Sri Sathya Sai Vrindawith Love, at His service

The Ascension of Man to God – an Eye Witness Account

by Sumeet Tappoo 

I have opened the cage. Let Him fly free. Free from the bondage and attachments of the world. I want to create an example for all of humanity for Man to become God and I have chosen him to be that example so that you all may follow one day” said Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on Thursday 18th July at  approximately 11:30 a.m in His room in Prem Deep in Muddenahalli.                                                                                                                                                    

A few minutes prior to His response, I had broken down and cried to Him with all my heart and soul. These were tears of grief and sadness for He had “taken away” my brother Madhusudan or “Bhai”as I called him.

To be honest, I knew this day would arrive. I was told by Swami. I even discussed this with my Bhai. But like death, when it takes a loved one away, it brings sadness, shock, grief, disbelief and a sense of hollowness for there is no replacement to that void which exists in the physical realm.

Yet, accompanied with my wailing cry was a sense of gratitude to the Lord for giving me and the world, a Guru, guide and mentor.

Ahhhh … the agony and ecstasy of Guru Purnima 2019! 

My journey has been one which causes bewilderment and often disbelief. It is like a Hollywood and Bollywood movie all in one. Some believe it and some don’t. But since my childhood the super-conscious realm of the universe has played such a deep-rooted part in my conscious existence.

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been a part of my life since birth thanks to my parents, grandparents and my aunt (my father’s second eldest sister) who were able to realise that He is God even though they lived many thousands of miles away from India in a tiny island paradise in the South Pacific – Fiji.

Someday when I write a book I will describe it all – today is not the time for that.

My journey with Bhagawan Baba accelerated from 1997 on the eve of the historic World Youth Conference which was held in Prashanti Nilayam, Puttaparthi. My days were filled with growing up in the world and my nights overtaken and engulfed with the joy and bliss of being with God. The world may call this state a dream. It was far from it. It was reality on a different plane. Those ‘dreams’ would span from the most mundane discussions of daily life to profound knowledge about God, divinity and the universe – teachings from all the sacred texts of all religions.

The dream in 1999 about Muddenahalli is one which stands out so vividly and so relevant to the mission today. Twenty years ago He showed me the Ashram of Muddenahalli, which today is about 60% of what it was that He showed me. He said “I will spend the final years of my Avatar hood from this Ashram”.

These dreams were revelations and also a peak into the future. Before an event would take place anywhere in the world, I would come to know of it. Before any inauguration of any building in Puttaparthi or any event concerning Him, I would be told by Swami Himself.

In 2005 He had announced in the portico of Prashanti Nilayam, that He would be embarking on a ‘World Tour’. I had very excitedly prayed to Him after His discourse that He must come to Fiji. A dream a few days later revealed His journey from Bangalore to Fiji via Singapore and Australia with the same entourage which toured with Him on His inaugural visit to Fiji in 2015 – Swami, Sri Madhusudan, Sri Narasimha Murthy, Sri C Sreenivas, Mr. Isaac Tigrett, Brother Kumar, Brother Manjrekar and Sister Bhuvana. I knew not of Sri Madhusudan, Brother Manjrekar or Sister Bhuvana. But this was my first introduction to Bhai. The next was in Prema Deep in Muddenahalli, on the 27th of April 2015, in what was to become a monumental shift in the lives of myself and my family.

When God chooses a devotee and if the devotee reciprocates that love in the form of surrender, then God takes over. That is what happened to me. Two months after my first meeting with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in His subtle form in Muddenahalli, I was a part of His touring entourage to the United States of America. It was a truly phenomenal trip but more so because I became close to my Bhai.

I carefully observed him during those early days. He was so simple and such a humble personality. Very shy, to be honest, almost an introvert who would be shy to talk to people or openly show any significant emotion let alone a physical gesture in the form of shaking hands or giving a hug. Yet that demeanor would change so drastically during ‘Darshan’ when He would be so commanding, bold, majestic and loving; very much like His master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

In the months that passed, my bond with Bhai grew. I was part of Swami’s entourage on various international trips to various countries across all the continents of the world. Spending time with him became habitual and something that I looked forward to. I had found my ‘brother from another mother’. We had such similar interests. Our passion for food was exactly the same and our talks would go on for hours on this topic. For example, we shared a common love for Pizza, Italian & Mexican cuisine, and of course cakes and pastries. The only difference between us was that he was very disciplined and I on the other hand was not! This passion brought my Bhai and I much joy!

