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Sathya Sai's vow to fulfill even a casual word given: the story of a mumps epidemic

Updated on January 17, 2017

The vow of the Avatar

The Dusshera festival in the year 1999 was on in Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi. As is the practice, the Vedapurusha Saptaha Jnana Yagna (a yagna or fire worship for world peace) was on and as part of the Vidwan Mahasabha every evening, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba delivered a divine discourse for seven days in a row. On the 18th of October, Swami (as Baba is respectfully called) spoke about the vows that the different avatars had taken. Having stated them, He made a very special statement:

I too have taken some vows. One of the vows of Sai is that I shall never go back on My promise. Once I give My promise to someone, I will never forsake him or distance him from Myself even though he may work against Me or disobey My command.

The following experience is a sort of elaboration of the above statement. It occurred years before Swami made that statement in the 18th of October discourse. It goes to show that Swami might have stated it on that day but all His life, He has been true to that.

This episode was narrated to me by my wife Pooja. Pooja has been a student of Bhagwan right from her primary education through high school at the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School. She completed her Bachelors in Commerce honours degree from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. That is a whopping 15 years in the direct divine presence of Bhagwan! She has several memories and memorable experiences with Swami during that golden period of her life. In fact, it was Swami who started her off on her educational journey, making her write the syllable "Aum" in Sanskrit on a black slate, when she was just a toddler.

Driving down memory lane, she spontaneously shared this experience when she was struck with mumps in her 3rd grade.

When He writes the first "letter"

Swami writing the sacred syllable "Aum" for a child beginning education.
Swami writing the sacred syllable "Aum" for a child beginning education. | Source

Mumps strikes - a real pain in the neck

Thus came a time in the early 1990s when a mumps epidemic struck the Primary School hostel at Prasanthi Nilayam. Pooja too was among the several children who had been struck by it and stuck with a huge lump above the throat. Since mumps is infectious, it was very important to isolate the stricken children.

As per Swami’s instructions, a separate ward was created in the nearby Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital and all the affected children were shifted there. The ward transformed into a mini hostel in ways more than one -

1. There were teachers assigned duties to take care of children,
2. Group studies and activities happened regularly AND, most importantly,
3. Swami would visit the children in the hospital just as He would visit them in the hostel.

But life for the children in the ward was much more difficult than that of the children in the hostel - they would suffer regular fevers and have severe pains in the throat. The mumps has literally become a ‘pain in the neck’ for the children. Pooja, with her low tolerance for pain, was finding it simply impossible to eat anything. In fact, she had decided to subsist most of the time on liquids alone and that too because the teachers would not allow her to stay with an empty stomach.

There was another girl however, Shilpa, who seemed to suffer from the mumps in a more intense manner than Pooja too. She would often cry with the pain. All the children were given ice pads and ice packs to place on the swelling to reduce it. But Shilpa found it very painful to place the ice pad. She would just wait for the monitoring teacher to pass by and then dump the ice in the bin! What else can one expect from a child? How can one hope that it understands the fact that a momentary discomfort is necessary for a greater good?

The teachers taking care in the ward began to have a very tough time ensuring that all the kids had some food at least along with the necessary medication. When things got very difficult and the teachers were unable to coax every child to eat, they prayed to Swami for help.

The children too prayed to Swami in their own way. Every Thursday and Sunday, when the Primary School would go to the mandir for darshan, the teachers would carry letters written by the kids who were in hospital. These letters would be offered to Swami on the children’s behalf during darshan. Pooja and her friend, Shilpa, both wrote letters to Swami on one Sunday.

The kids’ letters and Swami’s response

The gist of the two letters are given below:

“Swami, we are in hospital, suffering from painful necks. We cannot eat and don’t like to eat. But everyday, we are made to eat! Ice is also placed on our necks. It is very painful. Please help us Swami.”

The letters were indeed handed over to Swami during the darshan session that day. Pooja and Shilpa, along with the dozens of other children awaited Swami’s response to their prayers. And the response came sooner than they expected. Within two days of sending the letters to Swami, He made a visit to their ward in the General Hospital!

