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Love and Light

Region 4 - A Journey with Sai: A Divine Awakening

Koti Koti Pranaam to my dear Swami
Pranaam to the inherent divinity within us all
I offer myself at your lotus feet Sai Maa. Let my thoughts, words and deeds be of only of your accord.

It is with the utmost humility and love I share with you, my dear Sai family, a journey filled with precious moments. A journey that has cultivated the person I am today; my personal journey with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I am sure as my Sai family, you understand me wholly when I say it is now more than ever I am reminded of the cherished moments with Swami, who for me is the air by which I breathe, the light by which I see. And so it is with an open heart, I share with you these precious moments of my life that I know will bring the joy of your own precious moments with Swami to heart and mind.

It is beyond the realms of my knowledge that I can even begin to state where my journey started with my beloved Baba. My journey has no start and has no end. I have known Swami all my life. I was born on Monday July 15th, on which day my mother had a dream where Shirdi Sai Baba appeared to her. She depicted the dream to feel very real, where a serpent was taking me away. Shirdi Baba rescued me by tearing it in half, and handing me to the care of my mother. I have always felt the love and protection of Swami from birth.

I was born in a family of Sai devotees, going back to my great grandfather who was fortunate to be in the presence of Swami in Swami’s youth. And so I naturally grew up with the belief of Sathya Sai Baba as God, just as Krishna and Rama. Hearing about Swami all my life, going to Balvikas (SSE) from the age of 3 and having the Sai Organisation as my family, I have known no other way of life. I realise now how much grace Swami has showered upon me. It is almost like an epiphany has dawned upon me within these spiritually testing times; the epiphany that in this Kali Yuga we have had the darshan, sparshan & sambhasham with Bhagawan! The opportunity, to experience the Divine on this humanistic level! As humans it is more comprehendible to experience God on our humanistic level, and how kind our Swami has been to grant us opportunities to liberate ourselves through Bhakti Yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita.

We can never understand God fully, as the Bhagavad Gita states ‘nethi nethi nethi’. God is not this nor that…He is indescribable. And so I am humbled and truly grateful to the good karmas, the grace and love of God, that has not only given me the belief in Swami, but to love and experience God Incarnate. Experiencing that when I need a friend, He is my best friend, that when I need love, He acts as a mother, and when I need strength and protection, He acts like a father.

With Swami’s grace I share with you a few highlights of my journey so far. As I mentioned, Swami has been the guiding force for my family, showing His Omnipresence always. I recall a rather challenging time in our lives when my father was diagnosed with cancer. One particular night he was in agonising pain. I remember my younger sister and I praying to Swami to help; my mother in absolute surrender to Swami. That night in our Mandir room, we were blessed with Swami’s Love. A stream of free-flowing vibhuti, with tablets of vibhuti poured out from Satyanarayan Bhagawan’s glorious photo. Later that year, 1995, Swami granted the Leicester Centre group with two interviews. Although on trips previously Swami had interacted with me, this was my first opportunity for sambhashanam with Swami. It is in this interview Swami opened my eyes to His Omnipresence. Swami lovingly spoke to my mother about my father and said, “Voh bahut goli khatha hai (he takes too many tablets)”. When I try to derive meaning from this, for me, Swami was awakening the spiritual knowledge that God is always with you. It is with Swami’s grace my father survived his battle with cancer: cancer cancelled!

Sitting in the inner room of the interview, I recall gazing at Swami and His loving gestures. Suddenly, out of nowhere Swami looked at me and asked me, “How old are you?” I kneeled up quickly folding my hands. I replied, “9 Swami” Swami then asked me, “How do you know this?” I looked at my mother at this point and said, “My mother Swami” Swami replied, “Good”. I was just about to sit back down when Swami asked me, “What subjects do you study?” I was in primary school then and so I remember stating all the subjects. Swami then moved his head in the Indian way side to side in rotation as he does and said “Good”. I have always asked myself why Swami asked me these questions, was Swami asking my spiritual age? Swami many years before this told my mother to send me to him to study. Oh how I wish I did! We are all Sai’s children, let us make him proud and let every atom of our body resound Swami’s legacy of Love.

