When Sri Sathya Sai Gave Me the Cosmic Vision – By Dr. Somnath Saraf

The President of India Sri R. Venkataraman at the SSSIHL Convocation on November 22, 1990;
Dr. Saraf as Vice Chancellor is on the right

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, though physically born on November 23, 1926, would begin His 65th year of birth on November 23, 1990. But, in His Divine form, He has neither any date of birth nor any age. He created the Cosmos and whatsoever is within it. He has, therefore, neither any beginning nor any end.

Bhagavan, in His mercy had, however, to guide the misguided, who were suffering the illusion that He was a mere child in a far-off village called Puttaparthi in South India. On October 20, 1940, fifty years ago, He declared His Divinity. This manifestation of Divinity of Bhagavan Baba, during the course of half a century, is now fully recognised as a matter of sheer fact and reality. It is, therefore, befitting that, in this year of grace, His devotees throughout the world are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Bhagavan's declaration of His Divinity.

Bhagavan's Divinity, with supreme powers of Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience, is recognised everywhere by everyone and at every time. Place, person and period neither matter nor count. What, however, matters is the pain, the pang, the plight, the persistence, the penance, the patience and the powerful prayer. In such situations, like that of Gajendra Moksha story, our Lord, Bhagavan Sathya Narayana manifests His prompt, punctual and protective presence in its pristine purity, as recorded even in our ancient scriptures as well, in one form or other in a clear and concrete situation. His millions of devotees, across the world, have recorded their incredible, but exhilarating, experiences and expressed gratitude to Him, often in unspoken words, and from the depth of their pure hearts.

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba came into my life at the tender age of 10. Ever since, He has been moulding me in the right form and chiseling me, at every stage of my life, in different situations and various parts of the world, in spite of numerous angularities and rough edges. What I am today, after more than half a century, is the result of His correct, constant, calculated, calm, concern and care for keeping the little candle, which He found in the form of a small child of 10 years in 1934, in a small corner of North India, i.e. in Srinagar, Kashmir, even Kindled and bright. The story, though long, is sweet. Writing about hundreds of vibrating experiences, which I and my family members have witnessed from time to time, would cover a huge volume. I am recounting here only a few of the acts of His Grace and Mercy.

As a small child, while learning beautiful stories from Mahabharata in Kashmiri, our mother would very sweetly explain how Lord Krishna playfully revealed His Divine Identity to Yashoda by opening His tender mouth, showing very clearly that He was not an ordinary small child but the Creator and Lord of the Universe. When I grew slightly older, I was told that Arjuna, who was reluctant to do the ordained duty, even though he had surrendered himself to Lord, was shown by Lord Krishna the Vision of His Cosmic Form. These stories left me dazed. Then, as a young boy, my grandfather, who knew Sanskrit and Persian very well and knowing my difficulty about the knowledge of Sanskrit, suggested that I could read Bhagavad Gita written in English. He made the sagacious point that what matters is not the language but the spirit. So the practice of reading daily a Chapter of Bhagavad Gita started. While going through Chapter XI of Bhagavad Gita, I would come across Arjuna's prayer to Lord Krishna to give him a Vision of His Cosmic Form — Form of Lord, the Immutable Self. In response to his ardent prayers, Arjuna gets the vision of different forms of the Divine Lord. It was a revelation to me to come across the following Divine Message of Lord Krishna in Chapter XI: 'l am the Supreme Imperishable Brahman. My inherent nature is what manifests as the Indwelling Spirit and I have a creative act which brings forth all beings into existence.'

Cosmic Vision by Lord Krishna to Arjuna

Sanjay's beautiful description of Lord Krishna, revealing to Arjuna, His transcendent Form as the Lord of the Universe was something which aroused my consciousness. The Lord reveals to Arjuna His Cosmic Form in which He finds, in an instant, all that exists, past, present and future, spread out as it were as part and parcel of an all-comprehending Whole, a Divine Person, whose grand majesty and splendour are too much for him to bear.

