Personal Transformation Experience
The True Meaning Of Darshan
After having had the good fortune of being a Sai student from first standard to 12th standard in the Prashanti Nilayam campus, I visited Muddenahalli in November 2017. This article describes my experience of it all -- of how it took me 36 years to truly understand what the word Darshan really means.
I must begin by going back two years. A dear friend of mine, Antonio Franchina had visited Muddenahalli and was telling me his experience of how he felt Swami’s presence there and about the interview he had with Swami. What I hadn’t realized then was that it wasn’t so much his words that were making their impact on me but more his love for our Beloved Lord. This love sank so deep like a seed. A seed that would then sprout, fighting its way through all my mental murk, to look for that part of me that shared the same sentiment for Swami.
For two years I passed through trials and tribulations that life is so apt at giving. In that period I was coming out of a huge clash in the family and hadn’t been speaking to my mother due to this (ahamkara or ego did a great job for this to happen). Anyway, fast forward two years and after my friend asked me umpteen times to come to see Swami not only in Muddenahalli, but also when Swami came to Italy; I finally did make it to India. In the meantime, I had my mind questioning many things, along with other people’s questions around me. I remember that every time I was asked what I thought about Muddenahalli I would say “I can’t say you are wrong, nor can I agree with you until I visit the place for myself and see what is happening” and that is exactly what I did. Swami, and Ayurveda as well, say that truly useful knowledge is through experience. From receiving the knowledge/information >>> to applying our logic >>> to living the experience. This, along with something inexplicable (I guess the only way to define it is His grace) kept me concentrated on this feeling I had, this urge to go see things for myself.
I had registered myself for the World Youth Meet 2017 (WYM) prior to my arrival in India with the intention of first “seeing” things for myself, which I thought would then determine my staying for the conference or not. I entered the Ashram on the November 18, 2018 and Antonio was there waiting for me. I looked at him and said “In my heart I know He is here but I need proof”. He said: “Its perfectly understandable”. I then signed myself into the World Youth Meet registery and was taken to my accommodations.
Before I continue, a jump back in time is necessary. When I was in primary school in Puttaparthi I remember living a brief period of a few months of continuous communion with Swami, a continuous dialogue that had shut the world out completely. It was a period of such utter peace and beauty that I have never forgotten it. All my life I have searched for a way to get back to that state and I had never really succeeded.
My accommodation in Muddenahalli was a huge dormitory with four rows of mattresses laid out in four neat rows along its length. In a flash I was back home in Primary School. It made me laugh. I then went to the bathrooms and they made me smile even more. Everything was exactly the same as it was when I was in Primary School all those years ago!
I got ready to go to Premamrutham. For those of you who haven’t yet been to Muddenahalli, Premamrutham is a gigantic and beautiful hall where Darshan and Satsangs are held. I was shown the seating area for delegates and saw that my Italian brothers had already saved a spot for me. I sat next to them and briefly introduced myself and thanked them. I then closed my eyes and started praying to Swami. “Please give me a sign Swami. If what I am feeling in my chest, in my heart is true, please give me a sign”. This prayer repeated itself incessantly while my mind continued (as it was already doing so for quite a while) with its antics, questions, considerations, viewpoints and so on. All this, while I continued praying and ignoring it. I kept praying thus for an hour or so, through Veda chanting and followed by Bhajans. I felt the energy shift in the crowd that signaled the start of Darshan. I opened my eyes and a thought crossed my mind.
“Darshan. Why call it that? Darshan literally means to see. If Swami is in the subtle why call it Darshan when you can’t see Him?”
I ignored even this thought and continued praying. Darshan started from behind the stage. In all my naivety, I expected to see Swami, or at least some form of a sign. But all I saw was Madhusudan. My mind increased the volume of it’s antics. I continued to ignore it and increased the volume of my prayer. Darshan took about a half hour before Madhusudan stopped right in front of me. Talking to a youth from England sitting two rows behind me Madhusudan said, “Father is with Me” followed by a penetrating glance straight into my eyes and then He moved on. I was thinking “What was that all about?” and continued insisting with my prayer (See video below).
