Volume 16 - Issue 03
March 2018
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Posted on: Mar 10, 2018


Article - 02

Learning to Tune in Within

Right from my first visit of two weeks, I knew that I had to come back and stay at His feet. And, so it was, that on December 10, 2000, I came to Puttaparthi.

With Swami's grace I had rented a flat before my arrival. It was a penthouse with a very big balcony. The view was beautiful, and it was the best place for Pepsi, my little dog and best friend, to exercise and have fun.

He would run and bark at all the birds that would fly overheard on their way to the ashram at sunset each day. The only problem was that Swami was in Whitefield and although we were waiting for Him every day to return to Puttaparthi for Christmas, He did not come.

I was devastated when all the shops closed, and everyone left for Whitefield. My already strong fears of abandonment were strengthened even more. I ran home one day and on the stairs of my building met a smiling young man. I looked at him and spontaneously, I expressed my fear to him, “Everyone is leaving,” I said in dismay. “I'm not leaving”, answered Yuri and from that day I had found a new brother and a precious friend.

While Swami was away, there was not much to do in Puttaparthi. I debated whether to also go to Whitefield but decided in the end to wait patiently for His return. Meanwhile I went through some experiences, which though not pleasant, nevertheless taught me some valuable lessons. I request the reader to bear with me as I narrate these.

During that time, there were quite a few instances where I witnessed the ‘arrogant’ behaviour of certain Russian devotees, particularly towards the local people of Puttaparthi. This upset me a great deal, so much so, that I went near Swami’s residence, stood in front of it and silently prayed: “Swami, I hate the Russians, please send them all home”.


Having prayed to Swami to release me from the Russians, I then happily walked towards the Ganesha Temple. Before I even got there, a woman I had never seen before came running towards me.

She told me that she was going on a little one-day trip somewhere with a small group and as there was an empty seat in the van she asked me whether I would join them.

Now, I love travelling and I love photography, Swami too was not there, I was a bit lonely, and her proposal sounded perfect. I immediately jumped into the van that was in front of ‘Ganesha Gate’, the door slammed shut, and I looked around to discover that I was the only non-Russian in a mini-van full of Russians!

On enquiring where exactly we were going, no one seemed very certain. They mumbled something about visiting a guru/baba in some place called Penukonda.

Now old-timers would have warned me against going to this place with its disreputable vibes, but all of us were new-comers.

It is often said that first-time devotees are vulnerable, and since they have never experienced Swami's darshan, they can easily be misinformed and misguided, and wander away to the wrong places with shady antecedents.

What I felt during my visit to the above Penukonda ‘baba’ shows that this need not be so. My gut feeling and instincts once I reached this place were totally against the appearance of what we were seeing there.

I felt nauseous and wanted to get up and run out of that ‘ashram’, but the doors were closed, and I felt like I was suffocating. Almost all the others were totally overwhelmed with their 'amazing' experience, while I felt uncomfortable and sick.

When I finally got home to Prasanthi Nilayam, for at least a week, I felt the ill effects of a negative energy that had to be literally washed away from my system.

So, energy can always be felt and recognized for what it is, provided we listen to our gut feelings. When the mirror of the heart is pure, we can sense these things and we must never disregard these pointers from within.

A Love That Knows No Limits

While we waited for Swami to come back to us in Puttaparthi, I noticed that the Russians in Puttaparthi were not only not leaving, but were increasing in numbers! Through Yuri, I was meeting more and more of them! Not only were they not arrogant, they were also so sweet and full of devotion to Swami. The ultimate leela Swami played on me was that without realizing how it happened, all very quickly, I found myself as part of a Russian (Kazakhstan) group with purple scarves! This happened on February 11, 2001, on a Sunday.

Now let me go back a month or so, when feeling very dejected with life, I had sadly told Swami in an internal monologue, “Swami, this year too, I will be alone on Valentine's Day”. It was just a passing thought which, like all thoughts, quickly left like a passing cloud. I forgot about it, but my Beloved Swami obviously did not! He was slowly putting things in place.

On the night of February 12, I had a dream. A hand was offering me a key and I clearly heard the words, “Here is the key to the best room in the hotel, Room No. 7”.

7 is the number of Divinity, and most devotees would have understood what that dream meant. But, I was blind, and my heart must have been briefly shut. How else can I explain the fact that I did not get what the ‘voice’ was telling me.

Instead of going for darshan on February 13, I walked around and went shopping. Rafi, at whose place I used to go and make phone calls home, and who knew the group I was in, said to me that afternoon, “How can you be here when your group has gone in for an interview?”  

I nearly dropped down dead. I just ran back home howling all the way. Once I got there, I sat downstairs with the owners and continued to grieve at my predicament. How could I have missed an interview! After crying for what seemed like an eternity, one of the girls said to me, “Now stop crying. You were obviously not ready for an interview. Just go and find out what happened”.

At the Ganesha Temple, I saw one of my friends from the group coming towards me with a big smile on her face. “Get ready for an interview tomorrow”, she said. I could not believe my ears. Was it a joke? Apparently not!

Swami had taken the group to the mandir verandah, had spoken to them, materialized various gifts for them but then had said, “Would you all not like to have a private interview tomorrow? The students have kept boxes in My room and so there is no space today. How many are you?”

Depy (first from left) with the Russian group in Prasanthi

Yuri answered, “We are thirteen Swami, but there is one person missing today”, to which Swami replied, “Yes, tomorrow she will be here!” As all devotees know, ‘tomorrow’ does not always mean tomorrow in Swami's language. All we could do was hope and pray.

