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THE SWAMI I GREW UP WITH By Mrs.

Geeta Mohan Ram

Mrs. Geeta Ram comes from a family that has been associated with Swami for the last four generations. She is the daughter of Dr. Padmanabhan, an ardent devotee and a familiar figure in Brindavan, Swami's ashram in Bangalore. Her great grandfather, Mr. Seshagiri Rao, came to Swami in 1943 and was the temple priest of Prashanthi Nilayam for many years. Having come to Swami at a very tender age, Mrs. Geeta Ram's life is full of wonderful Sai experiences and amazing anecdotes which are both interesting and illuminating. Currently, she lives in Washington, DC in the USA. This is part one of a transcript of a talk aired on Radio Sai. Unfortunately, we do not know the venue and date of this talk, but we are sure that it was in the USA and from maybe five or six years ago. More parts of this article will follow in the coming issues. The Beginning of Eternal Bhajans Its lovely to be here! Especially after the wonderful bhajans that we just had! With so many people singing with such devotion to Swami, it takes me back in time. Some of you may know the story of how the Akhanda Bhajans held in November every year was started in 1945 by my grandfather. In 1944, bhajans were started in our home by the eight families that first went to Swami from Bangalore. And when they went to Puttaparthi, they used to sing these songs in front of Swami Meera bhajans, Thyagarajas kritis, and other such devotional songs. There were no bhajans per se, and Swami would sit with them, in front of His own Picture and sing too! I remember, as I was growing up - this was in the fifties - Swami would sit with us during bhajans and say: Keep looking at that picture when you sing! So we knew something was going to happen! And as the bhajans were being sung, if it were a Devi bhajan, we would see kumkum (vermillion) appear on the forehead of Swamis Picture!

If it were a Shiva bhajan, we would sometimes see the garland detach itself from the Picture and take the shape of a little snake over the Picture! So, we would be so focused on the bhajan, because we knew something would happen on that Picture! He was teaching us to understand the words and focus on the bhajans. This would happen regularly in those days in Puttaparthi, but when the families returned to Bangalore they would miss Swami so much and all the wonderful experiences from the bhajans. So they decided to hold bhajans on every Thursday for an hour every evening. In the 1940s there was a curfew; they were not allowed to go out because of the war (First World War). But somehow or other, they would very quietly take their flashlights in the dark and go to the bhajans! When this had gone on for almost a year, they all said: You know, we have held these bhajans every Thursday in our homes for almost a whole year! Why dont we have a 24-hour bhajan to culminate these days of bhajans that we started?

My grandfather was privileged to be with Swami and serve Him in those days. So, He asked Swami and replied with these words: Swami is very happy with this idea! He said to call it: The Akhanda Bhajan: 24 hours of Naama Smarana. Do it! And not only that, He wants to come too! So that is how the Akhanda Bhajan started!

And they wrote a letter to my grandfather, who lived in Puttaparthi, asking for Swamis permission for the 24-hour bhajans. My grandfather was privileged to be with Swami and serve Him in those days. So, He asked Swami and replied with these words: Swami is very happy with this idea! He said to call it: The Akhanda Bhajan: 24 hours of Naama Smarana. Do it! And not only that, He wants to come too! So that is how the Akhanda Bhajan started! So Swami came and stayed in my aunts house. And this went on till 1974. He would come even after the Brindavan building was built. Every year, our eight families would conduct the Akhanda bhajans. Even as I grew, I saw that the crowds had grown, but it was still conducted by our eight families. We pooled whatever resources we had and of course we started to rent halls later and Swami would always come and stay. And at that time, the bhajans would go on from Thursday morning till Friday morning. So He would come and stay with us and would arrive on Wednesday sometime during the midday, in time for lunch. And, of course, all the relatives would be at our house, getting the room ready for Swami and making other preparations. Other people would be organising a place outside where the bhajans could be conducted because more than 200 people would be attending. Swamis Love of Play As soon as Swami came He would have lunch and say: Where is the bhajan hall? And He would immediately want to go with us to see the bhajan hall where we were getting ready. He would come and there would be all the youngsters putting up the altar and decorating it. The women would be sitting and tying the flowers to make beautiful garlands for the pictures; others would be sweeping and mopping.

Swami would make comments such as: Oh! Thats very nice; He would ask for His Picture to be moved into place and start helping the youngsters to put it up. He would enquire about the lamp we were lighting. And then, of course, everybody would sort of shoo Him away because you cant really do what you are doing with Him so close! He started with one or two flowers and they all became upset with Him because He pulled the thread and it broke the stems! So all the flowers were getting wasted! Here they are trying to manage this whole Akhanda Bhajans in 200 Rupees - or whatever it was - and Hes pulling all the flowers apart! The ladies told Him Youre wasting all the flowers!

On one occasion, my old aunt, who used to look after Swami when He was a small child, said to Him as if He were a child (but her devotion to Him was immense!): Swami, will you come away and stop bothering these men who are trying to do the altar! Come and sit over here! So He said: Okay, then I will come and sit with you all where you are making the garland. There was a big pile of jasmine flowers in the middle of these women who were tying these garlands with so much devotion! One for Swamis picture, another for Swami - a full length 4 feet one to garland Him after the Aarti - and so on. And Swami told them: Show me how to do thisshow me how to do this! Its quite an art to make those garlands I must say! Its not very easy - those of you who know and He wanted to do it! And they showed Him once or twice and He tried to put the thread around it and the flowers fell off! He kept complaining and the children sat there and we were all laughing because He was saying: You people dont teach me properly! Youre hopeless teachers! Teach me properly! He tried to make one and it fell apart! The ladies told Him: Look! You know what! You are not going to learn it! And my aunt said: In this Avatar, garland is not Your thing! Go away! Go do something else! But Swami did not give up. He started with one or two flowers and they all became upset with Him because He pulled the thread and it broke the stems! So all the flowers were getting wasted! Here they are trying to manage this whole Akhanda Bhajans in 200 Rupees - or whatever it was - and Hes pulling all the flowers apart! The ladies told Him Youre wasting all the flowers! Then my aunt gave Him a little bowl filled with a few flowers telling Swami: You could try with this! And if You cant do it, then You need to stop! So He sat there with a steel bowl of flowers in front of Him. And then, suddenly we would turn around and He was holding the longest, most beautiful garland you could imagine! In a minute, there was a 3 feet garland and He would say: See! I am a quick learner! This was how He would participate with us! He became a part of us! Playful Prankster So this is the Swami I grew up seeing - the Swami that joked with us, played with us. There was very poor lighting in those days, and we children would all eat outside on the sand and sleep there as well - we would just roll out a mat and sleep on the sand whenever we went to Puttaparthi.

The water that we had - to wash the vessels and all that was carried from the well; where you now have the main Gopuram gate. The men would draw the water, and the women would stand in line and pass the water on so that everybody would have enough to wash their dishes. The elders would just mix the rice and the sambhar in one dish and we would all sit in a circle, and each of us was given a little blob in our hand, and you ate it in your hand! That way they wouldnt have so many plates to wash, the only dish that you had to wash at the end of the meal was your own hands!

We would all sit in a circle and this old lady, her name was Savitri Amma, would serve the food. Swami liked to tease her whenever He had the chance. She would sit in the middle and we would all sit around her. It would be very dark and she would sit there with a lantern and feed us! Swami would have had His dinner before us, and sometimes He would come out quietly from behind the buildings and sit amongst us youngsters - we were all very young - and He would cover Himself with a long gown!

So He would be so dressed and hide, and this poor lady couldnt see very well! So He would put His Hand out with the children and He would get fed too in the circle! She would be busy dishing out the food so she wouldnt know! We would all be giggling because He would say: Dont tell her! Dont tell her! as He was eating!

He would have a little scarf over His head because His hair would give Him away! So He would be so dressed and hide, and this poor lady couldnt see very well! So He would put His Hand out with the children and He would get fed too in the circle! She would be busy dishing out the food so she wouldnt know! We would all be giggling because He would say: Dont tell her! Dont tell her! as He was eating! At the end of the meal He would say: MmmSavitri Amma, you prepare better food for the grandchildren! What you sent Me today for dinner was not as good! She would get so upset and say: My goodness Swami! Why did You eat this! This was morning rice! I had sent You fresh food in the evening! This was all the food that was left over here! She would go on: Why did You eat this? How did You hide from me? And He would take off His scarf and show Himself as her eyes were not good enough to make Him out! (Actually, I have a photo at home where He has got this scarf tied around His head with His hair all flattened!) So, we children thought this was our Swami He would play with us, pull others leg and just generally have fun! That was the Swami I grew up with as a child! A Marriage Truly Made In Heaven Time passed and I finished my early education and wanted to do a Masters program. And when I asked Swami, He just joked and said: No MSCMRS! Then He told me to do a Montessori program and as is in many families in India, I had just finished my Bachelors in Science and many family friends and relatives would suggest many alliances to my parents to get me married off, so to speak!

Even Swami was all the time asking my parents: When are you going to get Geeta married? And I would always say: I didnt want to marry anyone unless they are a family of Sai devotees. One day, when Swami had come to our house, He asked me the same question: Why are you saying No to whoever they suggest to you? I said: I only want to marry a Sai devotee, Swami! Otherwise I am fine you know, I will be the way I am! To that Swami said: Well, then okay, what if I tell you to marry a lame man or a blind man? What would you do then? I replied: That would be fine as long as he is a Sai devotee - if you told me to marry him and I presume that you would have my best interest at heart, and you know that I would do it! Then He said: Okay, since you said that, then I promise you that I will get you married only to a Sai devotee. So I replied, rather upset, Well, you know, how Swami manages His time is not my problem really! He is God; He should know how to manage it better! I am very limited! He is not! Then I said: Well, I have one more condition and that is I want to live in Bangalore. (When He is in a good mood, you know, why not put in a few things!) He said: Alright! And that conversation ended!

After some time, a letter came from my aunt who lived in Delhi who wrote: We know a family here in Delhi who are Sai devotees, and their son is in Bangalore. If you want, I will find out more about the family and the boy. My father said: Well, I am going to ask Swami about this. So, we went to Whitefield that day - it was a Thursday - and my father in the car said: I am going to ask Swami about this, and so is it okay with you? So I told my father: Since I am the person whos getting married, I think He should be telling me and not you! My father got angry with me, and said: You are turning out to be a real brat! Swami has no time to come and sit and discuss all of this with you! There are hundreds of people waiting in the darshan line to see Him! Secondly, marriage isnt an issue that He will come and discuss with the youngster - with the person He is supposed to! He would discuss the issue with the parents as per the tradition; not with the girl who is going to get married! So He doesnt have time to come and listen to all this!

He caught hold of my ear, you know - like I was a little child! And He said: Ah! How I manage My own time is My business! I am God! I should learn better! He repeated the whole conversation that had happened in the car!

So I replied, rather upset, Well, you know, how Swami manages His time is not my problem really! He is God; He should know how to manage it better! I am very limited! He is not! My father got angrier and arrived in Brindavan in a bad mood and my mother said: You guys are starting this whole thing off on such a negative note! Its never going to happen! It was raining heavily and that day Swami decided to give darshan in the car, because there were so many people waiting, and He didnt want to disappoint them! He came out and stopped under the Sai Ram shed. Next, He got out and called us across. As soon as we went close by - I can never forget this scene - He caught hold of my ear, you know - like I was a little child! And He said: Ah! How I manage My own time is My business! I am God! I should learn better! He repeated the whole conversation that had happened in the car! And then, even before my father could open his mouth, He said: I know the letter came from Sunanda, your sister. You go back now to Bangalore - back to home. You call the boys parents and ask them to come. (They were in Delhi ) Ask them to come on Monday, and Ill settle the marriage on Monday! My father said: But Swami, I dont know these people! I dont know who they are! She still has to find out! So Swami said: You dont know who they are! But I know who they are! You just go and call them! My poor father! The things that hes had to do! So we come back to Bangalore, and he calls his sister and says: You know, this is what Swami said. And all the way back home, I get a lot of scolding from my father, All because of your stubbornness! Look at this stuff! I dont even know who this person is! I am going to call him up and say Swami asked me! Swami said: Your son is supposed to marry my daughter! Whos going to believe it? We know they are Sai devotees, but we dont know how long they have been Sai devotees or whether this was an acceptable thing for them. And I was actually laughing because I thought well, you know, this isnt going to happen - they are going to say No. I am happy that I am going to stay this way!

So father calls my aunt and she is shocked! She says: I just know these people as acquaintances in the bhajan! I just cant call them and say: Swami said to marry my niece, you know! How am I going to? My father said: Well, you call them and tell them whatever little you can, and then Ill call them after that! So he calls them finally. And they are totally flabbergasted! They had never once spoken to Swami; they had never had any interview in their life. They were devotees who come to the bhajans, who had come to know about Swami by reading books and attending bhajans. My husbands father, Dr. Murthy, said: Well, thats all very nice. But you know, our son lives in Bangalore. We have to ask him! Well call him and then call you back, maybe in an hours time. So, they called us back. And they were even more shocked! Because when they called him and asked him, he said: Well, if thats what Swami said, I will marry her! I think they were more shocked by what Swami had said! They said: Okay. Then my father said: Swami has asked you to come here on Monday to see you all. They said they will try and take a flight on Sunday. On Friday, we go in the morning for darshan. Swami immediately comes to my mother and says: So did you contact them? What did they say? My mother said: They said they will come on Sunday, Swami. Weve talked to them. But, we have a problem! Theres a balvikas refreshers camp in Mangalore (which is about 200 miles from Bangalore!) she is one of the speakers. We had to go in an overnight bus for the refresher camp and we were all supposed to come back that Monday morning. So Swami was very sweet! He said: You go! to my mother, But you give Geetas topic to someone else - one of the other teachers. Let Geeta stay back. And the nice explanation He had for canceling my talk was: If she comes in the overnight bus she will look very tired when the boy sees her on Monday morning! So He was protecting my looks and everything! What can I say? On Monday, the family arrived from Delhi. We dont know how they look and they dont know how we look - weve never met them! My father left a message with the seva-dal volunteer saying that: If a gentleman announces himself as Dr. Murthy, send him over to the interview room. As soon as they arrived, we gathered in front of the interview room and Swami called us in. My in-laws had never, ever spoken to Swami at all! They had become devotees in the early 70s; they had attended bhajans - my mother-in-law is a very good singer; she liked music, and thats how they got into it. My husband had never spoken to Swami! And as soon as they walked in, Swami introduced them to my father.

And He narrated everything that my father-in-law had ever done in his profession till that day! Where he had worked, how many years he had worked as a professor in IIT, how many years he had started his company; everything! My father-in-law, an intellectual man with a Ph.D, just stood there with his jaws open! And Swami was just narrating everything - which village he was born - everything! And then He told me a very beautiful thing. He said: You know, when we look at other people, we only see the outside of that person. We see their mannerisms, their clothes, and the way they speak. But, we cannot see what is inside them. But I can see what is inside that person! And I can tell you that he is a very God-fearing and God-loving person.

