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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group VII | Dr. Wansa

Dr. Wansa,
Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital,
Prasanthi Nilayam.

      Dr. Wansa, a senior Eye Surgeon, originally from Sri Lanka, had worked in the US and Sri Lanka. A great devotee of Bhagavan, she has moved to stay at Prasanthi Nilayam and work in Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital. She records a few of her experiences in an article published in Arogyapradayini, the Golden Jubilee publication of Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam released in August 2006.

'I was told vibhuti was appearing on the picture of Sai in a devotee's home. Out of curiosity, I went to see, doubting the truth of it. When I reached his house, all the vibhuti had disappeared. They took me into the shrine room. After one look at the picture, I was walking out when I casually turned back. I saw the clear glass frame of this rather strange looking person's picture becoming misty. What I thought was drops of water slowly appeared at the end of each hair. 'Oh! You have some divine powers' I thought. Everyone else ran towards it saying it was not water, but amritham.

My seven-year-old daughter, Prini insisted on buying a small photograph of Swami on sale at a temple ground. The price then was just fifty cents. But my shrine at home was too sacred for strange objects. 'Put it on my writing desk' I ordered my daughter. I challenged this little picture 'they say you are God. Then let this particular thing happen.' I returned from work to be greeted by the housekeeper telling me that 'the particular thing' had occurred. Unknown to her, it had been my challenge to Him. It was still too hard actually to say that He is God.

My response was slow. His knocking grew determinedly loud. I came to India on a pilgrimage to Buddhist shrines. One lady in our group fell seriously ill. No medicine given on the train helped her. Her husband grew frightened. He scoffed as I had related some incidents about Swami. Now, he turned to that very same one 'I will believe your Sai Baba if my wife pulls through. I will light one thousand lamps.' I was not a great devotee, but it was unbearable for me to hear the scornful words of another person. I prayed hard through the night. 'Prove Yourself' I begged, 'relieve her illness.' The next morning, my friend was as suddenly well, as she had been suddenly ill. I was almost sure, that the sudden sickness and the recovery had been for my sake as well as theirs.

We did try to go to Puttaparthi before we returned home, but we could not. Our time had not yet come. Back home, a devotee gave me a magazine with many photographs of Swami. Barely had I touched it than vibrations shot up my arm, and filled my body. I thought it was imagination and put the book down. When I took it up again, I had the same experience once more. At home in bed, a halo of light appeared in one of those pictures in the book, and it kept moving from side to side. I saw love pouring from His eyes, the living love of a Living Person. Now I could not put the book down, for hours. I gazed, my eyes staring. Every day after that, until I had to return the book, that picture held my eyes. Later I realised the truth of Bhagavan's saying 'I go to strange places, strange people and give them love.'

A desire to go to see Him filled all my thoughts. The longing to go to see Him was great, but the leave I had requested was not yet sanctioned. Weeks dragged on. I prayed to all the gods I had known before. One day, a relative of mine, seeing the lamps I was lighting in my shrine every day to Lord Shiva, Devi and Subrahmanyam, said 'light a lamp for Sai Baba. The leave will come.' Just five days after the lamp was lit, my leave was sanctioned (after a six months wait). At the airport, a shocking 'no' knocked off my blissful smile. I had not known that government servants could not leave the country without an endorsement of their return from some high official. Those were the days of great agitation about brain drain. But then, the plane itself did not turn up. There was no delay; it just did not come at all. I had the whole evening to get the signature I needed. I was aboard the plane that conveniently arrived the next morning.

I reached Prasanthi Nilayam. I thought of staying in the Ashram as a sadhaka, meditating and studying Sanskrit. I wanted to flee from my worldly life and work run from everything into the oblivion of spirituality. But when I first arrived in Prasanthi Nilayam and stepped out of the car, what did I see? My God! There was a man with an eye patch. Not only that, that man was coming right up to us. My friends talked rapturously for half an hour with his family. He was the first eye patient I was to see in the Ashram. That evening after darshan, after the first interview, we were making our way back to the shed allotted to us. (The shed was one of the things I had begged Swami to spare me from, in my prayers). There was 'Eye patch' coming our way again. But hearing of the shed, he was most happy to say that he was the owner of a room in East block, which we could use.