Madhusudan then went on stage followed by Narasimha Murthy Sir (the Chief Advisor of the Trust). Both of them took Padanamaskar at the footstool of a beautiful silver throne with red cushioning and sat on chairs that were placed on either side of it; Madhusudan on the left and Murthy Sir on the right.
I started scrutinising the throne, hoping for some sign, ANY sign! My prayer to Him was so intense that the more it went on, the stronger it got. An American gentleman started his speech and I did not take my eyes off the throne, hoping to see some orange or black coloration that represented His robe or His crown of hair. After the American, Murthy Sir starts speaking. At this point I peeled my eyes off the throne and looked at Murthy Sir. He started recounting the story of his first encounter with Swami when he was 19 years old.
One of the first things that Swami told him was:
“You suffer from indigestion”
When he was young, Murthy Sir was very dynamic and an avid athlete, so he told Swami:
“No, I’m perfectly fine, thank you!” while patting his tummy.
Swami replied point at his abdomen “Not there; here” pointing then at His temple.
At this point, Murthy Sir described how Swami explained to him the importance of being able to distinguish between what the heart dictates and what the mind dictates and of this continuous battle that is in place.
As soon as he said this, I felt it go straight through my heart. I felt Swami explode in me like never before. I have always felt Him in some way or the other, because I’ve always believed that He’s always with me, with us, inside us, around us; but it is one thing to feel something in your body that comes from a conviction of your own and it is another to receive it directly from Him. He exploded in me and a dam of tears broke….. I started crying and couldn’t stop! My Italian brothers sitting next to me started passing tissues to me and I just went on and on because being hugged by Swami is indescribable. It is such Love that this world cannot provide in any of its expressions. Murthy Sir finished His speech after which Swami’s discourse started. Madhusudan started by saying that he perceived Swami seated on the throne dressed in an ochre robe and he would translate as Swami spoke.
Here, I would like to add something that I think is pertinent to brother Madhu seeing Swami. He is not the only one, there are various people who see Swami during Darshan and don’t just feel Him the way I do. The hows and the whys, I think, are not important once the experience of Swami in the subtle form is felt. Also, when Swami was in the physical He said that He would never need to use anybody else to communicate with His devotees but never did He say that He would not want to do it. To limit an Avatar like Sathya Sai Baba to one sentence said once, decades ago which was also probably pertinent to a certain situation and moment in time is foolish, I think. Swami is doing this out of His infinite Love and Compassion for all of us, His children, not because He needs to, but because He wants to (probably), it His Sankalpa. I just wanted to put it out there that if He is everywhere why can’t He also be in Muddenahalli? If He has the capacity to present Himself in all beings, what’s stopping Him from expressing Himself through His subtle form. Why He is doing it the way He is doing it and through whom He is doing it, is not for us to question and judge. Who are we to do so?
Man has fallen in this trap many times before. It happens every time the master leaves the physical realm. It happened with Jesus, it happened with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and it is happening now. When will we learn that God’s ways are mysterious and not for us to question and/or decipher? What is more important, the master’s ways or his teachings? It is up to us to choose, keeping in mind that we don’t own the master in anyway whatsoever. If at all there is ownership to be attributed, it is He who owns all of us. So the best that we can do is pray to Him so that we can really learn to respect ourselves thus giving space to that Divine voice that is in all of us and that has the answers to everything in life…. even what is happening in Muddenahalli.
Getting back to the story…Brother Madhu started speaking and my crying got worse because I recognized Swami’s words, the same pauses, the same intonation in His sentences; the same content of all His past discourses. My Italian brothers at this point were running out of tissues! That of course did not stop me from crying because my heart was speaking and was beyond any rational control. Honestly, I did not want to rationalize the experience in anyway but just live it, be present in it.
