Please read Samarpan on the site and contribute your mite to Sri Sathya Sai Veda Pratishtan. | Please Subscribe to Vedamu YouTube channel

Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group III | Mr. I. Haragopal

Mr. I. Haragopal
II Cross, Samadhi Road
Puttaparthi – 515134

Mr. I. Haragopal, who worked in very senior positions in the IDBI and the SIDBI, Mumbai, relates a few of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in his own words.

‘In 1966, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba came to Hyderabad. At that time, I resigned from the Andhra Bank as I was selected for RBI. But orders of my appointment were awaited. Meanwhile, I had an attack of jaundice. Thus I was passing through some uneasy time. I went to see Bhagavan who was then staying in the house of Raja Omapathi Rao at Hyderabad. We were about 30 people waiting there. Swami came out and patted all of us on our shoulders affectionately and left. That was the first time I had Darshan of Bhagavan as well as His Divine touch. Soon after that, my problems began to get solved. I got orders of posting in the RBI. My health improved. I joined my new job.

When I was working at Jammu in 1970, I went out to buy a packet of cigarettes. I saw a photograph of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in that shop. Instead of buying cigarettes with the change I took with me, I bought that photograph – I don’t know why. Thus Swami came into our house that day.

In 1971, war broke out on the Pakistan border. Pak warplanes used to fly low over Jammu. That was the route for their return to Pakistan. Besides, we were near the airport, which was one of the main targets for bombardment by the enemy. Many people were sending their families to Delhi because of the dangerous condition. My wife, Mrs. Lakshmi said, ‘let us be together in life as well as in death. There is no question of my leaving you and run for safety.’ We used to chant the name of Sai Ram. Fortunately, we were not affected in any way by the war. Many people used to come there as refugees. My wife used to prepare food and feed some of them. At that time we had no concept of Narayanaseva. But Swami made us indulge in it even in those days.

I was sent to Shillong on deputation to the State Government. Usually pressures will be more in states from politicians on officials. Owing to Swami’s grace, I had no problem there even though there were many changes at the top in the political hierarchy of the state, during my stay there. I was there nearly for twelve years.

Swami deputed Mr. N. Kasturi to Shillong once to attend to Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization work. I met him and invited him to our house.

‘Swami wants you to come to Puttaparthi’ Mr. Kasturi told me. Later, we went to Puttaparthi. By that time, my father Mr. Ranganayakulu had shifted to Puttaparthi. I gave up cigarettes as long as I was there.

‘Swami! I am far away in Assam’, I prayed to Swami when I had a chance to talk to Him, ‘bless me to come to these parts’. ‘No! Stay there only’, Swami said, ‘what is there for you in these parts? Only jealousies!’ I continued there only without any problem.

In 1977, I came to Brindavan. Swami blessed me and said, ‘you will get that job’. Soon after my return, I was promoted as the Managing Director of the Sate Industrial Development Corporation.

In that summer, I received a letter from Brindavan that I was selected for summer classes. Just then I returned from Puttaparthi after about a month stay at Prasanthi Nilayam. To get leave again for a month would be difficult. I, myself, felt hesitation to ask for leave. One day my daughter came running to us shouting with excitement, ‘water is coming out of Baba’s photograph!’ We all went and saw that some viscous fluid was oozing out of Swami’s photograph from His abhayahasta in the photograph. It was amritam. I took it as a positive sign for me to go to Brindavan. I did not like to miss summer classes. I got leave without a murmur from higher ups, and left for Brindavan. I attended the summer classes. During the course, Swami used to materialize many things. I remember His materializing a ring and some chains for devotees.

When we were returning to our place of work, unusually Swami would give leave to my wife saying, ‘velli ra’ (go, and come again).

In 1982, my wife told Swami, ‘we are leaving’. Swami said, ‘vellamma’ (go, child). My wife noted the difference and asked me why Swami had said like that. I said, ‘we should not worry much about casual remarks’. But it was not so. Not a syllable is uttered by Swami, which has no significance. My wife was cooking something in the kitchen when her sari caught fire accidentally. My children phoned to me while I was in office. I rushed home and took her to the hospital. She had severe burns but was fully conscious. Curiously, she had not much pain. When I asked her about it she replied, ‘pain? How can I have pain when Swami is smoothly massaging my feet?’ I thought she was delirious; otherwise, she would not have such blasphemous thoughts about Bhagavan massaging her feet.

