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From Disaster to Divine Deliverance
 
The Stirring Story of Senthil

More than four decades ago, in a landmark discourse on March 3, 1965, Bhagavan had said, "Many hesitate to believe that things will improve, that life for all will be happy and full of joy, that the Golden Age will ever recur. Let me assure you that this Dharmaswaruupa (Righteousness personified) has not come in vain. It will succeed in averting the crisis that has come upon Humanity."

This was undoubtedly a powerful declaration then, and we have now seen such a day in reality; we had a 'preview' of what the 'Golden age' would be like when we met with Mr. Senthil Kumar, in the remote village of Sulur, near the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, India. For, in that small one-bedroom house of Mr. Senthil Kumar, we experienced the love and warmth that was nothing short of Divine. We were treated as angels who had been sent by Bhagavan Baba Himself, for that was how much indebted Senthil felt to Baba.

But behind the now happy faces in that house, was a life that was once riddled with poverty, challenges and sickness. A life that in spite of its many downturns and struggles, is a living testimony to the far reaching impact of Bhagavan Baba's expansive and selfless love.

The Sorry Plight of Senthil

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A deformity in the forarm bones left Senthil's son unable to move his wrist

Over 15 years ago, when Senthil was happily marrying the girl he had decided to have as his soul mate, little could he have imagined of the crisis that would befall him soon. Though he had been aware of a mild heart condition that his wife to-be was suffering from, he was certainly not prepared for what fate had in store for him. Their first son, Bala Prakash (now aged 11) was born with a deformity in the bones of his left forehand (which are called the radius and the ulna).

Due to his condition, the boy could not move his left wrist. For a family that eked out an existence on daily wages, this came as rude shock. ‘How would Bala Prakash earn his living?’ was the constant concern that clouded this young father's heart. "Disability is a curse, but it becomes worse when you are poor," confessed Senthil. A few years later, even after the couple was blessed with another son, a healthy baby this time around, the worry about their elder son's physical condition never seemed to abate. Was there anything at all that could be done to help Bala Prakash?

Senthil soon started making regular rounds of the general hospital in the city of Coimbatore, only to be told each time that they could not help his son. Ironically, the ones that could, which were the plush private hospitals that were mushrooming in almost every street of the city, demanded a whopping Rs. 4-6 lakh (about 9,000-13,000 USD) for performing the wrist surgery. For a daily wage worker, who earned just about Rs. 150 a day (less than 4 USD) this was by all means beyond reach.

"I felt helpless. I just could not see my son suffer, but then the money required was so high; there was nothing that I could do." But problems gripped him further when his wife's heart condition became grave and doctors in the general hospital insisted on an operation. All of a sudden, Senthil's well-knit life was tumbling in front of his eyes, and all he could do was be a mute spectator. He was living the worst nightmare of a father and a husband.

Senthil's narration of the course of events, interspersed with gasps, watery eyes and deep silences, was so heartfelt and touching, that we could not help from reliving those miserable moments with him ourselves. Some people go through so many struggles in life, while others have it easy. Why? Was it God's will that Senthil and his family suffer like that?

Ray of Hope

More often than not, we fail to see God's presence in our lives, while we are suffering, but after the turbulent times pass, the footprints of God are found everywhere. By now, Senthil had started giving us smiles; his beaming face now assured us that he had found God's footprints even in those dark days of his life.

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Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS), Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi

So, at the time when Senthil had almost given up, hope came to him in the form of some comforting words from a fellow villager. That kind-hearted person, who knew of Bhagavan's Hospitals, asked Senthil to try his luck at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi, which treated all its patients for free. Without a second thought, Senthil rushed to Puttaparthi along with his wife.

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Inside of atrium - SSSIHMS, Prasanthi Nilayam

But what he told us next was something we were not prepared for. The doctors in the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital, after examining his wife, assured him that she would be alright if she regularly took the medicines they would prescribe! Period. No operation needed.

Seeing our bewildered expressions, Senthil confessed, "I was also surprised. I had been mentally preparing myself for getting my wife operated, and in an instant, these doctors had made my life simpler!"  The smile on his face had by now become a fixture; it refused to leave. He further added, "While that ended my immediate worry, I was still concerned about my son, Bala Prakash."

In God's corridor, no prayer goes unanswered. And so, when Senthil was walking out of the Hospital, his eyes caught a board, which read 'Orthopaedics'. He immediately decided to get Bala Prakash to the Hospital. "There was something about the Hospital and its people; the whole aura about the place was so captivating, that I knew my son would be alright if I took him there", shared Senthil. The diligent father that he was, without even taking a day's break, took Bala Prakash to Puttaparthi. After an initial examination, Bala Prakash's operation was fixed for the next day. "Initially I was worried. But somewhere deep inside my heart I knew my son was in safe hands", expressed Senthil. Needless to say, the operation was a success and restored the young boy's wrist movement.

By now, Senthil's smiles had metamorphosed into tears; tears which were not that of misery but of the immense joy that comes only when you are overwhelmed by a higher force. We knew Senthil had been 'touched', but so were we by his simplicity and innocence. "I had always believed in God, but that was a God whom I had never seen. But after this incident, I now believe in a God whom I have not only seen but also experienced,” said the happy father. In a simple sentence, he had struck the right notes that perhaps would sum up even our love for God.

"I want to be a teacher"- Bala Prakash

We wanted to know what Bala Prakash felt about this whole experience. All this while, throughout Senthil's narration of his life's roller coaster ride, two pairs of keen eyes, that of Bala Prakash and his younger brother, held on to every word and reaction of ours. And so, when we asked him about how he felt about his now restored wrist action, all he had to say was, "I am very happy".

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Senthil with his happy sons; Bala Prakash is on the left
 

But something made him volunteer more information than that. He followed it with, "I love to play cricket".  Now, cricket was something he could not have played before, but after the operation, it was obvious he was enjoying playing his favourite sport. But when we asked him if he wanted to become a cricketer, pat came the reply, "I want to be a teacher". When we asked him why, all he did was gift us another one of his mystical smiles.

Life Finds a New Meaning

We now turned our attention back to the father. When we quizzed him on what this entire experience had taught him, Senthil replied, with a voice full of conviction: "Giving life to people is true service. After having experienced this gift of life, I have come to realise that all are our brothers and sisters. We should always see good, do good and be good." We were stunned at his reply, for is that not what Bhagavan Baba has been reiterating for decades now! He said, "If I have 2 Rs. in hand and meet a beggar on the way, I give that to him and walk back instead of taking the bus home".

Now, it was difficult for us to contain our tears. Imagine a daily wage labourer with a wife and two young children saying this! But what came next stunned us further. "I have a white pant and shirt ready with me. Whenever you call me for any service activity, I will come there immediately," added Senthil jubilantly. Indeed, the Golden Age is not far off.

- Heart2Heart Team
and TN Sai Organisation

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Vol 6 Issue 10 - OCTOBER 2008
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