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Swami Answers Our Prayers

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

Swami Answers Our Prayers
Mrs Rakhi Patel, Leicester, UK.

Mrs Rakhi Patel is a secondary school teacher based in Leicester. She had the good fortune to work as a teacher at the Sathya Sai School in Zambia and in Thailand. She is an active member of her local Sai Centre

I offer my humble salutations at the lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, without whom my life would be empty. Only through His Love and Grace have I learnt to overcome the ups and downs of life. His teachings are helping me to transform into a better human being, I cannot imagine a life without Sai!

As a child, I was fortunate to be brought up with strong family and spiritual values. My parents taught us to respect all religions and races. They told us that the human race was one big family and that we were all one. Bhagavan had always been part of our lives, as my Grandparents were staunch believers of Shirdi Sai Baba. As a result, Swami had been part of my life since I was born, a blessing that I wasn’t even aware of.

My first trip to Swami was in 1988 when I was 16 years old. I travelled with my family as part of Mr & Mrs Kanu’s UK group. The discipline was rather strict, something I had never been accustomed to. It was Guru Poornima celebrations and not surprisingly, the crowds had gathered in huge numbers. I found it very hectic but wondered why the ashram was so peaceful. At that time you could take almost anything into darshan and I remember having a camera and taking photos of Swami in the Poornachandra Hall. I went through some major cleansing on this trip which I did not understand or appreciate at the time. I unfortunately spent a lot of time in the shed feeling very sick, perhaps caused by the change in lifestyle; it was a time for retrospection as well. I took it as a great blessing when a Sevadal member came to me with vibhuti and said Swami had specifically sent it for all the devotees that were ill!

With the seed firmly planted, I returned to the UK and was soon back into the rhythm of student life. It was during my time at the University that I began to read and enquire about Swami. Like many people, the first book that I read was Howard Murphet’s “Man of Miracles” which I found very thought-provoking and inspiring. So my spiritual journey had begun, and I felt I was much better prepared the next time that I had the opportunity to visit our Lord.

My second trip to India ensued during the holy period of Christmas which was celebrated wonderfully in the true spirit by Swami. My visits became a regular occurrence. By 1999, I had visited Prasanthi Nilayam six times, around the month of December. My joy knew no bounds; it was an amazing phase of my life, with Swami so very active (physically) those years. He would walk amongst the devotees, talking, blessing and taking letters from them. I took these instances for granted but realise now the rare blessing I had of Swami, when we all feel His physical absence. I had many opportunities to take part in various Christmas activities such as singing in the choir, preparing costumes and props and being a child minder. Every moment was very special; Swami would pour His Love and Grace on all of us. He used to bless us with heart-filling darshan and on many occasions showering His Grace by giving us saris. Swami used to walk amidst us, allowing us Padnamaskar (touching His Feet) before giving us the sari, sometimes even sharing a few precious words. On several occasions, He would ask the participants to be seated in the Poornachandra Auditorium for a special audience.

By now I had learnt many lessons; the biggest one being that Swami knows each and every thought of ours. During one darshan I happened to have a pile of letters from Balvikas students. I was sitting in the second row and I thought Swami might take them. Swami came out and as He walked down the path with both full of letters. As He approached me, I held out the letters and He said to me in Hindi as He passed by, ‘My hands are full, I will come again.’ After darshan, the lady in front of me departed so I moved into the first row. Sitting waiting for bhajans to start, my mind began to wonder; Swami had said that He would return, but He usually walks the other way after bhajans. Looking at the mandir and interview room, I noticed a small brick step a few yards from the steps of the veranda. Gazing at it I thought even if Swami were to come out, there was no way He would jump over the step and collect the letters. I placed the letters under my folded legs and waited for bhajans with no hope of giving them to Swami. To my surprise, the divine play commenced! Swami came out of His room, and He stood on the veranda giving beautiful darshan to all those seated. Next, to my utter surprise, Swami began to walk down the steps and stood in front of the brick step, directly in front of me. To my disbelief, He then jumped over the step and began to walk towards me. He was soon standing right in front of me! I was looking up into His magnificent eyes, He was looking so tall. I was spellbound, mystified and lost in another world and after what seemed like eternity ended when someone knocked my head as they handed Swami a letter. Letters! I had completely forgotten letters that I had! I quickly picked up the letters, with my heart pounding I handed the letters to Swami, He lovingly smiled at me and moved on. I was in a state of shock, I had forgotten to exchange a few words with Him or even touched Swami’s feet, but I was in pure bliss!

