Sri. V Srinivasan (Bombay Srinivasan) – Samarpan Dec, 2014
Here is the video and transcript of the Samarpan talk given by Sri. V Srinivasan (Bombay Srinivasan) at Brindavan in the month of Dec, 2014.
Sai Ram! Brindavan (Whitefield ) is the holy place where Bhagavan used to walk, give darshans and blessings to so many devotees, the place where I have also prayed, and received blessings too. At such a place standing near the altar, addressing a gathering of this magnitude, really makes me a bit nervous and emotional. Swami used to speak of navavidha bhaktis – 9 types of bhaktis. Swami would also emphasize on Shravanam and kirtanam. The most important is Shravanam. Shravnam means – to hear, to listen. The next in order of importance is kirtanam or singing, because all may not be able to sing well, whereas everyone is capable of shravanam or listening, and admiring and appreciating what is heard.
Swami once told our group, “Go to a remote village, talk to the villagers. If you tell them something about Bhagavat Gita they will not be able to understand anything. If you narrate to them the krishna leelas- the sweet stories of Krishna, then they will listen with tears in their eyes, they will be able to appreciate that.”
This is the approach of Bhagavan. Swami is giving us credit, He knows we are not jnanis, we may not have the ability to understand the Gita or other scriptural texts but , we can listen to the glory of Swami, listen to the songs of Swami, enjoy ourselves and make our life blissful.
What day is a worthwhile day?
In, one of the many blissful songs and poems that Swami used to sing in telugu, he mentions, which are the days in our life that can be identified as really worthwhile. Swami says, “The day when devotees sing songs /bhajans with deep devotion, in praise of the Lord, which pleases the ears and moves the heart”. When we can attend such bhajan sessions, that is a worthwhile day in our life.
The next one Swami says is, “the day when the sorrows of the poor are cured and men interact with each other as brothers.” The poor and unfortunate people, whose life is miserable, sad and full of sorrow and suffering, if we can wipe out their tears to some extent, with the feeling of brotherhood, not with the attitude of ‘I am the giver he is a beggar’, then that day is a worthwhile day.
Another thing Swami mentions-“the day the servants of God are fed with the love and care and thankfulness.” I have seen Narayan seva being done in many places, all over India and also around the world – Narayan seva is done routinely- that is not good. Swami himself puts a certain rules and conditions on how Narayan seva should be done. Swami emphasizes- ‘Narayana seva! Serving the servants of God’. Narayan Seva does not mean feeding alone, it has to be done with love and care. This Swami has demonstrated in the Hill View stadium, thousands of people, sometimes even a lakh of people, were made to sit in rows and Swami himself used to serve food. I have myself seen several times, during the Summer course, how Swami Himself would serve food here, in Brindavan, to the village folk. He would make them sit and serve them with tender care and love. So, it is so important to drop the ego and feed people with love and care. If you participate in such a seva, that will make a perfect day for you.
Swami goes one more step- “the day when a great one comes to us and narrates thrilling tales of God.” ‘The Great one’- not somebody coming by accident and speaking to you. Swami organizes, makes arrangements for such events, so that people will come to you, and tell the thrilling tales of God, and if you can listen to such talks, that day is a perfect and worthwhile day. In a month there are thirty or thirty one days, if you mark in the calendar, the number of worthwhile days, you will observe how many were wasted days. For example you mark 4 days -weekly bhajan, one day – Narayan seva, another day some other speech or study circle, you will find some 25-26 days are still blank. So our spiritual effort should be to fill up the blanks, to make every day a worthwhile day, by participating in some noble pursuits or spiritual activities. The ‘great one comes’- I remember, the incident from the Bhagavata, when Parikshit was cursed, that his life would end after seven days due to a snake bite. Suka Brahmam comes and tells the stories of Krishna for seven days, listening to the stories of the Lord, Parikshit used to shed profuse tears and gets liberated even before the snake comes and ends his life. That is ‘the great one’, that Sage Shuka Brhamam, who comes and tells the stories of Krishna. Here, some people are given a chance to tell the stories of Lord Bhagavan Baba himself.
I can tell hundreds of stories of Bhagavan Baba, I don’t know how many I will be able to pick up and tell you now. As Bhagavan says, “I will show the path, you follow it” I will narrate the story of how Baba entered into my life. I was young, married but a dejected and crushed man, because my wife was certified by a senior gynecologist from Bombay that she will not be able to bear a child at all and no one else but God alone could help me! When I heard such a judgement, from a senior doctor, I lost all interest in life. In the house, every month prayers, archanas, and those rituals were going on. Somehow, in a pilgrimage centre, one man came to us and talked to us, told us about a temple near Nasik, the Tryambakeshwar temple, and its importance. Naturally, we fell at his feet, seeking his blessings. He blessed us saying, “Next year come with a child”. We were stunned what is he saying, doctor says no child, whereas this man says come with a child next year! Anyway true to his word, the very next month she conceived and we had our first son, and later we got one more son. Blessings always double you know, not one take two! At that time I did not know who is Sai Baba or Shirdi Baba or Parthi baba. I had not even heard about all these things. I used to light just one agarbathi, in front of Krishna and Rama’s photo, take a hurried blessing and run to the office. This was our religion, no prayers, no puja nothing. We didn’t know anything. There were no guidelines for us. My wife conceived, and for delivery she went back to her native place, where there is no doctor, no ayaha also.
One day, one man comes and tells, ‘Did you read this book, Illustrated weekly of India? There is Sai Baba’s on the cover photo.”
‘Sai Baba! He has taken Samadhi in Shirdi, how can he come on the cover photo?
“No, he has come again, you buy the Illustrated weekly of India, you will find out.”
