Sairam and thanks for the wonderful videos that you have put up. They are not only wonderful but also help me reconnect with Baba when I am completely lost. Many times when I need some answer from Baba and feel lost I go to your videos and listen to the devotees talk about their experiences.
I'll be happy to share how I came to know Sai Baba. I knew Baba just as a spiritual Guru when I was probably 7or 8 years old. There was an article on him in Bhavan Journal, a weekly magazine when I was a kid and my older sister read to me about how a chair got stuck on Baba when he got up and about the miracles he did. That was the first time I heard about him and saw Baba with the big hair and there was a lull for a very long time. My father is a very spiritualistic person and he is an active member of the Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda, so spiritual Gurus were not unfamiliar to me.
When I was in my 9th grade a neighbor moved in next door. He was in the Indian Air force and happened to be a Baba devotee. My room was closer to his side of the house and every Thursday I used to hear beautiful bhajans sung by the members of his Family in the evening. That captivated me for months together. Eventually they started Sai Bhajans every weekend (or maybe on Thursdays, don't remember the exact day), and even invited my dad to attend.
My dad used to go once in a while and that Uncle gave some book to read to my dad. Because Baba was into miracles none in my family really worshiped him as God or talked about as much as we used to talk about other Swamijis. Probably we had doubts on Him then. Our neighbor uncle (we call uncle to all elderly males in India) went to Puttaparthy and got some prasadam and Vibhoothi and the typical ring with Baba's picture on it. I also got one and that became my treasured possession for many years. I was not very good in sharing things with my parents, but I needed to talk to someone and i loved writing journals.
Whenever I used to feel like talking to someone and sharing my thoughts i used to look at that little picture and talk to Him and i used to feel really good after that. I had a deep yearning for Him and wanted to read and learn more about Him but I was helpless. What my dad had was a small pamphlet kind of book about Baba and his miracles which that Air Force uncle gave and I used to read that. I prayed many times to Baba, asking if you are God why don't you send me close to where you are and I'll get a chance to see you one day. Believe it or not I got admission in an Engineering College in Bangalore.
I was really excited and my dream of seeing Him seemed possible. Being a young girl and staying in a hostel (Dormitory) with strict exit/entry rules going to Puttaparthy was next to impossible or even going to Whitefields was not possible as I had to catch at least 3 buses to get there. But I got to know many friends who also believed in Baba and that made me feel good and I used to ask a lot of questions to them. But I did go to Whitefields to see Him and always ended seeing Him from very far and never got a close Darshan and still didn't feel that connection yet.
But after staying in Bangalore for many years and after graduating from College, I made up my mind and thought I need to go see Him and stay in Prashanthi for at least a week.. By then I started praying to Him. I had no clue how to go to Puttaparthy, but I knew where the Bus Station was. I took a bus to the bus station and while I was searching for the interstate bus stand, I met a friend who happened to be a Baba devotee and had been to Puttaparthy before. I told her that I am planning to go to Puttaparthy for Baba's Birthday and came to book the bus tickets.
She told me where to go for the tickets, I got Tickets for the next morning and the next day I left for Parthy and I reached Prashanthi couple of days before the Ladies Day in 2001. Once I reached there, I just followed the crowd and I knew I won't get lost even though that was the first time I was going somewhere all alone to an unknown place. I got accomodation in one of the halls, it was very crowded as that was during the Birthday time, but I found a spot for myself and tried to settle down. That night even though I had to sleep on the bare floor with just a sheet below me, I slept like a log with no comfortable mattress or a pillow. I woke up early morning with everyone getting ready for the morning Darshan.
I just did what everyone were doing and finally was standing in a long line waiting for some token. I still had no clue what was going on, finally we were all seated inside and then the token lady came and ours was some 16 or something. I just went and sat and waited for Baba. Just before Baba came, there was this mesmerizing music and i could see the orange robe and a big glow coming slowing like a wave. After that all I could feel was tears running down my cheeks and I don't even remember how everything ended. Then Bhajan started and I didn't know a single Sai Bhajan and how I wished I knew even one. After Darshan I went to the bookstore and got a Bhajan book and I asked some of the ladies in my hall to teach me some Bhajan.
I remember learning "Gopala Radha Lola " from one of the ladies from Nepal. After that day I was moved to another Hall with all the students of Anantpur College and that was one of the best things that happened. As usual I kept asking about their experiences with Baba and was amazed by their discipline and immense love for Baba. Very gentle, very polite and very friendly. Those days Baba used sing bhajans before arthi. One of Baba's students taught me "Hari Bhajana bina Sukha Santhi Nahin" and Prema Mudhitha Mana..". I felt as though I were one among them, no different from Swami's students. Swami made me feel so comfortable with all his students.
The morning of Ladies day I woke up really early and waited in the line. To my utter surprise we got token 2 and i was extremely excited. I was seated on the right side of Sai Kulwant Hall very close to where Baba enters on the Ladies side. By the time Baba came I was in the 2nd row as some people already left before even He came. I saw Baba come in and there were silence everywhere, the red carpet was rolled out, Baba came and stood there in front of me looking at me so lovingly for a moment, my eyes were blinded with tears, even now as I write this down, my tears are just overflowing with joy. I looked at Baba trying not to close my eyes even though with those tears I could see that beautiful smile, and that day was the day I was yearning for to see the God who is walking with us in this birth. I was so overwhelmed and did not know what to say. Seeing Him, feeling him from that close was the best thing that ever happened in my life. It is a decade now since I first saw Him that close, but had the best Darshan of my life.
Many miracles happened in the form of coincidences in my life after Baba came in my life and Baba also helped me get in touch with many Baba devotees here in the United States and I also learned to sing bhajans, not one but many bhajans.