If you look to me, I look to you : A Christian's life-changing experience
On March 1st, 2008, we received a mail from a devotee. Going through the mail, it was evident that he had come to know about Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in 2003. He was a Christian and he wrote with great sincerity and enthusiasm about how Swami entered his life.
I read through the entire mail. And once I did that, I just sat back looking at His picture in my room. I was simply blown away at the immensity and magnitude of his experience. The impact of the experience on him was so great that he never felt the need to come to Swami at Puttaparthi! Till then, I had always thanked Swami for the opportunity I got to see the world come to Him. That day, I thanked Swami for the opportunity to see how He goes to the world.
And today, I felt that sharing his mail would be a wonderful way of reminding myself of who Sri Sathya Sai Baba is! I have read the mail a dozen times already and each time I read it, my hairs stand on their end, light fills my being and I feel so blessed. I feel like running to the mountain tops and screaming, "I love you Swami." I also feel like sitting silently with myself and hear Him say from within, "I love you too."
Here is the letter. The name of the person has been changed into random alphabets to protect the privacy of the writer. But then, the name hardly matters.....
The letter dated March 1st, 2008
I am AM, a Christian hailing from a small town in Maharashtra called Bhusawal and presently working in Mumbai as a corporate lawyer, I want to share my humble experiences with the divine Sai Maa.
It was in the month of July 2003 (when I was in my last year of graduation in Law in Pune) that I came to know of Swami from a batch mate of mine, Vishal. Vishal had completed his education at Puttaparthi. I was drawn to certain things about Vishal like his calmness, his non-interfering nature, his meditating in front of a picture of a man with lamps and bells and all that. (obviously till the time Swami does not give his darshan; every soul would believe he is a mere man!!). My first reaction was,
“What is this guy doing in a law college when he would be better of in a monastery?”
But I will come to that later.
As is usual in colleges, all the students including me were very boisterous, energetic when everyone was undergoing the turmoils of having to succeed at all costs. The idea was to be right on the top since every moment was measured by achievements and failures. This meant that we were always subject to the alternating elation and despair. It was at this time that the most prestigious event of the year for all the law schools around the globe was about to unfold - the Philip Jessup Moot Court competition.
The format of the competition needed a fictional case involving the most pressing issues on international law to be presented by the participants. The participants hailed from colleges all over the country and they had to present the case in a moot court comprising of distinguished juries and lawyers. The winning team would be eligible to participate in the finals and compete against teams from across the globe in Washington.
As is natural all the students including me had started off the preparations many weeks prior to the event. I had a battery of friends doing research and a plethora of seniors guiding me throughout. We were all drafting and redrafting the plaints for submission, sitting late into the night every day and inching forwards towards what I felt was my life’s goal - a dream which I was about to achieve against all odds and against all eventualities. I felt that this was the trophy for which I was born to be!
Soon, the D day arrived and I was all charged up to bask in victory. I was making the last minute, hectic preparations and the news started pouring in about how the judges were ripping everyone apart. The competition was proving to be more of a stress endurance trial than anything else it seemed. My turn came and I walked over to the podium. When I started to speak I was so tensed about the outcome that nothing dropped out of my mouth. All I was doing was incoherent jabber.
Very soon the death-wave was unleashed on me by the judges and I crumbled under their interrogative onslaught. I went weak in my knees. I was totally shattered and before I could know it, I was on my way out. The results were declared and I had lost by a huge margin. I fell to the ground with a thud. The days that followed were highly depressing. Everything was dark and gloomy. I was in the last year of my law college and had no major victories or anything worthwhile to show on my resume. knew for sure that none of the major law firms would ever show interest in me and that my career was over even before it began.
Now started the downward spiral. I was losing my mental balance. I was depressed. I had no idea of what I was doing. I would go hungry for days together and be smoking non-stop. Thousands of dark thoughts used to trouble my mind.
One day I was walking through the hostel, deep in my thoughts when I found Vishal chanting the Gayatri Mantra in his room which was just next to mine. Something happened within. I was totally moved while listening to it and a certain peace was descending on me. A few days later I joined Vishal in his daily meditation exercise. Soon, this became my routine. I started feeling good - as if I was recuperating from a disease. However, I had my relapses every now and then. I also got into this disgusting habit of God-bashing where I would lay all the blame on Jesus Christ for not helping me to sail through.
Then came the revealing experience!
One day, in the afternoon, I was reading certain books and suddenly I felt very weak. It was as if I was about to die. So, slowly I got up from the chair, went over to the bed and collapsed on it. A strange feeling overtook me and I felt that everything was just going to end. I fell asleep and suddenly I was transported to a very strange place. It looked as if there was a great hill and I was hanging from the cliff, screaming for help. I could feel my hands bleeding and was sure that I would fall into the dark abyss below.
Suddenly, I remembered Swami and I started shouting for help. And there, lo and behold, I saw a pair of feet on the top of the hill. Looking up, I saw the most beautiful face on earth; that of Swami. He signaled to me to come up and soon I was on top of the hill alongside Him. Then something happened and I saw a light brighter than a thousand suns put together.
“Christ!”, I exclaimed.
It was Jesus Christ!
Swami was standing just next to Jesus and slowly I felt my life seeping out. The intensity of the brightness kept increasing every moment. The light was entering me. Finally I could not absorb the light any more and I fell on my knees.
I had not died! Jesus was gone. Swami was there. He looked deep into my eyes then walked briskly for some time and finally went away. I regained consciousness and I was soon back on my bed.
I sat, unable to get over the dream, vision or whatever that was. I was sweating profusely and I just not believe what I had just gone through. In the evening I hesitantly spoke about the incident to Vishal. To my surprise he believed every word of what I said. I had never been to Puttaparthi and he told me calmly that there was indeed a hill in Puttaparthi, which exactly matched my description.
That was when I started reading more books written by Swami and meditating on Him. I felt a strange sense of security, calmness and non-interest in other’s matters - something which I had seen and admired in Vishal. It struck me then even my mocking Vishal initially was actually God’s grace permeating to me through his soul.
Having got into my life, Swami never stopped staying with me. My second darshan was during one of trips from my hometown in Bhusawal to Pune. I was reading a volume of the Sathya Sai Speaks and I was immersed in it. Suddenly I looked outside the window of the train and there was a huge crowd standing on the platform. I thought that there was some disturbance going on. But then, to my utter disbelief and amazement I saw Swami!
He got into the train and came to me, sitting right opposite to my deat. He gave me something to drink from a vessel. It was a liquid (which, I realized later was Amrit). I drank a few drops and kept it back. He smiled at me and then climbed on to the upper berth and drifted to sleep. It was after a while that my eyes opened and I realized that I had gone to sleep while reading the book. However, there was that sweet taste lingering in my mouth. What could I say? Whom was I to share my experience with?
With these two incidents my faith in Swami was firmly established like a rock. I started following his teachings - most importantly that work was worship and that to serve to mankind was to serve God. It is already five years since the events I have described above. I have had my lows and highs in life but Swami's ever-merciful presence has been a constant in my life.
He keeps coming in my dreams to bless me, guide me, help me and sometimes to warn me or to scold me. Yes! He has also shouted at me for not following the correct course of action. In fact, I have lost count of the Darshans I have had till now and have not yet been to Puttaparthi.
In terms of my professional career, I am working in a respected firm and doing what I like dong the most. In retrospect, my losing out in the Moot Court competition was a blessing because it made me experience God, first hand. Now I firmly believe that whatever happens, it always happens for the best.
Samastha Loka Sukino Bhavantu.
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya