Al Drucker reads his article describing a remarkable doctor and devotee of Sai Baba whose life has been a series of miraculous intercession by the divine and an unstinting dedication to serve others with humility and love, that is truly inspiring for all of us. The article can be found in the articles section of Al Drucker's website, www.atma-institute.org and Ted and Jody Henry's great spiritual website, www.souljourns.net (the article is produced below).
The book that brought Al to Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Speaks Vol. 2
I will begin here by first describing some of my own early experiences coming to Baba. My introduction to Sai Baba came in a little beat-up book with its cover ripped off that I found in the free box, in the laundry room at Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast of California. This was around 1968. The book was Vol. 2 of Sathya Sai Speaks, in which Baba told how in 1962 he gave himself a birthday present by throwing a powerful invading Chinese army out of India. This made a profound impression on me, since I had been working on intercontinental ballistic missiles, and had been deeply involved in the humanity-wide extinction event threatened by the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. This was happening at the same time on the other side of the planet, and by some divine miracle had been defused before all those thousands of megatons of nuclear destruction had been irrevocably launched.
Shortly after this first exposure to Baba, I had my airplane experience, in which I flew a small plane over California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and got caught in the most extreme arctic storm that had hit California in a decade. I was literally saved by Sai Baba, who came as a voice on the aircraft radio guiding me to safety after I and my plane were coming apart and my fuel was exhausted. While I was following Sai Baba’s (in the guise of a ground controller’s) directions over Northern California and Northern Nevada, simultaneously, in an ongoing running account, Baba was describing these events to his senior college students in the Brindavan ashram in Bangalore. I extensively wrote about this experience in another article, elsewhere. At the time I was engaged in another spiritual practice, as a follower of Suzuki Roshi and Zen Buddhism. But I decided I absolutely had to check out this Sai Baba in India. I remember making a special trip, driving 150 miles to Los Angeles, to get to the Hollywood Sai Center and find out as much as I could about visiting Baba in India.
| “The world is not your business, Sir. Forget the world. Think only of God.” But then he added, “Swami will never permit an ‘atom bomb’ to be used in anger.”
But at that time, I had already committed to going to England for a stretch of time. I had been accepted into the licensed acupuncture program at the College of Chinese Medicine in Oxford and already had my airline tickets purchased. Despite my zeal to get to Swami as quickly as possible, I got a clear inner message to delay journeying to India for a couple of years until after I finished my acupuncture training. When I finally got to India, the first chance I had to talk to Baba in interview, I asked him if he could do anything about the tens of thousands of nuclear missiles still emplaced around the world, each hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. He looked me in the eye and said, “The world is not your business, Sir. Forget the world. Think only of God.” But then he added, “Swami will never permit an ‘atom bomb’ to be used in anger.”
Then he changed the subject, “You are ‘puncture doctor’, and he had a little fun with that. He asked me “How do you know where to put needles?” I said, “Swami, I use the 12 Chinese pulses to diagnose.” “Oh?” and he held out his arm to me. “Take the pulse and tell if anything is wrong.” I tried to take Swami’s pulse but there was no pulse. Never mind the finely distinguishable pressures associated with the Chinese organ pulses which are superimposed on the underlying heart rhythm. I couldn’t find even the ‘lub-dub’ of the basic heart pulse. I daringly put my hand on his throat to feel the carotid pulse. Nothing. Then I tried to find his femoral pulse on either leg. Nothing. Baba must have stopped his heart. There was no pulse anywhere. Wow! I said to him, “Swami you’re dead! No pulse!” Swami laughed and said, “What? Take again. Perfect 120 over 80!” This time there was a strong pulse on his wrist, so he must have started his heart going again. He clearly was having fun and I got into the flow of it, and didn’t even try to distinguish Swami’s Chinese pulse picture. I asked him if I should offer to do acupuncture as a seva? And he said, “Yes, you can do. Westerners like that. You do ‘puncture treatment’ for Westerners.” And so, I held a twice-weekly clinic at the Brindavan ashram. When Swami shifted to Prashanti Nilayam, his Puttaparthi ashram, I also held acupuncture sessions there, including at the little hospital within the ashram. And it is there that I met its director, Dr. Alreja, about whom I wish to write further here.
