It isn’t said in vain that we should believe to experience and experience to continue believing. The story of this Sai Youth from Canada reinforces just that. It’s a timely reminder that there are no co-incidences in the life of a Sai devotee; every incident is divinely ordained and planned to precision by Bhagawan Himself. Read on to find out how Bhagawan touched the life of this young man, and proved to him that He is indeed the indweller of his heart.
My family knew of Bhagawan since the 1980s. My grandparents and grand-aunts at that time would make visits to Prashanthi Nilayam, Brindavan or Sundaram for Darshan and bhajans. In fact, my grand-aunt lived as a resident of Brindavan ashram for most of the 1990s. Other than a few interactions here and there, their relationship with Baba was, and still is, concentrated on the physical form. As individuals who grew up with the idea of having a living God on earth, it’s really hard to accept the physical absence of Baba. Searching for the Baba within is certainly harder than it seems. Nevertheless, the path to God was never described as easy or for the faint-hearted.
Born into a Sai Family
From this background, my journey with Sai started since birth. As you can imagine, I was taught at a very young age that Baba is God—period! There were no opportunities for me to question his divinity at all. He was God and that was final! Of course, at the beginning, the faith was there. He was – MY God. But like many young people in a North American society, the idea of God or the mention of his name would be blasphemous, especially in a public or school setting. This environment allows growth of many doubting Thomases for the existence of God. I did not escape being a victim of this. I call myself a victim, but the questions I had of whether Baba was God or a fraud helped me grow in my understanding of what divinity is. Instead of blindly accepting him, Baba gave me the opportunity to accept Him as divine on my own terms. Most of this testing occurred on my trip to Prashanthi Nilayam in August 2010, the last trip I would have in which Swami was physically alive. Other than the opportunity I had to perform a drama in front of Him along with the Canadian group, Swami’s omniscience was very much felt throughout the trip. Before coming to India, I had been hit by a wave of bad thoughts, typical for a pre-teen boy. I was agitated, and I asked the Swami within, “What is the secret to transformation?” a question with a seemingly complicated answer.
With this question on the back burner, I was sitting in Sai Kulwanth Hall for evening Darshan one day and was crying to Baba who had taken His place on the veranda with a pillar conveniently blocking my view of him. I asked Him in my heart, “Do you really love me Baba? Move me to a better spot right now if you love me!” Sitting with a Canadian scarf along with the Canadian group, the chances of me moving to a better location were pretty slim. To my surprise though, the devotees of the Kerala group beside me (this was during the Onam celebrations) turned to me and offered to give some space in front of them for me to sit. Which devotee gives up their coveted Darshan spot for a complete stranger? This happened hardly a few seconds after I complained to Swami. Before I knew it, I was sitting close to the front row with a beautiful view of Swami. After Darshan, as everyone was standing up, a man from Kerala sitting behind me seemed to shout out the phrase, “Control the mind!” I turned back, only to see him talking softly in Malayalam to another devotee. After being confused initially, it struck me that this was the simple answer to my complicated question to Swami: the secret to transformation is to control the mind. Isn’t Swami wonderful! He never lets anyone down especially when it comes to helping a devotee develop pure faith in Him.
After April 24, 2011, like many other Sai devotees, my world became a confusing hurricane. I was lost. A ray of hope finally came though when I heard of the subtle form appearance of Swami in Kodaikanal in May 2014. Like many others in Toronto, Canada, I initially dismissed the idea of Swami’s reappearance as some cheap and trivial drama, which would soon die down as a hoax. In fact, I would have heated debates with older aunties who had a firm belief in this phenomenon. “Swami would never do this!” I would say confidently to them. To this, they would reply, “Just experience the phenomenon first hand, and then say whatever you want.” I was intrigued at their strong faith, but still was not moved enough to visit Muddenahalli when I went to India in December 2014 for Christmas. Finally, in October 2015, almost one and a half years after I discovered Swami’s reappearance in Muddenahalli, Swami decided to show me a miracle!
The not-so subtle experience
I became interested in watching the live broadcasts of the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna, which was being conducted in Muddenahalli daily during this time. The live webcasts on YouTube would stream at around 9:00 AM onwards in my time zone and I would religiously watch the proceedings out of the curiosity for the customs surrounding the subtle body. I would thoroughly enjoy the narration of the Srimad Bhagawatam, but would tune out and almost mock the discourses Swami would give through brother Madhusudan. I would laugh, and in my head, think about the ‘sins’ Madhusudan was committing by being a communicator.
One day, as I was walking home from school at around 10:00 AM for my lunch break, I was contemplating the many bad thoughts I had the previous night and regretted the decisions I made due to my wavering mind. The instructions Swami gave in 2010 were clearly needed that day. I was telling the Swami in my heart to never leave me and always respond to me whenever when I was in distress due to my mind. I told myself the story of Draupadi, and how she called out to Krishna when her sari was being pulled. I related to the incident, and asked Swami to come to my aid whenever my mind would pull me into the abyss. When I finally got home, I turned on my tablet to tune in to the webcast of the Yagna. Swami’s discourse was being delivered at the time. Probably five seconds into the discourse, brother Madhusudan started talking about how the mind is a mad monkey. I was surprised that at the instant I turned on the discourse this was the topic. As the discourse continued, to my shock, Madhusudan told the story of Draupadi and how everyone should call the Lord’s name when in distress. I was speechless when I heard this. How can my personal thoughts be expressed in a public discourse almost 1000 miles away from Canada?
From that moment on, I knew and understood that Madhusudan was speaking for Swami and this was not a hoax. My Swami had come back to finish His mission in the last few years of His life. Swami is accessible to everyone only if we have an open mind to experience Him as He is, instead of imposing rules on Him. I love you Swami. Thank you.