“Have faith, and experience will follow” – Bhagawan has always said. The story of Sai Prasad is an inspiring account of the potency of such faith. While a sudden turn of events saw Sai Prasad become paralyzed and lose his voice, his faith in his Swami nursed him back to health.
Sai Prasad, who hails from Chennai, had joined Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School in Prashanthi Nilayam in the year 2010. Being a gifted Harmonium player, he was an active member of the Prashanthi Mandir Bhajan Group right from his Higher Secondary school days. After completing his schooling in 2012, he enrolled himself for the B.Com programme at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus. But in 2015, he had to discontinue his studies at Brindavan College due to his unfavourable health condition. Currently, he is pursuing Company Secretarial (CS) programme in Bangalore.
Read on to know about the enriching and stirring experience of this Sai student.
In June 2015, when Sai Prasad, a student of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Brindavan Campus, reported at the college hostel after the summer holidays, he didn’t have the faintest idea of what was in store for him. In the very first week of June, he fell sick. He started vomiting blood and lost body weight at an alarming rate! The hostel authorities, understanding the gravity of the situation, decided to send Sai Prasad home after the Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality in Prashanthi Nilayam, for a couple of weeks to recoup under the loving care of his parents.
But in the meanwhile, he was taken to consult with a Doctor who did an endoscopy and suspected the cause to be just a regular stomach disorder. He assured Sai Prasad that he need not worry at all. But the situation took a turn for the worse when his left leg got paralyzed later that day! The hostel authorities immediately arranged for Sai Prasad to be sent home.
While everyone at home was worried, Sai Prasad drew strength from Bhagawan and built on the inner connection he had with Him.
Date with the Divine
I am in you, around you, above you, and below you – Bhagawan has always said. Sai Prasad is among the fortunate few who were able to experience it all the time! He was blessed with many a divine visions of Bhagawan post the Mahasamadhi.
The first time Bhagawan appeared to him was in September 2014. Sai Prasad had just undergone a critical heart procedure and the doctors had advised him to take rest at his home in Bangalore. One day, when he was resting in his house, Bhagawan appeared in front of him, in flesh and blood! While Sai Prasad had a firm faith in Bhagawan, He couldn’t believe his eyes. He talked himself out, convincing himself that it was mere hallucination. But Bhagawan had other plans. Swami asked him to take padanamaskar, and to Sai Prasad’s amazement, he could touch and feel Swami’s feet! How was that possible? That’s when he realized that it was not a hallucination! Overwhelmed by this divine experience, Sai Prasad laid a heartfelt prayer at Bhagawan’s Feet. He said, “Swami, please keep coming!” Little did he know that this single, earnest prayer of his would prove to be the turning point of his life!
No surprise then that God’s grace was just around the corner for Sai Prasad who was now battling ill-health. Swami appeared in his house again and lovingly enquired about his health. He then went on to explain that his nervous system was completely damaged. During the conversation, Swami mentioned about their family relative named Balaji, and in the end said “Hospital…Hospital”. Sai Prasad mistakenly thought that Swami was hinting about their family relative Balaji being hospitalized for some illness. But he didn’t dwell on it much. He knew the correct understanding of God’s words would come to Him at the right time. True to his belief, the following week, one of his family members visited his house and while conversing mentioned about a family friend who is a famous Neurosurgeon working in Balaji Hospital in Chennai!
Sai Prasad immediately knew what Swami had hinted at. So, he decided to embark on an arduous journey to Chennai to consult with this doctor.
Following His command implicitly
On reaching the hospital, Sai Prasad was made to undergo several tests and scans. Finally, he was diagnosed with a deadly paralytic stroke in his right brain! While the doctor broke the news to the family with a heavy heart, he was surprised to see smiling faces in front of him. Sai Prasad and his family, led by their total and complete faith in Swami had decided to surrender to His will. They knew that this was a test of Swami, and they were all determined to pass the test however hard it might be!
But the Doctor wasn’t amused. He got irritated with the ‘complacency’ that had set in. He admonished them and told Sai Prasad’s mother “Amma, this is not a joke. His health is in a critical condition. If you had brought him two days later, he could have been totally paralytic and would have remained like that forever!” But Sai Prasad was relaxed for Swami had already appeared in the room and was silently witnessing the scene.
And since that day, Bhagawan would visit Sai Prasad every single day, taking care of his every need – be it is physical, emotional or spiritual. On many occasions, his family would urge him to ask Swami to cure him. But Sai Prasad was determined to not ask for any personal favors from Bhagawan, especially since He had the best boon of all – a 24X7 access to Swami.
But as days passed by, his health deteriorated. Eventually, Sai Prasad found himself stammering and lost his ability to speak! When enquired, the doctors stated that this happens only in one out of 1000 cases when the side effects of the medicines kick in!
While bodily he was in distress, having Swami by his side, as His constant companion kept up his spirits. Swami wasn’t just God to Him. He was his best friend! And Swami too would play the role of his friend to perfection. For instance, once Sai Prasad had excruciating pains in his limbs, and had to wait for a long time for his doctor to arrive. During that time, Bhagawan cheered him up, by imitating his doctor. “Do you know how your doctor walks? I will show you”. And then Bhagawan mimicked the funny gait of his doctor in the exact same way! Sai Prasad laughed so hard that he forgot all his pains!