Dr. Alreja and Al Drucker talking to Baba
Dr. Alreja had called me in on a number of cases where he thought the patient could benefit from acupuncture sessions. I remember one such person, a sweet lady from Mexico, who was suffering from immense pain in her mouth. She came in with severe inflammation of the gums and the mucous linings of her mouth, and none of the anti-inflammatory drugs given to her had helped. Instead they exacerbated her condition, because she was allergic to all pain medications and anesthetics. It was clear that a whole row of teeth had to come out to relieve her pain, but the nearest dental surgeons were over 70 miles away. Dr. Alreja decided to extract the teeth himself. He called on me to try to administer acupuncture analgesia, by stimulating points on her hand. Although I had only read about it in a Chinese journal and had not tried it myself, after Alreja checked with Swami, we proceeded. The procedure worked perfectly. A dozen teeth came out painlessly and she felt no further distress. After we were done she left the hospital in great spirits.
Dr. Alreja then invited me to his house for afternoon tiffin, and upon my urging, told me his story of coming to Sai. Well, it was a doozie, and it took a lot of cups of chai to get it all out, with his wife breaking in to emphasize and clarify some of points. Here is the gist of what I remember:
Alreja grew up in an observant Hindu family in the holy city of Mathura in Northern India. As a youngster he would play by the Yamuna river, made famous by the exploits of the bala Krishna (the young Krishna). Alreja was deeply, head over heels in love with Sri Krishna. All he wanted was to merge totally with Krishna. One day their family guru, a wise old saintly being, announced to all his followers that he had been here on earth long enough and had decided to leave his body through the traditional method of departure for enlightened masters, by sitting under a bilva tree in padmasana (the lotus pose) and willing his prana, his life force, to exit through his crown chakra. Preparing for this auspicious event, he permitted his devotees to form a single line and each in turn come to him, to get his blessings, and to receive some personal words of spiritual advice or encouragement, as they bid him their final goodbye.
The Master was preparing to leave and the young Alreja desperately wanted something that was almost impossible . . . nearly impossible
Seventeen year-old Alreja joined the long queue and waited patiently for his chance to speak to the master. When he got to the front, with unwavering faith he calmly, but determinedly, asked: “Swami, I want to experience the darshan, the direct darshan, of Lord Krishna. Please make that happen. I know you are all-powerful and can do this.” The guru said to him, “My Son, what you are asking for cannot happen. No one can help you with this. Sri Krishna is of another Yuga (a different age of humanity). He has not been in physical form for many thousands of years. You will have to find him within, in the deepest part of your heart. I bless you that you find him there.” Alreja left, but he was not satisfied. He knew that his guru, whom he had known and believed in as long as he could remember, was the only one who could take him to the living Lord Krishna, and receive his sacred darshan. So, Alreja got on the end of the line again, and when he came to the guru, he reiterated his heart-felt request, and would not be put off by the old man’s pleading that the proper place to find Sri Krishna was in his heart of hearts, and to give up on this yearning to find the physically-incarnated Krishna of the Puranas (the ancient historical accounts), in the world today.
Alreja was profoundly disappointed. His love for Krishna was so palpable, he just knew that the Lord must exist somewhere where he could visit Him, have His darshan, and perhaps even touch His divine lotus Feet. So, when the last of the last of the devotees were in the diminishing queue, Alreja got in line once more. It was late in the evening and the guru had been seeing members of his flock since early morning, and it was clearly time to wind up these meetings. To his consternation, the guru spotted this same persistent young man again coming to him with his impossible request. When Alreja sat down in front of him, the old saint closed his eyes and went into samadhi. Alreja patiently waited for him to open his eyes and speak to him again. When the guru finally returned to outer consciousness, he immediately got up, took up his staff and without saying a word, started walking away. After taking a few steps he motioned for Alreja to follow him.
Silently, they walked a long way into the city, to a very old neighborhood Alreja had never been to. They walked and walked in the near-dark, passing one abandoned old building after another. They came to a foreboding-looking red brick building. It was obviously ancient and in the dark appeared to have been some sort of fortress. There were no windows anywhere to be seen; there was no obvious entrance to the interior. There was just an old heavy iron rusted door in one corner, with a big iron lock hanging from it. For the first time that evening the guru spoke to him, and said, “The lock you see on that door is not locking anything. The door is heavy and rusty but not locked; with some effort you can open it. Go in and down the stairs inside, and you will find what you are looking for. I will be out here waiting for you to come back. Now go!”
