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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group VII | Mr. E.U. Madhavan

Mr. E.U. Madhavan,
West Prasanthi 3 - C 16,
Prasanthi Nilayam-515134.

Tel: 08555-288013

         Mr. E.U.Madhavan (91), has been a resident of Prasanthi Nilayam since 1982, having been drawn into the fold of Bhagavan when he was 50 years old. Originally a rationalist, he has turned into an ardent devotee of Bhagavan. He has several experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan which he narrated in great detail in his book Swamy Saranam published by Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust, Trivandrum-695010. The following series of experiences of Mr. Madhavan is extracted from this book.

1965 - Miraculous survival and fresh lease of life

In 1965, my wife and I went to attend the school annual day function of our son who was studying in the Sainik School at Balachady in Jamnagar. In the course of the day, we had been exposed to the hot sun. By the time we reached home, my wife was suffering from high fever and chest pain. Not suspecting the seriousness of the symptoms, we tried some home remedies. However even after three days, the high fever persisted; besides, she had also developed difficulty in breathing.

I got her admitted in the Tata Hospital at Mithapur. In spite of the best treatment, her condition seemed to be deteriorating. By the tenth day of hospitalisation, her condition had turned critical. She had now developed pneumonia with several complications. On the eleventh day, Dr. Chitle who was treating her examined her and told me gravely, 'Mr. Madhavan, I am very sorry to tell you, though I have tried my best, I have no hope of her survival. She may not live for another twenty-four hours from now. Only God can save her now.' He further advised me to stay by her side and inform relatives and friends.

Those were the days of the Indo-Pak conflict. Our township was located near the border - just 35 miles away from Karachi port, as the crow flies. The Okha Naval Base was very close to our township. After sunset, we could see the bombers flying overhead, and hear the boom of the anti-aircraft guns firing at enemy aircraft from our side. Our entire township was under the protection of the Air Raid Precaution (ARP), and the hospital where my wife was admitted was fully camouflaged and protected with sandbags.

The doctor had given his verdict about my wife's condition. Even as the last resort, it would be impossible for me to take my wife for treatment to any of the big hospitals in Bombay, because travelling was not easy or advisable in the prevailing wartime conditions. For the same reason I decided not to call or inform relatives and friends. I sat on the chair by her bedside and closed my eyes, despairing over my utter helplessness in these critical moments. There was nothing I could do to save my wife. Just then I heard a voice, 'she is my bhakta, I'll take care of her. Do not worry'. I had a very faint vision of a person with a crown of hair on his head. I opened my eyes, and looked around the room, there was nobody. Some unknown person had held out a glimmer of hope for my wife, and I was anxious to see who it was. I went out to the veranda and looked around there. Not finding anyone, I dismissed the happening as a figment of my imagination and returned to my wife's bedside. I was unable to make the connection between the faint vision and the voice I had heard, and Sathya Sai Baba whose photograph was kept in our shrine.

At 5 p.m. Dr. Chitle came to me with a medial bulletin in his hand. He pointed out to a particular news item. It pertained to the development of a new drug of the 'mycin' family, in America. The article mentioned that though the medicine was available only in American markets, a Parsi doctor had recently brought some vials of this drug to India. The doctor's name, his address in Bombay, the name of the injections and the conditions for which it could be used, were given in detail. Dr. Chitle added that this particular medicine was the only remedy, if any, for my wife's condition. If I could get six vials of the injection within 24 hours, we could try this on her.

I sat tight on my chair and weighed my options at this juncture. Contacting and locating the unknown doctor in far-off Bombay and bringing the medicines to Mithapur within 24 hours at a time when the country was in the thick of a war, and our own township located well within the war zone! All the odds were against me. The possibility of getting those life-saving drugs in time was remote and I gave up all hope. From this point on, however, there was a dramatic turn in the events, though I could not recognise it as such then. At 6 p.m. there was a visitor for me. It was Dr. Kurup, Director of Indigenous Medicine, Ahmedabad, a good friend of mine. A week earlier I had written to him, informing him of my wife's illness; he had now driven down from Ahmedabad to see her. I told him about her precarious condition. He then enquired about the course of treatment she was undergoing. I told him all I had known, and also showed him the bulletin given by Dr. Chitle. He went to find out further details from Dr. Chitle, and returned after a while, promising that he would do whatever possible.

In those days, there were no STD calls, and getting a trunk call to Bombay was very difficult in the emergency of war. Without wasting further time, Dr. Kurup contacted an officer of the naval unit at Okha, a common friend of ours. Using the official naval exchange, Dr. Kurup directed one of his friends in Bombay to locate the Parsi doctor and get six vials of the life-saving medicine. By 10 p.m. the same night, the friend in Bombay had the vials of medicine with him. The next morning, he handed over the package to the pilot of a commercial flight leaving from Bombay at 9 a.m. and arriving at Jamnagar at 10 a.m. Dr. Kurup collected the package from the airport, and by 1 p.m. my wife was started on the medication. It had been a countdown literally, a race against time. The medicine had reached us in nineteen hours, well within the stipulated time of twenty-four hours given by the doctor! Two injections followed at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. respectively. By the next morning my wife made good recovery - she had eaten some food; she could talk, and looked cheerful. Dr. Chitle told me 'thank God! It is a miracle she survived. Her critical period is over. The next three injections, one per day will cure her completely'.

It was only when the crisis had blown over that the sequence of incidents struck me - the voice, 'she is my bhakta, I will take care of her', and the faint vision of a crown of hair, the information given in the medical bulletin shown by Dr. Chitle, the unexpected arrival of Dr. Kurup, tracking down of the unknown doctor in Bombay who had brought the medicine from America, and its timely receipt by us - all these had to be more than mere coincidences. I knew now who the mysterious Benefactor was who had made the impossible possible, and changed the course of events in such a dramatic fashion. Overwhelmed with gratitude, I went home, and for the first time in my life, I lit a lamp and prostrated before Sai Baba's portrait in the altar.

