Dr Rachana is a certified Ayurvedic doctor from Government Ayurvedic College, Tripunithura, Kerala. She was drawn to Bhagawan just as an iron filing gets attracted to the magnet. She firmly believes that Swami is her Mother, who responds to her prayerful longing. She is a dedicated member of the transcription team at Sai Hridayam, Dubai.
Her husband Sri Jeevanresh is a MBA graduate working for a multinational company in Dubai. From a young age, he was drawn to the matters of the Spirit. He is a keen and active participant in the seva activities undertaken by Sai Hridayam, Dubai, and is highly interested in the varied Indian scriptures.
Read on to know how this devotee couple together have transformed their lives and work as a worship to Swami.
Swami only knows when and how to draw a person towards Him. Not by luck or coincidence, but only through His infinite grace and pure love does a soul get beckoned.
I was 20 years old when I first visited Puttaparthi in 2000, with a large group of family members. I had limited knowledge about Swami and the austere schedule that was followed at Prashanthi Nilayam. It was a Shivarathri night, the night of bhajans and Shiva-nama, when we entered the Sai Kulwant Hall. All through the endless bhajan-singing, I only thought of my fast-approaching annual exams, and decided to utilize the time by going through a Shakespearian novel, which was one of my subjects! However, I was stopped by one of the sevadals. I still remember how infuriated I felt at the sevadal’s intervention, least knowing that I would be taking on the same role very soon.
After sitting inside for a few hours, we came out, little aware that Swami would bring forth the Hiranyagarbha lingam on that auspicious day. I remember how I craned and jumped just to get a glimpse of Swami through the grills of the Kulwant hall. That was my first darshan of Bhagawan, which left a deep impact in my heart.
On my return, I started going to the nearest Samithi. This Samithi – the Chalappuram Samithi in Kozhikode district of Kerala – was the second only Samithi to be blessed by Swami’s physical visit in 1974. As I became more regular to the Samithi, I started getting to know more about Swami. My life slowly changed.
From my childhood, I was very fascinated and drawn to stories from the Puranas. I am grateful to my father who laid the foundations of this interest, and to my balavihar teacher in Chinmaya Vidyalaya (where I did my schooling) who kept the spark alive. The stories about Swami, therefore, considerably ignited my inner spirit. I began to get the conviction that it was just Swami planning and unveiling a different world of Love and Service for me. I put all my efforts in becoming an active member of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, and participated in every activity – Bhajans, Bal Vikas classes, festival celebrations, social service activities etc. The circle of relationships started expanding to all Sai brothers and sisters, each of whom carried a special touch and message of Swami. Every meeting with the Sai family members, thus, verily became Satsanghs.
In the year 2003, I was fortunate to attend the first youth camp, ever arranged for a state. The theme of this camp was “All are Invited, but a Few are Selected”. Yes, how apt and relevant was the theme! The gates of Prashanthi Nilayam are, indeed, open to one and all. Yet, how many of us stay worthy of the Divine proximity is truly a matter of introspection.
Meanwhile, the elders in my family discouraged me from following the spiritual path and encouraged me to take up a job that was arranged for me in Dubai. Hence with a heavy heart, as my parent’s wished, I had to take up the job and in a way my travel temporarily declared the triumph of the advisory board of elders. Years passed by and I got really punctured a lot as the situation was very adverse, but I still tried my level best to retain my inner sadhana.
In those days, Rachana, my better half now, was also an active member of the Samithi. She too had much difficulty and convincing to do to come to Sai Samithi, as she was the only Sai devotee in her family. At that point in time, we did not, in the least, reckon Swami’s plan which would bring us together as life partners.
Rachana’s journey with Swami started from a letter she wrote to Swami in the year 2002, on the advice of her hostel warden who was a Sai devotee. It was during those tough times of her medical entrance coaching that she wrote this letter, not knowing that Swami is the very same incarnation of Sri Krishna, whom she worshipped so ardently since her childhood. As Swami says, “If you take one step towards Me, I take hundred steps towards you,” Rachana also felt the tremendous pull from Swami. She had several dreams of Swami in the years that followed, after she wrote her first letter to Swami. In one such dream, Swami assured her that He is always with her. True to His promise, Swami iterated His constant presence with her.
