Personal Transformation Experience

The Day Swami Protected Me from Drugs

It was at the beginning of 2013 that I went to India with a one-way ticket and no plans. At the time, my life looked like a crossword puzzle and I only had questions but no answers. So, after spending a month and a half in Swami’s Ashram in Puttaparthi – where I met many wonderful people and read a lot of priceless books from Swami and other Masters – I decided to take a short trip to some other ’hot‘ Indian destinations.

I arranged to go to Gokarna, south of Goa, together with a friend whom I met in the Ashram. We spent our time relaxing at the beach in that beautiful place, which happens to be one of the most sacred Hindu towns and home to an ancient Shiva Lingam. At that time, the place was growing with hippies and other tourists coming in from Goa who wanted to explore some new places quieter than Goa. So, there were many guest houses along that beach and along other beaches nearby. 

One morning, as I was having breakfast at the guest house, I noticed a man sitting all by himself and somehow, we started talking. He turned out to be Basque (from the small autonomous state within Spain) and somehow found himself all alone in India without being able to speak any English! As I could understand a little Spanish – much more than I could speak – I felt sorry for him as he had not been able to talk to anyone for weeks since his friends had left unexpectedly.

He suggested walking to the beach nearby and having lunch together. I agreed, as I was planning to go there anyway. While walking there, he was literally talking all the time! Not only had he been deprived of it for so long, but my Spanish was not good enough to answer back anyway. So, I was just listening, trying to understand whatever I could.

It turned out that this man was very politically active. He was an anarchist and had even joined the rebels in Chiapas, Mexico. However, the most unusual thing about him was that, according to his proud claims, he owned vast land in the Basque country where he had been growing his own cannabis trees! He even confessed that he had a small quantity of hashish with him, which he suggested we could smoke together after lunch.

This was an adventurous trip and I was determined to explore whatever I could, both inwardly and outwardly. Having practically no experience with drugs – thanks to God’s Grace for never letting me hang out with anyone with such habits – I agreed, out of curiosity.

Indeed, after we had a swim and some lunch at a restaurant by the next beach, we walked back looking for an isolated place where we could get on with our mischief! Ironically and sadly, we chose a small deserted temple right next to the tourist path on the top of a hill and we sat down inside the courtyard. Not far from there, at the bottom of the hill, I had seen a small altar of Shirdi Sai Baba.

As the man started rolling the ‘cigarette’, I noticed that he was sitting right next to the entrance to the temple, making him visible to all passers-by. This made me nervous because I remembered reading a strong warning in my Indian tourist guide book: ‘If you get caught with drugs in India, it is almost certain that you will end up in a very unpleasant prison from which it will be very difficult to get out!’ However, I tried to push that thought away, guessing: ‘This man is so experienced. He must surely know what he is doing’.

He lit it up and gave it to me. As I was inhaling, I noticed there was someone standing right in front of me. From down there, I could only see his legs. I lifted my eyes, only to see an Indian man in civilian clothes holding a police badge in my face!

From that moment on, it felt more like watching a movie than real life! He took the joint from my hand, smelled it and said: ‘This is ganja’. My abettor, pale with fear, tried to deny it: ‘No! It is a cigarette!’ The man said: ‘No, I saw you from back there’, pointing at the rear side of the wall, which was more than 2.5m tall. How could he have seen us from there, anyway? He seemed to be interested only in me and he asked me to open my bag. Of course, there was nothing suspicious, but he noticed that I had some money there, so he asked: ‘Do you want to end this here, or go to the police station?’

I was so lost – read ‘scared’ – that I did not immediately understand what he meant. He asked again, pointing at the money. So, of course, I offered him all the money that I had, which was not much, and he said: ‘We are doing this because you are a GOOD BOY!’ He underlined this: ‘You are a good boy’, repeating it a couple of times. He simply took the money from my bag and without even giving my abettor a second look, turned around and left.

We were left in a state of shock. My abettor had lost his breath. He hugged me and said that this had never happened to him before. Realising in what great danger I could get if I kept hanging out with this man, I put together whatever Spanish I knew and said: ‘You and I are no longer friends. We will walk back separately’.

As I walked out of the temple yard, I looked around for the policeman. Even though we were on top of the hill with a clear view for kilometres around, he was nowhere to be seen!

I walked down the hill, went straight to the altar of Shirdi Baba and prayed with gratitude for His mercy. I knew this was none other than my very dear Swami, whom I had only known for a few years.

Ever since that day, I have never felt the curiosity to try any similar substance. On that same journey, when I travelled through Goa and even went to many dance parties where people sometimes offered me such ‘soft’ drugs, I confidently refused, as I had realised that I do not need anything to make me ‘feel better’.

Being sober actually helped me a lot to enjoy the music and the dance, as I was conscious and grateful to be in control of my body. In fact, that was the time that I improved my dancing skills which later became a very important part of my life.

This was just one of the countless times that Swami has protected me or saved me from getting into trouble. As He has been drawing me nearer and nearer in the years that followed, I realised that the more I focus on serving Him, rather than my own selfish desires, the happier I feel. Not only that, He makes sure that all my needs are fulfilled, without me having to worry about anything, as He takes care of everything! Our beloved Mother Sai!

Evangelos Maroudas

Region 3, Greece