Eagerly, Alreja tried the door, and with a lot of creaking and pulling and pushing he managed to get it open, and go inside. All there was behind the door was a small landing at the head of a stone stair descending sharply down. On the wall at one side was a small glowing torch appearing to be on its last embers, about to totally go off. But it still gave enough light for him to dimly make out the steps stretching precipitously downwards into the murky darkness. Carefully he took the steps down, and he found they went on and on, apparently without end. He felt like he was going down into an ancient dungeon. He finally got to the end of the steps and found himself in a small dank room, where there was an oil lamp on the wall, dimly illuminating the space. On one side he saw a heavyset uniformed man with a lance, who must have been a guard, now slumped in his chair, snoring, obviously sound asleep. Then Alreja noticed that the space was actually divided into two halves, parted by floor-to-ceiling iron bars. It really was a dungeon!
Through the bars he saw couple of disheveled figures, both manacled by heavy chains coming out of the wall. He could make out that one was a woman and one was a man. The woman was moaning piteously; the man spotted Alreja standing outside the bars and cried out to him for help. He said the woman was his wife, that she was going into labor, and she needed help birthing the baby, and at the full extension of his chain he could barely reach her. Would the stranger come into the cell and make her comfortable and help her give birth? Quickly, Alreja looked around and saw the keys to the cell hanging on the wall by the sleeping guard; he got them down, opened the cell door and went inside.
Alreja’s mom had been a mid-wife and had on occasion taken him along on her rounds, and in the recent years she would call on him to help her when an extra hand was needed, and not otherwise available, during a birthing. So he knew a bit of what to do, to help push on the belly and mentally time the contractions, and to generally help the process along. When the baby emerged it seemed to light up the room. It was unbelievably beautiful, shining with an extraordinary radiance. Its blue eyes were open and it was smiling, its face draped with lovely curls, its skin had a dark hue, but seemed to shine from within. It was a spectacular sight to behold. Alreja had never seen such a wondrous baby before. After tying off its cord, Alreja held it, and felt heartfully transported, completely enraptured by it. When he handed the baby to the father, the father’s chains miraculously fell off, and the man sat down lovingly by his wife and their prison-weary eyes lit up at the sight of this beautiful remarkable child. Alreja also couldn’t take his eyes off the baby. The parents then disclosed to Alreja that they were both of royal birth, he was a noble man, she was a princess. They gave their names, and the name they were giving to the child. The father was Vasudeva. His wife was Devaki, and their newly born son, because his skin had this dark sheen, was to be named Krishna.
The child was born in a prison . . .
dark in colour . . .
parents are Devaki and Vasudev . . .
Is this the Real Krishna?!
Suddenly, Alreja realized that he had just helped give birth to his beloved Lord Krishna. He was totally overwhelmed with awe and gratitude. At this point Vasudeva remembered the monstrous way in which the king, Devaki’s brother, out of fear for his throne, had murdered their previous babies that had been born to them. And so now, Vasudeva decided to do everything possible to save this blessed child, by taking it across the river to be hidden from Kamsa, the king. The dungeon cell door was leaning open, his shackles had dropped off, and the guard was still sleeping, so Vasudeva saw this as a sign to leave immediately. Alreja went out of the cell with him, helped him up the long stair, carrying the baby part way, and bid Vasudeva and child goodbye as they came out into the street, where a rainstorm was raging. Vasudeva was in a hurry to ford the Yamuna before the waters rose from the downpour, while Alreja began to worry about the long absence from his guru. And so they reluctantly parted.
Finding his guru, who had taken shelter under a covered stall and was sitting peacefully, inwardly immersed in the Immortal Self, Alreja bent down and kissed the guru’s feet and thought of how magnanimously the guru had led him here, and more than fulfilled his deepest wishes. The old master opened his eyes and looked at Alreja. He said, “It was your one-pointed yearning for Lord Krishna’s darshan that won you this extraordinary Grace, and marks you as one of the Lord’s purest devotees. You have a long auspicious life ahead of you, and you will have many chances to again have the blessings of close loving proximity to Lord Krishna in his incarnation in this yuga, when he again comes to uphold the ancient dharma and bring the divine light back into a lost, darkened world.”