In the next three weeks, my wife regained her normal health and was discharged from the hospital. Her first priority was to go to Puttaparthi, see her saviour, Sathya Sai Baba, in flesh and blood. I was in agreement with her, and began to make necessary arrangements for the trip.

1965 - First trip to Prasanthi Nilayam - food supplied in the compartment - darshan of the Lord.

After her discharge from the hospital, my wife and I did not go home; instead we decided to go to Prasanthi Nilayam for darshan of Swami as a thanksgiving for saving her life. From Mithapur, our train route then was as follows: Rajkot - Viramgam - Ahmedabad - Bombay - Tirupati. Unlike today, the journey took many days as it involved many halts and change of trains. We stayed for a day in Tirupati for darshan of Lord Venkateswara, and at 7 a.m. the next day, we boarded the metre gauge train to Dharmavaram, via Pakala. In those days travelling by train was an ordeal by itself, and more so in the case of meter gauge trains, which were hauled by steam engines. We were making this journey in the summer months, and were travelling on an unfamiliar route. The terrain we were passing through was rocky, with not a shred of vegetation in sight. After 10 a.m. in the morning, the scorching sun would reflect from the rocks, literally baking us in our compartment, not to speak of the coal dust and smoke from the steam engine that got into our eyes and throats. There was no food or even water available on this route. We were literally dying inch by inch, out of thirst, hunger and the unbearable heat. I was actually cursing myself for having undertaken this journey. My wife, though distressed, put up a brave front so that I should not lose faith in Swami. We both prayed to Swami for his grace.

We reached Pakala at 9 p.m. Except for dim lights at a few strategic points, the station and platform were in total darkness due to ARP restrictions. Our coach was in the rear of the train, and was far away from the platform. I got down from the train to see if I could manage to get at least some drinking water, if not food. Meanwhile the train had already started moving, and I got in disappointed - there was nothing available on the platform. As the train was drawing out of the station, we noticed a man on the platform dressed in white, running alongside our window. He hurriedly handed us a tiffin carrier of five containers, two leaves and a jug of cold water, and saying 'this is for you both', he disappeared in the dark.

We concluded that some Good Samaritan had seen our plight and directed the refreshment room employees in Pakala station to provide us this food. Thanking the unknown person mentally, we proceeded to have our meal - hot rice, sambar, rasam, two vegetable preparations, two papads and two pieces of sweetmeat. In our starved condition this was a sumptuous repast. After the meal, we kept the tiffin carrier and other items ready for the refreshment room employee to come and collect them at the next station. When we halted at the next station, we noticed that railway employees were bringing meals for passengers. So, this was the meals station, not Pakala, as we had assumed. We waited for someone to come and take the tiffin carrier at this station, but nobody turned up. As we were preparing to settle in for the night, we noticed two seedy-looking men sitting in one corner of our compartment. They were drunk and quarrelling between themselves. We were afraid and mentally prayed to Swami for help. Just then a TTE appeared in our compartment, sat on the seat before us and said 'you are afraid of those persons. Do not worry; I'll take care of it. You may sleep'. It did not occur to us at that time that the TTE had come into our compartment while the train was still running. (In those days, the bogies did not have an interconnecting passage, and entry into any compartment could be made only when the train was stationary).

We had a peaceful sleep that night and woke up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning when the train reached Dharmavaram. When we alighted at the station, the Station Master came up to us and accosted us politely 'you are going to Puttaparthi'. On receiving my affirmative reply, he proceeded to get the first class waiting room opened for us to rest. He then made arrangements for our breakfast, and after this organized a tonga - horse-cart - to take us to nearest bus station, and gave us detailed instructions on how to reach Prasanthi Nilayam. We were puzzled by the VIP reception accorded us by the Station Master, and concluded that Swami might have directed him to help and guide devotees who were visiting Prasanthi Nilayam. But the question remained, how could he have known that we were going to Puttaparthi, and chosen us from the many passengers who had alighted at Dharmavaram?

Before leaving, I handed over the tiffin carrier and water jug, which was still with us, to the SM, explaining to him the incidents of the previous night, and the fact that nobody had come to collect these items. I also handed Rs. 20 as payment for the food, requesting him to handover all these items and money owed to the refreshment stall at Pakala Station. The SM refused this favour, declaring that firstly, the tiffin carrier did not belong to the Railways as it did not have the seal; secondly, Pakala Station did not have a full fledged refreshment room that would cater to travellers, and besides it closed at 6 p.m. He was inclined that the tiffin carrier and water jug had not come from the refreshment stall at the Pakala Station. Then where had it come from? I was mystified. But there was no time to ponder over it. I requested the SM to keep the tiffin carrier and water jug with him, and dispose of them as per his discretion.

We were now in the final lap of our journey towards our momentous first darshan of Swami. In those days, the journey from Dharmavaram to Prasanthi Nilayam was covered by bus for a distance, then on bullock-cart and the remaining by walking. We reached Prasanthi Nilayam at 11 a.m. and deposited our luggage near a small police outpost located at the spot of the present Ganesh Mandir. Our eager eyes scanned the surroundings for a glimpse of Swami. We found Him standing in the open veranda on the first floor of the building (above the present-day ladies' wing side). He was looking towards us as though he had been waiting for our arrival. My wife paid her salutations by prostrating on the floor, while I raised my hands in a namaskar.

We went into the mandir for bhajan. In those days, the bhajan was at 11 a.m. and went on for an hour. There were barely fifty people in attendance. The gents sat very close to Swami's throne. I got to sit in the first row, and my wife saw similarly placed on the ladies' side. While the bhajan was going on, Swami was looking intently at my wife and me in turn. After the bhajan, we shifted our luggage to a tin shed, which served as the canteen (at the site of the present Poornachandra Auditorium). There were no chairs or tables, and we squatted on a plank on the floor and had our lunch prasad.

