with my conviction.

“That faith is most important child,” she told me, “and that will always stand you in good stead.”

Today, when I look back to the episode with my aunt, it makes my hair stand on their end. I am simply thrilled at the ‘wisdom’ that exuded from my mouth without me even knowing it. And that definitely has to be His grace alone. True to that statement, His love, grace and guidance have continued to flow on me and everyone else too, even after the Mahasamadhi (shedding of the mortal coil). The recent trip to Brindavan, Swami’s ashram in Bangalore, for a music programme provided ample evidence of this loving hand of God.

The “One with Sai” concert - a blessing for all

Date:      23rd June 2013

Venue:   Sai Ramesh Hall, Whitefield, Brindavan

Time:      4:25pm.

Before diving into the wonderful happenings of the evening, it is in order to make a mention about the National Workshop on Bhajan Singing that was held for two days at the same ashram. The ‘One with Sai’ concert was to be the icing on the cake that the Bhajan workshop was.

The workshop brought together bhajan coordinators from all around the country, some of the best bhajan singers from the Sai Samithis in the country and some of the pillars of Sai bhajan singing who have had the privilege of being trained by Swami Himself! There were talks, presentations and panel discussions which highlighted the beauty and wonder of Sai bhajans along with educating everyone about Baba’s vision, expectations and discipline of bhajan singing. Needless to say, all these were liberally peppered with incidents and experiences with Swami that left indelible impressions in everyone attending the workshop. Many of the instances narrated there showed how Swami did not need a ‘physical form’ to communicate with or bless a devotee.

National Workshop on Bhajan Singing
The National Bhajan Conference session at the Kalyana Mantapam in Brindavan

That programme truly took the ‘cake’ as it brought alive memories galore. I just wished my aunt could have heard all that was said there - she would have got a glimpse of how Swami has His own ‘succession plan’!

One with Sai - Music Programme by Swami's Students at Brindavan, 23 June 2013

Then came the concert in the evening. The singers were all alumni of Swami’s University currently working in various institutions at Puttaparthi. Each name in the singing line-up – S. Ravikumar, Ashwath Narayan, Koustubh Pare, Ameya Deshpande, Siddartha and Anirudh represented at least a decade of singing in His physical presence. I cannot say whether their singing took the audience to Swami or brought Swami to the audience - this much I can say that it was simply divine. There was not a single eye in the whole audience (of more than 2000 people) that was not moist. One could simply feel Swami in the air.

And then, it happened, when Swami, in His typical fashion, concretized His presence in a thumping fashion. The episode happened in a very sudden manner.

The compere, who was introducing each of the songs being sung, came forward to introduce the last song. Speaking about the history of the qawwali, “Sai Ke Darbar Mein”, he said, “The qawwali was originally 18 minutes long, composed that way at Swami’s command. The next year, it was shortened, again on Swami’s command! Just as Arjuna agreed to Krishna when said that a flying bird was a dove, a peacock, an eagle and a crow (because it is the Lord saying it), so also, when Swami says 18 minutes, it is 18 minutes. When Swami says cut....”

National Workshop on Bhajan Singing
The red and white garland on the crown fell into the 'flower bushes' at His feet. See below the video of that magical moment

At this point the speaker was interrupted by thunderous applause. He was startled, not understanding the reason for this appreciative act. But then, there is no reason for His love, right? What had happened was this -

Exactly when he said, “When Swami says cut...”, a foot long garland which had been wound and tied on the crown of the huge Krishna idol on stage, snapped and ‘flew’, falling a foot away! The timing was impeccable. Swami definitely must have been smiling. Once again, I wished my aunt could have been present to experience what 2000 people had just experienced - the presence of their Master!

As I said, the concert was an icing on the cake. But the cherry on the icing had been reserved for the late evening.

The Lord is always there for the devotee

It was Mr. Vinay Kumar, a man of several accomplishments and also the caretaker of Swami’s Brindavan ashram, who directed me towards my ‘cherry on the icing’ experience.

“You should speak to Anand,” he said, “his story is spellbinding to say the least.”

Anand Bommavagol is a 22-year old lad who is part of the six-member security team at Brindavan. His duties are specifically concerning the security of the Trayee Brindavan (Bhagawan Baba’s residence building) compound. He was very cheerful when I met him and had a bright vibhuti dot on his forehead. His first few sentences were enough to arouse my curiosity and interest.

“I never believed in Swami because I was convinced that He was a fake. But the sequence of events that has happened has completely turned me around. Today, the only reason for my life is Swami and I want to serve Him always, in some or the other capacity.”

I simply forgot the fact that my taxi to Puttaparthi was waiting. I patted him and asked him whether he was ready to share his experience. He smiled and continued at a nearly breathless pace. It was evident that memories of his experience were still making his heart race. And once he told me the story, my heart too was racing with excitement and gratitude.

A spellbinding story indeed

Anand hails from Kalloli in Gokak taluk of Belgaum district, which is located in the north-western corner of the Indian state of Karnataka. He completed his high-schooling and was working as a security guard near his village. He had seen pictures of Baba in his village samithi but always looked upon them with contempt and doubt. It was late in 2012 when he had a strange dream.

In the dream, the same Baba which he had seen in pictures, came walking to him. He appeared quite old and was carrying a bag. He requested Anand to drop him at the village bus stop. Anand was not keen to help Him but his mother told him to help the elderly. His mother had been his God always and so he obeyed her, helping Swami with the luggage to the bus stop. As Swami got into the bus, he pleaded with Anand to accompany Him. Anand refused. Swami tried again but to no avail. Finally, Swami told him, “If you don’t come with Me, I shall come and pick you.”

