To enhance the meaningfulness of this (story), it seems appropriate to elaborate on how Swami entered my life.
With His guidance, I will recapitulate the way in which His amazing grace saved me. However, this isn’t about me, my background, my talents, or my accomplishments, all of which don’t belong to me since God is the doer and the giver. It is about our Beloved Lord. His endless, eternal, and incredible LOVE that impacts our lives and transforms us to become His instruments when we are ready . . . when we become truly aware of that unconditional love radiating from within us.
In late 1986, a series of events took place that shattered me and left me completely overwhelmed and lost emotionally, mentally, and physically. As a result, I suffered from relentless and debilitating headaches that interfered with my work as a teacher. At the point where I felt I could not go on and was ready to give up, a good friend of mine, Devi, stepped in (this was the first sign of Swami’s rescue). She told me, “Write to Baba. He will help you.”
I had a vague recollection of having seen Baba’s photo back home in India at my brother-in-law’s house. At that time, I could not understand my brother-in-law’s devotion to a strange looking man (compared to our traditional God images). That feeling still prevailed, and my response to my friend’s suggestion was, “What’s He going to do?” She simply smiled and handed me a book titled Sai Baba: Man of Miracles. She also provided an address for Baba in case I felt inclined to write to Him.
I left the book on the couch in the living room. It remained there for more than two weeks, untouched. Then one Wednesday morning, as I was sitting on the couch with pain and despondency as my companions, I noticed the book. I realized I had kept it for too long and felt obligated to at least leaf through it quickly, as a courtesy before returning it to my friend. So, I picked up the book and opened it.
That was the pivotal moment of my life!
What happened next was truly miraculous. On the first page was a picture of a lanky old man in a turban whom I later learned was Shirdi Sai Baba. There were rays of light emanating around this picture and it felt as though the light blazed into my heart. The act of opening the book literally opened my heart. It blessed me with instant faith in Baba, faith that was unshakable, unquestioning, and child-like.
For the first time since the traumatic incidents, I wept. Tears flowed and flowed. All the emotions that had been in a deep freeze were melting in this flow of healing tears. The uppermost, and most urgent, thought I had was, “I have to go see Baba.” My mind raced around trying to figure out ways and means to find the money for the airfare and how soon I could leave. Meanwhile, the tears continued to stream down my cheeks.
Eventually, I calmed down and realized the futility of my thoughts. I decided instead to write a letter to Baba. I wrote about my poor finances that hindered me from going to see Him and ended the letter with a humble request for a photo of Him. I mailed the letter the same day.
The following Friday, which was two days later, I had a call from another friend, Kay, who in the course of our conversation told me, “By the way, my friend Susan says she has a picture of Sai Baba and she feels very strongly that she needs to give it to somebody, but she does not know who that somebody is.”
My spiritual antenna immediately went up. I asked Kay if it would be possible for me to meet Susan. Kay promised to check with her and get back to me. It was okay, and it was arranged for the next morning, Saturday. We drove to Susan’s apartment. As I entered, I saw there in the hallway propped up against the wall the most exquisite framed picture of Swami. Susan, whom I was meeting for the first time, came up to me and hugged me. She said, “Now, I know. This picture goes home with you.”
How swiftly Swami fulfilled my request! I knew with absolute certainty that it was He who sent that photo to me. I gazed at it for a long time. Swami had chosen the most appropriate pose for me. He had his left hand tucked under His chin, His right hand raised in Blessing, His beautiful face tilted to the side with a twinkle in His eyes, and the most comforting smile on His lips. I simply melted.
All the way home, I held the picture close to my heart. I carried it to my room and tenderly placed it on my dresser. That evening I realized that my head was not hurting anymore. It also felt like the enormous weight on my shoulders had been lifted. My whole being became light and alive. I felt bathed in an incredible flow of pure love and peacefulness. This was Swami’s gift to me and it continues to nourish me even more now. My home became a Sai Center that very same year.
There was no change in my circumstances, but my Beloved had miraculously changed my whole attitude towards them. I felt I could face anything, and handle anything, with complete confidence. My down-in-the-depths powerlessness and fear-filled outlook were gone. I was relaxed and in total surrender to the God who had come to me in my time of despair and lifted me into the light with the assurance, “Why fear when I am here?”
With His guidance and grace, all of the trials and problems were handled one by one with courage and dignity. They were resolved in a way that revived my faith in angels; angels disguised as mortals as well.
Swami has become my constant companion. He is my mother, my father, my Guru, and my Beloved. He is my divine Sarathi (charioteer) who holds the reins to my destiny.
The surrender is indescribably sweet!