There was great joy and excitement as Swami entered the children’s ward. There were few devotees who tried to caution Swami against entering the ward because mumps is an infectious viral disease. Swami just dismissed the ‘warning’. There have been several instances where Swami has wilfully ‘taken on’ the mumps of a devotee and relieved him/her of the pain instantly! For that matter, He has taken on several other ‘tougher’ diseases and conditions too. Would He fear catching the infection?

An instance in 2002, during Guru Poornima, when Swami took over the mumps of a primary school student. He continued to lead a normal and active life throughout the 10 days of pain.
An instance in 2002, during Guru Poornima, when Swami took over the mumps of a primary school student. He continued to lead a normal and active life throughout the 10 days of pain. | Source

The children were all thrilled to have their dear Swami visit them when they were expecting a doctor to go on rounds! Swami was like a loving doctor, a mother, a father and a friend rolled into one. He moved from bed to bed, child to child, talking and consoling them all.

He came to Shilpa and immediately she complained of the painful ice pads. Swami looked at her and comforted her. He then promised her,
“If you use the ice packs for two days, the mumps will go. You can then go back to the hostel.”
Who else but the one who controls everything can give such an assurance? Shilpa was excited,

“Really Swami? Can I get alright in just two days?”
“Yes my child”, was the smiling reply.

Immediately, Shilpa picked the ice pad and placed it on the swelling.

Now, He moved to Pooja.
“How are you?”
“I am fine Swami...”
Just then, a teacher came up to Swami,
“Swami. She is lying. She is not fine. She complains of pain while eating and does not eat anything at all. She must eat something Swami.”
“What do you like to eat girl?”, Swami asked.
“Swami, I like jam buns!” (Jam buns were a delicacy made in the bakery those days. Soft, hot cross buns layered with mixed fruit jam within)
“If you eat properly for the next two days, I will send jam buns for you.”

Pooja’s face too lit up. She agreed to eat her meals completely, on time.

Is every casual word too a promise?

The next night proved to be the toughest one for Shilpa. The swelling increased to proportions of unbearable pain. She began to cry But still, she held the ice pad to her neck because she was determined to do as Swami had said. (Can we see such love and loyalty among 8-year olds? An embodiment of love alone is capable of giving and eliciting such love!). Pooja saw Shilpa suffering. She began to wonder at Swami’s promise. How was it possible for this girl to go to the hostel the next day?

The miracle happened overnight when all were asleep and none noticed. (That is how many miracles happen - silently and suddenly - for God is in no need of publicity!) In the morning, Shilpa was absolutely normal. It was as if the antibodies had waged a terrible war in the night against the offending virus and had completely won! Shilpa was indeed discharged and sent to the hostel! Seeing this, Pooja touched the lump in her own throat. It was still swollen and painful. She looked at the Idly that had been served in the plate for breakfast. Swami’s word had come true for Shilpa but she was still stuck with eating food that she “did not like”! Where was her jam bun?

How about you?

Have you had experiences where Swami has fulfilled His promise/casual word spoken to you?

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Even as she was thinking these thoughts, the door flung open. Swami had sent prasad for all the children in the hospital ward. The carton box was opened and Pooja saw that there packets of jam buns! What more, the teacher gave one each to all the children in the ward saying that Swami had sent it for them. When she came to Pooja however, she gave her three! She said,

“Apparently you like jam buns. So three for you!”

Pooja now felt a second lump in her throat... This lump was not painful. It arose from the joy which comes from knowing that one has not been forgotten by one’s beloved.

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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya


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    • aravindb1982 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aravind Balasubramanya 

      21 months ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @ Sree - Thank you little one... It is sweet messages like yours that inspires me to share more and more. Please come and meet me when you come to Puttaparthi. I will be at Radiosai.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      The only Saadhana I do is to read your articles, and share them with my family members (I'm still a 5th grader). Your sweet and short articles are an easy way to connect yourself with Swami... Aravind sir, you have know idea of how you impacted me...


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Sairam! To day again I happened to go through your scintillating narration! I have forgotten having gone through it earlier. It was as though a new hub. Thank you for kindling Divine memories once again.

