An alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sri Madhusudan Rao Naidu joined the Brindavan campus in 1996 to pursue Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, for which he received the gold medal from Swami. He then went on to complete his Master’s degree in Chemistry at Prashanthi Nilayam campus. Later on, he enrolled into the MBA programme at the Institute, again winning the gold medal from Swami for standing first in his class.
An all-rounder, Sri Madhusudan excelled in arts and music during his student life. He was part of the University brass band and enacted many roles in the convocation dramas, which were directed by Bhagawan Himself. A prolific orator and a gifted artist, he was once given a unique opportunity by Swami to paint the portraits of His birth parents – mother Easwaramma and father Sri Pedda Venkappa Raju.
Bestowed with the rare blessing of being able to see, speak to and hear Swami, he has now dedicated his life to being an instrument in His hands, helping serve and spread Bhagawan’s mission of love and peace in the world.
It was on the last day of our trip to Kodaikanal with Bhagawan in the summer of 2003. While I was doing padaseva to Swami, He playfully tapped on my head and asked, “What will you do next, sir?” My Masters in Business Administration at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam had come to an end. After having spent the seven best years of my life at His feet since 1996 until that day, I had no heart to go back to my home town, near Raipur in the State of Chhattisgarh, 1200 kilometres away.
I prayerfully submitted, “Swami I want to be at Your feet.”
“There is no place at My feet! If all of you stay here, then who will serve Me outside? Go and spread Swami’s ideals in the world outside,” commanded Swami. Little did I realise then the purpose and the meaning of those few words!
The Divine Plan Unfolds
Swami blessed me to work in a private bank in Bengaluru, Karnataka, and graciously permitted me to visit Prasanthi Nilayam to have His darshan frequently. He compassionately enquired about my work and life during many such visits. However, He never permitted me to quit my job and stay with Him in Puttaparti despite several such eager submissions to Him. There was a purpose far beyond my comprehension.
Finally, after six years He permitted me to quit my job but still did not want me to come to Prasanthi Nilayam. I was on my own, alone, till one day in March 2011 when He chose to appear in my home at Bengaluru.
I was praying, sitting in front of His chair in His room at our home, when I had this strong feeling that that He was sitting on the chair and saying something that I could understand! During several long interactions with Him while I was doing my post-graduation, Swami would very graciously talk to me, guide me and tell me about various things – about Himself, His Mission, His devotees, and future plans. So, it wasn’t too difficult for me to recognise that it was truly Swami, who was seated in my home that day. The same mellifluous voice, the same sweet Telugu and the same gestures that are unique to our Swami did not escape my notice.
Of course, it still was a little strange. I had never experienced something like this before, even when I was a student for seven years. I thought I was hallucinating because like all the others, I too had been praying and thinking too much about Swami as He was not keeping well. However, Swami kept on coming every day and kept speaking to me in Telugu, which I could clearly understand.
One fine day, He said, “You doubt whether it is Me or it is your imagination. Look, your friend Sridhar will come now; in ten minutes he will ring the doorbell, will come inside and give you a box with breakfast.” That was at 8 o’clock in the morning. Sridhar was my classmate when I was studying in Puttaparti. But I had not seen him for months, though we stayed in the same city. I patiently waited for this to happen to confirm my faith.
And it did! In ten minutes, I heard the doorbell ring. When I opened the door, Sridhar was standing there. And not only was he standing, he was actually holding a lunch box in his hand, in which he was carrying breakfast for me. A little surprised at this unannounced visit, I asked him, “What made you come this early in the morning, without even calling me?” He said, “Nothing specific. My wife and I while having our breakfast felt that we had not seen you for a long time. So my wife said, ‘Why don’t you go and see Madhusudan on your way to office and give him some breakfast?’ This incident sealed my faith – I was now absolutely sure that it wasn’t just a hallucination or imagination, it was indeed Swami who was talking to me!