We shared such a similar passion for music. Not many would know but Bhai is a fabulous singer and musician. There were trips and moments in our travels with Swami in places such as Greece, United States of America, Canada, Germany, Singapore, Argentina, Brazil, United Kingdom and Fiji where He would have the guitar in His hand and we would sing. His ability to sing amazed me – pitch perfect with such beautiful skills. He has a beautiful soft voice. He had learnt music in his childhood and had great taste in music. There were moments where I had the chance to give him some notes of Indian classical Raagas. I was amazed at how fast he would pick it up – it was extraordinary. Our discussions of certain devotional songs, which I would sing, went into such depths that he would often teach me the inner meaning of what I was singing. We would discuss and analyse the depth and the inner meaning of these songs. One of the songs which became a constant in all the trips was “Main Mangal Deep Jalaun” which spoke about the devotion of Radha for Krishna. He would often describe to me the visions He enjoyed whilst I sang that for Swami. How he would see the Divine love between Krishna and Radha. His descriptions of his visions were extraordinary. One simply could not make it up. With the help of his narrations and descriptions, we both used to get lost talking about that Divine love. Once he told me that during Darshan, when I sang this song, he was fortunate to have experienced that love of Radha for Krishna and he said “this state of love and existence is all I want. There is nothing greater. The final state of being”. He often sang “Sagar Tumse Paani Leta” which is a beautiful song which makes a humble attempt to describing the Lord. He would enjoy singing it thoroughly and he sang it really well. We had discussed the meaning and depth of this song also on countless occasions. He taught me so much!

We shared the same passion for Art but the difference was that he had artistic skills as a painter and I had the ability to appreciate but not paint or draw like him – His ability was extraordinary. We both had a dream of one-day standing next to a painting of Van Gogh and this was realised in a recent trip.

Our challenges in life were also similar. Our health issues were pretty much the same and life experiences were also similar. Swami had said to me in a dream in 2016 “you have parallel lives”.

But one thing was different about us – Bhai was an ascended master, Divine, and I was far from it. In my mind, there was no doubt about this. During Darshan, he of course was the vehicle for Bhagawan so everything about him was Divine. It had to be, as he represented God. But ‘without Swami’, if I may say, he was nothing short of an extraordinary personality. His thought process was so different. There was such perfection in everything that he did. There was such compassion in him. There was a fire in him which was borne not of the world, but of God – to do good and make Swami happy by making a difference to this world. His vision was not ordinary. His thinking was not of a mere mortal but that of an ascended master. In the days and months which passed by, the gap between the thought process of a mortal human being and that of a Divine being thinned out.

In 2016, Swami gave me a dream. Once again, I remember this so vividly that to me it doesn’t feel like a dream but an experience of reality. We were up on the Himalayas staying in a wooden cottage which had a large living area which was converted into a Darshan hall. There were half a dozen rooms. The colour of the wood was medium-toned mahogany. High pitched roof with wooden beams running criss-cross, peaking high into the air. The air was thin and there was condensation in every breath that we exhaled. It seemed as if we were there for a number of days. Among a small crowd of devotees, Bhagawan sat on His chair one evening and He asked Bhai to sit before Him and sing whilst I played the Harmonium. Brother Hanumanth played the Tabla, Sister Bhuvana played the Taalam and Brother Dimitris played the Guitar. After Bhai’s song, Swami asked me to sing and Bhai played the Harmonium. At the end of the dream, He materialized rings for both of us and then later called Bhai, myself and Sister Bhuvana for an interview. We sat in front of Swami. Bhai sat in the middle, I was to his left and Sister Bhuvana to his right. Swami said to me “you two have been brothers and working for me together for many of my Avataric missions. That is why you are here together and working for me”. Pointing at Bhuvana He said “you have also worked for me for many missions and that is why you are here. Many moments in history of time you three have been together. But now, the mission needs to expand and I have chosen Madhusudan to spearhead this mission to get the world ready for Prema Sai. Prema Sai’s mission on earth is not like mine or that old man (referring to Shirdi Baba), it is very short. He cannot waste time building Ashrams and monuments of service around the world. I don’t have a body in the physical world. I will merge into Madhusudan and Madhusudan will merge into me. You both (referring to Sister Bhuvana and myself) will need to play a crucial role in times to come. I can assure you, none of you will have any sleep in the coming years. Sleep all you want now”.