The discourse ended and I realised that two things had happened since Swami gave me that most coveted sign that I ardently prayed for. The first was that my mind had been flattened out, nullified so to speak. To date, I do not have answers to the questions posed by it. It’s just that they aren’t important. I do not “unconsciously” give it energy and so it has no choice but to shut up. The second thing that happened was that I do not see Madhu anymore. Of course, I see him with my physical eyes but the more subtle “vision” of Swami is much stronger and much truer. Swami has said many times that “the senses, at their best, are inadequate instruments”. The mind works on the level of the senses whereas the heart operates on a different level and once it speaks, you have no choice but to listen to it; while your mind may try to give it a logical explanation, it will fail miserably.
Upon completion of His discourse and after Aarti, Swami decided to go off stage and give a conference kit personally to all the delegates. I saw this and was in such a state of contentment and bliss that I hadn’t thought of doing or saying anything to Him when He would come over; but when I found Him in front of me I went down on my knees and chokingly said “Thank you Swami”. He nodded ever so sweetly, as if to say “Okay”, put His hand on my shoulder and asked “Where is mother?” (It had been three years since I had spoken to her due to the clash in the family). I smiled and said “Swami she is at home, she’s not keeping very well” He replied “We’ll see”.
Later that evening, while thinking about the beautiful experience, I felt like the whole world must experience Swami like this! I wanted to share it with everyone and anyone possible! Talking to an Italian friend, Salvatore Iozzia, I was told that during the youth conferences Swami sometimes chooses a delegate to give a speech. I prayed to Swami “Swami, if you think that I’m ready to talk, I will….., I will share my experience with everyone”.
The next afternoon, I had about a half hour free and was seated outside the administrative block looking at some kids play basketball, while thinking of the previous day’s events. Instinctively, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called my mother. The phone call transpired thus:
Victory, is that you? How are you?
I’m fine mum. I’m in India.
In India?? What are you doing there? Are you in the Ashram (Parthi)?
No mum, I was there until yesterday…...how are you? Everything okay?
Yes, yes all’s good.
Listen I’m calling to tell you that I have a message for you from Swami.
Swami who, where, what….
What do you mean Swami, who…. Swami….., but I won’t tell you on the phone. I need to tell it to you in person.
What?! You’re going to leave me in suspense….when are you getting back?
I’ll come by to see you on November 25 or 26 (it was November 19)
That was pretty much the content of the call. Fast forward 24 hours and Salvatore who was desperately looking for me, came up to me with a smile from ear to ear and said “Swami wants you to talk”. My heart started racing and I told myself “Why are you getting agitated? You asked for it”. I calmed myself down while we were going backstage in the Darshan hall. I met up with the people who were organising the evening session. I was told that at the end of every conference day a delegate is chosen to give the summary of the day’s events and that my name was presented and Swami had accepted. I was to read a body of text that would be given to me. I was also told that I could add whatever I wanted in a two to three minute window at the end. I refused, thinking that I was too emotional. Long story short, I went on stage and read the content of the day’s proceedings and at the end I found myself folding my hands and looking at Swami and saying the following words “Before I close I would like to sincerely thank Bhagawan for all the difficulties I’ve gone through in my recent years; for they have brought me back to His Lotus Feet, I thank You from the bottom of my heart, Sairam”.
I walked down the stage to Swami and barely reached Him when He asked
“How is mother?”
“Swami I called her”
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her I have a message for her from You”
While I answered He materialized a three diamond ring and put it on my right, middle finger. I took Padanamaskar and He said “When I come to Italy, she will come”
The last time Swami spoke to me, when in the physical body, was in 2010. He called me from afar and in a very feeble voice He enquired “Craxi’s son?” and I replied “Yes Swami” laughingly thinking “Why are you acting like you forgot?”. Over the years I didn’t give it much importance knowing that life would give me an explanation sooner or later.