The bus then left and Anand woke up from the dream.

Anand Bommavagol on duty at Trayee Brindavan  

The next day, his friend came up to him in great excitement,

“There is a wonderful job opportunity Anand. The same security guard duty but the pay is much higher. Are you ready for it?”

Anand’s heart lit up. He indeed was in need of some extra money because his mother had been suffering from some mysterious illness which just did not seem to abate. She used to vomit anything and everything she ate. Many doctors had examined her but they could find nothing wrong with her. For the past few months, she kept receding day by day, growing weaker and more desperate. Anand felt a jolt when he heard the next statement from his friend,

“The job is via the Sri Sathya Sai Organization. They will provide us with training too!”

It was as if Swami had come to ‘pick’ him because he refused to go to Him! Anand still wanted to refuse but his mother was insistent that he leave immediately.
“How can I go leaving you behind, mother? And where will I get the money to go there?”

“You don’t worry about me. God will take care of me. As for the money, ask my brother to spare you a thousand rupees,” his mother replied.

His mother’s word was God’s word for Anand. He did as she said. However, he returned from his uncle’s house, disappointed.

“Mother, uncle says that he cannot spare even a rupee!”

“You just get packed and be ready. God will show a way,” was the mother’s reply.

It was a pleasant shock when Anand received his uncle at home, early next morning. His uncle handed him Rs. 1,200, not as a loan but as a gift! Taking blessings from his parents, Anand left for Bengaluru from Belgaum.

When God becomes the mother...

Anand was sent to the state of Tamil Nadu to receive training from the unit of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation there. During his training of two months, he got to know more about Swami. He got his first taste of Swami when, one day, he could feel a fragrant perfume in the air. He was beside a photograph of Baba and he wondered whether the fragrance was emanating from there. Even as he wondered thus, he looked at the picture. It began to pour out vibhuti in front of his eyes!

Shocked, he ran to his mentor, ‘Uday Kumar sir’, as he called him. Uday Kumar ‘sir’ told him,

“Something is bothering you and that is why Swami is assuring you not to worry. He will take care of everything. He is all-powerful and all-loving.”


Anand just heard him out. Though he had been stunned, he wasn’t ready to accept Baba as a god! He completed his training and was assigned duty at Trayee Brindavan on Sankranthi day (January 14) in 2013, a very auspicious day when the sun begins its northward journey. Swami says that this is the time when man too should begin his journey Godward. That seemed to be His plan for Anand too.

“Everything about the job was good and nice. The people were very nice and the place was simply beautiful. Only two things bothered me - one was the fact that my mother was still ill and the other was that I could not take a man to be God!” said Anand.

And that was when he decided to test this Baba by throwing a challenge to Him.

“I will accept you as God and dedicate my entire life for you if only you cure my mother. I cannot bear her suffering like this.”

To show his willingness to hold up his end of the bargain, Anand began to circumambulate (do pradakshina) Trayee Brindavan, 21 times every night. This went on for two months but his mother showed no signs of recovery. She simply deteriorated. When she sounded terribly weak on the phone, Anand was infuriated. He screamed out to Swami,

“I shall give you five more days. At the end of that, if my mother is not fine, I shall consider you as a trickster and a liar!”

The ante had just been upped!

Though Anand was upset and angry, he continued to keep his end of the ‘deal’. The circumambulation continued for the next four days. The fifth day happened to be a Thursday in March 2013. As Anand went around the Trayee building in the middle of the night, he was very upset and angry. Though the deadline had not elapsed, he had already started scolding, cursing and shouting at Swami. That was when, he suddenly saw something move in the shadows. He was baffled. Who could it be when he had locked both the gates securely?

He got scared and thought that it possibly was a ghost. But ghosts don’t exist, right? He even heard footfalls and other noises. He quickened his steps. He wanted to complete the pradakshina as soon as possible. Even as he was hurrying, he heard a voice,

Bangaroo, nillu” (Beloved,stop).

Paying no heed, he hurried on when the voice came again, louder this time. He stopped, turned around and simply collapsed on his knees. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he saw the red-robed form staring at him with love-filled eyes. He immediately sought pardon for all the ‘cursing’ he had done and told,

“Swami, please make my mother fine... please make my mother fine.”

Swami continued to smile and then, a few moments later, He was gone.

“How was he?” I asked Anand.

“Quite clear - the face, the halo hair and the robe were all clear. It appeared as though there was a glassy wall before Him.”

“Are you sure you didn’t imagine that” I asked, rather audaciously.

“Think what you want sir, but am convinced about my experience. It was Him. He is not gone. He is there with me even today. And I just want to serve Him.”

“But your mother?”

Anand smiled. “The next day morning my mother called me. She said that she had become completely alright, all of a sudden. And even to this day in June, she is completely fine. No more doctors; no more medicines.”

A tear dropped from Anand’s eye. It was a tear of joy.

“Swami will take care of me always sir. I know it.”

More tears.

As I walked to my taxi, for one last time I wished that my aunt was there to hear Anand’s experience from his own mouth. The whole day had just reinforced my intuitive statement to my aunt,

“Swami is my guru and so He alone will be my guru till my last breath. He will ensure that I do not have to take another birth and in case I have to, once again, He alone will be my guru in my next birth(s) too.”


By Aravind Balasubramanya (Radio Sai Team)
Graphics: Mohan Dora (Radio Sai Team)


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