Loving Sai Ram, and greetings once
again from Prashantinilayam.
has been a long time since I talked to you, more than four months
in fact. As you all know, Swami left Puttaparthi for Brindavan
soon after Sivarathri. I was supposed to go too, but I had to stay
back since we were about to launch our broadcasts on AFRISTAR
service to Africa and Europe. There were several matters that
needed my personal attention, and I just could not take off till I
had completed all these tasks. Finally I was able to leave on 23rd
March and be once more in the physical presence of Bhagavan Baba.
By the way please note that right now, Radio Sai can be heard 24
hours daily, from Ireland to Japan and in Africa too! Isn't that
summer was very different from the preceding ones, last year's,
for example. As you perhaps know, when Swami is in Brindavan, He
holds what are known as Trayee sessions that Swami's boys look
forward to very much. This year there were a few such sessions in
the beginning but soon they were suspended. No doubt there was
wide-spread disappointment but I personally was happy because to
me it seemed that Swami DID need physical rest.
Few have the foggiest idea of how heavy is Swami's physical load.
He is God in human form no doubt, but have we not heard Him tell
us again and again that where His body is concerned, He will not
invoke any of His special powers, leaving everything to His
disciplined routine? In practical terms, what it means is that His
body too requires rest because it too is bound by the limitations
He has ordained as Lord God, on all human bodies.
There was also
another thing. Swami's knee appeared to be bothering Him. He did
not give any indication of it, but those who were in His physical
proximity knew about it. In fact, after He went to Brindavan,
Swami took the unusual step of using a golf cart to return in the
evening after Bhajans, from the Sai Ramesh Kishan Hall to Trayee.
After the Bhajans were over and after taking Aarathi, Bhagavan
would leave by the door behind Krishna's statue and then ride the
golf cart. Normally, Swami bends backwards in refusing any aids or
things like that. For example, when it drizzles and He is walking,
He flatly refuses umbrellas. If such a One was now using a golf
cart, it really meant He was having a lot of difficulty with His
physical body just as you and I would have.
prompts me to narrate an incident that took place in Brindavan.
This happened before the hip fracture, and in fact Warden
Narasimha Murthy made a brief reference to it in his talk which we
have broadcast many, many times. This is what happened. One day,
upstairs in the Mandir, Swami was talking to some of the people
who work inside the Mandir. Swami asked one of them who serves
Bhagavan a lot, "What do you want?" This person replied, "I want
nothing Swami." "Don't be shy. I will give you anything you want"
- that was Swami. The other person now said, "Swami, I really want
nothing. Why at all should I want anything when You are there for
me?" "No, no, that is different. Tell Me what you want at the
personal or material level. I shall give you immediately." This
loyal devotee then replied touching Bhagavan's knees, "Swami in
that case, please cure Yourself. I cannot bear to see You have a
problem." There were tears in the eyes of the devotee as he spoke.
Swami was deeply moved, obviously. Slowly He said to the others
present, "Look at this man! This is true devotion."
I narrate this
incident for an important reason. This is the way one becomes dear
to the Lord. Now of course, people would immediately say, "Listen,
you are absolutely crazy. How many people can be physically near
to Swami and say such things? This clearly is not a suitable way
to become dear to the Lord." Legally perhaps, such an argument
would have validity. But we are here not talking of law but about
Spirituality. So, from a spiritual point of view, what lesson does
this incident have for us? Simply this:
1) We must wish for the well being of others without wishing
anything for ourselves.
2) We must also look upon the others as God. In that case, wishing
others well is the same as wishing Swami well. Let me illustrate
with an example.
There is a man and
his mother is ill. He prays to God: "Lord, please cure my mother.
Physically she is the mother of this body, but in terms of the
love that she has showered on me, she is God personified. In that
sense, my prayer is, please cure Yourself! You alone have the
power to do that, and I can only pray. Kindly heed to my prayers."
Such things have worked in the past and will continue to work in
the future. Some people pray in a slightly different manner asking
that the illness be transferred to them. There are many variations
possible. What I am trying to drive at is that the way to become
dear to the Lord is via the Heart. It is the Heart to Heart
connection that offers the opportunity to become dear to the Lord.
