When Sri Sathya Sai saved me from the World Trade Center Attack in 2001… - By Sudhakar Reddy

Being in His Divine Presence is a rare boon bestowed once in several births. Having been granted this boon and knowing what is required of us, let us not waste this chance of a lifetime.

During our stay in the Institute, my focus was only on catching His Physical attention in one way or the other. But in the process, even without my conscious knowledge, I imbibed so many precious qualities that have stood in good stead, during trials and tribulations in my life.

I am pretty sure that none of us would disagree with the fact that we have been guided by the Divine Invisible Hand during every moment of our lives. The sooner we realise this fact, the more will we be at peace with ourselves. Many students of Swami working in organisations are faced with a typical question, “How do you keep smiling all the time and have such a pleasant demeanour amidst all the stress and strain in our profession?” The answer is simple. This immense treasure of equipoise is so much a part of our nature. The highs and lows which our Lord treats us with, prepares us for any kind of uncertainty that life may throw up.

Once, on my way back from Prasanthi Nilayam, I met a young engineer in the bus. He too happened to be working in Bangalore at that time. He introduced himself to me and asked me if I were a student of the Institute. I answered in the affirmative and asked him how he could identify me as a student of Swami. He said that it was quite easy, because almost all Sai Students have a pleasant smile all the time and a kind of ‘glow’ on the face. I was a little embarrassed. He then started to shower praises on his project team leader who was an alumnus of our esteemed Institute. He mentioned about his qualities as a leader and about his being liked by one and all in the team. And guess what; he had come for Swami's Darshan for the first time, only because of the impact that his project leader had on his life. 

I felt very proud that day, to notice the impact our brothers have made in their respective organisations, by virtue of their mere presence. I think, this is what is expected of the Sai Students who have been given the privilege of the undivided attention of the Master of the Universe. It is time for us to show our gratitude to our Lord. Swami once said that in the olden days, the disciples’ conduct used to be the yardstick for evaluating the Guru. Do we understand the immense responsibility that rests on our shoulders as students of the Poorna Avatar of Kaliyuga? If one thinks deeply, it would send shivers down the spine!

But the consoling fact is that the mighty Lord has already equipped His instruments with the necessary arsenal of weaponry, to take on this herculean task.

On several occasions, we have heard experiences of Swami’s protective umbrella over His students, wherever they are. On one occasion, I was working on a project based in the World Financial Centre, adjacent to the erstwhile World Trade Centre. I had a meeting with my manager at 8:30 a.m. in the morning. I wanted to be very prompt for the meeting as requested by my boss. I had set the alarm to make sure that I wake up at the right time. But I overslept that night and could not get up in time. I was furious with myself and as it happens most of the time – started chiding the poor Lord. How was I to face my manager in the meeting? I nervously reached at 9:00 a.m., delayed by half an hour. But to my utter surprise and shock, I was warned by the fire-fighters not to venture any further as the World Trade Centre had been struck by terrorist planes at 8:47 a.m. and that it could collapse any moment. I was shell shocked, and after a while, I was in tears thinking of the Lord who made me peacefully rest that night ensuring that I do not rest in eternal peace so soon!!!

The Attack on the World Trade Center, New York - September 11, 2001

Many of our brothers have really gone places in the tough corporate world with their ability to deliver the best. This is primarily due to the preparation they had undergone at the Lotus Feet of our Lord. Like He often says, our life should be His message…. Is it not a miracle that in a world where aggression and craftiness are advocated in Management Schools as a stepping stone to success, the moderate, unassuming and soft spoken, yet able and intelligent graduates from the Sai Institute are going up the corporate ladder, surpassing their peers in various organisations? I, like many of my brothers at the Institute used to wonder why our Institute never encouraged Campus Placements, whereas in the outside world, the ranking of the Management Institutes is measured by the yardstick of the number of organisations coming to its premises for the campus interviews. We used to think that it was due to the laidback attitude of our Institute. Little did we understand then, the underlying principle of our Lord, when He made cryptic remarks like ‘Roses do not advertise their fragrance, and still people run after the roses because of their fragrance.’ Only now, in retrospection, do we understand the meaning of those profound and prophetic statements. Indeed, the Divine fragrance of this esteemed Institute is permeating the corporate world and organisations are running after the roses who pass out from this Institute.

Last but the most important, I would like to mention about our brothers who had the courage to choose the proximity of the Divine over the ludicrous careers awaiting them outside. In my opinion, that kind of clarity of thought and unity of purpose can come with immense control of mind and ability to deal with temptations, which again have been gifted to us by none other than our Divine Master. In this world of immense competition and greed, this kind of selfless sacrifice is nothing short of a miracle. Truly, it has to be seen to be believed. Without Him we are all nothing but zeroes, but with Him we are the true heroes. No wonder, devotees pray to Him to be born again as a student of this unparalleled Institute rather than praying for Moksha (no more births). 

He is closer to you than anybody you can think of – your parents, relatives, friends, wife, children etc. Once when my wife had gone to her native place, I was staying alone in my apartment. I had to go to the bank near my office to withdraw some money. As I was getting late, I was in a great hurry. I tried to jump into a bus which I thought had slowed down, but it picked up speed immediately. I slipped and could not put my foot on the footrest. I miraculously escaped being run over by the speeding bus. But I had a broken shoulder, and I was all alone in utter pain. I did not know what to do except thinking of Him. At that moment, an auto driver came near me and offered help!  I was literally in tears. He helped me into his rickshaw and carried me to the nearby hospital. By then I was almost unconscious.

This person called the doctor and waited for all the formalities to be completed. He requested the doctor to attend to me immediately and asked me for any of my friends’ contact number, which I managed to give him. But my friend got delayed in getting the information and reaching me. Again it was Swami’s unique way of letting us know “Why do you fear when I am here?” Finally, that gentleman drove me all the way to my home and ensured that I was safe. Who else could it have been, but our Lord? Though I was at home, I was alone. Nobody was around when I desperately needed them. It was He who took care of me! “Why fear when I am here. I am always with you, around you, inside you, above you…..guiding and guarding you.”

- B. Sudharkar Reddy
Student (1993-1995), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

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