Friday, 20 January 2017

The story of a blue baby and the Kali Yuga Avatar

Thondapu Arun Kumar relaxed as he steered the car onto the AH-43 and headed towards Puttaparthi. The traffic snarls at Bengaluru had been left behind and it would now be a smooth and speedy drive towards the abode of highest peace - Prasanthi Nilayam.

Arun always wanted to be at His Lotus feet. Swami proudly blesses him when
he secured a high All-India rank in the GATE CSIR examinations.
Arun was a regular at the abode of his Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, ever since 1998 when he had enrolled for grade XI in the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. In the 9 years that followed as a ‘Sai-Student’, he had completed his schooling, under-graduation, post-graduation and an MTech degree from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Even after embarking on his career path, he had made it a point to regularly visit Puttaparthi to pay obeisance and gratitude to his God and Master. But this visit in the September of 2015 had an added agenda. Arun had come to pray to Swami to bless him and his wife, Keerthi, with a child. That was the prayer he made as he knelt at the Sai Sannidhi, the sepulchre also called as the Mahasamadhi of Baba.

Trying to conceive a child is probably one of the most fertile events to make one realize the truth in the Bhagawad Gita's statement by Lord Krishna,
Karmanyavadhikaraste Maa Phaleshu Kadachana
(You have the rights over action alone and not over the fruits of action).
In the true sense, one can never ‘plan’ a baby. The baby happens when it is supposed to happen irrespective of the intensity of efforts (or its apparent lack) thereof. And so, every child, whether conceived naturally, in vitro or adopted, is in fact the gift of God!

For Arun and Keerthi, the wait after the prayer was very short. In October 2015 itself they got to know that Keerthi was carrying a baby and their joy knew no bounds. Arun was sure that the baby was Swami’s gift to them. Keerthi was convinced that it was God’s gift; she wasn’t sure about giving the credit entirely to her husband’s ‘Swami’ who she considered as a good human being. Arun was not bothered. He knew that just like the baby, faith in Swami also would happen when it was supposed to happen. As of now, the couple celebrated the gift of love that had been bestowed on them and began preparations for the delivery 40 weeks down the line. As the baby grew, so did their eagerness and joy.

But all that came to a sudden halt in the middle of January 2016 as the New Year heralded dreadful news.

Transposition of the Great Arteries

The routine ultrasound anomaly scan that Keerthi underwent in Hyderabad took an unusually long time to get completed. Arun noticed that the doctor was keenly observing one particular portion of the scan repeatedly. He sensed that something was not alright. His feelings turned out to be true.

“The foetus is exhibiting a transposition of the great arteries”, the doctor said, which is a defect due to the improper development of the fetal heart...We don’t know why this happens exactly... It is a random occurrence, by chance, but it needs urgent attention.”

Arun and Keerthi looked at each other in bewilderment. The doctor explained it as simply as possible.
“See, there are 4 chambers in the heart. The upper two chambers (auricles) receive blood while the lower two chambers (ventricles) pump it. Circulation of blood happens like this - Blood is pumped from the right ventricle to the lungs via the Pulmonary Artery. This blood gets oxygen and returns to the left auricle and falls into left ventricle. From there, it is pumped to the whole body via the Aorta. In your baby, the Aorta and Pulmonary Artery connections have interchanged. So the good oxygenated blood is circulating in a loop between the heart and lungs while the bad de-oxygenated blood is stuck in a separate loop between the heart and the rest of the body.”
TGA explained diagrammatically
She paused for a moment to allow the couple to digest all that.
“The baby will need life-support as soon as it is born because there is no way oxygen supply can reach the body. There is also a high risk of some abnormality or retardation in the child which we cannot predict now. Usually, in such cases, the parents decide the drop the baby.”

“No!” screamed Keerthi within herself. She could not even imagine aborting her child. For Arun also, dropping the baby was intuitively out of question.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

If you need me, you deserve me - Baba in Bahrain

“If it is okay with all of you, I wish to stay back. I’ll take care of little Gopal and stay at home...”
“But it is Patel, a close friend of Dwarkanadh. How can we not go?”
“You can go. I really don’t feel like coming”, Mrs. Pankajam Sundaram persisted, “do not force me to come along please.”
“It is okay if she wants to stay back”, her son in law, Dwarkanadh, interrupted, “My friend would not like to be the cause of discomfort for anyone. Plus, she may be eager to spend time with little Sai...”

The father in law looked at Sai Gopal and then turned to Pankajam,
“If he says so, then stay at home. But we may get late at night.”
“It is okay. Manama is a very safe city... and I don’t plan to step out of the house anyway”, Pankajam replied to her husband.

Mr Sundaram, Mrs Pankajam Sundaram with little Sai Gopal. 

Dwarkanadh knew that the main reason his mother in law didn’t want to come for dinner was because his friend was a “Sai devotee”. Pankajam was an orthodox and staunch follower of Vaishnavism and she considered Vishnu as the only supreme Godhead. She naturally didn’t want to be associated to a ‘person’ who was adored as an Avatar of Shiva! This was possibly the reason why she preferred to address her grandson as ‘Gopal’ leaving out the ‘Sai’ prefix.

Mr. N.R.Dwarkanadh, on the other hand, was a sincere devotee of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. In fact, a couple of years before in February 1981, he had founded the first Sai Samithi in Bahrain along with a few other devotees. When a son was born to him in February 1982, it was natural that the parents christened him with the prefix ‘Sai’. The doting grandparents, Dwarkanadh’s in-laws, had travelled from the Indian capital New Delhi to Manama to attend the boy’s first birthday. The father in law had taken to Swami the way a fish takes to water. But Pankajam had her reservations against dining at a Sai devotee’s place!

Thus it was on the evening of 17th of March, 1983, Dwarkanadh, his wife and his father in law left for the friend’s place at about 7:30 pm. Pankajam and the year-old Sai Gopal stayed back at home.

Unexpected visitor

Grandmother and grandchild spent a couple of happy hours in each other's company. Past dinnertime, the child seemed to get hungry. Pankajam fetched the feeding bottle and started giving milk to her grandson. Gopal contentedly settled with the bottle in his cradle, suckling at it with gusto. That was when there was a knock on the door.

Pankajam ignored it at first. She didn’t know anyone in Bahrain and so, the house could practically be considered locked as far as any visitor was concerned. However, the visitor was quite persistent with the knocking. Pankajam thought that it was her son in law’s cousin and his wife who were staying next door. They might have come to check on her to see that she was fine. The knocking continued and finally, Pankajam rose from the chair at the dining table. She walked to the door. She unlocked the door and opened it. Instantly, she realized that she had been totally wrong in her guess of who it might be. Her face turned pale and she instinctively moved to slam the door shut. So fast was her reaction that she hurt her hand in the process.