Let me get back to
the Brindavan diary, if I may call it that. As the month of May
approached, rumours were in full swing. Some were betting that
there would be a Summer Course while others were busy trying to
detect signs of an impending Kodaikanal trip. True to His nature,
Swami kept both groups guessing! It is nice to play such guessing
games and look forward to such events, but I was concerned from a
different angle. To start with, both such events meant extra
physical strain for Swami. And then there was the expense. People
little realise how much money has to be spent for all this. It is
one thing if these were the only activities in the Avatar's
Mission. In the forties, in the days when Swami resided in the old
Mandir, things were different. At the present time, it is an
altogether different ball game. Swami has many educational
institutions to run, hospitals to look after, and added to all
this, there is the massive drinking water project for Madras. All
these cost money, a lot of it in fact. That is why I worried about
additional financial burden.
Anyway, middle of
May, Swami went to Kodaikanal, but as it turned out, the stay was
unusually brief. Presently I shall not say much about the
Kodaikanal part of the stay because we intend to broadcast a whole
series on it later. Let me just say that the timing of the Kodai
trip was such that it ruled out all possibility of a Summer Course
OK, came June, and
it was time for a new academic year to start. Normally, our
Institute reopens on June first but this year, the first of June
happened to be a Sunday; the reopening was therefore scheduled for
Monday, 2nd June. On 4th June Swami was supposed to visit the
residence of the Chief Minister of Karnataka and on the 8th, He
was supposed to make His annual visit to the Sai Darshan Centre in
Indiranagar in Bangalore. It was widely expected that after these
two engagements, Swami would leave for Puttaparthi. Of course, the
Bangalore people were praying to Swami that He should extend His
stay since He could rest properly and all that, but Baba brushed
aside all those entreaties saying, "You may not have work to do
but I have!" So it seemed very much on the cards that Swami would
leave say by 9th or 10th. The betting had started.
On June first,
Sanjay Sahni the Principal of the Brindavan Campus, prayed to
Swami to come to the College and bless the commencement of the new
academic year with a Divine Discourse. In previous years, Swami
has done this many times. This time Swami said to Sanjay Sahni, "You
ask the students to assemble in the Sai Ramesh Kishen Hall, and I
shall speak to them here." Thus it was that we had a special
Divine Discourse on the morning of June 2nd. I believe we have
broadcast that Discourse, and you probably have heard it.
June 3rd went off as
usual, and on June 4th we were all waiting for Swami to come out
in the morning for Darshan. He did not come out at the usual time.
May be He was busy and so we continued to wait. Ten minutes, 20
minutes, 30 minutes and 40 minutes. No sign of Swami. We were
beginning to get worried. And then word came out from inside the
Mandir, "You can all disperse. Swami is busy and will not come out
in the morning. He will give Darshan later." And so we dispersed.
Some wondered whether Swami's absence was in any way connected
with His proposed visit to the house of the Chief Minister. My
mind worked differently. As I was going back to my room, I was
beginning to have some fears. This sort of thing, namely Swami
missing Darshan, had happened on rare occasions in Puttaparthi
earlier, and on those occasions, there was always a physical
problem; once it was with the eye. What was it now? Just at that
moment, Narasimha Murthy, the Warden of Brindavan who was walking
that way, whispered "I think Swami has had a fall." At that time,
no one really knew what had happened, and so this was I would say,
an inspired guess.
Around 8.30 AM, a
few of us who have access went inside the Trayee Mandir via the
back door to get some authentic news. We discovered that all doors
leading to the upstairs where Swami's room is located, were barred;
no one could really go to Swami's room! Even the so-called close
people could not have access. All we could see from downstairs,
the circular central hall of Trayee that is, was the door of
Swami's room upstairs, and it was closed. So we all waited below.
We waited for one hour, two hours, three hours, and the vigil went
on and on. No one thought of breakfast, lunch or whatever.
Occasionally, we sipped water.