The evening bhajan was at 4 p.m. and was held in the small, circular garden called hrdayapadmam in front of the Prasanthi Mandir. Huge trees provided a shady canopy. Ladies and gents were seated on either side of the garden. After the bhajan was over, Swami walked around the darshan line. To our delight, Swami called us for an interview. We went inside the room and sat with others. All of them were strangers to us, but there was a shared, underlying sense of expectancy and exhilaration at the prospect of meeting Swami.

Swami walked in and sat down on His chair. After the preliminary interview with all those assembled, he called the individuals, couples or groups as the case would be. When our turn came, we were called to the inner room. Swami started conversing with my wife. One by one, Swami recounted to us all the incidents that had transpired in our life - my early quarrel with wife on account of he pooja and worship, how she remained stubborn and continued her prayers to transform me, how Swami intervened to stop my bad habits - smoking, drinking etc, my wife's illness and the life-saving medicines that we received. Finally, Swami asked my wife 'how was the food I had given you in the train?' He went on to mention the two drunken men in our compartment 'I had come as the TTE and urged you to sleep. At Dharmavaam station, you were treated like a VIP because you were coming to see me for the first time'. Then turning to me, Swami said 'I have now transformed you to the path of righteousness. You have a lot of work to do for me. I will make use of you to work for the Sai Organisation. I will look after you both hereafter'. So saying, he placed his hand on each of our heads in blessing. What could we do except shed tears of joy? For half an hour, we sat silently, basking in the Benign Presence of the Lord, while my wife took the privilege of gently stroking the Lotus Feet. Swami then gave me a gold pendant, and once again blessed us both.

We spent three more days in Prasanthi Nilayam, daytime under the trees, and nights in the veranda of the tin shed. We still cherish the memories of that first time in Prasanthi Nilayam and our first interview with Swami.

Whilst on the journey, we had not even remotely suspected that it was Swami who had helped us through, and even personally come to save us in various situations - as a refreshment room employee at Pakala station to assuage our hunger and quench our thirst, as the TTE on the train to protect us from bad elements, and inspiring the Station Master to help us when we reached Dharmavaram.

1971 - Cure of Rheumatoid Arthritis

During early 1971, I was suffering from fever, acute swelling of and terrible pain in the joints. After various tests, doctors confirmed that I was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. I underwent Ayurvedic treatment for two months at Kotakkal Arya Vaidya Sala, at company expense. Finding no improvement, I got admitted to the Tata Hospital at Mithapur. Here the doctors put me on cortisones. The treatment continued for eight months, and by the end of it, I was left crippled. The heavy dosage of cortisones had taken their toll: I had become completely immobilised.

At this juncture, my employers, M/s The Tata Chemicals could have chosen to pack up my services and send me on voluntary retirement. Instead, they were magnanimous enough to not only sanction sick leave with full pay for me, but also send me for further treatment at Dr. Bhatia's Hospital at Bombay. I was given a special room and a nurse to attend on me. All expenses, including the stay of my wife, were incurred by the Company. This was all due to the grace of my Beloved Swami.

After two months of treatment and observation by specialists Drs. Nathani Senior and Junior, the conclusion arrived at was that 'there was no use in prolonging the treatment as 'there is no medicine in 'Meteria Medica' for a complete cure of rheumatoid arthritis'. The doctors further advised me to completely avoid taking cortisones; at the most, I could have Anacin to reliever pain. To prevent further deterioration, I should have physiotherapy sessions daily. To put it briefly, I would have to live with this condition for the rest of my life.

Here I was, a man in the prime of life, now reduced to a moonfaced, potbellied, pathetic invalid. I was despondent - there seemed to be no use of going on with life in this condition. I had one final wish - to see Swami before dying. Immediately on discharge from the hospital, my wife, I and an escort made the trip to Puttaparthi. There were some festivities going on there at that time, and I chanced to meet among others, Dr. Chudasama, State President and Sri Madhubhai Patel, Convener of Gujarat state sevadal group.

Seeing my sorry condition, Dr. Chudasama approached Swami for permission to admit me in the hospital in the Prasanthi Nilayam premises (located in the area of the present Sai Srinivasa guest house). This hospital had two rooms with four beds each - one room served as maternity ward, and the other room was for gents, in case of any emergency. The staff consisted of one male and one lady doctor, one male medical assistant, and one nurse-cum-midwife who were on regular voluntary service in the hospital. On festival days there would be extra doctors and staff for voluntary service. On receiving Swami's permission, Dr. Chudasama made arrangements for me to get admitted in the hospital. As it did not have canteen facility, Madhubhai arranged for sevadal workers to bring our meals.

Due to the festive crowds, I avoided going for darshan for a few days. When the crowds receded, I started going for darshan in a wheelchair pushed by some kindly savadal worker. Every day, I would go for darshan hoping for some acknowledgement from Swami of my presence - a glance, a smile or a word. No such luck. He just passed me by. For eight days it was the same story. On the ninth day, in desperation, I cried out 'Swami, Swami' as He passed by. Beloved and compassionate Swami came up to my wheel-chair, patted my shoulder and bade me get up. I looked askance at Swami - how was I to get up without help? He ignored this silent query, and once again asked me to get up and walk to the interview room. This time his voice was stern, and he spoke in Hindi. It was a command, and I had to comply. I got up and made my way to the interview room. My wife joined me from the ladies' side.

I don't know how I managed to walk to the interview room. General interviews over, Swami called us into the inner room and said, 'I told you that I would look after you. Now, from today onwards, stop all medicines, take only vibhuti'. So saying, he materialized a small silver casket containing vibhuti. Giving this to me, Swami said, 'the vibhuti in this will never get exhausted. When you regain normal health, this will come back to me'. I came out of the room elated, feeling as though I had been given a fresh lease of life.

