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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

My Experiences with Swami
Pratibha Nirvane, Leicester, UK.

Mrs Pratibha Nirvane works as an administrator in her local authority. She is an enthusiastic member of the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Leicester and plays a particularly active role in bhajan singing. She was blessed with the rare fortune of being in Swami’s presence during His visit to East Africa in 1968.

Throughout my life I have had countless experiences of Swami’s unconditional love. I was fortunate to have His Darshan (divine sight), sparshan (divine touch) and sambhashan (divine conversation). I was blessed with many personal one to one interviews (9 in total) with Swami. I had my first experience aged seven, when I began going to Sai bhajans accompanied by my next door neighbour in Kampala, Uganda. This was my introduction to Swami when I saw Swami in a picture for the very first time. My neighbour had only taken me for company but it was at this very young age that I was attracted to Swami and started an active interest in Him.

My family were not interested in joining me in bhajans but when my father (Mr Shankar Joshi) lost his job, it opened doors for him to enter the Sai World. Whilst in search of a job, he visited Dr C. G. Patel who was our GP. He informed us that a ‘great saint’, an ‘avatar of Shirdi Sai Baba’ was coming to his house tomorrow. He enquired if both my father and my mother would be interested in being volunteers. My father remarked, ‘I don’t believe anybody can be a Shirdi Avatar but we will come to help you!’ The next day my mother and father started serving as sevadals for Swami’s 15-day visit.

The first time my father ever set eyes on Swami he knew straight away that this was no ordinary saint; he instantly believed He was Shirdi Avatar and served Him lovingly for the next 15 days. We were seva dal members’ children and were well behaved; we were therefore allowed to roam around Dr Patel’s house in the presence of Swami. We witnessed miracles such as Swami materialising vibuthi. He performed many other miracles for people during darshan time. I was lucky to witness materialisation of vibuthi from His hands on many occasions; He also very lovingly used to give us the vibhuti as we were in His presence.

Swami had promised all the seva dal members an interview and paadnamaskar (touching the divine feet) on the last day of His visit. Swami did not break His promise and on the last day He invited all the sevadals for an interview. Towards the end, Swami posed for photographs with the sevadal members. When it was ladies turn, Swami gestured to me to come and join the group for a photoshoot. I was overjoyed to be recognised by Swami. He put His hands on my shoulders and then other children also joined in for the photoshots. My father was also fortunate, with Swami’s grace to have been offered an accountants job with a big company. So worries about employment situation was also sorted.

After Swami’s visit, I joined bhajan singing at the Kampala Sai Centre. I was the first bal vikas child to sing bhajans at the age of 8 years. Swami had sent a message with Dr C.G. Patel’s wife Madhuben Patel saying ‘that girl sings nice bhajans tell her to sing for me’; ever since I have been blessed to serve Swami through the bhajan wing in my centre and my home.

After the wonderful experience with Swami, my family was fully engrossed in Swami’s divinity. We emigrated to Leicester (UK) in 1972. An ex-Sai student Navinbhai Patel came to visit my father and told us that we needed to form a Sai Centre in Leicester. My father willingly agreed as we knew him from Kampala Sai Centre and with the help of a few families, we started the centre with a few bhajans. Bhajans were organised on a regular basis; following this, the Bal vikas and seva groups were formed. Old and new devotees participated. Until this day, our centre has kept going by His Grace.

In 1978, we took our first group pilgrimage from Leicester to Puttaparthi. We had taken many problems and difficulties to Swami but He resolved these without our intervention. We realised Swami was caring for us all the way. We had issues with immigration, but Swami made sure these were amicably sorted. On our arrival at Bangalore, a devotee at the airport informed us that Baba was in Whitefield, so we took a taxi and came straight to Whitefield.

It as an emotional but exhilarating, joyful moment when we had our first sight of Swami in His physical form after 10 years since His African trip. Swami surprisingly came out to give Darshan as soon as we had arrived. Swami had been so very gracious and loving that He had arranged transport for us and advised us to go to the Woodlands Hotel in Bangalore for our stay. He even sent His students to drive us to the hotel and had sent a message that we had to be early in the morning to get His darshan and then to depart for Puttaparthi where all the accommodation arrangements had been made for us. We did as Swami had instructed us.