    • profile image


      4 years ago from cuddalore

      Last week i was at parthi for a week service in general hospital.on christmas day evening ,function was going on .i was in meditation swamy said ask your wife to be ready and be prepared i am going to come.i said this to my wife . today after coming from parthi swamy blessed us after 7 years (my wife is pregenant)

    • aravindb1982 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aravind Balasubramanya 

      4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Visalam and Radha - Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful experiences in words... Am sure the readers will enjoy this additional dose of God's love.,..

      @Aarthi - For some reason, the text of that discourse is not on the site though the audio is available in the audio search of the Radiosai site.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Can you give the link for this discourse of 18th October 1999 where Swami has spoken about His vow?

    • profile image 

      4 years ago

      Sai Ram Dear Ones!

      I felt so overwhelmed reading your experiences with Beloved Swami.

      My wife and I have also been beneficiaries of wonderful experiences.

      May you be blessed always and do share experiences which you have had with all as they will will certainly benefit.

      Uncle Raj, Trinidad, West Indies

    • profile image

      Radha Subramanian 

      4 years ago

      Sairam brother,

      It was in the year 1996 i think swami in His beautiful white rob appeared in my dream. i still remember Swami entered through the window to our bedroom (that time we were staying at Modi nagar Ghaziabad) and told me whenever you want to sell the plot you do Bhajan,the rest i will take care of.That time i wondered why such a dream.....

      And now in 2013 Dec we decided to sell the plot and accordingly given advertisement and all. It is then we came to know that the plot was under litigation and nobody is getting ready to buy that.Baba's advice immeadiately struck to me and i immeadiately started singing Bhajan daily.With His blessings the plot was sold without any problem.

      Love you Swami..

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      u mentioned Swami taking over on Himself the mumps of a small kid out of His infinite love and compassion. The second day of that incident,my brother pritwi got a vision of Swami, unable to give His beatific smile due to mumps and spoke to me about it over phone.One of his balvikas students in Parthy also called up the same night to ask him to do special puja and prayers for Swami suffering from mumps!! i was telling my brother, yes, Swami always takes over some devotee's suffering. When in pain or trouble, we cry out Sairam, and He is there. Even if we don't remember to call out to Him, He comes and saves us, I said. Then my brother was telling me, ah, yes, it happened with you( meaning me, this visalam) in July. I was stunned to hear it.I remembered the fall I had in my flat in Saligramam, Chennai , one night , as I was hurrying to feed my 6 months old grandson who had been left in my care. All I remember doing when I had the fall was crying out-------Swami, if I fall , who will take care of things in this house?

      the whole night i had been chanting gayathri, to fight pain , as there was none else who could help me in any way. After one week , I was alright, my foot was normal. The fall was such that it could have twisted my foot and resulted in compound fracture , making me immobile for at least 6 months, and none was there who could help me ,instead , the other members in my house needed my help very badly.

      My brother Prithwi told me, on that night(July 28) Swami was sitting with a group of boys, suddenly He got up and was about to fall. When asked, He told the boys, it is raja bhai's sister. She forgot she was growing old, and was running to attend to her crying grandson, I went and saved her from a compound fracture.

      My eyes well up at this revelation. i remembered with gratitude His assurance just the pervious year-----Tell her, I will be with her always.

      here was Swami rushing to save me, who hadn't even called on his help. My plea at the time of fall was, what will happen if I fall!!!!

      From that point onwards, i am constantly aware of His presence with me, always guiding me

      thank you, Swami.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Sairam, I have read this narrative earlier, worth reading any number of times. Thanks a lot for posting it. Best wishes and Love,

      Madhusudanvithal Nori

    • Gnanadev Akula profile image

      Akula Gnana Dev 

      4 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      It was 1987 dec. I was the only officer holding the first key of a branch in Nizamabad, some 175 kms north of Hyderabad. My house in Sainikpuri,secunderabad is under construction and the roof concreting is scheduled and there were some problems. I was travelling in a bus to Nizamabad,fully disturbed and not knowing how to complete the concreting work scheduled for the monday(weekly holiday for the bank) and in the deep sleep, I heard Swamy's words, " do notworry, everything will be alright". That is all, withing a week, all the problems settled on their own, slab work went on very smooth,no problems of any sort and by evening 7, all payments are made and happily caught a bus for Nizamabad and attended the sole officer bank next day. There are many other hurdles cleared by Swamy in the subsequent years of my life. I am grateful to Swamy for all his love, affection and blessings.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      for the almighty every word is veda.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      5 years ago from Dubai

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.I have not been fortunate enough to be with Swami, but I have felt his presence throughout my life. Thank you once again for these precious gems that keep us going on through life.

