"I am in you, behind you, in front of you..." - By S. Chatterjee

It was by no accident that I was born in the sixth decade of the twentieth century. It was by no accident that I joined Swami’s college sixteen years later. And looking back to what I have learnt at the feet of the Divine Master, in those moments of spoken and unspoken communication, my eyes moisten in gratitude and a feeling of intense thrill overwhelms me. Every experience in which one is confronted with a close encounter with the Divine has its own message to deliver. An experience of this nature be revealing, may be affirming or may be re-echoing the greatness of the Divine. It is an epitaph written on the tombstone of our ignorance, worded and signed by God Himself. But then as T. S. Eliot says, “We had the experience, but have lost the meaning.” Often we are not sincerely sensitive enough to grasp the meaning of the experience. Without coloured vision we are not able to perceive its true implication, the experience becomes a mere recording in the memory files of our brine.

Bhagavan the Divine Master that He is, in His infinite compassion and mercy allows us to experience, that He grants us. It will be my endeavour in this little article to share with the readers a few experiences which came to be great revelation for me, and share the great thrill and joy from them. Our beloved Bhagavan says, “I am in you, behind you, in front you.” The following accounts testify to this most assuring testament of the Sai Avatar.

Goddess Lakshmi serving Lord Vishnu
Some time back, during the Dasera celebrations, Bhagavan was very gracious to spend some time with a group of boys selected by Him to speak at the evening meeting. I was blessed enough to be one of them. During these sessions, while Bhagavan was speaking to us, a few of us had the unique privilege of doing Padaseva to the Lord. I also had the unique chance. While lovingly pressing those Divine feet, which all the universe craves for, a sudden thought occurred to me - the previous evening, while speaking on Bhakti, Swami had referred to Sri Lakshmi as the most ideal example of one who does Padaseva to the Lord as an act of devotion. He said that there is none who gets this unique privilege to nurse and serve the Lord's feet. This thought came in my mind and almost immediately I tried to compare the status of Sri Lakshmi with that of mine. Was I so blessed? Was I performing the act without any worldly thoughts? Hardly had I finished thinking, when Bhagavan heard my thoughts. He had been talking and in the middle of a word, He stopped and looked at me. I was taken aback. In the presence of the phenomenon, which is ‘in’ us, it is difficult even to think! - “I am in you.”

Sri Sathya Sai celebrating Deepavali with students
It was the night of Deepavali. Swami had permitted me to participate in the fireworks. As we were bursting the crackers in the ladies’ wing of the Mandir compound, Swami was sitting in the portico with the other boys, watching the show. All of a sudden, I saw a very powerful flash of light and a loud explosion. Instinctively I turned back. It was a right-about-turn and I was facing Swami. I saw His Divine form. The effect of the crackers explosion had dazed me. My ears seemed blocked and everything seemed dark before my eyes. After sometime, the shock wore away, but still I found it difficult to see clearly. Thinking that my spectacles were dirty, I removed them to clean the lens. To my horror I found the inside plane of the left eye lens damaged! It had suffered a deep crack. My horror was accompanied by shock and surprise as the inside plane and not the outside one had suffered the crack. This meant that a cracker had exploded in the constricted space between my eye and the lens. So powerful was the explosion, that the thick cylindrical 7-powered lens cracked not the tender eye ball! The all-protecting Lord had given my eye lens to have the Darshan of His beautiful form - “I am around you.”

It was vacation time and we were going home. After having alighted from the bus at Bangalore bus station we were making our way to the railway station. We did not hire any porter and hence were carrying our own luggage. My brother had two suitcases in two hands and a haversack holdall bag on his back. He was standing at a junction where three roads meet. As he was about to cross the road he noticed an ambassador car speeding towards him from the left. On the right was a public bus. Behind him was another bus. All the three vehicles were simultaneously moving towards him, desperately blowing their horns. It all happened fast that my brother was stricken with fear and stood rooted to the ground. All of a sudden he felt as though someone gave him an immense push, that he lost his balance and stumbled forward. With two suitcases in hand and a haversack behind, he tried to retain his balance and check his movement, but the more he did so, the more he kept on stumbling till he realised that he had crossed the road in the process. All the three rushing vehicles crossed by him simultaneously missing him by the distance of an inch - “I am behind you.”

Last summer we had been to Darjeeling for a short vacation. During the last days of our stay there, the Gurkha National Liberation Front (G.N.L.F.) had called on a strike as a part of their Gorkhaland agitation. All tourists were stranded. There was not any transport nor any shops open. Hotels that had their own restaurants catered to their guests. On the second day, all provisions were over and we had to subsist on bread and jam. There was some police firing in a place called Kurseong and the agitators had hence taken a hard stand. They threatened to burn any vehicle that left Darjeeling. That night, one of our family members had a dream in which he saw us leaving Darjeeling in a vehicle with Swami leading us in another. The next day, curfew had been relaxed in Kersong but no transport was yet available. The people advised us to sneak out of town somehow as the situation might worsen by evening. We lost all hope and prayed to Swami. All of a sudden a taxi and jeep arrived from the plains at around 12 noon. We reserved the taxi immediately, thought the driver demanded an astronomical amount. When everything was fixed the driver let us down. He said that a certain government official would travel in the taxi and that we could travel in the jeep. In that hour of peril anything was acceptable. So, eleven of us were crammed inside the jeep. We were to follow the car. We left Darjeeling at 12:30 with almost no petrol in the jeep.

In a place called Ghum the agitators stopped our convoy and asked us to return to Darjeeling. The Kurkis (native knives), iron chains, soda bottles and kerosene cans. They threatened to burn the vehicle with us inside. All of a sudden the driver of the car started the engine. So did we in the jeep and before anyone could understand what was happening; we were gone, leaving the Ghum and the agitators. When we had crossed the danger area, we stopped to siphon some petrol from the car into the jeep. While this was being done something that I saw startled me. The windshield of the car had a sticker with picture of our beloved Swami. The dream had come true - “I am in front of you.”

Time and again with all patience that the Lord has, He reminds us, through these experiences to feel and realise His presence at all times. But, we with our human limitations fall short of His expectations. At those moments we only stare in meek gratitude at those big sparkling eyes of His or the beautiful coveted Lotus feet. On the completion of 60 years of the all circumstances we remember Him.

S. Chatterjee
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning

Source: Sai Nandana 1985 (60th Birthday Issue)

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