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Experiences by Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

  Realizing Supreme Beatitude

by Sunil Gavaskar

Every devotee of Bhagavan Baba has his own connection with Him and the beauty is that in spite of so many millions trying to connect with Bhagavan, He has time for all. Most of them have had some experience of Bhagavan's Divinity. Not only is the experience a very personal one and very, very dear, but there is also the feeling that since it does not concern anyone else, the others may not be interested in hearing or knowing about it. But 75th Birthday Celebrations of Bhagavan is a joyous occasion and it is the joy of sharing that prompts me to write this piece. I will try and write to the best of my ability knowing fully well that no one can really do full justice to writing about Bhagavan.

Swami's Vision to my Mother

Since the day my mother got the vision of Bhagavan, my family has been a Sai devotee. Like any middle class family, we too believe in God and participate in all the festivals which are celebrated in the year. We have a small Mandir where idols of various Hindu gods are kept and prayers offered there daily by the family members.

However in 1970, things changed suddenly. My mother was in the kitchen and there she saw a vision of Swami on the wall. She was restless and wanted a picture of the vision, and so she immediately rushed out of the house and went to the newspaper vendor at the corner of the street who also kept pictures of various Hindu gods. She looked at the pictures one by one but could not find the picture of the vision that had appeared in front of her. She went further down to see if any other shop had the picture she was looking for. There was none, so she came back to the first one and requested him to have a look again, and lo and behold, there was a picture of Bhagavan with His hand raised in blessing exactly as she had the vision of. The newspaper vendor refused to take any payment saying that since he had not ordered the picture and had no idea how it got there, he would not accept any payment.

That photograph was put up in my bedroom, so that every morning when I woke up, my first glimpse was of Bhagavan. That photo could also be seen by any visitor to the house particularly if the bedroom door was open and I do believe that it was after seeing that picture of Bhagavan that my late father-in-law decided that his daughter's hand could be entrusted in mine. And when he passed away in May this year, his last action was to fold his hands in prayer to Bhagavan and his last words were "Sai Ram".

Miracle of Vibhuti

I remember one incident very clearly. We were in Australia and in one of the tour matches, I slipped and tore a thigh muscle. In those days, the Indian team did not carry their own physiotherapist. So, we had to ask the local state team's physiotherapist to have a look at the injury. He examined me and announced that since I had a torn muscle, it would take about three weeks of therapy and one more week of training before I would be able to play again. With the First Test Match due to start in just over a week's time, this simply was a blow that was too much.

As soon as this news reached my family, they sent me packets of Swami's Vibhuti through some media persons who were coming for the coverage of the Test series. These arrived just about three days before the start of the First Test. I was taking physiotherapy regularly but the improvement had been marginal. I could barely put weight on my leg to walk.

However after I started applying Vibhuti, there was marked improvement and on the eve of the Test Match, I requested the team management not to rule me out but to have a fitness test on the morning of the Test Match. From barely being able to put weight on my leg, I was able to walk comfortably in just two days. But there was a stiff soreness that was worrying.

On the morning of the match, I applied Vibhuti to the leg and went to the ground. This was going to be my first attempt to try and run in about eight days' time. Even as I stepped on to the ground to give my fitness trial, I realised that the stiffness was almost gone. At the Queensland Cricket Ground in those days, you had to descend a few steps to the ground and it was these few steps which were painful previously and I had to step down gingerly. But on this day, I felt confident enough getting down these steps normally and not the one step at a time as on the previous couple of days. I took a light jog around the ground and with every stride I could feel the soreness going away. Though I did not do anything silly a quick dash or sprint, I felt confident enough to play in the Test and so informed the management who accepted it and included me in the playing eleven. It was unbelievable. Nobody including me had given myself a chance of playing the Second Test, leave alone the First Test and here I was, thanks to the Vibhuti, playing in the First Test Match.