Once, in 2003, when Rachana was still pursuing her studies, she forgot to take vibhuti from her warden while changing her hostel. When she realised her omission, Rachana was struck with remorse and anguish. She felt all her communication with Swami was lost as she didn’t have His vibhuti with her. Meanwhile, another student came to share the room with her. After she settled down, she came to Rachana in the evening, opened a box and asked her, “This is the vibhuti of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Would you like to have it?” One can imagine Rachana’s joy as she basked in the pure love of Bhagawan! Once again, He assured her that when earnest prayers go up, blessings come down.
Later that year, Rachana visited Puttaparthi with her friend’s family, who were ardent devotees of Swami. That was her very first Darshan. Those magical moments are still fresh in her memories.
Another remarkable incident happened in Rachana’s life in 2004, when she was pursuing her higher secondary education. She was having a great deal of trouble with Mathematics. She couldn’t cope up with the pressure and ended up failing in the model exams. As days closed towards the annual exam, Rachana’s dejection and tension grew to an extent to which she started to convince herself of writing the supplementary exam. There was no one to help her and she could only pray to Swami earnestly seeking His help.
With only four days to go for the exam, Rachana sought Swami’s guidance in desperation. The voice of God can be heard in the depths of silence. While silently praying to Swami, Rachana felt an inner voice, as if Swami was prompting her. She immediately rushed and started to revise the sample question-and-answers given at the end of each chapter. Praying to Swami through the day, Rachana went through every sample exercise in the entire text book. What happened in the exam reveals how Swami reaches out to help someone who has sought refuge in Him solely. As Divine Will would have it, all the questions for the final exam came from the sample exercises which she had practised! Rachana couldn’t believe her eyes as all the questions were just what she had studied in those four days. She could feel Swami writing through her throughout her exam, and her heart was filled with gratitude. When the results came, Rachana had not only passed the exam but also secured high marks.
Rachana’s only ambition was to become a doctor. She worked rigorously and succeeded, in her second attempt, in earning a seat in the Government Ayurveda College, Tripunithura, Kerala. Rachana visited her grandmother after enrolling for college. Her grandmother then revealed a beautiful dream in which she saw Swami walking out of Yajur mandir holding Rachana’s right hand. She also saw that her granddaughter was dressed in her doctor’s white coat, holding a stethoscope in her left hand. This dream occurred almost a year before she got her medical admission. Thus, Swami had communicated His divine plan to her grandmother that her granddaughter was destined to become a doctor because Swami had willed it so.
Later in 2009, Rachana got an opportunity to be a sevadal in the General Hospital at Puttaparthi. She cherishes her experiences there, for they left solid imprints in her heart. Thereafter, Swami’s teachings on selflessness became her beacon in life.
The transition from the form to formless
On 24th April, 2011, we sank in anguish on hearing that Swami had left His mortal coil. We prayed and wept, firmly believing that Swami will resurrect Himself, but it did not happen. Slowly we tried getting accustomed to His physical absence, by placing our belief in what Swami has always been emphasising – to see Him in everybody and in everything.
Rachana and I got married on 27th August, 2012. She joined me in Dubai on 22nd November 2012. The next day was our beloved Swami’s 87th birthday. We were very happy to have our house warming ceremony on that day, and felt that it was Swami’s divine plan. During the function, as I lit the lamp in the altar of our pooja room, my phone beeped. When I checked my phone later, I was surprised to receive a message from one of my dear friends. It contained a message of our dearest Swami, assuring that He is always with us. We felt very happy to know that Swami was still blessing us incessantly.
Dreams related to Swami are not mere fanciful visions; they unfold in a different dimension. Swami has also ascertained that He can interact with us on any plane of existence whenever He wills. I have been blessed with several dreams of Swami, but one dream which I got after Bhagawan left His physical body has much relevance. This happened in the middle of the year 2014. In the dream, I found myself as a member of a group interview, where Swami was talking to all, one by one. All the time, I wondered, “How come Swami is back in His body? Is it not true that Swami left His physical body?” Suddenly Swami turned towards me and said, “My body is not mrinmaya (mortal). It is Chinmaya (immortal)”. I woke up from the dream feeling very happy once again to be with Swami. I shared my experience with my wife and my mother. They were very excited, and we all felt blessed to hear this assuring statement from Swami Himself.
In January 2015, my friend, who was also a student of Swami, called me up to say that he had something to share with me. In the next fifteen minutes, he went on to explain about the subtle appearance of Swami in Muddenahalli. I knew then and there that it was none other than Swami Himself who has come back. I shared this with my wife, and she too believed it completely. We felt like our prayers were answered. Indeed, His methods and ways are unfathomable. We are very grateful to Swami who provided us with needed intelligence and firm conviction to understand things in a divine perspective.