Around four O'clock
in the evening, three people somehow managed to go partially up
the stairs near to Swami's room; their idea was to somehow go to
His room and find out if any help was required. This process
obviously generated some noise, and as a result, the door of
Swami's room opened. We who were watching from below became
excited. And through that door, Satya Jit who is with Swami all
the time came out. He beckoned the people who had come there to
come inside. Clearly, Swami wanted them to go in. They went and
came out in five minutes. We were told that Swami was fine and
resting and would give Darshan soon - that is all. We dispersed.
However, there was
more to all this, as I discovered only much later. Between 4.30 PM
that Wednesday and night of that day, much happened of which I was
totally ignorant, though I was just a few feet away in the Guest
House. Next morning, as I was going for Darshan, I was informed
that there would be no Darshan. I then immediately withdrew to my
room. Sometime later, I went to the office of Mr. C.Sreenivas to
talk to him about something. I was informed, "Mr. Sreenivas has
gone to the General Hospital. He is not here now. We do not know
when he would be back." I did not attach much significance to this
answer since Sreenivas is connected with the General Hospital in
Whitefield, and it seemed a natural thing for him to go there to
attend to some matter or the other. Hours passed and Sreenivas did
not return, but this still did not arouse any suspicion in me!
Around 1 PM, the
Vice Chancellor Mr. Giri knocked on my door. I was most surprised
to see him there. He had come to Brindavan the previous day to
call on Swami, take His blessing and go to America on a short
trip. He could not see Swami, and so he cancelled his trip at the
very last minute. This I was not aware of. He now told me, "Do you
know Swami has had a fracture and has been moved to the hospital
for surgery?" I was stunned. There I was just a few feet away and
I knew nothing of what had happened. In a way, it was because I
was immersed in work. I am made that way, and I just do not have
time to look around or talk to people and fish for information.
Anyway, the Vice Chancellor and I decided immediately that we
would rush to the hospital. In our naivet?, we both assumed that
Swami would be operated in the Super Speciality Hospital. So we
rushed there. The hospital wore a normal look which sort of
puzzled me. If Swami is here and that too as a patient, this is
not how the hospital would be looking. What's going on? Just then
we were informed that Swami had been taken to the General
Hospital. Suddenly things began to fall into place. Sreenivas was
absent because he was setting things up in the General Hospital.
It was, incidentally, a Thursday. The authorities decided that the
hospital would remain closed that day. Around 10.30 or so, Swami
was taken there, and by the time the Vice Chancellor and I reached
there, it was close to 3 PM. Just as our car approached the
hospital, we found Seva Dals on the road furiously waving our car
away. And before we knew what was happening, we saw a convoy
emerge out of the hospital and drive away. Strange, no ambulance.
Nevertheless, it was clear that Swami was being taken back to
Trayee. We rushed behind that convoy, and by the time we arrived,
Swami had been taken to His room. It was all over, in no time at
Two days later,
Saturday that is, in the morning, I went inside Trayee Mandir,
just to be physically near Swami. I did not entertain even the
slimmest hope of seeing Him - it was just unreasonable to have any
such expectation. And you know what? Swami sent for three of us
who were waiting below, Dr. Safaya, the Vice Chancellor, and
myself. We went up, to Swami's room. This was the first time I had
entered it. I saw Swami lying in bed. It was a hospital ICU bed
meant for patients. It was almost a surrealistic sight. Swami was
wearing His robe. He was partially covered with a blanket the like
of which He had distributed in thousands. And He had a gorgeous
smile. I forgot all about His fracture. To me He looked like the
Lord reclining on His bed in the Ocean of Milk, as the scriptures
say He does. He did not give us any chance to ask any questions.
With surprise He asked the Vice Chancellor, "What, you did not go
to America?" And the Vice Chancellor replied, "How could I Swami,
at a time like this?" Swami was touched and replied, "Bangaru". I
was deeply moved and in tears. Swami then told us, "I am fine. I
have to be, bathed as I am in the torrent of Love" - Prema
Pravaham was the actual phrase He used. He then told us not to
worry and we were given permission to withdraw.
