Saat Samudra Ki Masi Karoon, Hari Guna Phir Bhi Likha Na Jaye
Even if I unfold the earth and transform it into a sheet of paper, make use of all the wood available in all the jungles to make a pen and use the waters of all the seven oceans as ink, I will not be able to describe the Guru Mahima and His Eternal Benign Grace. - Sant Kabir
This is exactly how I felt when I started to pen down this article. Bhagawan has been protecting and guiding us in every moment of our lives and to describe even a few of those instances is a herculean task. One is really at a loss to decide where to begin and where to end?
One of the most savoured moments in any devotee’s life is his coming to Swami. Let me share my experience in this regard. When I was in my eleventh standard (in Bangalore), one of my friends asked me as to where I would pursue my college education. I had not decided on any particular college and asked him to suggest a few. He mentioned to me about one “Sai Baba College” and praised the discipline that prevailed there. None of my family members were ‘devotees’of Swami. I had a Sikh friend of mine who also wanted to pursue his college education along with me. So, after finishing the 12th class examinations, both of us filled in the application forms and applied for the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL). After submitting the application form, I proceeded with my parents to my hometown for the summer vacations.
After the vacations, on our way back to Bangalore, I bought a book at the Lucknow railway station. This book explained the significance of dreams. It also had the description of a prayer (ritual) by which one could ask a question to the Goddess of Dreams (Swapneshwari Devi) and the Goddess would answer the same in a dream.
On reaching Bangalore, I found a letter from the SSSIHL summoning me to appear for the entrance test at Puttaparthi. About a week was left before the entrance test and I thought that it was too short a time to prepare for the exam and that I would be wasting time and money in visiting Puttaparthi. However my father asked me not to think on these lines and instead try to make the best possible use of the time available to prepare for the exam.
A couple of days before the exam, my Sikh friend and I proceeded by bus to Parthi for the entrance exam. The other friend who was instrumental in introducing me to this college could not make it for the exam, as his mother was unwell. However I am eternally grateful to him because he was the chosen instrument of Bhagawan who showed me the way to Swami’s fold.
“No one can come to Me, however accidental it might seem, without My calling.” - Swami
As our bus was moving towards Parthi, we found that the road was totally deserted. On both sides of the road one could only see trees and mountains. Not a single human soul was in sight. We were wondering as to which godforsaken place we were proceeding to?
Our destination came and we were put up in the old students’ Hostel. I must confess that the moment we entered the hallowed precincts of Prashanti Mandir, we could feel an indescribable aura of Divinity enveloping us. We studied for some time and then went to the Hostel to catch up with some sleep.
It was too hot and humid and lot of mosquitoes were testing our resolve to sleep. Hence both of us decided to go down and sleep in the open area just below the old students’ Hostel. We packed our beds and came down to sleep. It was very hot and we were wondering whether we would really be able to get a few hours of sleep. Suddenly my Sikh friend asked, “Saurabh, do you really feel that this Sai Baba is God?” I don’t know what prompted me to say “yes”. He continued, “If He is really God, then at least a cool breeze should blow now.” I remarked, “Yes, if He is really God that will happen”. Something in my heart said that this was going to happen and within seconds a cool breeze started blowing, caressing our faces. Both of us were amazed. My friend though amazed, dismissed it as a mere coincidence. To further confirm his faith, he remarked, “If He really is God, it should rain now.” The feeling in me was becoming stronger and stronger that Swami was indeed someone really supernatural, even though I had not yet had any experience of His Divinity. I remarked, “If He is really God then it will rain.”
Lo and behold, in no time the clouds started gathering and it started to drizzle following which there was a heavy downpour! All of us had to pack up our beddings and run back to the Hostel again. Just a few minutes earlier it had been so hot and there were no sign of clouds. And then …cool breeze, clouds and finally the rain! I was truly convinced that I was in the right place. My Sikh friend was terrified and confused. He couldn’t believe that such things could happen in the real world. We wrote the exams and returned to Bangalore.
One night, I thought of offering a special prayer to Swapneshwari Devi to find out if I would get through this exam and get an admission into the Sai University. As per the rituals, I wrote this question on a piece of paper, sat in front of the photograph of Swapneshwari Devi and started chanting the shloka (hymn) till I fell asleep. Just before falling asleep, I kept that sheet of paper with the question below my pillow. Swapneshwari Devi was to come in my dreams and answer my question. At least that was what the book claimed!