To my own surprise, I could manage to undertake the return train journey to Mithapur without an escort. The day after we reached back, I went to the hospital to see Dr. Karani for a check-up. By this time, my fever had gone and the ESR count, which was 150 when I had left Dr. Bhatia's hospital, was now down to 10. I was taking Swami's 'medicine' - vibhuti, as per His 'prescription', three times a day. After ten days, I was absolutely normal - the swelling and pain had gone, the moon-faced look, and the other side effects of cortisone had also disappeared. The crooked fingers and toes, which are typical of rheumatoid arthritis, were also restored to their normal shape.

The doctors were astounded by my recovery. In many cases of rheumatoid arthritis those days, patients became crippled, and did not survive for more than two or three years. The doctors wanted to know the name of the wonder medicine that I was on. When I replied 'vibhuti', they refused to believe it. I even presented the book 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram' to Dr. Karani and told him to go through it to have some idea of the 'Doctor' who cured me (Dr. Karani, incidentally, did read the book and was planning to visit Prasanthi Nilayam. Unfortunately he passed away before he could do so).

I was soon ready to join duty. The management was considerate enough to transfer me from the previous hazardous plant job, and instead assigned me a light desk job. I remain ever grateful to the Tatas and its management for taking such good care of me. With Swami's grace, I was able to complete my full tenure, and worked for the company until my retirement. In fact, I worked for three more years after the due retirement date, but that is another story.

1973 - Unknown Hand does Operation

During early 1973, at about 6 a.m., one morning, I had to be rushed to the hospital because of heavy bleeding of piles. Four lumps (boils) of the piles had come out of the anus and were bleeding profusely. Though, the surgeon managed to press the piles inside, the bleeding continued. The doctors suspected that there was some internal bleeding. By 11 a.m. the doctors managed to stop the bleeding, but I had lost much blood by this time. Though the doctors were unwilling to operate on me immediately, given my precarious condition, the chief surgeon decided to go ahead with an emergency surgery because there was possibility of the boils coming out again and causing more bleeding. At 1 p.m., I was given two bottles of blood and rushed to the operation theatre for the surgery. I was operated on by Dr. Chug, under the guidance of the chief surgeon, Dr. Goradia. During the operation, in my unconscious state, I was seeing Swami above my head, smiling, in abhayahastha pose. After the surgery, blood transfusion was continued for three days - one bottle per day. On the fourth day, the doctors declared that I was out of danger. On the twelfth day, the doctors, including Dr. Chug came on their rounds, examined me and looked through my reports. They declared that I was fit enough to be discharged. Then, in the presence of the other doctors and nurses, Dr. Chug came out with a startling confession 'it was not I who had operated on Madhavan. Some unseen person was pulling my hand hither and thither, and completed the operation - may be it was Sai Baba.'

I remembered the vision I had had of Swami in my unconscious state before the operation. Now, the doctor who had conducted the operation was himself confirming the presence of Swami! But it doesn't end here. After recovery from the piles surgery, I found, to my surprise, that the fistula condition that had been troubling me earlier had also disappeared. I assumed that Dr. Chug might have operated the fistula during the surgery on the piles, and asked him if this was so. Dr. Chug's dry reply still rings in my mind - 'Madhavan, knowingly I had not done so, because fistula operation is a separate procedure altogether. But, as I said, your Sai Baba had pulled my hands hither and thither, and the fistula also might have been removed.'

1976 - Nectar Oozing out of the Wooden Sandals

During 1974, the All-India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organizations was held at Rajahmundry. As the Gujarat State Convener for Balvikas, I was one among the delegates. Before proceeding for Rajahmundry, I had got a carpenter to make a pair of wooden sandals out of special wood, to be blessed by Swami. On the second day of the conference, Swami was giving padanamaskar to the delegates. When He came up to me, I placed the sandals at His Lotus Feet. To my immense happiness, he stood on the sandals, walked a few steps, and gave them back to me. He then placed His hand on my head and said 'Santhosham'. I wrapped the sandals in a silk cloth and, on reaching home, placed the sandals on a rectangular piece of glass in our altar, just below the photograph of Swami in the abhayahastha pose. The sanctity of the Guru's sandals are extolled in the Hindu scriptures as they are considered to be the physical representation of the Guru. Thereafter, in the spirit that Bharata had worshipped Rama's sandals, worship of Swami's sandals became my daily ritual.

A year later, my wife and I were preparing to go to Puttaparthi to attend Swami's Birthday and the Conference of World Sathya Sai Organizations, and had booked two tickets for the 16th of November. But there was an unforeseen development that cast a shadow of uncertainty on our forthcoming trip. I woke up on 30th October, with an excruciating back pain that extended to my right toe. In spite of taking painkillers, application of ointment and other home remedies, there was no relief. I went to the hospital, and on examination, the doctor diagnosed it as a slipped disc; two consecutive x-rays confirmed this. I was given an appointment to see the visiting orthopaedist surgeon at our hospital on 11th November for further examination and management. Until then, I was advised other remedial measures like sleeping on the back on a hard bed, application of ointment, fomentation, etc. There were now only ten days left for our proposed trip to Puttaparthi, and I prayed fervently to Swami that I should be well enough to travel by that time.

On 11th November, the day of my appointment with the orthopaedist, my wife was cleaning the altar before our morning worship, when she felt a sticky liquid in her hand. We found that it was nectar oozing out of Swami's sandals, and it was gradually seeping on to the glass counter on which the sandals were kept. What a wonderful way for Swami to announce His presence! We were in ecstasy! So much so, we had almost forgotten the appointment with the orthopaedist. We called an elderly neighbour Sri Narayan Rao, an ardent Sai devotee to watch over the nectar flowing over the altar, and Rao started scooping up the nectar with a spoon and pouring it into a bowl.