Another lesson I learnt was that Swami listens to all our prayers. During one trip I was blessed to stay in the ashram for a long duration, from Akhand bhajans through to Christmas; this was an emotional and spiritual roller coaster. At the time, I spent a lot of time praying to Lord Shiva, in the form of chanting the mantra, Om Namahshivaya. On my last darshan, my aunt was fortunate to get permission to sit at the front. She woke me up and advised me not to be late and left the room. I nodded off again and found myself having a dream! I found myself sitting in an empty Sai Kulwant Hall, besides the veranda steps. The darshan music started and there was excitement that Swami was about to come out. I looked towards the gates and between the two pillars I saw walking a mind blowing form – a godly form with 4 arms, swaying long hair and like snakes with a dazzling aura of energy. I felt scared and put my head and hands down in prostrations to this God form. As I peeked a look at the feet approaching me, I saw they were Swami’s feet. I felt more at ease and I looked up and again I saw the awesome form. I could not see the form and my eyes retracted to the floor. Again I saw Swami’s feet coming towards me. I looked up and suddenly I woke up, I realised I was late! So I quickly got ready and ran to meet my Aunt. She was not pleased that I was late, but as the Sevadal was ready to seat us, we had no time to talk. She sat in the front row and I sat behind her. Swami came out and came towards us, He spoke to my Aunt and I stretched out my hand with a small photo/calendar of Swami in my palm. He looked at me and gave the photo a tap, I felt so very joyful. In the taxi on the way to the airport, I explained to my Aunt why I was late; she told me the cosmic form of Lord Shiva had given me darshan. Wow, what a precious gift after such a short sadhana!

From 1997 my life had changed dramatically. Even after securing an M.Sc in Science and working in industry for 2 years my life seemed empty. I took a year out soon after and travelled to Zambia to help out in the Sathya Sai School. For the next 4 years, I was blessed by Swami’s Grace to become a teacher in His school, I couldn’t believe that someone with such low confidence could become a teacher. I heard spiritual discourses daily in the school assemblies by Mr Victor Kanu (he and his wife run the school). It was here that I learnt to have absolute faith in Swami; really, nothing happens without His Will. I also learnt the true meaning of service as the school was based in an African township full of opportunities to serve.

Swami’s blessings were constantly on the school. It is not surprising that the school had a rare accolade of being called the ‘Miracle School.’ Many of the students were from poor backgrounds and even dropouts from other schools. The Zambian education is such that failures were not given another chance; however, the culture was different at the Sathya Sai School which took in these children and transformed their lives and made them into respectable citizens they were today. The school day started with uplifting singing by the pupils with their voices like angles, singing the praises of the Lord. Multi-faith and value songs were beautifully sung in Bemba (local language), English and Sanskirt. Swami had reminded that if the pupils worked hard, then they would pass, so much emphasize was put on this. Pupils worked hard in all areas - academic, moral, spiritual and physical. Working in the local environment help build respect for nature. Narayanaseva led to bonds being built with the community around. The pupils were getting education for life, not just for earning a living.

It was in Zambia that I had a major change in my mind set and attitudes. We had plans to visit Prasanthi Nilayam. In all my previous trips, I had only one prayer to Swami– Shukhi Rakhjo Bhagavan – keep me happy! My uncle used to advise me that if that is all I asked for, then that is all I would get from Swami. The compassionate Lord would give us whatever we wanted. With these thoughts in my mind, I left for India with Mr Kanu and my cousin. As we were travelling with Mr Kanu, he indicated that if Swami were to call him that we too had to go. My cousin and I thought this was very unlikely; Swami speaks to Mr Kanu all the time. Little did we know what Swami had planned, for within a few days of our arrival, Swami called Mr Kanu for an interview. Mr Kanu from the veranda began to call the rest of the group; there were 9 in total. My cousin and I went to stand but security told us to sit down, she didn’t think 2 Indian girls were with Mr Kanu. He saw us and summoned us to come, so we were allowed to sit near the interview room. I still had doubts that Swami would want us in the room. Swami came and stood in front of the group and started counting each person, ‘1,2,3…’ as He came to the back row he said ‘8’ pointing to my cousin and ‘9…go’ pointing to me! What a beautiful confirmation we both had and His eyes had been locked on us, this was truly very blissful!

