Why Fear When I Am Near! - By Maj. Gen. (Retd.) S. P. Mahadevan

Sri Sathya Sai Darshan at Sundaram, Chennai
As a student of Ramakrishna Mission, from my very young days I had learnt to respect sages and saints. As a Battalion Commander in Sikkim, as a Brigade Commander in Badrinath-Kedarnath-Gangotri area of U.P. Tibet border and later as a Divisional Commander in Ladakh region of Kashmir on Indo-Tibetan border I met many Rishis, Lamas, and other evolved souls. When I saw Bhagavan Baba first time I felt extraordinary force of Divinity in Him. I was overwhelmed by His love of service to the poor and the needy. His sayings I found to be practical and down to earth simplifying high philosophical ideas to be easily understood and practiced by all irrespective of religion, race, caste or community. His teachings are universal in nature and are based on love. Motivated by His utterances like "Love all and serve all" and "Help ever hurt never", I started doing small kind of social service even while serving as an Army Officer and later as Chairman, Public Service Commission, Tamil Nadu. After retirement I have the good fortune of spending all my time as Sai worker doing social and spiritual service in urban and rural areas.

In September 1955, a fellow Army Officer gave me a photo of Bhagavan at Mhow cantonment near Indore and told me all about His miracles. As an old devotee of Shirdi Sai, I have decided to worship Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as fish worships water. From that day onwards, my Army career took an upward swing. 

By His Grace I was selected to be a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Congo (Africa) and later was sent to many foreign countries in the West and East on Government missions. Though I was wounded in several military operations in and outside India, I was not afraid of death because Bhagavan had told me in one of His interviews in Brindavan "Why fear when I am here". Though I had read earlier about His sayings "Why fear when I am here" this is the first time He gave me an assurance that why to fear when he is there. May be to assure my military mind that He is always near me and not far away in Prasanthi Nilayam or in Brindavan. 

On many occasions on the War front in many areas, He has kept His word given to this ordinary military devotee like Lord Rama kept His word given to Sugriva and Vibhishana and like Lord Krishna kept His word given to Pandavas. Later in the snow covered areas He had been "with me, in me and around me" saving me from Helicopter Crash, snow avalanches and also from sniping during my visits to the front line of my Division. 
In service of the Master - Maj. Gen. Mahadevan with Sri Sathya Sai at Sundaram, Chennai
In April 1986, during my visit to Hyderabad as Chairman of Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, I had suffered a heart attack Bhagavan not only saved me from this heart attack but in July 1986 came all the way to my house in Madras unannounced just to bless this ordinary devotee and to save me from having a second heart attack I am fully convinced that nothing moves or happens in this wide world without His will. 

In December 1977, Bhagavan saved my youngest son, who is a Naval Officer, from a major scooter accident and in June 1985, He saved my second son who is a pilot in the Air Force from an air crash. You may ask how are we so sure that it Was He who saved them. On both the occasions, when my wife and I went with our sons to thank Bhagavan, before we could open our mouth, He narrated the entire event in the correct sequence confirming the actual time, dates and the place of the accident apart from how He saved them. After this can anyone doubt His Omnipresence? 

The biggest Sai miracle in my opinion is the transformation of persons who come in contact with Him. As a senior Army Officer I used to be haughty, high-browed and short-tempered. After coming nearer to His Lotus Feet I became humble and unassuming. I used to be hasty at times. Bhagavan used to remind me by saying "Haste is Waste, Haste is hurry, Hurry is worry, Worry is bad for health". As Chairman of Public Service Commission I wanted to resign on two occasions. Bhagavan advised me not to resign till I complete my full tenure of six years and added - 'You need not oblige all the time but you can always speak obligingly.' This advice made my job easier and made me also become popular. Since then I realized that by practicing one of the Sai teachings "speak softly and sweetly to everyone" we gain high respect and regard in the society. 