After this incredibly powerful experience, Alreja decided that he would become a doctor, an obstetrician gynecologist, helping to bring new life into the world, and treating each baby he delivered as the rebirth of the baby Krishna that he helped deliver as a youth. In his professional life he saw the need to minister to families beyond his female specialty, and he began to practice general medicine. He joined government service and was assigned to poor regions of the country where no doctors were working. He organized the public health services throughout India, and was recognized for his exceptional abilities and selfless service, never refusing to undertake a life-nurturing assignment, no matter how difficult and unsavory. His crowning professional achievement was to become the medical director of one of the biggest hospitals in the world, the vast government hospital in Bombay with well over 2000 beds. It was there that another profoundly transformative experience overtook him, this one involving Sai. I will tell that remarkable story next, as Alreja and his wife told it to me that day.
It was during a time of political unrest in the country and there was much ferment at all levels of Indian society. These periods of unrest would come and go periodically in India. I remember when I was living at the ashram in the ‘80’s and teaching at the university, at one time there were these language riots throughout South India, at a time when road signs and public announcements were no longer given in local regional languages but exclusively in Hindy and English, languages foreign to the local people. Violent arguments broke out that led to killings and declarations of martial law in some states. For instance, when these disputes became violent in the Puttaparthi area, the Prashanti Nilayam ashram was locked down, all foreign visitors had to leave, long-term ashramites were not permitted to go outside to the bazaar, and every evening, to facilitate their attending bhajans and discourse at the ashram, the university and junior college students were marched from their hostel under police guard with a military jeep fore and aft, one having a prominently visible machine gun emplaced in its rear passenger area. It was during that time that Swami, ie. Sai Krishna, gave his landmark 34 daily discourses on the Bhagavad Gita, showing how Krishna’s battlefield sermons on the eve of the Mahabharata War applied ever more in today’s adharmic world.
Sai Krishna now tests His devotee to give a taste of His Divinity . . .
A couple of decades earlier, during one of these regional times of unrest in the North, there were extensive strikes affecting most professions, public transport, schools and services. In Alreja’s hospital all the doctors abandoned their posts and went out on strike for higher pay. Being government employees they were only allowed by law to form picket lines and strike outside the hospital for three and a half hours at a time, any given day, but only on previously posted strike days. In the case of the doctors, although there were several hundred of them employed in the hospital, during the strike hours Alreja was the only doctor on duty in that whole huge hospital.
One day, while the strike was happening outside, relatives brought in the body of a twenty-ish young man who had apparently fallen into a well and drowned. Alreja was called to the hospital emergency to examine the body. He found no signs of violence, there was still water in the lungs and everything pointed to a simple case of drowning. There were no other probable causes of death, and so Alreja signed the death certificate, listed the cause of death as accidental drowning, sent pro-forma copies of the certificate to applicable jurisdictions, including the police and coroner, and since there were no other doctors around to provide the customary two doctor signatures, he released the body to the relatives for burial. (It turned out they were Christians and buried their dead in the church yard, rather than cremate the bodies, as was the practice for the predominantly Hindu majority). For Alreja this was just one of many dozens of like instances of medical emergencies he dealt with, while he was the only attending physician in the hospital. It was all in a day’s work and he thought no more about it.
Five months went by. It had been a time of major criminal activity, a lot of gang and drug violence, as well as organized-crime kidnappings were happening in that part of Bombay, including a number of unsolved homicides that were attracting national attention. The police were under pressure to provide answers and make arrests. The public was losing confidence in law enforcement’s ability to control the streets and provide personal safety. One day, a police inspector accompanied by two constables appeared at Alreja’s office in the hospital and said they had a warrant for the doctor’s arrest. The officers said that they were investigating the death of the young man who had been shot, and that his body had been dumped into a well, some five month earlier. Dr. Alreja had personally signed the death certificate without bringing in another physician, which was the officially mandated protocol, and they found it highly suspicious that he had made no mention of the bullet wounds that led to the man’s death before he was thrown into the well.
The police claimed that the dead man, coming from a prestigious Christian political family, had, unknown to his family, been active as a member of a smuggling gang. The police had reason to believe that the man had been complicit in a number of gang killings. That, five months earlier, he had been kidnapped by a rival gang and held for ransom. But after the ransom was paid by his family, instead of releasing the man the gang murdered him, and the dead body was dumped on the family grounds. When the family found out all the ramifications of the affair, how their son and brother had secretly been involved with a criminal gang, the family chose to hush it all up, and brought the body to Alreja to sign off on the death certificate. In this way, the police averred, the family could maintain the fiction of an accidental drowning, that would permit a legal burial, and thereby protect the family’s ‘good name’. The police suspected Alreja of having been paid off by the family, and that he had planned to have the body brought in when there were no other doctors present in the hospital to examine it and co-sign the death certificate.