Meanwhile, my wife and I proceeded to the hospital for the appointment with the orthopaedist. He examined me thoroughly and then took an x-ray. There was no sign of the slipped disc. A second x-ray showed the same result. He then asked for the two x-rays that had been taken on the 30th October. These x-rays had certainly indicated a slipped disc. The doctors were baffled by my abrupt recovery. But I was not surprised, because I knew that Compassionate Swami had heard and answered our prayers.

We returned home from the hospital to be greeted in an air of festivity. Many neighbours and friends had gathered there on hearing about the leela of the nectar from Swami's sandals. The news reached our General Manager, who deputed two chemists to analyse the liquid. The analysis indicated that it was a colourless, odourless sweet liquid (!). On getting the report, the GM landed at our house and put questions to Mr. Narayan Rao. Meanwhile, the ladies wanted to conduct an akhand-bhajan and got busy with the preparations. The bhajan got over at 9 p.m. and the amrith was distributed as prasadam. When the bhajan was over, the oozing of nectar also stopped! It was an exhilarating experience that day, when Swami had blessed us with his 'sweet' presence, more so because we could now make the trip to Puttaparthi for His Birthday celebrations!

After the Birthday festivities were over, Swami called us both and, addressing me, asked 'how is your slipped disc?' I did not reply, and kept thinking in my mind 'that is Your sankalpa, the Omniscient Sarvajnani knows everything'. After a pause I told Swami 'I am sixty years old, and due for retirement now'. Swami shook his head and said 'kathu' (no). Then switching to Hindi he continued. 'I had already given you an extension for three years to do some more Sai seva in Gujarat, and to complete the education of your youngest son. You will retire in 1978 and perform the marriage of your two sons. Thereafter I will call you here, and both of you will stay with me till your end.' It is impossible to say what Swami has in store for us. That is why He says 'do not try to understand Me. Try to realize Me.'

I knew that, as per the official records, I was due for retirement in 1975, but Swami had told me that he had extended it by three years. When I returned to Mithapur, I crosschecked the date for my retirement with the office. The office confirmed that it was 1978, exactly as Swami had declared! Swami had changed the record!

1976 - Mechanic Who Appeared out of the Blue

At 8:30 a.m. one morning, I received an express telegram from the Registrar, Sainik School, Balachady, Jamnagar, informing that our youngest son 'Anil Madhavan admitted in the Irwin Hospital, Jamnagar in a very serious condition'. The telegram reached us one day late because of the storm and heavy rains at that time. I called my wife on the intercom and instructed her to be ready to leave for Jamnagar immediately, without disclosing to her the contents of the telegram. In the meantime, I arranged for a jeep with a good driver and then went to the Accounts Department to withdraw some money. By then, the news had spread like wild fire, and when I reached home, there was a crowd of ladies gathered at my house. My wife had heard the news from her friends and was in shock. Though I myself was in a state of panic, I consoled her saying that 'our Beloved Swami is great, He is our living and loving God. Nothing happens without His knowledge, He is our sole protector and we have surrendered to Him. Let his will prevail'.

We left our house to the care of friends and started for Jamnagar by jeep. It was raining heavily and the visibility was very poor; we could see barely three feet ahead of us. Our progress was very slow and, all the while, my wife and I were chanting the ashtotharam and Swami saranam. We had just passed the town of Bhatia and reached an open, deserted field, when the jeep suddenly came to a halt. It was still pouring heavily. There was no sign of human habitation around, and the breakdown of the vehicle seemed to have come at a most inopportune time. Our driver got out of the jeep and tried to get the jeep started. Though he continued working for half an hour, there was no success. We kept up our chanting inside the jeep, praying fervently to Swami for help. It was then that we noticed a man standing near the bonnet of our jeep, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. He was wearing a khaki shirt and khaki half pants, and held toolkit in his hand. The man was a mechanic. Swami had answered our prayers and sent someone for our help! The mechanic tinkered with the engine of the jeep and after ten minutes got it started. He accompanied us in the jeep for some distance. When we reached Kambalia, the mechanic asked the driver to stop the jeep and told us 'the dam at Kambalia is breached, and the water is overflowing, flooding the whole place. You will not be able to proceed further, but you will not be stranded.' With these cryptic words, he got out of the jeep. I was taking out my purse to pay him, but by then he had already disappeared.

As we were wondering how we should proceed, a Fiat car with four people in it stopped by our jeep, assuming that we might be in need of some help. They introduced themselves - two of them were doctors practising at Kambalia, and the other two their friends. One of the doctors, Dr. Kesavji, noticing our confused appearance, asked us what the matter was. We told him about our son and the emergency situation we were faced with, and also mentioned about the floods that the mechanic had warned us about. Dr. Kesavji said that it would take at least five or six hours for the flood waters to recede, and advised us to make the remaining journey to Jamnagar by a train that departed at 4 p.m. In the meantime, we could rest and refresh ourselves at his house. What was more, Dr. Kesavji offered to contact Dr. Solanki, a good friend, who happened to be the doctor in-charge of the emergency ward at the Irwan Hospital, and find out about the condition of our son!

My wife and I got into Dr. Kesavji's car, while the occupants of the car got into our jeep. On the way to his house, Dr. Kesavji stopped at the post office to make the call to Dr. Solanki and got information that 'the boy was admitted two days ago unconscious, in very serious condition. He was calling out for his mother, and muttering in a delirious state. He had lost a lot of blood due to internal haemorrhage, possibly due to heavy physical strain, and had been given five bottles of blood. Today he was normal and cheerful, except for fatigue. By God's grace, he has come out of danger and survived. He might be discharged after two days'. We were immensely relieved on hearing this news, and proceeded to Dr. Kesavji's house. It turned out that they too were devotees of Swami. We enjoyed their generous hospitality and spent a pleasant day, engaged in talking about Swami and His wonderful leelas. In the evening, their son dropped us at the railway station.

