The Love of My Life
Ms. Malini Gadepally was born in Kolkata, India, and raised in Los
Angeles, California in the US. She joined Swami's school in
Prasanthi Nilayam in 9th grade, and went on to get a Bachelor's
degree in English literature from the Anantapur campus of the Sri
Sathya Sai University, graduating in 1991. After marriage, Malini
went on to get another degree in Liberal studies and a teaching
credential. She currently works as a Grade 3 teacher in the
California Public School system.
She is an active member of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Central San
Jose, California, and has taught SSE for 15 years now. She is also
an inspiring speaker, and has spoken in Sai meetings in different
parts of the US, Canada, Europe and India.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is the Love, Guiding Light and
Inspiration of my life. He has been the greatest influence on my
family and myself, and has shown His incredible love in ways too
numerous to even describe. This article is a humble attempt to
portray small examples of Swami's Divine love and His ever inspiring
omnipresence in my life.
The privilege of being His student was bestowed upon me in 1984 when
I joined the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School, Prasanthi
Nilayam. Until then, I had been a Bal Vikas student in Los Angeles,
California where I grew up. Having known Swami as a child, I was
very excited to be in such close proximity to the Lord Himself. The
experiences of Swami's visits and interactions are undoubtedly the
highlights of my seven year stay in Swami's school and college, and
are indelible in my memory.
No Detail Too Small for Divine Attention
While I was studying in His Higher Secondary School, Swami walked
into our classroom one day and pointing to a stack of books on the
bench asked one of my classmates, "Are all these textbooks!" She
said, "No Swami, textbooks and notebooks." Then Swami shook His head
and replied, "Too many books, too many thoughts."
We were very happy because we had 10 subjects to study, and thought
that the Divine words would somehow prompt our teachers to decrease
our academic load – wishful thinking of course on the part of young
teenagers! Instead, a few weeks later, brand new desks were
delivered so that we would have a place to store all our books! The
Lord showed His thoughtfulness and compassion in even such mundane
Life Lesson in Every Act of Lord Sai
Another time, Swami came to visit our school soon after breakfast,
and when we were all assembled in the foyer, He asked Kitchen Aunty
to show Him what we had eaten for breakfast. She brought a plate
with all the varieties: idlis, sambar, porridge, sprouted gram, and
chutney. Swami pointed to the sprouted gram and asked her, "What is
that?" She replied, "Swami, it is sprouted gram". He then took a few
and put it into His mouth and made a face while chewing it! We were
so happy to see that Swami Himself had taken a dislike to it because
none of us really relished the gram.
He, then, turned to Kitchen Aunty and asked her,
"How much of this
do you give them?" She said, "One teaspoon, Swami." Swami then
replied, "From now on, give them two teaspoons full!" He then smiled
at all of us very sweetly!
From that we learnt that even if things seem unpalatable, we have to
take things with a smile because in the long run, they are going to
be good for us. Life's blessings don't necessarily have to be sugar
coated for easy swallowing. Sometimes they may taste bitter and
unappetizing, yet they are good for our spiritual health.
Sai - The Caring Parent
During my 10th grade, there was a chicken pox epidemic in our
school. While sneaking a peek at my brother who had it, I contracted
the disease a few weeks before the 10th grade Board Exams. The
discomfort and pain from having the pox all over the body (including
inside the throat), was mitigated by all the remedies that Swami
Himself gave for us.
He asked the teachers to make pills out of neem leaves, told them to
use sambrani or a special type of incense to purify the air, asked
them to feed us soft foods and curd rice so that our throats would
not ache so much, and would enquire daily about the welfare of the
100 of us who had got it at the time! When mumps broke out soon
after, He even arranged for rooms in Prasanthi Nilayam, a short
distance away from the school premises, so that the disease wouldn't
spread like the chicken pox had.
Loving His Uncertainty
Our class was preparing for the 10th Board exams, and we had been
praying to Swami to bless us before this momentous event. He told us
that His blessings were always with us, but didn't give us padanamaskar (take His blessings by touching His feet).
Disappointed, but happy that He had acknowledged us in darshan, we
walked back to school after bhajans. The next day, when only the
teachers had gone for darshan, someone came and told us that Swami
was calling us!
We ran like the wind, and gasping from sheer excitement, sat in rows
for the Lord to come. He came smiling with something in His hand. He
looked at us and said, "Take two pens to the exam hall in case ink
runs out in one of them."
Our ever compassionate Divine Mother had called us to give us pen
sets! He blessed each and every one of us, as well as our hall
Dream Infuses Self-Confidence
The 10th Board Exams were a nightmare as far as I was concerned.
Having been brought up in the United States where there are no exams
in the lower classes, the whole concept of finals was new to me. I
especially dreaded Sanskrit, since the script itself was so strange,
and memorisation was not a natural talent that I possessed. Swami is
so aware of our innermost thoughts and feelings. He knew how much I
feared the Sanskrit exam.