About a week later
Darshan started, but in an unusual manner. It was a Sunday I think,
and the boys of the Brindavan campus were asked to quietly come
inside the Trayee Manidir and sit in the circular hall. They then
sang Bhajans. Swami came out of His room, stood in the upper
balcony, and gazed down with much love. Swami was not quite OK,
but it was obvious He just could not keep away from devotees and
His students. Soon, this became the new style, shall I say? Every
Thursday and Sunday, Swami would come out into the upper balcony,
while boys below sang Bhajans. Besides the students, a few
devotees were also permitted into the central hall. Slowly
Bhagavan would start going round the circular upper balcony. Half
way across, He would receive aarathai. And while completing the
circuit and returning to His room, He would, from upstairs, greet
people below and ask questions, like how is the Madras water
project going, and so on. Devotees below who were quite satisfied
with just a glimpse invariably found this too much and often wept
like little children. It was an amazing and a most moving sight.
What about women? They were gathered in the lawn outside, and
Swami, after finishing His Darshan from the upper circular
veranda, would go into His room and wave to the ladies outside
from His window facing the garden.
This went on for a
couple of weeks, and all the time, Swami kept sending messages
that He would soon come out. And it did happen sooner than we
expected. How? Well, there we have an example of the Love of the
Lord for His devotees. You see, moving about after a hip fracture
is no joke. First one walks with a walker and then one takes a few
steps. It is a process that takes weeks if not months. Swami was
short circuiting the entire process into days. And mind you, He
was not doing with His Divine powers, no way! Instead, He spent a
lot of time exercising Himself! How? Every morning, at four AM, He
would go round and round the upper balcony in Trayee for one full
hour! Imagine that, all so that He could give Darshan as early as
then came finally the day when He went out from Trayee to the Sai
Ramesh Hall and the Sai Kishen Kalyana Mandapam for the first time
after the fracture. That happened as follows. In the third week of
June, a big group was supposed to come from Texas in America to Puttaparthi - by that time, Swami was expected to be back. After
the fracture, a message was sent to the leader of the group to
postpone the trip, especially on account of the shortage of
accommodation in Whitefield. But the group did not pay heed and
came anyway. When they arrived, the locals asked, "What's the use
of your coming? Swami will not be giving Darshan for some time to
come. You will not be able to see Him nor stage the Bal Vikas play
you have been planning." And do you know what those devotees said?
They said, "We don't care about all that. If your father is not
well, would you not rush to be by his side? Swami is our Father,
and that is why we have come. To be near Him is important; the
other things are not." They were a model for all of us over there.
They spent their time praying and doing Seva. And the children
kept on with their drama practice even though according to all
forecasts they did not have ghost of a chance of staging the play.
never go in waste. As they say, prayer is God's only weakness. And
so it came to pass, that Swami suddenly announced, "This Thursday,
I shall give Darshan in the Sai Ramesh Hall. I shall then go to
the Kalyana Mandapam and see the play." The reaction of the
American devotees was electrifying - they were so filled with joy.
Came that Thursday, and Swami came out in the golf cart, drove
through Sai Ramesh Hall, and went into the Kalyana Mandapam. And
He sat there for the entire play. We who were there just could not
believe it. But that is Swami's compassion.
guess there are other things I would like to say relating to the
fracture that Swami allowed to happen to His body but that would
have to wait for another talk. For the present let me just say
this: Through this hip fracture, Swami taught us all many new
lessons. Of course, the lessons would be evident only if we are
sensitive enough to observe, absorb and digest.
Hip fracture can be most painful. For sixteen hours or so, Swami
just ignored it, and later allowed it to be treated the way anyone
else would be treated for a similar fracture. And you know what?
He did not go to any fancy hospital or even to His own Super
Speciality Hospital but to the General Hospital [which
incidentally started as a tin shed with just one tube light three
decades ago]. And in that hospital, He was operated upon by the
same orthopaedic surgeon who, as a part of his normal duty
operates on thousands of poor and needy people. The same is true
of the eye surgeon who operated on Swami's eye that day. For this
country, this is a most important lesson. Even today, many of our
VIPs simply dash off overseas for the slightest treatment they
need, sometimes for mere check-up. Or else, a doctor is imported
from overseas at enormous expense to the tax payer.
Swami chose to have administered to Him the same treatment in the
same hospital as all the poor who come to Him are treated. That,
for me, is one fantastic lesson. There are of course many other
lessons but about those, later.
Jai Sai Ram
E-Magazine, September 15, 2003