So I went to a book stall and purchased Illustrated weekly of India – that was the only English magazine in those days. Our Bhagavan’s photo reclining on the bed. “This is Sai Baba!! Sai Baba has a scarf here (Over his head ), a beard and all that, he has come again!” I didn’t believe. One more baba has come, there are several babas roaming around the world, I did not attach much value again. Somehow the day I got the telegram about the delivery of the child. I also got a telephone from that friend again, that Sai Baba has come to Bombay.
“What is this Sai baba has come to Bombay! He has already taken Samadhi.”
“No No, there is darshan, by evening come here.” I could not understand, anyway, I went in the evening. I thought, ‘If the baby is due to his blessing, I should go and thank him,’ so I went there, I was a bit late. They said darshan is over. I didn’t know what darshan means, I was standing near the gate, at the far end of the hall, I saw Swami seated on a chair, listening to the bhajan, putting talam. I started walking towards Him, there was a pathway amidst the devotees.
Somebody caught hold of my hand. “Where are you going?”
“I am going to tell thanks to Baba, I want to thank him.”
“You are going there to Thank Baba!! No, Sir. No, go back!!
“Sir! He has helped me, I want to thank him.”
They were all laughing at me, they thought I am a mad man, wants to thank Sai Baba when so much of crowd is there!!
I was pushed back. I was feeling, “they say you are God. I have come with an emotion to thank you, you have helped me. So, you are not willing to see me even!!” These feelings were going on, Swami got up from the chair, walked all the way. People were murmuring,” we are all lucky today we are having a second darshan.” I did not know what is first darshan, what is second darshan- I was totally new! Swami came and stood near me, looked at me, started swaying his head, started smiling- no talk, then he started moving his hand in circles, waving near the face like that. I got irritated. I caught hold Swami’s hand. People were bewildered, what audacity! Swami did not talk anything. Then I became aware of a message passing through my mind, a message which I had not read anywhere -“The objects are not to fall on the magic wand”. I did not understand what that message meant. Then it dawned on me, and I left Swami’s hand. Again, Baba looked at me, smiled and patted me, and went back.
Street magicians have stick which is a magic wand. When the magician touches a stone with his magic wand, the stone will become an egg or a hen or a pig, but the objects (the stone) should not fall on the wand, if it does, then nothing will happen. There is no point in going and falling at Swami’s feet or touching His feet, sinking at His feet, blocking His feet while walking. Swami should come and He should bless you. He should allow you to take namaskar and He should talk to you. Otherwise, if you go and fall at his feet-no grace will come. That is how I got and learnt my first lesson, in my first darshan. I decided I must follow this as much as possible in my life.
Later on, in my first interview he told, “You got children, very good. Doctor told that you won’t have children, but these boys were my devotees, in their previous birth. I wanted them to have pious and devoted parents. So I chose you to be their parents. I have only given you some responsibilities, I will take care of them.” He made a promise,”I will take care of them”, He took care of them. He gave them education, everything to them in this college. So they have become happy, they are living happily abroad. They come once in a year, to see their friends and teachers, they are all actively participating in Sai activities.
Then Swami added,” Do you know when Swami blessed you?”
“Oh! Didn’t you go for pilgrimage? ( I had totally forgotten then, I did not even remember the pilgrimage,)
“I don’t remember”
He said, “Didn’t you go to Tryambakam? Did I not bless you there? “
“Swami, when did you bless? Swami, some pandit or somebody told something, not you!! “
“I was him. You were seeing Bhagavan there.”
So even before I had seen him, or known him several years back, he has given his vision and blessing for our children. This is the story of the first son. He is studying well, he is a good singer, first prize in Maharashtra Balvikas competition. Bhagavan came to Dharmakshetra again, gave him a gift. The gift was a cover containing some currency notes/ rupees. Swami told him, “Don’t waste this money to see movies. Go and stitch some dress for yourself.” At that time my son was in 10th standard, he had appeared for the Matric exam. Swami was in Dharmakshetra in the month of May, by June, I took a blind shot, by submitting an application for him in this very college, for the pre-university course and by Bhagavan’s grace he was admitted. He did his Preuniversity and B.Sc. here, in Brindavan. In those days, Swami used to come very often to Brindavan. Swami blessed him by allowing him to sing bhajans in His presence, by materializing vibhuti and all that. The gift money that Swami had given my son in Dharma Kshetra was utilized for stitching white and white uniform for him in Whitefield. .
So my son studied here in Brindavan. There is an element of maya with Swami, you should be prepared, once during the Trayi sessions inside, Swami called him, “You know, you have got a girl friend.” My son was a small boy, he was certainly taken aback, he never knew such things in those days, though we were living in Bombay. He (Swami) said,” I know you have got a girl friend.” From then onwards every day, in front of the students, Swami used to tease him. My son wrote a letter to me. There was no STD, no Cell phones, one has to write letters, it used to take three to four days for the letters to reach us—that was the convenience in those days. He wrote, “Swami is teasing me continuously, I want to come back to Bombay.” I wrote to him, “When Swami is choosing you to be a medium of jokes, you also enjoy the fun with Swami. Don’t get angry or upset.” Another day Swami told him, “You have got a girlfriend in Chennai, I know her”.
My son wrote, “This is another stunt. I am correct, I have never gone to Chennai, I don’t know what is there in Chennai at all, I am from Palghat , Kerala, went to Bombay, and living there with my parents. I have never ever seen Chennai!!, and Swami tells, I have got a girlfriend in Chennai!!”
Some changes happened in my life, I went to Chennai to start an industry, a miracle happened there. I applied for a factory shed, I could not pay the money in time, I had to pay the first EMI to take possession, time limit was over and they cancelled my order. Then one day I got a stamped receipt that they have received that money by DD!! I had never paid, even today I don’t know who made the payment for my factory, that’s still a mystery in my life!! I got possession of that factory, we started production in some foundry chemicals. At that time, this fellow, my son, had finished his B.Sc, gone to Puttparthi completed his M.Sc and had come back to Chennai, for a job. Then what to do, with M.Sc in chemistry, what job will he get? Medical representative! I was unhappy, anyway for the time being, I put him for some NIIT classes, after few months, one day he brought a girl with him, “Appa, I like this girl”. Life had not yet started, fresh from college, already he has brought this girl!! I asked the girl, and found out that she had also done just a B.Sc, the result had not come, they happened to see each other at NIIT college, and started loving. What a pity, I was shocked. However, immediately I remembered eight years back what Swami had told my son in Whitefield, “you have got a girlfriend in Chennai.” He had warned at that time.