The next morning was February 14, Valentine’s Day, and the events are etched in my mind. One from the group was allowed to sit in the front row. The rest of us waited in agony by the ‘patients' block’ on the side.

Will Swami remember? The moment we have been waiting for arrived. Swami walked in, went directly to our group representative in the front row and asked her, “Thirteen today?” When she answered “Yes, Swami”, He called the group for an interview.

And I had worried that I would be alone on Valentine’s day! How much more loving and caring could our Beloved Swami be? Can there ever be a better Valentine than Him?

At that point, time stood still. The world as I know it stood still. All I could hear was the sound of my heartbeat, the beat of a heart that was ready to burst from love and joy. I realized the enormity of the situation.

Not only was I in a small room at Swami's feet, but I was also sitting there with a group of Russians, a group of the most loving, beautiful, and pure souls and all this on Valentine's Day. How can I ever doubt again that every thought we think, every prayer we make, is heard by our Beloved! What better way could He have used to show me how wrong my belief about the Russians had been, and how wrong it is to judge the whole from the behaviour of the few!

I remember looking at a cuckoo clock in the small room. The time was 7.15 am. The most auspicious and blessed moments in my life were underway! I will not go into the minute details of the interview, but I would like to share one little detail.

Swami took me, another devotee and the translator into the smaller room. He looked towards the other devotee and pointing at me, said, “Always worried, always unhappy”, and then looking at me said, “Why do you worry so much? Be happy! Don’t you know that everything is written here?” and with this He showed me the palm of His hand. 

How many times do we have to hear this before we learn to stop worrying!

  Depy and the Baba-blessed delight of her life

Let me conclude with something that happened during darshan in 2010. I used to often get to sit in the front row, yearning to look into Swami’s beautiful eyes. On November 30, 2010, I was to sit in the first row again, for the last time.

Swami came down in His wheelchair, He gave a big smile to the devotee next to me and then He gave a smaller smile to me - I felt like He was smiling to me and saying, “Don't be jealous, here is a smile for you, too”! Then I heard the following words which I immediately recorded in my diary when I got home. “This will have to do for the rest of your life”, said Swami.

I remember feeling puzzled as I left Kulwant Hall. What did He mean? Would I never get a front row again? Would I not get to see Him up close again? Would I never be able to return to India? It never occurred to me that Swami would leave His Body!

On the same day Swami's earthly vesture was placed in His Samadhi, Pepsi, who Swami blessed so sweetly once from the car, also left his tiny body just outside the ashram walls. I like to think that he was blessed with the good fortune of leaving this world together with Swami.

When He is There, Why Go Anywhere

In January 2010, I had returned to a town called Tanga, in Tanzania, East Africa. My family home is there but because of my parents’ absence for many years, the government claimed a right to the property. My sister and I inherited the house and so it was up to us to put up a legal battle.


I went there in the hope that I could somehow manage to do something, but I was afraid. Tanga is a small town, all foreigners have left and the town itself is totally run down. I was anxious about how I, a foreign, white woman (as they say) could fight against the government.

After my first visit to our lawyer’s office, I walked out of the front door to be met by the most astonishing sight. The whole dirt road was empty but just passing in front of me was a local Tanzanian woman, wearing a kanga round her back.

On the kanga and facing me, was a big photo of Swami with His two hands raised in blessing, and the words 'With love -- Baba' and under it, in Swahili, 'One God, many names'.

I ran after the woman and asked her in Swahili if she knew who this 'man' was. She did not, but seeing my interest, offered me her kanga, which I now have.

And, now, 10 years later, after a long battle where I have been strong only because of Swami's reassurance on my first visit, we are finally almost at the end. My cross examination which I had feared so much went amazingly well. Even the Judge looked surprised. And as my Attorney got into his car, he looked at me and said, “I really don't understand what happened. You were amazing. It was like some divine power had suddenly come into you.”

I smiled for I knew what that Divine Power was.  My beloved Swami, now taking on my defense! The Judge in the High Court was supposed to give his ruling on the case before Christmas 2017. Instead, he told us that he would call, as the final witness, the Registrar of Titles on February 14, 2018.

Seventeen years after my first interview with Swami, on the day that I always considered my special day with Him, the case moved on speedily to its logical end.

The Registrar of Titles testified the truth that we were the rightful owners of that property. I cannot but remember Swami's words to me on that first interview: "Why do you worry so much? Don't you know everything is written here (showing the palm of His hand)? Be happy".

So much Grace, and so much Love I have experienced that nothing more is needed; there is more than enough for the rest of my life! I am so full of love for Him that virtually there is no space for any other love or guru or other forms. When you have looked into the eyes of God, what else could ever come between Him and you?

In her second interview on Sep 11, 2001, when Swami saw Depy, He said, “She is so jealous, I better go and get her a Robe!” and indeed gifted her with the divine raiment. Depy was shocked because she indeed was feeling jealous of other groups who were been blessed with interviews.

Swami materialized a gold chain for her too which looked like a japamala, again stunning her with His omniscience as Depy had silently prayed for it earlier. As He put it around her neck, He said, “Beauty, beauty, beautiful!” It indeed is the most beautiful moment of her life.

I realise, this is the treasure that I had gone in search of in the early years of my quest. Before finding it, I was always searching, going from one guru to another, and all of them were stepping stones leading me on to my final destination. How blessed I am to have found the treasure, and to have finally reached the end of the road!

Part 01

- Radio Sai Team

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