The very night after I heard about Swami, I pondered the turn of events in wonderment. Meanwhile, I felt a Presence on the right side of the bed. As my attention drifted there, I heard a sound. Two pages of Swami’s calendar hanging to my right side had fallen. I got up from my bed, went and picked up the pages that had fallen. The wordings of Swami on those pages were – ‘God is not confined to a particular place. He is with you, in you, around you, above you, below you.’ The second one read – ‘Forget all the harm done to you by others and the help you have done to others.’ Wasn’t Swami revealing His presence? The incident really struck me deep in my heart, and the urge to experience Swami in His subtle form grew.
In March 2015, when we went to India for our annual vacation, we visited Muddenahalli for the first time. Here I would like to share the story which led us to Muddenahalli. Initially, we planned our trip to join a meditation program of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at Bangalore. We stayed with our friend and his family in Bangalore. That night at his home, we began talking about Swami and the subtle phenomenon. My wife and I shared our view points and understanding of the subtle form of Swami, hearing which my friend and his family members too felt the desire to learn more. Finally, we decided to visit Puttaparthi first and then Muddenahalli.
We reached Muddenahalli on a Sunday morning, where the welcome we received was beyond anything we had imagined. We were treated like special guests at the ashram. There were only a very few others in the ashram, as Swami had gone to visit the Alike campus. Even though we couldn’t directly witness the subtle form of Swami, our hearts were filled with gratitude and love for Swami, since it was in a special and unique way in which we had been treated. This visit remains fresh and ever memorable with us.
We came home ruminating on the experiences we had. The desire to witness the subtle form of Swami only grew within us. A week after, I got a call from the same friend, who told me that there was a Seva Vrinda meet to happen at Muddenahalli on March 30th and 31st, and he was going there as a volunteer. He urged me to join the meet. I was in a dilemma, as I had very few days to resume my work in Dubai. Moreover, it was not easy to convince my parents that I needed to travel again. I told my wife to stay back and informed others that I had an interview in Bangalore. Thus, I flew to Bangalore and, as though Swami was confirming His presence, the seat number I got was 18 and the seat next to me was vacant! I landed at Bangalore airport and rushed to get a taxi. The morning program had already begun and I was still travelling. My friend kept updating me of the proceedings through messages to my growing excitement.
The First Interaction
At last, I reached the ashram. At that time, Swami was in Sai Anandam. The volunteer asked me to wait outside. After a while, I saw my friend and others heading towards Vidyadeep for lunch with Swami. Anxiously, I joined the group, got into the hall and took my seat. Shortly, a white Benz car pulled up outside the hall and I saw a young person getting out of the car, whom I later came to know as Brother Madhusudan. Brother Madhu opened the front door and stood as though waiting for someone to come out. I started concentrating hard, anticipating that Swami will become visible to me but nothing happened. Swami, accompanied with Brother Madhu, walked inside the hall and spoke to some people. After finishing a small round, Swami took His seat for lunch. We all started partaking lunch on a gesture from Swami. Swami finished His lunch within five minutes and again started walking through the rows distributing ice creams to everyone.
My heart started pounding and I wondered whether Swami would recognise me and talk to me. When Swami reached the row where I was sitting, I got ready on my knees to pay my obeisance. Swami was just three feet away from me when I couldn’t hold myself any further. I called out in a low tone “Swami”, but there was no response. When Swami came nearer to me, He wasn’t looking at me and I called again in a very low tone, “Swami”. Then suddenly Brother Madhu stopped and looked at me. I was filled with mixed feelings, and from Brother Madhu’s gesture I understood that Swami was waiting for me to tell something.
I prayed, “Swami, am I going on the right path? Will you pardon all my sins in this life and in all previous lives?” Swami replied, “Yes all your sins, this birth and all other births will be pardoned. You just do my seva. You have undergone sufferings a lot and now, no need to worry. I am with you and your family.”
Saying so, Swami held my folded palm, gave me an ice cream, and moved swiftly to the front. My joy knew no bounds hearing Swami’s assurance. I had always felt that my life should be of purpose, and that I should be useful in Swami’s mission. I shared my experience with my friend and others who were keen to know what Swami told me. One of them was Brother Anand Kadali who, after learning that I was from Dubai, suggested that I meet sister Shobhana and gave me her contact details.