(I am narrating this story since I find so many students here in the audience. I want you to understand, how Swami keeps track of each and every student. So please tolerate this lengthy narration)
So, we called the parents of the girl, and settled for an early marriage, because someone in their family was afflicted with cancer. They wanted to perform the marriage at the earliest opportunity. Then as true Sai devotees, we did not accept any dowry. Even wedding sari, tirumangalam /mangala sutra, everything, we ourselves paid the money. The Tirumangalam was in our home puja. On the day previous to the marriage, before going to the marriage hall, we did arati to bhagavan, reverently took the mangala sutra, put it in a box, packed the other jewellery, and then went to the wedding hall. Usually during reception, it is customary to hold a music program, but we organised Sai bhajans. The boy himself was singing the sai bhajan!! Next day, morning 5.30, the priest was asking for the Tirumangalam, he has to put the yellow thread there, when my wife opened the trunk box to take it, the tirumangalyam was missing. The muhurat time was 7.30 in the morning, 5.30 when they started the rituals there was no thirumangalam!!. My wife searched and searched, she went home, there also she searched, but could not find the tirumangalam. Then there was misunderstanding, fighting My wife got angry, she went back home saying, “I don’t want to witness anything here.” Even if one wanted to buy a readymade mangalsutra, no shop would be open so early in the morning at 7 O clock. My wife got upset, I don’t want to be a witness for what is going to happen. She also wept, “I am lonely”. The function had to proceed, the bride went to the temple, came back, then they entered the hall inside. The wedding will be solemnized only after tying the tirumangalam. The priest was asking me for the tirumangalam, “please give, please give the mangalsutra.” Where can I give? So, I knelt before Swami, (I had arranged a neat altar there), “Swami you have started this Karma, you play as you like, I am helpless in this situation. You do whatever you want. You play the game. I will be a mute witness.” I was weeping, I could not control my tears. Then I got up, went and told my wife, “Please come. You should be present. Submit to Swami, whatever has happened let it happen. You come”. Then we suggested to the bride’s parents, “Why not substitute the tirumangalam by using a turmeric root tied with a yellow thread”, but those in-laws did not agree for that also. There was utter confusion. As we were leaving the hall, somebody thrust some bundle in my hand, something rolled in a newspaper. I did not even look at it, I was walking inside absent minded. The boy and girl were sitting down, the pandit had to chant the mantras and get the Tirumangalam tied to the bride. I did not have anything. Then the priest asked me, “atleast now can you give me the Tirumangalyam?” Can I tell, I don’t have anything!! I got angry and upset with everybody, some bundle was there in my hand, I threw it on the priest. I got utterly angry- even with Bhagavan!! It was a helpless situation, anybody can have such a situation and withstand the pressure that day, that wedding day? Everyone was crying!! Then what fell? With a thud something fell down. Hurriedly the priest picked it up, removed the paper, there was a beautiful ten tola gold chain with a beautiful padakam/ gold pendant!!
Of course, at the earliest opportunity I could get, I asked Bhagavan, “Why Swami this drama, you saved us, but how much agony and tension we underwent, should it happen to a devotee Swami?”
He said, “Whom did you ask? With whose permission did you get this couple married? How did you agree for this marriage?”
“Swami, you only told him, you have got a girlfriend in Chennai. When, he brought a girl, I thought it was your suggestion!!” Naturally, that is what I thought, Swami only started the drama, ‘girl friend in Chennai.’ So, I concluded that, this must be the girl friend that Swami spoke about.
Swami retorted, “I said girlfriend, but I did not want him to marry that girl friend.”
I was totally, completely flabbergasted/aghast! There was no defense for us at that time.
Swami reprimanded, “I never told him to marry, did you match their horoscopes? Did you check up other things, formalities, anything?”
“No, Swami, we had utter faith and confidence in Swami’s words, so we got them married.”
“No, you are a fool. Did you match the horoscopes according to the sampradayam, did you follow the customs of your religion? You should have done that. Now if that boy had tied that old mangalasutram, that day, there was every chance of that mangalasutram coming down. Can you understand me? Mangalasutram you tie will come down in two accounts- one the boy’s life may end or it may end in a tragic marriage or divorce. Either way the mangalasutram would have come down. So, I prevented it. As an alternative, I provided another one, now they will be happy”.
These are the checks and counter checks Swami made for his dear student. This is the story of one student, Swami has hundreds of students. Do not think that Swami does not know us. Do not think Swami is not aware of us, do not think that we have not seen Swami. Who knows, He is watching!! Without his sankalpa, you would not have been able to step into this college!! I am telling you, this is my personal experience. This is the story of one of my sons.
My daughter-in-law, was not a Sai devotee, now she is in America, and the president of the Sai centre. Her son, my grandson, is one of the topmost singers in the Sai centre, he is very famous there in the Sai centres. How? Because of the education in the Sai Institutions, their lives are secured, not one, but up to the third generation also. They did not land in bad company, wrong places, they are always mixing with satsang people, they are all leading a pious and spiritual life. Why? Because of their background in the hostel life and their association with Bhagavan. My family is in safe hands. This is the benefit, of one boy studying in Swami’s institution, and three generations reaping the benefits thereafter. I pray that all students here and everyone else may benefit from their association with this holy place.
