A Friend Remembers – Sathya Sai Memories

A Sweet Story From Puttaparthi Visitor and Friend

It was Christmas 2000 when I first arrived in Puttaparthi with the intention of staying for a few months, not just a few days as I had done on my 1st trip in February.

Swami was in Whitefield and every day we would wait for a new canteen bulletin or news that He would be in Parthi for the Christmas celebrations. Much to our dismay, He DIDN’T come. Most of the foreign devotees moved to Whitefield. Having just arrived and in the process of settling down in my new home , I decided to wait for Him.

On one of those days , I stood before Swami’s house and I silently prayed ” Swami , please take away the Russians. I hate them!”.
Now, people that know me, can tell you that I’m not the kind of person that goes around hating other nationalities or the kind of person that would pray for such nonsense. But, I found the russians that I had met till this day in Puttaparthi extremely rude and arrogant. Some were even annoyed when the rickshaw driver didn’t understand their language.

To continue the story….From Swami’s house till the men’s shoe stands – where they used to line up in the past – takes only 3 minutes to walk…maybe even less. As I reached there, a woman came running up to me and asked me if I wanted to join her little group to go somewhere – i didn’t ask where but as Swami was not in Puttaparthi and as I am a addicted to travelling, it didn’t make a difference. I was not going to lose my chance. I jumped into a minibus and the door closed behind me as I sat in the one available seat. Then it hit me…I was sitting in a bus FULL OF RUSSIANS and I was the only non russian present!!! Swami’s leelas are wonderful!!
It took me a long time to understand where we were going…another ashram in Penukonda which was a horrible experience for me…BUT, beloved Swami had started to show me, in such a beautiful way, how wrong I was to judge.
After that…..my neighbour and best friend was a Russian, I was taken into a RUSSIAN GROUP and I even ended up going to Russian bhajans!!
Then, another strange happening, the 2 interviews I was blessed with was with the RUSSIANS!! What more can I say!! Only that the russians I met were such beautiful people and I’m SOOooo grateful for my russian friends!

1st Interview

I remember thinking to myself at some point ‘Swami, this year I will be alone on Valentine’s day ( I had just separated). i have never been alone on this day”…..just a fleeting thought.

On the the 12th February I was given a purple scarf….the group’s colour. That night I had a strange dream.

A hand giving me a key and the words ‘ I GIVE YOU THE KEY TO THE BEST ROOM IN THE HOTEL. ROOM NO7′

I’m sure that anybody with the slightest intelligence would have understood what room that was and whose voice that was. But not me or , I should say, I didn’t want to understand.

So, I didn’t go to afternoon darshan. I was feeling depressed and instead of going to the MY BEST FRIEND, I stupidly wandered around the Puttaparthi shops.

A man who owned a telephone booth knew me and my group. He came up to me and said ‘ I think your group has been called for an interview’.

For over 2 hours I howled not just cried. I cried and cried and cried so much that people outside stood in front of the house and asked what was happening. Eventually, the owners of my flat said to me ‘Stop crying. it was obviously not your time. Just go and find out what happened.’

So, I dried my tears and went to the ashram. Just as I was arriving at Ganesha, one of the group members, a friend of mine came smiling towards me and said ‘ Get ready for an interview tomorrow’. ‘But, you just had an interview today’ I said , not believing my ears.

‘We were called on to the verandah, Swami materialized a lot of gifts but then He said Wouldn’t you rather have private interviews.? I’m sure you would. And the problem today is that the room is full of boxes for my students, so better I take you tomorrow’. My friend then said to Swami ‘ Swami someone is missing today’ to which He answered ” BUT, TOMORROW SHE WILL BE HERE!!” How many are you today..12…so you should be 13′.

Swami often says ‘tomorrow’ and tomorrow nothing happens because His time is not our time. All we could do was hope, pray and be ready.

The next morning, VALENTINE’S DAY, one of the Russian ladies sat by the VIP section, hoping that Swami would see her and call us. We all sat near the patient’s section.

To this day, I feel tha amazing happiness of that moment, when Swami walked straight to her and said ‘ 13 TODAY? GO! ‘
– ( found this out later).

I will be forever grateful that HE GAVE ME A 2ND CHANCE. From both interviews, I will only refer to Swami’s sayings that could be directed to any one of us.