In spite of the fact that my consciousness had been aroused, in its preliminary form, the experiences seemed to be intriguing me and were lying dormant in my mind all the years till 1972. It is in this year that I came across the Chapter with the heading "Words with Wings" in Volume IV of Sathyam Sivam Sundaram. A similar kind of declaration was made by Bhagavan Himself and conveyed in a written message in the monthly Magazine, Sanathana Sarathi when it was inaugurated. It reads:

“There was no one to know who I am till I created the World, at My pleasure, with one Word. Immediately earth and sky were formed. mountains rose up, rivers started flowing. sun, moon and stars sprang out of no-where to prove my existence. Came all forms of life — plants, insects, beasts, birds and men. Various powers were bestowed upon them under My Orders. The first place was granted to man, and My knowledge was placed in man's mind.”

As stated earlier, the revelations in the Bhagavad Gita and various declarations, including the above, continued to intrigue me till the year 1990. It was 11th of January, 1990, Poornima and Thursday — holiest of the days. The place was Shanti Vedika in Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium, Prasanthi Nilayam. The occasion was the inauguration of Annual Sports and Cultural Meet. The vast and beautiful sports complex was filled with hundreds and thousands of devotees from all parts of the world including students of the Sri Sathya Sai educational institutions of various campuses from Class I to doctoral level.

Lord Sai, the Chancellor of the University, is the greatest Time Keeper. His arrival time in the Stadium at exact 7 a.m. After going through the inaugural function, He sat in His Divine Chair in the Shanti Vedika overlooking the whole Stadium, the vast stretch of beautiful land, hills, sky, the educational complex, the Administrative Building of the University. On His either side, He was flanked by eminent educationists, scientists and distinguished public men, who had specially come to watch the most inspiring function.

Sri Sathya Sai on the Shanti Vedika at Prasanthi Nilayam; Dr. Saraf is seated on the left

As is usual with the Lord, from 8:30 a.m. onward, out of His love and compassion for devotees and students, He directed the distribution of cool drinks, biscuits, sweets etc. for the organizers of the meet, eminent persons, student participants, devotees, etc. and these continued flowing at regular intervals. The Lord did not touch anything. Being on His right side and watching Him not touching anything, the human heart in me started aching. There was an unusual urge to pick up the courage and to pray to the Lord that He may take something as He was in the Shanti Vedika for over four hours without sipping even a single drop of water.

Exactly at 11:11 am, with a thumping heart and unusual excitement, I picked up the courage and prayed to our Lord, that He may take something, in these words: “Bhagavan, You have not taken anything. You have not touched even a drop of water. Do take something.” The Lord listened to the prayers and turned His Effulgent Head in my direction. With His Lotus eyes, full of supreme bliss and compassion, He looked directly into my eyes with love. Like a sweet Mother, He paused, watched and gazed directly without uttering a single word. Within the split of a second, what did I see in His Lotus eyes? It was something beyond my imagination. In His Lotus eyes, I could see the Creator of the Cosmos, the Whole Cosmos covering the Universe, Sun, Moon, Stars, Mountains, Rivers, Oceans, different continents, the creation moving at their usual rhythm. Everything could be seen smoothly in this heavenly creation. The Creator of the Cosmos revealed His identity to a small insignificant mortal being. This was exactly how He had described Himself in Shlokas 9 to 13 of Chapter Xl of Gita, as slightly modified by Lord Sai in His written message referred to earlier, which I had completely forgotten having read it in 1972. It was a sublime, sweet and serene divine scene watched by my human eyes, which I cannot forget at all. It was a cosmic scene where everything was in its natural setting.

To a doubting Thomas, who was earlier baffled and intrigued, the lesson was clear — crystal clear. The Lord wanted to convey. “My dear boy, the Creator provides everything to anyone in any place who comes to Him. Why do I need even a drop of water?” The scene was heavenly and beautiful. I was lost without knowing how long in this heavenly creation and spiritual ecstasy. Having shown His Cosmic Form, the Lord returned to the Human form and turned His Effulgent Head slowly towards the Stadium watching the sports, as if nothing had happened. I got Light which I shall retain till the end of my physical journey.

The scene depicted above was neither an illusion, nor a delusion nor even a hallucination. It was true as Truth. In the split of a second. He revealed His Divine identity. I saw Him everywhere - the ultimate knowable, the Imperishable Brahman, the ultimate support of the cosmos, the Imperishable, the Eternal Spirit — with no beginning, no middle no end. Unlike the form revealed in the Bhagavad Gita, the Cosmic Form of our Lord was serene, calm and sublime. An ignorant person, like me, refused to believe earlier that Lord Krishna showed His identity to Yashoda, when He was a child or Lord Krishna could reveal His Divinity to Arjuna on several occasions when he was in His youth and during the Mahabharata war, fought in Kurukshetra. I had to wait for the time and the opportunity and, in response to my innocent prayers, got an appropriate occasion when the Lord revealed His Identity.

