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A Mother Like No Other
By Mrs. Mallika Desu


Mrs. Mallika Desu is a former student of the Anantapur campus of Sri Sathya Sai University. Actively engaged in various community service activities in the USA, she is the former president and current vice-president of SSS Centre, Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Without Swami, Parthi felt like a lifeless place. I was staying in the Anantapur students’ dormitory in Prashanthi Nilayam, along with a few other girls waiting for Swami’s return to Parthi from Whitefield. At that time, my family lived in Assam in Northeast India. I had chosen to stay in Parthi for the short winter vacation instead of traveling all the way to Assam where the political climate was highly disturbed at that time.

The Unnerving News…

Soon a telegram arrived at the girls’ dormitory, addressed to me. It bore a message that sent a chill down my spine and made me feel sick to my stomach. I was so scared and confused. I learnt that my mother had been involved in a fire accident. She had suffered severe burns. The telegram read that my mother’s condition was “precarious”. Being a young student, I was unnerved beyond capacity and had to ask my friends what exactly the word meant.

On realizing the gravity of the situation, I prayed to Swami to help her and my family in this crisis. Soon another message was received of her being airlifted to New Delhi, the Indian capital, for better treatment. I was gripped with fear and felt very lost. At that moment, I needed Swami more than ever. In the confusion that followed with regards to the news of her condition, Swami arrived in Parthi. He gave a fleeting Darshan and retired to the Mandir.

I so much wanted to tell Him the state of my mother and plead with Him to save her life. However, before I could even get to the Darshan ground, the news of my mother’s passing away arrived. Needless to say, I was devastated. I felt so helpless and miserable. I was 18 years old, all by myself in Parthi. My Dad was in Delhi where my mother had passed away and my two younger sisters were by themselves in Assam during this moment of intense grief and loss. As a family, we were scattered and shattered by the shocking death of my mother.

Only a Divine Mother Can Understand!

Finally, a long, sorrowful night ended and I sat for Darshan in the first line, close to the Mandir, right off the verandah on the ladies side. It was the morning Darshan of November 11 in 1982 and a Darshan I will never forget. Looking kind and compassionate, Swami started the morning round by coming straight to me. Our Professor of English, Dr. Zeba Bashiruddin spoke to Swami about my loss the previous day. I was too shell-shocked and grief-stricken to verbalize anything. My mind was numb with sorrow.

Swami looked at me with His eyes filled with compassion, and spoke to me very kindly. He said “Yes, yes, life dene se bhi prayojan nahi. Eye sight bhi nahi hai” (‘Even giving life was not an option…she lost even her eyesight’). Those around me later told me that while I was weeping inconsolably at that time, Swami paused several times and gave me many opportunities to control myself, in my own time, so that I could listen to what He had to say next.

Then with the patience and calmness that only a Divine Mother can display, He explained to me that my Mom was in such agony that even if I saw her, I would have thought that it was better for her to pass on than to live such a life of misery. He waited again for me to finish another round of crying. This was the only time anyone had spoken to me about the situation or given me some details about it. My entire information was based on the couple of telegrams with one-line messages. He understood my need to deal with such chilling details, which were later confirmed by my family.

“You have Mother Sai, don’t cry”

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My sole refuge, my dearest Swami, was standing in front of me and all I could do was to cry harder. And He let me do so, since I hadn’t had a private moment to grieve till then, staying as I was in a dormitory with other girls from our college.

Finally Swami gave me an assurance that has become my maha mantra for life, my ray of hope, my pillar of strength, my sole refuge and my personal beacon of light. He said to me: “Kya ho gaya, ek ma gaya, to thousand mother hai. Sai Mata Hai. Don’t cry.” (‘What is the matter, one mother is gone. You have a thousand mothers. You have Mother Sai. Don’t cry’).

He then materialized vibhuthi and gave it to me, followed by a padnamaskar where I washed His feet with the tears of my pain. After that, He just walked away to continue His usual darshan.

Even though He had given me complete attention for several minutes, when He resumed darshan, I was stunned. For me, my whole world had changed and nothing at all seemed normal with the world. How could He just walk away and resume His normal routine? I wanted everyone and everything to come to a stand still. Life around me had to stop, just as mine had.

Most Important Lesson - Devotion to Duty

Swami always says, “My life is My message”. After consoling me, when Swami walked away from me and resumed His usual Darshan, He imparted to me the priceless lesson of equanimity and devotion to duty, both of which constitute the value of Dharma or Right Action. Bhagavan always says pleasure is an interval between two pains.

