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!!!’

Gold & Green Hall, The Story – More Sathya Sai Memories


Beautiful Reflection 

The year 2002, was the year of Golden days in my Life. I was assigned with responsibility supervising Gold fixing Job, in Kulwant hall, The Prashanthi Mandir and the Central Dome of super Specialty Hospital. Almost every day Swami used to visit the work site at noon, to inspect the work in progress. When the work was commenced, Bhagavan was spending the summer in Whitefield, Bangalore.

There are many square shaped boxes on the ceilings with ornate designs. We are to load gold on the designs and also to provide a suitable background colours. We made offers for choices of 8 boxes with 8 different colours, with pink, sky blue, Ivory colours etc. To make it 9 in all, we mixed few colours, which looked like “Green”. Swami drove down to Prashanthi Nilayam, to view the samples, and selected this particular mixed up colour.

Swami never uses Red, Yellow, Green, dark blue or any other dark colours, And yet this time this green was the Divine choice. Many elders in Puttaparthi were also wondering and making enquiries with us whether we heard Swami all right. Within a month after commencement of the job, Bhagavan shifted back to Prashanthi Nilayam. Since a massive work, involving over 300 plus artists were working, Swami decided to give evening darshan in Poornachandra Hall. Almost every day, around 1.30 PM Bhagavan will walk into the vacant Sai Kulwant Hall. While walking by the side of Bhagavan, Swami may call us and give directions, or make enquiries. At times small spiritual advises will also be given.

On a particular day, Bhagavan stopped in one place, and looking up on the ceiling asked me, “Do you like this colour?” I replied, “Yes, Swami we like it very much”. Swami then asked, “Do you know the reason why I suggested this colour?” Keeping my hand in “Namasthe” I told that it was Swami’s choice and we only follow the Divine guidance. Swami took hold of my hand, holding the ring I was wearing in my fingers, asked me. “Do you remember, what I told you when I gave you this ring?” I replied that I remember very well. Swami asked me to repeat it word-by-word.

I told, “Swami told me that this is an Emerald Ring. Emerald is for peace, and you need Peace!
Instantly holding the ring Swami spoke,

“Exactly. Thousands of devotees arrive here, with many problems. They have Money problem, child problem, Job problem, Health problem, Childrens’ education problems and likewise many many problems. I cannot go on giving Emerald rings for each and every one. What I have done? This is gold, and there is gold up there. This is emerald, and there is the emerald up in the ceiling. What I am doing is that I am transforming the entire Kulwant Hall into an emrald Hall. Whoever is sitting inside this hall are getting the shower of Divine rays of peace, even without their knowing.”
Swami further told,

“You fool, you should see that Bhagavan had done this for the sake of devotees; Not for the sake of Bhagavan Himself!!!”

Thus revealing this Divine Sankalpa, Swami lovingly patted on my cheek, and started moving away from the spot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 -from a Sai Friend Bombay Srinivasan

A Devotee Remembers Sri Yogananda – Yogananda

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“In one sense, living with a great master like Paramhansa Yogananda was a normal experience. He was human like you or me. In another sense, though, it was not at all normal. I was always amazed in his presence, because he made us believe that we each had the potential to become like Jesus Christ. Even Jesus said, “That which I have done, you must do, and also greater things, as I must return to my Father!” All the masters have come, not to impress us with their greatness, but to give us faith in what we ourselves can become. It is the sounding board of a violin that allows its music to fill a concert hall. The strings alone barely make a sound. In the same way we all are part of a much greater reality which gives us strength. If you are swimming in the ocean, a large wave may approach you and threaten you. From the deck of a ship, however, you see many waves and they don’t seem so high. From an airplane, you do not even see the waves, just the ocean, which can resemble a calm mirror. In our lives we are preoccupied with the little things that affect the ego. It seems so important when someone says an unkind word to you, or when you lose a coveted opportunity. When you think not only of your little self, but of your greater Self – that reality of which we are all a part – you cannot imagine how much strength can come to you. I have read philosophy and theology books which tried to explain the miracles of Jesus, saying that they were not possible. Living with a master, I have seen with my own eyes that miracles are but little things to a master.

Yogananda performed many miracles without even letting them be known.

They were normal for him for the simple fact that we are all part of a cosmic energy. With this energy you can put yourself in tune with any ray of truth you wish and understand many things. For example, when I wrote a song for the Psalm of David, a Jewish friend told me, “I know that you’ve never been in a synagogue, but this is just the kind of music that a cantor sings in a synagogue.” How can we know these things? We are all part of the same reality. By meditation, and by the techniques that put you in tune with this vast truth, you begin to  understand how others think, and how to succeed in whatever you feel guided to do, in any field. Channeling does not mean calling with an  empty mind and demanding, “Please give me something!” That which you wish to channel comes from within you, not from others or from  information you have gathered. At university I took a course in Greek, but almost never went to class. The professor said, “For some  students here, it may not be worth their trouble to come to the exam.” Everyone turned to me and laughed. The night before the exam I  still hadn’t studied, and in my desperation I made a very important discovery: Instead of thinking, “But this Greek is too difficult,” I said to  myself, “I am a Greek!” With this thought it then became only a question of recognition. In this way I absorbed as much as my mind was  able to absorb that evening. As it turned out, only two students passed that exam and I was one of them – not for any special talent, but for  this principle.

Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I don’t want to hear any of my nuns say, ‘I am not a saint,’ because you have come here to become saints.” It’s true that you haven’t yet arrived at this goal, but that isn’t the important thing. Don’t hypnotize yourself with the mistakes you have made.  You are as much a child of God as any master who has ever lived. You have the capacity for infinite love. I saw that Yogananda was always  very serious about this. He saw in each of us the ability to become what he was. We’re hypnotized by the thought that we are weak, we are  too human, we are full of jealousy, full of pettiness – but this is not the truth. As a youth I had the desire to become a poet and playwright. I  sat down and wrote, “Page One, Chapter One…” and then…nothing. Finally I said to myself, “Why flood the world with my ignorance?” and I  left this ambition and decided to seek God and truth. When I meditated a little I saw that inspirations come so quickly that it is difficult even to hold onto them all, because they do not come from me but from another source. Yogananda taught us that we live surrounded by an ocean of energy. How do we attune ourselves with this energy, and how do we attract this energy? The great composers understand that they receive inspiration from a much greater source, while the not-so-great think that they create music with the mind. You can be original in creativity if you act from your center, from your heart. When a lover says, “I love you,” it is ever new, because it comes from the heart. Whatever you speak from your point of origin is original, even if the words have been used thousands of times before. Seek inside yourself the fountain of inspiration, and you will see that God expresses Himself in a new way through each person, each flower, each cloud.

There are two steps to follow: First, be aware of this fountain of inspiration, and then use will power to put it into action. Yogananda taught us exercises for recharging the body with energy, using willpower. I have seen many times that this energy is always available to be drawn upon. Once, I was building a house at Ananda’s first retreat. I needed to do a very difficult job with my hand. After 500 times I could not close my hand one more time. Then I thought that the snows of winter were about to arrive and it was necessary to finish the job. With this thought, and using Yogananda’s technique, I continued to work. After the tenth time, the work suddenly became easier, and I was able to continue another 500 times without difficulty. There is potential energy in each of us and, by use of the will, you will never get tired. This energy gives you great power. True strength is not merely physical, but is a strength that is moral and spiritual. Once, three men with guns approached Yogananda and told him to give them all his money. He responded, “Okay, I am not attached to money. But I have wealth you cannot take from me: You can have it only if I give it to you.” Yogananda then gazed at them with love and they started to tremble, saying, “We can no longer live the way we have been living. What have you done to us?” He changed their lives. More important than mere strength is an energy of love and joy. If you can go among people and share a little joy, this is the greatest gift you can give.

 

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Yogananda gave us the possibility to understand that we can accomplish whatever we put our mind to. What we do is not important, but the spirit in which we do it is very important. You can give a sermon just walking down the street with a beautiful smile, saying nothing; or in the office writing a business letter. There is no need to say, ‘this is spiritual,’ or ‘that is not spiritual.’ Spirituality depends on your attitude.

You can be a lawyer, businessman, secretary, cook, nurse, waitress if you do it with the consciousness, “I offer my life to Him.” The moment  has come to sanctify the world, and the responsibility is yours. You need to change. Don’t think that you can leave religion to the priests: You are potentially a saint. Even if you were in hell, you would be a saint in hell. The essence of your soul is always pure. The Indian saint  Anandamoyi Ma was illiterate. However, she was so wise that whatever scholar came to ask her questions on the scriptures left amazed,  because what she said was so correct and deep. The more you go into your center, the more people will look at you and understand, “He has  found something that I also want.” Share that which you feel inside, but don’t pride yourself on it, because it comes from God. The path of  life is narrow. There is room for either the ego or for God to walk it; there is not room for both. Why not let God act through you? Afterward  you will feel a great joy and freedom. The thought will come, “How beautiful – I didn’t do it, God did it!” When you pray with sincerity to be a  hannel for God, He will give you many inspirations and will help you when someone comes to you with a problem. In my life, I have had to give personal advice for the last fifty years. Sometimes I will be asked a question to which I don’t know the answer. I then let the question go and respond, “I don’t know.” But in very act of saying I don’t know, I do know, as my mind is then relaxed and the inspiration comes to  me. Likewise, I never prepare a public talk, because I have seen that God knows better than I what to say. This has never failed: The inspiration has always come to me. When you launch yourself with faith and trust, He gives you wings. Gradually trying to fly, you will fly; and the more you do so, the more inspiration will come to you.

What you do should be rewarding; you should feel, “This is what I want to do with my life.” You will see that there is joy even in the little
things. God is found in every grain of sand. God is shining in you, and God can shine even more, the more you try to attune yourself to Him in inner silence.”

