THE FIRST DARSHAN
It was the year 1965, when I was employed in Bombay, that I heard, many people talk about Sai Baba. I was a regular visitor to Shirdi, offering worship at the Samaadhi very often.
One day I again heard the name of Sai Baba, still alive and likely to visit Bombay very shortly! I felt something mystical about this, and I started enquiring what this was all about. One of my friends gave me a copy of a recently published English magazine “Illustrated weekly of India”, and showed me the cover page. There I could see the picture of a saintly man, but with a crown of hair on the head, holding out the right hand upwards, as if blessing somebody. “This is Sai Baba, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba”, said my friend, and urged me to read the cover story inside the magazine.
The article mentioned about the reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba, as Sri Sathya Sai Baba, born again at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh.
The amazing miracles of materializing Rings, Pendants, Mangala Soothram, etc. vividly explained therein, were very difficult to believe. Something deep inside told me that there was nothing wrong in believing Him and it would still be better, if I could visit this Holy Man. There was excitement in my mind, to know that I am living during the period of an Avatar. We have only read or heard stories of various Avatars. I thought that if only it is true that Sai Baba is an Avatar, then it is really an unique chance to live during this period. We have seen Gods as idols in temples, and in pictures in our Pooja rooms. Here I hear that God is presently living on earth, in human form, and that He is available for all the humanity. The more exciting news was that Sai Baba was likely to visit Bombay shortly and that we could see this God in human form for ourselves.
I did not know what to do. Something precious was within our reach, during our lifetime. Great devotees had lived and served God during earlier Avatars. In Dwapara Yuga, it was said, that Gopies worshipped, served and lived ever in His memory. Arjuna was constantly with Krishna. The only thing that I could understand was that it would be a God sent chance to live while God is on earth and to get opportunities to serve Him. However, we should deserve HIS grace. Would I deserve His Darshan? If He is God, then, He should know everything about me (About all of us), past present and future. Oh My God, I would have committed many a sins during this life. He would be knowing all about my deficiencies and blemishes and He might not like to see me at all. When Baba might come to Bombay, lakhs of devotees would be longing for His Darshan. Could it be assumed they are all free of sins? Then why not I also go and have His Darshan at least from a long distance! I was very much confused and restless for several days - to see Him or not to see Him! I could not concentrate on my office work and could not sleep peacefully. I wanted to know more about Sai Baba and started making enquiries with whomever I happened to contact. Many did not know about Baba nor had they heard of Him. They were looking at me curiously and perhaps thought that something was really wrong with me.
Restless I was, yet I tried to engross myself in my office work. I was living alone since my wife had gone to her native place. We were waiting for the arrival of our first child. This was already causing tension. My confusing thoughts of Baba added to my tension. My wife had developed some problems during her earlier pregnancy resulting in abortion. The specialist doctors had certified that she might not conceive again. The Grace of Sai flowing unto us, even before we came to know of Him, is a different story altogether. I wish to mention that, in spite of the complications and anxieties, my wife insisted on going to her native place for delivery. It is a small remote village in Kerala with no doctors and hospital facilities. Yet that was her wish that she wanted to be with her own mother.
Sitting alone in the house, my thoughts were oscillating between my unconfirmed faith on Baba and fears of my wife’s safe delivery. My dull mind was not able to knit the possibility of Baba’s Grace with a solution to my wife’s problems. Then the thought suddenly flashed through my mind. Why not pray, to the till then ‘unknown Baba’ and request Him to take care of the situation. Here, I was in Bombay, my wife in a remote village in Kerala, and Sri Sai Baba in Puttaparthi, also a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. If what others say to be true, that Baba is God, then He should be Omnipresent. He should be able to listen to my prayers, reach out to the Kerala Village, and bless the lady for a safe delivery. Slowly and steadily confidence started building up in me, in Baba’s divinity. At last with my sincere prayers, I placed the entire burden on Him. No more worries. No more tensions whatsoever disturbed me thereafter. I believed that He would take care of us.
The timing was very perfect. I got a telegraphic message that a son was born. The delivery was normal and that my wife’s mother herself was able to handle the situation. There were no complications, as we had feared all along. The same day, Bhagavan Baba had arrived in Bombay! Yet I was unaware of the Divine visit. I got a telephone call form one of my friends, asking me whether I had Baba’s Darshan. I said ’No’, and in turn I enquired where I should go for Darshan. I was told that Darshan had been arranged daily morning and evening in the compound of a certain palace grounds at Worli area. Nothing could prevent me any longer. I rushed to Worli, and found that there was a huge crowd of devotees, singing Bhajans and I could see Baba far away, sitting on an ornate chair, listening to Bhajans. I was very late and had to stand at the entrance gate of the palace ground. I could not proceed further inside, because right up to the gate devotees were sitting. I was told that Baba would usually go around the devotees, so that every one could have very close Darshan and even a chance to touch His feet. I learnt further that, Bhagavan had already finished the rounds and anytime now Arathi would be offered, and He would go inside.
There was no chance of seeing Him close by, on my first Darshan day. How unfortunate, I thought. Standing where I was, I prayed unto Him, thanking Him profusely for His Grace on my wife, who had no problems with her delivery. I spoke through my heart that I had come to Him and that He should accept me, in spite of all my deficiencies and to guide me through the rest of my life. I was emotionally surcharged, literally weeping and praying. Deep in my mind, I was aware that He was hearing my prayers. There was a slight movement. I watched Baba getting up. He was seen moving slowly along the central pathway. Ladies were sitting on one side and the gents on the other side. It was something strange in Bombay, to see ladies and gents sitting separately. Before I could realize it, Swami (as He is called reverently) was standing just in front of me! I was overwhelmed on seeing Sai so close to me, and I did not know what I should do. Could I talk to Him, or worship Him, but then how? Face to face with Baba, without any premeditated thought I just happened to catch hold of His both Hands. Baba, lowering His charming face to a side, just smiled at me. What a captivating and charming smile it was, which bestowed all the Divine Bliss! He did not speak. But instantly, it struck me that I had erred in holding His hands, and that Swami did not approve of my act. At the same time, a quotation in English, flashed through my mind.
“Objects are not to fall on magic wand”.
It took a few moments to realize the implications of my act and when it dawned on me, I just withdrew my hands. Benign Sai continued to smile, patted on my back and walked away.
A magician normally holds a stick in his hands and touches on any object with this stick. The magician’s stick is called ‘magic wand’. When the wand contacts any object, say a stone, it becomes an egg or something. It is the will of the magician. On the contrary if we put the same stone in the magician’s wand, nothing will happen.
I have now understood that there is absolutely no gain for us, by holding His hands or touching His feet. We are only causing Him inconvenience or making ourselves a nuisance. We can touch Him only when He asks you to do so, if any benefit of His blessings is to result.
After this first encounter with Divinity, I decided to wait for His call to take Namaskar. I waited and waited, year after year patiently, though I had frequent chances of having His Darshan that too very closely. But I dared not touch His Lotus Feet. The longed for chance did come! But, after a patient wait for the next 16 long years!
With Love & Regards,