And then, He introduced my father and stated: You know, Padmanabhan came to Me when he was a young man. I gave Geeta her name and she is like My daughter and I brought her up. And He gave all this beautiful introduction, playing the mediator between the two families. And then He asked them: Are you all willing for this marriage? If so, we will talk about it! Then He called me and said: You come with Me and took me for a little walk down a path next to Trayee Brindavan. And I cannot forget the loving conversation we had that day. He said: Look! I know, youve said that you always wanted to marry a Sai devotee. I know, youve said that you will marry whoever I tell you to marry. But, now is the time for you to tell me if you dont want to do it. If you dont want to marry him, tell me now. You dont have to go back and tell the elders that you wont do it because I know; they will get very upset, because I have suggested this. You tell Me, and I will go back and tell them I changed My mind - if you dont want to do it. But this is the time because once we go back there and you say yes, then theres no going back once you give your word. So decide now! I replied with my mantra: I will do whatever You say Swami. I will do whatever You say Swami! And then He told me a very beautiful thing. He said: You know, when we look at other people, we only see the outside of that person. We see their mannerisms, their clothes, and the way they speak. But, we cannot see what is inside them. But I can see what is inside that person! And I can tell you that he is a very God-fearing and God-loving person. So, we came back and He fixed our wedding, and we got married. So, that is how when we decide to follow the path and we really have that faith in Him, He will take care of us in every little way that He possibly can! Test of Faith Remember the condition I said during my marriage, that I wanted to be in Bangalore. And so I got married and I was in Bangalore for 10 years! I had my children in Bangalore. They were born there. Swami gave them their names and everything. And then suddenly, out of the blue - when you are all very nice and comfortable - Swami will throw a little bombshell at you! You know, when you want to put Swamis picture, you hammer a nail or something into the wall, and before you put the picture, you shake it first to see whether it is strong enough to hold that picture. That is what Swami does! Once in a while, Hell shake that faith, you know, to see if you are strong enough to take the test that He is going to throw your way! He is going to throw a test! And the tests have to come!

And once when I asked Him: How many tests Swami? He said: Well, if you have to keep passing and going forward, you have to keep taking those tests otherwise you will be in the same first standard all the time! If you want to go second standard, third standard, college, you have to have the tests, theres no way out of it! So, that was my test. In 1988, He suddenly called us one day and said to my husband: You resign your job and go to the United States ! We were settled. We were doing Swamis work - I was an EHV Bal Vikas teacher then, my husband was the center president - we were doing as much as we could for Swami, with two young children in the house. I kept saying: No Swami! Swami, you promised me! And He said: I promised you when you get married, you would be in Bangalore. Now ten years are over! But He was very sweet - you know He sort of pampers our ego also! I said: I dont want to go and stay in somebodys house with no job! My husbands brother lives in California. So Swami was very sweet. He said: Let Mohan goand I have seen Him more in all of you. Just because I know that you have then after three not had the fortune that I have had - maybe in physical terms and you months, you have come to Him when you have become adults. You have come to Him go. with shaky faith maybe - by reading books written by others - but you have been able to conquer all those doubts to sit here for three days and So my husband spend your precious time, talking about Him and hearing about Him. And went and he your devotion is far greater because you have done it without that found a job. He physical proximity that I was so fortunate to have! And thats what He was in California wanted me to see, I guess! So He sent me away. , but he got a job on the East coast - in Gaithersburg. He called me and said: There were two or three offers for jobs. Theres one in Gaithersburg. You ask Swami if thats the one I should take! Now, when I was speaking to him on the phone, the line connection wasnt very good and I heard it as Gettysburg! So I went to Brindavan and Swami comes to me from the Darshan line and asked me: What? Mohan got a job? I said: Yes Swami. He said it is in Gettysburg ! Swami then laughed and said: No, No! Not Gettysburg ! That is 100 miles away from where he got the job! Go and ask him! So I come back and I called my husband and he said: I didnt say Gettysburg! I said Gaithersburg! So I went back again in the afternoon. He said: See, Gettysburg is where Abraham Lincoln spoke! Thats not where he got the job! So He taught me a little bit of U.S history there! And He said: Ask him to take that job. And so he took the job. And so, now comes the real thing, right? I have to leave now. Its time for me to go. And He said: You know, you are leaving on this day, so come the previous day. I wont leave for Puttaparthi. After I speak to you, I will go. So He stayed actually till the day I leftand left the following day! See, the Mother that He is! Lessons from a Distance He called me in for an interview and said some of the most wonderful things to me. I was just crying; I said: I dont want to go! Why are You sending me away from You?

It seemed as though He was giving me a punishment for a mistake that I didnt know I had made! I didnt know what I had done to deserve this punishment - to be thrown away so far away from Him! Not to be able to see Him, not to be able to run to Him for my silly problems! He said: You have seen Me since you were a child only as this little Form. And you have only seen this Swami, and you love this Swami! That was wonderful; that was a Blessing and the Grace you got! But you have to see My Glory in other places! You have to see with what devotion and dedication other people do their work when they hear My Name! How are you going to enjoy that Glory if you are here all the time under My shadow? When a child grows up, the child has to leave the mother, and go out and prove to the mother that whatever she has taught, the child has learnt. If you are always with the mother, how will the mother ever know? But thats what Swami said to me: If you are always with the mother, how will the mother know if you have learnt the lessons that she has taught? You have to go; its time for you to go. But you will see Me there in a different way. I have seen Him more in all of you. Just because I know that you have not had the fortune that I have had - maybe in physical terms and you have come to Him when you have become adults. You have come to Him with shaky faith maybe - by reading books written by others - but you have been able to conquer all those doubts to sit here for three days and spend your precious time, talking about Him and hearing about Him. And your devotion is far greater because you have done it without that physical proximity that I was so fortunate to have! And thats what He wanted me to see, I guess! So He sent me away. Sai Never Lets Us Go And then He said a beautiful sentence. He said: You are not really going far away! You know, when the mother takes the child to the market and there are a lot of people milling around the child, the mother holds on tightly to the childs hand because she doesnt want the child to get lost! So the mother holds even more tightly when you are far away - away from home - in a strange place! In the old days, Swami used to take all the old devotees to the Chitravati in the afternoon. And I used to go too as a child. But sometimes, when He would take them, they would climb up the hill to that Kalpavriksha tree. And out of that tree Swami would get them things that you couldnt imagine - sweets, and fruits and whatever it was! And when you went up to that tree there would be a big crevice that you had to jump over to get to the tree! Swami would go and all the old people would follow Him very slowly, and then the younger people would try as fast as possible to catch up with Him. And then, Swami would reach that big opening in the hill and He would jump across, stand on the other side and very patiently hold out His Hand to make every person jump across! Swami! Youre easily making us cross this crevice! Make us cross the bhavasagara - this worldly ocean - in the same way! That is more difficult! But if we keep these little wants and desires low, I am sure; it will be easy for Him to do that also!

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The women - He would take the children from the women, and then help them across. And my aunt would always say: Swami! Youre easily making us cross this crevice! Make us cross the bhavasagara - this worldly ocean - in the same way! That is more difficult! But if we keep these little wants and desires low, I am sure; it will be easy for Him to do that also! Swami Takes Care of Every Case So this is the Swami! He will keep His Word no matter what! If He says He is going to be there to help with the suitcases, He is going to be there! You know, Swami has been very busy doing this kind of stuff for my family! We are quite bad at learning, I assume! Because my father who had spent all his life with Swami, had a very similar experience in 1970 when he came to the U.S. Swami had asked him to come to the U.S and meet with some of the professors that my brother Jagadish would be studying under. Swami sent him two years ahead of time and told him: Go and meet this professor, because they will be the people who will be teaching Jagadish. My father had come and Swami had asked him to visit two old devotees in Holland - two Dutch ladies who were very old and were devotees of Swami. And Swami had sent a letter with them for my father. So my father had to break journey, and see them and come. And he missed the flight that he had to take - the interconnecting flight within Holland - because his previous flight from India came in late! And he was wondering what to do because he knew that these two ladies would have driven to the airport and they were pretty elderly. So he was wondering what to do, and he was talking to them in the airport, when they suggested that he take a taxi to the next place (it was only about eighty kilometers) and they said you could probably make it to your flight if you drive! So he got into the car and drove to the next place, and he could get the connecting flight. When he got off there, he met a person dressed in the uniform of a pilot! And he came and said: Are you Dr. Padmanaban? Come on! Come on! We are waiting for you! Some gentleman! And he just took my fathers suitcase, and put him on the flight! They didnt even look at his tickets and he got on the flight! And in the hurry, my father went into the airplane and didnt even turn around to say anything - because he was so stressed out with the whole thing and he left! When my father came back to Bangalore , after his whole visit, Swami said: You even forgot to say thank you to Me! When we do Swamis work; He is always beside you - taking care of you. That is the key! When we want to do Swamis work... He is always there! If you have ever felt: How can I take on all of this work that the center is asking me? Can I do it? Please never doubt! Because Swami will somehow give you the strength to do it! And He will take care of your other things while you take care of His Work! That is the way I look at it. So, this is the Swami, you know. When we do Swamis work; He is always besides you taking care of you. That is the key! When we want to do Swamis work - whether it is your service activity, whether it is your Bal Vikas work, your SSE work - He is always there! If you have ever felt: How can I take on all of this work that the center is asking me? Can I do it? Please never doubt! Because Swami will somehow give you the strength to do it! And He will take care of your other things while you take care of His Work! That is the

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way I look at it. An Educative Training Ill tell you an incident that happened to me where work is concerned. Somebody asked me this question - which is why I want to tell you this. Somebody said: It must have been so very wonderful to have Swami like that with you all the time! Of course, it was wonderful! But you dont realize it when you are young though! It was wonderful, but when I was young, I thought it was a big pain! Because I got caught, whatever I did! I mean, there was no escape! I could fool my parents if I wanted to, but I couldnt fool Him! And it was a very difficult childhood in that sense! Because all my friends would do all sorts of things; and as human beings, we are tempted to do it! You want to do it, but you know you are going to get caught! So theres no fun in it! When I was 15 years old - when Swami decided to start this whole SSE thing - I was just in 9th grade I think; I wasnt even 15! He came to our house and He asked my mother to take over the SSE program in the whole state of Karnataka; to become the coordinator! They had just started at that time - what they called the Bal Vihar. And Swami said: Gather up the children in your neighborhood, teach them bhajans, and tell them stories. That was the beginning of the BalVikas! She had started to do that and had a few children - including me and my friends in the class. And we had all started to do the Bal Vikas and would attend classes in a very informal fashion when Swami wanted to make it happen all over the State, and so asked her to become the coordinator. She said: Swami, I have about 15-20 children in the class! Who is going to teach them? Because, there were no teachers at that time! Everybody was just Sai devotees coming, sitting, having Darshan and going! So Swami said: Here she is! And pointed to me! And I was in 9th grade! And I said: Me? He said: Yes! I said: The people who attend the Bal Vikas classes are my friends! They are not going to listen to me if I sit there and start telling them stories! He said: No! You start doing the Bal Vikas classes yourself! So suddenly, from being a student at age 15, I became this Guru in the Bal Vikas! And outside I would play and chat with all of these people, but was a teacher inside the class. Swami said: If you dress appropriately, and come and sit in the class, they will respect you as a teacher. So suddenly I had to learn how to wear a sari and sit in the class - and all that! Anyway, I did that! And I had done this for a few years. I entered college when Swami started the EHV program. And in that EHV program, He selected a few teachers who had had some experience to start going out to the general schools where the teachers who were not devotees who teach in the schools - would start getting some EHV training so that they could start that in their school. So there were about 9 or 10 elderly people - who were teachers by profession - who had been given this job. And Swami suddenly asked the lady who was coordinating this - a lady called Ms. Kalyani Sundaram Where is Padmanabans daughter? She said: Swami. She is only 17 years old, you know! And the people who are going to go and train are non-devotees, who are school teachers, and who are older than her. So I havent chosen

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her for the EHV program. (Even though I had been doing Bal Vikas for a while now.) He said: No! No! When they see that young people are doing this, the older people get motivated! So you take her. So this lady comes home and she calls me and says: From tomorrow onwards, Swami said you have to be in the EHV training. And I put up the biggest fight of my life! I am not going to go to any EHV program! Because this meant traveling all over Karnataka with this group of 9 teachers; training unknown people - nondevotee teachers - and I had to go with these elderly women who were all teachers everywhere! You know, that was my problem! So I told my mother: I am not doing this! Why is Swami asking me to do this EHV? So my mother told Swami: She doesnt want to do it Swami! He said: Tell her that wont work! She just has to go! All my life, this is how He is! So, I became this EHV person. And I started to go and do the training. But anyway, it wasnt too difficult because they would give me a topic, so I would prepare. And whenever it was in Bangalore city, I would go, do the training, give the talks and return. Untruthful Trip to Tunkoor Sometimes I had to go out of station - and that would happen only when my college was closed because I couldnt skip school! And then, one day, there was a training program in a place called Tunkoor - which is about 40-50 kilometers from Bangalore. The training program that was going on there was from Monday through Friday, and it was during the Dasara vacation. So I couldnt get out of it because I had no college! So, the one thing that Swami told this lady - the coordinator Ms. Kalyani Sundaram is this: Geetha is young. When you go out of town and all that, make sure you take her with you. Let her not travel alone. So this became a major problem! Wherever I went, these people took it so seriously! They wouldnt even let me go to the restroom! They would take me there to the restroom! They said: Swami will scold us! He said to accompany you wherever you went; so we are coming with you! So wherever I went, I had these two women following me! And if I wanted to read a book or something in the bus; I had to make sure it was a Sathya Sai Speaks or something - because there were these teachers! They followed me everywhere! And I would come home and grumble to my mother! I used to just grumble so much! Anyway, I had to go to Tunkoor. Kalyani Aunty called me the previous day, and said: Make sure youre at the bus station at 7 oclock in the morning because the program begins at 10 oclock and it takes one and a half hour to get there. My talk was at 2 oclock in the afternoon! So I said: Kalyani Aunty, why dont you all go because Ill just take the 11 oclock bus or whatever She said: No! No! Youre coming with us! You know what Swami said! So, first day Monday I went with them. And I sat and sat while all the lectures happened and then my turn was at 2 oclock , and I had to give my talk. Now on Tuesday - the second day - I knew where the place was; it was in a junior college in Tunkoor. I knew how to get there and I was pretty confident. So, on the second day, I came up with this idea! I Forgot this Omnipresent Lord - that He was Omnipresent!