We have to come to the inevitable and irresistible conclusion that it is not wise, on our part to treat Him on any other plane excepting the sublime heights of the Creator of the Universe — the Truth of Truths. If we do so, then we can deem ourselves to be real devotees whose qualifications have been laid down in the last shloka of Chapter Xl of Bhagavad Gita which reads as follows: "Whoever works for Me, looks upon Me as the Supreme, who is devoted to Me, who is free from attachment, who is without hatred for any being, such a man comes to Me."

It has often been observed by thousands of devotees all over the world that physically Lord Sai may be in Prasanthi Nilayam or in any other place, but He is with anyone who seeks His refuge at any time and in any place. He responded, without even a single second's delay, to my urgent but prayerful call from Kabul (Afghanistan) in 1974, when l, but of utter desperation on seeing a lady nearing her death, sought His intervention in saving her from the jaws of death. She had stomach ulceration, of an advanced stage, and had vomited bucketful of blood and was admitted into a hospital. All had lost hope.

Dr. Saraf, Vice Chancellor standing behind Sri Sathya Sai in the foreground of the SSSIHL Administrative Building

It is an unforgettable event which happened in a small but beautiful Mandir in the house of one of the Sai devotees in Kabul. After seeing the condition of the lady in the hospital, I prayed and knelt before the Lord's charming photograph in this beautiful Mandir in the house of this Sai devotee. I submitted to the Lord mentally and prayed: "Baba, if you are God, save Mrs. Shangloo". Within seconds of the child's fervent telephonic call, fresh and fragrant Vibhuti emerged, as of from nowhere, near the photograph where I had put my forehead at the Lotus Feet, out of desperation and in complete submission.

The fragrance of Vibhuti was so sweet and effective that it spread throughout the house and drew us immediately from the Drawing Room, where we had gone to have some refreshment, to the shrine. The scene was Divine. This was Mira's call from Kabul to Lord Sai Krishna in Prasanthi Nilayam - a distance of thousands of kilometers covered with many mountains and terrains of different nations and countries. I firmly believe that intense devotion gets changed from Mira's call to Miracle. The fresh Vibhuti, which emerged from nowhere, was an utter amazement to the inmates of the house. They had many experiences but not of this kind. I was intensively interrogated by the Sai family as to what I had done in the shrine which brought forth fresh and fragrant Vibhuti. I frankly confessed that I had prayed to Lord Sai intensely and with a bleeding heart.

The fragrant Vibhuti was taken quickly by me without a single moment's delay to the dying lady in the Abu Sena Hospital in the heart of Kabul where she was made to eat it She slowly opened her eyes and started breathing normally. To the great surprise of eminent physicians and surgeons in the hospital, who were around watching her agony and preparing for any eventuality, in fact even an operation, she was back to normal life within a week or so. The X-ray done, after a couple of days of taking the sacred Vibhuti, revealed that the stomach was completely healed and there was no trace of ulceration.

Mrs. Shangloo, even after 16 long years, is still alive and active. This was my first personal and unforgettable experience of the Divinity of the Lord. His Omnipresence, His Omniscience and His Compassion to respond to the fervent prayers of anyone particularly for someone else. His response in such cases is immediate.

Sri Sathya Sai talking to Dr. Saraf in the Western Canteen at Prasanthi Nilayam during the Vice Chancellors Conference; 1987

In January 1982, we had the rare opportunity of visiting Bombay. I had to attend the Conference of Vice-Chancellors of Universities located on the Western Ghats. This Conference was convened by us in the Planning Commission, to be held in Pune on 29th and 30th January. I stopped in Bombay for a couple of days before the Conference started. A series of wonderful experiences started confirming the view held by millions of people that Lord Sai is loving and caring and that He looks after His children wherever they are.

