Tuesday, 4 June 2013

No God, No Miracles; Know God, Know Miracles

An interview to remember

Those of you who have arrived straight over here, it is suggested that you go through the first part of this episode entitled, “God’s grace makes everything possible”, so that further reading of Praveen’s story makes better sense and is more enjoyable!

Photo Credit: Sathyasaiwithstudents.blogspot.in

Having successfully cracked the GRE examinations, the two lads applied for a host of Universities in USA for the course in Hospital Administration. From among the several universities that offered the course, the duo chose the Lomalinda University based on ‘instinct’ and ‘gut feeling’. Then, they happily drove back to Puttaparthi, to their Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) who awaited them.

They found themselves in the interview room with a few elders after the next darshan session itself. In the interview room, Swami said,
“These boys did not study anything at all. They just went to Bangalore and ate well.”

Praveen had a look of shock on the face. He was sure that he studied quite hard - well maybe not that hard! But he was dead sure that he did not simply ’eat well’ as Swami alleged. So, with a blank face, he tried to shake his head to negate Swami.

“What is your weight? Tell me”, Swami asked.
Praveen recollected that it was about 75 kilograms the last time he had checked. He stated that figure.
“Let me check”, said Swami, going in and fetching a weighing scale!

Praveen stood on it and the scales tipped over 80 kilograms.
“See! What did I say? He just ate well. I had to do all the studies!”
Now that was a statement that Praveen simply could not refute. It was definitely Swami’s grace that had seen him sail through the GRE and had fetched him the miraculous score. The leg-pulling did not cease. A smiling Swami looked at both the lads and asked,
“Now that you have eaten well, can you both together lift at least me off the chair?”

That was a tempting offer! A great chance from Swami. Being able bodied they were sure to be able to raise the puny 108-pounds frame of Baba. They agreed and Swami let them try. With each placing one hand behind His back and the other below (like a chair), the boys tried to lift Swami. But try as hard as they did, Swami did not budge a millimeter. He was simply smiling. After a few moments of intense effort, Swami said,
“It is alright. I shall get up myself.”

Effortlessly, Swami got up from the chair and opened the interview room door. The interview was over!

TOEFL trouble?

Soon, Praveen came to know that there was another test to be taken - the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language). He was worried now. It was not as if he had problems in English. His worry was something totally different. Having spent all his life with microscopes and petri-dishes, Praveen had almost no acquaintance with a computer. (In the 1990s, one could actually get educated without touching a computer! How will the children of today ever believe it?)

But hey! Wait a minute! What has knowledge of the computer got to do with the TOEFL examination?

Nothing actually. However, one of the sections of the test is writing an English essay. And however logical a QWERTY keyboard might seem to regular computer users, it was an absolute mess of letters for Praveen. He had not the slightest idea on how he would be able to type out huge essays on a keyboard. It was too late for him to pick up typing!

And then came another ‘miracle’. The Lomalinda University decided that since the students were post-graduate Masters who had obtained very good scores in the GRE, they must be good in English! And they were simply exempted from the test. So, the selection of Lomalinda University based on ‘gut feeling’ turned out to be a good one! Once again, Praveen simply smiled knowing whose hand was behind all this. When the string-puller for the universe is pulling strings in a divine manner, what can ever go wrong? And so, all one has to do is to make God happy; the rest will simply follow.

A passport without the visa is not of much use

Just when everything seemed set to launch off towards the US, came another hassle that almost every Indian wanting to go to the US faces - the Visa troubles (maybe that will change in times to come).  The next unbelievable sequence of events started happening in Praveen's life. To start with, he had to go to Chennai for the Visa interview.

It was the day before the actual interview and he was trying to get everything in order. Equipped with the documents, self-confidence and faith in Swami, Praveen slept at night. The next day, hell broke loose - in the United States of America!