Alreja was astounded to hear these charges. They were a total bolt out of the blue and he was completely dumbfounded. “What are you telling me I did? This is completely bogus.” But he had very few answers to their aggressive questioning. To begin with he could not recall examining the body of a man who died of gunshot wounds five months earlier, with no police being present. Mentally, he went through all the allegations he heard from the police inspector, and not one of them made any sense to him. He had never ever in his life accepted bribes, in any form. But now it was alleged that he had done so to cover up a murder, of all things. If found guilty he would lose his position, his reputation, his retirement, his innocence, and on top of all that, face possible years of jail time. What could he do? Where could he turn? He was suspected of being a criminal. To deal with the charges he would have to find a criminal lawyer. What would be his defense? What would be his alibi? Where is his proof? Over and over he reflected on this sudden calamity that has descended on him. Nothing made sense and the only thought that emerged from him again and again, was the plaintive cry, “Sri Krishna!! Please help!!”
Well, the good Lord did hear. Firstly, they didn’t drag Alreja off to the police station as initially planned. Since he was the director of the biggest government hospital in India and very high on the scale of government service, the inspector placed him under house arrest in his hospital quarters, with a constable stationed outside his apartment. This arrangement was confirmed when he was taken the following day to a judge for a preliminary hearing. Although it was not a trial, he took the opportunity to strongly protest his innocence to the judge, and he insisted that he knew absolutely nothing about any of the criminal activities reported by the police. The magistrate ordered the police to gather further information on the doctor’s assets and his phone calls and appointments, and if they do not show any irregularities, then, since the body had fortuitously been buried instead of cremated, he would order an inquest to be held at the churchyard gravesite, in which the body would be disinterred and examined, in order to definitively settle the matter of what the man died of. A local reporter was present for the hearing, and the next day the doctor’s picture and reported criminal wrongdoings were splashed on page one of the Hindu Times, a national newspaper. It looked like the police had bagged their first big arrest, and the speculation was now that they had the doctor, where would this lead them next? To keep the scandal in the news, a poll was commissioned to query the readers, and they found that a large majority presumed the doctor guilty of the coverup and possibly more serious wrongdoings.
Now a few years earlier, Sathya Sai Baba had come to visit in Bombay and had given darshan at Dharmakshetra, the beautiful Bombay Sai Center. Alreja’s wife had previously become a Sai Baba devotee and she had Alreja’s driver take her in the car to the weekly Dharmakshetra bhajan sessions. She tried to get her husband interested, but he had his unstinting love for Krishna. For him, nobody, alive or in the ethers, could ever take the place of Krishna. Krishna, Govinda, Gopala was everything. Krishna alone was his God. But, out of love for his wife, he agreed to go along with her for Baba’s darshan, when Baba visited Bombay. Well, at the time close to a million people showed up for Baba’s darshan and discourse. The closest Alreja and wife ever got to Baba that day was just to see him as a tiny red dot in the far distance, over the heads of the throng. Still, in some mysterious way, Alreja was touched and a seed was planted. He remembered how his guru long ago had told him that he will become very close to Krishna in the Lord’s next incarnation. He wondered could this Sai Baba be Lord Krishna reborn in this yuga, this present age of mankind? Many said he was. Alreja kept wondering.
But now it was a couple of years later and Alreja was fully preoccupied with the case that had been made against him. Of course, in their search through Alreja’s accounts, phone records and scheduled meetings, the police could find nothing that implicated him. So next, the judge, as he had said in the pretrial hearing three months earlier, ordered the inquest to proceed at the gravesite in the churchyard. The body had lain in a pine box in the grave for almost 8 months, through a particularly hot extended Bombay summer, with daily highs exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Alreja thought what good can come of this digging up the casket? What besides some stinking remnants of the box and bare bones could possibly be left to be seen, after the decaying remains of a body had been decomposing in that heat? But when the day for the inquest came he said a deep heartfelt prayer to his beloved Krishna, and then joined his wife in front of her puja table where she performed her puja, aarthi, and vibhuti prasadam, sitting with the lovely image of Sai Baba before them. When he got up from there he felt totally at peace, ready to face the day.