Bhai, Sister Bhuvana and I spoke about this dream many a time. We would often joke and laugh and say “forget about sleeping in the coming years, we are sleep deprived already!”.

From 2016 till 2018 August, Swami granted me many dreams where Bhai and I would be with Swami and carry out instructions as per His command. But slowly, and gently, as Swami was transforming Bhai and ascending him into the higher realms, He would reflect it in my dreams. Shivarathri 2017 was a classic example. Prior to the monumental ‘Lingodbhavam’, Swami showed me the vision where He entered the body of Bhai and the Lingam had manifested. This is exactly what happened on that divine morning in February in 2017 in Premamrutham Hall, Muddenahali. The manifestation of the Lingam was a sight to see and I was so fortunate to have had the blessing of being given the Hiranyagarbha Atma Lingam. This Lingam has its resting place in the home of my parents in Fiji as per Swami’s Divine command.

Dreams till July 2018 very clearly showcased two identities – Bhai and Swami. But by August 2018, there was only one. It was quite unique for me because Darshan in the physical state in Muddenahalli or wherever we travelled with Swami, I was no longer seeing Bhai but only Swami. Yet in the dream state, it was only Bhai.

In September 2018, I was part of the entourage that accompanied Swami to Brazil and Argentina. The day before our departure from Argentina to India, Swami called Dr David Cornsweet, Mrs Jennie Cornsweet, Sister Bhuvana and myself for an interview. Swami had told me in Brazil that “we will talk in Argentina” when I prayed for guidance for an important project. 

So the four of us waited inside a very grand room that has been made for Prema Sai. As Swami walked in, He began speaking about the concept of time, not from a human perspective but from the point of view of God. Bhai is an extraordinary human being and supremely intelligent with the purest of hearts, but one cannot make up or conceptualise this concept of time in the way that was being communicated to us. It was humanly impossible to state all what He did. It was only possible by God. We four mortals inside the interview room were awestruck about the content of the talk being delivered to us. It was simply mesmerising. He did this all standing near the door of the room. His demeanor was totally divine. Swami, in the body of Bhai, slowly walked and sat on his chair and I sat directly in front of Him. He made a statement to Dr Cornsweet about me and the project that I had prayed to Him about. It required guidance and direction from Swami. As He paused to deliver it, in a flash, all I could see sitting in place of Bhai, was Swami, in a white robe. It wasn’t just a vision. It was Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in flesh and blood, talking to me. No words can ever describe the beauty of this vision so let me not even try. If you want to visualise what I saw, then just close your eyes and visualise the most beautiful, unmatchable and irreplaceable form of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba during those glorious Darshans in Prashanti Nilayam.

Anyways, back to the story …. so what was my reaction to this vision? Well, I am double trouble! I am an artist as well as a devotee of God. So put the two together and you get a whole lot of tears and emotions (and the need for a lot of tissues!). I cried throughout the thirty-minute interview and the moments with God were absolutely blissful.

That afternoon, Bhai, Brother Vinod and I sat over a hot cup of tea admiring the beautiful, serene and divine Ashram of Argentina. Bhai then curiously asked “what made you so emotional during the interview? Swami was just discussing work with you so what was so emotional about that?”. I told him what I saw. He gave me a smile and very casually said “that’s great”. (He sees Swami 24/7 so it wasn’t a big deal for him.)

But, what I didn’t know was, that at the same time, Swami was also preparing him for the next phase which Bhai has described in his ‘Tatva Sameeksha’ talk on 10th December 2018. You must read or hear it. It’s truly inspirational.

This vision in Argentina was not ordinary. It was extraordinary for it had prepared me for what was to come. I had casually mentioned to my wife Krupali and my parents about my vision in Argentina but I told my daughter Saisha in great detail. I felt that her love for her father will stop her from thinking he has gone mad!

