An American Interview on Ganesha’s Birthday
Saturday, September 10, 1994
Ganesha’s birthday was the previous day and I had just loved the entire event. The crowd was huge and we sat for a very long time in the mandir courtyard through all the ceremonies of Swami breaking the coconut in front of Ganesha’s new statue, placed on a pedestal inside the central arch of the mandir. Parade after parade of students passed in front of Swami as He sat in his swivel chair on the ladies’ side by the verandah. Each group proudly displayed its float of Ganesha. There was nearly an hour and a half of the most beautiful bhajans ( many of them Ganesha, I think ) with each voice sweeter than the last. The sound system was fantastic and so were the musicians.
The tablas (small drums ) were fabulous and all the lead singers had beautiful voices.
By the end of the day, I was feeling a tremendous satisfaction and a deep peace settled over me. I was so carried away, I even faxed a girlfriend in California about the wonderfulness of the day’s events so that they would remember Ganesha’s birthday at our Marin County Friday night bhajans.
Upon awakening on Saturday, I was still feeling the sense of peace and satisfaction. When leaving my room for morning Darshan, I looked at my two U.S.A. group scarves, one red and the other white with U.S.A. embroidered on it and the other one, white with blue and red U.S.A. embroidered on it. I just couldn’t get interested in wearing a scarf. I figured there would be huge crowds still and no interviews. Usually I took both scarves with me, but this day I deliberately left the white scarf behind and wore only the red scarf because it could be seen so easily through the crowds and none of us had as yet found each other to regroup. I was even late for Darshan because I just had no energy.
I got in the late line and ended up by sitting on the side of the mandir sort of near Swami’s old room, where the chair ladies sit. I realized I wouldn’t get very near him, but I observed that I was very close to the place outside his old bedroom window where I had prayed and prayed and wept to Him in the dark morning hours in August of 1990 and I felt very contented to be in this sacred spot.
My Panic Sets In
Suddenly I was aware of some men way in front of me and off to the left, wearing green scarves from Spain. They were getting up and I was absolutely electrified. I sat bolt upright and the word INTERVIEW exploded in my mind. My head snapped around to the left and I saw Lila and Nalini standing up talking to a Seva Dal. Oh, Vip’s I thought. Then I saw Glenn standing behind them and they were beginning to walk toward me and the verandah and I knew it was us.
I grabbed my things and got up and started climbing over people, stepping in their laps, tripping on their feet. People were saying Sit down and I just kept saying over and over,’My group, my group’.
There was no aisle near me and about 20 rows of women in front of me, but I managed to arrive at the aisle just as Nalini, Lila and Glenn were passing and so walked with them to the verandah. Then the Seva Dal said White scarves only. I was stunned. I had left my white scarf in my room!
The Seva Dal hissed at me Hide your red scarf. I turned my head over my left shoulder while frantically trying to tuck it into my punjabi and saw about forty women with red scarves being turned back by the Seva Dal!
Lila sat cross-legged next to the building, to her left sat Nalini, and Glenn sat on the outside. I crouched down behind Nalini and Lila and tried to shrink into myself and look invisible so I wouldn’t be noticed and turned back. A couple of other women sat down behind me. I whispered urgently to Nalini and Lila to put on their red scarves too, and Nalini spoke quickly over her shoulder Don’t say anything more! I shut up.
Swami came over to us and looked down at Glenn wearing both scarves, ‘You wear two scarves, not good. If the white group is called you come, and if the red scarves are called you also come. That is cheating! You speak with forked tongue.’ His glance passed over Nalini who was wearing a white scarf and rested on Lila who had no scarf on. ‘Where is your scarf?’ He asked. In my bag, Swami, she replied. ‘Put it on’, He said. He gave me a dark look and turned toward the men. He reached out to Michael, wearing a white scarf, and gestured for him to go back and then patted Michael on the head and shoulder. Another young man wearing a red scarf was there, too, but Swami just indicated he should go into the room. We arose and went in.
Inside At Last
I was the last of our group inside the door. Swami stood inside the door as each of us passed by Him. I was still terrified He would turn me back. We sat on the floor near His chair and He closed the door and immediately waved His hand in a circle making vibhuti. I was closest to Him and put my hand out and was the first to receive vibhuti. In my head, I thought this was a good sign and maybe I wouldn’t be sent away.
Swami went to sit on His chair and then leaned forward and made three jerks with His hand and a beautiful gold chain link bracelet appeared. He indicated to a man in the back to come forward.
The man leaned forward ( somewhat supported by the other Spaniards) and, urged on by Swami, put his hand across Swami’s knees and Swami started to put the bracelet on. Then He stopped and held the bracelet up in both hands and gave two little jerks to it to make it bigger than before. Looking satisfied, He placed it around the man’s wrist.
Next, He asked another man, ‘Where is your wife?’ I’m single, the man replied. ‘You have friend’, Swami said. The man tentatively replied ‘Yes’. ‘Good friend’, Swami said. Sort of embarrassed, the man said ‘yes’ again. ‘Get married’, Swami said. ‘Marriage is good. Friend not good. Get married.’ Then Swami made three swift jerks with His right hand and materialised a gold ring almost like a wedding band for the man who leaned forward and Swami placed it on his hand and said ‘Perfect fit’.
