As the veil of darkness was cast away by the ascending sun and the wispy tendrils of mist began to vanish, I peeped out of the window thinking that I was, probably one of the lucky few to witness the tranquil and serene sunrise. It was a wall of stones, which as suddenly as it appeared, brought me out of my reverie. Suddenly, I was filled with a rush of excitement. And as the train chugged into the Sri Sathya Sai Prashanti Nilayam Station, I was overwhelmed by a sense of homecoming.
Eventful and indelible memories of the last ten years of my stay here bear testimony to this. As I made a beeline to the exit, I was greeted by the familiar shouts of the porters and auto drivers. And within the next few seconds, I found my luggage being shoved into an auto rickshaw. I was being ferried to Puttaparthi, for a relatively cheap forty rupees, thanks to my mother’s bargaining skills. However, the chain of events that ensued on that day gave me a jolt deep within, to shake away the weak foundations and firmaments of my heart and lay a fresh layer of concrete faith on the floor of my heart.
It was a perfectly normal beginning to a stunningly abnormal day. Along with me on that fateful day, were my mother, her brother and his daughter, who were occasional visitors to Prashanti Nilayam, though they are devotees of Bhagavan. What all of us felt at that time, and believed was that we had struck an amazing bargain with the auto driver. What we did not know was that it could as well turn out to be our last day on Earth. The manner in which the events unfolded could have well turned an atheist into a staunch devotee. It was, if my memory serves me right, the 3rd of June 2008, a Thursday.
Nevertheless, once we had started from the station my mind raced across all those lovely days spent in His presence and I was glad to be back again. I still remember the day, when as a kid of five and a half years, I stood on the premises of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School clutching the little finger of my mother’s hand. One part of me wanted to run and play on the elephant slide, while the other wanted to hold on to the warmth of my mother’s finger, while the sky above my head was filled with ominous clouds portending a heavy downpour. And as I stepped inside the School, I reckon, I put my first step forward, onward and Godward. When I was taught that there was a God, who loved me more than my mother, I did not believe it. My opinion, I felt, was further justified, when I noticed that when Bhagavan threw chocolates at us, everyone seemed to receive them, except me. Why was it so? Was He really as loving as everyone claimed He was? Doubt crept into my mind as quickly as my lessons seeped in.
The thought that I was going to rot in a loveless place for the next seven years, gnawed at my mind, and every night I used to cry myself to sleep, hoping for the presence of my mother to comfort me. When things got worse I wanted to run away. It was then that the Divine Mother felt it most appropriate to step into my life. One night, I got a dream that He was by my bedside throughout the night, catering to my every need, just as my mother did. As if to confirm His presence, the next day in Mandir, I happened to sit in the first row, and as He glided past me, He stopped a few paces in front of me, called some senior brothers and asked them to get something from inside the Interview room. He threw one of those objects at me, and gave me a look, that seemed to ask, “Are you satisfied?” I fell at His feet in prostration.
The chocolate that He threw to me that day served its purpose of binding me to the Lord. Today I realise that if not for that sign of His Divinity, I would not have stayed even for a year in Swami’s school. However, things turned out different and my life was not the same anymore! What I am today is all due to what I have learnt from Bhagavan. Little instances made big impacts on my life. As I go down the memory lane, I can still see one particular incident, which changed all my beliefs and strengthened my faith in the Lord.
|Sri Sathya Sai with the Hiranyagarbha Linga|
It was during one Shivrathri, when the proceedings in the Sai Kulwant Hall were being telecast live on Samskar TV. One old woman, busy in the kitchen, realized that it was getting late and the Lingodbhavam might take place any time. So she switched on the television and watched while working in the kitchen - multi-tasking at its heights? At that very moment, there was a breeze. The breeze carried one end of her sari with it and her silk sari caught fire. Once aflame, the breeze only fanned the nascent fire into a huge blaze. Soon the flames touched her bare skin, she writhed in agony and called out for her daughter. But her desperate pleas for help were drowned in the loud volume of the television. As her last resort, she shouted the name of the Lord with all the energy she could muster. And the very next instant, the flames that rose above her, engulfing her completely, died down. By the time her daughter came running, all that remained was a small scar below her right knee as a testimony to the miracle of the Lord. What my mother, just a few rooms away could not hear, the Lord, a few thousands of kilometres away could hear and respond instantly. That is why my grandmother is alive today, hale and hearty!
When I was in fourth standard, Bhagavan was in Brindavan on my birthday. And, as was the custom in the primary school those days, birthdays were very special and memorable occasions, as we would come for Darshan especially in the afternoon and sit in front of the Interview room. However, since Bhagavan was not here, I was very disappointed as I wanted to give Him a letter and I had many things which I wanted Him to know. So I prayed for Bhagavan to, at the very least, show that He cared for His Children. Co-incidentally (or miraculously?), our class teacher set out for Whitefield two days before my birthday. So, I gave her the letter that I had intended to give to Swami. She attended two Darshans before my birthday and showed both her letter, and mine, but Bhagavan took only her letter and not mine. However, on the day of my birthday, Swami stretched out His hand to her asking for letters and out on the bunch of letters she was carrying, He selected mine and took it. Later, when I heard this, I realized that the Lord truly cared for His children.
The next year, on my birthday, He happened to be in Puttaparthi. I went for Darshan in the afternoon, but, I began to feel giddy and feverish. My seniors, who came along with me, chided me and asked me to stay awake, but I just could not. As I dozed off, the music began playing and Bhagavan was arriving. I felt a small tap on my head, and when I opened my eyes, I saw everything orange. I thought I was dreaming and rubbed my eyes. It took me a few moments to realise that Bhagavan was in front of me. He lovingly looked into my eyes and asked me what my name was. When I answered, He materialized Vibhuti and gave it to me, saying that I would be all right. And by the time Bhagavan went inside the Interview room, sure enough, my fever had subsided and I just felt fine.
Bhagavan is ready to go to any extent to save His devotees and perhaps what happened on 3rd June was only to test the extent to which I had grasped this Divine Doctrine. On that day, the train pulled into the Prashanti Nilayam station at 6:30 a.m., and within a few minutes, we were on our way to the Ashram. Until we reached the Super Specialty Hospital, everything was, or rather seemed to be fine. My mother was busy pointing out landmarks of Puttaparthi to her brother and his daughter, who seemed genuinely excited. I was sitting in front, next to the driver. A few hundred meters away from the Hospital, I realized that he had slowed down. In my mind, I calculated that if we were late in getting to the Ashram, getting proper accommodation would be well impossible. So I asked the driver to hurry up. He had a grave look on his face and did not respond. Thinking that he did not hear me, I repeated myself. I still did not get any response.
I cursed his attitude and continued to look at the scenery. Suddenly, I realized that though the ignition was off, he was picking up speed. I, then, realized that there was big slope and could see Sai Aramam, a tourism hotel at a distance. As huge cars and trucks whizzed past us, I saw a turn approaching and saw the Aramam circle. The next instant, the auto had hit the railings at the junction and fell over on its side. Sitting in the front, I could feel the force of the accident. Looking back at the incident, I feel that the ‘Sai Ram’ my mother shouted acted as a safety shield. The moment the auto came to a halt, I jumped out to assess the damage. And the most surprising thing was that though the auto driver had a deep gash on his forehead, nothing had happened to any of us. If Bhagavan had not saved me on that day, I would probably not have seen the light of this day. Swami thank You very much for Your infinite Love for me.
- Yogesh Murthy
Student (2010-2015), Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning