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Posted on : Nov 19, 2011
ORPHANED BY NATURE, ADOPTED BY GOD
The trails and triumphs, adversities and blessings
in the life of Mr. Anant Pandey, a young and energetic Sai devotee
Anant’s life seemed to have changed tremendously after his first, memorable contact with Swami. He began to study hard for his Bachelors of Science course and was supported by Mr. Sachdeva. Immersed in his studies, he could not come to Swami that often. And maybe that was the reason why Baba chose to go to him!
|Anant (second from right) with Swami after a drama by youth from the state of Tamil Nadu, October 2009. He was an active member of the group during his stay in the city of Chennai|
It was the period of the annual examinations in the first week of March when Anant feel sick with typhoid. The fever was intermittent - it would subside in the morning but hit highs of 104 degrees Fahrenheit during the nights. March also happened to be the month for sevadals from Madhya Pradesh to service in Prashanti Nilayam and so he had no Sai brothers to help him. Added to this was a new menace which answered to the name of Suman Malik.
Used to drinking, smoking and bad company, Suman would often tease Anant about Swami and even post teasing and nasty posters on his room's door. One morning when the sick Anant was still lying on his bed, Suman comes to his door and knocks.
Anant (from within): Who is it?
Suman: It is I, Suman. Open your door.
Anant: Please leave me alone. I am not feeling well and have lots to study.
Suman: You just open the door once.
Anant: Last night I had unbearable stomach ache. The doctor has sedated me with an injection. Please leave me alone.
Suman (knocking more): You have to open the door.
And so, Anant, weak from his illness, walks to the door and unlatches it.
Suman: What is this fragrance in your room! It is pervading all the corridors!
Anant: I have no idea. (Switches on the light) Now I too am getting it!
|Anant (second from left) performing in a drama in the divine presence.
“As soon as the light came on, we saw vibhuti everywhere. It was there literally on everything in the room; it was all over me too - even inside my inner clothes! The drawers, bed, chair, table, mirror, floor and walls had been covered with this perfumed ash.
“Suman was transfixed just like me; he stood there with his mouth wide open. Both of us were equally dumbstruck. For once the two of us were reacting to Swami in the same way! That was the day that brought about my recovery no doubt, but it also seemed to have cured Suman of all his vices. He even began to attend service activities and yagnam with me. He then went to Puttaparthi on his own and after that visit spent his time telling everyone about God who had come down in human form!”
First the Omnipresent Care, Then the Personal Touch
The Lord’s Grace is what makes an instrument. There is nothing special about being an instrument if we are not grateful for the chance and opportunity that has been given. Though he recovered from his illness, Anant never reached the pink of his health. In August 2002, when he was doing duty as a Sevadal volunteer in front of Swami’s residence, he was blessed with a lovely experience.
One day, Swami came out for darshan and looked deep into his eyes as He passed him.
“At that time, I felt as if a white light was entering my eyes through His. I immediately sat down at that spot even as Swami continued His darshan. One of Swami’s staff members came to me and said that I must treasure the experience that I had just received!”
He gained in strength after that and the ultimate experience came the week later, on August 16, when Swami came to him, gave him an apple and asked, “How are you feeling now?” And that apple has kept the doctor away from Anant ever since!
It was during this time that Anant came to know about Sri Sathya Sai Grama Seva programmes and wished that it be replicated by the youth in every state. He wrote his first letter to Swami with that same prayer. Swami accepted it. A year later, Anant was posted as a volunteer at the gates of the senior boys hostel. He met Mr. Srinivas Srirangarajan (a teacher in Swami’s University then and now the Controller of Examinations), who affectionately made him his younger brother.
|Swami interacting with youth from Chennai, October 2009. Anant (bespectacled)
was an active member of the group while studying in that city
“It was Swami’s grace and will that I met him. Everyone comes into our life with a purpose and nothing happens by chance. He heard my story and told me that from that point on, I should address him as bhaiya (elder brother). He shared all his experiences with Swami and I should say that I am so lucky to have a brother like him. He urged me to complete my studies and it was his love and guidance that spurred me to complete my Bachelors in Sciences course.”
Anant had a great desire to study in Baba’s University but that was being thwarted by his repeated failures in Chemistry in his final year of his graduation course. All the while he was encouraged and assisted in every way possible by his God-given elder brother. In the summer of 2006, Anant received another message from Swami.
“I had spent the summer with Baba in Whitefield. When He was moving to Puttaparthi, a brother who worked as a volunteer along with me invited me to journey to Puttaparthi in his car. We had a special blessing as Swami made a halt at Bagepalli (about 60 kms from Puttaparthi). There were no students and usual VIPs, so we had the opportunity of very close darshan. The brother who had invited me to his car, got the chance to speak to Him. “Swami, please give me a seat in the Music college,” he prayed and Swami nodded affirmatively. I thought of asking for a seat in MBA after completing my agonising B Sc. Even as the letters M and B spilt out of my mouth, Swami cut me off and said 'Wait'. I knew that I would not make it that year too!”
Pursuing a Masters Degree in Satistics, in Chennai
Anant failed again in Chemistry and it was only in 2008 that he finally managed to become a graduate. Again, a string of ‘coincidences’ worked in his favour and he was admitted for Masters in Sciences (Statistics) in the Loyola College in Chennai. Here he got actively involved with the youth wing of the city and led his life, the way he would have done in a Sri Sathya Sai Hostel. In fact he started a campaign in the college. More than 80% of the students were Hindus who were hurt with beef being served in the canteen. Anant carried out a forceful operation against this. Many students joined him in this peaceful agitation and the administration of the Loyola college did succumb under the pressure.
|The Loyola College in Chennai is a well established autonomous college
that was setup way back in 1925
Another initiative that Anant launched was to start the practise of universal prayer sessions in the college where students of all religions and affiliations could gather and pray or discuss about spirituality. These congregations started their meetings with chanting omkarams 21 times followed by devotional songs for a few minutes and the rest of the hour was spent in discussing spiritual matters. In fact on the first day of this endeavour, the Vice Principal of the college said, “The moment the chanting of Om begins I feel I am in a different world.”
Anant always stood out in his campus for his value system as he diligently tried to live by Swami's teachings. Slowly he was respected and appreciated by all. In fact on the final day of his college, the head of his department called him and said, “I am proud of you.”
After his M. Sc. Anant spent a couple of months in Prasanthi Nilayam. Those were the saddest moments of his life as he witnessed the Maha Samadhi of Bhagawan Baba. Shortly after this he moved to Delhi. This is how that happened:
“One day while I was in Puttaparthi I received a call from Bihar. It was about a lady suffering from aplastic anaemia, a disease as deadly as blood cancer. She could be treated only in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi (AIIMS). So I took her to Delhi and once there I had a couple of meetings with the State President and the Youth Coordinator of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation, Delhi to raise about 20 lakhs as that was the amount needed to cure her. Fortunately even as we were busy organising this resource, the condition of the lady improved and the doctor said he could now treat her with just 5 lakhs. That was a huge relief! It was all Baba's grace.”
Joining the Anti-Corruption Movement
It was during this time when he was in Delhi that he heard about Anna Hazare and his fight to end corruption in India.
|Anna Hazare (center), and Arvind Kejriwal (right) at a press meet|
“I was a strong patriot right from my childhood; if it comes to that I would not think twice even in giving myself up completely for the sake of my country. So when I heard about Anna Hazare's movement I wrote to Arvind Kejriwal who works closely with Anna. He replied and soon we met; we started working together in planning the mass satyagraha that was scheduled for August 15. When I was engaged in this, I had the opportunity to meet Anna Hazare.
“In fact I got to see him after I was released from jail... I was arrested along with many others who were supporting Anna. We were placed in a connecting jail to the Central Jail in Delhi. I do not remember the name of the jail for everyone called it as ‘Anna jail’! We were 12,000 of us in that jail for about 4 days.”
12,000 people! Was that a terrible experience?
“No! It was so wonderful. Everyone was there - students from IIT, IIM, AIIMS, teachers, workers, farmers, salaried people - you name them. And we have so much fraternity among us. We were not given any proper food. Thousands of people in the neighborhood would pack pooris and chapatis into packets and throw them over the wall into our courtyard. I had never eaten that well in all my life (laughs)!”