I would like to mention about the transformation of one Brigadier and one Colonel who used to drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney and eat anything except human flesh. The Brigadier was lucky to get Bhagavan's Darshan in January 1978 when Bhagavan visited my house to bless us. Bhagavan advised him to drink milk. When asked, the Brigadier informed Bhagavan that he was from Kashmir but posted in Madras. He prayed for a posting to Kashmir to sort out his family problems. Lo and behold, he received his posting orders within 48 hours to his home town of Baramulla. When he came to thank Bhagavan he was advised by Him to set a good personal example by doing selfless service. The other Officer, Colonel, who was also blessed, not only got the posting of his choice but also got promotion by Bhagavan's grace. They both have since become complete teetotalers, non-smokers and vegetarians doing Sai service in their respective places. 
Spreading the Message of His Master - Maj. Gen. Mahadevan speaking in the Divine Presence at Chennai
Many people ask me why so many foreigners come to Bhagavan. My answer to them is that most of the foreigners who come have enough money to buy all the material comforts but they come to Bhagavan for getting peace of mind, which they cannot buy with money. Like me, they also believe that Darshan (divine glimpse) of Baba removes all their problems and worries of the world, Sparshan (touch of His Louts Feet or a casual touch of His dress) removes all their illness and Sambashan (conversation with Him or listening to His discourse) energizes them with fresh zest and enthusiasm to face the world. Out of millions of people who come to Him, I have not seen any one going back unhappy or dissatisfied because they, in some way or other, imbibe His Divine vibrations which in turn remove or lessen their burden of life. His teachings also have universal appeal bringing out the unity in diversity of all religions of the world as depicted in the Sai Emblem. He practices what He preaches as per His saying "My life is my Message". He keeps on reminding us to love all believing in "Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of man." 
Sri Sathya Sai blessing an Arab visitor at Chennai
Many people may be wondering as to why Bhagavan spends bulk of His time for the students, with the students and about the students. His Divine design is to use the students as His media to carry forth His teachings to the world and to be shining examples to the society after going through the rigorous training in the human values of Truth Righteous Conduct, Peace, Love and Non-violence. Here is a new generation inspired by love and faith in Bhagavan schooled in academic excellence and spiritual discipline which is being transformed and equipped to provide moral leadership to the world. 

I have realized that Sai discipline, which is essentially spiritual in nature, is based on love unlike the military discipline based on fear of punishment. The sense of achievement and joy one gets in performing Sai work is much more than what one feels after a successful military operation as the latter entails casualty to human lives and damage to people and property. I always feel happy to recollect the various revelations I had of Bhagavan's Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence. In fact, I feel the constant need to recollect these to get over confusions, crisis and contradictions which cross my mind periodically. From experience I came to realize whatever Bhagavan says or does has an inner significance. By example, He teaches us never to expect or demand any material benefit for the services we render. 
Following the footsteps of His Master
Though I have been having ups and downs in my health, remembering Bhagavan's assurance ‘Why fear when I am near’ gives me courage, confidence, energy, and enthusiasm. I keep on doing spiritual, educational and social service as Sai worker in my State, unmindful of my age and failing health, because I am under the good care of the greatest healer on earth — Lord Sai. I firmly believe that Lord Sai is our breath, we survive because of Him. Lord Sai is our Charioteer and so we are safe, secure and successful. Lord Sai is a loving father and doting mother proving on many occasions. In His infinite mercy, He has been giving us motherly love and forgiving us our mistakes committed knowingly or unknowingly and at the same time guiding us and guarding us. May this living God who is also the loving God continue to bless us all to be worthy of His Grace. 

About The Author
Late Maj. Gen. (Retd.) S. P. Mahadevan retired from India's Armed Forces after a long distinguished service and was awarded AVSM for his outstanding services. After retirement he served as the Chairman of Tamil Nadu Public Services Commission. An ardent devotee, he served as the State President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Tamil Nadu, for several years. 

Source: Sai Vandana 1995

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