Swami had commanded me to perform during the Birthday concert in November 2018. So over many days, I discussed the concert and the songs with Bhai and he even submitted my prayers to Swami which greatly assisted me in planning and structuring my concert in accordance with what God wanted to hear. One thing I didn’t discuss with Bhai was about my talk before the concert. Whenever I perform, Swami commands me to speak as well. So during a morning prayer in early November, I asked Swami to guide me and help me prepare for the concert as well as my talk during my concert and anchoring the Divine Satsanghs for the Birthday celebrations along with Sister Bhuvana.

In mid-November, Swami granted me a dream where I saw Swami sitting on His chair inside the interview room and seated on a chair next to Swami was Bhai. Swami spoke to me and gave instructions to prepare for Darshan. I rushed outside the interview room and along with brothers Manjrekar, Vinod and Pavan, made arrangements for Darshan for thousands who were waiting to see Swami. (One day, I will write about these three incredible and dedicated servants of Bhagawan – Manjrekar, Vinod & Pavan – they are exemplary role models for the youth of the world).

After finishing preparations, I walked inside the interview room to inform Swami that all arrangements were made and that all were ready for His Darshan. Bhai then walked out first and proceeded towards the front door which opened out into the Darshan grounds. Following behind him was Bhagawan Baba. Just before the door opened, Bhagawan Baba went inside the body of Bhai and as He stepped out, Darshan began. There were no two. Only one. The body of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba had disappeared and merged into Brother Madhusudan. I had the pleasure of walking behind Swami and also the fortune of witnessing thousands of faces lighting up, filled with joy and bliss, in having this Divine Darshan. After Darshan, I followed Swami back inside what seemed like His residence. The doors closed. Swami turned around and said “in this mission, the hands of Madhusudan are now my hands. It is one and the same”. He waved His hand and created a ring and gave it to me. He then said “water can assume the shape of any vessel you pour it into. Just like that, God can assume any form it wishes, human or animal, to undertake a task. I have come as a fish, tortoise, boar, lion, dwarf, a warrior, a King and ofcourse as man. For this mission, I have decided to use Madhusudan, to prepare the world for Prema Sai”. Just as He said that, He popped out of Bhai’s body and proceeded towards the interview room. The dream ended.

I messaged Bhai that morning and briefly relayed to Him my dream focusing on Swami going in and out of his body. He replied and said “that is exactly what is happening now during Darshan“. I wrote a reply saying “now I know what to say before my concert.”

In the early years of this current mission, Bhai saw and heard Swami outside of him and basically did whatever Swami did in His subtle form and said whatever Swami said. As time went by, that transformed into a mergence where Swami used Bhai’s body during Darshan. To many, this may seem impossible. But to those who experienced this, it was so clearly evident. I had the honour of walking behind Swami in many Darshans. Let me tell you that it is physically impossible for a human to do what was happening. Every step during Darshan was a cry from a devotee, a yearning, a question, a statement which would take a normal mind time to first fathom what was being said let alone reply. However, I was always in awe of what I heard. The replies were so instantaneous spanning across such diverse topics ranging from cancer, health issues, marriage of a son or daughter, what degree or course a person needs to embark upon to deeply spiritual questions relating to prayers and mantras, a revelation about the past or a caution of the future. All within seconds of each other.

After Darshan, if I had a chance to talk to Bhai, he would say to me that he wouldn’t remember much and that he had no control of his hands and legs nor his eyes or mouth. He would be on an autopilot mode not knowing where to go, what to do, what to say or who to look at. It just happened.

If one ever has a doubt, just listen to a Divine discourse. I have seen many spiritual masters speak. But Discourses by Bhagawan in both Puttaparthi in His physical form and His subtle form in Muddenahali are so unique. There is so much clarity, such profoundness and pure divine deliverance.

On the 20th of November 2018, along with a team of 23 musicians, I performed a symphony concert for Swami. It was once again a divine moment in my life and another experience which has a long story (which I won’t get into now). All I will say is that it was perhaps one of the most emotional moments when Swami held my father’s hand from the audience and walked up on stage and took photos holding both our hands. He then materialised a Shiva-Parvati pendant attached to a thick chain for me. A truly divine creation. 

Before I began the first song, I publicly announced what I was seeing in Darshan – not the body of Brother Madhusudan but that of Swami, or more precisely for the doubter, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! I don’t know why, but I had felt the need to say this. On one hand, I was not wanting to even openly tell my own family about my experiences and yet I ended up making a public announcement in front of thousands of people and the multitude who were watching live through internet broadcast.

On 23rd November evening, after Swami’s most loving discourse, He walked backstage for a 15-minute break allowing for the setup of the music programme. Together with Sister Deepika, I was anchoring the evening programme and we were all set to anchor the musical part of the evening program when all of a sudden, Brother Manjrekar rushed towards me and said “Swami is calling you”. I put my notes down near the lectern and rushed towards the interview room at the back of the Sri Sathya Sai Premamrutham Hall.

I had no idea what was about to happen.

As I opened the door, Swami was standing there! I couldn’t see Bhai. I rushed and bowed my head down upon His divine lotus feet, overcome with emotion. As I arose from prostrating before Him, He began speaking. It was awe-inspiring. The beautiful face of Bhagawan Baba – Vibrant and radiant. A large crop of the beautiful thick haloed hair surrounding Him. He spoke to me in Hindi – in ‘His typical Hindi’ that He spoke even during His physical form days (very cute and beautiful). To be honest, I don’t remember much of what He said because the energy and experience was simply out of this world. He began the conversation by saying “what are you about to speak?” (referring to my anchoring). Wiping my tears, I said “Swami Singapore devotees are performing and after that Aman and Ayan Ali Khan are performing an instrumental Sarod concert for you”.

He said “no you don’t talk about that. I have chosen you for something very big. I am giving you a very big task today. I could have chosen anybody for this but I have chosen you after very careful consideration. I have been thinking for some time as to who should do this task but I’ve chosen you. You go and speak. First you must tell about your experiences in Argentina that you saw Swami. You must tell that Swami has confirmed that all what you are seeing is true. Then you tell them that I will use the body of Madhusudan for the next ten years to carry out this mission. You tell the devotees that Madhusudan and Swami are one and the same and there is no difference. You tell everyone that like water assumes the form of any vessel, God too can assume any form He wishes. I have chosen to do it through Madhusudan here in Muddenahali. You go and tell everyone that Swami will remain in his body for 10 more years!”.

He then said something very profound – “maine Madhusudan ko Guru ka sthaan diya hai” (I have given the seat of the Guru to Madhusudan). “I am giving you this boon of making this Avataric declaration. Go now and make it. Here, take Namaskar. These are not the feet of Madhusudan. These are the feet of Sai.” I happily bowed down to Him and leaving my tears on His feet, I composed myself and knelt before Him.

Then it hit me. I had to go and say all that He said and more and make such a grand announcement. Oh dear! I nervously asked Swami “Swami shall I say all this in Hindi or English?”. He paused and said “speak in English”. I then asked “Swami, shall I say this before You come out onto the stage or after?” He said “I will come on stage, curtains will open, then I will tell you to speak, then I will sit on my chair. Now go and get ready. I’m coming”.

I rushed outside and believe me, this experience was so overwhelming, I remembered very little. I actually almost went back inside His room and said “can you please repeat it for me?”. Then I came to my senses and told my mind that I would be foolish to do such a thing. So I walked to the podium and I looked out towards the audience and silently prayed – “Swami, you just speak whatever you want me to speak”.

Swami then came on stage and then after some time, looked at me and indicated that I should speak. I don’t have much of a recollection of what I spoke even to this day. All I can remember is seeing a hall full of happy, beautiful, God-loving, sin-fearing, teary-eyed astounded devotees, clapping in joy, as I communicated what He wanted me to.

Swami, inside the body of Bhai, sat on Swami’s throne. Rest is history.

That was a small dosage of reality which Swami chose to give all the devotees preparing us and preparing Bhai for Guru Poornima 2019.

Between November 2018 and July 2019, Bhai and I spent time together in Singapore, Fiji, Kodai Kanal, United States of America and Argentina. These times will be etched with me forever. Despite transforming into an ascended Master and growing in Divinity, his simplicity still astounded me. He would want to wash his own dishes and he did so in our home in Fiji earlier this year. He interacted with my parents like a son, a brother to my wife Krupali and a glorious fun-loving uncle to my daughters Saisha and Meera. He was running around playing hide and seek with my baby daughter Meera, throwing her up in the air and catching her. He became a child around them and they became so attached to him. Saisha calls him “my favourite uncle Madhu”. They share a special bond and they even wrote to each other many a time. He sent a card for her from New York and even signed off by saying “from your favourite Uncle Madhu”.