|" . . . You will have many chances to again have the blessings of close loving proximity to Lord Krishna in his incarnation in this yuga . . . "
A police jeep came and picked him up. This was the first time he had been out of his apartment, his place of confinement, for three months. When they got to the churchyard, he was surprised to see the large number of people assembled there: there were representatives of the Christian congregation, there were members of the dead man’s family who had also been indicted but on lesser (corruption) charges than the doctor, there was his defense attorney, and in the large group of people standing in the church yard there was the public prosecutor and some of his assistants, the coroner was there, a great many police people were there, of course the inspector, but also the inspector’s boss’ boss, the Superintendent of Bombay Police, and also, surprisingly, the High Commissioner of Police All India, who had flown in from Delhi. The gathering also included a panoply of judges, of police surgeons, and of the press and the national media. Alreja and this case had become notorious.
On signal from the presiding judge, the workmen dug up the gravesite. As they cleared away the dirt, they exposed a perfectly preserved, beautifully ornate casket, in which the dead man’s wealthy family had interred him. The casket looked perfect, as if it had gone into the ground that very week. When they opened the box they found the body in it, also perfectly preserved, looking very peaceful and unchanged from the time he was brought into the hospital emergency 8 months earlier. The police doctors and coroner took him out, put him on a collapsible gurney that they had brought with them, and carefully examined the body. When they lifted the lower part of the body, some water going downhill, emerged from the lungs, There were no signs of gunshot wounds or trauma anywhere. Clearly this person had died of drowning. Nobody, including Dr. Alreja, at this point questioned the perfect, decay-free condition of the body and casket. The results of the dis-interment were self-evident to all.
While all this was happening at the churchyard, back at Alreja’s flat on the third floor of the hospital, his wife, feeling very nervous, was pacing back and forth and praying to her Sai Krishna on the long outside balcony of their living quarters. When she got to one end of the balcony and turned around, at the other end of the balcony she saw Swami standing there, but in a very curious pose. In one hand he held what looked like a riding crop with which he was whipping some invisible object in front of him. In the other hand he was holding what looked like a decomposing fish. It was obviously real stinking because he held it as far as he could away from his body, and he was facing away from it with an expression of absolute disgust at the smell. Then he dropped the fish and the riding crop over the side into some bushes below, and now with a benign face, gazed at her, with his right hand made the mudra of blessing, beckoned her to come to him and take padnamaskar (reverentially touch his feet). But when she turned around to get him a chair, Baba had disappeared. For her the message of Swami’s visit just then, was clear. She called down to the director’s driver reclining in the director’s car below in the hospital yard (where he had spent every day the last three months, daily reporting for duty), and without further explanation, instructed him to drive to the church and pick up her husband, and bring him home. After Baba’s curious visit, she was sure that their living nightmare was now over.
Back at the church the police commissioner, who had been trained as a British officer when the British Raj was still running India, and had kept up the very regimental British officer practice of always having a riding crop under his arm, now started beating the inspector’s head with it, who looked more mortified by the results of the inquest than the pain of the whip lashes raining down on his head. It was clear to the court that this whole frame-up case against the doctor and the family of the dead man had been concocted to take the heat off the police for their ineffectual handling of the Bombay crimewave. Unconscionably, they had in cold blood gone ahead and prosecuted and persecuted an innocent man, besmirched a vulnerable minority, the small Christian community, to use the incident for political incitement. The High Commissioner apologized to the doctor and the dead man’s family, to the former for shatttering his stellar reputation, and to the latter for disturbing the final resting place of their beloved son, and he promised to launch an extensive bottom to top cleanup of the police force. The lead judge dismissed the case on the spot, and the doctor was now free and could resume his hospital director duties. Just at this point, Alreja spotted his driver coming with his car. Happy to get into his own car and get away from this disturbing scene as fast as possible, he told his driver to take him home.
As he was finally relaxing in his seat in the back of the car, as it was inching through heavy Bombay traffic, he suddenly came to the realization that there was something seriously strange with what had happened there at the churchyard. What he and everybody saw was totally impossible. Why did nobody question it? The coroner, the doctors who were there, any intelligent person, including Alreja himself, why didn’t anybody wonder at the total lack of decomposition happening there? Was it some fluky saponification process, or…. no, there was nothing that he knew of which could account for such a total reversal of the natural decay process. Something profoundly inexplicable was happening here. To study it more carefully and try to understand what had really happened, he directed the driver to turn the car around and go back to the gravesite. When he got there, only the gravedigger workmen were still there, and they had just closed up the grave. The doctor got out of the car and ordered them to open the grave up again. As they dug up the dirt this horrible sickening carrion-stench filled the air. When they got six feet down only scraps of decayed wood revealed themselves, and then bones sticking out of decomposing clothes and lots of maggots still feasting on some small masses of decomposing flesh. “Now that looks right”, thought Alreja, “that’s what I should have expected. What took place here an hour ago, with everybody seeing something that could not have happened, is totally mystifying. Strangely not one person there questioned what they saw. It’s as if everybody was hypnotized. Just incomprehensible! But how wonderfully it exposed this brazen lie thrust on the family and me.” He had the workmen again close the grave, and puzzling over this the whole way home, he arrived at the hospital and went up to his residence there.