The Athi Rudra Maha Yagna
When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. And Sai Prasad had no less than the Lord of the Universe Himself with him! So when Sai Prasad heard about an opening for a keyboard player in the alumni band Lamhe (formed by an alumnus of Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music, Prashanti Nilayam) for their upcoming music concert in Muddenahalli during the Athi Rudra Maha Yagna, the wish had to be fulfilled. While he hadn’t experienced the subtle phenomenon in Muddenahalli, having had similar experiences of Swami, he knew that Swami was definitely behind this drama too!
Sai Prasad is a gifted musician and was a member of the Prashanti Mandir Bhajan group. While he couldn’t talk now, his fingers still had music in them! He wrote his desire to perform with the Lamhe Band in Muddenahalli on a piece of paper and passed it on to his friends and silently prayed for Swami to somehow make it happen. And Swami gave him more than what he had prayed for. Sai Prasad got the opportunity to accompany some eminent musicians on one of the days of the eleven-day programme.
On the day of the programme, Sai Prasad was delighted as he saw Swami, the one who appears to him at his home in Bangalore, seated on the beautiful throne in Muddenahalli, right in front of him! He immediately realized that ‘this’ and ‘that’ are one and the same! At the end of the programme, when Bhagawan gestured the music boys to take His blessings, Sai Prasad hopped his way to Swami with the help of fellow-musicians. When Swami enquired as to what was wrong with his legs, the boys explained the situation to Bhagawan. And in His infinite compassion, Swami assured Sai Prasad that everything will be alright and that he will be able to sing as well!
With Swami’s blessings, he got the opportunity to accompany few other celebrity artists during their music programmes during that week of the Yagna at Muddenahalli. On the last day, at the end of the cultural programmes, Swami called all the musicians and gave them a glimpse of His Omniscience and Omnipotence. He revealed to the musicians that Sai Prasad had had a stroke and therefore had lost his voice. He then declared that Sai Prasad would sing along with these senior artists, by the next year’s Birthday Celebrations of Bhagawan!
Only God can make such declarations that transcend the intellect, logic and time. Sai Prasad’s joy knew no bounds. He was choked with emotions and shed tears of joy and gratitude to the ever-loving Lord!
Renewed vigor to meet life’s challenges
He was now determined to please His Lord at every opportunity. So, despite his critical health condition – the left part of his body was paralyzed by then – he did not miss any opportunity to play harmonium during bhajans at Muddenahalli as well as various other Sai Centers in Bangalore. And miraculously every time Sai Prasad would pick up the Harmonium, all his limbs would function perfectly!
On one such bhajans sessions, the impossible happened. It was November 2015. Sai Prasad was attending the special bhajans practice at Sai Darshan in Bangalore for the Global Akhanda Bhajans. Post-bhajan practice, it was time for the regular bhajans session at the center. Sai Prasad along with another Sai brother decided to attend the bhajans. Just as the first bhajan started, Bhagawan appeared in His throne placed in Sai Darshan. Only Sai Prasad could have a glimpse of Bhagawan seated on the throne, wearing an ochre robe. Swami appeared quite young, energetic, playful and friend-like to Sai Prasad.
Swami then beckoned Sai Prasad to Him. So, he got up during the bhajans, and walked all the way up to Swami’s throne. The devotees who frequented Sai Darshan knew that this young boy would have visions of Bhagawan very often, and therefore nobody stopped him from going to the dais. As he came near Swami’s chair, Bhagawan told him, with a casual commanding tone, “You will sing today!”
Sai Prasad prayerfully replied, “If you will, anything can happen”. Swami then materialized Vibhuti for Sai Prasad and told him, “take Vibhuti with water and you will sing.” The devotees gathered for the bhajans silently sat, observing this unique interaction. Sai Prasad then came back and sat with the Bhajan group. And when the last bhajan was going on, Bhagawan indicated Sai Prasad to offer Mangala Arathi. He was overjoyed with Swami’s command, but wondered how to communicate the same to others. But that very moment, a Sai brother turned to Sai Prasad and asked him to offer Mangala Arathi. With the help of another Sai brother, Sai Prasad managed to offer Arathi to Bhagawan. Halfway through the Arathi, Swami indicated him to bend more while offering Arathi!
After taking Bhagawan’s blessings, Sai Prasad came back and wrote on a piece of paper that Swami has instructed him to sing and showed to the Sai brother, who was preparing the list of singers for the upcoming Akhanda Bhajans to be held in two weeks’ time. As soon as the devotees left the Hall after bhajans, the Sai brother and Sai Prasad sat together with Harmonium. While both wondered how he would manage to sing, Sai Prasad who couldn’t utter a single word in the past ten months, started to sing! As was divinely ordained, Sai Prasad had found his voice back! An obviously elated Sai Prasad exclaimed to the Sai Brother that he could jump with joy. The Sai brother, smilingly replied, “With Swami by your side, what’s jumping, you can even run a marathon!” Unbeknownst to both, these words came true in the near future.
End of Part 1. To be continued…..