On the evening of November 21, I was sitting in Darshan line with a letter in my pocket, waiting for Darshan to begin. I had decided to use a strategy like we students used in the good old days and that is to give Swami a letter without an envelope thus hoping that He would open the letter then and there, in front of you.
While I was waiting for Darshan to start, an elderly gentleman on my right recognized me and his face beamed with joy at seeing me. He began to enquire about me and my parents. We had to settle down because Darshan was starting. Swami came up to me, took the letter and started opening it. The gentleman on my left jumped out of his chair and said “Swami, Craxi’s son, Victory Craxi”. Swami looked at him and said “Oh, you also know him? I know, I know who he is”. All the while during this exchange, I kept looking at Him and basking in His Divine energy. Swami quickly read the contents of the letter then looked at me and said “Purity is Important, Purity is important”. He repeated it twice and then walked on.
A couple of days later, thanks to some help from sister Deepika who managed to get me to be part of a group of alumni who were in Swami’s house on the morning of His birthday; I stood at the end of this large group of students. My intention was to talk to Swami and tell Him that I was leaving the next day. I was sure that from where I was standing, I wouldn’t be able to interact with Him. I asked an alumnus for a strategic spot where I could stand, since I wanted to talk to Swami. He said “go and stand at the entrance, you will get to talk to Him for sure when He exits the house (Anandam)” I thanked him. While I was standing and waiting, brother Ajay came and I thanked him for letting me get into Anandam with the rest of the group. He looked at me and said “Do you want me to introduce you to Swami?” I laughed at the absurdity of the question and said “You do what you think is right”. He went away and came back with a bouquet of flowers, stuffed it in my hands, and said “Give this to Swami. What is your name? Where are you from?” while I answered him, I felt someone standing behind me. I turn around instinctively and saw Sri C. Sreenivas. I said Sairam and he replied courteously, not recognizing me at all. In the meantime Swami had come down from His quarters. We all turned around to look at Him while he joked with people with His usual wit and humour, while cutting a few cakes. He then started exiting the house and I gave Him the bouquet of flowers. As he took it from me, brother Ajay said from behind me “Swami Victory Craxi, Craxi’s son” Swami replied “I know, I know, the madman” while playfully hitting my hands with the bouquet of flowers. I smiled and whispered in His ear “Swami I’m leaving tomorrow.” He said “First you come to the hall” pointing in the direction of Premamrutham which is clearly visible from atop the hill on which Anandam is situated (Swami had said many many years ago that He would live on a hill in His last years on this earth). He then looked at Sri C. Sreenivas and said “Look Victory Craxi is here.” Sreenivas Sir was shocked because he hadn’t recognized me. Swami continued “He is an Ayurvedic Doctor now.” Talking to everyone in general He said “You know, his mother is continuously praying, praying, praying to Me. I am watching over her. I am protecting her.” He then looked at me and said “When I come to Italy, I will see her. I will also bring her here”. I thanked Swami and saw Him get into the car (for those who are still wondering why the subtle form needs the use of a car and why He needs the use of a house, please read the first volume of the Sri Sathya Sai Uvacha series. It is a series of books containing Swami’s discourses and revelations in the subtle form). Thus culminated my first trip to Muddenahalli.
I will forever be grateful to my beloved Bhagawan who is closer to me than even I am to myself, for having answered my prayer. Such an answer that is unparalleled, incomparable to anything I have ever experienced, including all those years that I spent at His physical lotus feet. I still am of the idea of sharing my experience with the world because I think that this must be experienced by as many people as possible! Swami talks to you, bypassing your mind completely! Leaving the Ashram and going back to our daily lives can, especially for those who have been close to Him physically, feed the mind which can make one forget this experience. I’ve heard of such stories through other people. I pray to Swami in gratitude. I’ve learned from this experience that what the heart dictates can be understood only by the individual. Society can either accept or criticize without understanding. It does not matter to me at all. What matters to me is that I know in my heart of hearts that my Beloved has helped me experience the fusion of the mind in the heart where He resides.
Region 3 Italy