“Continue to Smile! My Experiences with Sai”
I joined Bal Vikas when I was a 7yr old. I happened to participate in Sai bhajans for the first time in Nandanam, Chennai, where I went to look for my friends! I heard slokams and bhajans being sung in the house and I became a Bal Vikas student from then onwards! Mrs. Rajam Kailasam was my Bala Vikas teacher. I was the youngest in the family and enjoyed lot of freedom.
As a member of the Bal Vikas I was part of the team that gave dance performances in Abbotsbury, Chennai and in Puttaparthi. Gnaneswar, Basmasuran, Sai Katha, Pancha Pandava and Bharatanatyam in front of Swami! This was how I became physically close to Swami.
He used to come and check our costumes. He gave padanamaskar and talked to us! He will bless us to do our best in the program and He will allow us to be in the picture with him! Once he asked me if I was the Basmasuran in the play and I pointed out the student who played Basmasuran. I had the Lord Shiva role. I grew up with this kind of physical proximity with Swami through my Bal Vikas Groups 1, 2 and 3. When we completed the pre Seva dal program we were blessed by Swami who gave the certificates of completion at the Sundaram Center in Chennai.
Once I had a very high fever and I was not sure what was going on in me. My parents were surprised but then felt that there was always some hand behind and beside me protecting! I recovered from my fever very quickly! Also during a bicycle race in my high school, I was close to winning but suddenly I fell down! The cycle that came behind me was almost next to my neck and fortunately I was saved from injury by Swami. I felt a little unconscious but then later I came home. I went ahead with my service activity that evening, teaching slum children and reading to blind people. This is how I participated in service activities that were allotted to us by our teacher. We had our Guru’s guidance that was initiated by Swami. My parents were surprised that I could participate in those activities in that young age but they allowed me to continue those activities. My father came to Puttaparthi once when we had a play there and I was not doing well. He had a beautiful darshan.
Time rolled by. I went out of town to a boarding college in Tiruchi Medical School undergoing studies in Physical Therapy for four years. Though I had to be on my own, my father visited almost every week to take care of my needs. I grew up in my independence with the help of my professors and student friends. I continued my Sai service activities in the evenings as I did in Chennai. I qualified in Athletics, dramatics, cultural and Tae-kwon-do by attending several camps. I was also an under officer in National Cadet Corps and had participated in the NCC “Rajpat March” in New Delhi. I had a chance to have tea with the Prime Minister. I was selected to go to Canada as one of the best NCC students, under the youth exchange program after several camps, interviews and exams. I think that it was all because of grace of Swami. I lived with a Canadian family for four months and then with a Gujarati family in India. A Canadian lived with me at that time working on the project. I went to the temple for Diwali where I heard Sai bhajans! I visited an Indian family that was devoted to Swami! The important thing was that I felt that someone was with me all the time! This program offered me lot of physical and mental strength. We were honored by the Government of India. Returning home, I had to prepare for the exams catching up on my 12 subjects and then I completed them successfully due to the grace of Swami.
A tragedy followed in the form of my father’s death. He succumbed to Cancer within a week of diagnosis. I was just finishing up my internship. How I learned of my father’s condition was a miracle. I was in Thanjavur Medical College undergoing the internship. I did not give contact information to anyone. This was because I was not sure where I will be settling. A week earlier I visited Madras on October 7 when things were all right. I got the news about my father’s demise through Thanjavur Medical College authorities. They informed a nurse who was the mother of my classmate. She hunted the students’ hostel and searched for me everywhere. I was spotted in a theater where I went to watch a movie with my friends. The Thanjavur Medical college authorities were earlier informed by the Watchman of Tiruchi Medical College. He received the news of my dad’s passing away on Sunday from Chennai. I was put into a bus that went to Chennai on a 10-hour drive. The bus conductor apparently knew my father due to his contact in the registrar’s office. He told the driver about my losing the parent and seeing the tears in my eyes, the driver offered to take me to Chennai earlier than I expected. I was only told that my father was sick in Chennai and I had to withhold my grief and gather strength though I was feeling lonely. A lady by my name in the bus asked me to come and sit next to her. She had two children and some baskets with her. She asked me why I was crying. She gave me some vibhuti and asked me to pray to God. I did the same. She got down with me to help me get home by walking through one street. When I reached home I was shocked to see my dad’s lifeless body. When I looked around, I realized that the lady who accompanied me was not to be seen anywhere. There is no way she could have gone that quickly. I think it was Swami who helped me during my time of crisis. I could continue to sense Swami.
I missed my dad during my graduation where I got my gold medal and then within a week I had to present an All India conference paper. I went back to Thanjavur to pick my belongings and then in a month I got a job as a chief Physical therapist/Principal in a big hospital/clinic/teaching institution. I practiced physical therapy from home for the needy. I was doing everything my dad wanted me to do-career, education, and several dance and music concerts in India and Abroad, spiritual, service activities. I was a Seva dal, Bal Vikas teacher, made many trips to Puttaparthi. I healed very well.
I felt Swami’s presence through dreams. In the first one, I have put my head on his lap in our house. Swami rubbed my head and told me that He will be with me all the time and that He is my father and mother and He will fulfill all parental roles and I need not worry about any one in the family. Slowly things got better. My two brothers got married. My mother sensed my dad in me through my energy. Thanks to Swami’s guidance I could feel His presence in my profession and at home.
In another dream, Swami was married to me! He was going around the Yagna. I was in a yellow sari and my robe was tied to Him. With that dream I thought that I would live as a single, unmarried person. Also I did not want to go through physically the pain of losing a loved one, after experiencing the loss of my father. The elderly people who I shared about my dream told me that I will be guided by Swami to get married to a person of a loving nature rather than literally thinking that I was married to Swami. I believed in that.