We reached Jamnagar at 5 p.m. When we came out of the station, a jeep came and stopped in front of us. The driver told us 'you want to go to the Irwan Hospital. Please get in. I'll take you there.' At the hospital, finally, we made a beeline to the bedside of Anil. We were greeted with the sight of Anil sitting up and reading a newspaper! Standing around his bed were the Registrar of the school, Captain Nambiar, two teachers and the school doctor. We were told the circumstances of the mishap - apparently Anil had taken part in a cross-country run, without prior practice, chivalrously filling in for a boy who had to opt out at the last moment. Anil came first in the race, but collapsed at the winning post, vomiting blood. He was the captain of his particular Hall, and by winning this event, his Hall had secured the sports championship shield. Later, we met Dr. Solanki, and after Anil's discharge, took him to Mithapur for ten days to recuperate.

Every time we recollect this episode, we marvel over how Swami was with us in every situation - the string of 'coincidences' which took care of every last detail of our requirements - the repair mechanic, inspiring Dr. Kesavaji to stop by, and engaging us in talk about Swami's leelas, thus making us forget the worry about our son, the connection with Dr. Solanki, the unknown jeep-driver who collected us at the Jamnagar station. Swami's leelas for protection of his devotees are beyond human imagination!

1980 - From the Jaws of Death

We were returning to Kerala from Prasanthi Nilayam by train after the Onam celebrations. At Olavakkod junction, I got out of the train to get some breakfast. I bought some idli-sambar in our tiffin carrier and milk in a flask, and stood on the platform enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Perhaps I had not heard the guard's whistle, because suddenly I noticed that the train had started moving. With tiffin carrier and flask tucked in my left arm, I started making a run for it, hoping that I would manage to get into the last compartment of the train. By this time, the train had picked up some speed, and I could hear the shouts of passengers dissuading me from taking the risk of climbing into the running train. But nobody had the presence of mind to pull the chain, and I was left with no choice. I managed to catch hold of the railings of the compartment door, bit before I could get a foothold on the step of the compartment; I lost my grip and slid down between the train and the platform calling out 'Swami' That was the last thing I knew.

When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a compartment, being given first aid by a railway doctor, while his assistants were engaged in wiping off blood, removing stones and pebbles from the wounds, and massaging the swollen parts of my body. The pain was unbearable and I slipped into a coma again. Several times I regained consciousness and drifted off again. When I regained consciousness once again, I found my wife sitting by my side. Apparently, the train had been held up at the station for an hour, and other angry commuters were grumbling about the delay. However, the Station Master was firm that the green signal would be given only after the doctor okayed it. The guard, station staff and others were now gathered around my compartment waiting for the doctor's decision. Just then, a porter walked in with a bundle containing my wallet, spectacles, watch, walking stick, the tiffin carrier and flask, which be had gathered from the tracks under the train. He handed these items over to my wife. Someone from among the crowd shouted 'that is the man who risked his life, and pulled this person from under the train and threw him on the platform!' My wife looked around, searching for the person, but he had disappeared. She then requested the Station Master to make an announcement over the public address system that the porter should come forward and receive a sum of Rs. 100 as a token of our gratitude. The train waited half an hour, but nobody turned up. By this time the doctor had given his go-ahead after being satisfied about my condition, and the train started to move.

I learnt the details of the mishap from my co-passengers who had witnessed the incident. Immediately after I slipped between the train and the platform, my saviour - the porter, who was standing on the platform, had jumped forward, pulled me away from the wheels, and thrown me on to the platform, four feet away from the train, where I lay unconscious in a pool of blood, clothes ripped apart. The train also came to a halt instantly, though nobody had pulled the chain; the engine driver later confirmed this. Everything had happened in a fraction of a second. But for the courageous rescue by that unknown porter, I would not have been alive that day.

Our destination was Ernakulam, some four hours away. For the remainder of my journey, somewhat to my discomfiture, I had a steady stream of visitors, my fellow passengers on the train; some came out of sympathy, and others out of curiosity. I was certainly a sight, with my head swollen, body covered with bandages and patches of blood.

When we alighted at Ernakulam, we happened to meet Justice P.C.B.Menon and his wife. Sri Menon was then the State President of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation in Kerala. He had been travelling in the same train and was surprised to learn that I was the unfortunate victim of the mishap. He took us in his car and got me admitted at PNV Memorial Hospital at Ernakulam for a check-up. I was there for three days, and nothing untoward was observed. I was however advised to take complete rest for a month, as I was suffering from giddiness due to the swelling on my head.

One month later, after my recovery, we went to see Swami. He called both of us and, reprimanding me, told my wife 'he thinks he is a sixteen year old boy to run and get into the train'. He continued, 'when he was falling under the train he called out for Swami, so I had to run there to rescue him. Had I not gone there, what would have happened?' Then turning to my wife, He asked her for Rs. 100 that she had offered for the porter. That was when we came to know that Swami had come in the guise of the porter who rescued me! We could only shed tears of happiness that our Saviour and Protector had responded to our calls of distress.

One more experience I narrate here to demonstrate His response to our calls of distress: It started when my wife developed pain in her left temple that spread to her left ear, throat and neck. The pain became unbearable, besides she developed giddiness. She was unable to sleep, swallow food or even water. For fifteen days, Dr. Chari of the General Hospital, Puttaparthi treated her, but there was no improvement. Painkillers and injections proved ineffective. By that time, she became very frail too. Dr. Chari suspected that her condition might have been due to a tumour in the brain. On his advice we decided to consult a neurosurgeon in Bangalore.