I was fast asleep and then suddenly I felt someone’s hand on me. No, it was not the Goddess of Dreams. My brother was trying to wake me up as my parents and relatives were waiting for me to join them for dinner. I was terribly upset. Even before Swapneshwari Devi could come in my dream and answer my question, my brother had woken me up. The time spent on the prayers was at best lost. I ate a little and immediately went back to bed hoping that the Goddess would decide to come back, even though I had woken up before the ritual was complete.
And then, I had the first of Swami’s dreams. Swami came and asked me one simple question. “What are your subjects?” I replied, “Baba, Commerce, Accountancy and Economics.” I woke up and was pretty sure that I would get through the exams. I told about my dream to my parents who advised me to keep it unto myself lest others make fun of me. The results were announced, and I was selected for the under-graduate programme at Prasanthi Nilayam. This was my beginning in the world of Sai.
After completing my Graduation and Post Graduation from the Institute, I worked for some time in India and then got a job offer to work in Oman. A few days before leaving for Oman, I had a dream of Swami wherein we were onboard a big ship and Swami was holding my hand. Someone asked Swami as to where He was going. He said, “Ï am going to Oman with Saurabh.”
A family friend of mine (not a devotee of Swami) had given two letters of introduction to me (of his acquaintances in Oman). Upon reaching Oman, I decided to visit one of them and the moment I entered the house I was wonderstruck to notice Swami’s picture with Abhayahastha in the main hall. I was so happy for this sign of Grace, wherein He confirmed that where ever we may be, we are never too far from Him. I had never expected that this person would be a Sai devotee.
Once I had to travel to Oman from Dubai by taxi. When I reached the taxi stand, I was happy to join three passengers already in a taxi. This enabled us to begin the journey immediately. The driver requested me to sit in the rear, but I insisted on sitting in the front. I really don't know why I did that because normally I do not refuse anybody's request. As is my practice, before undertaking any journey, I chant the Sai Gayatri once. When the taxi had moved for about ten minutes, I realised that I had forgotten to do that. I apologised to Swami and chanted the Sai Gayatri at once. It is said that whoever chants the Gayatri, is always protected.
After reaching the Oman border, I stopped the car and called up one of my acquaintances to inform him about the status of my journey. One of the passengers in the taxi became restless and was unhappy that I was wasting time making the phone call. Then the driver wanted to go for prayers and this again made that passenger very angry. To top it all when the driver finished his prayers, the other passenger (a Bangladeshi) wanted to go to the toilet. I volunteered to hold the taxi for him lest the others decide to leave him and proceed. The other passenger, by now, was furious, due to the delays that were taking place. He wanted the driver to drive as fast as possible.
We started again and the driver informed me that his car was not in a good condition. Hence he would not be able to drive too fast. He was still driving at about 140-160 kms/hr. A few moments later, I realised that the front tyre had burst and the car was swerving like a snake. The driver had put his whole body on the steering to control the taxi. I knew something was terribly wrong. I started shouting "Sai Ram; Sai Ram". The car went on the left side of the road, skidded and dragged for some time. It then somersaulted. There were sparks coming out, and I was reminded of my friend’s death in a similar car accident a few weeks ago. I thought that if I had to die then it should not be a painful one. I was continuously chanting “Sai Ram”.
At last the car stopped and I wanted to get out of it before it caught fire. I looked at the driver; he was semi-conscious with his head on the steering wheel. He tried to lift his head and then became unconscious. I thought he was dead. I came out of the window, as I could not open the door. I then saw the dead body of one of the passengers in a pool of blood. He had suffered head injuries. The Bangladeshi passenger who was on the ground, tried to get up, but his whole body shook and he also fell unconscious.
Bhagawan had chosen to give me a new lease of life and I escaped with only a few bruises on my elbow. We were immediately rushed to a hospital. The doctor asked me to thank God, as it was almost impossible to escape unhurt from such an accident. The car resembled a crumpled matchbox. We were given immediate medical attention. Later I was told that the driver and the Bangladeshi passenger too had succumbed to their injuries. Out of the five passengers in the taxi only two of us were saved. The other passenger too had major injuries in his hand. How true is Swami’s assurance to His devotees, “If you have My Anugraha (Grace), then what can the Navagrahas (nine planets) do to you?”
As I had mentioned in the beginning – ‘Hari Anant, Hari Katha Anant’. Each one of us could write an encyclopaedia on our experiences with Bhagawan and would still be found wanting. The unseen hand of Swami is always guiding and protecting us. There have been several challenges in my life, but I cannot recollect a single episode wherein Swami has not guided or protected me with His Divine Love and Grace. This is the treasure Bhagawan has bestowed all of us with.
- Saurabh Saksena
Student (1992-1994), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus