Volume 12 - Issue 09
Sept 2014
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Posted on: Sept 29, 2014

A Deep AND Divine Devi Connection

Part 01

 


Mrs. Madhuri Naganand and Mr. S.S. Naganand are a couple whose life story is deeply connected to His Divine Worship Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It's a journey that must be recorded for posterity.

Mrs. Madhuri Naganand is a trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Eswaramma Women’s Welfare Trust, while Mr. S.S. Naganand is a trustee of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, the apex body that runs Prasanthi Nilayam and the Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation.

Professionally, Mr. Naganand is an eminent lawyer and a qualified chartered accountant, coming from a distinguished academic background. He earned gold medals both in his Law degree and Chartered Accountancy. Currently, he is a senior partner in a law firm with an international clientele. He also practices as a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India.

Following are select excerpts of Mr. and Mrs. Naganand's conversation with Radio Sai's Karuna Munshi.


Karuna Munshi (KM): Sai Ram Mr. and Mrs. Naganand. Between the two of you who came to Bhagawan first and how?

Mrs. Madhuri Naganand (MN): My journey started with Shirdi Sai since my childhood years in Mumbai. I grew up in the aura of Shirdi Sai.

It was in 1976 that I first received Sri Sathya Sai Baba's darshan in Whitefield, Bangalore.

At the time that our marriage was fixed, we faced some opposition as we didn’t belong to the same community. He blessed our marriage with an interview and blessings. That’s when I had the opportunity to see Him and talk to Him.

mr naganand & mrs madhuri naganand with sathya sai baba
During a visit to their home in Bangalore, 2 Jun 2000

 

My soon to be father-in-law was a part of the Sri Sathya Sai Trust of Karnataka State and spoke to Swami about his son’s alliance.

Swami said to wait until his education was completed – which took the next five years! Shortly after he finished his exam, he (Mr. Naganand) went to see Swami. The first thing Baba asked was, “So when are you getting married? Have you spoken to your father?” He was a little reluctant to respond to that question and didn’t react. Noticing this, Swami said, “So this is the time you should speak to him. In fact, I’ll talk to him.”

KM: Swami was helping you two to get together?

MN: It was interesting that He made us wait for five years, but after that particular conversation, He made sure that within 15 days, we were in Bangalore and the marriage solemnized!

KM: Let’s go back in time to your introduction to Swami. Could you recall that first moment when you came to know about Him?

MN: This was in Mumbai. We were taking a walk one evening and heard the sounds of bhajans from a hall nearby. My family and I were drawn towards the music and went into the hall. The Sarva Dharma prayer was being sung and there we saw a huge picture of Swami. Of course, I had not seen Him or His pictures ever before. But in that moment, I had an instant feeling that yes, this is the God I want to see, I want to be with. I had no doubt that the two were the same.

KM: Mr. Naganand Sir, how did you get into Bhagawan’s fold?

Mr. Naganand (SSN): Taking off from what my wife just said, I would think that our meeting was perhaps ordained by Shirdi Sai I had not been to Shirdi until the year that we met.

I had a Gujarati friend who I had known since my school days in Bangalore. All his family members were devotees of Shirdi Sai. That particular year, a group of friends decided to make use of the Navaratri holidays to visit Mumbai, Pune and Shirdi. We then came to Mahabaleshwar where her family owned a property. We just happened to meet them there. It was as if Swami wanted me to go to Shirdi, take His blessings and then go and meet my (future) life partner.

MN: And, it was a Thursday too.

mr naganand & mrs madhuri naganand with sathya sai baba
Swami blesses the couple with an interview at Brindavan on the eve of their visit to China, 8 May 1998. On the occasion Swami materialised two chains - one with a Shiva pendent for Mrs. Madhuri Naganand, and one with a Shakti pendant for Mr. Naganand

SSN: Yes, we met on a Thursday

Ever since that first meeting, our relationship blossomed. And, now with Swami’s grace, we have completed 36 years of fulfilling relationship. I would like to go back in time to talk about my father Mr. S.G. Sundaraswamy who was a leading lawyer in Bangalore and the advocate general. He was a very pious man. In fact, our whole family has been blessed by the proximity that we have had to God in various forms. My late grandfather, Mr. Ganesh Rao, was also a leading lawyer. He used to live in Bangalore and had intimate connections with a number of saints from the Ramakrishna Mission. He also built a temple very close to Bangalore for our family deity.

So, from a very young age we grew up in a spiritual ambiance with prayer and worship every day at home. It was a norm to visit monks or pious people.

Against that background, it was sometime in the 1960’s that I had my first darshan of Bhagawan Baba at a small function held in old Bangalore. I must have been about nine years old then. I can recall Swami wearing a garland and seated on the stage.

My parents happened to be close friends of late Dr. R.S. Padmanabhan and his wife Mrs. Kamala Padmanabhan who were ardent Sai devotees.