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Mrs. Mallika Desu in smiles with Swami

We should treat both dualities with an equal calmness. Moreover, ups and downs in life need not bog us down and are not an excuse to stray from the path of righteousness. Often times, even though I recall these lessons in hindsight or simply struggle to remember them at critical moments in my life, Swami never fails to deliver His promises.

Soon, both my younger sisters arrived from Assam and we grieved together. Being the oldest, I felt very protective of my sisters. A few days later, I pleaded with Bhagavan, “Swami, will you protect us?” The Divine Lord assured us “Yes, I will always protect you.”

During subsequent weeks, Bhagavan allowed me to continue staying in Parthi, even though college had reopened in Anantapur. He gave me much attention in terms of materialized vibhuthi, prasadam and padnamaskars till I felt ready to return to college and hostel.

The entire experience of grieving such a deep loss at His Lotus Feet proved to be a profoundly life altering experience, a lesson that has come to my rescue many times ever since. His promise to be my Sai Mata or Divine Mother, equivalent to a thousand mothers and the assurance of protection, have always both come true for me.

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During the Convocation of the Institute in 1984...

Any Danger Can Be Averted By Her!

After completing my education at His University in Anantapur, I got married and moved to the United States of America. It was in the summer of 1986 when my husband and I were driving on a highway at 80 miles an hour. A nail punctured the tire, sending the car out of control at very high speed. In panic, I started shouting ‘Sai Ram’, ‘Sai Ram’.

The car spun a complete 360 degrees and finally stopped on the shoulder (unused part of the road), out of harm’s way. Amazingly, while our car was spinning out of control at such high speed, no other car came in our way or hit us. Everyone managed to somehow avoid us or stop in time. Soon, someone helped us out by mounting a spare tire. Such a close tryst with danger left us shaken but safe. It also served to remind me of Swami’s assurance to always protect us.

Sometime later, I developed acute abdominal pain and was rushed to the emergency. Tests revealed an ovarian cyst, which needed to be removed surgically, given its size. The entire procedure called for a week of hospital stay. I was scared and nervous as there was no one with us, in terms of family or friends for support. As always, I prayed to my Sai Mother, my thousand mothers, to come to my aid.

No sooner had the doctors taken me to the operation theatre than my cyst burst and a simple procedure was enough to deal with the situation. I was allowed to return home the next day. Doctors were puzzled at the sudden turn of events.

Sai Maa Keeps Her Promise Again!

Again, on July 24th 1990, I was expecting our second child, my daughter Suma in Blacksburg. Other than my husband, there was no one else, such as a motherly figure around to calm me during labour.It had been 22 hours since I had started to experience contractions but was still not ready to deliver. Moreover, I felt very weak from such a prolonged labour.

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At this point in time, the doctors determined that I should consider taking the epidural. The very thought of having to endure that big needle on my spine in addition to the terrible labour pain I was already undergoing was highly distressing. I was so tired, upset and fed up by now that in my anger, I yelled at Swami and most sarcastically reminded Him of His Sai Mata promise.

I blamed Him for depriving me of my mother as well. Immediately, at that moment, in the maternity ward of the Montgomery County Hospital, I beheld a clear vision of Swami and my mom standing right beside me, on either side of my bed. Immediately, almost without any effort, our daughter arrived.

The delivery happened so fast that my husband had to rush to get the nurse. Everyone was amazed as only a few moments ago, the gynecologists had determined that the delivery was still a fair bit away and since the labour was not progressing too well, I needed the epidural. My Divine Mother had arrived, along with my own mother in an astral form to reassure me and help me tide over the crisis miraculously.

Over the years, as I struggle to cope with the many challenges as a wife and a mother of two teenagers, I find my solace in the awareness that no matter what, I always have a Mother, an eternal Mother who is ever ready to help me, guide me and comfort me, right here, with me. She transcends the limitations of time, space and mortality.

She is the most compassionate, forgiving and all accepting. She is the coolest Mom in the universe. She is my Sai Mata and I am Her darling daughter! What a privilege and an assurance! I can never be grateful enough for this blessing of Unconditional Divine Love and acceptance. My world makes a lot more sense when I see it as an expression of Sai Mata’s Divine Will and accept life’s challenges, knowing that with Her by my side, I can deal with just about anything.


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Vol 5 Issue 05 - MAY 2007
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