Heavenly Perfume – Sathya Sai Memories

Swami never disappoints…. He  tells us. I wasn’t too sure he was correct on one particular visit to Prashanthi Nilayam many years ago.

We had organised a group of twenty people – all hoping for an interview. But toward the end of the visit it seemed clear that an interview would be unlikely.

Disappointed, my friend and I did the best we could to keep the group’s spirits high. But it was very hard to do. At the time both my friend and myself were suffering from stomach problems that only added to our stress. It was very difficult not to show our disappointment.

On the last day of the visit we were walking along the main ashram street. It was late in the afternoon and there were few people about. My friend was busy  relating a happy event that he’d seen earlier, when Baba had  materialised vibuthi for a lucky devotee somewhere towards the back of the Ashram compound.

While  he spoke of his experience we were both surrounded by a powerful fragrance of Jasmine flowers mixed with something else, equally as sweet. The  tantalizing scent seemed to come from nowhere. We stopped to sniff the fragrance and to check where it might be coming from.  There were  no flowers nearby.  Not happy to accept the flowery scent as just ‘one of those things that happen in the ashram,’  I marched over to the ashram offices and asked if they were burning incense. They replied they were not, nor were there flowers in the offices.

Walking back to my friend, the aroma suddenly overpowered us completely and all we could do is  accept that ‘This Was Swami.’ We strolled on down the street until the aroma  dissipated some 15 minutes later. Turning the corner into the main square, another friend, a permanent ashram resident, came to greet us. We were discussing the Jasmine fragrance, when suddenly it returned – even stronger than before!

Our friend expressed her amazement, “I think Swami is here,” she said. “you are lucky.” We agreed. The three of us stood for some time breathing in the sweet Jasmine aroma until finally it disappeared altogether.

Now, years later, I remember how wonderful it was in the old ashram. How fortunate we were to be able to roam anywhere, free to take photographs, able to take our bags to darshan, and of course, freer by far to see Swami in his beautiful and unique Mandir, which he, himself, designed for his devotees. An interview wasn’t at all important then. We certainly didn’t appreciate it at the time but we surely do so now.

– Story from Fall, 1992