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  Volume 4 - Issue 08 AUGUST 2006
 
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HE IS THE TOTALITY, ALL OF IT

By Dr. Sara Pavan



On our very first visit to Puttaparthy in December 1980 I had brought along my first video camera. It was a hefty two piece Panasonic VHS Video Camera and Cassette Recorder. With a 10 kg recorder hanging on my left shoulder and a 7 kg camera resting on my right shoulder, I started capturing my first video of the Lord of the Universe as He glided majestically on the golden sand of the haloed darshan grounds of Prasanthi Nilayam. Cameras were allowed those days and the merciful Bhagavan gave me the strength to carry such a load on my shoulders and keep the tape rolling. Thereafter the compassionate Lord enabled me to place the burden of the camera upon a tripod planted at a vantage spot inside the compound with the recorder on the ground. The sevadals were very helpful and I videoed all the darshans during the five days of our brief visit to the Abode of Peace.

On our way back to Australia we visited Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore and had the opportunity to show my raw footage of Sai Darshan there, as well as in Australia. Several hundreds of devotees were thrilled to see such a video for the first time. It was not until a month prior to my second visit to Prasanthi Nilayam in October 1981 that I got down to editing, which included adding some music, titles and some occasional commentary.

It was real hard work due to my limited experience and meagre resources. My experience was limited to making personal home movies with Super 8 movie cameras and splicing the developed Kodak film reels. There was no music during darshan those days. But for the occasional chirping of a bird there was pin-drop silence during darshan, and one could even hear one's own breath! Somehow, I managed to make a master of my “Sai Darshan” video, which I hoped would be blessed by Swami.

 

I also made four copies hoping to give a copy to Swami and the rest to Sri. Balasingam, an uncle of mine in Colombo, who was then a member of the world council, Dr. Pillay from Singapore and Mr. Jegadesan from Malaysia, all of whom were of great help to a totally fledgling devotee like me. En route to Bangalore I stopped over in Colombo and gave Mr. Balasingam his copy. When I landed at Madras airport I had a rough time with the customs who took a full inventory of all the items I had brought with me, even the four video cassettes – a master and three copies, all of which were entered on my passport for export when I left India! I requested the officer to change the number of cassettes to three and explained to him that I was hoping to give a copy to Sai Baba. He gave an amused look at me and obliged me.

I left behind one bag in a hotel in Madras with two copies of my video that were intended for Malaysia and Singapore along with clothing and other items I didn’t need in the ashram. With less baggage I proceeded to Bangalore taking with me the master copy of ‘Sai Darshan’ and one copy of the video intended for Swami. At Bangalore airport the secretary to the Governor of Karnataka with his aides received me on the tarmac and drove me to his residence within the Rashtrapati Bhavan compound. This gentleman happened to visit our home in Sydney for a bhajan a couple of months earlier and was keen to host me in Bangalore. I got carried away by the red-carpet treatment in Bangalore, given the rough time I had at Madras airport just the previous day. So foolishly I gave away to the governor’s secretary the copy of ‘Sai Darshan’ that was meant for Swami. My mind had tricked me into an assumption that Puttaparthy was far behind the rest of the world with modern amenities and presumed that there might not even be a VCR or TV in the ashram!

 

The Master Ignores the Master Tape

Days went by in Prasanthi Nilayam and Swami continued ignoring me. I prayed to Him to bless my master copy of ‘Sai Darshan’ and take the bundle of letters as well as a small gift I had brought for Him. An adhesive blank strip of paper was stuck on the master copy for Swami’s blessing and autograph. I kept offering the cassette to Swami every time at darshan with a pen in hand. All this was of no avail. Swami was completely ignoring me. At the end of a week I was distraught and an old time photographer of Swami tried to pacify me by telling me that Baba had already blessed the video by the very fact that He had allowed me to take it in the first place. I told him that I wanted Swami to sign on the cassette and that would be proof that He had blessed the master. Bang came the question: “Do you need to prove this to anybody?” and I had no answer.

When I returned to my room what I had told the customs officer at Madras airport flashed into my memory, that I had wanted him to count one cassette less because I wanted to give it to Swami! I realised that Swami might be giving me a hard lesson for me to remember His Omnipresence, and that He Himself was there overhearing my conversation with the customs officer! I decided to make a day-return dash to Bangalore by taxi and get the copy of the video back from my friend at Rashtrapati Bhavan. As I was arranging a taxi I came to know that Swami was leaving for Brindavan the next day and I too decided to leave for Bangalore the following day.

Accidental Miracle

Swami left Prasanthi Nilayam next morning and I left an hour later. I was heading towards Bangalore by taxi. Somewhere around Devanahali our taxi knocked down a little boy who darted across the road with a basket full of peanuts on his head. Just before the impact I screamed 'Sai Ram!' The boy went rolling on the road after the impact and lay unconscious. The monkeys nearby started gathering at the scene and were busy grabbing the scattered peanuts.

I rushed towards the boy and examined him, ran my hands over every part of his body to check if he had any broken bones. A small crowd started gathering around us. Miraculously he did not appear to have any fracture and soon became conscious. Squatting swiftly the boy went about salvaging as much of the scattered peanuts as possible and I joined him to minimise his losses.

Suddenly I saw with the corner of my eye a white car appearing and coming to a stop. As I turned my head I saw Swami in His white Mercedes Benz looking penetratingly at me and the boy. I stood up and offered my namaskar. Before I could approach His car Swami signalled the driver to move on. I was stunned to have this most unusual darshan. Here I am, totally ignored in Prasanthi Nilayam, now experiencing an intimate one-to-one darshan in such an exceptional situation! I stood still gazing at the white car until it disappeared from my sight.