In the Presence of the Supreme Being

About a year later, I was in Chennai (Madras then) and heard that Swami was going to be in the city. It was here that I had my first Darshan of Bhagavan. My counterpart in the West Indies team, Alwin Kallicharan was also keen to have Swami's Darshan. Fortunately in those days, there used to be a rest day in the Test Matches and we were taken for Swami's Darshan.

Nothing had prepared me for that experience. I had seen plenty of Swami's photographs but seeing Swami in person for the first time is an unforgettable experience. When Swami glided in, there was a glow around His face and His smile was so beautiful that it immediately brought smiles on everybody's faces. Both Kalli and I were standing together and automatically our hands folded in Namaskar as we saw Bhagavan. That first sight of Bhagavan was the most humbling experience of my life. It made me realise that there was a superior being, the Supreme Authority. He was standing in human form and sending these happy vibrations to all who had come there! It was the kind of happiness that even a century or a victory for the side could not bring about. It just made one's heart feel lighter. I have been lucky to experience it time and again since then and I consider myself blessed to do so.

That day both Kalli and I were hoping that Swami would bless us just a little bit more than the other, for the Test Match was evenly poised. Of course, Swami when He gave us an audience did not take sides, but the Indian team also had another Sai devotee in G.R. Viswanath and it was Vishy who took us to victory the next day.

Grace Unbounded

Later on, both Kalli and I had the rare privilege, honour and good fortune to be the masters of ceremonies for Swami's 70th Birthday Celebrations. How that came about is a story in itself. I received the invitation card for the celebrations of Swami's 70th Birthday more than a month earlier. When I went through the celebrations planned and the VIPs that were due to come to Puttaparthi starting from the President of India and the Prime Minister to other cabinet ministers, I thought to myself that with all the security for them there would be no way to get even a glimpse of Swami. But I said to myself that if Swami wants me to be there for His Birthday, then somehow I would be there in Puttaparthi.

Just two days before the Birthday, I got a call with the words "Indian, how are you? What are you doing in Mumbai? Why aren't you in Puttaparthi?" It was Alwin Kallicharan who was already in Puttaparthi. we always called each other 'Indian' which is how people of Indian origin call each other in the West Indies. I explained to him that I was beginning to shoot for a new TV serial for the forthcoming 1996 World Cup and so would not be able to come to Prashanthi Nilayam. I had fixed those dates for shooting, so that my mind would concentrate on the shooting of the serial and I would not feel the pangs of missing Swami's Birthday Celebrations. Kalli informed me that they were trying to organize air transport for me and would let me know about it the next day. When he called to tell me that a charter had been arranged, I could not believe it and my joy knew no bounds. After all, I was going to be present at my beloved Swami's Birthday Celebrations. When I landed there, I was told that I was to be the master of ceremonies, something which  I had never done before in my life. But with Swami present, I was sure that He would help me not to forget my lines.

A few years later, I was privileged to arrange the players for the Unity Cup Cricket Match. Swami has always said, "Life is a game. Play it.". Bhagavan wanted to show that there could be unity among different countries, cultures and communities through sports. So, the Unity Cup was played with players from all over the world including Pakistan.

Several senior retired players were honoured and had the good fortune to be blessed by Bhagavan. Who can forget Bhagavan patting Sachin Tendulkar on the back and telling him, "I am with you!" What a season Sachin had after that as he virtually single-handedly demolished World Champion Australia with his batting that seemed to be of a totally different dimension after that pat from Bhagavan!

Devotees who have had Swami's Darshan even from afar know how it becomes a craving and if Swami even glances at you fleetingly, you feel an incredible joy that cannot be described in words.

Swami is eternal. We are blessed to have Bhagavan with us and we must strive to join Him in serving humanity and helping the poor and the downtrodden. we can do it in our way, quietly and without fanfare. We can start by promising that every day we will do at least one good deed.

Sunil Gavaskar
Former Captain Indian Cricket Team; has made/broken several records in Cricket; an ardent devotee of Bhagawan.

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