After they were out of the prison he met Anna. In that meeting when he mentioned that he is from Puttaparthi, Anna listened to him with great respect and then said, “Bhagawan is the embodiment of Dharma. I am only an instrument of Dharma (righteousness). In fact in the recent months so many people have ridiculed and made false allegations against Baba, but He said nothing. We should inculcate that power of forbearance and have such strong personal values in life.”
Anant was very happy to have met Anna and learn about his views about Baba. But he longed to return to Puttaparthi and that is what he did as for Him the source of all dharma, the powerhouse of all dharma is Bhagawan Baba. And now all he wants to do in his life is to be a living example of His message and be an instrument in His hands.
“Every morning we need to thank Swami for the new day he has given to us and pray that He helps us so that we may 'love all and serve all'; this five-lettered mantra is so powerful.”
Young in health and spirit, Anant now is raring to be a sterling messenger of Sai. And his life is a testimony to the fact that God holds the hands of those who hold on to truth and righteousness.
An Himalayan Revelation
We conclude this story with a thrilling experience set in the chilling Himalayas. During one of his vacations while he was studying in Chennai, in early 2009, Anant made a trip to the mystical Himalayas. He went to the snowy peaks in search of the elusive Nara Narayana Gufa Ashram. [For those not familiar, Baba had blessed a group of saints to go to Himalayas and meditate in this cave for world peace. He had also given them an Akshya Patra that could produce food according to their needs everyday.]
He was all alone. He had no clue where those saints were. However as he climbed higher, breathing became difficult. His face was now swollen. His fingers started becoming numb. Worse, blood started dripping from his nose.
His body could no longer take the harsh, chill and oxygen-starved environment. His vision was now blurred... and then it went blank! He just collapsed on that icy slope.
The next moment, a saint appeared on the scene. He carefully lifted and carried him on his arms. He then took him to his cave. And started nursing him; he massaged his limbs with oil.
|The book that narrates the experiences of the devotees, Baba sent to the Nara Narayan Gufa Ashram to do
penance for world peace
After a while, Anant slowly regained consciousness.
The good samaritan saint then offered him two big tumblers of hot milk. And finally when Anant opened his eyes he saw that in a corner of that small cave was a tiny lamp burning steadily and next to it was a small photo of, none other than, our beloved Swami.
"Where do you come from?" the saint asked.
“Sir! I am coming from Puttaparthi!”
"Oh... from Puttaparthi!" The saint laughed aloud. "So, why are you here?" He was amused and curious.
"I want to go to Nara Narayana Gufa ashram?" the young man replied.
"Oh... even I have not gone there! It is very difficult!"
The saint hailed from Punjab and had been living in that cave for 80 years! But he looked like one in his thirties! He then continued,
"Take my advise. Go back. It is nearly impossible to go there..."
Anant was not fully convinced and as the conversation continued, the saint suddenly asked, "Who do you think is Sai Baba?"
"He is Kaliyuga Avatar! He is God! I believe in Him!" Anant replied.
"Who says that? He is not Kaliyuga Avatar!" The saint shot back with equal zeal.
Anant was taken aback. He insisted: "For me, He is God! I have enjoyed His darshan and love at Puttaparthi."
"He is not Kaliyuga Avatar," the saint reiterated and then continued in a tone resonating deep-rooted conviction, "He is beyond that!... Arrey, if He wants He can create any number of Kaliyug Avatars! He can create a Rama, a Krishna... whatever He wants! Whenever He wants! ...you just go back to Puttaparthi!"
With that statement, the saint escorted Anant to the Badrinath shrine and left him there with directions to return to Puttaparthi.
And that is where we shall leave all of you readers too! To mull over the grandeur and glory that we have been lucky to witness and be a part of. We continue to be part of that grandeur and glory for as Ananth says in his parting statement, “Today, I realize that whatever has happened, is happening or will happen in my life is the best for me because my Lord, my Sai is in charge!”
- Radio Sai team