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Love and Light

My Sai and I

Dear Readers! It is well known that the Infinite Majesty and Glory of the Lord cannot be captured in full measure by the human mind. However, the sweetness of His Glory can be instantly enjoyed by recounting the experiences of devotees who have contacted God, have been blessed by His Grace and chosen as His Instruments. Bhagawan Baba also says that such an exercise fosters a taste for Godward thoughts in us, and thus brings us ‘nearer ‘ and makes us ‘dearer’ to God. This Special Feature contains articles written by ardent devotees of Bhagawan describing their Experiences with Divinity, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, especially narrating ‘how’ they first came to Him! Rather more aptly, how they received His Divine Intimation! His Divine Call! We pray to our beloved Bhagawan Baba to keep us strongly connected with Him always.

Love & Light Team

This feature articles contains two separate articles -

Our Bewitching Swami - Dr. K.L.N. Swami
The Omnipresent Sai - Mrs Anju Patel

Our Bewitching Swami

By Dr. K.L.N. Swami

Dr. K.L.N. Swami served as the former Principal of Sathya Sai College, Brindavan, Whitefield. He was also one of the earliest members of the Sathya Sai Service Organisation, Orissa.

Swami was winking at me from his picture with his right eye, sending me to my knees! I shivered, hypnotized under his holy gaze. My legs became numb. I closed the book, putting it upside down. I even regretted opening the book! I thought I should be sure whether I was imagining or it was indeed a ‘grim’ reality. I opened the book and peered at the photo. This time the left eye winked!

I thought I might faint from shock. The name of the book was At His Lotus Feet, a souvenir brought out to commemorate the First World Conference in 1968 in Bombay. I picked up the book and tried to peer at the photo again. This time the ‘man’ in the photo began to change his facial expression! I rushed to the balcony to take in some fresh air, hoping that it would bring me back to my senses.

I was trying to pull myself together and looked down to breathe, leaning against the front wall of the balcony for support. I was stunned as I saw Swami walking- pacing up and down the verandah! I thought I was hallucinating. I considered consulting a psychiatrist. I was not that spiritually inclined or very religious by temperament. Why was this happening to me?

Those were the initial stages through which Swami was trying to reach me. All these incidents occurred in July of 1969. The gentleman who introduced Swami to me through the Book suggested that I organize Bhajans in my house every Thursday. He impressed me and I made a sincere attempt to organize Bhajans and become closer to Swami.

Thursday came and I got busy but I didn’t have Swami’s photo. I pulled the Photo from the book, as I thought that was not a violation of basic conduct. I pasted the photo on a piece of cardboard and kept it slanting against the balcony wall. I lighted a candle and ignited a few joss sticks. My five year old son joined me, intrigued by what I was doing. I sang a few devotional songs and repeated them for an hour. I waved Arati and then concluded my first Thursday Bhajans.

The very next day a stocky looking gentleman came to my residence and made an eager enquiry, saying he had heard that Sathya Sai Bhajans were held in my residence. I was pleasantly shocked because none knew that I conducted Bhajans at my house.
I apologetically told him that I conducted a sort of Bhajans. He asked me to my embarrassment to show the place where the Bhajans are conducted and I took him upstairs and showed him. He affectionately reprimanded me, telling me this can’t be a place for Bhajans as many will come to participate in Bhajans soon.
I was living in a rented house with only two rooms, one upstairs and another downstairs. He seemed to scan my entire house, and finally decided that I should
conduct Bhajans every Thursday in a certain room. He assured me that he would come and conduct the Bhajan the next day, just to demonstrate how to conduct Bhajans.
Next Thursday he appeared 10 minutes before six in the evening. He carried a bag with him. He asked me if the room was kept washed and cleaned. In fact my wife arranged everything in the morning, I told him. He pulled out articles from his bag. He brought several framed pictures : of Shirdi Baba, Rama Lakshmana Sita and Hanuman kneeling at Ram’s feet, Ganesh and Swami’s framed picture. He brought a coconut, bananas, incense sticks and Vibhuti to use for Bhajans.

He lit the lamps, the incense sticks and sang very melodiously. He stopped exactly an hour later. Some of my neighbours joined us. He waved Arati and distributed the Prasad, and gave us vibhuti to each of us. He asked me to conduct the Bhajans as shown by him and disappeared. When I asked him where he lived, he avoided answering my question, and I never saw him again!

I became one of the founder members of the Sai Organization in Orissa in 1969 and I continued in the Organization until Swami called me to join the University in the Department of English in the Brindavan Campus.