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So, I left the house very obediently at 7:30 am. I told my mother goodbye and I went very nicely. But I didnt go to the bus station! I went to my friends house! I knew these people had to take the 8 oclock bus - because their lectures were there at 10. They couldnt skip. And you know how upset Swami gets if we are not on time! So they had to take that bus and I knew they couldnt keep waiting for me. So I went to my friends house. My friend said: What are you doing here? Arent you supposed to go to Tunkoor? And I said: Yeah! But you know, my lecture is at 2 oclock ! So I can just spend some time with you. So I happily chatted with her, drank coffee; had breakfast in the house and made a whole bunch of remarks on these women who followed me everywhere and were such a pain. They keep coming with me, and all they do is keep talking about their husband and children - and its just so boring! Anyway, I said all this to my friend and then I went to the bus station. (You know, I am setting myself up so nicely! Swami must be just laughing every time He sees me: Here she is again!) So, at 11 oclock I go to the bus stand and I buy my ticket. And those people in the mean time have frantically called my mother and all that; and I have no idea about all this! I take the 11 oclock bus, and I get into the bus. Now the first thought that comes is that - it may not go as smoothly as I thought! Because when I get into the bus, I find that I am the only woman in the bus! It is filled with men and they are all men from the villages and they are all looking at me because even then, you know in the mid-seventies girls in India didnt go about in the buses, especially on the village buses by themselves! I get in and they are looking! I say to myself: Well, there is a whole bus full of people, you know; what can they do! I sit there and nobody sits next to me in the bus! So I am sitting there occupying one seat; and then the bus starts. And we go about maybe ten kilometers, when we hear all kind of weird sounds and the bus stops! So we all have to get up! And now of course the second thought - you know theres something going on here! And I am looking at my watch and then I say: Well, I had given myself 45 minutes margin. And the bus driver tells me they can fix it. So I am still all right! Calm down! But when I get down, there are a few old men in the bus who look at me and say: What kind of family do you come from? Your parents are sending you alone like this in a village bus! My poor parents! So I say: No. I had some work. And they said: Why are they sending young women these days in the bus! And you know these old elderly gentlemen sort of start saying: Look what the world has come to and all

I come out and start asking people, Where is the place? Because my lecture is at 2 oclock and its almost 1:15 or something! Then the guy who is painting says: I can take you there if you want. I started crying! And now I know - this is Swami shaking that nail there! I am petrified! I have disobeyed Him! I have deceived my parents! I deceived the women who waited for me at the bus stop and these are like major crimes in Swamis book!

this stuff!

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And I am standing there feeling very embarrassed with the whole thing. Then, of course, the bus starts and I say: Fine! Swami is not really testing me! Because I didnt really do any thing wrong; you know - I am getting there, hanging there in the bus! So the bus goes; we travel, I come. It stops right in front of the junior college where the program is. That is the boys college. So I go there to the venue, where it is in some hall that we had the program yesterday! Ive been there! I go there and they are all painting the whole place! There is nobody there! I say: Where is the program? And they all look and say: What program? I said: The one that happened here yesterday was supposed to be here for the whole week! And a few people there, they said: No, No! We are painting today and they have all moved to the other building at the other end of town! And then I come out and now I am really scared. I dont know how to get there and in the mean time its a boys college and they are all whistling and calling out names and I am getting shakier and shakier as I come out, and some of them are saying: Oh, who are you? And inviting me to lunch and what not! I am getting really scared now. I come out and start asking people, Where is the place? Because my lecture is at 2 oclock and its almost 1:15 or something! Then the guy who is painting says: I can take you there if you want. I started crying! And now I know this is Swami shaking that nail there! I am petrified! I have disobeyed Him! I have deceived my parents! I deceived the women who waited for me at the bus stop and these are like major crimes in Swamis book! And here I am, and I dont know how to get to the venue and I am going to miss my talk! I am going to be hauled over the red-hot coals is what I am thinking! And I am crying by this time! I come out of the gate and at this time you know; that is when in Kannada they say: Sankata Vandarey, Venkata Ramana When you are in trouble, you call out to Venkataramana! I am saying: Sai Ram! Sai Ram! Please help me, Swami! I will never do this again! I will go with the most boring women again in my life! I will never do this again! Help me, Help me! Rescued by Swamis Relation And I come out and I stand there and a car passes me by, goes a few feet, stops and backs up. And the window comes down and who should be sitting in the car - Swamis sister Venkamma! She looks and says: Arent you Padmanabhs daughter Geetha? I say: Yes. She has seen me since I was a baby! She says: What are you doing here standing in front of this boys college all by yourself? Are you by yourself? I said: Well, I came for the EHV. She said: Get in. Get in! And I get into the car - her son-in-law was driving. I say: I came to the EHV program aunty, and the venue has been shifted. So she said: What is this Swami? Hes making all these young girls go like this for EHV programs with nobody to chaperone them! I must talk to Him! And of course I am not telling her that I missed the bus or anything! She says: Why didnt you go with Kalyani Aunty and everyone? I said: I missed the bus. One more lie! Missed the bus! She said: Oh! Okay. Alright, we will drop you there - wherever the venue is. Where is the place?

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Her son-in-law goes and finds out and then I ask her in the car: Aunty, what are you doing here? She says: We are on our way to Shimoga, which is another four hours drive! And I suddenly developed a really bad headache! So we came into Tunkoor to buy some medication for my headache. Thats why we drove here and then we saw you standing here. They were very sweet. They took me and got me some orange juice and dropped me off at the venue. And of course, by that time poor frantic Kalyani Aunty! She is looking at the clock - its almost 2 oclock ! And I arrive with five minutes to spare. And I go up and do my talk and I dont tell them anything that happened. In reply to Kalyani Auntys questions, I just remarked that I missed the bus. She said: Okay, now next time, come on time! You know, we were all so worried and we were so afraid! Because Swami has said that you should always come with us. And then we came back. Swami is in Puttaparthi; so why volunteer this information to my parents! I didnt tell them all that went on! I said: Everything went on very nicely. I missed the bus, but you know Venkamma aunty came and dropped me. I simplified the whole thing; you know! And then she gave me a ride to the place, and everything went okay. My mother said: Oh, okay. Thats very nice. I am glad you got help, and that was it. Four months later, after birthday celebrations, Swami returns to Bangalore and usually whenever He came, we all had to give Him a report of the EHV work. Kalyani Aunty and all the 10 teachers sat in front. And Swami came in the darshan line and asked her: How did the program go? And she said we did so many programs; it all went well and gave Him the report. Taken to Task Over Tunkoor He came to each I have been so rude to my teacher in turn mother who has given me this and I am the last body, who had shown Him to person - but I am me, who has given me not worried! Four everything that I have in my months have gone life! How can the Cosmic by after all! And Mother look at me? He Swami comes to cannot! I have hurt my me and stands mother! there and says: Hmmmyou want Me to tell these women how you missed that bus? I say: No Swami! No Swami! Please Swami! You want Me to tell them what you thought about them and why you didnt go with them? I say: No Swami! Please! Because you know, they actually think I am a good girl! I dont want to disillusion them! I say: Swami! Please Swami! I wont do it again! I wont do it again! He says: When I tell you something, obey without questions! There is a reason when I tell you something! And then He said - the tone changed from the father to the mother; and not even a mother really, a friend! He said: Because of you, I had to give that poor Venkamma such a bad headache! He walked away! He was so sweet you know, He never told my mother. He never told those teachers. But I was so scared that at some point I told them myself! But, thats the wonderful Swami! He can be a Friend, He can be a Mother, He can be a Father and He can be anything that you want Him to be! Its all in your own heart and in your mind. And of course Venkamma never, ever forgave me for that till the day she died! She said: Because of you, I had to get a headache!

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But, it was difficult to have Him there all the time! A little bit difficult - but after all, what is that difficulty compared to all the love that I have received! But its only as I have grown older that I have valued it more. Only because when youre a child you take things for granted. You think that parents are there to do every thing for you - thats their job. But then, even with your own parents, as you grow older, you realize how much they do! When we become parents ourselves, we realize actually the value of our own parents who have done so much for us! And Swami! I am not a scholarly person to give you any great lessons that I have learnt; I have learnt very simple lessons. And even those I find difficult to follow sometimes. So, coming back to parents, we are all so fortunate to have such wonderful parents that we have. For me, I am so fortunate that Ive had parents who showed me the Lord from the day I was born! And gave me this opportunity to enjoy His Love, just because I was born in their home. And they brought me up with just one focus Sai, and that everything else was just very trivial compared to this. And I was fortunate for that though I didnt realize it then. Impure Offering In fact, to tell you an incident that happened with my mother and me and I am sure many young girls will relate to this. Every week we used to go to Brindavan and I used to take the roses from my garden in a bouquet for Swami. Swami would always come to me and take it from me. One day, I didnt want to go because I wanted to attend a music concert in Bangalore. So I said: I dont want to come to see Swami today. And my mother said: Well, you havent come to see Swami in the past three days and Swami has been asking for you! Everyday He comes to me and says: Where is Geetha? So if you dont come today - its a Saturday He will really ask! Especially since you dont have school or college, so you should come!

So I told my mother: You know, every weekend this is the only thing you want to do! I dont want to come. See, Swami was so easily available that I took Him for granted. So I said: I see Swami everyday. But M. S. Subbalakshmi comes only once in two years. And there is a concert of M. S. Subbalakshmi and I want to attend the concert. I am not going to come. My mother was very upset with me. She said: No, you have to come! If you want to go to the concert, after you come back, you go and attend the concert a little late. But you have to come! So, very angrily, you know - with no love in my heart, I must say I went to the garden and started to cut the roses. Because it was a habit with me to take roses for Swami, so I took it any way - whether I did it with love or not - I went and cut all these roses and came and dumped it on the dining table and went to get ready. And my mother put it together in a nice bouquet for me. And when I came back, I looked at it and I said to her: Oh! This bouquet looks terrible! I dont want to give it. You give it if you want!

So, I just sit there and I say: I am so sorry Swami! I am so sorry! I will not speak to her like this! Then I think: At least in the afternoon He should look at me! He shouldnt ignore me like this! And He is walking away. And that loving, forgiving Swami! He just stopped at the gate, turned around, came all the way back into the darshan line. He comes to me, takes the roses and says: Arent the roses beautiful? Yes Swami! I had tears in my eyes. He says: But, learn to speak fragrantly - in the language of the roses!

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And my mother said: Why are you acting like a small child? You put it together anyway you want to! I just did it because I thought well get late! So I took it apart and put it back together again! It didnt look any different! But this was my argument with my mother. Everything she did that day was not the right thing. So I put it together - just because I wanted to be mean to her for forcing me to go I put it together, and we went to Brindavan. And we sat there. And I went there walking very nicely with these roses! And a few people there said: Geetha, can you sit beside us? You know, Swami always comes near you when you have the roses! Dont ever do that! Youre setting yourself up! So I said: Sure, sure! Come along! Have a seat! I was so sure that Hes going to come for my roses! Oh! Come and sit beside me! Sit behind me! And we all sat there and Swami came out for darshan. Swami can do this so beautifully! He walked in front of me and looked at everybody on the other side; made a big U around me, and walked away! And completely ignored me! So beautifully! And these poor people who sat next to me were like: Oh! Goodness! I was sitting there and we went there and now all because of you; you know, we lost our chance by sitting next to you! And here I am sitting with my big bouquet of roses and Swami has walked away! And I am still quite self-confident that Hell come! Hell finish those rounds and He will come! So He finished and He is coming back and I am all set again with my roses ready to hand it to Him; like I always did. He came, made a bigger U around me. And now at this point, I am totally embarrassed! I am sitting there with my roses in front of me - everyone is looking at me! And they all know, there is something wrong because He usually came to me and took the roses! At that moment, you want to disappear with the roses and everything under ground somewhere! And not so much - I must be honest with you - because, Swami didnt come to me! It was more my ego! Because everyone was looking at me! And I was embarrassed about it! And here I had bragged to all these people beside me, to sit down with me and I am just completely embarrassed! And then He starts to walk away very slowly towards the gate. Speaking in the Language of Fragrance

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And at that point, I suddenly start thinking: What am I so embarrassed about? I am losing His darshan! I am losing His loving gesture when He comes and takes these; and I am worried about all these people! And immediately I think: What did I do? Why did He do that? Of course, the answer came in one second! I have been so rude to my mother who has given me this body, who had shown Him to me, who has given me everything that I have in my life! How can the Cosmic Mother look at me? He cannot! I have hurt my mother! So, I just sit there and I say: I am so sorry Swami! I am so sorry! I will not speak to her like this! Then I think: At least in the afternoon He should look at me! He shouldnt ignore me like this! And He is walking away. And that loving, forgiving Swami! He just stopped at the gate, turned around, came all the way back into the darshan line. He comes to me, takes the roses and says: Arent the roses beautiful? Yes Swami! I had tears in my eyes. He says: But, learn to speak fragrantly - in the language of the roses! It is not enough to offer Him those flowers - if you cannot speak like those flowers! If you cannot be beautiful and give joy to others like those flowers do; what is the point in offering it to Him? It just becomes a picture - just a very robotic habitual gesture! So, those were the lessons I have learnt. And I hope I have learnt them! I am sure my mother may or may not agree with me, but I have tried as much as I can - as I got older and of course, now that I am a mother myself - to appreciate what our parents do for us!

The Wonderful Mother That I Have By Mrs. Geeta Mohan Ram

Mrs. Geeta Ram comes from a family which has been associated with Swami for the last four generations. Her great grandfather, Mr. Seshagiri Rao, came to Swami in 1943 and was the temple priest of Prasanthi Nilayam for many years. Her father, Dr. Padmanabh is a familiar figure in Swamis ashram in Bangalore. Having come to Swami at a tender age, her life is full of exciting and illuminating experiences. Below is the transcript of a talk delivered by her during a Sai Retreat on May 13, 2006 in Atlanta, USA.

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My Pranams (salutations) at the Lotus Feet of our Ever-Present Swami and Sai Ram to all of you on this wonderful day a holy day of Buddha Poornima, with Mothers Day coming up tomorrow. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do my Namasmarana and place my respects at Sai my Mother who has been a part of my life since the day I have come into this world. So I thank you all for bringing me here and giving me the opportunity to think of Him, re-live my experiences with Him and share His Love with all of you. To speak of Swami is a huge responsibility. To speak of many subjects, you can prepare, you can read books, and you can have references, but when we speak of Swami, we are looked at very differently by the eyes of the people who look at us. They look at us and wonder and say: They have had the association of this Divine Being how has their life changed? So when you speak of Swami, your life changes. When you enter a Sai Center and start sitting down here for the bhajans, for the study circles, your life changes it should change, otherwise we would be very poor representatives of this wonderful Mother that we have! My Multi-Faceted Beloved Swami For me, Swami has been many things. I have seen many facets of Swami and I still discover more as the years go by. He has been my Mother a very loving Mother corrected me like all Mothers do with their daughters. He has been a strict Father pointing out my poor marks on several exams. He has been a strict teacher and has not forgiven if I have made the same mistake twice even after having been corrected. But He has also been a very good friend! These are all things that a Mother has to be with their children you have to be a loving mother when your child is very young; you have to be a strict parent to inculcate discipline and devotion; you have to be a teacher by example I am sure many parents will agree with me. And you have to be a friend too with your child. And Swami has been those many things to me. When The Lord Becomes Your Guest

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My earliest memories of Swami has been that as a child - a very sweet one - when He used to come and stay with us in Bangalore in my parents' house in those days the Brindavan building was not there. So when He came, He used to stay with devotees, among them my parents. And I remember as a child that He would stay with us for several days. And when Swami is with you, you know that everybody is very much focused. Even when we have a guest in our house, the housewife knows that she will be focused on the room, the bedroom, and the food whatever that you want to make to give the guest a pleasant stay. But imagine having Swami staying with you! You will have this wondrous feeling of when He is going to walk into the kitchen and I remember my mother would constantly be cleaning the kitchen never knowing when Swami would walk into the kitchen! I remember my father who never lifted the newspaper and put it away, constantly putting away the newspaper so that Swami wouldnt find it on the sofa in our living room! I remember my brother making his room exceptionally clean which never was when Swami was around because you never knew when He would come in. And I remember hiding my story books behind Sathya Sai Speaks so Swami wouldnt know what I was reading! This is my experience that whenever Swami would come, suddenly the look of all the book shelves would change. The books whatever the current craze was growing up in school; I think as a child I read Enid Blyton; as a teenager I probably read Barbara Cartland and Mills and Boon but they would all go behind and in front of them there would be a second row of Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, in the hope that Swami would think that I was reading that! You Cant Trick The Lord!

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The thread that ran through my life that whatever I did, Swami knew everything He was Omnipresent and you could never really trick Him even though, for a while He pretended and played the game along with us. I remember once He came into our room, He would actually eat in my room because we always had the food separate for Swami, and then the other devotees who came with Him were fed, and He would walk into the room a little bit ahead of time while my parents and aunts were setting up the table. And then He would stand in front of the book shelf and look at all the books. So you know, your heart is pounding and you hope that He would just look at the books in the front. Then He would look at the books and say: Oh! Prema Vahini! Then He would look and say: Oh, is this the new one that has come out at the Sathya Sai book store now? And He would very sweetly remove two books and say: Oh! Barbara Cartland! Is that what you read? and put the Sathya Sai Speaks back right where it was! The Ecstasy and Agony of Experiencing That Omnipresence! So the thread of Omnipresence ran through my life. Sometimes as a child I would wish that that Omnipresence was not reminding me all the time that He was with me because I wanted to be like any other child and read what I wanted to read and do what I wanted to do! But as I grew older I remember what a wonderful sense of security it gave me because wherever I went, I knew that Swami was with me! It was very easy for me to say: No when my other friends said Yes to things - because I knew that when I went back on the weekend, Swami would be asking me where I went last Wednesday or Thursday! I remember once when I was in College, and I met a good friend an old friend from my school on the side-walk while I was walking to the bus-stop. We hadnt seen each other for a while and were very happy to see each other it was just an unexpected meeting. We both were standing in front of a sugar cane stall. So we both were talking and decided to buy a glass of sugar cane juice. We brought the sugar cane juice on the foot path on the side walk of the street and we drank and we chatted there for quite a while and we went home.

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The following weekend we were in Brindavan. And as in the early days with no sevadal there, we were the sevadals, we were also the bhajan singers, we were the cleaners we were everything there. So all of us had jobs to do and when I went to Brindavan my job was to clean the altar where Swami did bhajans inside in the evening sometimes. And there were pictures of Swami in different poses and Shirdi Baba and I was cleaning that. Swami would be walking around the building and He came up to me and looked at what I was doing and then He said: What time did you go home last week from College? I couldnt quite remember. I said, Swami, after college I went home in the evening. But He named the day Wednesday. He said, What time did you go home last week on Wednesday? I still couldnt remember! He said, You went home late because you missed the bus! Then I remembered and I said, Yes Swami, I missed the bus. He said, Why did you miss the bus? I said, I met a friend of mine and we were talking. He said, Three mistakes. Missing the bus because you were talking to the friend on the street; second mistake not telling your mother that you would be late or why you came late; third mistake of drinking on the street out of a dirty glass that fellow gave! Three mistakes in one day! So this Omnipresent Swami sometimes you wonder: Swami, please! Why dont you go and get behind somebody elses back instead of me all the time! But He was the loving Mother He reminded me that there were certain ways that one behaves and if you dont follow the norms of the society at that time, you are bound to have problems with it. Life is a Game Play it! So coming back to the times of the childhood of sweetness though - there were times too when He would be in the house and we children would be banished to the rooms because they didnt want us to make any noise! They would say: Swami is talking in the living room; so stay in the room, read a book, do something. But dont appear here and make noise!

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So I remember my cousin and me we were almost the same age we were constantly being banished to the room to do something with ourselves. And those were not the days of TVs and the X-boxes, and Play stations and even if it was, I am sure we wouldnt have gotten one in our home. And we would go there and the game that we would constantly play was snakes and ladders or lido we would constantly be playing and I remember on one occasion when Swami knocked on the door and walked in because we had closed the door. And I remember my cousin and I were playing snakes and ladders. So He came in and said: Oh! You both are playing over here while I have to go and talk to those devotees not fair! You guys are having fun here! Can I please play with you? We said: No! because we had already had an experience of playing with Swami and we didnt want Him to play with us! So we said: No! He said: Why not? We said: Because, every time You roll the dice, You always get the number You want! So we dont want You to play with us! So He said: No! No! I will play like you people! So He sat down and sure enough He rolled the dice and we rolled the dice and the game was progressing quite nicely sometimes He went up the ladder and came down the snake too! So we thought this was pretty good. But by the time one of us had gotten to all the way to 98 or 99 or whatever and by that time the snake is waiting to bring you down, Swami rolls His dice and within three moves He reaches 100 and says: Useless people, you dont know how to play! It was not fair; you know! He used to say: What is this? A game isnt it? You shouldnt cry when you lose a game! You know Swami doesnt do anything without a reason! And I never forgot the lesson He taught us with that snakes and ladder game. He said: Life is like a game! As long you have Swami as the dice of God in your hands, it will move you along sometimes you go up the ladder; sometimes you come down the snake its okay! But as long as you have the dice with you, you can keep playing and you can keep moving forward. Thats the important thing you have to remember what is the use of playing this game; reaching 100 and starting again from number 1 day after day! So He was a friend and He played; He joked and He looked at the books that we were reading so He was a wonderful Mother in many different ways! Swami - The Micro-Manager

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I remember when He got me engaged to my husband the wedding was still a month away it was the global akhanda bhajan going on in Puttaparthi. And at that time my parents and aunts and I had to go to Puttaparthi because the wedding was going to be in Puttaparthi Swami was going to conduct the wedding. He had asked us to bring all the details of the wedding He wanted to see the saris, the invitations, the guest-list, the food menu He wanted to see everything! If Swami is anything He is a micromanager! There is no other word for it. He will check everything 25 different times. So He wanted to check everything. He even wanted the paper sketch of the rangoli that was going to go from Swamis building to the wedding hall! So, armed with all these things, we arrived at Puttaparthi and the bhajans were going on it was very crowded. At that time they would allow you to take all these things and, of course, the sevadal people knew that the wedding was coming up. So we sat there like a store with saris and jewelry and everything that we had to show Swami. Just before going for Darshan, I had worn a very simple synthetic sari because the moment everybody in Puttaparthi saw you there with all these things, they knew there was a wedding and they would ask who is the boy? etc. I didnt know anything about the boy Swami had fixed the wedding. So I had no answers to their questions. I didnt want to be the center of attention. So I wore a very simple sari and was sitting for Darshan. As we left our room, my aunt (an elderly person) said: You know, you are the bride; you are getting married in a couple of weeks time. You shouldnt be wearing such a simple sari. You should wear a silk sari something festive! I said: Well, the wedding is a month away. I am not going to start looking like a bride for the next thirty five days. I am certainly not going to wear it because all those ladies at the Darshan keep looking at me! So we had a little bit of a discussion and I still didnt change and we went. Sure enough, after Swami had gone inside the bhajan Hall and He attended the global bhajan, He came out and called us in. He had told us to come that day; so we knew He was going to come to talk to us. So we went loaded with all these things and as soon as we entered, He first looked at the invitation the draft and approved that. He looked at the guest list, added a few names, deleted a few we dont know why! He looked at the menu and said: Oh! This is not good, that is not good! And chose different things.

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And after all this discussion, He said: Why didnt you bring the bride? Why isnt the girl here? And I am sitting right there in front of Him! We all look at each other thinking: Okay. So He is getting on with some fifty-plus years; He is not recognizing the bride who is sitting right in front of Him! He has known me since I was born He should know me! We all think He should know us really undeserving! Why should He know us? Thats the question to ask ourselves. He knows us; but why should He? Do we do anything at all that deserves His attention? I leave that question to think about! So He said: Where is she? So my aunt said: She is sitting right here! So He looked at me and said: This one? You know, He can really bring your ego down! She said, Yes Swami! Why are you asking that? Be Conscious of All that You Do! Then He looks at me and said, Didnt your aunty tell you to wear a different sari this morning? Two mistakes! He is always pointing out mistakes! And He loves to number them. So it is very clear in your head. Two mistakes! One you didnt listen to an elder when she told you something. Big mistake! Second bigger mistake! Because all the people here know that you are getting married; Swami is getting you married; Swami has fixed the wedding; Swami has found the boy and the family! And you are sitting there looking like you are not interested in getting married! So everybody is thinking that maybe the girl doesnt want to get married and Swami is forcing her. Maybe she doesnt want to get married and her parents are forcing her because he is a Sai devotee. Third; maybe the girl wants to marry somebody else! By your one gesture and the way you behave, you can create many ripples. So always be conscious of what you do. If you are getting married, behave according to the time and place. Be happy if you are happy! If you dont want; tell me now and its off! But if youre happy and you want to get married then behave accordingly appropriate to the time and place not out of place! Dont draw attention to yourself by being out of place. Merge with it! What a lesson He taught me! As a mother, whatever we do, it doesnt just reflect on us - it reflects on our parents, it reflects on our families, it reflects on Swami. So He said, Be conscious in your life whatever you do! How you stand, how you sit, what you say, because it first reflects on Him! Thats why I said, the minute we say we are Sai devotees, our very action, and our speech is judged by everybody. If you are just a regular person, nobody will bother with what you do. But if you start attending a Sai center, they will say: Oh! you know what? Every Sunday they go and sit for two hours and sing some Sai bhajan but they are worse than us! That will be the remark if your behavior is not up to date.

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So that was the Mother Sai who taught me how one has to dress if you are at a certain place or at a certain occasion. I love to share this incident. I am sure many of you have heard it I dont know what I say. I was telling my friend this morning that whenever I have to speak about Swami, it is a very scary experience because it is like I am going to a place without a road map I dont know where I am going; I dont know which road I am taking; I dont know the exit number! I am just driving and I am hoping that somehow the place will appear before me. So that is how it is when I speak of Swami. I dont know what I am going to say and what He wants me to say. Sometimes I repeat the same things in four of my different talks the same incidents! Once I said, Swami! I have been speaking the same thing in every retreat for one and a half years! Why dont you make me speak something else? He said, No! They need to hear it. You have to talk about it. When they are ready to change, I will give you a different story. And then very sadly He made this gesture: Look at Me! Fifty years I am saying the same thing! Does anybody hear? If they hear, do they listen? And if they listen, do they practice? You are complaining of one year of speaking the same thing! What a statement! How we must bend our heads in shame. So I repeat and this is another one that I love to repeat because I love to tell you about the mistakes that Swami has caught me in! Because like I said the thread is His Omnipresence - constantly showing me His wonderful Divinity. I am always with you, behind you, beside you

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I was speaking at a retreat in Texas. It was in the afternoon. I went and sat in the morning Brother Jagadeeshan was speaking in the morning and I love his talks; he is such a wonderful narrator. Even though they had very sweetly offered me a seat, as a child I dared not Swami being much elder to me so I sat on the floor. In the afternoon I had gone back to my room but I had not changed I went for my afternoon talk. And Swamis picture was just the way it is now but my podium was way forward because the stage was very big. I went and stood and started talking that was it! This was in the month of September. In June I went to India. In July Swami called me for an interview. He asked me, Where have you been speaking? I said, Swami, I spoke in Texas. He said, Yes, I know you spoke in Texas and brother Jagadeeshan spoke too, is it not? Then suddenly out of the blue He asked me, Dont you pack your clothes properly when you go on your trips? That was completely unexpected it had nothing to do with my talks! So I said, No Swami! I packed my clothes well. Then I am racking my brains did I wear something that was not appropriate? Did I wear a salwaar-kameez at my talk which I dont. I always wear a sari. My mind is churning: Why did He ask me? I am trying to place why this question came because you know, Swami does not ask these questions for no reason very specifically: Do you pack your clothes properly? Such an unexpected question! Again He asked me. I said, I dont know Swami what have I done? Thats the best way ask Him a question back. He said, You know, in Texas you wore that blue sari cotton sari? He named that sari blue cotton sari! He said: All day you sat on the floor and then when it was your turn, you went and stood there, your cotton sari was all crumpled gone a little high. I am the one who has to see your ankles because I am behind you! When you go and speak somewhere and especially if you have to sit for a long time, you should wear a proper silk sari, they dont get so crumpled. Can you imagine? What a lovely motherly advice! But remember this, in every Discourse He says: Dont worry! All of you go back to your homes safely! He says: I am with you, behind you, beside you all the time, all the way, wherever you go! We forget that He is behind us, that He can see your ankle, we forget that He is beside us and can hear us; we forget that He is in front of us and He sees which path we you are taking we forget all these things. A simple example of a sari tells you that He is there with you all the time. Sai, My Mother, Who Notices Everything! I was in the summer course once and suddenly out of the blue they asked me to do the summarization of the days activities. You know, in the old days, the summer course was for everybody from all over India they would have students selected and I was in one of the

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summer courses in the beginning years. They had chosen me and one other boy to read the summary of what had happened in that days lecture. It was a wonderful opportunity to be chosen to come in front of Swami - it had been drafted, checked and rechecked by 25 adults to make sure that the right things were written and I came. Swami was sitting in a chair and we were behind the screen. The boy came and read his part. And as I came to Swami to take my padanamaskar; He said something and I didnt quite catch it. Swami very sweetly dropped His handkerchief deliberately on the floor! So I bent to pick it up and as I got closer to Him to give Him the handkerchief, He said: You must put your heels down at the back of your sari when you stand up to pull it down! Can you imagine that? The ladies will certainly understand it if the men dont get it Put your heel down to the back layer of your sari when you get up to pull it down. So obviously my sari was a little folded in the back and before I turned around to face the audience and come to the stage, He was making sure! And the way He said it with a smile Kaalu kinda pettukoni cheera eedchuko (in Telugu), meaning, put down your foot and drag the sari down. Everybody thought He was giving me some beautiful blessing with a sweet smile. But He was pulling me up on my bad sari-wearing techniques! Sai my Mother, who notices everything! Sai my Mother, who has taught me everything! Sai my Mother, who has shown me up-most love! I dont know what I am saying today these are my very personal experiences. If they give you any lesson out of this; I dont know! All I can tell you is that we are all born at this wonderful time where we have this wonderful Mother pouring His love to all of us and it is for us to absorb it and to understand it. And if we dont, then we miss out on a chance. And each of you I am sure feel His Love in his or her own way otherwise we wouldnt be sitting here listening to some unknown woman come from Maryland. So He has been a part of my life with wonderful miraculous ways He has shown me too. To me, those miracles are wonderful but the little things are far more wonderful - because I see His love in the little things much more than in the big things. Now you see His love for humanity in a huge way. His Motherly Love by that wonderful Super Specialty Hospital where thousands of people with no money are treated free of cost. We have the University, we have the Music College, we have the water project its in such magnitude now. But the little things that happened to me were small things but it was the same essence of that love. But again He reminds us how many times - much later He said: Lying is not just telling a falsehood! Keeping something from your mother is also a lie. She may not know, but I know! Problems are Blessings

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So He has been that Mother who constantly teaches us that if you have decided to take this path of spirituality then there is no shade of grey! It is black or it is white. And if you want Him, it has to be white. You cant try to find loop-holes in your behavior. You cant say: Well this might work for today! There are no loop-holes He is going to pull you up! If He doesnt do it physically, He will do it in some other way He will bring some big problem along to remind you thats what He said: Problems are there to remind you that you are forgetting Me! Swami always loves to quote that famous prayer of Mother Kunti, after the whole war of Mahabharata is over, Lord Krishna says: Now that everything is over and your sons are kings, now what do you want? Ask and I shall give. She said, Always give me troubles; because when I have troubles, You come to me! Swami says: When you have troubles, you come to Me, troubles remind you of Me. So He reminds us that He is there; and He also reminds us that He is a good friend. I dont want to make Him so serious that you have to wonder: Oh my God! I cant step out of this building without worrying. He can be fun too! His Awesome Sense of Humour! I remember once in Puttaparthi Laalgudi Jayaraman - a famous violinist in India was coming to Puttaparthi to play the violin there in front of Swami in Prashanti Nilayam. My father used to always go from Bangalore to Puttaparthi on the weekends. And my father being a doctor also would always want to come back on Sunday night so that Monday morning he could attend to his patients. And Swami in those days would say: Stay one more day! And my father would say: No Swami! I have given appointments and my patients will come so I have to go. Stay one more day Padmanabh! No Swami, I have to go! So this was a constant thing in our childhood. So on one particular day when we had gone, Swami said: Today in the evening, Laalgudi Jayaraman is going to come, why dont you all stay for the concert and go tomorrow morning? This was in the morning Darshan line to my mother. My mother said: Swami you know my husband, he is not going to let us stay! He will say he has to go to see his patients. He said: No, He will stay! She said: No Swami, he wont stay. Sure enough after the morning Darshan my father said: We are packing up, lets leave! And in those days we always used to leave during daylight hours because the roads were so bad that in fact, Swami used to say: Before it gets dark, you have to cross those 22 miles first from Puttaparthi. So he said: Pack up! We said: Please, can we stay? He said: No! Pack up!

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So my father got ready to put away things in the car for those of you who have been to Puttaparthi, you know the Ganesha statue that is there that is where we used to park our cars in those days. And there were only about 10 or 15 rooms and we stayed in those rooms. So, my mother and I were bringing out all the bedding and we were rolling it out on the sands under the eucalyptus tree there. Swami was in His room and suddenly when we are rolling the thing, my mother and I were talking: I wish for once daddy would agree and stay! Because we were very fond of the violinist he was a very famous Karnatic Music violinist and I wanted to hear! Suddenly, while we were talking, we heard somebody calling us making a sound: Shh! Shh! We look around to see who is making that sound? This was around 12 12:30 when Swami has already retired to His room! Suddenly we look up and there in His balcony with His bedroom door open, Swami is standing in the balcony and gesturing to us to not make a noise! Because all the devotees will come running if they know that Swami is standing in the balcony! He gestured: Dont pack! We said: But Swami we have to go now! He said: No! Dont pack! And He showed us with gestures that the car tire has a puncture. Flat tire! We cant go! Because the 22 miles ride from Puttaparthi to Pennukonda was the worst road. If anybody had a flat tire, Swami had a rule you had to get the flat tire fixed and only then can one leave. Because if you put a spare tire and are carrying the flat tire and if you have one more flat tire on the way, then you were totally stuck. There was nothing between Puttaparthi and Penukonda and you were stuck with the anti-villagers who didnt really like devotees coming to Puttaparthi.

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So we understood. We happily put away our bedding inside and went. My father came and asked: Why are you people sitting? We said: Yes, we are getting ready. So he takes another bunch of things to the car and he comes back and says: You know, there is a flat tire! We cant leave. We said: Aha! We knew about the thing but we didnt want to say anything! He said: We cant go now so I am going to take a lorry and go to Penukonda and get the tire fixed, you people be ready. If I can get it fixed, we will go today, otherwise we will go tomorrow. So my father went back and sure enough, you cant go to Penukonda and get the tire fixed and come back in a few hours its a question of quite a few hours. So while my poor father was getting the tire fixed, we were happily listening to Lalagudi Jayaramans music! After the music got over, Swami got up from His chair and asked: Where is Padmanabhan? Has he gone to Penukonda? We said: Yes, Swami! He has gone to Penukonda. He said: He will come back at ten oclock, you go to bed! Wasnt the music good? Then He smacked my cheek and said: See! You wanted to listen to the music, so I sent your father to Penukonda! So He would play along with us too, you know! You couldnt help but love Him so much even when He scolded you, you enjoyed the scolding though you knew that you couldnt make the same mistake twice like I said. So this Swami He is there for all of us. Sai Ram.

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This is the transcription of the talk given by Mrs. Geeta Mohanram during a Sai Retreat at Tower Bridge, UK.

THE WONDERFUL SWAMI I HAVE SEEN My salutations at the Lotus Feet of our ever present Swami, and Sai Ram to all of you. Sai Ram. I see that the theme for this retreat is All is One, and I was reflecting about it, in that I have come from India to United States and from there to U.K; and you enter a Sai Regional Retreat and you immediately feel one with everybody in the hall; only because our Beloved Swami binds us all together with His Love! So, thank you for having me here. Its late in the evening; so I hope I will be able to bring a little bit of Swami to you today. Someone just read out a beautiful story at the beginning of her talk about the Master and the three people who visited in the form of the woman and the child. Our Master is known to do things like that. No Need For An Invitation As she was reading that I was thinking about a strange experience that happened to me in 1970. My mother, for the first time was to visit London, UK as Swami had asked her to come and speak in Mr. Sitarams house (who was one of the oldest devotees who started the first Sai Center s here in U.K). Swami had asked her to come and visit them in their house, because this was one of the first centers that was opened outside of India. My mother had never traveled outside of India. She was coming by herself for the first time and Swami, with all of His love had written a letter to the Sitarams first telling them that He would be sending my mother. He had even written in that letter what she ate and she was a vegetarian; and a very picky vegetarian at that! And when we went to Puttaparthi just before my mother was leaving - I was a young girl in school - Swami had asked us in for an interview because my mother was leaving. And in that interview, He was telling my mother: You dont worry; I have written to Mr. and Mrs. Sitaram, they will be at the airport at Heathrow to pick you up. As we were leaving the interview room, He even asked my mother about money - at that time foreign exchange was quite difficult to come by in India - and He even gave my mother 500 pounds to bring with her to UK, if she wanted to do shopping! But fun aside, in that particular interview, there was a lady in the interview room, and as Swami was speaking to all of us, (there were several people in the interview room) she kept speaking up every time Swami paused, and she would say Swami you must come to our town. We are doing a lot of seva, service in our town. And at that time, you must understand of course, that the Sai Organization was still young - it was still sort of getting a format and Swami had chosen several people in different areas to lead the organization in their places. So, every time Swami paused she would say: Swami, you must come. The first time she said that Swami ignored her; second time, ignored her; third time, I was beginning to get a little nervous because you know that when Swami is ignoring you twice when you say something you are better off being quiet. I knew that there was a lesson that was coming our way in the form of this poor woman who was going to be the scapegoat of the evening. So the third time, when Swami was still speaking about something, she said it again: Swami, you must come to our town. So Swami looked at her and said: But I have! I have come to your city! Now this poor woman, she still would not keep quiet and said: No Swami, You have not come to our city.

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Swami changed the topic, and suddenly looked at her and said: How is the service going on in your town? And immediately she was very happy because she was the service coordinator in her city. She said: Swami, the service is going on so wonderfully well; you know when we started off, there used to be about five or ten families who used to go out and do seva. Swami had at that time said: Everyday, when youre doing seva, put aside a handful rice or flour that you are using for your family; collect it over a period of time, and then pool all the rice. The Sai devotees together, cook a dish and then distribute it to the poor people. And the idea behind putting aside one handful every day was - to remember the people who didnt have anything to eat at every meal that you cooked for your family. So the lady said: Swami, when we started off there were ten families who were putting aside the rice. Now we have a hundred people and we have about 25 kilos of rice that we get together. And we are feeding a lot of people. Swami, the seva is going wonderfully well! And this is asking for trouble if you know Swami! Because it is not for us to tell Him how wonderfully well we are doing seva, it is for Him to tell us how well we are doing. Swami said: Oh! Very happy! Very happy!" "Chaala Santosham! in Telegu. Now, this lady was beside herself with joy! She was the seva coordinator; she was all ready to go back and tell everybody how wonderful it was. And then suddenly out of the blue, Swami said: What kind of rice do you use for cooking? I immediately nudged my mother because I was sensing that a lesson was coming - and they come in the form of a smile in the beginning! She said: Swami, very good rice! We use very good rice! Swami said: No, I am not asking about the other people, I am asking about you! What kind of rice do you keep aside for the seva activity? She said: Good rice. Swami said: Oh really! Good rice? She said: Yes Swami, very good rice! and in the middle, she kept saying: But Swami, you must come to our city to see the seva! Swami said: Very good! Very good! Ah! I know, five rupees rice for the family, two rupees rice for the Narayana seva, for the service, for the poor feeding. So the lady says: No, no Swami! Swami said: Yes, Yes! You dont believe me? Five rupees rice for your house, two rupees rice for the poor. Obviously the five rupees rice the quality is better, the two rupees rice is not properly cleaned; not a good quality. She said: No Swami, good rice Swami. And Swamis whole smiling face changed! To this day even as I narrate this incident to you, I can go back in time to 1970 and see His face changed! He said: You dont believe me? Wait! I will show you. Did you not give the beggar who came to your house who said: Mother give me rice? a whole sack full of rice that you had bundled in a red cloth that you had kept aside for Narayana seva? Did you not give it to that beggar two years ago? You dont believe me? Wait! And He walks into the inner room, to His bedroom and comes out holding the red sack which was given to the beggar two years back filled with the two rupees rice! Did you not give this to Me? I have been to your city! You can imagine the silence, the utter silence in that room and the embarrassment of that lady! She was embarrassed. She had tears in her eyes. But believe me, the ten people in that interview room that day would never dare to go out and ever do seva in a way that would not please Swami! Because it was such a moving experience. Swami does come, as the Master did in any Form at any time! This is the wonderful Swami I have seen since I was a small child. He has been my Mother, He has been my Father, He has been my Teacher, a very good Friend, and He has been a Wonderful, Loving Master too. To give you a little bit about the background that we were talking about earlier. My grandfather came to Swami in 1943. He came in a very strange way - he didnt want to come - they dragged him along. My aunts had seen Swami 6 months before that in the year 1942, and they had seen a young Swami who was just sixteen years old at that time. They had been so moved by His singing, and His message, that they had gone back home and Swami had told them to come back for the Dussehra, Navaratri celebration - the ten day celebration that happens in the month of October. So they wanted my grandfather to take them along to Puttaparthi because in those days, the journey to Puttaparthi was so difficult! Highlights Of The Journey To PuttaparthiThose Days

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I am sure you have all read in books about the horrendous journey to Puttaparthi. It is only a hundred miles from Bangalore where my family lives - all the members of my family live in Bangalore. It was only a hundred miles, but it would take us more than a day and a half to get to Puttaparthi! We would leave Bangalore around two oclock in the afternoon, and reach a town - a small village in Andhra Pradesh - called Pennukonda around two oclock in the night. And the train would stop there and we would get out. And at two oclock in the night, there was nothing there - just a granite block which was the station - and we would just sit on that stone. I remember all of my childhood, having spent many, many hours in this place in Penukonda. We just took out our sheets from our little bags, and we just spread it on the stone and just laid down and dozed off till about six in the morning, and around six oclock or so, some of the elders would run around and try to get some milk from the near by shop keepers to give milk to all the children in the group. And nobody would sell milk to us because we were going to Puttaparthi and nobody in Penukonda believed in Swami (who was 16 -17 yrs at that time). Nobody had Faith in Him. And they said heres a crazy boy who says He is God and youre all coming from the city and making it worse! So they would actually stone these people and say: Go back in the next train, dont go! And these people (devotees) would just sit there saying: Sai Ram, Sai Ram. Once in a while some poor villager will feel sorry for the children and sell a little bit of milk. And the children would be given milk, and around 7 o clock in the morning, we would all be put into a little cart and taken to another place called Bukkapatnam - that was the next village - and you got out there. And then, once you got out there, there were two choices; either you could walk to the River Chitravathi and wade through the water to cross the river and get to Puttaparthi- the old Mandir) - or you could get into a bullock cart. And the bullock cart guy would take us across the river, if he felt like it. Sometimes he would take you up to the river and say I am not going anywhere, everybody get off! because the river would be in spate; its not the same Chitravathi as you see now; there would actually be water there! Especially in the month of October, there would be a lot of rain, the river would be flowing quite rapidly and then you had to get off!

Puttaparthi in 1940s - 50s Sometimes, he would say: Ill take you across but only the children and the luggage. So all the adults had to wade through the river and the poor ladies would all be screaming and yelling trying to cross the river wearing saris, and they would all be scared as nobody knew swimming! And the children, I cannot believe our elders did this to us! Now that I think back, they would put us in this bullock cart - with the luggage - put all of us in it! I remember my cousins and all of us, we would all sit in the bullock cart and the bullocks would be made to go into the river. And you know what happens when the bullocks go into the river, they start swimming! So the cart floated behind these bullocks; and this hill that we had to come down - there would be a whole bunch of people standing on the hill - and the first victim group would be the bullock carts. Everybody would be screaming: Sai Ram! Sai Ram! And these guys with the bullock carts would be making some really strange noises! And we would say: Why are you scaring us with these screaming? They would say: We are not scaring you; we are trying to scare the bullocks into swimming! So they would scream and yell and these bullocks would swim faster and faster, and we would be in the cart with the entire luggage, going up and down in the water.

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One load got off, he would come back; and then the second group of people, so you can imagine the heart attack the second group was having after having watched the first group from the hill! We would all be dumped in again! In the meantime, on the way back these guys in the bullock cart would eat all the food! There was nothing available in Puttaparthi! Those of you, who have gone to Puttaparthi now, believe me; you are all very, very lucky! Theres the Italian restaurant, theres the Pizza Hut, theres everything! When we went to Puttaparthi, there was nothing there! There was not even a store! If you forgot one thing to bring from Bangalore, you had to go back on the bullock cart, back to Bukapatanam to buy it. So believe me, we packed everything quite well. So, this would be our journey. We would have left the previous day, at two oclock in the afternoon, and this is the following morning at 11 or 12 oclock when youre going through the river, going on the bullock cart, and arriving there in Prashanti Nilayam soaked to your skin! But on the other side of the bank was our Beloved Lord, waiting to help us out of the bullock carts! Come on! You must be really tired! All the ladies are wet. Come in! And there were no rooms. No Prashanti Nilayam, nothing! They had to go to the old mandir; there would be just three rooms there; Swamis room, my grandfathers room and one extra room. So we all went into that room to change. By the time we came out, the food was ready! Swami would have had the village ladies cook the food, and He would make sure that all the children were fed, all the adults were fed. And then this is about three o'clock in the afternoon; He would say: Ah!! Now that everybodys hunger has been taken care of, sit down and tell me what happened in Bangalore ? How did you all get going? How long are you going to stay? Grandfather and the Sixteen-Year-Old Sai So this was our trip to Puttaparthi. And on one of these trips, my grandfather (I havent forgotten that I had started the story with my grandfather) was asked to go with the ladies; because they couldnt go by themselves without a male escort on these journeys that were so difficult. And he was an orthodox Brahmin gentleman in those days when things like that mattered. He said; I am not coming to see some sixteen year old! He is not even a Brahmin! He has never gone to school! He doesnt know Sanskrit! I am not coming! So the ladies pestered him, they said: No, you dont have to come. You just escort us all the way to Puttaparthi because we want to see Him again. He has asked us to come.

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In that village of Puttaparthi, there was a relative of ours who lived there, who was a priest of the temple, so he said: Alright! I will accompany you all but I am not coming to see this young boy! Do you think I am crazy to come and see a sixteen year old, uneducated, non-Brahmin, illiterate person and believe that He is some kind of important person? You people are all crazy! I am not coming to see Him. I believe in my Lord Shiva that I worship everyday. I will drop you off all there and go to my relative's house and spend my time there and thats about it! So they finally convinced him. They were happy to have a gentleman to go with them. And they did this whole trip of the bullock cart, and the train, and the bus, and being stoned in Pennakonda and everything else! He was scolding them as the time went by - as he saw what the journey was like - and finally, they arrived in the old mandir. If any of you have been to Puttaparthi and have not been to the old mandir, please do so, it has changed a lot now but I think the stone where Swami used to sit is still there. They arrived there around five-thirty in the evening, and Swami in those days, used to sit on that stone and there was no bhajans as we have it; no devotional singing the way we do it these days. They used to just sing long songs one after the other, one person would sing a song and a second person would sing a second song, and Swami would sing the third one, but Swami would join in the bhajan too!

At that time in the evening while the bhajan was going on, these four people - my grandfather, and my two aunts arrived, and as they entered the compound of the old Pattam Mandaram, the old mandir; there was Swami, sitting on the rock. And here comes the gentleman who is supposed to be helping these two ladies - this is my grandfather, Sheshagiri Rao. He takes one look at Swami that he had vowed not to - because he was going to go away - he takes one look at Him; two seconds, and bang! He has fainted on the floor. So you can imagine these two aunts! He was supposed to be protecting them and here he is on the floor in a dead faint! Swami gets up from the middle of the bhajan and says: Dont worry, dont worry! He gets up, and helps them carry this 58 year old man into Swamis room and puts him on His bed. Swami says Dont worry; he is going to be like this for two days. You people go and attend the bhajan. So these poor ladies, this is the second time theyre seeing Swami; they have a father who has fainted away, and they are sitting and trying to sing bhajans! Talk about concentration! And there is Swami, happily sitting on the rock continuing with the bhajan. As the bhajans are done, they say: What has happened to our father? Swami said: Dont worry, hell tell you when he wakes up. But he is alright, Ill look after him. So, for one and a half days, Swami looks after this old man - 58 years old, puts water in his mouth every two hours, materializes vibhuti, puts it on his head every two hours. This goes on for two days and these poor women, they dont know if he is going to recover or not. Two days later he gets up and he is a completely changed man! He said: You ladies, you two daughters of mine, you can go back to Bangalore, but I am not coming back. They said: You said you were not going to come here! What do you mean you are not coming back with us? He says: No, when I walked in into that compound, and I saw the young boy sitting on the rock, in His face, I had the vision of Lord Shiva. In His head, I saw the moon, and on His forehead, I saw the third eye! This is the Lord Shiva that I have been worshipping for the past fifty years. And now that I have seen Him, why would I leave Him? I am not coming back. So he resigned his job from Puttaparthi and he never came back. He would visit Bangalore; he would visit us with Swami - when Swami came to Bangalore - and he lived there till 1965, until he passed away.

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We are all trying to get closer, and nearer, and dearer to Swami. But it is a lot of work. It is a wonderful thing to hear all these stories, but then it is not just listening to the stories; fortunately or unfortunately, we have to practice what He teaches us. From that place where my grandfather said: He is not even a Brahmin. Where I am more important than somebody else, had to change into We, and then it had to change into Us. We had to grow from a narrow I, my family to our family, relatives, and friends and then all the Sai devotees included. It has taken a long time to grow. So he stayed there and because of him, my father came into Swamis fold at the young age of 21; and I was very, very fortunate therefore to be born into this family. So it wasnt too difficult really. In fact, I admire all of you, who have come later to Swami; because it is more difficult when you are a grown up. When you are an adult, when the world has already entered your system; to come and accept and see and believe; its much more difficult. And especially for those who have come from a different culture; its even more difficult and I really recognize that and I didnt really realize that until Swami asked me in 1988 to go away to U.S.A. 'Pack Your Bags' My husband and I were in Bangalore - my husband was taking care of the Sai Center there, I was a Bal Vikas teacher there, my children were born there. We were both very involved in the Sai activities in Bangalore and in Swamis physical presence all the time and we had no desire to leave Him and go so far away. And then suddenly out of the blue one day, He told us: Pack your bags, time to go! And we didnt want to go! We cried, I threw a tantrum - I have been a bad problematic child for Him; but He has been very kind to me like mothers are usually for difficult children - and I didnt want to go. He said: No, you have to go! He gave me a very beautiful talk that day when I had to leave. He said: You know, you have had so many experiences here near Me, do you think that was for free? Nothing is free in this world unfortunately. He said: You have to go; and when you go - youve seen only the little Swami, the five foot three inch Swami - but when you leave me and go away to the United States, you will see a Cosmic Swami! And I really have! Only because I have come to all these retreats and I have seen all these Sai devotees and I ask them: How did you hear about Swami? And they tell me all these wonderful stories and I say: My goodness! There was I in Bangalore, running to him with my littlest problems; and here people come to Him without seeing Him, without having ever spoken to Him, without having ever had a single interview! How does He do this? Its just that His Love radiates to each one of us when it is our time to come to Him. So, I came to United States and over the years, I have really understood what He meant when He said: Youve just seen a little Swami here, and you go and you will see a Cosmic Swami there! God And Dog And as the pervious speaker was talking about the dog, I was reminded of another incident. Theres a beautiful letter that Swami has written to my cousin who lived in the town of Mysore, which is about eighty miles from Bangalore.

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At that time, the mother had gone to Puttaparthi for one of the functions and left all the children by themselves. The oldest one being sixteen or seventeen and the little children were younger. And they had gone there telling them they will be back in two days. They had gone away and the children were there alone. And when the mother went to Puttaparthi, Swami asked her to stay on for the birthday celebration which was almost a month away! So the mother said: Swami, I have left all the children and come away, I cannot stay for one month in Puttaparthi! Swami said: Why are you worried about them? I am there with them. She said: No Swami, the children are so young; they will be worried about me and if I am not there, they wont be able to manage going to the school - the oldest one is going to college. Swami said: Dont worry, I will write a letter to them. And Swami wrote a beautiful letter to my cousin - which he still has! He wrote: Are you really worried that your physical mother is away from you when your Cosmic Mother; the Mother who has given birth to this whole Universe is with you? That is the question He asks: Are you worried that I am not there with you? I am always there with you! And He quotes a number of incidents in the letter of their daily routine! He says: Havent you all done this yesterday? Didnt you all do this day before yesterday? Didnt you pour extra oil into the lamp while lighting it in the pooja room day before yesterday? He writes all these incidents in the letter and then He says at the end: But if youre still worried, dont worry, the dog that you have in your house in the morning he is D-O-G, DOG; and in the night he is GO-D, GOD! He will look after you! Lots of incidences today that Swami has taken me back in time. So this is the wonderful Swami that I have experienced throughout my childhood where He has assured and re-assured us that He is always there with us and I am sure that Hell have plenty to say to me the next time I see Him, that I walked in 15 minutes late for the bhajan - the bhajan had already started when I came - I am sorry Swami that I came in late! High Drama At High Tea I remember General Cariappa who was the First General of the Indian Army after we gained independence. Swami used to be very fond of General Cariappa. He was a very tall man - tall of course for us Indians - he was about 6 3 or 6 4! And he would look down at Swami whenever Swami spoke to him, and Swami would always have to look up. So being a very well mannered person General Cariappa would kneel down and come down to Swamis height, so that Swami wouldnt have to look up at him! One day, Swami was coming to my parents house for dinner and General Cariappa said: Swami, You must come to high tea to our house on the way to Dr. Padnambans house. Dr. Padmanaban is my father. So Swami said: Surely! I will come. What time is high tea? So General Cariappa, in all our presence said: Swami, exactly at five o clock, not one minute before, not one minute after. So Swami said: Oh! Okay!

General Cariappa

My father, who used to drive Swami around at that time, was deputed to take Swami to General Cariappas house and from General Cariappas house he was to take Swami to our house for dinner. And my father is terrible at finding any place. You take him to the nearest place which is two minutes away and he will still manage to get lost! So my father was having a complete nervous breakdown at the thought of having to drive Swami from Brindavan to General Cariappas house and then, to our house. Brindavan to our house was not a problem; he knew the way because he has done that a million times, but he was really worried to take the deviation to General Cariappas house. So he said: I am going to do a trial run on the previous day; I will go to Brindavan and from Brindavan to General Cariappas house and then to our house; so I know the way correctly.

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In the meantime, Swami told my father: Make sure you are here on time because we have to be at high tea - not one minute before, not one minute after five oclock. My father was even more petrified! So I was the lucky eight year old, and I always went wherever Swami went; my father used to drive - when my brother was a little bit older he was sixteen or seventeen, my brother used to drive Swamis car - but I always tagged along. I was lucky to go in that car wherever Swami went till I was about 13-14 years old. Swami told me in Brindavan too that Make sure you are ready and youre in the car and not making anybody wait. So the previous evening my father and I go to Brindavan, we drive to Carriappas house, and drive back and everything is absolutely timed so that we are not late. The following day, we arrive in Brindavan. Swami gets into the car and asks him: Do you know the way Padmanaban?- Because Swami knows my father - Yes Swami, I have the directions, we have done a trial run yesterday, and I know the way. Very good! He says and gets into the car. My father starts off from Bangalore and drives and he knows the road so well; he is there ten minutes early! So Swami of course, who never wears a watch, says: Padmanab, you have come ten minutes early! Remember, he said not a minute before or after? Then He says: Go around the block a couple of times so that we are there exactly at five. Oh! You should have seen my fathers face! He went around the block - but he didnt know how to come back! Because that was not a part of the trial round! So he goes around and of course the ego doesnt let you say: Swami I am lost! How do you say that to Swami? Father looks at me and says: Did you make sure that you looked at all the cross-roads?" And you know in Bangalore at that time there were no street signs, no road names, nothing. And I am like nine years old! He says: Did you look at all the street names? Where did I turn? And he is asking me all this in whispers - because Swami is sitting in the back seat And I dont know where he went!

Swami bends down and says: Dont worry, I know the way. So Swami very sweetly directs my father and we come back exactly one minute before. And at five oclock we are at the door-step of General Carriapas house. And we walk in and General Cariappa, who is very well mannered, says: Come in Swami! And then Swami turns and looks at me - and I was a little girl - and He whispers: You are not allowed at the tea-table; just sit in the veranda. Because I was gate crashing you see, only Swami and my father are invited and I was part of this whole car routine. You sit in the veranda; Ill make sure they will send you a biscuit. So here I am, a little girl sitting in the veranda, eating my biscuit with Swami sitting inside for about half an hour; and then General Cariappa comes out and we all get into the car. And I was thinking, as I walked in: Swami, what would you say I am walking in the third bhajan when the bhajan has started! That is Swami, who is punctual! He is here. If you told Him you are starting at eight thirty, believe me, exactly at eight thirty He would have sat on that chair and it is ten minutes to ten and I dare not exceed my time again. I didnt come prepared for these talks and I will tell you a little story about that then we will stop. Speak Or Retreat In 1996, out of the blue, the U.S Retreat in my region asked me to speak because the vice-president of the Region was a member from our center in South Defesta; Washington D.C. He said: Geeta, you keep telling us all these stories whenever we come to your house for dinner, why dont you speak at the Retreat, and share all your stories with our friends? I said: No, I dont know if Swami would approve or not and I dont have His permission to speak. He said: No! How can you say that? This is Swamis work, you should do it! I said: Swamis work or not, I am not sure if He would want me to talk about my interactions with Him!

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But he kept on saying: No, you have to speak, you have to speak! And I was very nervous! I have spoken at EHV training meets and its very easy because they give you a topic and say: You speak on this topic. And you prepare and you read from the Sathya Sai Speaks; I dont know but I am sure all of you in the U.K are very well versed in reading the Sathya Sai Speaks. But in my center, I can tell you in Washington; the only books that are absolutely new for the past ten years are the Sathya Sai Speaks. The pages are so beautiful and the books are so well maintained! But when I was given a topic, I would refer and the best thing that has come out in the past few years is the index and when you want to talk about non-violence; you look for non-violence in the Sathya Sai Speaks number 7, page number 42. And you read up that part of Swamis discourse and prepare it. Those talks are easy. And I have done that many times! But I had never spoken about my personal experiences. Because, when you speak about Swami in that personal fashion, you have to carry a great responsibility on your shoulders. So I said I am not going to do it. He said: No, you have to do it! I said: Okay, I will see, Swami is in Bangalore, I will see if my father will ask Him. My father has spent 60 years serving Swami, and his one rule in the past has been: I never ask Swami anything personal for myself or my family! That has been his rule. I didnt know how to tell my father: Can you ask Swami if I can speak at the retreat? I kept thinking how can I ask my father to ask Swami because he is with Him all the time; and I came up with a loop-hole. We all like loop-holes right? So I thought: Its not really a personal matter, it is a Sathya Sai Organization matter. They are asking me to speak at the retreat. Ah! Thats good. So I called him on a Thursday afternoon; I was going to say can you please ask Swami on my behalf, because they are pestering me. As soon as I call my father, he picks up the phone. He had just come home from Brindavan having spent all day with Swami. He said: Oh I am so glad you called. I have something to tell you. I said: Forget what you have to tell me. I have something important to tell you. He said: No, no, this is something that Swami said. I said: Oh! What did Swami say? So he said: In the afternoon Swami took me for a drive in the car and He asked: How is Geeta? I said: She is fine. He said: Tell her to go and speak if anyone asks her. My father didnt know what Swami meant. What Swami? He said: Tell her its okay to do Swamis work, what is the confusion to do Swamis work. There should be no confusion in doing Swamis work. My father is a very strict man. He said: Have you not been doing Swamis work? I said: I have been doing everything at the center! Okay, heres what they have been asking me to do: they have been asking me to speak at the Retreat. I want you to ask Swami is it okay to speak at the Retreat. My father said: You want me to ask Swami for you? No! I told him: Please can you ask because its an organizational thing? And I told him about my loophole strategy and it still didnt work. He said: Look, Swami already said there should be no confusion to do Swamis work. So go and do it if they have asked you to do it! I said: But, youre not getting it! Tell Swami that at the Retreat really important people like Dr. Hislop and Dr. Goldstein have spoken there. I cant go and speak! There will be a thousand people who are going to be at the Retreat! At our Retreats in the mid Atlantic region 900 to 1000 people attend the Retreat! I cannot speak at this Retreat. Its a huge crowd and all these important people have spoken there. Will you explain to Swami that this Retreat is big? My father said: I am not going to go and tell Swami: Swami, the Retreat is big and You dont understand it.' I said: Well, can you do something? My father said: I am not going to do anything, you call me again over the weekend, and if Swami wants to say anything, by that time He would have!

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I wait for two or three days and in the meantime Uncle Singh has been calling me everyday: Have you decided? I said: No! No! No! Finally I call on Saturday night and my father said: Swami said for you to go and speak. I asked: But, what did He say? He said: He took me for a drive again and asked: What? Is your daughter still confused? Whats the confusion now? I am always confused, Swami knows that. My father told Swami: She is very nervous because theres going to be a thousand people there and all the important people have spoken. Swami said: Ask her to go and speak. So, I did that - in 96 for the first time. Then, when I go to India in 97; He asked: Did you speak at the Retreat? I said: Yes Swami. I spoke at the Retreat. Its over right? I dont have to speak again?

Swami looked at me and said: Oh! Is it you that is speaking? I said: Swami I dont want to speak again. He said: You think you are the one that is speaking? What are you afraid of? You are just the tape recorder. When I turn you on; speak; when I shut you off; quiet! So that is how I started to speak. And its time to be quiet now. Sai Ram!

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HIS LOVE...THROUGHOUT MY LIFE"


Whenever I talk about my own experiences, the child growing up at His Feet or about my youth or adulthood, I always go back in time and enjoy that incident. I was fortunate enough to be born in a family, where my great grandfather came to Swami in 1943, so ever since then we have had the fortune to enjoy His physical presence since we were living in Bangalore.

The First Incident In my childhood it used to take almost 11 hours to go to Puttaparthi, by train, bus, bullock cart, walking and wading in the river. We had Swami with us from 6 in the morning until 10 in the night. In fact my great aunt used to tell Swami, Please go now we have to do our household work. You are always with us and we can not wash our clothes. It sounds like a dream. Now He tells us, My blessings are with you, you can go now. In those days He would call us and say, Stay one more day. I will now share with you the first incident - if not for which I would not be speaking before you today if it were not for His Grace a month ago. On November 22nd last month at our Sai centre in South Bethesda, we had planned a very big 4-day programme for Swamis Birthday, for Thanksgiving weekend. Our programme would begin on the 23rd afternoon, so on 22nd evening I had been very busy. I had been the Education coordinator there, and since it was a big programme I had been very busy for 3 months getting the children ready. ATM Robbery So on 22nd evening around 5.30pm I decided I would buy some flowers and fruits for my morning worship; so I went to a store, which happened to be in a very big shopping area. There was a crowd buying things for Thanksgiving, and on the way I went to an ATM. I parked my car to draw some money and opened the door to get out, but as I did so a man ran over the grassy area from behind and opened the back door of my car and got in. He put his left arm around me and in his right hand he had a knife which he put to my throat and said, Drive, drive, drive! I could not drive the car since I had not shut the door, so I said, Look if it is the money you want I will give it to you. He said, No, dont you see they are chasing me - drive! I said, Let me shut the door and in that delay Swamis grace appeared. Due to that delay two police cars, which had apparently been chasing him, blocked my car from both ends. Then six police officers came towards my car. But when they realized that he had a knife around my neck they stopped fifteen feet away from my car, so they could see him and he could see them. I could not see him, but I have a little picture of Swami stuck to my cars glass shield and I had my hand on it. As the police were approaching I started to speak to him, Look if you do anything to me you will be in trouble - you would be in prison for life. But if you give up now you will be in prison for 2 or 3 years. Neither can you run out of the car nor can I drive you out - so dont you think you should give up. How is Geeta? There was a pause and then he said, How come you are not afraid?

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I said, What is the use of being afraid. You have complete control over me and I cannot do anything. If it is my time to go I have to. My children are very much settled, but you will not be able to go anywhere, so you would be better off if you give yourself up. There was a pause again, and of course all the while it was Swami who was talking through me. Then he said, OK, opened the door and put his hands up in the air and started to walk towards the police officers. As he passed my car the police pounced on him and it was terrible to see police pounce on a human being who has submitted. They dragged him away and threw him in the police car and then two policemen came to enquire whether I was fine. But I asked them why they had to treat him in that way when he submitted, and how does the law work out if a lawyer is with him? They were all thinking I was slightly crazy or I had misplaced sympathies, whereas I was supposed to be worried about a lawyer for myself. Then of course they started to ask me about what I had spoken to him so that he had opened the car door and given himself up. So I explained all that happened and they could not believe it. So thats what happened that day. So I guess I have been a troublesome child to Swami all through. In fact Swami joked with me once - Everybody celebrates My Birthday and you always give Me work on My birthday. It happened that my parents were there in Parthi on the 24th and they were not aware of what had happened. On that day when my mother was sitting in Darshan Swami came towards her and said, How is Geetha? She said, She is alright Swami, she is fine. Then Swami said Oh! Is she fine? My mother was taken aback because she realised that Swami knows something about me. Then she said, Swami, I talked to her on the 10th and she was fine then, after which I did not contact her. Then Swami told her, Now she is fine. She thought that maybe I was sick and that now I must be alright. So when she came back from Parthi, I told her of this incident and then she realized what Swami tried to tell her that day. Swami Is Always With Us When Swami came back to Brindavan on 2nd of December, my father was there - he is the man who walks behind Swami to collect letters. Swami described to him all that had happened to me. And Swami said, She is crazy, she is always crazy, she was asking for a lawyer for that fellow. The point I want to make here is that Swami is always with us and He will take care of us, but sometimes we dont know or believe it, because the quality of life we lead is sometimes not up to Swamis expectations. So things like this reassure us that Swami is always with us and He knows every thought, word and action. This is How Life is - Snakes and Ladders In those days Swami used to come and stay with us in Bangalore and He was part of our family. For many years in my childhood He was a wonderful uncle for me. He used to talk with elders in the evening but also had a special time for us children where he used to tell us either stories, or play some games with us. Even though He would

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play games with us He used to teach us lessons in His own way. One of the games He would always play with us was Snakes and Ladders. We children would say, Swami we dont want to play this game with You, as You always win. The dice would roll the number He wanted. Then He would say, No, no I will play like you. Then He would be behind for some time losing and suddenly He would be again right at the top and then say, Look at you useless people - you dont even know how to play Snakes and Ladders! This is how life is, full of snakes and ladders. Sometimes you go up and sometimes you come down, but your goal is to reach 100 - divinity. To do that you have to face both snakes and ladders, at the same time you have your set of dice in the hands of God. He will take you across in a boat.

Dial Vibhuti This incident happened to me when I was eight years old. At that time, my grandmother who lived in Parthi was sent by Swami to Bangalore for an eye operation. When she went through the checkup she was told that she needed surgery. She had deep faith in Swami and wanted to go back to Parthi to pray for Swamis blessings. But my father said, Why do you want to go? He sent you. No, these doctors will make me blind, so I need His blessings, she replied. My father did not agree to the request. That night my parents had gone somewhere and my grandmother was telling me that she is dependent on my father to take her to Parthi and he was not ready to take her, but she wanted Swamis blessings. Suddenly the phone rings and there was a long distance call from Bukkapatnam and Swami was there on the telephone! Those days there was no phone service in Parthi. He said, Is this Geetha? I said, Yes, Swami He said, Is the old lady complaining? Put her on the phone. Then she started complaining to Swami that she is not allowed to come to Him and that the doctors will blind her and all other things possible. On the other side Swami said that His blessings are with her; but then my grandmother replied, Your blessings are there but I want your Vibhuti, without it how can I go. That was the kind of personal love she had for Him. Swami says, You can demand. I am your mother. So I think He said to give the phone to me, and then He said, Geetha, do you find a piece of paper anywhere there. I said, Yes, Swami. Put it near the phone. So I put the telephone down and there came a mound of Vibhuti onto the paper, enough for the whole month! I knew that the phone service does not provide such things, so I was surprised! And then Swami said very sweetly in Telugu Vachinda? (Did you get it?) Give it to the old woman - she will be very happy. Her Only Refuge I was very happy and excited about this experience, but later on after all the excitement had gone down I started to think that if we believe Him to be God He can do anything. But looking on the other side of the miracle, the old

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ladys faith could draw Swami from across 100 miles, across the telephone wires, and He responded to her whose only refuge was Him. And I learnt that the greatest miracle is the Lords response to the devotees prayer made in complete faith. Swami taught this lesson to us children, who were then so troublesome. It used to happen that Swami would create Paries chocolates, and we used to ask Him to create some other chocolate such as Cadburys which was rare. So from that kind of mentality I realized that He is not here for creating such petty things but something more. So in this way, due to His love, I started to learn many lessons. Sais Non-Violence One such wonderful lesson I learnt during the Summer Course. Swami always tells us that we should not destroy anything because we are not capable of creating anything. During a Summer Course I happened to be there with a friend and that particular day the subject for discussion was non-violence. We heard many speeches and in the evening my friend and I would make notes sitting down in the lawns. As we were talking and making notes for the day we were pulling grass from the lawn and in between us was created a heap of grass. Then my friend said, Look at this Geetha - we talked about non-violence and we have pulled out so much grass. I said, Why do you continuously speak philosophy, it's just grass, and that was end of the conversation. Every day during the Summer Course we had to get up at 4 am and go for Omkaram, Gayathri chanting etc. but I was not a person for all these - I wanted to sleep. So I would sit at the back of the hall and would sleep. One day as I was taking my nap there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Swami, catching me red handed sleeping in meditation. I thought that that He would kick me out of the course and what would my father say?

Swami said, Dont make noise, come outside. We went to the rose garden, which was right next to the tent. Then He said, Hey, what did you do yesterday? I thought that I was saved because Swami did not mention my sleeping. I said, Swami, I dont remember anything about yesterday. Then He said, No, no what were you doing with your friend? I said, I was all the time talking to her Swami. Not talking - did you not pull grass! How can you pull out a living thing? It is not an inanimate thing, come here. The Rose Touch of Pure Love Then He took me to a rose bush and touched a tiny little rose bud, which was nowhere near blossoming. And just as you would see in a video the rose bud began to grow bigger and bigger, finally blossoming into a red rose. A foolish thing came out of my mouth, Swami, You can do it but I cant. Swami replied No, no you can do it too; come here. Then He held my hand and made me touch another rose bud. The same thing happened - it grew bigger and bigger and turned into a rose. Swami said, If you show love to anything in this

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world, it will respond. But you have to show it the way I do it, that is what you have to learn; learn to show love, dont destroy. Go and sit down. So I survived the Summer Course. But I had learnt a great lesson not to hurt anything. Then in 1988 Swami told me Go to America. I said, Swami when You had me married You promised me that you would keep me with you. Swami replied, I kept you for 10 years - now you go to America. So I went to America. In the first summer my husband was mowing the lawns and I told him, Mohan, for pulling out a few blades of grass I got into trouble and you are going to cut the whole area. I cannot go back to Puttaparthi.

The Correct Medicine In 1992 Swami had called us for an interview. As soon as I entered the interview room Swami said, In America you have to cut the grass. By now I was a grown up lady with two children and that experience had happened when I was young girl. Swami laughed and said, That is just a haircut. When I was 15 I needed that lesson, now when 30 I knew the difference. So Swamis teachings changes depending upon our age. Swami says, When three patients come with stomach pain they have to be given different medicine; they cannot have the same medicine. He always says, We have to have harmony in thought, word and action. He is the right person to see it personified in. I will tell you two incidents. When He told me to go to America I cried that I would not, but then He finally said I have to go. So my husband came before me and two months later I came along with my children who were five years old. I had heavy baggage since all my relatives and friends were giving things for their people in America and in this way my luggage was increasing. Then my father started telling me, What is this? Swami says less luggage and you are carrying so much. You are not following any of Swamis teachings. I Will Lift Her Suitcase He generalizes in this way and so we had a little argument in the car about this. We went to Brindavan and there Swami said, What - Padmanabham as usual scolding you? My father said, Swami she is not listening to any of Your teachings; she is taking three suitcases.

So Swami said, Why are you worried - it is her suitcase, let her carry what she wants. Then my father said, Swami, it is very heavy she cannot lift it. Swami said, Are you lifting it? I will lift her suitcase. All this was in fun and we all laughed. I did not give much thought to it and landed in San Francisco. As my father had predicted I could not carry my suitcases, as they were so heavy. My problem was to put them on the trolley, which I could not do and my five-year-old sons (twins) were going here and there. Somehow I managed but then there was an announcement on the PA system announcing my name, to come to the Singapore airlines counter. There a lady told me that there is a gentlemen here waiting to help you out with your luggage. There was a very nice Afro-American gentleman wearing identification and a badge. I forgot

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about what happened in Brindavan; instead I thought what a wonderful man my husband is, he has sent somebody to help me. Since this was the first time I was coming many papers had to be cleared and all this time this tall man was with me. And when we came to customs, he said, Are you going to open up the suitcases - the poor lady has been here for an hour. So customs cleared us. We came out and my husband was there, he turned the car and as he put the luggage in I said, We have to pay the porter. We searched for him but he was not there. And then as we were going in the car I narrated all that had happened in the interview with Swami: the argument with my father and the final word of Swami that He would carry my luggage. As I said these words it struck me. The next morning as my father saw Swami, He said You were right Padmanabham - what did she carry in those suitcases, they were so heavy. Ever since then, I make sure that if I ask Him for help I will never pray to Him to lift my luggage. When I later met Swami I said, Swami, I made you lift my heavy suitcases, Swami replied What? I came to lift the burden of the world, how do your suitcases matter?