Looking back at these times, I can tell you that despite experiencing such heights of bliss, despite being in the forefront of the mission, despite being adored by thousands, there was an aura of simplicity and humility which surrounded his being. He would carry the bags of elders of Swami’s entourage during the international travels. He would help everyone with their bags out of the airport carousels. I even remember in Fiji when some devotees, who are no longer in the mission today, failed to do their duty to clean up the hall after an event, Bhai said to me “let’s go and clean up. We will do it fast and return back home” – this is after just returning home from Darshan! I had to really convince him and dissuade him from going. This was his humility. A true servant of the Lord. Once Swami told me “I want you to become like Madhusudan. I have taught him that to be in this mission, you have to have no shame and no fear. You become like that also”. He exemplified this.

No matter what he had to endure, Bhai was always positive. You think these travels are easy? Trust me it takes a serious toll on the body. Shifting time zones, not knowing whether it is day or night, long hours of travel and constantly having to be fresh and above all, not to disappoint anyone. He was always thinking of others. I have seen him endure hardships. I have seen him at the receiving end of criticism by the foolish and ignorant. Yet he remained equanimous. When things were good and ‘hunky dory’, they would credit Swami. When things went pear-shaped because of their own doing, it was “Madhusudan’s fault”. But he never wavered. Sucking it all in like a sponge and yet radiating only love, positivity and leading a life of such incredible Dharma. I have not yet seen a person such as this in all my life.

The truth was that in all these times, he was always connected to Swami. Often during our travels on flights, I would see him sitting and starring out the window of an aircraft or in the backseat of a car, during ‘non Darshan’ times where it was just Bhai, his hands would move in a circular motion, like Swami, he would write in the air. Even his conversations were profound. There were times when an urgent answer was needed, he would simply close his eyes and say “Swami has said …” and give the answer.

He never prayed for himself – no matter what he was going through, he never walked inside Swami’s room and prayed for himself. Sister Bhuvana, in her talk after Guru Poornima spoke of her experience in Croatia. I too had a similar experience. Once it so happened that in one of our trips, he developed a tennis elbow and could not move his left arm. Sister Bhuvana and I were very worried about him and urged him to talk to Swami about it but he refused. He would simply brush it off by saying that he didn’t want to bother Swami. It took Sister Bhuvana and I to pray to Swami to cure it (which, by the way, he miraculously did within 2 days). But Bhai didn’t ask.

But deep down inside him, Bhai was getting tired of this duality. Coming in and out of bliss was tiresome and exhausting. Above all, I felt he wanted to just stay in that realm of supreme consciousness rather than get tied down to the chains of the Kaliyuga. I felt this in Fiji. Towards the end of the trip to Fiji in April, I mentioned to him about this. His reply was swift – “I will do whatever Swami wants. If He wants me to leave tomorrow morning and go and live on a farm in some obscure village, living in nature, I will happily go”.

This is what you call ‘Saranagati’ – absolute surrender!

Swami recently told me in an interview that “there are two things that the mind of man cannot fathom. The first is God coming down as Man. The second is Man rising up to becoming God. You are fortunate for you will see both”.

A few months ago, Swami gave me a dream about Guru Purnima 2019 where He told me that this was the start of a new phase of the mission and the rise of Madhusudan as a Guru. He showed me the next 10 years of Bhai. He is to play two very critical roles. Firstly, to show us the path of Ascension from Manava to Madhava (Man to God) and secondly, to groom Prema Sai as He arrives in Muddenahali as a young boy. For this grooming, Swami couldn’t do it through a mere mortal. He needed an ascended Master, a Divine being, to undertake this task. Just like Sage Vishwamitra was the guru to Bhagawan Sri Rama and his three brothers Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrugan to give them the teachings of the Divya Shastra and Veda, so too will Bhai to Bhagavan Sri Prema Sai Baba.