The night before the exam, He came in my dream and showed me the
whole question paper! Needless to say, my understanding of the
language was so minimal, that seeing the paper didn't help me in the
exam. Nevertheless, it boosted my self-confidence that somehow I
would pass. I convinced myself that if the Lord Himself took the
trouble to allay my fears, then I should be courageous regardless of
my personal inability. With His grace, I did clear the paper.
Sai Blessings Follow His Students Everywhere
My class was the last batch to graduate from the Primary School
after 10th. After we left, the 11th and 12th grades were established
in Puttaparthi for girls as well. The sorrow of leaving Swami's
immediate physical presence to go to Anantapur was lessened when He
gave us padnamaskar before the academic year started, and said, "My
blessings are always with you, no matter where you go."
The Boon of Womanhood
is blessed with an award from
the Divine Chancellor
years in Anantapur were challenging and yet
exhilarating. Swami came 2-3 times a year to
the hostel and it was literally heaven to
eat with Him, perform for Him, and hear His
Divine Discourses tailored just for women,
and to behold His Divine form.
us how to sweep our rooms (including the
corners), to fold our clothes neatly, and
that we should study well. He said women had
the greatest blessing to become mothers, and
that in fact, was the primary and potent
purpose of our birth as women! To me, it was
such a powerful statement.
Sees the Past, Present and the Future
words take on a whole new dimension when we
graduate and go out into the world. After my
convocation was over in November of 1991,
and my mother and I were leaving Puttaparthi
to return home, I sat in the lines with
everyone else who was leaving that day. When
Swami came out, I muttered, "Swami, Amma
(mother) and I are going." Swami looked at
me and sweetly replied, "Go and come back."
Then, after walking a few steps, He turned
around and looking deeply into my eyes, said
I numbly nodded, thinking to myself that I had never gone to Canada,
but lived in the US and so it was the same North American continent.
He kept looking deeply into my eyes and waving His hand, produced
vibhuthi. He poured the ash into my hand and then sprayed the
remaining bit with His fingers onto my face. Utterly amazed but
happy to have received such grace, I did not think about the import
of His words.
Two and a half years later, I accompanied my husband on a business
trip and we drove to Canada. At the end of the day, we were tired
and hungry, and were heading back to the hotel. My husband was
driving and he suddenly realised that the exit was to the left. As
he quickly changed lanes, we were struck very hard by a vehicle
behind us. I started shouting "Sai Ram, Sai Ram".
Our car started to tilt, and we were about to go over the railing.
The driver of the car who had hit us saw what was happening, and
actually hit us again to stop us from going over. We did not realise
at the time that there was a river on the other side. Both vehicles
came to a screeching halt.
Amazingly, no one was injured. As we were talking and exchanging
information, a very well dressed watchman came up to us. He wore a
suit, a cap and there was a watch hanging out from his pocket. He
asked us if we were okay. We said that we were all fine and
continued checking the vehicles which were badly damaged.
When we looked for the watchman again, he had disappeared. In fact,
there were no cars around and it was dark with no traffic passing by
at all. It was only later that I realised that the watchman was none
other than Swami Himself, and that the vibhuthi He had sprayed on me
two years ago had saved not only me, but also my husband and the
driver of the van behind us!
Every Set-Back Insulated with Sai Protection
As I look back upon a multitude of life experiences from losing two
of my closest loved ones, to having burglars rob my home and taking
all my jewelry, to running from a raging fire while carrying my then
very young son and daughter, as well as a variety of physical,
mental and emotional challenges, I know that Swami has always been
taking care. He has protected, strengthened and guided me. It is in
times of despair and in my darkest moments that He makes His
His words of wisdom while I was studying in Puttaparthi and
Anantapur, the experiences we had as students, and the countless
times His presence is felt in my everyday life, only reiterate that
our beloved Bhagavan is always there. The wonderful fact is that He
is there for each and every one of us regardless of our backgrounds.
His love for us is the same.
In the Sky and on Earth, the Sai Message is:
"Love All, Serve All"
Recently, as I was driving home from work, I was missing Swami's
physical form. As I looked up at the clouds in the sky, I imagined
them to be His hair and smiled thinking that He is looking down on
Earth at all His children. Then, I prayed to Swami with tears in my
eyes and asked Him what He wanted me, His child, to do now, at this
stage in my life. I am a mother, a school teacher, and a Bal Vikas
teacher, and I wanted His reassurance that I was doing what He
During this internal dialogue with Him, I had to stop at a Stop sign
before making a left turn, when I suddenly noticed that the car in
front of me had a huge sticker of Swami on the back window! I had
never seen something like that before! Under His smiling picture
with His Hand raised in blessing, it said "Love All, Serve All".
With tears pouring down my face, my heart overflowing with
gratitude, I thanked the Lord once again for His timely guidance.
His Love is limitless. Without Him, life is meaningless. With Him
anything is possible.