God's love is not bound by time and space - a devotee's experience at Sri Sathya Sai Sannidhi
The 20th of January in 2013 saw a very heartening programme being put up in the Sai Kulwant Hall at Prasanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi, the abode of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. . It was a presentation by the grateful staff of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore, on the occasion of their 12th anniversary after successfully completing more than 15,000 cardiac surgeries, 17,000 neuro surgeries and having treated more than 800,000 patients in the cardiac OPD, TOTALLY FREE OF COST! The quantum of service rendered is more than 1,200 crores. Having sung songs of gratitude and having spoken about their experiences, the staff members rededicated themselves to the service of God through service to man.
At the end of the programme, there was Aarthi as always, and after that, the devotees lined up to offer their prostrations and salutations at the white marble Mahasamadhi of Swami. In the serpentine lines on the ladies’ side was Meenakshi, a woman who appeared to be in her late 30s. She had furrows of worry writ large on her forehead and she was craning her neck to see how much longer it would take to reach the hallowed spot. She was on the verge of tears and did not know how to extract herself from the situation that she had inadvertently gotten into. She was convinced that Swami was her only refuge. That feeling had got strengthened even more by the most beautiful song video that had been played at the conclusion of the programme.
The video which was played at the end of the programme...
The story begins
Meenakshi is a Seva Dal volunteer from the Indian state of Kerala. She had come to Puttaparthi to offer her service out of gratitude to Swami, and for all that He had done for her. It had been a difficult decision to make for her this year because her husband had fallen very sick. In spite of that, she decided that her annual pilgrimage and commitment to Swami should not suffer. Praying to Swami and seeking her husband’s permission, she came to Prasanthi to offer her seva.
On Tuesday, 15th January, Meenakshi had been assigned duty in the ladies' section in the South Indian Canteen. She did her job as sincerely as she could. She worked in the vegetables section in the canteen as she had a problem communicating. She was illiterate, and knew to speak only Malayalam, the language spoken in Kerala. Within two days of duty, Meenakshi was in for an unexpected shock.
Going about her duties, Meenakshi happened to place her hand on her neck. She discovered, to her horror, that her Mangalasutra ( a sacred thread made of cotton or gold attached with a gold pendant that women in India wear around their neck as a symbol of their marriage) was missing! How could it have fallen off when it was secure around her neck all these years?
She immediately searched the nearby area for the necklace. She notified the other volunteers nearby and all of them joined in the search. They searched for hours but they did not find it. Meenakshi also notified her seva co-ordinator, ‘Radha aunty’. Radha aunty reassured her that the Mangalasutra would be found and she called all the volunteers under her to launch a serious search.
Every nook and corner in the canteen was searched thoroughly, and even the dustbins were not spared. A weeping Meenakshi plunged her hands into the garbage, searching for the holy thread which symbolized her marriage. To understand her concern, one must realize what the Mangalasutra means to an Indian woman. It is considered as a representative of the husband. An Indian woman never takes her Mangalasutra off her neck while her husband is alive, and she never wears it once her husband dies. Having left her sick husband in Kerala, and not knowing how to reach him (the lady did not even have a cell phone), she feared the loss of her Mangalasutra as a sign of some misfortune that had struck her husband!
The search efforts continue
After two days of intense searching, all the volunteers simply gave up. But Meenakshi never gave up. She kept praying and searching. Radha aunty’s heart was so moved that she made enquiries from several security personnel and those at the ‘Lost & Found’ department in the ashram. The answers she got were all disheartening for her and for Meenakshi too.
In fact, the people at the security told her that she should have brought this to their notice on the day it happened itself. They would then be able to go through the CCTV footage and see if there was any attempt of stealing. But now, 2 days after the loss, it seemed to late to do anything. Yet, they promised to see whatever could be done.
Each passing day had made Meenakshi ebb towards despair. She felt that there was nobody other than Swami who could help her. As a last ditch attempt, she decided to seek directly from Swami. On the 20th of January, she completed her duties in the canteen at 5:00pm. She sought permission from Radha aunty to go the mandir for darshan before her next service slot which began at around 6:30pm. Knowing her plight very well, Radha aunty allowed her to go.
The experience at the Mahasamadhi
And now, as she stood in the lines heading towards the Mahasamadhi, she saw the clock. It was nearing 6:30pm and she wondered how would she make it back in time. Just then, something tugged at her hand. She looked down and saw a little girl, maybe 10 years of age, with loose flowing hair and wearing a red dress.
“Did you get prasadam?” the little girl asked her.
“Here, take half from mine”, she said as she offered her half a sweet. Meenakshi took it and ate it.
“You need not go till there. Just fold your hands here itself aunty”, the little girl commanded.
Meenakshi was surprised at the ‘adult’ tones which the little girl was using. And she was speaking flawless Malayalam. But Meenakshi was in no mood to patronize the girl. She continued to crane her neck towards the marble structure. The little girl let go of her hand and told her that her mother was calling. She was soon gone.
Once Meenakshi reached the altar, she fell on her knees. Tears streamed down her closed eyes as she prayed,
“Swami, I can never go back home without my Mangalasutra. I don’t know what will happen but I am going to stay in Puttaparthi till I find it. Even if the duty is complete and the group leaves, I shall stay on. Please let me find my Mangalasutra.”
As she rose, she saw that there was a yellow flower in her hand. She had no idea how it got there. She thought that someone might have dropped it in her hands when she knelt in prayer. Anyway, she took that as a sign of grace and protection from Swami. Feeling better, she rushed back to her dormitory to change her dress and report for duty. As she exited the gate, she received her little sweet pouch from the volunteer who was distributing Prasadam to all the ladies. Since she had already eaten a bit of the Prasadam that the little girl had given her, Meenakshi decided to carry this Prasadam to her dormitory.
Swami is omniscient and omnipotent
Meenakshi saw that there were several other ladies from her state, Kerala, in the dormitory who had not attended the beautiful session in the mandir. So, she asked out aloud,
“Did all of you get Prasadam?”
When the answer was a unanimous ‘No’, she decided to share her sweet with all there.
She opened the sweet packet, put her hand in and pulled out the sweet. And she burst out in tears.
Embedded partially in that sweet was her Mangalasutra!! And it was covered completely with the holy KumKum!!
And as Meenakshi relived her experience of the previous day, she broke down. She was saying,
“Swami saved my Mangalyam. ( the necklace and the marriage).” She just turned to Radha aunty who was standing by her side, embraced her and cried like a child.
“Can you narrate your story in front of a camera in our studios at Radiosai?”, I asked her via a translator.
“I shall share this story anytime, anywhere in the world”, she said amid sobs of gratitude.
Meenakshi sharing her experience
Glimpses of Meenakshi reliving her experience
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