In the evening of January 27, 1982 in Dharmakshetra, the Lord was Divine Host to a dinner served to some devotees. Mrs. Saraf and I were invited to this dinner. As usual, Bhagavan finished His dinner, within almost half a minute, and started going round and enquiring from devotees as to what they would like to have. Like a Mother, He persuaded each one of us to eat to our maximum capacity. I had a plan to go to Bhutan as a UNESCO Adviser to the Royal Government for a period of three months beginning from February 1982. At that stage, not being so near to the Lord and completely unaware of formalities, I felt embarrassed to ask Him whether I could go to Bhutan. I saw a number of people making humble submissions to Him. I did not have the courage to speak — the urge was there — but the lips were bound. Knowing what is happening in my mind, He came to me a couple of times watching me eating my food without any concentration and focusing my attention on Him. I was still dumbfounded but His loving look made me to speak one sentence. “Baba, I am going to Bhutan.” I did not say anything else. Lord knew what was in my mind. He said, “Go and do your work with devotion.” After a little pause, He added "When are you going?” “What is your programme?” I said, “Baba, I am going tomorrow to attend a Conference of Vice-Chancellors of Universities located in Western Ghats, in Pune. We will discuss problems regarding the sea pollution and how the Universities can help.” The Lord gave His reply. "Nothing is going to happen. As long as there is pollution in the minds of people, the atmosphere, including the seas, will continue to be polluted. Attend to your work with devotion.” At the Conference, during the next three days, we had exhaustive discussions.

Being blessed by Lord, I left all alone for Bhutan on February 3, 1982. It was an UNESCO-UNDP Project to help Bhutan Government to draw up their National Policy on Education. The duration of the Project was three months only. I remembered the words of the Lord, “Go and do your work with devotion.” The Bhutan Government were pleased with my inputs and extended my stay for more than a year. They asked me to take up additional projects. With the Divine Grace and His Benediction, the work was deeply appreciated and communicated to UNESCO, Paris. I was asked to stay on in Bhutan.

Sri Sathya Sai in My Life – By Dr. Somnath Saraf

Vice Chancellor Dr. Somnath Saraf with Sri Sathya Sai on SSSIHL Convocation Day - November 22, 1987

In the beginning of April 1982, I learnt in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan that Lord Sai would be in Delhi. I rushed from Thimphu, like Radha in search of Beloved Sai Krishna, down to Phuntsholing, the southern plains of Bhutan, near the Indian border. I reached the nearest Bagdogra Airport on time in the morning on 7th April and left by air for Delhi. I reached Delhi in the evening to the surprise of all.

On April 8, 1982, Mrs. Saraf and I rushed to the residence of Justice P. N. Bhagwati to have Darshan of the Lord. It looked as if the Mother was looking for her children. As soon as He saw me, He enquired as to when I came and why I came. Standing in the Divine Presence, I said, “I came yesterday to see the Lord.” Referring to Mrs. Saraf, who was standing at some distance and with a twinkle in His eyes, He asked, "Where is your life?” Pointing towards the Lord, I summoned the courage and said, “Baba, my life is standing before me.” With a beautiful smile, prompt came the reply, "I am asking for your wife. Where is she?” I pointed towards Mrs. Saraf. He immediately materialised Vibhuti and gave it to her. He told her particularly to preserve it for some important occasion. He further said, “I shall come to your house.”

While we were very happy that we had Lord's Darshan and precious gift, we were slightly worried that if the Lord comes to our house in Delhi, it will not be worthy of His visit as we did not have the right kind of facilities. We took His words literally. The plan which emerged was that Mrs. Saraf would come to Bhutan with me, presuming that our Lord would not be able to come to Bhutan. That was our childish view at that time.

On 8th June, 1982, Mrs. Saraf, on hearing about the sudden death of her father, was very much perturbed and excited and had a severe heart trouble. She lost vision in her right eye and the right side was practically paralysed. After seeing this depressing state of affairs, I calmed myself and remembered the Lord. I applied the sacred Vibhuti given on April 8, 1982, in Justice Bhagwati's house. She became almost normal. Immediately, I called the Head of the Indian Military Hospital in Thimphu named Dr. Shahi. He came promptly and, after thorough examination of the symptoms. diagnosed that while it was a case of severe heart attack, he expressed his amazement as to how it was averted. During our stay in Thimphu, Dr. Shahi would visit us regularly, prescribe medicines, suggest the amount of salt to be taken, the kilometers to be trekked daily in the hilly terrain, the kind of diet to be taken, etc. He would always wonder as to how this dreadful event was averted. He knew that we were Lord's children but we could not explain to him the phenomenon then and there. Even after returning to Delhi, when we used to meet Col. Shahi in the Delhi Cantonment, this topic would invariably come up for discussion. We forgot the whole affair for full five years. It was early in the morning of 8th June, 1987, in the Vice-Chancellor's house in Prasanthi Nilayam, the Lord, in His lustrous form, came to my dream at about 4 a.m. and, in a sweet voice, said: “Saraf, do you remember that I came to your house in Bhutan exactly five years ago on this very day when Mrs. Saraf was seriously ill with heart attack. You applied Vibhuti on the affected parts of her body. I came in the form of Dr. Shahi and saved her. She recovered soon."