Swami truly gives you everything you pray for. In my trips to Swami I had seen how he interacted with His students. I really wanted to be a student in His institution. I even made enquires to do a teaching course at Anantapur Campus, but Swami had other plans for me. When I returned to the Zambia school at the beginning of the year 2000, Swami had blessed Mr Kanu to start the Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Africa. The teachers at the Zambia school would be the first batch of accredited diploma students from this institute. Even as a foreign teacher, I was allowed to participate in the course. It was hard to teach all day, then attend the course but it was really rewarding. Swami had already made me into a teacher; it was now time to evolve into an SSEHV (Sathya Sai Education in Human Values) teacher. It was a fantastic opportunity, what was learnt as theory could be directly applied to the classroom. It was at the end of the course that the miracle occurred; we heard that because of an SSEHV conference due to be held in Prasanthi Nilayam in the Divine presence, our diploma ceremony would be held early in the year. Since the SSEHV conference was scheduled during the Zambian schools term time, I thought there was no way we could all go to India. But as always, Swami was the Doer and had His way. The school timetable was adjusted. Not only the teachers that had completed the course but a group of students also had the opportunity to travel to Prasanthi Nilayam. From the very outset, the Divine Grace was showered on the Zambian group. Swami’s Blessings made it possible for everyone’s travel arrangements - passports, visas, clothes and spending money. Swami had instructed Mr and Mrs Kanu to bring the group, so I was not surprised that everyone’s needs were fulfilled. In the divine presence, the group were showered with immense Love, with beautiful darshan (divine sight), sparshan (divine touch) and sambashan (divine talk). He would speak to different people from the group every day. He showered His blessings on the group in so many ways, even telling the boys how He had saved their lives twice on their journey to India!

My parents had flown out from the UK to join the group and it was my father’s first trip to Puttaparthi. Swami made the trip truly unforgettable for everyone. We were blessed with beautiful darshan, padanamaskars (touching the divine feet), interviews, prasadam (offering) and photos with the Lord during a most magnificent graduation ceremony. Swami was so loving that He even gave Rupees 500 to each one of us on the last day; this incidentally happened to be Mahalakshmi Day (Day dedicated to Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) during the Dasera festival. I was completely overwhelmed by Swami’s Love. It was at this point in time that I promised to dedicate my life to Swami. I had done nothing in this lifetime to deserve such Grace, so what else could I do but repay this debt.

On my return to the UK, I had the opportunity to travel to Sathya Sai School in Thailand to further my studies of SSEHV. I was able to complete a thesis for an Advanced Diploma whilst teaching English to the Thai students. It was in Thailand that I learnt about Heart to Heart communication and that SSEHV was truly universal. Swami’s Love flowed through the whole school, it was seen in the staff and the children. My heart had been touched whilst I was there; the children were full of joy and confident. Human values were integrated into every aspect of the school, from teachers who were role models, to the kitchen staff, to the gardeners and laundry staff. I departed in March 2002 with a heavy heart and eyes swollen from crying, for I had made the school my home. I really needed my Lord to lift me up again!

It was my first time in the ashram during Shivaratri in 2002. I was so happy and contended to see Swami and to be fortunate enough to witness the emergence of the Holy Lingam. The continual long night bhajans created tremendous vibrations, an experience that could not be forgotten. The next morning, to my surprise, Swami created another Lingam and in His discourse I was delighted to hear Swami speak about creation and vibrations, this had been exactly what I needed to pull together my thesis. Swami yet again was guiding me and listening to my prayers. I now knew precisely what to do to complete my thesis on my return to the UK.

For the first time, I prayed to Swami to bless my next chapter in life, I asked Him to find my husband and to put him before me as only He could choose the right person. I also prayed that I should be accompanied by my husband the next time I came to Him. Two months later, my prayers were answered. I met my future husband during a service activity at the Sathya Sai School of Leicester. By Swami’s Grace our parents approved and by October we were engaged!

I had realised that I was destined to have a career in teaching profession. I had accordingly enrolled as a PGCE student. This entailed an intense year of lectures, assignments and teaching placements, none of which could be missed. It so happened that the SSEHV graduation following submission of my thesis was scheduled for November of the same year which I felt was impossible for me to attend. I has also heard that this possibly was the last ceremony where Swami would physically hand out the diplomas, as there were just too many institutes and graduates now that the SSEHV message had spread throughout the world. I really wanted to attend, my fiancé advised me to discuss with the course tutor, as the worst he would say is no! I had just started my first school placement and I expected what the response would be. With prayers to Swami, I took the courage to approach my tutor and explain my time in Thailand and the diploma ceremony that I wanted to attend in India. His response was rather on the negative, that it was unlikely permission would be granted, but he would ask the course director. I could not believe my ears when I was granted a week’s leave as long as I covered my missed lessons! Swami was so kind, so loving! He had answered my prayers yet again, making an impossible situation possible. I returned to the Lord’s feet for my second graduation with an engagement photo and our wedding invitation.

With Swami’s Love and Grace, I have been fortunate to visit the Divine abode every year since 2002. His love has been boundless, every time He has looked after me and filled me with His Divine energy. A glance from Him has been enough to fill one with happiness and bliss. The principal lesson that I have learnt in these trips was to follow ones’ heart, as all the answers were there. The seat of the heart is God’s residence so Swami has always reminded us to go to this source. I feel today that Swami constantly guides me and guards me. He has made me a better person full of self-confidence. His words have helped me transcend life’s problems. I really believe that everything that happens does so for our good. I don’t feel alone as I know that Swami is always there and will forever be apart of my life.