My second son also was very close to Swami. He did his BSc, MSc and MBA at Puttaparthi. He is also a good singer. He was a Mandir singer, He was fond of composing. Some of the bhajans you are singing, is composed by him. Once he composed a Hindustani kirtan/bhajan. In the hostel dormitory room, (seven or eight boys live in that hall), they were practicing the tune regularly, when they were ready, they started requesting Swami,” Swami we want to sing a new song in your presence.” One day Swami questioned, “Why? Why?” Later, Swami called them to the interview room, when nobody was there, gave them permission to sing the song. They sang one song. Swami said, “Very good song, who composed it?” They said, “Swami Ramesh.” “Oh! That North Indian fellow, so he is composing songs, very good. Then, sing the second song.” They started singing the second song, first line over, they were singing the second line, suddenly, Swami told, “Stop.” In Swami’s presence if Swami stops somebody while singing bhajan, that is the end of his career. He will not get a second chance to sing there. So they were terrified. If Swami asks someone to stop, it means something is wrong. All were worried, one minute- there was total silence. Swami was watching silently. It was very painful…. Slowly, Swami started smiling, His face slowly broadened into a smile, then suddenly, Swami started singing the same song, the same words, the same lines, same tune, same talam everything just as these boys would sing, Swami sang the song, just like them. Not only that, he questioned them, “Now tell me who composed the song? Can you tell that Ramesh composed the song?” These are the intimate experiences of some students and devotees, there are hundreds of points I can tell, each one is so profound.
One more story I will narrate, it is about the mangalasutram. I hope you are understanding the word mangalsutram, which I used several times, it is the chain or necklace tied during the wedding ceremony. This mangalasutram is very mangalam-auspicious, it is a fire, but getting it from Swami is also not that easy.
I was getting older and older, one day I became sixty year old. Swami called us for interview, he announced to another devotee, “this man is entering sixtieth year, I am going to conduct their wedding today.”
I had not come prepared. I had worn just a pant and shirt, I had not brought any flowers or anything.
Swami said, “Ha, I will look after all that. I am here, I will conduct.”
It is a long story, but I will briefly tell you, in a nutshell. Swami created the mangalsutram there, and asked us, “Is it as per your customs”.
I thought, for once Swami is wrong, it is not as per our custom, because normally in our family we take yellow thread or gold chains. Here Swami had created a mangalsutram, which was made of black beads-eragumani. “Swami, this is not our custom, but Swami is giving it as a blessing for us, we will accept it as it is.”
“I know your custom but this lady wanted this!”
“I don’t know Swami, she has never told me her decision, Swami,”
“I know! I know everything.”
He told the inner significance of the 60th birthday, “When you tie the mangalasutra on the 60th birthday, your first wedding mangalsutra is cancelled. You are no more husband and wife, you are co-passengers in spiritual living, helping each other to tread the spiritual path in your life. You have no more husband and wife relation. Like that, he told the inner significance of the 70th, 80th, 90th, he went upto hundred. Then I asked Him, “That means I will live up to hundred years Swami?”
“No, No, I don’t give guarantee. It all depends on your life style. How you live, how you spend your time”
Then Swami allowed us to perform this ritual of tying the mangalasutra. Swami himself kept the hand and chanted, “Shatmanam bhavati, shatayur purusha………. Then my wife took the mangalasutra and kept it reverently on her eyes, she saw there was a red stone- a ruby, in the pendant. Swami said “Yes, ruby I have kept”.
I had never heard or known of a thirumangalam pendant, being adorned with stones. At that time, we did not understand Swami’s assertion, “Ruby stone I have kept!” We felt, “Oh, we are lucky, we are blessed.” It was all self-congratulations. Within one and half years something happened in my life. I lived in Delhi, we had a neighbour one lady, she was a staunch devotee of Shirdi Baba. We worshipped both Satya Sai baba and Shirdi baba. My wife and that lady had a great argument.
She (neighbour) said, “Satya Sai Baba! There is the only one baba- Shirdi baba.”
My Mrs said,” No, no, there is Satya Sai baba also”.
Somehow, she had to make that neighbour concur with her, so she took this mangala sutra and showed, that it was created by Bhagavan Satya Sai Baba. As they were looking at the mangalasutra, there was a fog like smoke in the cup of the hand, it covered the pendant, within a few seconds the fog disappeared and the red stone had also disappeared. There was only one cavity there. I had my doubt and fear, I told my wife, “Your devotion! Swami is checking the intensity of your devotion?” “How do you know my devotion” she challenged me. She wrote in her own language, in malyalam a letter to Swami. In our building there was a Professional Courier, she wrote the address – Satya Sai Baba, Puttaparthi, Anantapur and handed over her letter. She said,” Swami will prove my devotion, how do you know my devotion?”
“Okay, you are devoted I know”, but on the 7th day while going out to buy milk , I fell down on the street, I had a massive heart attack, fortunately there was an MBBS doctor living in our building , he came, treated me, took me to a hospital and admitted me. The next hour, I was on oxygen, all those investigations and treatments were administered in the ICU. After five days, I was stabilized, then doctors suggested, “angiogram, angioplasty or bypass surgery?”. My wife said, “we came here to help a friend in Delhi, I don’t want to carry a body to Chennai. I want to take him back. I want to take him to Puttaparthi and Swami. If he goes and dies in Puttaparthi, I don’t care, but now I do not want to carry a body from here”
So against all wishes and directions of the Doctor, at her own risk I was discharged, brought to Puttaparthi hospital and admitted. Then some American Doctors, he is there now Dr. Voletti Chaudary, they did the check up and Angioplasty was done, I was cured. After three days, I was sitting in the darshan lines. Swami came and asked me in English, “How are you. Are you alright now?”
“Swami, by your mercy Swami, I have been saved. I feel alright Swami”
Swami can I take namaskar?
