Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A miracle of patience - Harish's story with Sri Sathya Sai

The beautiful days of darshan in the Sai Ram shed, under the tree in Brindavan. 
A short and sweet story of a wedding


It was the summer of 1991. A group of volunteers dressed in their best whites waited in eager anticipation outside Trayee Brindavan, the beautiful lotus-shaped edifice in yellow and pink, which served as the residence of Bhagawan Baba whenever He visited His Brindavan ashram in the garden city of Bangalore. The volunteers had completed their week of service at the ashram for which their ‘Swami’ (the respectful and endearing manner in which Baba is addressed) had promised to bless them with padanamaskar (the chance to offer prostrations at the feet).


Swami returned from the Sai Ram Shed, a large canopy around a huge tree, after granting darshan and sitting through the bhajan session. He headed straight towards the seated volunteers and began to bless them. One of them got up on his knees and prayed,
“Swami, my daughter has reached marriageable age. You must find a groom for her...”
Swami smiled and accepted his prayer but told him to wait before moving on. As He neared the end of the line, one other volunteer got up on his knees and prayed,
“Swami, my son has reached marriageable age. You must find a bride for him...”
“Very happy”, said Swami and turned around. He beckoned to the devotee who had prayed for a groom. The alliance was finalised instantly in the Divine presence and both devotees were left with happy faces.


“Once Swami gives a word, He always keeps it. I never thought it would happen so fast though”, the groom’s father remarked to D.R.Harish, his son who had recently turned twenty seven. Harish was happy that his bride had been chosen by Swami. Ever since he had completed his BSc in Swami’s college at Brindavan in 1986, he had wanted to stay with and serve Swami. Thus, he followed the footsteps of his father who was a member of the Seva Dal, the volunteer force initiated by Bhagawan Baba. He considered it a great blessing to obtain Trayee duty - service within the compound wall of His Lord’s Residence.


With Swami’s blessings, the wedding was held on 2nd October, 1991. It was a happy ending to the short story of Harish’s betrothal. It was also the beginning of another story - one that would demonstrate comprehensively the power in the Lord’s word and Harish’s faith in the same.


The beginning of an epic


Early in 1992, after his wife underwent a regular medical check up, Harish was called aside by Dr. Savitriamma of the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, Whitefield.
“It is very surprising that your wife has a very atrophied uterus. It has shrunk so much that it is even theoretically not possible for you to have a child. I am telling you because I want you to break it as gently as possible to her. Such things will break any woman’s heart...”


Harish was in a daze. He did not know how he would convey this to his wife. He shared it with his parents who took it in the right spirit.
“Swami has chosen the girl for you. Swami knows everything. He will take care.”
That faith mirrored his own and so, Harish decided not to reveal this to his wife at all!


It was not long before his in-laws began to talk about a grandchild and his wife, about a child. The couple decided to have a child but Harish still did not break the news. Years passed in this manner and naturally, the couple did not get any children. That was when Harish’s wife, on the insistence of her parents, accompanied them to a fertility clinic. It was sometime in 1998 that they got to know about the uterus that had shrunk further.


“Why didn’t you tell us about this?”, they questioned Harish.
“How would it help anyway?”
“Did you tell Swami about this?”
“No....”
“Why? You get so many opportunities in Trayee Brindavan almost on a daily basis...”
“So? Swami does not need to be told. He knows everything.”
“Arey! He knows you say... But what will you lose to tell Him once...”
“Ok. Let me see if Swami gives an opportunity.”


The Trayee volunteers would complete their weekly duty and await blessings from Swami. 
It was in the summer of 1999 that an opportunity arose. A batch of volunteers had completed a week of duty and Harish prayed to Swami for blessings for them. Swami agreed and He was granting them padanamaskar and prasadam. Harish’s brother-in-law, who was also among the volunteers, saw the perfect opportunity and nudged Harish when Swami was opposite him.
“Hey, tell Swami about your problem now...”
“What is your problem?” Swami asked.
Harish was embarrassed. He was the only married man among the young volunteers there. How could he tell Swami. He decided to whisper it in Swami’s ears. So, he went close to his Lord, parted the fragrant and fluffy hair by His ear and said,
“Swami...”
“I know!” Swami said aloud. “It has been seven years and three months. I will bless. I will give you a child.”


