Volume 6 - Issue 12
DECEMBER - 2008
A Perilous Encounter
In 1974, I had gone to Chennai to visit my in-laws. I was with them for about three days. On the morning of my return to Bangalore, I had asked my son to pick me up at 6.00 a.m. as I wanted to leave as early as possible. Having been with his cousins the previous evening, he had stayed up late. However, he did arrive promptly to pick me up. Before leaving, I took my three-year-old grandson, Dhruv, to the shrine to pray before we embarked on the journey as I wanted to inculcate that good habit in him.
Both of us chanted "Tvameva maataa cha pitaa tvameva" (Oh Lord! you are our mother, father…) and did namaskaar. We then got into the car. My grandson, my daughter’s mother-in-law, Rajam, and I were the occupants of the car. My husband was also with us, but on the way, we dropped him off at the airport as he had to catch a flight to Delhi.
It was early morning and the road was clear. We encountered very little traffic. As we neared Kolar, my son fell asleep at the wheel! However, I was engrossed in reading Vishnusahasra Naamam (1008 names of Lord Vishnu) in order to catch up on my reading that I had missed during the past couple of days. Hence, I did not notice him dozing at the wheel. Without warning, I heard a loud noise and realized that the car had crashed into a huge tree.
The door had flown open. There were some heavy steel parts in the boot that my son was carrying for the factory he used to work at. Due to the force of the impact, they broke through the rear seat and hit me on the back. My handbag with Swami's picture and vibhuti had flown out of my hand and was strewn on the road.
Had we not hit the tree, we could have gone off the road into a culvert or even a gorge in which case, the accident would have been fatal! My son realized that he was uninjured except for a bruised toe! He was in a state of shock, disoriented, and confused about what had transpired. He just kept repeating, "What have I done?" My grandson was not injured as well, but was badly shaken and kept asking what happened. It was quite a job consoling him.
However, I was badly hurt. I had a gash on my forehead, a profusely bleeding nose, internal injuries, muscle tear, dislocated teeth, bruises all over the body, and my back too suffered severely from the impact of the heavy steel parts. I couldn't stand straight and was in terrible pain. Rajam had fallen from the front passenger’s seat and was unconscious. My son feared the worst. There were no signs of life...
I recollect that the first thing I had asked my son to do was to retrieve Swami's photo and vibhuti from my handbag. My son got out of the car, collected the purse and contents that were strewn on the road. I applied the vibhuti to my son, grandson, Rajam, and myself. Then as I shook her, all the time praying to Swami for guidance, she regained her consciousness. Thinking about it now, the biggest miracle was that I was completely calm through the entire accident. The car was completely crushed and in spite of all these Swami had protected my son so that he could take care of us. We came to know later that Rajam had sustained multiple fractures of the jaw bone and teeth, but no other injuries.
I prayed to Swami to send someone for help. Soon, we saw a huge truck approaching us. My son was still in shock. However, by Swami's grace I was completely calm and managed to wave the truck down. I requested the driver to drop us at the nearest medical center. The driver agreed, but was concerned that we wouldn't be able to climb the steps to get into the truck. At that moment, an ambassador car arrived. They were pilgrims returning from Tirupathi. The gentleman driving the car stopped and offered help. I requested him to drop us to the nearest medical center. As the car was already occupied, he requested all his passengers to get down, and took us to the nearest medical center.
At this time, I asked my son to call my daughter and sister at Bangalore to inform them of the accident and to ask them to get to the medical center with a couple of cars to transport us back to Bangalore. I also asked them to make arrangements to admit us at a hospital in Bangalore. My son found a phone booth and spoke to them.
In the meantime, we found that the doctor at the medical center was a Sai devotee! He saw the vibhuti on our foreheads and asked if we were Sai devotees too. However, he told us that he will not be able to treat me because the wound needed stitches from a surgeon and he wasn’t equipped to handle it. He could only provide first-aid, but said we could rest at the center until help arrived. He felt sorry that he couldn't do more for us. I told him not to worry and that I can somehow bear the pain.
My son-in-law, daughter, and sister arrived from Bangalore about 3 hours later. My sister's son was a doctor and a house surgeon at St Martha's Hospital at Bangalore. She saw that I had a black eye. She started crying and her first comments were "Didi (sister)! You may become an invalid for life!" I consoled her saying Swami would look after me. We got into the car and headed to the hospital.