Dr. Somnath Saraf following Sri Sathya Sai at the Hill View Stadium, Prasanthi Nilayam

I got up from the bed and woke up Mrs. Saraf immediately. I asked her about the date of the heart trouble in Bhutan. Like me, she was confused and did not remember the date. Immediately I consulted her medical file, which was readily available. To our delightful surprise, it was clearly indicated in the diagnosis chart, written by Dr. Shahi, that it was on 8th June, 1982 that she had suffered a heart attack when we had called him. This is how our Lord looks after His children wherever they are and keeps His promise(s). When He says that I shall come to your house, it means that He will come wherever we are may be, Delhi, Thimphu, Tokyo, Kabul, London, Moscow, Lima, California and even the remotest part of an unreachable mountain and in any form. Such experiences are numerous.

We were slightly surprised as we never wrote to our Lord about the illness of Mrs. Saraf in Bhutan, nor about Dr. Shahi having treated her. At that time, we did not know that we should invariably communicate our problems and prayers to Him in writing in case we are not in close physical proximity. I have now come to the logical conclusion that, whether we write or not, He is always in touch with His devotees in any part of the world. We may not reach Him but He reaches us. I do not subscribe to the view that He is unreachable and unapproachable. Before we start writing to Him, He knows what we are going to write. Accepting letters, as He often says, is to give some solace to the devotees.

The same day — June 8, 1987, our Lord was asking some devotees in the Mandir verandah in Prasanthi Nilayam, casually about their ages. My turn also came. In retrospect, I believe that it was to remind me about the morning experience. I immediately remembered the early morning experience — the Lord's beautiful Vision, His Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence. I immediately indicated my age — less by ten years. The Lord mentioned to the persons in the verandah that there was a great significance in what VC says and that He came to me at the age of 10. This reminded me of my past when I was a child living with my parents in Malapora, Srinagar, Kashmir.

He actually took care of me when I was hardly ten years old studying in Class V. I had two younger brothers. Our mother died leaving three of us alone. The day is unforgettable. There was no one to look after us. We wished we too had died along with our physical mother. Perforce, we had to go through the usual rituals which had no meaning for small children with tender hearts. The day our mother died, one Mr. Murtaza Khan Saheb joined our School as our form teacher in the Vth class in which I was studying. The name of the School was Baba Pora Middle School. When translated in English, it means the place of Baba. The school still exists in the same building and with the same name.

I returned to the School, after 13 days, completing the necessary rituals connected with my mother's death. With great reluctance I went to the School knowing that, on my return to my house, there would be no mother to look after us, no food would be ready, clothes would be unwashed and unkempt etc. But with faith in my mother, who was sweet and loving to the last day, I left for the School. I found a new teacher, Mr. Murtaza Khan Saheb, whom I had not seen earlier as our Form Teacher. On seeing me, he called me and embraced me with intense love and said: “Why are you downcast and depressed?” While in his lap I wept bitterly. I said: “My mother is dead.” The way he hugged me so closely and sweetly I felt my mother had come back physically to the School to console me. I did not know what to do. I felt relaxed and relieved. Murtaza Saheb said: “Your mother is not dead. I will look after you.” His heart was throbbing and I got the vibrations. That was the turn in the tide. I returned to my home with a new life and a bright light which is still shining in my heart. My mother had come back though not physically. Murtaza Saheb would daily enquire about by health and give his personal attention. He would teach us like a true Guru always with us and within us. He was love incarnate.

Murtaza Saheb used to talk about our culture, common heritage, spirituality and human values. In Kashmir, there used to be a custom that Brahmin boys would wear ear-rings so that they could be distinguished from the rest of students in the classes. This was a man-made design to make distinction between students on the basis of their religion, caste and region. Mr. Murtaza Saheb advised that the Brahmin boys should remove their ear-rings as these were against the basic cannons of equality of the human race and of the universality of faiths. He would say that all are creations of Lord, belonging to one world. India was our Motherland where there should be no distinction between students on the basis of caste, creed, colour or religion. This was the first lesson to us in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.