Harish returned home happily and shared the divine words with everyone. He was convinced that it would only be a matter of time now.


Adopt to adapt?


Several years passed after that promise. The new millennium began but there was no offshoot for Harish’s family tree. Every year, when Swami visited Brindavan, He made it a point to indicate something related to the child to Harish.
Paapam (poor fellow)... He does not have children”, He once mentioned to another devotee while passing by Harish.
“I am going to give him a child”, He said in the next year.


The year after that, a Seva Dal co-ordinator himself pleaded to Swami on Harish’s behalf,
“Swami, by your grace if Harish has a child it will be wonderful.”


Years passed in this manner but Harish never mentioned or offered a letter about the issue of not having an issue to Swami!


In 2003, his family’s patience wore thin. His wife gave up all hopes of having her own child. That is when she brought up the topic of adopting a child. Reluctantly, Harish also agreed because he felt that this was probably the way in which Swami would bestow a Prema-putra (son born of love in the heart) instead of a Kama-putra (son born of desire - the normal way) to him. So, the couple set out to an orphanage and filled in all the necessary forms. A child was selected and almost all the formalities were completed. Harish wanted a sign from Swami before the actual adoption. Swami did not disappoint him. The sign came during Swami’s next visit to Brindavan.


"When Sai Baba says something, it has to happen."
Swami did not even look in Harish’s direction for a whole week. Harish wondered whether he had done something to upset Swami. A week later, he went ahead to seek padanamaskar for the volunteers who had completed duty. Swami looked at him with disgust,
“You don’t speak to me!”, He thundered, “Don’t have even a little faith...”
Immediately Harish understood what Swami was referring to. This was the sign he had been seeking.
“Sorry Swami. I will not go ahead with the adoption.”

“Good. Tell your wife that once Sai Baba says something, it HAS to happen. Tell your wife to have patience. You wait.”
Seeking pardon, Harish prostrated to his Lord.


He went home and conveyed Swami’s message to everyone concerned. He also called up the orphanage and apologised for the change in decision. Having done that, Harish and his wife continued the wait. They had no idea how much longer it would take. It was already twelve years since their wedding.


Baba’s last visit to Brindavan; final word to Harish


Years rolled by without any new fruit on Harish’s family tree. 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 were years when Swami Himself suffered falls at a physical level and got confined to a wheelchair. Harish did not feel like reminding or asking Swami about His promise. Instead, he sincerely performed his duty in full faith and poise. Then came 2008.


Nobody knew at that time that Swami’s visit to Brindavan in the May of 2008 would be His last ever in the physical frame. But He knew it of course. That is probably the reason why, even as He got down from His car and was moving towards Trayee Brindavan, Swami beckoned to Harish. He told him,
“You don’t have children right? Don’t worry. I will give you a child next year.”
Both smiled at each other. There was no need of saying anything else.


Harish hurried home and narrated the happenings to his wife. She was thrilled and in tears. It was clear that their 18 years of efforts would finally come to fruition thanks to His grace and blessings.


2009 arrived with fresh hopes of progeny for Harish’s household. Each month, the couple waited eagerly for Swami’s word to manifest. But their wait seemed to be in vain because even Santa couldn’t bring them the Christmas gift that they expected.
“When we do not understand Swami’s silence, how can we understand His words? There is definitely some divine plan. Let us hold on patiently with faith”, Harish consoled his wife.


It becomes very difficult to hold on in such circumstances. But these are precisely the situations where we get to see whether we have faith or not. One is reminded of the lyrics of a popular song that the students sing in Swami’s presence:

Harish got many opportunities to sit at His Lotus feet but he never
used them to seek personal favors. 
When dark clouds fill the skies hiding sunshine from your eyes;
When things are getting rough and you feel enough’s enough;
When life seems so unfair and no one seems to care;
Hold on... Hold on...