It was darshan time when we arrived in Puttaparthi. We off-loaded our luggage and got ready for the afternoon darshan. No sooner we had sat down for darshan, the divine mother lovingly invited us in the interview room. Enchantingly He said, ‘England, go!’. He was so happy to see us as we were so happy and excited to be in His presence, almost like little children longing for their mother and finally getting to see her though we were all adults filled with that same overwhelming joy. Swami reminded us that He knew what was happening in our Centre. He talked about what meditation was and how to chant the Omkar. He spoke to my father who was a heart patient; Swami opened his shirt button, materialised oil in His hand and massaged it on my father’s chest. He told him to take care of his diet and chant Gayatri mantra. Swami then asked me to show Him my passport which I did. I and my sister almost had to cancel our trip. This was because the immigration office wasn’t giving us our passports and caused us a lot of difficulties; but finally it was another passport office which had issued us our passports. I suppose this is why Swami had asked for my passport. Then Swami remarked that ‘next year there should be another picture here’.

We were blessed to have a lot of attention for the four weeks we were in His presence. Swami used to come out for the morning darshan and used to walk straight towards me and would say to me ‘Bangaru, take Pad Namaskar’. One day, Swami invited us in the mandir and said I have got a film show for you, so our group went in the evening in the Mandir and Swami had arranged for a film show. It was a film of Swami’s life and He was so happy showing us His life story although we were more interested in Swami sitting so close to us! Whilst showing us the film He would say, ‘look, look’ to something interesting on the screen. Swami also gave us the opportunity to sing bhajans in the Mandir. It was a Janmasthami day and Swami had told us the day before that He would call us for a personal interview. He did keep His promise! The whole group was fortunate to get a personal interview. It took Swami the whole morning with 22 people in the group. Swami had said that he was very happy that we had travelled such a long distance to see Him. We were given lots of opportunities in the group. Everyone expressed their Love to Swami in their own way. I had brought for Swami a pair of beautiful slippers and I wanted to put the slippers with my own hand on His Feet and I was given that golden opportunity when it was my turn for an interview. I was the last person to get my personal one to one with Swami, He told me to put the slippers on His Feet and He blessed me on my head and said ‘very good’. Moments like these are ones which thinking about now can still bring tears of happiness to my eyes.

I have had in my life so many personal experiences including my children, who have also been fortunate to be blessed by Swami and they have had their personal experiences and personal interviews with Swami. In every interview my boys have had with Swami, He kept on reminding one message to them all the time, ‘watch your company and be aware of bad company’.

In 1993, a trip was again organised by Leicester Central centre. Our SSE children had prepared a play for presenting to Swami. Children were accompanied by their parents. We were privileged to receive Swami’s attention and guidance on how the play should be enacted and what costumes and make up children should have. It was again Janmasthami celebrations. Swami spent a lot of time with our group. All the boys in the group had got the chance to be in the close proximity of Swami. Swami spoke to me and He had said ‘devotion is like Mira Bai’ and He promised me He is always with me, in me, around me and behind me. We had the opportunity to sing to Swami. He had indicated to me to take padnamaskar, which I did, and it was again a very beautiful personal experience. Swami was very happy with the children; He joked with them, played with them and called them names. I asked Swami if I could put my children to study in His School, Swami said yes. But when I had the interview I again asked the same question and Swami said, ‘east and west complete different life style, the children will not be happy here.’

Swami has guided me throughout my life. Again in 1995 when I had visited Swami, I had 2 interviews. My two sons were present with me. He had cautioned me about my husband with whom I had relationship problems for a while; when we returned to UK, he died later the same year. I had visited Swami the following year in 1996 with my children. Swami was gracious to have called my boys and me and talked to us and again He reminded my children about their company and then talked to me. Swami on this occasion talked about ‘passing clouds’. When I was generally talking about my life He said ‘don’t worry, passing clouds’. In 1997, I had the opportunity to go to Swami with my daughter who was 6 years old. Swami gave us lot of love and told us that He was always with us. I could continue to write many more of my experiences but it would probably take up a whole book, but may be some other time I will be given this opportunity again. To conclude, I have been very fortunate throughout my life to have had Swami’s unconditional love and grace, and for that I am sincerely thankful to Him for everything He has given me today in my life, my health and my family.