Thereafter, this became a regular phenomenon – Swami coming, talking and telling me many things even when He was admitted to the hospital. Then came the day when the doctors declared Swami ‘dead’. I was surprised because Swami kept on saying, “I am coming back. If you have faith, I will come back.” I sincerely believed that He would come out of the hospital, walk amidst us again, and prove to the whole world that He is God and therefore beyond medical treatment – just like many of us thought at that moment. We thought it was His leela, He was playing a game and He would bounce back from the hospital bed to good health and maybe even walk! Swami used to say, “I will run one day. I will fly across the sky.” I used to believe that He would actually, physically do all these things. That was how a lot of us thought at that time. But it didn’t happen!
Test is His Taste
On 24th of April 2011, I went back to His room in the house and started crying, “What is happening, Swami? You said that you would come back, but that may not happen. Everybody says that you have gone!”
Immediately, Swami appeared in the room and in a soothing tone, said, “No, no, this is all tamaashaa (show). Where can I go? I am here right in front of you.”
Not satisfied with His reply, I cried, “You are here in front of me, but there they are taking you off the ventilator and they’ll put you inside the casket. They’ll bury you.”
With a resolute expression, He replied, “No. I am here with you. I will always be there. You go and see the tamaashaa in Puttaparti.”
With my heart pounding in my chest, I went to Puttaparti, driving all alone from Bengaluru, hoping to witness the miracle of the millennium. But when I saw His body, lying there in the casket, it just broke my heart. I thought, “It can’t be true. Swami can’t come back now. Look at this thing. They have sealed Him in that ice box. Even if He was alive, He wouldn’t survive that cold.”
It so happened that after two days, it was decided that His body would be laid to rest in the same place where He used to sit and grant darshan. I was crying that morning, saying to myself, “I have been deceived. I have been duped. Swami said He would come back. He didn’t come back. He just fooled me.”
I suddenly felt a tap on my head. It was so strong that I was jolted out of my crying. I looked up, half expecting it to be a sevadal volunteer who was trying to tell me something. But it was Swami! He was standing there, in flesh and bone, in a yellow robe. He looked at me compassionately and said, “Why are you crying?”
Unable to control my emotions, I burst out crying. “Swami, see there. They are taking Your body. They are going to put it in the pit in no time, and You will never come back!”
Swami however was as composed as He always is. He said, “Where should I come back from? I have never gone anywhere. I am right here with you. Why are you crying? That is not Me, it’s only a tamaashaa.” He kept on assuring me. I trusted that; it gave me a bit of solace.
The Grand Plan unfolds
Of course, the ‘body’ went under the ground. We all know that. But Swami continued coming and talking to me. I thought it was just a personal conversation, like the way Swami used to talk to me during my student days. But, eventually I realised that He was on a bigger mission. Gradually, He started telling me about the need to build a Super Specialty Hospital in Raipur (Chhattisgarh) first and then in many other states eventually. He also told me that there would be many new schools in Karnataka in all districts. There will be drinking water supply projects in many states of the country. And all this will be done within the coming ten years of His life!
Swami also explained to me that He could not continue physically because it was impossible for Him to even brush His teeth or put on His clothes and look after Himself. It was too below His dignity to depend on others for that long. So, He decided to give up the ‘old car’ as He called the body, which didn’t work anymore and change into a ‘new car’ which could go faster towards the same goal of transformation. “The Road is the same. The Goal is the same. It is just the car that has changed,” He remarked.
He then explained that He has four forms. The Physical form, or the Sthoola Shareera, like we all have. Then, there is the Subtle Form, or Sookshma Shareera, that is the mind with feelings and thoughts. It is just like the physical form but without flesh and bones. Then, there is a higher form, the Higher Subtle, or the Athi Sookshma Shareera, and that is how He comes into peoples’ dreams and meditation. And finally, the Omnipresent Super Subtle Form, or Para Sookshama Shareera, in which He is present in every being and every atom, everywhere.
“I will be in this Subtle Form, which is just like the physical form, without flesh and bones,” Swami said. That is how He is going to take His mission forward. “My work is not yet over,” He declared. “Keep yourself selfless and pure, so that I may use you all as My instruments. I do not have a body but I shall use your bodies to do My work. Your hands shall be my hands, your feet shall be My feet, your words shall be My words and your actions shall be My actions. Be selfless. Glorious times are ahead when the whole world will become “Sai mayam” (filled with Sai). Soon, I will be back in another Physical form as Prema Sai, who will further guide you all and continue the work.”