By then the boy had started walking away from the scene with his basket of peanuts. I began to wonder how Swami had made His mysterious appearance at this time despite leaving Prasanthi Nilayam an hour before me! I also was puzzled as to why He left without a word of inquiry. I then realised it was unnecessary for Him to speak with me, as Swami, the Omniscient Lord Himself, had already saved the boy from nasty injury in response to my calling “Sai Ram”, just as Krishna had made His mysterious appearance to protect Draupadai in the court of Kauravas. I am able to re-live this experience a number of times.

 

As soon as I reached Bangalore I got the copy of the video back from my friend, promising him that I would send him another copy later and checked into a hotel. I wrapped the cassette nicely and took it along with the bundle of letters and the small gift in a shoulder bag for darshan the following morning. Confidence so low, I did not even have the slightest desire to get Swami to bless my master tape and all I wanted was for Swami to forgive me and positively indicate to me that He had done so. It happened to be a Thursday and it was my first visit to Brindavan. I was given a seat in the third row, a few feet away in front of Swami’s chair on the right hand side in the shed, commonly known as the ‘Sai Ram Shed,’ under the huge tree. Behind the chair stood a beautiful statue of Muralidara on an elevated platform next to the tree trunk. The atmosphere was vibrant with expectation and all eyes were glued to the archway entrance of Swami’s Brindavan residence.

The Lord Forgives All

No sooner had the bhajan commenced, Swami appeared at the gate and swiftly walked towards the shed, some 75 yards away. He took few letters and gave padanamaskar to a few devotees seated along His passage and slowly moved towards His chair and sat down. For sometime Swami was deeply immersed in the bhajan and showed a multitude of expressions, both on His radiant face and His divine hands.

 

I was literally pleading with Swami to forgive me for all my failings. Choked with emotion I could not join in bhajan singing. With tears welling up I prayed to Swami in silence: “Swami! Please forgive me for my blunder. You have reminded me of your Omnipresence. I have with me the copy for you … please take it from me as an act of your mercy and forgiveness.”

Swami’s gaze fell on me and my tears started rolling down. His gaze locked with mine and Swami gracefully stood up and glided in my direction and stood in front of me still not taking His gaze away from me. I had three items to hand over – the cassette, the letters and the small gift of love. I was still able to get my priorities right. I did not have the confidence to give all three of them in one go. So, I pulled out the cassette from the bag first and stretched my hand over the heads of the couple of rows of men.

Swami stretched His right hand and graciously received the cassette and passed it on to the sevadal accompanying Him, while the men in the front row blissfully clasped His Lotus Feet in timelessness. Still staring at me He stood there and I quickly dug my hand into my bag and pulled out the bundle of letters devotees from our centre had given me. Swami received all the letters and, turning away slowly, He walked back to His chair to take arati to end the bhajan. The small gift I had brought for Swami was still in my bag, but that did not matter because a mountain of mental burden had been offloaded.

After lunch and satsang with Bob Lowenburg at his residence in Whitefield I returned to my hotel in Bangalore. Mr. Lowenburg was a well known Sai devotee from South Africa residing in Whitefield and who had authored a well known book, ‘At the Feet of Sai.’ He was also the chairman of the Whitefield samithi.

I was scheduled to fly to Madras the next day for my return journey to Australia. The thought of leaving Swami triggered deep in me a divine discontent because I had neither spoken with Swami nor touched His Lotus Feet on this visit, let alone having failed to hand Swami the small gift I had brought from Australia. At least, I thought, I could send the gift to Swami by registered post. I directed the taxi driver to take me to a post office in the city. When I handed the parcel over the counter postal staff wouldn’t accept my paper-wrapped parcel for registered post but it had to be wrapped in cloth and sewn. This was totally new to me. However they suggested that I could ask a tailor across the road to make the cloth bag that would fit the packet.

While the cloth bag was being sewn I quickly wrote a letter to Swami for inclusion with the parcel. I expressed my gratitude to Swami for forgiving me by taking the copy of the video, but lamented that I would be returning to Australia without a padanamaskar (sparshan) and conversation (sambhashan). After dispatching the parcel I reached my hotel late afternoon to take rest.

Having unloaded both my physical and mental baggage by then, I decided to revisit Brindavan in the evening, even if Swami didn’t come out, just to sit there peacefully and absorb the divine vibration on the eve of my departure. On the way I saw Mr. & Mrs. Lowenburg walking towards the ashram and I gave them a lift. They told me that Swami generally did not come out in the evening. There were no more than 40 devotees in the Sai Ram shed. I prayed to Bhagavan and meditated for some time.

A Wonderful Last Divine Encounter

Dusk was setting in and many devotees had left leaving just a few of us. Most unexpectedly Swami appeared at the gate and looked in our direction. My heart was pounding away with great excitement, but Swami disappeared behind the Kalyana Mandapam and a few more devotees left the shed. Only a handful stayed behind and prayed.

Ten minutes later Swami emerged from behind the mandapam and again looked in our direction. It was almost dark and yet He suddenly headed towards us and my joy had no bounds. When He was in front of me I told Swami how grateful I was for His love and forgiveness and mentioned to Him that I was leaving for Australia the next morning. As Swami replied, “Happy,” I touched His Lotus Feet.

 

The parcel with my letter was handed over at the Post office in the city only at 3.00 PM that day and was not expected to reach Brindavan before the next couple of days. The Omniscient Lord most compassionately responded to my plea in my letter and came out of His way, so late in the evening, to converse with me and let me take padanamaskar. There is nothing that Swami does not know or anything that He cannot do. He is the TOTALITY, ALL OF IT.

Jai Sai Ram.


Dr. Sara Pavan is an Anaesthesiologist from Australia, serving at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prashanthi Nilayam since 1993.

- Heart2Heart Team


 
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Vol 4 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2006
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