My husband had gone to Lucknow from Delhi on a WHO assignment for eradication of smallpox. He was staying at the Ramakrishna Math in Lucknow. Upon hearing the news of the accident, he rushed to Bangalore the very next day. However, after I was admitted to the hospital, I began suffering from severe giddiness and disorientation. It was so bad that I felt the floor was spinning like the ceiling fan! The very next day, the doctor said he cannot treat my giddiness and that an expert from NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences) would be needed.
So, Dr. Mani, who was the director of NIMHANS and a friend of my husband, came to see me. His opinion was that a brain surgery would be needed. Now, I lost my composure and became very scared. I told Dr. Mani that I do not wish to undergo surgery. I asked him to try oral medication first and if that didn't work I would consider it to be Divine will and would submit to the surgery, but not until then. My husband was annoyed that I was resisting expert opinion.
However, he called his brother-in-law, a leading neuro-physician who lived in Chennai, who also happened to be Dr. Mani's professor, for advice. His brother-in-law said, "Follow what she says. Tell Dr. Mani that I said the operation can wait and ask him to put her on medication". So, they put me on simple medication thrice a day, but said that they would only wait for 24 hours before resorting to surgery.
I fervently prayed to Swami to save me from the operation. The next morning, when I awoke the giddiness was gone! When Dr. Mani came, I apprised him of the event. He said, “That's great! No operation is necessary, but you need to continue the medication for one more month.” I happily complied. After three weeks, during which I was treated for other minor injuries, I was discharged.
During this period, everyone including my father-in-law and mother-in-law, who came from Chennai to visit me, were more disturbed about the event than I was. I had to console them! Rajam did not have any injuries other than the jaw fractures and she recovered completely as well.
My grandson however asked me, "Grandma, how come God did not look after you although you prayed?" I told him, “Dhruv, You would not understand! God is kind. That's why He has given me all your pain. I would feel terrible if you were hurt. I can happily bear this pain as you are unhurt!”
For several months after the accident, I suffered from muscle ache. I could not sit in a comfortable posture and meditate. I prayed to Swami. I told Him that I did not mind the pain, but that He should bless me to sit comfortably and meditate.
After this, I had a dream. Swami sat opposite a priest across a homa kunda. Both, the priest and Swami, were pouring offerings into the sacrificial fire chanting mantras.
I wondered why Swami Himself was performing the homa. Swami looked at me and said, "I am performing the Mrithyunjaya Homa (sacrifice to protect one from death) for your sake!" It was clear to me that I would have been killed but for Swami's grace. After six months, I was able to sit in a comfortable posture and meditate.
The lesson here is that Swami's grace is available to everyone. But you have to earn it by living right, by putting into practice Swami’s teachings. Only then can He confer His Kripa (grace) on you. I did not know that I would be in an accident. But by His grace, nobody else was hurt! It would have been a disaster if they had been hurt. Who would look after them? My son was not even married at that time.
His Overwhelming Omnipresence!
During the initial stages, we had doubts about Swami being God Himself. He knew we had our apprehensions as He knows everyone’s innermost thoughts. He told us, “You have doubts. So, you have to test me on my omnipresence. Only then, would you be convinced about what I am. Only God can be omnipresent.”
Here is an incident that proved His omnipresence to us once for all. I was traveling from Calcutta to Delhi by train to assist my sister who was expecting a child. I was alone and I had opted for a ladies’ compartment in the train. Upon getting into the train, I realized that I was the lone occupant of the ladies compartment! That didn’t bother me. But presently the railway guard came by, and upon finding that I was alone, warned me to bolt both doors because some of the regions that the train would pass through, such as Mughalsarai, were dangerous and that dacoits were known to attack ladies’ compartments on trains.
There were two heavy steel doors to the compartment and three latches on each. I managed to bolt all the three latches on the first door, but found to my dismay that the second heavy steel door was out of alignment and was stuck. I kicked, pushed and did everything I could, but the door wouldn’t budge. So there was no question of latching it properly.
Then I remembered Swami’s direction to us to test His omnipresence. I sat in the compartment, closed my eyes, directed the thoughts of my predicament to Swami and started chanting mantras. Moments later, I heard a soft swishing sound in the compartment followed by a heavy thud of the door! I told myself that this must have been Swami responding to my prayer! I walked to the door and lo! The same door that had been out of alignment and stuck moments ago was lodged perfectly in place!