In Argentina, I bid him a very tearful farewell for I knew what was coming. My last trip with him as my Bhai. I wrote him a heartfelt note “promise me you will never abandon me”. I cried on his shoulders as we embraced each other before my departure from Buenos Aires. He too was emotional and said “don’t cry”. The messages continued from then till my arrival into Muddenahali for Guru Purnima. I feared the worst and didn’t want to accept what was about to come. Even though Swami had told me, I still was hoping that the identity of Bhai would remain.

On Guru Purnima morning, the transition was complete.

After the Guru Purnima discourse, He called out for me sitting on stage. I thought it was for Arati. Whilst doing Aarti, I realised that He didn’t call me to do Arati but wanted my help. So I gave the Arati to Brother Dimitris and went up to Swami. He said “I cannot feel the left side of my body. I am partially paralysed. I want you to help me”. I said “Yes Swami. Shall I close the curtains and then I can slowly move you to your room?”. He said “no I don’t want people to get worried or make a scene. You pick me up like you picked me in Parthi all those years back”. I said “Yes Swami, don’t worry”. He said “my right side is fine. It is only my left”. I reassured him “don’t worry Swami. I am here for You”.

As Arati concluded, He signaled for me to pick him up. Like all those years ago in Prashanti Nilayam, I gave him my right hand, He clasped it and transferred all His weight onto my hands and we slowly walked to His room. When we went inside, he was sweating profusely, He was almost faintish. I picked up his handkerchief and wiped his face. Sri Narasimha Murthy, Sri C Sreenivas, Mr. Isaac Tigrett, Brother Manjrekar, Vinod and Pavan were inside the room. I gave Him some water and Manjrekar gave Him juice. Vinod and Pavan brought fans to keep His body cool. I clasped His hand and held His left shoulder. His body felt really Hot. I stood next to him and kept asking him if He was ok. He replied in the affirmative.

After some time, He came back to normality and began smiling and talking once again.

But … Bhai was gone! It was only Swami. It was so evident. He had changed.

I accompanied Him to Anandam. He stayed there. Bhai’s residence was in Prem Deep. But he left Prem Deep on that day. It was customary for him to come outside the room after Darshan after Swami had ‘retired’. But there was no retiring. Only “Re-Tyring”.

The ascension from Man to God was complete.

My first interview in 2015 was in Swami’s room in Prem Deep. On 18th July 2019, after the marriage of Sister Nandini and Brother Sanjay, which Swami presided over, He called me for a 35-minute interview in Prem Deep. I poured my heart and soul out to Him. I told Him how much I was missing my Bhai. I wept like a little child. Tears welled up in His eyes. But it was not the same. The energy was different. It was absolutely mind-blowing. I felt no difference to the interviews I had with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Prashanti Nilayam.

My attachments towards my Bhai made me yearn and long for him. All those years ago, on April 24th 2011, I had travelled to Prashanti to ‘wake up’ the body of my Divine Master, from the slumber of His sleep. On this day, I had gone with the mission of convincing Swami to let me have my Bhai, even if it was just for some fleeting moments.

It wasn’t to be.

To my cries he said “I have opened the cage. Let Him fly free. Free from the bondage and attachments of the world. I want to create an example for all of humanity for Man to become God and I have chosen him to be that example so that you all may follow one day”.

It is my Bhai’s birthday today. Bhai still lives in his body. But he is free from everything and in union with God. This is what all of us have to become.

This starts a new phase in my life where I too have to rise. I had planned that I will walk this journey with Bhai. I became so used to the regular messages, chats, long conversations, singing, laughing, learning. I became used to complaining to him and being comforted by him. I became so used to Bhai telling me the “behind the scenes” stories of what Bhagavan said, why Bhagavan said, how Bhagavan said and the inner meaning of it all. I became so used to his descriptions of how the Gods came during my concerts – Lord Shiva’s appearance in Southern California, Radha and Krishna dancing in Fiji, Lord Krishna playing flute in Northern Califonia, Lord Rama in his majestic form in Greece, the Vishwaroopa Darshan during my concert in Muddenahali and the list goes on.

He had been my personal backbone and I miss him so very dearly.

On the other hand, I can tell you that there is no one who is happier to see Him rise to where He is than myself! My Bhai has become God and I saw it happen. I have seen the Ascension of Man to God … with my very own eyes!

Ahhhh … the agony and ecstasy of Guru Purnima 2019!

Jai Sai Ram!