In 1989 we were to participate in the Sports and cultural activities. I was asked to produce a drama for the Sports and Cultural Meet and I chose a social theme, selected a few boys and directed the play. Later we presented the play to Swami in Prasanthi Nilayam Campus Auditorium. The play was very well received. The student participants asked me to lead them to take Swami’s Blessings. I was scared and asked them to go. But they said they would not go if I didn’t. Swami was waiting for us to to go towards Him as was the custom. The boys had their Blessings by touching Swami’s Feet. My turn came. Swami looked at me and asked someone sitting beside HIM, “Who is this old man?” Twenty five years later, His sheer blessings have still kept me active.

Somebody introduced me to Swami as I prostrated at His feet for more than a minute. Then Swami asked me to get up and looking straight into my eyes said, “I liked the drama and you chose the right theme, as such things are going on today”. That was my first Encounter with Swami. Later Swami came up the stage and posed for a photo with the boys. Suddenly Swami found that I was missing. He saw me standing at a distance . He came towards me pulled me and hugged me and asked me to stand beside Him. What an experience!

Swami began interacting with me frequently. He used to make pleasant enquiries whenever I went to Prasanthi Nilayam. If there was nothing to talk, Swami would ask me “How is weather in Bangalore? I was confused as I couldn’t guess which weather Swami was asking about!

In Brindavan, I was living in the Ashram. My wife was very sick. Swami used to call us to his house every evening. My wife was also one of the invitees. She was in the wheel chair. Every evening Swami commenced Trayee Sessions after my wife had entered the room. She passed away when Swami was in Brindavan. The Summer Course was on and in the Auditorium, Swami came to me and hugged me assuring me that He would look after my children. Now, they are well established in life.
It was Swami’s Grace that my Son-in-law, Dr Srinivas Bhadriraju, was one of the three doctors invited to attend on Swami in the capacity of a Critical Care expert during His last days before He had shed His Mortal Coils.

Once , I was sitting in His Abode, Trayee Brindavan. Swami asked me “ What is your full name -is it Lakshmi Narayana Swami?” I told Swami that I am Lakshmi Narasimha Swami. Then He asked me to speak to the audience. The same year in 1992 in September, Swami called me by name. I was trying to get up to speak, but Swami said, “Sit down and sing a song”. I was pleasantly shocked as he even asked the harmonium and Mridangam boys to come closer to me. I didn’t wait and began singing a Thyagaraja Kriti, ‘Vandanamu Raghunandana’ (Salutations to Lord Rama) . Swami joined me, singing with me and playing the ‘cymbals’ merrily. When I sang the second song “nee charitamulanu pogada Brahmdulakunaina tarama! Krishna!” (O Krishna! Is it possible even for Brahma and all other gods to sing your divine glory in full?)-- Swami at its conclusion said that I forgot two lines and He sang those for me!

In 2001 Swami permitted me to speak in USA immediately after 9/11 WTC disaster. Dr Goldstein made arrangements for me to speak in almost all the states in USA. I spoke in Manhattan Centre. Vibhuti began to flow from Swami’s Feet while I was speaking. The devotional convener showed it to me . When I went back, Swami enquired about my trip and asked me specifically if I spoke in Manhattan Centre in New York!

Summer Courses kept us busy as Brindavan hosted the Summer Courses. Swami sometimes visited the Auditorium at midnight while we were making preparations for the Inaugural Day. I spent many sleepless but exciting nights, always awaiting Swami’s arrival.

We had several such experiences and it may take hours to write on Swami without knowing What an Incredible Phenomenon Swami was! We strongly believe Swami is around us always, caring and protecting! To conclude: A couple of lines from a Telugu Song: Enta Sogasani pogadali - Enni velugulani keertinchali
How strikingly handsome and bewitching Swami is! What resplendence- how to extol HIM!!

The Omnipresent Sai

Mrs Anju Patel, Pinner, London, UK.

Introduction

I first heard of Baba in 1972 through a close friend of the family. I was 20 years old then, and although coming from a Swaminarayan family, I somehow was attracted to Baba from merely hearing about Him. I attended my first bhajan (devotional singing) soon after and since that day my life found new meaning.

I got married in 1976. My husband and son supported my belief in Bhagawan Baba but somehow they did not have the faith as I had that He was God. However with Baba’s Grace and Love, He showed them both in no uncertain terms that He was the all-knowing, all-pervading Lord of the universe who had descended on earth in a human form.

My family and I, over the past 30 years have experienced many wonderful and heart-rending experiences in our home in London. These range from the curing of illnesses to receiving His divine and physical darshan (vision of the Divine).

I would like to share a couple of experiences which have touched my heart.

