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Memories of Swami, As I Remember (Part One)

If you are one of those people who are cynical, please don't read this post. It's not for you. If you are one of those people who want to know what I have to say with an open mind, fine - you are welcome to read. I request you to respect my beliefs as I do yours.

I led a perfectly mundane, happily normal life till Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) chose to make His presence felt. In April 1987, my parents became His devotees. But I wasn't yet a devotee.

Firstly, I wasn't convinced about Swami's divinity. Though a child, I had an insatiable curiosity on religion and spirituality. I had read the Bible, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the autobiography of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda at least twenty times. At that time, I could have easily recited the Bible because I sort of knew it by heart, having read it several times over and over again. While I had respect for these spiritual and religious concepts, they didn't 'click' with me naturally. Even as a child, I knew there was something very special and different that I was waiting for.  I didn't feel that 'connect' between Swami and I at that time. So I always averted my eyes from His picture whenever I chanted my prayers.                   

It's almost like love, you know. Either you love some one and you instantly know 'this is the guy for me' or you do what others tell you, marry the guy they find for you and learn to love that person as part of the natural process of your life. What works for you doesn't have to work for another person. It was the same for me in the matter of faith.

It was at that time that there was the demise of Shri Shiva Dathan Menon, my paternal uncle, some one I loved, adored, respected and idolized deeply - a real father figure. He was not just an uncle to me. He was my best friend to. He was some one who made up stories to make me smile, some one I could confide my deepest secrets with, some one who would go and buy a whole shop for me if I asked for a dress; that was the kind of love and friendship I had with my uncle. In my life, there has never been any uncle whom I have felt so deeply connected to.  He used to call me 'princess' with such love at a time when I was the plainest kid in my dad's and mom's family. The thing is he didn't do it out of kindness. He did it because he loved me as his own daughter and called me his daughter. Even today I always believe he's there up in the skies watching over me, protecting me. 

For me, it was a traumatic period. For more than two weeks, I was in a state of shock after hearing that he was no more. That was my first experience of death. I understood death for the first time and i hated it then. I couldn't believe I would never hear him call me 'princess' again. I was numb for days. 


At the time, as I continued my evening prayers as usual, I heard a voice. I first thought I imagined it.


But it called out to me again, softly, "Princess."


I froze. I wondered what was happening because I was chanting my prayers as usual.
Then, I heard the voice again and it seemed to come from Swami's picture. I stared in shock and disgust. My first thought was, "No one else can call me princess, who is he to call me that?"


Then I felt like crying. For the uncle I had lost, for the love that was gone.


Swami again spoke to me, gently. He said, "Who are you crying for? Don't you know every one has to come to Me some day? The one you are crying for is with me. Don't worry. Anytime you want to see him, I will show you. But first, you must promise me that you will share all your troubles with me. I am your friend. You don't have to take my advice. You can always decide the right way but sometimes you can let me help u find the right way."


I don't know why but those words, that offer of friendship, swept me off my feet. Here was some one who didn't tally up my good deeds versus my sins and then force me to do good things so that I get a seat in heaven. Here was some one who told me that faith begins with friendship and trust and that decisions are one's own responsibility but a good friend is one who shows the right away.


From that day, it was a deal. I told Swami all my joys and sorrows. I shared everything with Swami and we always had a great friendship. There is nothing in this world I have kept as a secret from Swami and for every secret I've told Him, Swami has always given me the right nudge in the right direction. He has never asked me to do something because He said so.

Later on, I was tired of speaking to Swami's photo and always hearing His voice. I longed to see Swami. Perhaps it is because I was a child, Swami always appeared before Me whenever I asked to see Him. Many of you may not believe this but I have seen and talked to Swami's full form in Africa while Swami was present in Puttaparthi. Countless devotees of Swami have seen His physical form in their homes while He resided in Puttaparthi. Swami always manifested to devotees, when the love and longing of His devotees was pure as crystal.

But He told me, "As you grow older, you will learn to see Me in your Heart because I cannot keep appearing everytime. Remember, I am within you, not outside. These appearances before you are only to show you that you are not imagining me, that I am as real as your parents and other friends, that you are not hallucinating. But very soon, I will end these appearances because it is time for you to outgrow the attachment to my form."


My love for Swami has given me the strength to never choose the path of Untruth over Truth. While taking shortcuts is more convenient and definitely lucrative, I would never do that because the moment I do or say something dishonest, I know Swami will cease to speak to me. His love is something I cannot lose. His love is what propels me to look forward to each day as a day to love, serve and be of use to others in this society. It is His love that showed me one thing: People are going to distrust you, see you as fake but as long as you are true to yourself, no one can stop you from serving the world and treading the path of Dharma.


All my life, I have seen and heard Swami being ridiculed, criticized and called all sorts of names. People who have benefited from Swami have often turned against Him. What I have also seen and experienced is that Swami never ceases to be Himself. Swami is so full of love for the world and for humanity. Swami radiates such positive energy.


Once a student complained to Swami, "I do service and practise your teachings but people are so ungrateful, Swami. They use me to get their things done and dump me thereafter. What's the use of service to the society when the society is so ungrateful?"


Swami smiled and said, "Did I ever say that service is to reform the society? Service is to reform you, the individual. It is to awaken your divinity, it is not to reform others. Who are you to reform others? First, reform yourself fully and then think about reforming others."


Swami never tolerates criticism of other people no matter what you say they did to you. Swami always expressed love, especially to those who say bad things about Him. He would say, "If it gives them Ananda to say these things about me, I am grateful to them that I am their cause of Ananda. I have come to give Ananda to all, those who hate me and those who claim they are my Devotees. No one is separate from Me. All are part of Me. I don' t see anyone as separate from Me."


It's hard for me to not think of Swami as I remember Him. I realize now how blessed I am that Swami shared fleeting golden moments of love and friendship with me. He didn't have to but He chose me.


Swami has always given me His love and I have always treaded by it. Like a divine shepherd, Swami always made sure i am safe and happy. Even now, there isn't an hour in my life when Swami doesn't protect me. All my life, Swami has protected me like the eyelids protect the eyes. Even in my sleep, I believe Swami protects me. Not just me, those who love Him have experienced His all-pervasive, protective love.
 


And I wish, like He first said to me, "Don't you know every one has to come to me someday?" I am grateful to Swami for the love He has showered on me and my family. I pray that He will accept me when it's my time to go to Him because I don't want to go to heaven or hell as long as I can be with Swami in my afterlife.

Swami's presence is my anchor. That is my heaven. The abode of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is where I shall live long after I am gone.

And when Swami welcomes me to His abode, I know how He will greet me.


"Welcome, my princess."


That's what Swami always called me right from my first conversation with Him.

Comments

Asha said…
beautifully expressed swapna... so much feel in your post for baba and your uncle..... and i too bellieve faith can move mountains and whom we trust and place faith is totally each one's prerogative.
Anonymous said…
Jai Sai Ram. A very beautiful article on Swami's omnipresence that many of us experience in our daily life every nano second.
- Asha Sai
Divya Vikram said…
Thanks for your comment in my blog. You have a nice space here.
Ajith said…
beautiful blog . i m not a sai devote but reading this made me feel connectd to my Guru -Mata Amritandamayi. Please keep sharing your experience with Swami.
Thanking each one of you for the loving thoughts you've expressed here.

@Ajith - I sure will post more on my experiences with Swami, thanks.

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