    • profile image

      Kokila Vaidyanathan 

      5 years ago

      Such tender love..pure from the young hearts...I felt like an 8 year old going through the scene....with Loving Sai visiting me.. Honestly brother through these great experience I experience the same too and makes me part of the wonderful experience which I haven't had in the physical form. Loving Sairam ....I could taste the jam buns that Pooja got from Swami...

    • Teekay63 profile image


      5 years ago from Singapore

      thank you for this sweet sweet story. Sai Ram

    • profile image


      5 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

      Glad to know that your wife was a student of Swami. A very nice narrative which hooks us to the computer. How the girls bore the ordeal is an eye opener for all of us, the elders. Om Sri Sai Ram.

    • Saidrishya Smkb profile image

      SaiDrishya AP 

      5 years ago from Thalassery, India

      Loving SAIRAM..... My sweet experience with SAIMAA when SHE blessed me during Aksharabyasam...

      Aum in Telugu ... by my SAI MAA to her Bachi... :)

      I still remember that day when I was 4years old. My grandmother, my mother and my little cousin was sitting in the Sri Sathya Sai Super Speciality Hospital staff row, always use to sit in the first line waiting for HER... She always comes for Darshan and use to look at us without calling for my "Vidyaramba (Aksharabyasa)" and Prasadam from HER. 10 days we waited for that, and my father said time to go back, but my mother and grandmother decided not to go.. Swami use to ask my aunt (who was the staff in Hospital) daily, whether we went back to native. Aunt use to tell, no Swami they are still here waiting for Aksharabyasam. SHE use to go back from her with a little smile.. On the 10th day Swami asked the same to my aunt, thinking about what my father decided before, she replied that, all are going this afternoon Swami....

      Swami said, no they will not go..

      Everything was HER Divine Will....

      On the other day we were sitting in the same line with my slate and chalk, and Payasam (to have Prasadam from HER).

      She came with holding HER Robe... She came to me.. :)

      Then took my slate from me, calling me" SaiDrishya Sai Bachi".. asked for the chalk and I gave it to HER.. After that it was all naughty things that I was doing in front of I did HER.

      My grandmother told me to take padanamaskaar... As I was too naughty, I was just standing near to HER, then hugging HER legs completely with the robe.. I can't even think I was hugging HER... :'(

      Feels like hugging HER again and again...

      Then she gave the Divine payasam (Prasadam). Went back from me giving me blessings... :(

      As soon as the darshan was over, ladies started touching me, kissing me, blessings and so on.. Somewhere trying to touch the pure AUM and the left over Prasadam from my grandmother. Many touched the slate and as some were trying to pass it, grandmom took it and ran back to our room.

      Its all because of the blessings from my grand grandmother, grandmother, mother and my sweet father and all my ancestors who were in Swami's fold.. Its because of the pure and good deeds done by them and their Pure Love for Swami, that gave me the the best-est of best-est blessings ever- 'Aksharabyasam from the DIVINE MASTER" and the pure form of Prasadam and blessings as LOVE from SAI MAA... From that day onwards payasam is my fav ;) and SHE is my SAIMAA instead of Swami... ;)

      My grandmother and all use to say, Telugu AUM as Vidyarambam are rare... Everything HER Will.

      May be because of that I love Telugu more than Malayalam or Kannada (my dad's lang)...

      Love YOU Sweetheart.. Love YOU SAI MAA...

    • profile image

      Bhanu Chandar 

      5 years ago

      Tears are welling up reading about the Love & Devotion of the children..


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