Sri Sathya Sai: My Sheet Anchor – By Dr. T. Ravi Kumar

Dr. T Ravi Kumar with Sri Sathya Sai

It was an early, cold morning. The mist still hung in the air seemingly hesitant to leave the place. The ‘Bangalore Transport Service’ bus appeared round the bend, as usual, packed to the point of bursting. Congratulating ourselves on sighting the bus (during those days buses to Whitefield were very rare and one had to do ‘penance’ in the bus stop for a number of hours even to be granted their ‘Darshan’) we put forth our hands and bus came to halt. We packed ourselves in and… well, landed in one piece near railway crossing. The place was full of greenery and at this early hour very few were found venturing out. A long compound wall ran along the road interspersed an ‘S’ in green colour. We walked along the road as my father explained in hushed tone that this was the building. Peace and serenity seemed to envelope the whole area. Within a few minutes, we arrived at the gates. A number of young lads were trying to sell lotus flowers – fresh ones. I selected a violet-pink lotus flower and carefully carried it. We walked along a tree lined avenue to another gate from which an imposing building was now clearly visible. There was a white Chevrolet car and with the registration number 9000 standing in the porch.

Although there were about fifty to sixty people, ladies and gents, sitting on either side of the walkway, no one spoke. Everyone seemed to be deeply absorbed in peace that surrounded them. Next to me was an elderly gentleman with a beautiful bouquet of roses. It must have been about an hour and half (as time is measured in this world) later that there was a hush. All eyes automatically turned in one direction. Following the direction in which all eyes turned I saw a cute little red-robed figure. That minute I knew He was God. The first feeling that enveloped me was one of tremendous joy – the feeling one gets on recovering one’s most treasured possession. Tears tried in vain to capture the figure within my eyes. My father whispered something into my ear but I did not hear (later on he said that he told me that I should not offer the lotus, which had by then got crushed, to Baba). The red-robed figure glided towards us. I felt a sharp tug and the next thing I knew; He had snatched the lotus which I had even forgotten to offer… He had accepted my crushed heart. The gentleman next to me asked me to help him place his bouquet at the feet of the Krishna statue at the centre of the fountain of the grounds.

Sri Sathya Sai Darshan at the Sai Ram Shed in Brindavan in the 1970s

It all started in 1967. My father had a medical check-up at the nursing home in Bangalore. The doctor rang up to convey the distressing news that pathological tests confirmed that my father had cancer. He buffeted the news with some consoling words about the cancer being still in a preliminary stage. Visits to the doctor became a part of routine. The visits to hospital soon got altered to stay at the hospital and occasional visit to home to recuperate between operations. I still recall being taken to my father’s bedside on a Saturday evening after school (I was then in my fourth class) and seeing the torture he was undergoing. I kept my sorrow to myself as the atmosphere at home was already on edge of depression.

My father had already been in the hospital for nearly three months on this particular visit. The doctor had operated on him for the fourteenth time and found that medical science could not stop the march of the dreaded disease - cancer. He gave up. He called my sister (who is also a doctor) and advised her to get my father home so that he may at least live with his children for the last few days – 60 at most – of his life. He had done all that medical science could do. Seeing my sister terribly shaken by the news and knowing that we had lost our mother when very young, the kind doctor tried his best to console her. He even suggested that we take our father to ‘Sai Baba’, who is reputed to possess the power to cure diseases. A dying man clutches at the straw.

My father was discharged from the hospital and was taken within a day or two to Brindavan. Just then they entered to outer gates of Brindavan Swami had already given Darshan and was returning to bungalow. It seemed to my father that even God has turned His back on him. Just then, Swami turned back and came swiftly, straight to him creating Vibhuti. As He neared the patient, the loving Sai said, “Why did you have fourteen operations? It was a waste of time” and pouring the Vibhuti into his outstretched palm and continued, “I know, doctors say you will die. Eat this and you will be cured. No more operations.” It is eighteen years since Swami gave me back my father. He has even blessed him with a chance to serve him in the press. The ‘straw’ has become the sheet of anchor of our lives!

- Dr. T. Ravikumar
Doctoral Research Scholar (1984-1990), Department of Chemistry
Currently, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Warden, Sri Sathya Sai Hostel
Brindavan Campus

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