Before going for the consultation, we wanted to have darshan of Swami, who was at Whitefield for the inauguration of His residence Trayee Brindavan. On reaching Whitefield, we understood that Swami had gone to the Rajmatha's residence after morning darshan, as Trayee Brindavan had been opened for the public on that day. I tried to get a room in the ashram premises, but I was told that none was available. Leaving my wife with our luggage at the reception office, I headed for the post office at Kadugodi and sent a detailed telegram to Swami regarding our situation. I returned from the post office at 11 a.m. and was sitting with my wife in the veranda of the reception room, when Sri Srinivas (son of Late Dr. Rajeswari, then Superintendent of Whitefield Hospital), Warden of SSSIHL, Brindavan, came up to us. He said that Swami had received the telegram and had told him to convey to me that I need not worry, and that he would look after everything. We were much relieved on receiving this assurance from Swami. Srinivas then took us to his residence in the campus and after serving us some refreshments handed me the key of a room in the VIP guesthouse. He told me that as per Swami's instructions, I could stay in the VIP guesthouse till I got a room in the general guesthouse. The VIP guesthouse, we happened to be its first occupants.

Swami had arranged that Dr. Rajeswari should examine my wife and report to Him. As it was a Saturday, Dr. Rajeswari returned at 2 p.m. and came to our room to examine my wife. She prescribed some painkiller, and later at 4 p.m. she took us to the hospital in her car and conducted further tests. During the evening darshan, Dr. Rajeswari came to our room and informed us that Swami would be directing Col. Dr. Moorthy, the ENT specialist to examine my wife on the morrow (Sundays are generally holidays at the hospital, but Swami had instructed Dr. Moorthy to attend our case). The next day, Dr. Moorthy confirmed that there was a tumour on the temple above the left ear, which was holding a vein and arresting the blood flow to the brain, and this had created all the other symptoms.

Dr. Moorthy suggested an operation for removal of the tumour, without damaging the vein, and he and Dr. Rajeswari decided to get permission from Swami during the evening darshan. Meanwhile, we returned to the room after the consultation to find that Srinivas had arranged a room in the general guesthouse. During the evening darshan, we noticed Dr. Moorthy and Dr. Rajeswari speaking to Swami. Later we came to know that Swami had instructed them 'no operation, take the lump through the ear'.

On the next day, Dr. Moorthy conducted the procedure suggested by Swami, whereby the lump was extracted bit by bit, through the ear - a four-hour long process. Later, Dr. Moorthy showed us the lump - it was the size of a rupee coin. It was a painful ordeal for my wife, but with the grace of Swami, she was able to withstand it with courage. On the previous night, she had a dream in which Swami had gently and softly stroked the left side of her head and left ear. It was the 'anaesthesia' provided by Swami on the eve of her operation. Dr. Moorthy declared that the procedure was successful, except that the floor of the left ear was bruised badly, for which he advised several precautions: she would have to avoid bath for two months, tie a scarf to prevent air and dust form getting in, and should sleep on her right side. He also warned that she might not be able to hear through the left ear after recovery. When Swami left for Puttaparthi, we too, followed. After Eswaramma Day celebrations on the 6th May, Swami called me to the veranda and said 'it is very hot here now, you may go home to Kerala. Let her take rest'.

After two months, we went to Whitefield again. On examination, Dr. Rajeswari declared that the bruise in the floor of the ear had healed, and her hearing was back to normal. When we went to Puttaparthi, Swami told my wife 'eppaparvaillai romba santhosham' (everything OK, be happy). Could it be otherwise when Swami, the Doctor of doctors, was taking care of everything?

1986 - Sri Sai Bhaktha Priyaya Namah

One day, during evening darshan at Puttaparthi, I felt a heavy pain deep in the groin on the right side. I knew it was hernia, because I had had this pain on three or four occasions earlier. One Mr. Karthikeyan, residing in R4-B8, came to my rescue and helped me up the stairs to my flat W3-C16. As I climbed a few steps, I felt sudden excruciating pain and suffocation of breath due to the strangled hernia. A swelling had developed in my groin, slightly less than the size of a tennis ball. Mr. Karthikeyan reported the matter to Sri Narayanan, then Secretary of the Central Trust who immediately informed Swami. Swami sent prasadam through Narayanan, and also instructed him to tell me that I should go to Kerala and get the hernia operated at the earliest. I was extremely happy to receive Swami's prasadam, and was about to partake it when Mr. Karthikeyan arrived with Dr. Krishnamoorthy. Immediately on having the prasadam I vomited. As I was vomiting, I could feel some movement in my stomach and a kind of thumping sound from the painful area. Almost instantly the pain and swelling vanished. Though I was feeling fine, Dr. krishnamoorthy advised that I undergo surgery at the earliest, preferably at Puttaparthi itself, because travel would be risky. I decided to ask Swami for directions during darshan the next morning. No doubt, Swami had already indicated that I should go to Kerala for the operation; but on hearing Dr. Krishnamoorthy's opinion, I decided to ask Swami if I could get the operation done at Puttaparthi itself, instead of in Kerala. Swami's reply was emphatic 'no, go today itself to Kerala and get it operated there. I will take care of it till then.' I came home and made arrangements for our travel to Ernakulam. Meanwhile, Narayanan instructed a young man working in the canteen to escort us to Dharmavaram Railway Station. We were fortunate that there was a weekly train to Ernakulam on that day, and we managed to get reservations. On our journey there were two Muslim youth in our compartment, who took good care of us. We were received at Ernakulam railway station by our sons Anil and Anandan, and rushed to Lourdes Hospital. The doctors there were surprised that I had borne the pain of the strangled hernia for 36 hours! How were the doctors to know that I could not claim any credit for this feat? I mentally thanked Swami for accomplishing this by his sankalpa 'I'll take care of it'. The operation was successful and, after two weeks, the left hernia also was operated on. After a month, we returned to Prasanthi Nilayam, and were back to the normal routine.