I met with an accident strangely while driving a two wheeler just before going to Tirupathi. I had to climb up the Hill of Tirupathi with the injury and came back. My- would be-husband was visiting from US and was looking for an alliance. Things settled down quickly and we were married within a week! We got married with horoscope matching and relatives approving. We never talked to each other. We could not help it. I asked Swami to bless the picture when I went to Puttaparthi.
I was at Sundaram for bhajans that Sunday. A miracle happened on that day. A cow was on the street. I did not notice it coming. A friend cautioned me to move and I did. It was a narrow escape from the cow. With Swami’s blessings, my life underwent a big change and everything worked out nicely.
Another memorable experience was when I read “My Baba and I.” There was effulgence of light towards me. I felt so much of peace. Another experience was when I went to Bombay for a dance program in Ratlam Mandir. There was dance practice daily for a month. I was enjoying the dance performance. I had a dream in an early morning. I had two friends. My cot was shaking and I woke up. They were asking why the bed was shaking and if I had any fever. I did not explain to them. I observed Swami’s Abhaya Hastha mudra. He looked into my eyes and I could feel the rays going from His eyes into mine. Due to the power of the rays, I was physically shaking. That was why the cot appeared shaking. I got back to what ever I wanted to do.
I had good experiences in USA after my marriage. My mother was peaceful with the events. In another dream, Swami takes my mother’s age to half way down (?). I went to Parthi with my mother and brother. Swami graciously blessed all of us.
I started working in Physical Therapy Clinic. We were in a joint family life. I felt that I am part of all the challenges. I got a good job in Michigan. My husband also got a job here. We were more independent and got to know each other more. We regularly attended Southfield Sai Center after being in a slow pace. I became the devotional coordinator. We made a trip to Puttaparthi and we brought our mother in a week’s time in a miraculous way. In good spirits she saw me teaching dance and music to the children and my Master’s graduation with my in-laws. They were with us for about eight months.
We were busy with our work and life. We were blessed with two kids, Govinda Sai and SaiCharen. My mother did not visit me at that time as she developed high blood pressure. Swami was the one who took care of me during the pregnancy and delivery. There was intuition in me even though there was delay in delivery. Things were normal. Our first child got the name Govinda after Swami mentioned this name to one of the devotees who went from Southfield, Michigan. My second delivery was quick. I was listening to Swami’s bhajans walking in the hospital and I was taken to the delivery room by a stretcher. The delivery was uneventful. We chose the name SaiCharen as the time he was born was at Brahma Muhurtam when Nagar Sangirtanam goes on in Puttaparthi.
We wanted to confirm the name and Swami told us inside to get the name of SaiCharen.
My husband had a dream before our first child was born. He dreamed that I delivered a wonderful, healthy baby and he mentioned that Govinda was born! Both children were blessed by Swami.
Now, a stay-home mom, I am trying to follow Swami’s teachings as best as I can. Swami knows better how I am doing. He always gives me lessons to benefit me. We planned a 2-week trip to Puttaparthi and Bangalore after my second son was born. My elder son had flu and we had to be in the emergency room for five hours. He was given fluid drip to compensate for dehydration. We had to make emergency call to India. Shocking to hear was the news that my mother was admitted to the hospital with cerebral hemorrhage. We cancelled the trip to Puttaparthi and were heading to our home town. It was a testing time for us in the plane. My younger child was throwing up and had diarrhea. My husband also had flu. I was thinking about my mother. She was recovering but not to the expected level. She approved the hair ceremony for the kids in Tirupathi. She passed away from a coma stage one Sunday morning. We did Satsang everyday and I had a beautiful Darshan of swami face to face in Puttaparthi. It was very hard to return to USA with the feeling that I could not speak to my mother anymore. I try to keep my spirits high with good association in the Center. I feel Swami’s presence and accept the fact that things happen in the way that He wills and not quitting to live any time. We felt His hand any time. With my child going to school I got busy with my responsibilities, leaving behind mourning for mom.
We have been having some challenges lately. They only taught us not to give up going through trials and tribulations, continue to smile and feel His will. The faith is there that you are taken care in every way at appropriate time and preparing to withstand anything in life and helping to go through our lives. This is like a training you take in a course. I always felt Swami was talking inside me when I put my effort. He knows when we need a dream or miracle to happen.
Last December when we drove to Atlanta, Georgia our car suddenly stopped. There was a person who stopped in front of us. He very kindly helped us unload our luggage and offered to drive us to the airport about an hour’s drive from that place. It was Christmas Eve, between 2 and 5 PM. Many left work. He was so lovingly talking to the kids when driving us to the airport. We were trying to give him something as an exchange of love but he would not agree to get any thing! When we saw the tow-truck arriving to pick up our car, swami was suggesting me to tell him to try starting the car one more time to check the trouble. Lo and Behold, the car started. Apparently the fuel pump stopped suddenly and then it started working later when we turned the ignition on. Thank God, we exclaimed and continued driving the car. I was thinking about the person who helped us and suddenly the flash of thought came to me that his face exactly resembled that of Prema Sai! That was the extent of Swami’s love!
Both my husband and I are getting dreams of Swami these days! We are trying to follow the basic teachings of Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi, Prema and Ahimsa. Spirituality helped us as a backbone. Swami wills everything for us.
When I was a Seva dal, I was saved by Swami from being injured by a metal rod. I keep writing letters to Swami, once in a few months. These are some of my experiences after being in Swami’s fold. Sairam.