Joyously his wife and some of his closest associates were there to welcome him back. When he was alone in his apartment with his wife he was anxious to share his experience and his mystery with her, but before he could even get a few words out she interrupted him, for she was even more anxious than he to share her remarkable experience of Baba on the hospital balcony that day, including the riding crop and the stinky fish, and the blessing that he bestowed before he left. Hearing each other’s out-of-the-world experiences they felt compelled to drop everything and go and see Baba and thank him for everything that had happened. They wouldn’t even stop for food, drink or rest. They just hurriedly threw a change of clothes into a bag and told their faithful driver of their desire to start out immediately to make the long journey to Puttaparthi, some 600km away. Without a moment’s hestitation, the driver said he was ready to start and not stop until they were there, even if it meant driving through the night. They told him to go by his house and tell his wife and family that he was leaving for a few days, quickly pack a change of clothes, and prepare a big thermos of strong coffee to keep him awake through the night. Fortunately the driver had previously seen to it that the car was all fueled up, and he even took some extra cans of petrol. And so they left Bombay that very evening, drove all night and half the next day, and made it to Prashanti Nilayam for afternoon darshan. Baba was waiting for them obviously expecting them. And so within minutes of arriving there, no sooner had they sat down for darshan, and Baba called them in for interview.
Right off, Baba said to Alreja, “Swami directly entered the mind of everyone who was there at the grave site, so they could see through their own eyes that you were innocent of wrongdoing. Previously they did not have reliable witnesses to convict you in court. But also, you did not have reliable witnesses to convince others of your innocence. You needed clear evidence of your innocence at the inquest. Decomposed remains would not have helped in your defense. Your reputation would have been in doubt and your good name would have always been questioned. So it was necessary to provide those who were there clear seeing of what really happened to that body. That is now done and your good works have saved you. Now it’s time to come home. You do not need to continue to be in Samsara (worldly life, leading to rebirth) and deal with the adharma (unrighteousness) and avidya (ignorance) that exist there. You have been director of biggest hospital in Bombay and all India. Come here, live with Swami, and you will be director of the biggest hospital in the whole Universe.” Then Baba blessed them and they took padnamaskar (touching the holy feet).
They went straight back to their place in the hospital and started packing. Alreja resigned his position and retired from government service. They closed their life in Bombay and moved into a flat in West Prashanti that Baba arranged for them. Alreja took charge of the 2-bed ashram hospital (the holiest, if not the biggest, in the whole Universe) and conducted weekly medical clinics there. When retired ashramites were in need of medical attention, he would make personal house calls. The last time I was at the ashram I remember seeing Dr. Alreja waiting on the mandir (temple) veranda to consult with Baba on a case, and afterwards left in his slow octogenarian shuffle holding his medical bag and going off to conduct visits.
In 2007 when Yaani was at the ashram, Baba announced that Dr. Alreja had now passed one hundred years of age, and was still standing tall and still ministering to the sick, as he had for 75 years of his life. What a remarkable soul! In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna said that “Whoever works for Me and has Me as his supreme goal… whoever is devoted to Me and has Me in their mind’s eye and serves Me steadfastly with affection… I will carry their burdens and give them what they need…” As promised in the Gita, how sweetly Sai Krishna has loved Dr. Alreja, taken care of him, and graced him to lead a selfless life of service. He is an example to all of us of pure love in action.
- Al Drucker, Wisconsin Dells, WI, Fall 2014
[Editor's Note: Dr. Alreja merged at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Baba on 18th Feb 2012 in Mumbai. Read some experiences that he penned in the following article, including the experience regarding the Christian youth who drowned in the well : http://www.theprasanthireporter.org/2012/03/sai-the-supreme-saviour/]