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Love and Light

Youth Wing - Me Myself and I - My Personal Experience

At 5:50am on Sunday the 24th April 2011, I was awake as I was just about to leave my house to drop my family to the airport when, I received a call from a good friend. Thinking at the time she was calling to wish my parents a safe flight, little did I expect the words she was about to say. Like many, I was in complete shock and disbelief that our dear Lord had left His physical form.

Just after I heard the news I was unable to think straight and many questions were processing in my mind. The main question being, why did he leave us now when we all face so many obstacles in our lives? How could I be so selfish? Swami is the true definition of selflessness, for many years Swami had undergone physical pains as a consequence of being restricted to His ageing body. However, with His infinite love for His devotees he continued to Grace us with His Divine Darshan. We should all remember, Swami IS the God of all Gods. So why limit the formless to a form? If we read, watch and listen to Swami’s words, for many years he has told His devotees that His body would not be on this earth forever and we should realise the true divinity within.

Swami has taught us many lessons during His time on earth, and it is easy to listen to these teachings, but the true challenge is to practice them. At the end of the day, we are all human and it is understandable to say we cannot help but be distracted by this Maya and feel saddened by the loss of the physical form. We should all remember our experiences with Swami to help us realise this divinity.

I was fortunate to be born in to the Sai fold and I received my first Darshan of Swami on my 5th birthday in Brindavan with subsequent trips to follow. However, Swami’s true purpose in my life was only apparent to me when I participated in the National Youth Pilgrimage in November 2004 for His 79th birthday. This trip was the first of its kind as the youth from the UK would travel to see Swami whilst conducting medical camps over five days. Knowing I wouldn’t be allowed to be part of the trip, as I was only 15 at the time and not technically a “ youth” the thought didn’t cross my mind until, one of the brothers asked me if I had the option, would I consider being part of the group? This being potentially my first group trip to see Swami I agreed without a second thought and he said on my behalf he would speak to Shitubhai (who was National Youth Coordinator at the time) who agreed. This pilgrimage was a journey to develop spiritually. Prior to the arriving in Prashanthi, monthly meetings and all night bhajans were organised with the encouragement of personal Sadhana. This trip definitely changed my life, being able to go to villages serving people under Swami’s name was a great honour and having Swami’s Darshan at such an auspicious time during His birthday was a true blessing. I clearly remember the golf buggy Swami came to Darshan in, His hair looking particularly volumised and His radiant smile. Additionally we were blessed to see Swami in His array of colourful robes he wore on special occasions (the deep red during the convocation ceremony and Swamis beautiful white robe on His birthday).

Another experience I would like to share is from the 2nd National Youth Pilgrimage which took place two years later in November 2006. My yearning to see Swami again came soon after the announcement that another National Youth Pilgrimage was to take place. This pilgrimage was a true test of faith as I felt there were many hurdles I had to pass before I could see the light that was Prashanthi Nilayam. The more I yearned for His Darshan the more challenges I faced. Eventually jumping the hurdles the path was clear and I was enroute for Prashanthi. I remember as we drove past Puttaparthi airport and as I saw the Ganesh statue in the middle of a roundabout just as you enter the main road I was overcome with emotion as I couldn’t believe I was actually there.

Then, all of a sudden in the midst of my teary moment the coach driver started driving more manically than a normal Indian driver. I was holding on for dear life thinking Swami had just turned off the light of this tunnel! I had no idea what was going on. As we were speeding through the village we could see large groups of people congregated, another unusual sight was the Ganesh gates were closed. The driver sped through the main gates and just stopped outside the South Indian canteen and lo and behold Swami had just driven out of the Sai Kulwant Hall and watched us drive in to His humble abode! God welcomed us into His home! This was the beginning of an amazing two weeks.

The UK group were graced over these two weeks with special seating to have Swami’s Darshan. During this busy period, we were addressed by eminent speakers of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust, the brothers performed for Swami on numerous occasions, and the sisters were fortunate to perform on Ladies Day. Another special treat included watching the Harlem Globe Trotters perform at the newly inaugurated indoor stadium in Swami’s presence.

Another experience I would like to share also happened on this trip, this was not Swami’s physical Grace but more of a reminder he of omnipresence. One day after having my lunch, a friend and I decided to make a phone call by the STD/ISD phone booths by the Gayathri temple within Prashanthi Nilayam. I’m not sure how but a Russian devotee managed to slip in between us in the queue. About two minutes after sitting in the queue the devotee tapped me on the shoulder and started talking in Russian. I apologised and told her I only knew English. She then started saying “Baba! Baba!” and attempted to say a few phrases in Russian. I still didn’t understand so I pointed to Swami’s picture and said “yes that is Baba”. How ridiculous of me, of course she knew who Baba was! She then said “I see Baba”, and thinking that she didn’t know what time Darshan was I added “yes so do I in the Kulwant hall, get there for about 2pm so you can queue and have His Darshan.” Then she slowly said “no, I see Baba in you!” At this moment my eyes opened wide and I had the most puzzled look, she pointed to my heart and said I see Swami in your heart” and then she started silhouetting Swami’s crown around my head.

We should all reflect and cherish our memories with each other of the moments we had with Swami in His physical form. We should all be honoured that we were alive whilst this Poorna Avatar came down to earth and blessed His devotees. Remember that Swami’s life was His message and His mission was simple... to spread and practice the essence of the five human values: Love, peace, truth, non-violence and right conduct realising our divinity within. This mission by no means has ended in fact, it has just begun! Our duty as devotees is to have firm faith and see the mission through, see divinity within each soul and remember...

There is only one religion, the religion of Love;
There is only one language, the language of the Heart;
There is only one caste, the caste of Humanity;
There is only one law, the law of Karma;
There is only one God, He is Omnipresent ~ Baba

With humility and reverence I pray that Swami gives us the strength to overcome any maya (attachment) we had to Swami’s physical form and continue to spread and live by His good name and message.

Jai Sai Ram

Gobika Mohandas
Bromley Sai Centre, Region 1