It was the 11th day in September 2001 and jihadi terrorists rammed aeroplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York! The US Consulate in Chennai shut down for 3 full days and Praveen’s stay in the South Indian city extended. The interview was now scheduled for the 14th and Praveen faced one of the most hostile sessions ever. Since he was not on scholarship, he was questioned about his educational funding. The terms 'Swami', 'God’s grace', 'devotees’ love' and the like had a negative impact on the lady who was almost interrogating Praveen. She simply stamped a big ‘REJECT’ on the Visa and chucked him out of the office.

It was with despair that Praveen returned to Bangalore. He had no clue how he would show his face to Swami. After so much had been done, the trip seemed sabotaged at the last step. The hopes of the two boys too had come crashing down like the twin towers in New York. The devotees of Baba decided to do everything possible. They requested the then chief-minister of Karnataka, Sri. S.M.Krishna and the then vice-president of India, Sri Krishan Kant (both devotees of Swami) to pull a few strings. But all that was to no avail! It was the secretary to the chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu (where the US Consulate was located) who brought the bad news,

“The US rules are such that once a Visa application is rejected, one cannot re-apply for another 6 months. Though the people at the Consulate are simply amazed at the influence being wielded by these two lads, they simply cannot do anything about it, they say.”


When God steps in
Photo courtesy: sathyasaipath.wordpress.com

Everything seemed lost now and the Tamil Nadu state president for the Sri Sathya Sai Organizations conveyed the ‘bad’ and ‘sad’ news to Swami. In Puttaparthi, Swami simply smiled and sent a message,
“Tell the boys that they will get their visas by 3:00pm.”

Everyone, including the state-president, wondered how this would happen.

A sudden twist of events took place. The US Consulate, on that very same day, 14th of Spetember 2001, was attacked! It was well-covered in several newspapers and the NDTV website screamed "86 arrested in US consulate attack in Chennai". The Consulate requested the government of Tamil Nadu for added protection. Such requests are always give and take. Can you guess what was the reciprocal request from the Tamil Nadu government?

Yes! Accept the Visa applications of Swami’s boys and security will be provided! The people at the US Consulate must have really wondered who this Praveen was! Just as Swami had said, the Visas were approved and Praveen picked up his visa gingerly. The time was exactly 3:00pm!

Both the boys returned to Puttaparthi and all they could do was simply fall at Swami’s feet. Swami seemed surprised. What had He done, He asked! God knows everything but acts as though He knows nothing. Man knows nothing and yet acts as though he knows everything.

Another problem; another divine solution

Finally came the day when the boys had to actually leave for USA. Needless to say, it was quite a tearful one for Praveen. He had simply been overwhelmed by Swami’s love and was just not ready to let go of it for 2 full years.
“But Swami, you said it would be a short trip. I cannot stay without you for two full years!”
“It will not be two years. You will complete it in 1 year”, was Swami’s reply.
At any other time he might have asked, “How Swami?”, but now, Praveen was wise enough to know that nothing is impossible for God.

Swami blessed both the boys and even gifted them with suits to wear in the US!

Praveen wears his new suit and poses alongside his dear Swami before embarking on the journey.

Another problem cropped up now! The ticket to Los Angeles was booked via Singapore. Though the tickets for Singapore-LA leg of the journey had arrived, there were no tickets available for India-Singapore part of the journey! The flight had to be taken to LA because the course had already begun nearly a month before in Lomalinda! But what was to be done?

Pray to the Lord. (Where would we be if not for prayer?)

It was an incredible sequence of events that happened. One devotee from India seeks help from another devotee in Singapore. This devotee in Singapore is a doctor and has a scheduled appointment with the Chairman of Singapore Airlines! Tickets are issued immediately. But how to reach them to India? Here comes the awesome way things were done - the tickets were faxed with a letter explaining the special circumstances. This would let the boys in through the security check at the airport. The actual tickets were sent with the crew of the Singapore Airlines flight which was arriving from Singapore!

It was with gratitude to Swami in his heart that Praveen sat at the window, gazing out at nothing in particular. He was filled with thoughts of the amazing things that had happened to make this flight possible.