He also introduced us to the monumental book of Mahatma Gandhi, his autobiography – “The Story of My Experiments with Truth.” It took us to an entirely different world of ideas and experiences and gave us an inkling into the feeling, thinking and action of great people. We were indirectly introduced to the concept and practice of truth, non-violence, righteous conduct and love by reading Mahatma Gandhi's inspiring autobiography at the tender but impressible age of 10 to 14. With deep interest, we would read Gandhiji's experiences after seeing the drama of Harishchandra, his adherence to truth in spite of his teachers' advice to the contrary. Murtaza Saheb would make us talk about the stories of great sages and saints of Kashmir. His first love was for his students. His special affection was focused on me as long as I was in that school from the age of 10 to 14. He gave me back my life.

Pratap Singh High School, Srinagar, Kashmir

After completing my Eighth Class in Baba Pora Middle School, I moved to a High School called Pratap Singh High School, which was nearly two miles from our house. After a couple of days of my joining the High School, I visited Baba Pora School to see my Guru, Murtaza Saheb. I was informed, by the Headmaster, that Murtaza Saheb had left and his whereabouts were not known. It was almost a shock to me. I had to reconcile to the inevitable. He tended me when I was forgotten and forlorn, when the whole world had become dark and dingy - life had become lifeless and listless. Till this day, that is, even after half a century, I cannot forget the face of my Saviour, Murtaza Saheb. Where did he go?

This was my moot question which remained unanswered till I saw Murtaza Saheb in my Lord in 1972 after 34 years, in a photograph, and then in physical form in 1979 on August 30, Thursday, after 41 years, in Brindavan. On August 30, Thursday, 1979, my Lord, Mother Sai greeted me on taking me and my family into the interview room in Brindavan with such sweet words: “Acha Kiya, Guruvar Key Din Aaya.” “You have done well that you came on Thursday - the day of the Guru”. It flashed to me that My Master and My Mother are the same.

One thing which deeply impressed me was, when I saw Bhagavan's photograph in the Puja Room of one of the devotees in 1972, that His Lotus eyes compared very well with the eyes of Murtaza Saheb. This impression got confirmed when I saw Mother Sai, in physical form, in 1979 on August 30, Thursday. I rejoice often recollecting mentally the two pairs of the beautiful Lotus eyes. While sitting at the Lotus Feet of my Lord, and watching Him from near or at a distance, I often recall the hair style and broad facial features of Bhagavan and Murtaza Saheb. These are almost identical.

I am now firm in the belief that the Lord had taken the form of Murtaza Saheb and had come all the way from Puttaparthi to Kashmir to look after His child. This was confirmed by Him on June 8, 1987, in the Mandir. He must have done so with millions of people without their realization. I often rejoice in recalling this beautiful real experience which gave me a new lease of life.

Dr. Saraf with Sri Sathya Sai at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

It was November 1975. I rushed from Paris where I was in the UNESCO on some assignment to London on November 20, to meet my youngest brother and his family and to attend the 50th Birthday Celebrations of Bhagavan being organised by the Sai Organisation on November 23. The celebrations were festive, full of enthusiasm and deep devotion, organised in one of the largest halls of London. This was my first experience of joining Birthday Celebrations and that too outside India. I was deeply moved seeing the spontaneous love of devotees of all ages, colours, creeds and nationalities, in a far off land, paying their reverential Homage to their Lord almost with tears. This was my first and last impression. I had to return to Paris and arranged the journey through the hovercraft crossing the British channel. On the day of departure, that is, November 27, 1975, Bhagavan appeared early morning in the dream and advised that I should avoid travelling on that day. He also said that I had Navoorihas which were not auspicious. Out of compassion and after blessing me, He said, “Saraf, do not worry. You will come to me after nine years. You will have to face many ups and downs during this period but you will survive. I will have a tripartite meeting with you and Dr. Gokak.”

I followed the Divine advice and got my travel plans to Paris postponed. My brother, an ardent devotee for many years, insisted that the journey should be postponed. Actually, the British Channel was in terrible storm that day and the too the craft, in which I had to travel was in trouble. I could not, however, understand the implications of Bhagavan's observations till November 27, 1984.