Baba appears in our window

In 1990 we bought a beautiful new home. The front of the house had a large frosted window. One evening on my return home, I happened to glance up at the window. There to my amazement I could clearly see the larger than life image of Bhagawan Baba! The image was so apparent that I could make out that He was wearing His Orange robe and giving abhayhastha (pose of the hand that confers shelter and protection). I stood in awe for several minutes making sure what I was witnessing was not a figment of my imagination. I rushed inside and quickly looked up at the window to check that no one had actually placed a full sized photograph of Baba behind the window whilst I was out! This was not the case and I could not hold back the joy that overwhelmed me. I decided not to mention what I had observed to both my husband and son as I was sure they would have thought I had lost my mind! For the next few days when I returned home in the evening, I would take Lord Sai’s darshan and then enter the house wondering if anyone else was ever going to notice His presence.

A couple of days later my son came to me in the evening and told me there was something he had to show me. He took me outside and pointed to the window above and asked me what I could see. I was overjoyed that my son had also noticed Baba in our window. I told him not to say anything to his dad. Lo and behold, two days later my husband came rushing to my son and I and excitedly told us that there was something he must show us. Once again we were taken outside, where my husband pointed to the window and exclaimed “Can you see! Look there is Baba!” From that day onwards, we made sure we left the light switched on in the evenings as that was the only pre-requisite for the great darshan.

Word soon spread and many people would come in the evenings to witness the phenomenon.

In 1996, my husband had his first group interview during which Baba blessed him with a Navaratna (nine gems) ring. My husband also had the chance to ask Baba about the miracle in our window. With a smile on His face, and a glint in His eye, Baba cheekily slapped my husband on the cheek and exclaimed “yes, yes!

Soon after we changed the name of our house to Sai Darshan as we felt there was no other name more suitable. Even today many people still come in the evenings to take Baba’s darshan from the window.

Our first group pilgrimage to the Lotus feet

Although my husband and I had visited Prashanti Nilayam individually on a number of occasions and had the blessing of being able to briefly converse with Baba, we had not had the chance to ever go together. In 2002 we were lucky enough to be part of a group of 9 couples accompanying Sri Ajit Popat to the Lotus feet.

A week prior to the trip, my husband, son and I were performing the regular evening aarti (ritual with light) in the altar at home. While my husband was about to place the aarti dish down, his watch fell off his wrist and ended up on the solid wooden floor. My son and I were in shock as we expected my husband to be upset as it was a gift from his late-father. On completing the aarti, he picked up the broken watch and jokingly stated that he was not worried as Baba would give him a replacement watch. We soon forgot this incident.

Around the same time, I also received a present from some of our friends. It was a beautiful statue of Lord Hanuman. I was surprised at receiving it as for me Baba was everything and I had no desire for statues of other deities. However with respect I placed it in my husband’s office which is in our converted loft, as I had been told that Hanuman should always be kept at the highest point in your home.

A week later, we were at the Lotus Feet. The trip was exceptional. We experienced bliss and Baba’s grace in abundance. We were fortunate to be called by Baba for an interview twice.

During the first interview, it so happened that I was sitting at the back of the room. Baba was conversing with some of the group members and then suddenly He looked at me and asked me what I was wishing for. I automatically responded that I wished to remain at His Lotus Feet always. Baba waved His divine hand and materialised something which He began to show those close to His chair. I struggled to identify the object. Baba then looked at me and summoned me to approach Him. I made my way to His chair with my heart beating rapidly. He held out what I now saw as a pendant on a golden chain and with His own hands placed it around my neck. I was speechless and in a state of total amazement and shock. As I made my way back to my original seating position I realised I still had no idea what type of pendent Baba had blessed me with. As I sat down, Baba began talking about Hanuman’s unparallel devotion to Lord Ram. He looked at me directly and smiled. As I finally glanced down to the pendent I realised it was a beautiful jewel clustered Hanuman! Baba made me realise that not only should Hanuman be kept at the highest point of your home but His devotional qualities should be at the forefront of one’s own character.

The interview came to an end and Baba stood up and signalled for the group to leave the interview room. As we were leaving the room one by one, Baba at the last moment grabbed my husband’s hand and with a twinkle in His eye said “ah you want watch!” He then waved His hand and produced a gold watch for my husband!

The incidents that had taken place in our home prior to our trip were all part of Baba’s leela (Divine Play). He once again gave us the assurance that He is with us here in London, in our home and hears and sees all. The chair in our Mandir is never empty. In fact no chair kept for Baba in any Mandir is ever empty. He is there always.

I am delighted to share these wonderful experiences of Bhagawan’s Omnipresence with my Sai family members in UK. Bhagawan is present at all times, be it in Prasanthi Nilayam, London or any other parts of the world. I am reminded of Shirdi Sai Baba who used to say that we must have shraddha (faith) and saburi (patience and perseverance) and then God Himself will make His presence known.