Swamis Seat Beside Me

That is my Swami - in every single way He shows us that He is there. Even a simple joke turned out to be true. Even when we joke he hears us. My two children were fighting in the car to sit in front and I told them that they couldnt sit there. This went on for many days and one fine day I said, Dont you know that its Swamis seat beside me and I have to drive, so you cannot sit there. Then the argument stopped and they would sit quietly at the back. After four years I went to Parthi, since Swami told me not to come for four years. Then in Darshan lines in Parthi, Swami said, Front seat is for me! But you are keeping all your audio tapes there - where can I sit? I was not telling my children the truth in fact I never believed Swami to be in that seat. I told them that to make them stop the argument. So basically Swami showed me - no harmony in thought, word and deed. Because of this disharmony we do not see Him with us. He always gives an example; He tells us that mind is like a monkey, it cannot sit still; it goes here and there, not only is it a monkey but it is also a mad monkey. Also it is a drunken mad monkey. And then again he says not only is it drunken, but it is also bitten by a scorpion. Beginning of Akhanda Bhajan

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I would like to share one wonderful experience of faith and love now. In 1945 my grandfather started the Akhanda Bhajan that we now do in a global way in the month of November. At that time we used to do it as a family Bhajan. Eight families would get together for Bhajans on every Thursday in their houses by rotation. So this went on from 1943 to 1944. They finished one year and then thought on that day let us have a 24-hour repetition of Namasmarana. So my grandfather wrote to Swami that He should bless them to start Akhanda Bhajan. The reply came, My blessings are there and I am coming for Akhanda Bhajan. So thats how it started - Swami would come on Wednesday to our house at lunchtime and after that He would say, Where is Akhanda Bhajan? Have you rented a hall? I want to see the hall. And there we would make some flower decorations and we would place Swamis photo. Swami would say, Look at my photo; I am not smiling - change that photo. In fact, what we have learnt is that we have to pay attention to every little detail when we are arranging something. On one such occasion we were all doing the assigned jobs and Swami was looking at each one of us doing our jobs. Then after a few minutes we saw that Swami was not there and that He was behind the stage where there were two rooms. One, where we arranged a table and chair for Swami to relax, and the other was a storage room where we had put our things and left our slippers. So we were searching where Swami was and we saw Swami arranging everybodys sandals in a neat single row. Immediately we told our elders and they came running to stop Swami. Swami said, You people were so busy, you forgot to put these sandals in a proper manner, so I am putting them properly as I did not have any work. Devotion Renders Cure On one occasion before the Bhajan a young man had come to my house. He had some skin problem but he was a wonderful singer. He asked my father to convey to Swami to bless him since he had a skin problem. My father refused and suggested that he can have Swamis Darshan during the Bhajan and if Swami wills it, it will cure. He attended Bhajan and began singing. In the evening Swami came for dinner to my house and told my mother to go and attend the Bhajan and that He would stay back. Suddenly at 10 pm it started to rain. Swami said, Padmanabhan get the car I have to go to Bhajans. My father suggested that He could relax as He had been busy 6 hours and he would take Him in the early morning. But Swami said that He wanted to go and He asked me also to come. And there the young man was singing with a most devoted tone, fully immersed. And as He sang Darasha Dikhavo (Grant me Darshan) Swami entered and stood in front of him, without him knowing and everybody in the hall was looking at this. As he finished the Bhajan he opened his eyes and Swami bent down and blessed his head - and right in front of our eyes all the patches on his body disappeared. That is what devotion can do. How can we not love such a Lord who was supposed to retire for the day but comes in the middle of the night to answer prayers?

Silver Service Sometimes He even answers prayers which come out of anger. One day after I just came to US, I had not even

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unpacked my luggage, one elderly lady had come to my house and I had wanted to give her fruits and kumkum (vermillion), a south Indian custom. I was looking for the silver container which had the kumkum and did not find it. Since my childhood my parents have brought me up in such a way that I dont come with any problem to them. So that day I was very irritated within. And I was telling my husband, Why does He put me through this kind of test; cant He give me a better test; I am eligible for a better test. Anyway, I unpacked my boxes next day and not finding the silver container I became even more upset. And in that irritation I said to myself that He is all the time so busy with these college students, so He does not remember us. I had hardly said this and half an hour later there is a knock on my door. I opened the door and there is an Indian person that I dont know, who asked me whether I am Geetha, Padmanabhans daughter? She said, I am on my way to the airport; in India your parents wanted me to give a small package to you, telling that Swami had given this package to be given during the birthday celebration. I open the package and inside it was a silver container with kumkum in it! I Have Come to Your Home I would like to share an incident on service which happened in 1970. Swami is so particular about service and He wants us to do service with love. Swami had asked my mother to visit Europe to go to some Sai centers there. There was a center at London and Swami had written letters to them to take care of her. So before leaving He called us for an interview and in that interview room Swami was talking to everybody. There was one particular lady who, whenever Swami paused, was asking Swami to come to her town. She was asking Him, even though Swami was ignoring her. Then finally Swami became irritated and said, What? I have come to your town. I have not only come to your town but also come to your home. She was making her case even more emphatic and she said, No, Swami, you have not come Swami. Then He changed the topic and Swami said, How is the Seva going on in your town? She said that it is going on well. In those days Swami used to suggest that everyday when we cook we keep a morsel of rice and collect it from every house and give it to somebody, so that we have that feeling of service every day. Then this lady started speaking about the service activities in her town, since she was in charge and she was proudly recounting all the activities. Swami said Very happy. Two Rupees Rice or Five Rupees Rice Then He said, Two rupees rice or five rupees rice? This lady said that different people bring different rice. Then Swami said, I am not asking about other people I am asking what rice do you get? She was still reluctant and said Good rice, Swami. Swami retorted What! For poor people, for Narayana Seva two rupees rice and for family five rupees rice? Two rupees rice which is not cleaned and in which stones are

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there - that is what you are serving with. Even then this lady said No Swami. Then Swami got up from the chair and said, You dont believe me, two years back I came to your house as a beggar and you gave Me rice which you saved for Narayana Seva. You got it in a red cloth and gave it to Me - you dont believe Me wait! He went inside the inner room, coming out with a red bag and said, Did you not give this to me? You can imagine that poor lady was sobbing. The basic message, which Swami was trying to convey, was to do service with love. If you dont feel love you better not do service. If you dont see Sai in the person whom you are serving then dont do the service. This was a very strong lesson, which I cannot forget to this day.

Subbulakshmi Surprise There is another incident, which conveys how Swami teaches us simple things in beautiful ways. When I was a young girl in Brindavan we were given some jobs, as there was no Sevadal gardener and cook. Everything was done by us. So my job was to set up the altar in Swamis bungalow and I used to come only once a week since I had school on other days. That particular weekend I did not want to go because MS Subbulakshmi (a very famous classical vocalist) was giving a concert in Bangalore - Swami is always there, but MS comes only once a while! But my parents were very strict and committed to Swami. They said, Once you are committed to Swami you should do the work. Then I said Why cant you do it for today. Then my parents replied that I should have informed Swami last week. Then I requested for half the concert. Mother said that we can come back after Swamis Bhajan. Then I grumbled, Swami sits and goes on answering questions after Bhajan and He will take an hour. But I had to go. Everyone was doing their job but I had a long face. Swami was moving around the house and He looked at me, saying Hey castor oil face, what is wrong with you, why are you banging my pictures? What happened, an argument with mother?

Swami, today there is a concert by MS Subbalaxmi in Bangalore. Then Swami said, She is a great singer isnt she. Then why did you not go? Swami, my mother told me I have to do my duty first. Swami replied, She could have cleaned the altar. At least she should have done that much. OK, you can go a little late, but if I start speaking after Bhajans then you will be late. So Swami was speaking of all that I had told my mother. Then Swami said, Today I will not speak after Bhajans -

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you all go for the programme. I was thrilled. Bhajans started and Swami was also singing. After sometime Swami asked everybody to wait and that He would come back. Five minutes later Swami walks in with Subbulakshmi! We were all shocked and Swami said, Subbalaxmi, didnt you have a concert today in Bangalore? No Swami, she replied, There was a misprint in the newspaper, its tomorrow. Swami told her See that young girl sitting there, she loves your music so much. He then gave her a list of songs which I like and asked her to sing those songs. She was a very good devotee of Swami and with all devotion she gave a private concert to the Lord. Then Swami called me and said See when you do your duty, God will reward you in more ways than you expect. You heard the concert today; you can go to the concert tomorrow as well. Vibhuti Chemistry One other thing He did for me concerns my inadequate grasp of chemistry. Even with Swami it was a joke, but He used to tell me to study hard. It was during 2nd year, which would be the last year and I thought I would get away with it. I had a practical exam the next day and had prepared the whole of the night. Swami was in Brindavan, so I told my mother that I would go for Darshan. My mother started telling me that I could go tomorrow after the exam.

Then I told my mother that I had studied enough, but I was not going to pass and instead I would like to go for Darshan. When we arrived for Darshan Swami came straight to me and said Papam (so sorry) chemistry exam is it not? Did you study? I said, Yes Swami, but I have forgotten whatever I studied. Swami said, No, I have seen you studying hard, what happened? Then He created Vibhuti saying, Tomorrow when you go for the exam, put it in the test tube. And that was only occasion when I got 98% in chemistry. If you run to Him for everything then He is there for everything.

Food for Love One more way of showing His love for me happened at the Anantapur Womens College, which was started in 1968. At that time the World Conference was going on in Bombay, so Swami asked my mother to attend the conference because she was going to be a coordinator. And for the first time my mother left me on my own. So since my mother was not there, my father told me that he would take me to a nice restaurant for breakfast after Darshan. For some reason I was missing my mother that day, and in Darshan Swami said, Missing mummy is it? I said, "Yes, Swami and then Swami said, Dont feel bad. At 10.30am I am going to Anantapur to see the construction. You come with me. So He instructed my father to follow Him by car to Anantapur. So we were following Swami and my father being a serious person does not like to sing or talk much. So He told me not to talk and told me to do Bhajans till

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Anantapur. So I started to sing very reluctantly and he did not even follow. I had to sing the first and second line with no breakfast. My father said, Do not stop or talk because Swami can see us from the front. After 25 miles Swamis car stopped, and Swami gets down from the car and not even wearing sandals, walks to our car and says, Hey! How many Bhajans are you making her sing? The poor girl is hungry, you have not fed her anything, you are making her sing so many Bhajans and you are not even following? Then Swami goes to the car finds some fruits and says, I know you do not like fruits but for now you eat them and as soon as we reach Anantapur I will arrange for lunch.

Watch for the Wave In Anantapur Swami was going through all the classrooms and in one of the rooms Swamis sister had prepared some food from Parthi and had brought it to Anantapur.

Swami had taken His plate and was serving all the dishes onto the plate, and people suggested that Swami should sit and eat. He said, You know Padmanabhans daughter, a small girl, has not had anything since morning. He was skipping some dishes, I was wondering why, and then He said, You do not like garlic is it not? I am skipping those. I was embarrassed and said, Swami, you have not eaten how can I eat? Swami said, No, no the children have not eaten, so how can elders eat? If I stand here you will not eat. I am going for one more round, by the time I come back you should finish the whole thing. That was Swamis love, so thoughtful, like a mother who could not bear the fact that a child is hungry. In the evening Swami said, There is no point in you coming to Brindavan. Near Devanahalli, I will take a left turn and you will go straight. Watch out for me, I will wave. Near the junction He pulls down the window and waves at me. These are the kinds of lessons He teaches, so that when I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, I can put it into practice. Kindergarten Chaos I will tell you a very strange incident which happened a few years back. I used to teach 5-year-old kindergarten boys. There was this boy who came to my class, whom many had told me to be careful of because he was a terror. On the first day as he enters the class he picks up a chair and throws it at the other children, then he throws some hard blocks and carried on in this way. I tried everything - talking to the child, to the mother, to the director of the school, but his mischief went on. I failed as a teacher, and a child used to get hurt everyday and that parent would come and complain. Everyday I would tell my husband about this child and he would suggest that I quit the job but that is not the way. After four months I was fed up and prayed to Swami, You had told me to love everybody. (When I was a Balvikas teacher He had told me that Your children are kamaputras, born of desire, whereas Balvikas children are Premaputras, born of love, so as they are more precious you should give them more love.) I said, You told me to love all the children, but I cannot love this child anymore. Everyday I enter the classroom I

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wish he is absent. There is something lacking in me as a teacher. Its not his mistake as he is just 5 years old. I blame You because You were my teacher and You did not teach me properly. If the child does not change tomorrow then I will resign. You will fail as a psychologist and I will fail as a teacher. Acting Handsome So I threatened Swami and then went to work. The child would dress well and everyday ask me if the clothes were smart. So he asked me the same question again. The words that came were not what I had planned, I said You look handsome, but you should act handsome. He asked me What does act handsome mean? I said You should not only look good outside but also inside, so that you are good to your friends, so that they like you. He said, That means I should not beat up anybody? I said, Yes. Then for next 20 minutes there was no head injury in my class. He comes back and says Does that mean that even if somebody annoys me I should not be mean to them? I said that he should not hurt anybody. Then he said, Thats really tough, That is tough I replied, But you can come and tell me and I can talk to the one who is annoying you. All the kids were playing in the ground and there were two boys arguing between themselves, and this boy said, Hey you guys, you are not acting handsome, start acting handsome. The boy changed slowly. He comes and meets me every Christmas; he is now in fourth grade. This time he said, Do you know I am the guy who resolves the conflicts in my classroom. Swami works out everything. Two years ago when I went to Parthi He asked me, How is that school rowdy? Share Love One wonderful example of His Omnipresence is that He once told me that I should be speaking to people about Him. I asked Swami why are you doing this to me? and He replied, Do you think I gave all My love all these years to you just for free? So share it with everybody. One day Swami told me to speak on non-violence as the Vice-President was coming. So I was very excited. I prepared a very good speech but the next day when I saw the people I was very nervous and I said that I would not speak. Swami said, Why are you scared? Show me what you have prepared. You are going to talk so much. Do you know that if it is a bad speech it is not only your 10 minutes wasted, but also if there are 300 people, 10 minutes x 300 is wasted. The first thing you do is smile. If you smile they feel like talking to you - that is all you have to do. I will tell you one more thing. You are a girl - smile and you will not get wrinkles when you are old. That is how Swami has shared His love throughout my life.

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