Later in the early 70’s, when the Sathya Sai University was being set up in Bangalore, my father used to be consulted by the Trust on legal issues. During this time, the relationship between my father and Bhagawan Baba grew strong. Unfortunately, I lost my mother in 1975 and since then Baba has been like everything to us. In 1976, Baba visited our house.

We were not married then. Coincidentally, it was around the same time that she had a darshan of Baba too. During that visit to our home, Baba spent the entire evening with us. Twenty four years later, in 2000, Baba recounted that visit so beautifully on the 2nd of June, 2000, when He visited the house where I presently live. In our altar, we have a beautiful picture of Baba taken during His visit to our home in 1976. The picture shows Him seated on a sofa in animated conversation. His hand is placed across His heart. When Baba visited our home in 2000, the first thing He did was to enter the pooja room. He looked at all the pictures in the room and then looked at His own picture.

I was standing next to Him then and said, “Baba that was taken the last time you visited our home.” He said, “Not this one, the other house, your father’s house.” Swami immediately recalled every little detail about that evening, how He had dinner in the first floor of the house with all the guests seated around Him.

mr naganand & mrs madhuri naganand with sathya sai baba
During a visit to their home in Bangalore, 2 Jun 2000

Two years after this visit, I was doing my chartered accountancy and had finished my intermediate exam. Our entire family came to Puttaparthi for Baba’s birthday on 23 November, 1978. Swami was then in residence in Poorna Chandra. The place was teaming with people. But the minute Swami saw our family, He asked us all to come into Poorna Chandra and blessed us with saris and sweets. He also blessed me with a ring saying, “You are a vidya-arthi, don’t become a vishaya-arthi.” In other words, He was telling me to pursue my education and not be distracted by worldly pleasures.

At that time, however, He didn’t know anything about my association with my future wife.

KM: You now had a fine line to walk.

SSN: Absolutely clear cut direction. The outcome is what led me to achieve three professional degrees before I completed 22 years of age - LL.B, Chartered Accountancy in first attempt, and Company Secretary. It was Swami’s guidance alone that helped me achieve all of this.

People who have had an association with Swami know how brief, how precise and how profound Swami’s guidance, advice and blessings have always been.

KM: Mrs Naganand, what memories do you have of your first meeting with Swami - when He gave you the approval for your wedding?

MN: It was in Brindavan that we first met Him. There was no Trayee then, just a single storey pink bungalow

SSN: And there was a big tree in front of that bungalow where the Sai Ramesh Hall is now built.

With the Krishna statue under it and a small shed.

  sathya sai baba at sairam shed, brindavan, bangalore

Swami invited us over and He was profuse in His blessings. He gave her a sari and produced a mangalsutra and blessed us for a happy married life.

MN: He materialized a ring, placed it in my hand. He held my hand as I put the ring on his finger. Swami then said, “You wear this sari on the day of your wedding.”

KM: Swami came so early into your life. As a Sai couple from even before you got married, how did the Baba factor impact your priorities in life?

SSN: Swami is always around us, regardless of His physical presence. In the initial years, I was busy with studies and then my career. We didn’t have too many occasions to come very close to Swami, for His darshan. Invariably, Bhagawan would come to Bangalore on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. Whenever my father would get a call about Bhagawan’s arrival, he would very quietly inform us at the dining table that he had heard Baba was in town and he was planning to go for darshan. That’s all he would say, he would never tell us to join him. But the minute my wife would hear him say so, she would immediately say, “I am coming with you.” Occasionally, I would also accompany them but she never missed a single opportunity. Back then, only Trust members were allowed to enter the house where Baba stayed. So, we would wait outside while my father went in as a member of the Karnataka State Trust.

He would then take Baba’s permission for us to join him. Baba would always very affectionately say, “Yes, yes bring them in, please bring them in.” We would always be invited inside and get the opportunity to participate in the satsang and darshan.

During those early days, I remember how Swami was always very inclusive, He would talk to you about your family, He would joke about the children. There was a time, for nearly five or six years, each time I visited Puttaparthi, Swami would call us in for an interview – in fact we would be the first to be called. It was such a given norm that people in the veranda would even say, ‘oh this guy has come, now there is no chance for us’. After inquiring about our family, He would generally talk about life and how we should conduct ourselves.

KM: In what language did He speak to you? I ask this because you both come from different linguistic backgrounds.

SSN: Most of the time He would speak in Kannada with me.

MN:He spoke to me in English or Hindi, although language was never a barrier. In fact, once I remember in the Sai Kulwant Hall, we were sitting for darshan when Swami came and said something. Although I didn’t understand, I said something in reply. After He went, I asked the seva dal sitting next to me whether He spoke in Telugu. She said 'no'. Then she asked me if he spoke in Kannada. I said no. And then I said, “I don’t know which language He spoke but I understood whatever He said, I know that.” Swami speaks the language of the heart.