Early next morning, we ran to the bhajan hall to see Swami walking from the bedroom to the dining room on the first floor. Usually, He would peep down from the upper verandah into the hall below. But today, He was taking a long time. My body was not used to this rigour, and I was getting hungry. I wandered down towards the canteen. From there, I saw Swami on the mandir balcony. He had chosen to walk on the outer edge, that day. I stood motionless. Every nerve and cell in my body had fallen before Him in surrender. My body stood still, but my whole spirit was stretched in shashtang-namaskar to Him. All thoughts of hunger or any thing else had vanished. There was only intense Love and Blissful Joy. This was the real darshan, not that of the previous day, or even at the interview.

From the time I arrived in Prasanthi Nilayam, I had no doubt that I wanted to stay with Him all my life. Waiting for a chance to speak to Him, I did not even pack on the last day. The Poornachandra Auditorium was being constructed then, and the devotees gathered along the pathway, expecting Him to walk that way as He came on His daily inspection. I do not know why I did not join the crowd, but stood aside where the least number of people were. Unexpectedly, He turned my way. He gave me a chance to call out 'Swami'. No other words came out, but He turned His head and walked away clearly demonstrating that I should leave.

After my return home, I began to read the regular Sunday articles on Swami in a major newspaper. 'Compassion to the sick' was one of the headlines. The words shook my complacency. Although I had been seeing seventy-five patients a day, I vowed I would see all the patients waiting every day from then on. There were two hundred of them on some days, yet amazingly we never seemed to go beyond twelve noon, the hour I used to stop work before.

I did not stop at this. Regular monthly visits to remote villages were started with a few staff members of the Eye department and Sai devotees. After one such clinic, while returning, the taxi driver was speeding as he had another hire. Frequent requests were made not to speed. Finally, the taxi reached my house. As I got down with Bhagavan's picture in my hand, the front axle broke. The car was grounded. Everyone in the car realised that it was by Swami's grace that we had reached home safely.

The staff of the Eye Department eagerly joined to do weekly Narayana Seva to the patients in the ward. It was a great relief for these patients, who were otherwise only on bread and yam, to eat rice, which was scarce at that time. When they expressed their gratitude to us, we asked them to thank Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the motivator.

We went to the Home for the Aged and we cooked there. We served and talked to the inmates, left only at the end of the day. An Italian nun of the Order that ran the home said 'in thirty five years of my stay in Ceylon, this is the happiest day of my life'. Others brought contributions like money and raw food materials. But no one had bothered to spend time, much less the whole day with them. My heart filled with gratitude to Bhagavan for having guided me. We asked a Deaf and Blind School what we could do to help. 'Please get the swings in the garden repaired' they said. An engineer in our group fixed them up. We then visited the school. After a bhajan session, the children were allowed to play on the swings. As the playground rang with shrieks of delight, we felt the joy that Bhagavan had given them using us as instruments. Thus flowed Bhagavan's compassion not only to the needy but also to us that we might feel another's pain and joy and go beyond our own little selves.

Four years went by in Sri Lanka. Swami was the only Reality for me. The period of my furlough arrived. My family wanted me to go to England, but I came to Swami with rigid determination to stay on. Of course, I did not know that I would never be going back again. A priest who knew astrology told my friends 'she is going to God, and will not return'.

Soon after I began staying in the Ashram, I asked Swami if I could work in the Hospital. Swami asked 'yes. Are you a nurse?' 'No, Swami, Eye- surgeon.' I mumbled. But I was devastated 'how could You not know? And all these years I have been worshipping You as Omniscient, as God! Where shall I go now? Have I been mistaken? I cannot go back home where I am very well known as Your devotee'. I cried and prayed all night to Devi, whom I had worshipped ardently in the years before I had heard of Swami. When it was nearly morning, I fell asleep and I dreamt of Swami dressed in a green sari. I was in the midst of people who were all falling in a faint. 'Go, revive them' Swami ordered. As I touched each one, they sat up. I then asked them 'what happened, why you fainted?' They all replied 'did you not see the tiger'. Swami had been sitting on a tiger, though I had not seen it. He had come as Durga. Devi had answered me.

The very next day, Swami told the doctors at the Brindavan Hospital 'yes, she can work, but I do not know who she is.' The thing is I did not know that I was an 'I' surgeon; He was gracious enough to pretend that He didn't know? I was not only an Eye-doctor but also and 'I' surgeon, as only He knew (I was here to have surgery on my 'I', the ego).'

-- Dr. Wansa

(Extracted from Arogyapradayini, the Golden Jubilee Commemorative volume of the General Hospital, Prasanthi Nilayam released in August 2006)