This experience stunned and thrilled me at the same time. I had received ample proof of His omnipresence so far away from His physical presence. I could not sleep the whole night. I poured out my experience to my friend and my sister as soon as I met them on the platform at Delhi!
There have been several every day events when I have felt His omnipresence.
Vibhuti – The Powerful Panacea
I was fortunate to have a cook, Himmat Rao, who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was 40 years old and his wife was in her thirties; they were childless. They had tried all types of medicines, temples, doctors, everything they could possibly think of, without success and were in distress. Himmat Rao requested me for help. Since my husband was a doctor, I managed to get his wife medically examined and found that there was nothing wrong with the couple. He had seen me pray to Swami and knew that He was my guru. But he had never physically seen Baba.
My advice to him was that his wife should drink a glass of water with vibhuti every morning and evening, and for both of them to pray to Swami for a child. I also advised them that no matter how much time this takes, they must not give up faith and must keep praying patiently. After a few months she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy! After this child, they ended up with five more boys at two-year intervals! Obviously, they were overjoyed.
Himmat Rao requested me to take him to Puttaparthi so that he could see Swami. As His grace would have it, my husband had to travel to Chennai in his car and he gave Himmat Rao a ride to Bangalore in his car. At that time I happened to be in Bangalore on some work. I took Himmat Rao to Puttaparthi and he finally had the fortune of the darshan of Baba after experiencing His abundant grace.
Here is another instance of the power of vibhuti. I had a young maid servant in her late twenties. Her husband had disappeared almost a decade ago. He just failed to return one fine day and could not be traced. She was very distressed because of this and sought my help. I advised her to take Swami’s vibhuti in water every day and pray to Swami to bless her with her husband’s return. The maid kept praying for a few months. One day someone knocked at her door and she opened the door to find her long-lost husband! He said he was very sorry that he had abandoned her and had returned for good. Although I had prayed for her as well, I was stunned by this incident! This is one more proof that nothing is impossible for Swami.
Vibhuti is a cure for anything if you take it regularly with faith – not just physical or mental ailments, but really anything. When I was young, I had some problems at which time Baba had advised me to take vibhuti. This had cured me. To this day, I keep a bottle of vibhuti-water as my panacea for every little day-to-day ailment.
I remember another incident when I experienced the power of vibhuti. I had a young neighbor in Chennai who was in her late twenties. She was just an acquaintance at that time. One day she requested me to come to her house. I was surprised as I hardly knew her, but went to her house all the same. She said to me, “I am a Shirdi Baba devotee and I understand that you’re a Sathya Sai Baba devotee. I hear they are the same, could you relate your experiences to me?” I spent an hour with her and related several of my experiences.
A few days later, I was surprised to find her at my door. She said that during her prayer, a voice directed her to talk to me. She also asked, if she could join me during my prayers every evening. I said I would normally not do that because prayer is done in solitude. But since she had been guided to ask, it would be selfish on my part to disagree. From then on, every day, rain or shine, she would show up at my home on time.
She would ask me questions and I would answer them based on the Bhagavad Geeta and Swami’s teachings. I later came to know that she was the wife of the IGP of Chennai who had died of a heart attack a couple of years ago. She had three small children and was very distressed. She could not sleep at night and the doctors had put her on sleeping pills. I advised her to stop taking the pills as it would turn make her an addict. Perhaps this is the reason why Swami, in His compassion, had prompted her to meet me.
I advised her to take vibhuti water every night and pray to Swami to grant her sleep without pills. I asked her to be patient even if it takes weeks or months, but steadfastly desist from taking the sleeping medication. “Be positive and keep chanting your mantra. Say to Swami that if You do not want me to sleep, I would gladly spend that time in chanting Your name!” Within a few months she managed to sleep without pills and she continues to do so to this day. She is over 60-years old now. She calls me every month and still remembers the experience.
You must be positive in your thinking and must have faith. Faith is very powerful. He will help, but you must have faith in Him.
I shall end with a chant:
Aum Mangalam, Omkara Mangalam, Guru Mangalam, Gurupaada Mangalam
Om, the primordial sound, is auspicious. Guru is auspicious; His feet are auspicious.
All the relations and relatives, mother, father and friends
Victory to Lord Rama, Chant His name.
Let there be peace! Let there be peace!
Vol 6 Issue 12 - DECEMBER 2008
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