When I got back to Dubai, my wife and I joined the Satsang at Shobhanaji’s residence, loving named Sai Hridayam by our Swami. It was the most wonderful Satsang we had in a very long time. From then onwards, my wife and I began to participate in the seva activities and satsanghs along with the Sai Hridayam family.
In July 2015, the Dubai team decided to visit Muddenahalli as a group for the Gurupoornima celebrations. My wife and I were both fortunate to be a part of the trip, where my wife had her first experience with the subtle form of Swami.
Now, Rachana had a long standing desire to sing a bhajan before Swami, ever since the time she had been coming to the Sai Samithi. She was a lead singer in the Samithi, but she never got an opportunity to sing before Swami in Puttaparthi. From the day we joined the Dubai team, Rachana began to pray to Swami in our pooja room for a chance to sing in front of Him. And she would practise the bhajan, “Manasa Bhajara Guru Charanam”.
Swami says, “I am in your hearts. You are in mine.” Sai, who is the Indweller of all beings, answered Rachana’s prayer in a beautiful way. Rachana was given a chance to sing a bhajan. To her sheer joy and surprise, it was a guru bhajan! Rachana sang “Manasa Bhajara Guru Charanam”, the very same bhajan which she heartily practised before Swami in our puja room. At the end of the session, Swami presented watches to everyone. It was truly a special gift from Swami.
The Omniscient Lord
On our return, we learnt of the Divine Visit to Dubai scheduled on 26th and 27th August, 2015. Our group met to plan the different programmes that we should offer to Swami. We decided to present a drama among other offerings. I joined the drama team, sceptical of my competence for the task. Each member of the group was asked to prepare a script, and the best one was to be selected for the skit. So I sat to write, totally clueless as to what to write or how to begin. With a prayer in my heart, I begged Swami to write the skit through me. Suddenly, I felt a rush of self-confidence and courage. Not wasting a single moment, I started working on the script. I typed continuously for almost three hours, and was wonderstruck to the shape it had taken, when only hours ago, there was not even a seed of an idea in place. I knew that only Swami could make this possible.
With a draft in place, we were now ready to edit and polish the script. During one of the editing sessions at our home, I narrated the script to my wife, the Sai Gayathri audio track playing in the background. When we reached the Bhakta Hanuman scene in the skit, to our utter surprise, the Sai Gayathri stopped and the audio player started to play a Hanuman bhajan! After the bhajan, we went through the music tracks, curious to see whether the Hanuman bhajan was, indeed, the track following Sai Gayathri. Much to our astonishment, there were at least twenty tracks between the Sai Gayathri audio and the Hanuman bhajan. We considered this as a positive affirmation from Swami that we could finalise the skit. We felt very blessed and once again at how Swami revealed His presence in a subtle way. The skit was performed before Swami when He visited Dubai.
During Swami’s visit, we were fortunate to be a part of a group interview. It was Aug 27th 2015, and we were celebrating our third marriage anniversary on the day of the interview. In the interview, Swami blessed my wife with a saree and commanded her to be in Dubai and to do His seva. Swami also assured her that she will be recognised in future as an Ayurvedic doctor. As the interview ended, Rachana prayed to Swami to bless us since it was a very special day. To which Swami lovingly replied, “Yes, I know. That’s why I gifted you the saree.” Indeed, Swami knows everything, and there is no need to remind Him on anything.
Now my wife is totally involved with her seva in the transcription team of Dubai. She believes that Swami is keeping her busy always. Rachana’s sadhana ensures that she remains engrossed in Swami’s thoughts for hours together. Every day, when I am back home from office, she shares with me Swami’s beautiful messages and the blissful experiences of many devotees around the globe, all of which she receives while doing the transcription work. We feel blessed to practise shravanam (listening) which, among the navavidha bhakthi, is the first and the easiest path to reach the Lord.
When we do Bhagawan’s work, He takes care of our lives in this world and in other worlds too, as He demonstrated to us in the following manner. Swami had invited my wife and I to Muddenahalli for the World Youth Meet scheduled in November 2015. Now we were in a dilemma since but I did not have any more holidays pending for that year. On top of it, we were financially tight as well. And yet how could we disregard Swami’s loving invitation?
Knowing not how to handle this situation, we prayed to Swami, “Swami, since You have invited us, please help us to overcome these hurdles.” As we discussed the matter, my wife and I even made a light-hearted remark, “If Swami has willed it, then let the means also come from Swami. Now it is not our issue anymore.”
