Indellible Impressions with the Divine - By Ghandikota V. Sanjay

G.V. Sanjay with Sri Sathya Sai
Bhagavan’s Love is unique in that it is multi-faceted and can be experienced in a variety of different ways: for a devotee, He is God; for a daughter or son, He is Mother and Father; for the disciple, He is Guru; and for the lonely, He is the Best Friend. Each one has their own relationship with God and all can connect with His Love at the individual level. When Bhagavan gives Darshan, everyone feels His unbounded Grace personally and all equally enjoy His munificent Love. Bhagavan’s Love and Grace are freely given to all and in my case, I received Bhagavan’s Love very early in life, an experience narrated to me by my mother. 

It was in New York, in the year 1967, that I was born, a baby premature by more than two months. Needless to say, during the 1960s, the premature delivery of a child was infinitely more precarious than it is today. During the sixth month of pregnancy, my mother was hospitalized due to a severe hemorrhage and it was at this critical juncture that Bhagavan’s Divine intervention came into play.

Severe hemorrhage at such a stage of pregnancy could easily be fatal for the mother and child. Due to this fact, the doctors kept my mother in the intensive care unit of the hospital. Numerous complications arose and due to the complexity of the case, a team of doctors, some of the most renowned, arrived on the scene. Tersely put, their prognosis was unanimous; the birth would most likely be fatal to both mother and child. The future, indeed, looked grim.  

The doctors were aware of the fact that the baby would not stay its whole nine-month term but expected it to stay in place for little while longer. But again, the case took an unexpected turn and at the end of the sixth month/beginning of the seventh month itself, labor began. My father was called and informed of the grave situation. He, along with my four elder brothers, were asked to say their good-byes in case the inevitable happened. My mother was wheeled into the delivery room in a stretcher and was in the process of being put under by the anesthesiologist when Lo!, she saw a gleaming light followed by Bhagavan’s brilliant form, His Hand raised in blessing.

The doctors did not perceive anything and one of them asked my mother, “Would you like us to call anyone or do something for you?” My mother replied, “Baba!” The doctor then said, “Who is Baba? Give us his address and we will contact him.” My mother replied, “He is here!” The doctors, no doubt, saw this as a hallucination on the part of my mother and anesthetized her completely.  

The situation went from bad to worse in the delivery room and finally, the doctors declared, as we later found out, that “only a miracle can save her and the baby now!” And that is exactly what happened. All of a sudden, the situation changed dramatically for the better with signs showing a normal delivery. I was born safely, and healthy due to Bhagavan’s Grace. Two years later, my father and mother brought me and my brothers to Prasanthi Nilayam where Bhagavan affirmed that it was His Divine Intervention that saved us both. He declared, “It is for the sake of the child and the remaining children that I gave a second-life to the mother also.” Undoubtedly, it is solely due to the Lord’s Love and Grace that mother and child survived. Bhagavan lovingly materialized a photograph of Himself, encased in a type of acrylic, for my mother and instructed her to wear it around her neck as a ‘Raksha’ and I, as a child, always enjoyed touching and looking at it.

Since then, I confess that I have had a strong and immediate affinity for Bhagavan and His photographs, which perhaps was the cause of my wanting to take videos of Swami when I later became a Sai Student (which He very graciously permitted)! Indeed, my mother and father would often relate to me later that when they showed me pictures of the various forms of the Lord when I was very young, I always chose Bhagavan Baba’s photo. My brothers, while growing up, also had the same feeling as well. It is only due to Bhagavan’s enveloping Divinity, Infinite Grace and His prompting that enabled children to have such sentiments, by leaving an indelible impact upon young minds. I am ever grateful to Bhagavan for implanting such yearning in me, for “pulling” me towards Him and for verily giving me life. What makes this experience most unique is the fact that it is not unique at all. Bhagavan has similarly left indelible impressions of His Divinity on children the world over and I have had the good fortune, over the years, to listen to some of their experiences.

As mentioned earlier, Bhagavan’s Love is multi-faceted and can be experienced in a multitude of different ways simultaneously. In addition, every act which He undertakes is replete with meaning on a variety of planes.  An experience embodies these particular thoughts.

It was in the year 1981 that my grandfather and parents thought it would be the correct time for my ‘Upanayanam’ or ‘Thread Ceremony’, as it is commonly known. It was also during this time that Swami very graciously gave admission in His college to one of my elder brothers, Ravishankar. As is customary with devotees of Bhagavan, my grandparents and parents beseeched Swami to perform the Upanayanam ceremony, praying but not really expecting Him to oblige, as we felt it such a trivial thing for Him. When requested, Bhagavan immediately consented without even a trace of hesitation, reminding us once again of His munificent Love and Benevolence. 
Sanjay's grandfather - Sri Ghandikota Subrahmanyam Sastry (the sage who gave the Sai Gayatri Mantra) with Sri Sathya Sai
The date of the Upanayanam ceremony was fixed and it began punctually in Prasanthi Nilayam at the allotted hour in a flat graciously assigned to us by Swami. The ceremony was proceeding when Bhagavan arrived in all His splendour. Immediately upon His arrival, He glanced at me and enquired about my health in a very concerned manner. I had been ill for a few days and Bhagavan, being omniscient and omnipresent, was acutely aware of it.  I replied that I was better, whereupon He suddenly began to chide me for not having had my head shaved leaving five tufts of hair, as is traditionally done. Unsurprisingly, this idea did not appeal to me very much! A wave of worry swept across my face that I disappointed Bhagavan, but He then laughed merrily and compassionately added that it is not really essential as long as the spirit of the action is felt.

Suddenly, Bhagavan waved His hand in His inimitable fashion and materialized the ‘Yagnopaveeth’ or the ‘Sacred thread’. The emergence of the sacred thread was immediately followed by a delightful fragrance that seemed to permeate and waft across the entire room. The sacred thread was still wet and fragrant with sandalwood paste, vermilion, and turmeric — a sight to behold. Bhagavan then told my parents to place it around me, but my parents prayed to Bhagavan for Him to do so with His Divine Hands. Bhagavan graciously consented but added that all three should place it around me together as the role of the parent is important. Immediately after this, Bhagavan Himself performed the 'Gayatri Mantra Upadesh' or the ‘Initiation into the Gayatri Mantra’ by cupping His Hands around my ear and whispering the Sacred Gayatri. A cloth shielded us both as it is traditional that this aspect of the ceremony is done privately by the Guru and disciple in order to maintain the efficacy of the mantra for the disciple. Immediately upon being shielded by the cloth from those in the room, with Bhagavan right next to me, I perceived a sudden “hush” when, in fact, the whole room was vibrant with sound. It was at this juncture that I experienced something very difficult to translate into words. Everything seemed to turn “golden” and I experienced a blissful silence followed by the sound of ‘Om’ and the Gayatri Mantra being chanted by the very Lord Himself. Once the cloth was removed, the whole phenomenon vanished, thereby ‘bringing me back’. Bhagavan then blessed me and allowed me to have His ‘Padanamaskar’. 
Sanjay with his parents - Sri GV Subba Rao (senior officer at the United Nations) and Smt. Lakshmi Devi in the Prasanthi Nilayam Interview Room - 1985
Looking at these events more closely, it took a while for me to see that every action of Bhagavan is fraught with meaning. Replaying these events briefly, Bhagavan first entered the room and enquired about my health, just as a mother does. He then proceeded to lovingly discipline me, just as a father does. Bhagavan then placed the sacred thread around me and initiated me into the Gayatri Mantra, as a Guru does. Finally, Bhagavan blessed me and allowed me to have His Padanamaskar as Our Beloved Lord.  Bhagavan showed the love emanating from all these relationships concurrently. Namely, ‘Mata, Pita, Guru, Daivam’ or ‘Mother, Father, Guru and God’. Hitherto, I would come to Prasanthi Nilayam with my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law and would witness Bhagavan’s Love and Divinity as a child. This experience, however, left me speechless and shook me to the core in a positive way.  It was the start of a one-to-one relationship with Mother Sai, while previously most of my interaction with Swami was through my parents.

The preceding experiences left an indelible impact upon me, culminating in the realization of my fondest wish: Swami very graciously granting me admission into the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning in 1985, an event that I always feel was my greatest good fortune. I am ever grateful to Bhagavan for drawing me into His Divine Fold.  I am also grateful to Swami and to my mother and father for giving me life and for placing me at His Divine Lotus Feet.  
Sanjay receives Gold Medal from Sri Sathya Sai
By being immersed in His Infinite Grace and experiencing His teachings of practical spirituality through service and love, Sai Students are initiated into the importance of right conduct, education in human values and character development, all with Swami showering on us the bountiful love of a million mothers. Living with Swami is the Highest Education. Between the golden opportunities and the very cherished moments experienced, we as Sai Students have much to be grateful to Bhagavan and can only express our gratitude to Him by following His teachings, exemplifying the ideals of good conduct and character, and by positively contributing to the well-being of society, as He exhorts us to do. 

- Ghandikota V. Sanjay
Student (1985-1990)
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Currently, Investment Professional, New Jersey, USA

Source: Sai Vandana 1990

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