Divine Play and Manifestations
We feel Baba's omnipresence most forcefully through His manifestations which occur in our homes thousands of miles away from Puttaparthi. In Darshan, I see Swami moving around pretending sometimes not even to understand what the devotee says to Him. I wonder how He plays with our limited minds and how we fail to comprehend the true measure of God. In the first major manifestation in our home, a number of pictures showed splashes of Vibuthi over several days. Prior to that when a little Vibuthi appeared on a plastic picture of Baba in our son's room we had wondered how it could remain stuck to such a smooth plastic surface. The `coincidence' of Vibuthi or streaks of Amrita on what are significant days to us is especially intriguing. Such manifestation lends an air of special-ness to different members of our family, e.g., streak of Vibuthi on Tehseen's birthday, a drop of Amrita when I was ill and unable to go to Bhajan on Diwali, Vibuthi in the form of love, heart in our daughter's wallet, Vibuthi in the shape of a smiling face on the roller skates given as a gift to our daughter, Shamash, on her birthday, a streak of Amrita from Krishna's flute when I started to learn to play the flute. There are `occasions of His grace with no apparent reason—streak of Amrita from Baba's picture or Shirdi Sai's foot on odd occasions make our daily life very exciting and joyous.
Divine Saviour and Protector
Baba has become divine protector for us. On one occasion, when Shammah was going for skiing for the first time I had a feeling that she might hurt herself. That night I saw Baba in a dream. He conveyed to me that Shammah may have a mishap. In my dream I pleaded with Him until He agreed that He would do something about this. On the ski slopes on the first day, Shammah kept falling and calling on Swami for help. When that night she saw Swami in her dream she complained to Him that He had not been helping her. He said to her, "If you want help, Shammah, you have to call Me from your heart. Remember this tomorrow." I may add that at an interview on a previous occasion He had put a medallion on a chain He materialised around her neck and said, "Keep this always close to your heart." The next day, when Shammah was going downhill, she lost control. She did not know how to steer or stop. She was hurtling towards a tree at a steadily accelerating speed. She called on Swami in desperation from her heart. This time her cry for help was genuine. Suddenly, from nowhere appeared another skier who came towards her at great speed and knocked her over away from the tree. She rolled in the snow uninjured and avoided hitting into the tree. Later she could not find the skier—he had disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared.
Craziness for God
Sometimes Baba teaches us in surprising manner that He knows what is happening in our innermost thoughts. Almost two years ago when I returned from a visit to Prasanthi and attended Bhajans at our Sai Centre, I noticed a large spot of Vibuthi on Swami's forehead placed by a person who was fond of doing this. This practice is not acceptable in Australia as people from a variety of religions come to the Sai Centre. I felt agitated and could not concentrate on the Bhajans. But I was careful not to convey my disappointment to anyone.
The following Thursday we had Bhajans at our home. Imagine my astonishment when I went to get the picture from our own shrine room and found there fresh Vibuthi on the forehead of Swami! I felt I had been needlessly critical in my mind of my friend. I needed to become more tolerant of others' expressions of their devotion to Swami.
Baba says that the Divine Principle is present in and outside everything and that He can be experienced directly and indirectly. For me now God is not just a remote Being to be contacted through rituals. He is the Living Presence. He is simultaneously both in Puttaparthi and everywhere else. We may choose to relate to Him at a physical level. But this is, in a way, His play. We may also relate to Him at other levels, mental, emotional, spiritual and supernatural. I see that while He is beyond my rational understanding, He is also very much with me, within me and I am within Him. I now understand that prayers are means of linking myself with God and not for seeking favours. As Baba says, Tapas is not giving up home and retiring to forest but it is a continuous process of giving up bad qualities, so that God's grace flows into our lives. He is Suhrid—a good-hearted friend who is ever with us. Nothing is a coincidence or a matter of chance. Every event, happy or unhappy, is a part of the Divine Plan.
I consider myself very fortunate that I met this 'crazy' Englishman in the plane some 12 years ago. What would be my life like without Swami? I only wish I could meet once again this fellow traveler in the plane and tell him that I have also become crazy like him. As Swami says we are all crazy, some are crazy for money, some for worldly recognition and others for God. The best craziness is for God and those who are crazy for God are the fortunate ones.