With Swami’s grace, Prashanti Nilayam has become my haven, my spiritual battery recharge. For my family and I, Prashanti Nilayam is our annual spiritual pilgrimage. It is our spiritual holiday with Swami. So many memories have enriched my life. Embedded in my heart forever are innumerable pilgrimages, musical performances, choirs, which are but opportunities to interact with Sai Maa, to feel Swami’s love. The earning and craving for Swami’s love is a never ending journey.

How a father may take his child to a basketball game, Swami too did this for His children like a father in 2007 at the World Youth Conference:‘Ideal Sai Youth: Messengers of Sai Love’. How blessed I felt to be able to watch a basketball game with God! To watch plays and performances with God as if it is normality to go to the theatre with God, only with our Sai!

My dear Sai family, gathered here in satsang, our love for Swami, our experiences with Swami will, and is taking us on a quest of inner inquiry that is transforming us. Let me now share with you my most precious memory. In 2004, I was fortunate to join a pilgrimage to Prashanti, Sai Anugraha. This memory teases my heart forever, as I crave everyday to be like Friday August 13th 2004, the most auspicious day of my life! Coming out for Darshan an hour or so earlier than usual, Swami gave an unexpected interview with his infamous words of “Go!”. I wish I could share every detail of this day, and I ask for forgiveness that I have had to omit so many of the special heart touching details of this trip.

Swami walked into the interview room in hand with one of the Sai students, and sat down amongst us in His chair. The atmosphere was heavenly, absolutely relaxed as if friends were meeting for a catch up. I asked Swami, “Swami pillow?” I picked up the pillow placed beside the chair, so that Swami may rest his Lotus Feet on it. Swami replied softly, “No pillow”. “Are you sure Swami?”I asked again. ”Yes, I am fine, see...”, Swami replied, raising and wiggling His Feet (it was during this time Swami had hurt his hip), and we all giggled. This fun-loving atmosphere continued as my dear Sai sisters spoke to Him, and stated how we loved how Swami played with his hair when the wind gracefully blew at it. Swami giggled and laughed with us. Sambhashanam with Swami continued. I found myself sitting at Swami’s Lotus Feet. I watched Him intently as He interacted with all asking “Kya samachar? (what’s the news)”. I asked Swami, “Swami, how do we achieve Your grace?” I will never forget this moment. Swami intently leaned forward, looked into my eyes, and replied softly but affirmatively, “My Grace is always with you”. The intense loving look Swami gave directly into my eyes remains embedded within me forever. Swami then leaned back into the chair and spoke more about Grace in an even softer tone. Many other questions Swami lovingly answered, which in retrospect have given me a lot of clarity in my life.

As the interview came to an end, Swami reminded us all that He is with us always. He stated that He had taken the pain of a devotee, and so the right side of his Divine leg was weakened. Swami repeatedly emphasised He was fine. As Swami rose out of the chair, He blessed me and another sister with the opportunity to touch His Divine hand, to assist Him in standing up. God does not need us; it is we who need God. I held Swami’s right hand with mine, while my other hand held onto the back of Swami’s arm. As Swami rose, I remember thinking in my deepest of thoughts, “Swami you’re a bit heavy...”, just as the thought barely crossed my mind, Swami lovingly looked at me and said, “See, I am light”. Swami showed me He is within me, aware of my every thought. Whenever you think you are alone, know ‘God is within you, above you, around you, beside you, below you, you are never alone’. As I walked beside Swami, He held onto my hand tightly whenever my grip loosened. This reminded me that no matter what, Swami will never let you go. Even when you start to stray in this illusion of life, He will hold onto you, bringing you back to the road of righteousness.

Bless us Swami, Your children, to rise! Rise in the name of Sai, in the name of Love, to embrace and engross in the mission of Sai!

Pranaam,

Bijal Sisodia
Leicester Central Sai Centre, Region 4