1990 - Sri Sai Adbhutha Charyaya Namah

During April, I developed acute pain below the chest. Since I had just had lunch I presumed that it might be indigestion, and had some homeopathic pills. The pain eased after an hour. A couple of days later the pain recurred, again after lunch, but this time it was severe and lasted for a few hours. I consulted a doctor, who said that it was due to gas lifting the diaphragm and pressing against the heart. I was prescribed an injection, painkillers and sleeping pills. After a while, I was relieved of the pain. Another couple of days went by, and the symptoms were back once again, this time in full rebound - there was unbearable pain and continuous vomiting. I was exhausted, and felt as though I was sinking. I was rushed to the hospital where Dr. Chari, the then superintendent of the General Hospital, started emergency treatment. For three days he battled with my condition with all available resources, but my illness seemed unresponsive. I was dehydrated and slipping into coma frequently - my condition was fairly critical. On the fourth day, I was in coma and Dr. Chari decided to rush me to St. Phelomena Hospital, Bangalore, for conducting an endoscopy. He referred me to Dr. Narendra Bhat of that hospital. At that time my wife and son Anandan were with me, and they were extremely worried about my condition. There was a photograph of Swami on the wall at the foot of my bed. At one point when my wife looked at the photograph, she could see Swami smiling and raising his hand in abhayahastha! None else was able to see this. A while later, to my surprise, I was able to get up, and despite extreme exhaustion I could muster the energy to say 'not now, early morning 5 a.m. we will go. Keep the ambulance ready'. Thereafter, the vomiting also stopped miraculously. Swami's abhayahastha accomplishes feats beyond the ability of human hands!

We started for Bangalore at 5 a.m. the next day. I drank a glass of tender coconut water, my only 'meal' for the past four days. I felt a little better and slept on my son's lap during the journey. We reached St.Philomena Hospital by 8:30 a.m. While my son went for the admission formalities, Dr. Narendra Bhat proceeded with the various tests. The diagnosis showed a double complication - I had a stone in the gallbladder, and there was a stone in the bile duct, which was causing obstruction to the flow of bile, resulting in obstructive jaundice. Dr. Bhat opined that I would have to undergo two separate operations. Beloved Swami was at Whitefield at that time, and I asked my son to send a telegram to inform Swami about the impending operation(s). Mentally I was praying to Swami to send a telepathic message to the doctor for calling off the operation. Wonder of wonders! The next day Dr. Bhat, who had advised two operations just the previous day, came and told my wife and son 'taking into consideration the patient's present condition, and his diabetes, it is not advisable to do an operation; instead we will go in for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy for removal of the bile duct stone to cure him of jaundice '. He also added that the gallbladder stone would be left as it was!

I underwent the procedure for removal of the bile duct stone at Hawkort Hospital, where they had the requisite machine and trained doctors to handle it. After two days I was shifted back to Philomena Hospital. At the time of my discharge I was given instructions for the management of the gallbladder stone; Dr. Narendra Bhat told me 'you are given ten years of life more, provided you strictly avoid oil, all fried stuff and fats, use only double-skimmed milk with no trace of cream in it, only boiled vegetables with salt and pepper and very little helping of rice'. That was a big list of don'ts; but it was a small price to pay. After all Swami had heard my prayers and averted the operation. There are no words to express my gratitude to my Beloved Swami!

1997 - Agony of 42 Days

During the middle of February, I was having difficulty in passing urine. I consulted the head of the Urology Department of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi, Dr. Bhat, who diagnosed enlargement of prostate glands. Though surgery was indicated, Dr. Bhat prescribed a new medicine, which would apparently cure the condition. I was put on medicine fro two months on a trial basis. During February 1998, I was to go to Kerala. Before leaving, Dr. Bhat gave me some instructions and guidelines as a precautionary measure for any adverse developments. The new medicine did not give any relief, on the contrary it seemed to have aggravated my condition, and I had to rush back to Puttaparthi. When I reached there, I learnt that Swami had left for Whitefield. Dr. Bhat, too, was away at Whitefield. I then approached Dr. Jagadish Chandran, Joint Director, SSSIHMS, who took me to Dr. Jadeja, the next senior doctor in the Urology Department. I was admitted in the Urology ward. After due investigations, the finding was that, apart from enlarged prostate, there was a bladder problem too. After bringing my diabetes under control, Dr. Jadeja conducted an operation on me called, in medical terminology, 'Anterior lay-open with Blandy's Flap' - a procedure wherein the penis is cut open and urinary tube is taken to a hole below the penis to facilitate urination. After the operation I was provided a catheter with a plastic bag for a month.

Though the operation wound was dressed daily by Dr. Jadeja himself, even after a month elapsed, the wound refused to heal. This led to several other complications, and on a couple of occasions blood transfusion was required. I was depressed over my ill-health. During those days, Dr. Jagadish Chandran used to come and visit me on his morning rounds everyday. He used to appear like an angel from heaven and boost my morale with his philosophical advice. He was my friend, philosopher and guide during those agonising days in the hospital, and I always remember him with love and gratitude.

One month after the operation, Dr. Jadeja told me 'Mr. Madhavan, some miracle should happen. Only Swami can save you'. It was a Thursday and Swami was at Whitefield. I dictated a letter to my son to be sent to Swami by telegram - 'Beloved Swami, I am not afraid of death, in fact I welcome death. But I do not want to suffer like this. If You want me to survive, do something, or take me to Thy Lotus Feet'. Next morning, when Dr. Jadeja opened the bandage, he found that the wound was completely healed! A wound that had not healed in one month was healed overnight! The Divine Doctor had intervened once again! Dr. Jadeja was excited and called all his colleagues to share this wonderful miracle. The same day itself,