As the saying goes, “When we do our half, God will do the other half.” Mustering courage, I requested the management to grant me 4 days off. My request was immediately approved, and the HR decided to deduct four days from my annual vacation next year! We were delighted and convinced that only Divine intervention could have got my leave sanctioned. Meanwhile, my company suddenly decided to transfer my visa to a different agency, for doing which the gratuity amount had to be paid off. To my utmost surprise, when I got the gratuity, it was double the amount I was entitled to have. Now who else other than Swami can play like this? He not only provided me money to meet the expenses of the whole trip, but even gave me additional money so that I could contribute a better amount for the float, which was meant for the 90th birthday celebration rally.
At last, we reached Muddenahalli to attend the World Youth Meet. It was 18th November 2015, a memorable day in the history of Muddenahalli as Bhagawan had inaugurated the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall. We were seated inside the hall, when Swami came by. As He was passing, Bhagawan asked me “How is the hall?” I replied with a gesture “Excellent, Swami.” I felt very happy for the Divine acknowledgement. It was His assurance that He is with us always.
The next day, 19th November, was the inauguration of the World Youth Meet, the theme of which was Swami’s message – ‘All are One’. There were delegates from over 20 countries around the globe. Rachana and I along with few others represented the religion of Islam. We were attired in the traditional wear of the region, and presented Arabic prayers on the stage.
That evening, as part of the Women’s Day celebrations, a group of ladies were selected to chant Veda in Swami’s presence. My wife was blessed with an opportunity to chant Durga Suktam in front of her beloved Sai Maa.
We participated in the World Youth Meet in all the ways we could, by cleaning, moving and setting the stage for the meet, and sleeping for bare minimal hours. I can never forget the night, when we worked assiduously to put together the Dasaavataram ensemble on the Premamrutham stage. In the days to come, the photos will be an overwhelming reminder of the blissful time we spent with the Lord, basking in His supreme Love and care; memories that we will cherish for a lifetime. We remain indebted to Swami for all the opportunities He benevolently granted us out of His unconditional love.
Another instance where Swami proved His Omnipresence is worthy of mention. Once, while dropping my cousin to the airport, I was driving in a hurry as we were late. Unfortunately, the traffic camera flashed due to my over- speeding. As there were no other vehicles on the road, I was certain that the camera flashed on my car. I felt extremely upset and infuriated at myself. Never ever did we want to spend unnecessary money, because we wanted to spare as much as possible for Swami’s mission. Back at home, I prayed to Swami, “Swami, please take care of this fine. If You really want me to pay this, then let it be. I leave this to You.” I did not get any fine. Swami simply erased it out of the traffic system. Verily, He takes care of even trivial affairs when we surrender ourselves at His Lotus Feet.
Acceptance and Surrender
In March 2016, Swami visited Dubai once again. This time, we were more composed and disciplined – physically, mentally and spiritually. We decided that we would not trouble Swami with our expectations. After all, Our Divine Mother knows what is best for us. The right method to approach Swami would be acceptance and surrender.
Needless to say, His infinite grace always flows like the Ganges, and gushes into the innermost core of our hearts. We were very fortunate to have a memorable experience this time too. Rachana was blessed with the priceless chance of serving food to the Lord and His entourage.
Here something happened which testified Swami’s presence in our altar at home. When Rachana was serving food to Swami, Swami enquired about me and remarked playfully that my anger is beyond control, and I normally burst out when I am angry. Brother Madhu’s expression when Swami made the statement above stays afresh in her memories. Swami further said that I had been controlling my anger of late and had become soft, since I would consciously think, “What will Swami will think of me?” before getting angry. Swami continued, “Lot of karmaphalas acquired from so many births, but I am there to wash, clean and polish; I want to change him. That’s My aim.”
When my wife shared this with me I was astonished since I had the habit of speaking to Swami now and then, facing the chair which we placed for Swami in our Pooja room. Those days, I was truly praying to Swami to get rid of my short tempered, and I always apologised to Him if ever I faltered from His expectations. When such an assurance came from the very same Supreme Consciousness, we felt so grateful and rejoiced wholeheartedly, for the Lord was affirming His abiding presence in our lives.
We pray to Swami to bestow upon us His infinite grace, so that we recognise the truth of Oneness and become Sai, who is the sole Indweller in all beings.