Mrs. Saraf and I came to Prasanthi Nilayam in the second week of November 1984 to attend the 59th Birthday of Bhagavan. We continued to stay on for a few days more in the Abode of Absolute Peace. Who wants to leave the Divine Presence? On November 27, Bhagavan called me and Mrs. Saraf to His interview room. As usual, after enquiring about our children, health, etc. Bhagavan suddenly asked: “Saraf, when are you retiring?” I replied that I had already retired but was working on an important research project of the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, Delhi. He further asked: “Saraf, when will the project work be over?” I explained that it will go on for a year or so. I further mentioned that I was devoting 99% of my time for the E.H.V. work when I was not busy with my research project Bhagavan, very beautifully, asked me as to what work I was doing during the one per cent of my time. He said: “You know 'one' means ego or 'I'. Why don't you surrender this ‘I' also to me?” I was a bit confused praying to Bhagavan as to what was meant by 'one' per cent and 'I'. He clarified: “I want you to be our Vice-Chancellor from the next year after you finish your research project. Then you can surrender the remaining one per cent of your work as well as your ego to Me.” Not being prepared for such a situation - not having any inkling whatsoever, I became suddenly silent taking mental stock of many considerations in the change of the job, the place and responsibilities. Mrs. Saraf, who was a silent spectator till then, promptly replied, “Swami, we will come.” Bhagavan's face suddenly became effulgent and said: “See, your wife is prepared. You get ready. I will look after your problems and responsibilities.” I bowed my humble head at His Lotus Feet and said "Thy will shall be done." I cannot describe the bliss and joy on His Divine face and the love He gave to us.

Dr. Somnath Saraf with Sri Sathya Sai during SSSIHL Convocation - November 22, 1986; On the left is Sri S B Chavan, Chief Guest and Chief Minister of Maharashtra

The Divine Command on November 27, 1975, in London, that I will come to Him after nine years, materialised on the same day and that also in His Divine Chamber in Prasanthi Nilayam. The travel from Paris, London, to various countries of the world and Delhi and to Prasanthi Nilayam took exactly nine years without my knowing about it. This is the Divine Will — the Will of the Cosmic Creator and how it materialises. The tripartite meeting between Bhagavan, Prof. Gokak and Saraf took place. The Revered Chancellor's choice, after the retirement of Prof. Gokak, was clear and decided nine years earlier.

Thus we started preparation for our ultimate journey to Prasanthi Nilayam. Nearly one year - November 27, 1984 to November 12, 1985, when we came to Prasanthi Nilayam, with bag and baggage and not ‘luggage’, passed off within one minute. We were physically nearest to the Lotus Feet. What better wish could one have. Wish of the devotee is the Will of the Lord.

How can one describe in words the Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence of our Bhagavan? It is difficult to put adequately our numerous experiences in writing. When hearts are full, words are very few. Lord is always with us wherever we may be. In this connection, Shloka 30 of Chapter VI of Bhagavad Gita is worth quoting:

“He who sees Me in all things, and sees all things in Me, he never becomes separated from Me, nor do I become separated from him.”

The Lord has said: “Devotion is as fire. Fire will melt iron. God is moved by Devotion.” We can only pray that our deep devotion moves our Lord as fire melts iron.

Dr. Somnath Saraf with Sri Sathya Sai during SSSIHL Convocation - November 22, 1986; On the left is Sri S B Chavan, Chief Guest and Chief Minister of Maharashtra

This humble presentation of my homage to my Lord Sai, recounting, a few of the blissful experiences, on the occasion of His 65th Birthday, is in the capacity of a devotee. I do pray fervently that I do pass the crucial tests of a true devotee till I ... merge with the Lotus Feet of my Divine Mother, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba the Creator of the Cosmos.

About The Author:

Dr. Somnath Saraf, Vice-Chancellor, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, between November 1985 and January 1991, was earlier Educational Adviser, Planning Commission, Govt. of India. He worked as Chief Technical Adviser, Consultant and Adviser to the UNESCO in various capacities in Afghanistan, Paris and Bhutan for a number of years. He worked with the Govt. of India and other agencies for more than 40 years. He has represented the Government of India and UNESCO in various international conferences and has written profusely on subjects relating to educational planning. management and Human Values. He was also closely working with the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation before he joined the Institute.

Source: Sai Vandana 1990 (65th Birthday Offering)

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