By the time our first daughter was born, I was in poor health and Swami asked my father-in-law to bring the baby and the mother. When I saw Swami, I just put my 15 day old baby on His robe and said, “It’s Your baby, You take care!” I did that because I was so unwell and not sure whether I would ever recover.

SSN: Swami was always there for us at every juncture. He was never inaccessible. I remember after we lost my father in 1996, Swami appointed my elder brother as a member of the State Trust. I was not given any role in the Trust. And, during those days an area was designated where only State Trust members could sit during darshan.

If Swami felt like talking to somebody, He would call that person in for an interview. So, every time I went for darshan I had to depend on my brother. And the times when I would go on my own, I felt hesitant to sit in the place reserved for the Trustees. During one of the darshans, I avoided the Trustee section and sat right at the end of the line. Somehow, my father’s friend from old Bangalore, Mr. Padmanabhan spotted me and asked me to get up. He held my hand and took me right in front and made me sit where the Trustees sat. He said, “If anybody asks you, tell him that Padmanabhan has asked you sit here.”

More interestingly, he also said, “I’m not asking you to sit here because I want you to sit here, it is because Swami wants you to sit here. Swami loves to see you and wants you to see Him and when Swami comes for darshan, it gives Him immense satisfaction to see people who love Him and want to be close to Him. So this is your chair and this is your seat.” Since then, I always sat there. Of course, it took several years for us to understand why Swami didn’t give me that position on the State Trust. Swami had vastly different plans for me.

I remember the first time I was consulted was when the Unity Cup cricket match was held here. There

was a large trophy that was made for it and there was some legal issues relating to where the trophy came from and what should happen to it. One day, Mr. C. Srinivas suddenly walked into my house in the morning much to my surprise. He had been sent by Swami to sort out some legal hassles. Following that instance, when the Bangalore hospital was being planned in 2001, Swami spent considerable time in Bangalore and would call me quite often to discuss issues. Until, one day, He called both of us into the interview room and said, “I want you to be a Trustee on the Medical Trust.” Sri Indulal Shah and Sri C Srinivasan were also Trustees then.

KM: How did you feel when Swami said that?

 

SSN: I was pretty young at the time and said, “I really don’t think I have any capacity to be on the Trust. There are so many elders and others more experienced, I’m not a doctor. Swami you have to leave me out of this.” Swami disarmingly and charmingly replied, “Why do you worry Bangaru, you just be there, I’m going to do everything.” I had no choice but to say, ‘Okay Swami, if this is your command, it shall be obeyed.” And my association with Swami got closer and closer.

KM: Mrs Naganand, if I may say so - your husband represents the head and you represent the heart. Conversing with you, I realized that you have had a lot of mystical experiences with Swami. Tell us about some of those incredible experiences and visions you have had.

MN: I could share this incident when I was shopping in Mumbai. The lady at the counter probably saw Swami’s photo in my wallet as I was settling the bill and we got into a conversation about Swami. Then, as she was preparing my bill, I caught hold of her hand and said, “Don’t move.” She raised her head and asked me what had happened. She was wearing a tiny ring and I kept looking into it. She again asked me why I was holding her hand. I said, “I’m seeing Swami in your ring, don’t move.”

Right there in her ring in the store, I saw the image of Swami entering the Sai Kulwant Hall, Swami talking to people, materializing vibhuti, taking the letters. All this went on for a while until the vision faded. I saw it all. This lady then shared that she has had lot of ups and downs with her health and in her family but from the time she wore the ring, everything had changed in her life. She was surprised that I could see Swami in her ring that was not even given by Swami.

Another time, my daughter Sumana and I we were sitting in the balcony one evening having a cup of tea when I just looked up at the sky and saw a huge form of Swami. Normally in the movies, they show you this massive Vishwaroopa darshan that is incredibly large. But it wasn’t the movies. That evening, I actually saw a huge vision up there. I immediately told Sumana to look up. She did and caught hold of my hand and said, “Yes mummy.” I asked her what she saw. She said, “Swami.” I asked, “And is He walking in the Kulwant Hall?” She said, “Yes.” “Is He talking?” It was like both of us could see everything that He would normally do. Both of us kept having the same vision.

And, I kept checking with her as I wanted to be sure that we were seeing and experiencing the same thing.

Another time, in the Sai Kulwant Hall there is a granite pillar near Swami’s old house.

One morning when I was waiting with my elder daughter Kamala for Swami’s darshan, I suddenly saw Swami sitting on the swing and swinging on this pillar. I even asked Him, “Swami, we are waiting for You, what are You doing in the pillar swinging?” I asked my daughter to look at the pillar and tell me what she saw. She was also stunned and said, “Ma, He is sitting and swinging.”





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