Sometimes we are blinded by temptations. Then, even the simplest logic cannot penetrate our mind. We overlook explicit warnings given by the Lord. Three years ago, unfortunately I fell a prey to such a temptation and went through a tremendous amount of suffering.

It all happened in the summer of 1984, when I went to Karnataka to visit my parents. Through a friend, we (I and my parents) met a man who claimed to be the incarnation of Shakti, the "Divine Mother". We were then told that Baba frequently manifests in him and everything he says is actually Swami's Message, to whoever prays for it.

The story was temptingly attractive because, Baba is the Incarnation of Siva-Shakti. We completely succumbed to the possibility of overnight salvation and the assured solution to all our worldly problems. In the process we completely ignored Baba's repeated warnings that He does not talk or work through a third person.

A person who can lie in the name of Swami in spite of being aware of His being Divine can stoop to any level. That exactly was the case with this man. Eventually he caused us a lot of grief and damage. I would not go into details, but what was worse was that we completely lost confidence and faith in our own selves. This man slowly enslaved us; his threats induced fear and his orders caused anguish. This went on for nearly two years. In December 1985 1 visited Karnataka again for a month. What I faced for a month was atrocious and this man did the worst possible things claiming them to be Swami's instructions.

When I returned to the States, I was totally confused, terribly depressed and became a nervous wreck. I could not forget what I had gone through and was completely torn apart. My parents were worried about me. They visited Puttaparthi. They held a letter to Baba praying for my well-being. Baba is Omniscient. During Darshan He walked straight to my father and accepted the letter. When I was informed about this act of grace, I got a gleam of hope, but I was still in the grip of fear, doubt and depression. I could not meditate or do my work at the university. Several times I felt as if I was losing my sanity.

One morning while lying depressed in my bed the inner voice said, "Only the Lord can save me, I have to surrender to Him"; and I prayed. I called Baba with all my heart. This time He answered; within a few minutes I felt a change. I could feel inner strength; all of a sudden, my depression was gone and I was my own self again. "No more blind faith" I decided. I have to find out from Baba about this whole "Shakti" business. I also realised that there were others like me who were in the same boat as I was, trapped by this man but unable to leave him because they thought that he was Swami's instrument.

I decided to write to Swami. I made discreet enquiries from Sal devotees in New York whether Swami ever replies to letters or not. Everyone said no one had heard of such an incident and the chances were rather remote. However, something inside me kept telling me that Baba will rescue me and answer my query. I thought. Swami receives thousands of letters everyday and how can I expect Him to write to me. The inner voice was very strong and I wrote a long explicit letter to Baba; I poured my heart out since He was the only one I could confide in.

It is true that in His infinite mercy He always comes to the rescue of the needy. Within a few days I received a telegram from Swami, which clearly said that the "Shakti matter is completely false" and of "bad quality". He also instructed me "not to believe such people" and not to "follow them blindly" and to "inform others" who had fallen into this man's trap, which I promptly did.

Blessed are we who live in this point of time, when the Lord directly comes to our rescue when we get into trouble even though we disobey Him.

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