“Yes, be careful of the heart”
But I was so weak, I rolled over, I could not, no strength in my hands. Swami himself lifted me, patted me, and started walking. When Swami is walking away, He won’t look back. Still I mentioned two words, “Swami, my wife”
He did not allow me to complete the word, ‘my wife’, immediately Swami said, “Oh! That is nothing, she was to lose her Kumkum, and instead I took the stone”.
Understood the sentence? I should have died at that time. Swami wanted to keep her Kumkum, What is Kumkum, modern boys? See the ladies apply a red dot on their forehead they call it kumkum. Only those who have husbands have it, those who have no husbands do not apply Kumkum. Swami told that my wife was to lose that Kumkum, it means, I should have died. So, in advance one and half years before, Swami had kept a red stone, he also told us that he had deliberately kept a red stone there, such miracles saved me , not once but four times!!
In this Super Specialty Hospital at Whitefield, the gold work was going on at the central dome, 82 feet scaffolding was erected to do that work. One day after darshan,at Brindavan, when I came to the gate where the flower sellers’ keep their baskets, I fell down and collapsed. So, the flower girls took me to the Super Specialty hospital in an autorickshaw. The doctors checked, put me in the ICU, and said, “The treatment has to start again.” However, I was in a dilemma, I had the project of completing the gold work here in the Super specialty hospital’s central dome, on my hand. Within the next week, there was an international cardiologists conference, I had to finish the project by then, how can I allow myself to be in the hospital. So, I said, “I will think it out and tell you.” I could not even stand, I was struggling even to breathe. I was sitting there, and most unexpectedly Swami came there at 1.30pm.
As he entered He was shouting at me, “What are you doing, why are the bamboos here? Are the doctors coming to see the bamboos here? Throw them out, come on clear all this place, He was shouting like that.”
I pleaded, “Swami I will do it in 2-3 days give me some time. I will finish it Swami.” The doctors were mutely gesturing to me, to tell Swami about my heart condtion. There is rule in the Sai organization, an unwritten law that- ‘anyone who is on duty should not seek personal favours from Swami.’ At that time, I was on duty, so I was not permitted to seek personal favour, hence I had to keep quiet and endure. I should believe that Swami knows. So when Swami was leaving, I forgot to take padanamaskar, I made a circumambulation, came in front and knelt down. Then casually Swami asked,”What is your problem?”
Swami I have heart attack problem. Doctor asked me to get admitted to the hospital”
Swami told me,”Namaskaram checha ko— do namaskaram.” He patted me and said, “Go do your job.”
The next minute, I was climbing up the 82 feet scaffold!! The man who had collapsed earlier!!
Like this, he saved me not once or twice but four times!! I don’t want to go on talking. (Mr. V.Srinivasan became emotional and silent…………….) Recalling some of these events is too emotionally overwhelming.
I was given the project of supervising the gold foil work in the Sai Kulwant hall. The period of five and half months that I spent in Puttaparthi, were my golden days. We had two shifts-from morning eight O clock up to 3 am in the morning. No Saturday , no holiday, no sleeping-only 2 hours of break, in the night. During that break one had to shave, take bath, get ready and be back again for the suprabhatam (prayers at dawn) . Do you know how it is to work, five and half months, day and night like this? It was Swami’s project, it had to be done. After the project was completed, Swami gave me a silk dhoti. I told jocularly, “Swami, tomorrow, I will sleep nicely, five and half months I have not slept at all.” I thought I had achieved something, since I had not slept for five and half months, I thought Swami has given me the power to overcome sleep.
Swami said, “In the mission of Rama, Lakshmana did not sleep for 14 years.” Remember the words, watch what Swami said, “ Lakshmana did not sleep for14 years in Rama seva, you , in Sai seva did not sleep only for five and half months!” We thought, we have done so much seva, but actually, it is too small in front of Swami. However, Swami was happy. Only some people are bestowed with such a rare and golden opportunity to do seva. During those five and half months, I had some wonderful experiences.
We really don’t know Puttaparthi, we go for darshan, attend bhajans for one hour, when, Swami’s darshan is over, as soon as He goes into the interview room, we run away from there, go to the shop, buy newspaper and occupy ourselves with trivialities. However, I will tell you some of the amazing things that happen in Puttaparthi. One day, early morning at 3 O clock, I was coming out of this Kulwant hall and going home, my room was just behind the Gayatri mandir, Round block no.5, there I noticed that all the people were intently looking at something in the Gayatri mandir- I also looked in that direction. What I saw was one young lady, a devata (Divine being), climbing up the steps, enter the temple precincts and disappear. Then with a shriek of noise the grill door automatically closed, and there was total silence. This incident was witnessed not only by me, but also by more than 100 seva dals from Orrisa. They were on duty there at that time.
For everything we have to ask Swami, naturally, the next day, because I had close proximity during those five and half months, everyday I could get the opportunity to talk to Him, so I told, “ Swami, We saw Gayatri Devi yesterday, Gayatri Devi!”
Cool Yes, no sign of admiration, no expression of wonder, nothing!!
“How come Swami at this time?”
Swami said, “ye Donnaputtu, you buffalo !! not only Gayatri, all devatas come to have Sai’s darshan here. You saw only Gayatri.”
“Yes, everybody comes to worship Swami here.”
“Oh! Swami, great, then why don’t they come in the daytime then we can also see them?
“Daytime!! This crowd will surround them, how can they come here. They avoid the crowds, they come when there is nobody, have darshan and go away. If they all come when everyone is around, you will put them all in a zoo.”
Thus to put it across in a nutshell- “Sarva devataa swarupa satyasaibabaya namah”- He is above all, above Krishna, Rama or Shiva, above the trinity ( Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara). He is at the supreme level. From there, the various power centres arise. To each devata he gives darshan. Who knows, even now these (devatas) may be visiting Swami’s sannidhi in the Sai Kulwant hall, in the night time! We don’t know. They are not visible. However, we should have that faith in Swami.