A Moment In Time – Sai Baba Today – Sathya Sai Memories

My Story

Sai Baba said to a devotee in 2009 : “In two years there will be no more foreigners here.” Most of my friends living in Puttparthi have left. It is the end of an era. The whole point of being with the guru is to grow in wisdom. Once you have had the physical presence for so long, it is time to go away and put into practice what you have learnt. Remember always, the journey is from oneself to oneself. It is not a point of who is the best, the closest or the most popular among us. These habits belong to the world, not to people wishing to advance on the spiritual path.  Sai should not be  thought of as a personality, but a spiritual mirror. The guru is first and foremost a Mirror into our hearts.

What does a guru do?


“The very first lesson devotees learn from a guru is to catch his hint. A guru always hints. Later on when the devotee is well on his way, the hint will be felt even stronger and comes to be known as the ‘divine hint.’ To some people the guru will use words to aid the devotee to learn. Sometimes, even orders are given, because orders are  easy to understand. The devotee needs always to understand the hint,  for if the hint is lost so also  is the opportunity of learning.

The grace of God cannot be seized; it descends. The actions of the Guru are nothing in themselves; they are only for the good of the devotees. We are loved by the guru and then we feel love for the guru in return. The love is created.  To say ‘I love you’ is easy, but to realise it is difficult. Here is the hidden the mystery of the issue: God Realisation, or Truth.

The guru who has planted the love in the heart of a devotee will always look after him/her, as the gardener looks after a plant; he does not want to die. The guru devotee relationship is ‘a journey of the soul’…..  Devotee and guru have links with each other from the past. From other dimension too, from where they come.  Returning together although, we might not recognise each other at first. Devotees  come back many times  to be with the guru. Sometimes the training can be rough, for others it is according to their temperment. Some are trained according to the will of the guru. Each of us are at different places of understanding. We are trained accordingly.”

Thirty years have passed since I first heard about Sathya Sai Baba. I can still remember, vividly, the Sunday afternoon in a bookshop in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. when, out of the blue, a young man came up to me and said, “That’s rubbish!” He, then, pointed to the book I was looking at and grinned. I asked why was it rubbish. He did not explain, he only asked me to follow him to the next book aisle where there were books on Indian philosophy and various other subjects to do with India. He pointed out a book with an orange cover. “That’s the book for you.” he said, then took the book from the bookcase and placed it in my hands. I glanced at the book without much ado. The little man on the front cover grabbed my attention. His afro hairdo did not exactly turn me on. I was not into Indian gurus at that time. In fact, I knew little about India and absolutely nothing about Indian traditions or religion. I declined the book. The young man, who interested me more than the book, because he was so good looking, began a short conversation.

I cannot remember just what about, but in the end he decided he would buy me the book. “Oh I don’t want it!” I said with a sigh. It wasn’t a book I would read. He insisted. We went to the counter of the bookshop and he paid for the book and gave it to me. Before he left, he wrote an address inside the book cover where bhajans were held in the state Maryland. I lived in Virginia and knew there was no way I would ever make it all the way around the beltway to Bethesda, Maryland to learn more about this guru. The book was put away in my bookcase and never read. It would be years later before I was to meet, again by chance, another person, who would introduce me to Sai Baba, though with more positive results. I did not visit India until 1990, years after the first introduction to him through the book incident in the Yes Bookshop, in Washington, D.C.

The years with Sai Baba passed by quickly. I visited every year and sometimes twice a year, until recently. Those early years, now a distant memory, were full of sweetness and surprise. We were free to roam the ashram at will. Darshans were regular and punctual. Sai never kept us waiting. A front line seat was not too hard a task in those days and we all saw plenty of Sai. Playful, mischievous and caring, he reflected back to us our own strengths and weaknesses like a mirror. I also noticed, at times, he appeared shy –  he always hid his grins from us when we made him laugh unexpectedly. He was often formal, warm to many, cool to others, harsh with the undisciplined among us. We always knew our place when at darshan. He was never to be underestimated.  I have known Sai Baba, although not personally, most of my life and have survived many an ordeal in his ashram. Would I do it all again? I cannot say yes or no.  There was so much joy but also Sai is a harsh teacher, there were also many tears. Often times, I felt left out, let down or had become doubtful. A terminal case of doubts will alway exist in devotees, until they overcome the business of overcoming the personal form. I suppose you might say, I have obtained another sort of wealth,  one not of this world. Only time will tell. I shall miss Sai Baba and his darshans. They  are fading  away, like summer flowers as the fall sets in…..

photos taken during darshan


…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•Sairam!!…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•

Man learns through experience, and the spiritual path is full of different kinds of experiences. He will meet many difficulties and obstacles, and they are the very experiences he needs to encourage and complete the cleansing process.

-Sai Baba


…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•Sairam!!…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•

Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.

-Sai Baba

…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•Sairam!!…•♥•.¸ૐ•♥•