The year 2010 was being celebrated worldwide as the 85th year of Advent of the Sri Sathya Sai Avatar. The devotees from Bangalore started a noble and inspiring initiative on the New Year day. as a special effort for the 85th Birthday. At least 11 devotees gathered at a house to chant the Rudram 11 times interspersed with a stanza of the Chamakam. The whole effort takes at least three hours.The plan was to do this in 85 houses on 85 days. Harish’s home had been slotted too, sometime in February.


As per schedule, Harish’s home reverberated with the chants. Harish was seated right in the front, leading the effort. In the middle of the sadhana, a devotee whispered in Harish’s ear,
“Your wife seems to have fainted from exhaustion. She is being attended to by a doctor devotee in the room.”
Harish nodded. He decided to continue the prayers since his wife was already being tended to and there was nothing more he could do to help. However, within an hour, he was summoned into the room. The doctor walked to him and said,
“Harish! Ensure that you take up all the kitchen work from now on... Congratulations! Your wife is carrying a two-and-a-half month old child...”


Harish realized that Swami’s word had indeed come true! Mrs. Radha Harish had conceived a child in the December of 2009. Swami works His miracles irrespective of whether we notice and acknowledge it!


Blessings and joy


Everything progressed smoothly as Harish and Radha awaited the ‘arri-wail’, the cry that announces the beginning of a new life. In July, something out of the ordinary happened. The baby descended dangerously low and the doctors were convinced that it was going to be a pre-term baby. It was precisely at this time that Harish travelled to Puttaparthi as a member of the organising team for the week-long Alwar-festival being held in Prasanthi Nilayam. The highlight of this festival was the Sudarshana Homa which Harish got the chance to be a part of. This Yajna is conducted to confer health and prosperity on everyone. Was it a coincidence that Harish was here praying for his wife and child?

The grand stage set in Prasanthi Nilayam for the Sudarshana Homam.
The good fortune did not stop there. After the Poornahuti (the final offering made to the deity by pouring into the flames) which was done by Swami Himself, Harish was part of the group which collected the residual ash to be distributed as Prasad. While combing through the ash, they came across several precious stones that Swami had materialized and put into the flames. Harish got a Gomedhikam or the garnet gemstone. The garnet stone is believed to possess magical powers of protection and healing. So, thinking that this was Swami’s way of blessing him and reassuring him, he felt happy.


Imagine his joy when, the next day, the organisers of the event came to their group and said,
“Swami said that finders are to be the keepers for all the gemstones found in the Yajna Vibhuti (ash). He said that it is His prasadam for them!”


Swami personally supervises the Poornahuthi for the Yajnam. 
Thus it was that Harish returned to his wife with the precious Gomedhikam. He saw that the stone had a small hole through which it could be threaded. He places it around his wife’s neck as a sign of Swami’s protection and grace. The amazing happened - without any medication and without causing and complication, the baby stayed put till the stipulated 40 weeks were complete.


On 10th September, 2010, nineteen years after the wedding and twelve years after Swami had first said that He would gift a child, Sai Skanda was born! When the child was just 3 months old, Harish took him for darshan in Prasanthi Nilayam. It was the 27th of November and Puttaparthi was filled to the brim because of the Birthday Celebrations. Yet, Harish managed to give a photo of Sai Skanda to Swami in the darshan lines. That day, as Swami watched a programme by the Sai African Adult Choir, He also opened Harish’s cover. Pulling out the photograph, He studied it intently for several minutes. He smiled.


At a distance, Harish also smiled. When he looked at the sleeping baby on his lap, he realized that Sai Skanda had woken up and he too had a smile!


(In June 2016, Sai Skanda got admission into the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School at Puttaparthi.)


The happy trio.
Harish today manages the Gokulam Canteen and Accommodation in Brindavan
ashram while his wife works as an office executive in the Radiology department
of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bengaluru
. Sai
Skanda, has started his divine romance in Swami's school. 


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19 comments:

  1. I too was moved to tears reading this amazing experience. What faith and patience Mr. Harish has shown! So inspiring! Also it proves the fact Swami's words are beyond time and will become true at the right and perfect time which He alone knows. This has inspired and touched me greatly and has also driven home the lesson that I need to hold on with immense patience and wait.