One day we came, here to Brindavan, Whitefield to take permission of Swami, to do the gold work. We got an interview, Swami wanted to give us the project of painting the decorated design blocks in the ceiling of Sai Kulwant Hall. The designs within the block had to be painted with gold foils and the background with another colour. On another occasion, Swami sent us in his car to Mysore palace, to see a similar work that had been done several years ago in that palace. Then we went back to Puttaparthi and commenced the work. We prepared a sample of nine blocks. Nine is considered to be a lucky number, a divine number. The central design was covered with gold, and the background in each block was either red, green, blue etc. We could procure only eight original colours for the eight blocks, however for the 9th block we worked out the colour, by mixing some other colours-it was some sort of an assorted colour, thus, we completed the nine blocks.
Swami came in the morning from Brindavan, for inspection and returned to Whitefield the same day. He approved of the ninth colour. Unfortunately, we had not noted down, what were the colours we had added, and in which proportion we had mixed, to get that colour. We had totally forgotten!
Swami said, “Full Kulwant hall for all the blocks, you put that colour for the background.” What do we do? Again we had to do a lot of research work, days together passed to arrive at ratio and proportions required to the exactly match that colour. Finally, we succeeded and were doing the job. Then between June and July, Swami arrived at Puttaparthi. Every day, Swami used to come for inspection, we had to walk with him. Sometimes he would reprimand, for consuming more gold. We were accountable for each and everything. He would question, “What happened, why this much.” Oh! Working with Swami is not easy, He is a taskmaster. Accounting for gold-for each and every square was tough! If excess gold was used, He would even ask, who are the workers, what are their names. I had to keep record, of the workers, their names, and all other things. So, proper accounting, costing everything had to be maintained there.
One day people were asking me, “Why are you using this green colour for the ceiling? Swami does not use such dark colours -like red, green etc? See, only pink, Ivory or sky blue are the colours you see everywhere.” My reply was, “We don’t know, it was Swami’s choice, we are implementing.”
One day, Swami himself put the question, “Do you like this colour?”
“Yes, Swami , very good colour.”
“How do you know?”
“Swami it is good. Swami only told, so it is good”
(I could not say it is not good, because it is dark green.)
Swami again asked, “Do you know why I chose this colour?”
I told, “No Swami, I don’t know. Swami’s aajna (command), we are strictly following it.”
“Do you know the significance?”
I told, “No, Swami.”
Then Swami caught hold of my hand, stated /predicted/ foretold some 15 to 20 problems that I have and will be having!
“Devotees come with so many problems, can I give each and every one of them an emerald ring? So what I have done, you see- this is the gold in the ring, that is the gold in the design of each block, this is emerald in the ring, that is the emerald in the background of each block, I have made the hall an emerald hall!! Whoever is sitting here, they may not be aware, but the rays of peace will shower on them. I have done all this for the sake of the devotees, not for my sake.”
Now, when we go to Puttaparthi, it our duty to sit there, and receive the showers of peace. Always, as soon as Swami goes, we run away, to get newspaper, or to the canteen, or chit chatting. Instead, we must go back to the hall sit, enjoy and assimilate the peaceful vibrations, till the seva dals push us out. If we do not do that, It is s a pity!
I will narrate another incident that occurred, during the same golden period of my life. One day, during darshan, one man with a moustache, a tall and huge fellow, was sitting next to me like the Himalayas. Nearby, one sadhu was also sitting. He was an old man with orange robes, all torn and tattered, with dhadi (beard). Swami came and passed by me. The tall gentleman next to me gave a cover to Swami, who accepted it. Next, Swami gave the very same cover to the sadhu, the old man, and quietly walked away. After darshan was over, when we all came near the Ganesh mandir, where we all meet after bhajan gets over, there was a big crowd. We found two people quarrelling. One was the sadhu, the other was the tall fellow, the villain, both of them were arguing. One Hindi professor from the university, was also there. He asked them, “What is your problem? Why are you shouting like this?”
That villain said, “I gave a letter to Swami, He gave the cover to this man. I want it back, because it is my letter, I want it back. I don’t want other people to read it.”
We asked this old man( sadhu) “What is your problem?”
“Sir, the past three months, I want to go back to the Himalayas, I don’t have any money to buy the ticket. Every day, I have been praying to Swami to give me the money to buy a ticket. So, I think Swami might have given me some money, this packet belongs to me.”
This was the argument. So, we again asked the other man, “Did you keep any money?” “No. sir, only one letter.” “Then why do you want the letter, let it go?”
“No, Sir I have been a pakka (thorough) criminal, I am wanted by the police, so many cases are booked against me, if this letter goes into the hands of the police, my condition will be pretty bad. So, I want it back, so that I can destroy it. I don’t want others to read the letter.”
We did not know then, so as a compromise, this professor took the cover, with their permission opened it. There were seven hundred rupee notes in that cover. When he questioned the villain, he said, “I had not kept any money.” So the professor gave the 700 rupees to the sadhu, “Okay maharaj, you can go to the Himalayas.”
The professor gave the letter back to the villain, who took the letter and opened it, it was totally blank!! Everything had been erased. It was sheer, plain white paper!! All this, Swami had achieved within a fraction of a second!! Taking from one and giving it to another. I was a witness to such a great miracle, which happened there. Swami so unassumingly, smilingly walked away after performing such a great thing. I was so blessed to see this incident live, in front of my own eyes!!
Another interesting anecdote is about the gold workers from Madurai. They were all rowdy elements, but they were very good artisans, they used to get onto the scaffolding in the Sai Kulwant hall, smoke beedies, even though it is a prayer hall, a sacred place. One day Mr. Chakravarti saw them smoking and fired them. We could not control the workers, we tried to control twice, both the times the labourers went on strike, “ We will not work”, they stopped the work.
Mr. Chakravarti, got upset, “In Puttaparthi labour strike! how can I show my face to Swami.” everybody was terrified. There was a ten hour strike, labour union.