So there I was sitting on the verandah waiting to be called into Swami’s interview room. The feelings and thoughts that go through one’s mind at this point cannot be expressed in words.

In general, the whole interview and any communication I have ever had with Swami has always had the feeling of a dream. When it’s over, I am never sure that the things I remember actually took place. Did Swami hold my hand? Did He smile at me? Did He really say that in the way I remember? And because Swami knows this , there has always been a witness to confirm that things happened as I thought they did.

Once inside, I sat at the back of the group of women. Being the only foreigner in the group, I felt abit of an intruder. Swami asked everyone where they are from, He skipped that with me!!

Before coming to Sai Baba I was a Yogananda devotee. It was through him that I found my way to beloved Swami. I remember being in Ranchi at Yogananda’s ashram. Some devotees were speaking about Sai Baba. I didn’t want to hear anything. I was not interested in this Swami who performs miracles and I did not fancy the crowds that I heard went to Puttaparthi.

Now 5 years later, I was sitting in Swami’s interview room….exactly 7 years to the day since a friend gave me the copy of Autobiography of a Yogi. Swami, of course, who knows our every thought, materialized watches, pendants, lingams, rings for everyone or maybe almost everyone in the room. The only devotees in there who got nothing, not even vibhuti were my russian friend who had shared my beliefs in the past and myself !!!

Swami blessed us so much in that interview……

At some point He took 2 at a time into the smaller, private interview room.

There was a Russian lady, the translator in the middle and then me. We were literally sitting at Swami’s feet.

He turned towards the Russian lady and pointing at me and said,

– ‘SHE IS ALWAYS WORRIED, ALWAYS UNHAPPY” then turning towards me, He continued ‘ WHY DO YOU WASTE SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY WORRYING? BE HAPPY!! ‘ and showing me the palm of His right hand, He smiled with such love and said ‘ DON’T YOU KNOW EVERYTHING IS WRITTEN HERE? BE HAPPY.’

This is really what He wants from all of us….our happiness and our love. Everything is in His hands anyway.

When I heard Him say the above, I was somewhat taken aback. Out of all the things He could have said, did these really have to be His first words to me? My ego was not happy and I felt that He was being abit unfair for yes, I do worry or used to worry about everything, but I never saw myself as unhappy. In retrospect, OF COURSE, beloved Swami couldn’t have said anything more beautiful and more knowing than what He did say. He knew my nature more than I knew myself. Most of the time we are not aware of our true nature.

The Russian devotee in the room then asked Swami.

– ‘ Swami I have separated, will you send me a good man?’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!’

– ‘ Please Swami, I am very lonely.’

Swami ‘ NO, I WILL NOT!!! WHAT IS MARRIAGE?? MARRIAGE IS NOT ALWAYS HAPPINESS. ONE PERSON WANTS ONE THING AND THE OTHER PERSON WANTS ANOTHER THING.’

As we know, what Swami said in that room to us was not directed to everyone and He says different things to different people. I think that what he said above was for our ears. For her and for me….marriage was not always happiness. To others , He says ‘where is your wife?’

And this was what happened with my Russian friend. He had said to me that he would NEVER get married. He wanted to be a monk.

‘I will only get married if Swami tells me to’ – To which I had responded ‘That is so silly!! You are so young, you can’t not get married and how can you wait for Swami to tell you…He may never speak to you.’

Well, within a month Swami spoke and His first words to my friend were ‘I will give you a good /beautiful wife.’ …which He did!!!

When we were all in the bigger room, Swami chastised a young girl for her behaviour…too many men…and He then materialized a pendant with Swami on it….He was also very strict with a young man who actually looked as if he had fallen into the room by accident.

All the time I remember the cuckoo clock..yes, there is a cuckoo clock in the room …so sweet. And his little basket with the coloured packets of vibhuti. I was so relieved and grateful that He also gave ME 7 of these packets.

When our precious time was over, Swami led us to the door and blessed us by placing His hand on our head, one by one..

(The personal things Swami said to me have not been mentioned.)

The BEST Valentine’s Day of my life!!! How foolish I had been to think that I would have been alone!!! We are never alone when we have Swami in our heart.

As the months passed after the interview, i would often say to Swami ‘ Why didn’t I also ask you for a little something..maybe a japamal…something to hold on to when in need, afraid, lonely! I’ve changed my mind….next time i will not say no to one of your miracle gifts of love!!!’