Personal Transformation Experience
Swami’s Washing Machine
Many people ask me about the first time I came in contact with Swami. To be honest, I can’t recollect a particular moment when my eyes found his picture or anything, but I can surely say that I have always felt His presence in my life.
My parents have always been devotees. When my mother was expecting me, she heard Swami’s voice in her head telling her that her child was a girl. My paternal aunts are ardent devotees of Swami hence Bhajans and Satsangs were regular affairs.
It all changed for us when we moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2003. We were in a new country and barely knew anyone, life just got busy. Despite this however, my mother continued her devotion to Swami. In July 2013, my father woke up one morning feeling uneasy. My mother and I accompanied him to a clinic and on the way, he suddenly started experiencing seizures. We panicked, not knowing what to do, and I unknowingly wailed out, “Sai, Sai.” As the taxi pulled up to the clinic, we were in a difficult spot, as my father was heavy, and we couldn’t lift him. He was barely conscious at this point. Just then two gentlemen came running, one of them got a wheelchair and they heaved my father on to it and wheeled him into the clinic. Later we were told that had we been any later, the situation could have been much worse. To this day I believe that they were sent by Swami.
The next year my mother underwent a surgery in her uterus, making her vulnerable to heart palpitations and heat flushes. Her anxiety worsened her health. We were constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. This is where she met a woman who directed her to Dr. Chamari in Malaysia who is an established gynaecologist. She played a vital role in us coming in touch with Sai Hridayam, the Dubai chapter of the Sai family. My mother found peace in Bhajans and Satsangs, and would often ask me or my father to accompany us. But I would only go, if my father was unable to. Even as my parents became active in Seva activities, I’d never even raise a finger to help out. I just wasn’t interested!
2016 was a particularly difficult year for me. I was always on edge, constantly worried about my parents’ health. Last year I had received my bachelor’s degree and was very blank as to what I should do next. Eventually I decided to get a job because I needed experience to get into the universities of my choice, but it didn’t work according to plan. While my friends and peers were all getting jobs, and taking up international master’s courses, I was home miserable, not knowing what I was doing wrong. My anxiety went from bad to worse and I found it increasingly difficult to eat and sleep. It felt as though I was stuck in quicksand and everyone around me was moving freely. I watched as everyone I knew sped ahead in life.
This year in January, we visited India and made a customary visit to Shirdi. We had reached there just in time for the Kakad Arati (the four AM Arati where they wake up Baba) and were waiting for the curtains to open for Darshan. I had my eyes closed when I heard a voice in my head asking me, “You have been through a lot haven’t you?” I couldn’t stop the tears after that. It felt as though I was relieved of my burdens.
Later in July, my father told me that I must accompany my mother to Muddenahalli for the Guru Poornima functions. It took him a little bit of coaxing, but finally I agreed to go. On the first evening of the functions when Madhusudanji walked in, I watched curiously as everyone turned to give him their letters and held out pens for him to sign their books. I’d previously never been to any of the functions when Swami had been in his physical form, hence this was new to me.
The next morning, we visited a residence in the main city of Bengaluru and did Bhajans there. There was a picture of Swami which has come from inside the Muddenahalli halls, and we had been performing Bhajans in front of the picture when I looked at it properly. Swami raised his eyebrows and smiled, as if to say, “Look who is finally here to see me!” I stared at the picture. I had only heard stories of people experiencing things like this. Swami just continued to smile, and I heard a voice in my head say, “Others chase me, and I had to chase you and bring you here.” He then stuck his tongue out at me and smiled. I had tears in my eyes, not able to comprehend what had just happened. That evening’s functions proceeded uneventfully, and I sat there praying to Swami that I too wished to see him.
The next day was Guru Poornima. We had all gotten decked up and were waiting for Swami to come. I closed my eyes thinking ‘Let me see if I can see you, Swami.’ I got a mental image of Swami walking in with his entourage and that moment I opened my eyes to see everyone looking towards the back entrance. When I asked my mom why, she replied that Swami would be entering from there. It was at that moment that Swami’s car pulled in and everyone got out. During the musical performance by the Singapore group, I saw Swami sitting on the stage clapping along and enjoying the music. I thought I was seeing things!
The next day we visited the new campus in Hassan. We were received with so much love from the boys who stood in a line holding flowers for all of us. It was here that I met 12-year-old Mohit, who informed us that the boys go home only after six months. I asked him, “Don’t you miss your parents?” He looked at me, smiled and said, “I have Swami here, I don’t need anything else.” What could anyone have replied to that?
As we were about to begin the Bhajans I saw Swami sitting on his seat looking pleased. When the boys sang Bhajans, Swami had the widest smile I’ve ever seen on his face! He was just so genuinely happy, I cannot begin to express how blessed I felt to be able to perceive that. Swami was present even when everyone was having lunch, just watching everyone enjoy their food. Witnessing the love that the boys have for Swami changed my life.
At this point I was thoroughly confused as to how someone like me, who has never done Seva, never taken any interest in Bhajans or even just generally helping out see and perceive Swami. Was I hallucinating? To make matters more curious, Mr. Kamat who heads the Hassan campus, took us to show the land where the new temple would be built. As we were climbing there, I got a mental image of Swami standing on top and just looking down on us. I was sure at this point that I’d lost my head! I hoped and prayed that I was actually seeing Swami and not hallucinating, but I had my doubts. It was much later when Mrs. Shobhna relayed to us that she’d asked Swami if He was present that day, and that His reply was affirmative, when I finally accepted that I was in fact seeing Him.
I was asked to write about how my life was transformed, but this is the story of my rebirth, of me entering back into the world where I truly belong, and that is at the feet of my Beloved. What I had been through previously is what I now refer to as “Swami’s Washing Machine”. Here He takes you as dirty as you are, full of anxiety and negative thoughts and gives you a proper washing. Sometimes He even drowns you in the darkness of your self-doubts only to take you out, wring you and leave you to dry in His Glory. His constant corrections of our character are His way of ironing and straightening us out. I consider myself blessed that Swami takes His time and shows us the way, day in and day out.
It is He who has guided me even when I was ignorant enough to push Him aside. He has loved me unwaveringly and has shown me what unconditional love looks like. It is He who had known me, even before I’d taken my first breath. He has come to me whenever I have called out, even appearing in front of me sometimes to ensure I eat properly! How can I put in words how grateful I am to the All-Knowing?
If it weren’t for my parents and their support I wouldn’t have ever seen this day. They are the biggest blessings Swami has bestowed upon me because they were my first experience of unconditional love. I am also eternally grateful to my Sai Hridayam family and so many of my lovely peers who set an example of how one should conduct themselves.
Today, I have left behind my bad company, bad thoughts and anxiety. I strive to spread Swami’s message of love and service. I strive to become an example of what a true disciple looks like. After all I’m just another droplet making my way to the mighty ocean.