Another time, one worker was putting gold foils in water, going out to the bathroom, the seva dals frisked him, took out a bundle, they immediately removed the work badge that he was wearing, did not allow him to go inside. Seva dals have the power. The security in charge, Mr Janakiram was called, without even our knowledge, he was thrown out. Next day they were on strike, “Unless this fellow is re-inducted we will not work.” These were some of the situations we faced. The workers used to bring meat from the outside shops and eat in the shed, which we had allotted for their stay. During Darshan, they were allotted a separate block (space reserved for seating), to have special darshan, but they would not come for darshans. They would not come even for the morning darshan, or if they did come, it was after Swami had gone.
One day, I felt tired so I told them, “We will stop the work a bit early, I am feeling sleepy and tired.” They were relieved,” When can we stop sir?” “Today, you all stop at 1 am, instead of 3 O clock.” They remarked, “One O clock is early! It’s the same thing.” Anyway at the stroke of one, everybody put their brushes down and walked away. The brushes!! 350 workers, everybody had two brushes- one fat and one short, all made of camel hair, very costly. They were supposed to clean the brushes and then close the work. If the brushes are not cleaned properly with linseed oil, the paint gets dried up and the next day the brushes become unfit for use. Camel hair brushes are in short supply even in Bangalore, at the most it may be possible to procure 10-15 brushes, similarly from Bombay or Delhi or any other place. Mr. Chakravarti had somehow procured 300 – 400 brushes. Again, it would take many days to procure a new set of brushes, till then the work would come to a standstill. I caught hold of one men just in time and requested him to clean the brushes. He asked, “All three hundred brushes Sir!” I persuaded him, “Please, You are the only one available, you are a good boy.” I did some chamchagiri to him. Then he said, “Okay Sir, I will work.” I told him, “Now, I shall go to my room, but, if I go this way, you will walk out that way.” “No, No, I will work sir, I have given my word, I will finish it and then go.” So I took leave of that worker. As was my habit, while leaving or coming into the Kulwant hall, I would do the pradakshina (circambulation) of Ganesha Mandir. As a thanksgiving at 1.30 in the midnight, I was doing pradakshinam, going around the temple. This fellow came running, “Sir, sir, sir, Swami, Swami, Swami!! Swami has come here.”
“What midnight 1.30, Swami is here!!” so I ran with him. At that time the Kulwanth hall extension was going on scaffolding was there, there was a grill partition (between) old and new portion, near the grill only they were cleaning and painting. The worker said he was sitting and cleaning the brushes, when he looked up he saw Swami was walking across the hall. So, he had come hurriedly to call me.
Why Swami is coming at 1.30? I asked the seva dals at the gate if they had seen Swami? They said, “No, Swami did not come?” I ran to the Poornachandra hall and enquired whether Swami had come out? They also said, “No swami did not come we are sitting here only!” I thought this fellow is telling a lie. I told him, “You are telling a lie.”
He protested, “Sir I am not a Sai devotee like you, I don’t have to gain anything, what I saw I told you, believe it or not.”
Anyway that night got over, but this incident had a reaction in the shed where they were living. When, this boy told them what he had witnessed, how he had seen Swami in the middle of the night, they all got excited. Next day at 1.30 pm, when Swami came for inspection at daytime, all the workers, 300 of them, came down from the scaffolds, and blocked the way. Swami was going back through the ladies side, many of them knelt down, all of them greeted him with Sai Ram, Sai ram, Sai ram. Then Swami looked at them. I was as seva dal, I sprang into action. I knew how a seva dal should work. Wherever there is indiscipline, I have to be strict. So, I started pushing them, commanding them to make way for Swami. Swami said, “Ye, neen yelli iru, come and stand here” Yes Swami, quietly I went and stood next to Him. Swami, looked at them, smiled and asked, “Who is Murali? Even, I did not know the names of the workers, 300 of them! Swami was asking,” Who is Murali?” One man got up, the same fellow, who said he had seen Swami the previous day. I could not believe! Swami was asking that fellow to come. “Come, come here”, Swami called him. Swami created a navaratna ring for him, gave it to him and blessed him. When that worker was going back he looked at me, because I had accused him of telling a lie, I had not believed that Swami had come at midnight. He showed his hand adorned with Swami’s navaratna ring as a proof of his honesty. This miraculous thing, this transformation of hearts happened on that day.
Even now miracles may be happening, we are not aware of it because we are not keeping our eyes, ears and hearts open! Even though we go to Puttaparthi we are steeped in maya, engrossed in the kingdom of our own mind. Only when we surrender that mind and concentrate on Bhagavan can we witness, the wonderful miracles and leelas of Swami.