A day later, on the 18th of September, Praveen was on American shores. He had to rush immediately to enrol in the University. Amazingly, there was not even the slightest sign of jet lag. He was as fresh as a flower. And when he was asked how he managed not to get fatigued, he replied,

“Know God, Know miracles!”

... to be concluded in the next part entitled

When God gives a task, He also gives the strength to complete it.  



For all readers:

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19 comments:

  1. NDTV link is of 2012.
    Correct it.
    Sai Ram.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I have taken appropriate action! :)

      Such a coincidence right...

      Delete
    2. Sai Ram dear brother,

      Please give us a solution to read your articles without shedding tears. Sometimes I feel ashamed as I get up from the computer, my eyes become swollen and everyone asks me why...with a smile in my face,I walk away giving some vague answers. You articles are awesome and so inspiring. Thank you again, Sai Ram

      Delete
    3. Sai Ravi - Thank you. I take that as a compliment! :)

      Having said that, Swami has often stated that shedding tears while remembering God is always good! :)

      So I guess it is fine...

      Delete
  2. No words to say.Follow Swami's word without questions ,his grace will come.Thank you for sharing.Can't wait for part 3.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Swami's leg pulling is amazing brother :) waiting for the next part!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is a absolute delightful read. Swami's ways are as mysterious as they are joyful. There is another part to this is like topping fruit salad with cream & honey. Eagerly awaiting arrival of part 3.

    Sairam

    ReplyDelete
  5. Swami You are ALL.
    Such a delightful Leela of Bhagwan !

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Swami, Your Grace makes it work for all of us and our lives are illustrations of Your constant Love towards us. we know that we can never repay it, but we all must do one thing, and that is, that we live upto the Word given to Swami, that we shall not swerve even an inch from Righteous path, and we all remain Near and Dear to Swami. Let Grace of Lord flow in full from through us.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very beautiful article...
    I was wondering, have you stopped writing on hubpages???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No! I shall continue to write. There are relative advantages and disadvantages between Blogger and HubPages. :)
      I shall write on both, alternatingly. The next article will definitely be on Hp! Am just 'diversifying' and ensuring that am not over dependent on any single channnel! :)

      Delete
  8. How can we describe this miracle in few adjectives in English dictionary about our LORD who is CREATOR of MAYA. This is simply the best example of how the LORD goes to any extent to help his DEVOTEE. Simply MIND BLOWING

    ReplyDelete
  9. "... to be continued soon in another part... "

    Sairam Aravind.. awesome article!! Though I remember hearing Praveen's interview on RadioSai on the same topic!!

    Did you get a chance to write the next part? Eagerly waiting!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry... The link to the next part has now been updated at the end of this article. Check it out.

      else, go to the article archive and read the one entitled
      "When God gives you a task, He also gives strength to complete it."

      Thanks

      Delete
  10. While reading this first part, my formless love towards swami become form as part of tears.
    Thank you ARVIND your writing is more precious for us like Sanatan Sarathi.
    Sai Ram

    ReplyDelete
  11. ARVIND PL GIVE ME CLARIFICATION ABOUT SWAMI KARUNYANANDA.IS HE LEAVED SWAMY? . DR SAMARAM TOLD THAT SWAMMY KARUNYANANDA CLOSE DEVOTEE LEAVED SWAMY DUE TO SWAMY DONE SOMETHING TO YOUNG BOYS

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is absolutely pure rubbish! Swami Karunyananda stayed with Swami till the end of his earthly life. He died in August 1997 and his samadhi is along the banks of river Chitravati.

      Read what Karunyananda said himself about Swami -

      http://www.vedamu.org/features/FLateSwamiKarunyananda.aspx

      Delete
  12. sairam brothers, i studied in music college in 2001. That time i remembered that swami was not talking to students during darshan for almost 2 to 3 months. then i remember swami came one day during afternoon darshan from interview room and started talking to Anilkumar sir. swami told him to announce to all students that his two students who were having difficulties in getting visas to USA were just given the visas by US consulate in chennai.
    Then swami said that when he wills everything has to happen accordingly.
    great experiences of this brother.

    ReplyDelete

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