Swami motioned for those men to go into the small interview room and looking back as He followed them in, He said to Lila, ‘Where is bender?’ She said, ‘What?’ He repeated ‘Where is bender?’ She continued to look puzzled ( I was too ) and then He said louder ‘Husband. Where is husband?’ Lila said something like ‘He is gone’ and Swami came back with something like ‘He left’ to which Lila replied, ‘No, I left him!’ Swami and the rest of us laughed and He disappeared behind the curtain of the small room.
Lila then remarked that it was hot and asked one of the men to turn on the overhead fan. He did, but another man thought the rotors were making too much noise and told the man to turn it off, which he did. The people from the private interview room came back into the room followed by Swami who sat down in His chair. He then looked up at the ceiling at the fan, got up from His chair and slowly made His way through the men to the wall and personally turned the ceiling fan on and then returned to His chair. ( I thought this was very sweet. He could have asked someone to do it for Him. ) Then it was our turn to go into the private room.
The Small Room
This time Lila was sitting next to the arm of the chair with Nalini and Glenn to her left and me behind them between Lila and Nalini. During most of this time, Lila held hands with Swami rubbing her thumb up and down His thumb.
Occasionally, He would disengage to make gestures and then He would reach back for her hand. Nalini mostly kept her hands on His feet after first kissing them.
At some point I squeezed in between them and Nalini lifted her hands off His feet and I put my hands on both His feet. It would have been too awkward from where I was sitting to try to kiss them or put my forehead on them.
First, Swami spoke to Lila Youngs about her family and told her He would get her a good job. Next, He spoke to Nalini about her family and also told her He would get her a good job.
Then I got up on my knees and, putting my hands together in prayer toward Swami, I said, ‘Please heal my arms.’ He reached out and took my elbows in both His hands and rubbed both my arms up and down and around my wrists and hands and fingers and thumbs and said ‘No peace in mind. Worry too much. I will heal.’
I immediately worried that He was going to heal my mind rather than my arms and said quickly. ‘It’s from typing on computers! I want to be able to keep working!’ He said, ‘Oh, typing, typing (and made typing motions in the air with His hands). You worry about making mistakes’ (He hit me on the head). ‘That is past, now is present! Even in Bangalore you worry, telling everyone Swami does not pay attention to me; Swami is ignoring me; Swami is not talking to me!’ (He hit me on the head again.) I said, ‘Swami, other people suffer from this, maybe you will help them also?’ He said, ‘Yes, I will help everybody.’‘Yes, yes, and I love you too.’ I love you Swami,’ I replied. To which He said, “I love everyone.”
Then He turned to Glenn and talked to her. Lila spoke up once more and asked Him something about how she could always know He was near her and He replied, ‘I am in you, around you, beside you. I am omnipresent.’ Then He stood up abruptly and patted Lila on the head and said, ‘You are mine’ and then turned to me and said ‘You are mine’ and Nalini, ‘You are mine.’ Glen quickly asked, ‘Swami, am I yours, too?’ He replied dragging out the word ‘Yeeese,’ and we got up and went to join the others. He kept the man with the red scarf inside for a few minutes more alone.
When Swami returned to us, He handed out small packets of vibhuti to everyone. Nalini asked for more packets for her Sai Centre, and He gave her more, and said something about keeping some for herself. I also wanted more, but I could not quite manage to ask, the words would not come. Perhaps they did, but Swami ignored them.
The Healing Is Within
Anyway, I’ve read where He has said that He can heal the mind and when the mind is healed, everything else ( the body ) is also healed. Now I am rather thrilled at the idea He will heal my mind. He has said that healing occurs when there is reciprocity of devotion from the devotee. This I must learn to do. I have enjoyed many interviews with Sai Baba and Lila and Nalini even more. Now we must all learn to appreciate our good fortune and put more trust in ‘the innerview.’ I know many of you have not enjoyed the interview experience, but perhaps for you, there is no need. Many times during my life I have been alone and down, and am now a recovering alcoholic. I am beginning to appreciate life again. But it has been a hard uphill battle. Lastly, I had given Swami a letter the week before at Brindavan. I had asked Him to heal my arms, but to do it however He felt best. He could do it instantaneously or use slower methods such as physical therapy or desk and chair adjustments or new types of keyboards, and so on. So, I feel all my prayers are now answered. Everything I asked for in that letter I have now received. For me, He has fulfilled my wishes.
Ganesha’s Birthday afterall
While it was Saturday, September 10, 1994 in India, it was Friday, September 9, 1994, Ganesha’s birthday, in the U.S.A. My Sai Centre meets on Friday nights, so while I was in the interview room with Swami, my centre was singing bhajans and celebrating Ganesha’s birthday. Therefore, by U.S.A. time in my own Centre, I had an interview on Ganesha’s birthday! What a present for me, Ganesha represents the removal of obstacles.