Two small stories, they are actually big but I will narrate the essence in a nutshell. Our second convener, started conducting bhajans in the central jail with the permission of the authorities. The prisoners were not attending the bhajan sessions, they would keep roaming around watching us from afar, but gradually one by one they started coming and sitting. The number of attendees increased to 10. Slowly, they started participating by clapping, later they even joined in the singing. Within one year the inmates started taking the lead and composing their own bhajans! They used to sit in the front to sing bhajans while we sat behind. Once I told them, next month we will not come, Bhagavan Baba is coming to Dharmakshetra, Bombay, we have got seva dal duty. You have to conduct your own bhajans next month. Some of them said, “Sir we want to have darshan of Baba. Please take us also to the function.” When I asked, the Jail superintendent for the permission, he said, “No. These are all culprits, they will spoil your name. I don’t dare leave them outside this compound. You go.” Then he suggested, “Why don’t you ask your Sai Baba to come here?” What a suggestion! Ask Satya Sai Baba to come here!! I had so much faith in Swami. I believed that, if anyone uttered, anything unexpectedly without calculation, it is bound to happen. So, I agreed to forward his application for Swami’s visit to the jail, through proper channel i.e. through our superintendent, co-ordinator, district president, Seva dal president and state president, Sri Indulal Shah. When Swami came, the application was submitted to Swami. You know how they presented the application to Swami? “Swami, these thana people, what guts they have to request Swami to visit the jail!!” Swami only smiled and kept quiet. Beyond the thana/jail, there is a city called Vilasnagar, there were many religious and devoted people there, the chief seva dal was organizing Swami’s visit to that place. As a privileged seva dal I was on duty near the stage. I was standing near the stage, Swami, came there after giving darshan, and was about to ascend the steps, to go up, on to the stage. I knew that, once, Swami reaches the stage, anytime they may take arati. The car would be behind the stage, the top people would be already seated in the car, halfway through the arati, Swami will quietly go behind the stage, sit in the car and go away. By the time people finish the arati chanting Narayana, Narayana, Narayana, Swami would have gone miles away. That is the modus operandi, always when Swami is visiting places. Swami was going up, he had ascended two steps, He looked back and spoke, “Indubhai! janeke time per thane dhekke jayange -while going back we will see the prison and go.” It was 5.30 in the evening, we did not have a car, no vehicles, no autorickshaws, those days, the only means of transport was Godha gaadi (horse carriage), we would have to come to the station, take a local train and then by another goodha gaadi, reach the jail. Swami would be coming by car after arati. Somehow we had to reach the jail, it was a miracle we got a military Bullet (motor cycle). One devotee went to the garland shop, I went to the jail and informed the Superintendent that Swami is coming. Hurriedly we made people sit in rows. Swami arrived, as the bhajan was going on, Swami walked on the road and went up onto the stage. In the central jail. We had arranged for a mike also, on the stage, Swami sang five bhajans! Since the program was not announced in public, there was no photography, no videography, no press people, nothing, it was conducted so quietly. Everyone felt happy.
Next day we went to Dharmakshetra, we hoped to get a chance to interact with Swami, and also liked to get some appreciation from Bhagavan. I was standing there in the last line, Swami walked down the aisle, as he came near me he commented, “O thaana gaya. Bhahut Accha ho gaya, Accha ho gaya.-O, I had gone to the Jail, it was very good, very good”. Then he asked, “Do you think I came to bless those criminals? They are all cut throat criminals. I came because of your love, your seva, your vachan(word), your noble thoughts. I wanted to encourage you, that is why I came. This is Swami’s attitude to encourage this seva dal.
One more incident that I am going to narrate, it happened, a few years after I had migrated to Chennai for my business. People observe how Swami interacts with each and every devotee and judge and infer whether Swami likes him or not. If Swami has not spoken to a devotee for the last one year, then they also treat that devotee like an untouchable. How can anybody know Swami’s Will? Nobody knows, we just interpret as we like. Just because we see Swami speaking to somebody in public, once or twice – we conclude he is very close to Bhagavan. This is all the maya of Bhagavan. Similarly, people know that I am very close to Bhagavan, so I was made the convener of that place-T. nagar. I always think and implement innovative ideas into seva activities, like that incident at the Thana jail. So, in Chennai, we adopted a slum. The people there were are all affiliated to politics, at that time the atheist parties were ruling in Tamil nadu, and they did not believe in God. They used to take processions of Sri Rama, adorned with a garland made of chappals, two people holding chappals would perform a drama of beating each other, they used to dance and drink, while taking the procession, and break everything on the streets. This was the state of the slums in madras city (Chennai) those days. When we adopted the children of one slum the leaders felt concerned, their first question was, “ how much cut- meaning how much will you will pay us?” We told them, we do not have anything-No money, no political influence, nothing but we will help you with the basic needs-Health, hygiene and education.” Anyway, they allowed us to take care of their children. In that slum none of the children had passed beyond the 4th standard. Over the passage of time, we could educate 17 boys to become post graduate students. One boy, living in a 10×10 shack in the slum, is now having a three storey bungalow, here, near the Ring road, in Bangalore. He is working as a very big officer in Wipro. Another one is running a very big business.
Those days, Swami used to come to some villages, so I made a request to Swami that He should come and visit the slum, Swami approved. It was a second chance for me as a convener. The day was fixed, we coached the slum people as to how they should behave, when Swami comes. We gave coaching to each and every one. All behaved well. The road was dirty, filthy, stinking, there was no bathroom. We built dozens of bathrooms, but they were not using it! They would take bath in the street itself, in front of their homes! So, we put some bundles of sand and somehow made the whole place neat and clean. All were waiting and watching. Swami’s car was about to come in 10-15mins time, since he had already left Sundaram and was on his way. One slum fellow got two buckets of water, started taking bath right there, in the open. Just at that moment, Swami’s car arrived. Now what to do? The place had become wet and muddy!! Usually, I do a lot of thinking and preplanning, make a checklist, make everything clear and then proceed to do any work. At that moment, somehow, I procured some empty gunny bags, called some seva dals instructed them, “Every step Swami takes, spread one gunny bag on the ground.”
Swami saw the first gunny bag, called me, “Remove it”
“Remove it”, Swami insisted.
Then Swami walked on the muddy street, he kept on walking like that 30 to 40ft. What a love, Swami’s love, so overwhelming. There also, Swami said, “I have come to encourage your seva, not for these people, they will misuse, but you have to tolerate and still continue to do the seva.”
Seva is the main weapon for me to go closer to Swami. I do not know Vedas, I don’t know bhajan singing, I do not know anything. If people say, that I am close to Swami and other things, I do not know. I could draw Swami to me, only through loving and sincere service activities.
I am sorry, even though I brought a checklist of the incidents I would narrate, I could finish only one third of it. In all these 40 years of service I have done, I strictly follow discipline, so I have to conclude. I thank all of you for listening to me. I thank the organization for inviting me. I look forward to come back one day, and talk to you on an important subject– ‘Parivartanam Sai mission’, that will be a totally spiritual service oriented speech, not about miracles. If I get a chance, I will surely come here and meet you all .Sairam