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  2. Sarala Jagannathan15 June 2016 at 11:02

    Thank you Arvind for a timely post. Sitting in the hospital tending to my mother and worrying about her health, this experience has given me hope..our struggle has also panned out for 18 long yrs now..hopefully we too see light at the end of the tunnel and my mom lives well to sing His glory..Sairam.

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    1. My prayers also for your joy and peace. These experiences give us hope and courage to hold on. But as you rightly said, while going through it is indeed very difficult. May Swami give all the strength that is needed.

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  3. loving harish anna to all who have attended the trayee duty ....very humble soul ...had met him in brindavan during summer course in april 2016 ..the day in which you had come to deliver talk for samarpan

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    1. Absolutely right. I have had the pleasure of interacting with him during my days as an AVC boy when I was a student in Brindavan (2000-2003). Brother Harish was smiling and humble to the core always.... I did not even get the slightest hint of what he was going through in spite of seeing him everyday!

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  4. Superb narration of a story of faith and perseverance.
    Probably this is to explain the phrase 'Shraddha-Saboori'.

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  5. Dear Brother Aravind,
    Sai Ram and greetings from Malaysia.
    There were tears in my eyes as I completed reading your article and seeing the beautiful picture of your family.
    What you have illustrated is that we must always observe sharada and saburi. The Lord knows best and will provide us our needs. Wonderful .

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  6. In complete tears of happiness.... Any word that comes from Swami will happen and there is not expiry date for it... this is yet another example..... Also the faith and patience of the family is remarkable... Stay blessed... Jai Sai Ram....

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  7. Sairam Aravind thanks a lot for the thrilling narrative of events by SWAMI through your pen, reminding all of us to have unflinching faith and develope patience te bw steadfast in all circumstances through Harish's experience. You are all dear Bangarus of SWAMI. Palikedidi SWAMI kathata, palikenchuvadu SWAMIyenata, Palikeda verondu gatha palukuganela ..(with apologies to Bammera Potana for trying to adopt his immortal lines from Bhagavathamu) is your calling! Best wishes and love.

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  8. Swami's words are truth at all times. Bro Harish should be a very contended father. May Swami shower His blessings on the family 24 x 7. Sairam

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  9. Really soul touching. I have been immersed in the glory of Lord and His ardent devotee. Jai SaiRam.

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  10. Thank U so much for sharing this Wonderfull story, Beloved Aravind. It shows how We are all to be patient & discerning as to the words & Great Love & Blessings that Swami has for all of his devotees. I feel so blessed to be able to Love All & Serve All through the people He puts on my Soulpath.I Am.Om Sai Ram.Om Shanti.AUM

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  11. Om Sri Sairam

    Harish sitting at the feet of Swamy and not using those opportunities to communicate innermost desires and suffering knowing fully and thinking "Swamy knows what I want and what I am going through".

    The Lord of Compassion fully experiencing the pain of His beloved and thinking "How much anxious I am to relieve you of suffering here now". He then feels His own pain when he thinks "How much anxious I am to reiterate to you that My word will indeed come true, to reiterate to you that you will be relieved of your suffering but in the interest of your welfare, in the interest of strengthening your faith and patience, this has to remain a mystery to you"

    Words cannot do justice to the thoughts of Harish and Swamy that transpired in their silence.

    Maybe our tears can do some justice...

    Om Sri Sairam

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  12. Sairam in gokulum seen his service, taking new initiative, improvement of canteen, helpful to cooks very devoted he is

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  13. Absolutely awesome! Thanks a lot for sharing..

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  14. Great lesson learnt complete faith and surrender..is what swami expects...hats off to harish sir..n family as he successfully passd the test..

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  15. Dear brother Aravind, there are so many ways in which Swami speaks to us and for me one of them is your blog... Time and again Swami tests my trust on him and I have failed so many times due to my attachment to materialistic growth... This time also Swami gave a small test and I resorted to reading this blog... And lo I did not fall back like I did on previous occasions... Thank you for taking out time and writing about Swami and his leelas it's very inspiring!

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    1. Sairam sister,
      Thank you for that compliment. Am grateful to Swami for the same. I don't think you should get disheartened. All of us fail many times. We are lucky to have an ever patient and ever loving Swami who appreciates our efforts alone.

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