We kept a photograph of Bhagavan near her bed. Vibhuti and amritam used to emanate from that photograph in the hospital. We took her to Saffdarjung Hospital in Delhi also. Though it was a new place for me, everything I needed used to be available as if some mysterious hand was at work arranging things for me. One day, she developed severe breathing trouble. I asked the hospital people to shift her to the ICU, and gave a pinch of vibhuti to her as I did daily. She breathed her last peacefully in my lap. As my father would be insistent on certain rituals, I wanted to get a Vedic priest to perform her last rites. How to get one? Luckily, one Telugu speaking priest was available there owing to Swami’s grace. He came and performed the last rites with meticulous care.

We came to Puttaparthi and performed her obsequies. On the 12th day, it is customary for an elder in the family to say a few words as ‘Santi vachanalu’ (words invoking peace). Bhagavan came in Darshan line to us and personally delivered Santi Vachanalu consoling me, ‘santhiga, haayiga udyogam chesuko’. Swami also said, ‘I have not extended her life. Karmik load was more’.

My eldest daughter, Mallika brought the urn containing ashes of my wife into the mandir during Darshan without telling any of us. It is not allowed generally to bring ashes into houses. But Bhagavan, instead of reprimanding the girl for her indiscretion, blessed the urn. This precedent emboldened me to take the urns containing ashes of my parents when they shed their physical bodies, to the mandir. Bhagavan blessed the urn on both occasions.

Bhagavan told my daughters, ‘don’t think you have no mother now. I am like thousand mothers to you. I will take care of you’. Bhagavan, as later events revealed, kept His word.

When the marriage of my eldest daughter, Ms. Mallika was fixed, I went to Prasanthi Nilayam in December 1984 and gave the letter to Bhagavan informing Him of the settlement of the alliance. Bhagavan closed His eyes, stood still for a few minutes lost in thought, and then gave vibhuti. He then said, ‘perform the marriage’. A few days before the muhurtham, two elder brothers of the bridegroom came to us and said, ‘the marriage will not take place. Cancel all arrangements’. It was a bombshell exploding on our heads. ‘Why? What is the matter?’ I asked. ‘The girl is motherless. If the lady of the house is not there, many formalities will not be performed properly’, they said. ‘I will not cancel any arrangements’ I said bluntly, ‘this alliance was blessed by Bhagavan. The wedding shall take place’.

One day before the muhurtham date, they came back again and said ‘ok’, we are willing to have the wedlock. Proceed’. So the marriage took place. I was away from our State for more than two decades. Left to me, I did not know what to do. But my uncle’s son stood by me, and did all arrangements and saw to it that the wedding was held on a grand scale. It was, indeed, the grace of Bhagavan that the wedding was held, and on a grand scale.

A few days before the marriage, when we were in doubt about the fate of the wedding, a person who would predict with the help of a parrot came. He told my daughter, ‘you will get married in three days. You will go abroad’. It happened exactly as he had predicted. I have no doubt that Bhagavan came as that soothsayer to reassure us.

The marriage of my eldest daughter was held in December 1984. The marriage of my second daughter, Ms. Manjula was settled in February 1985. When I went to seek the blessings of Bhagavan, He told me ‘come here soon after the marriage is over’. He repeated the same instruction as to ‘coming back’ sometime later, too. The marriage was held on a grand scale. I returned to Puttaparthi soon after the marriage, as instructed by Bhagavan. A few days after my arrival at Puttaparthi, my father breathed his last in my lap saying, ‘Sai Ram’.

Bhagavan, I learnt later, had told a few people around Him, ‘Ranganayakulu (my father) has not got much time’. Perhaps He held my father on till the marriage of my daughter was successfully held. He also made me come back soon after, so that I could be by the side of my father when he breathed his last.

In 1961, I went to Srisailam and performed abhishekam. I could not go there again as I was away in service. After my retirement in 1996, I went to Srisailam. I was coming by train from Bellari and got down at Markapur Road station. I had fever. I reached Srisailam by bus, and felt weak and tiresome. I tried for accommodation in Vysya satram in vain. So I went to another when I had to ascend steps. Reluctantly, I dragged myself up in a condition of fatigue when I found the photograph of Bhagavan there. ‘Baba! I did not get accommodation in Vysya satram only because you wanted to bless me with Your Darshan here’, I reflected, ‘You are reminding me that You are with me always’.

When I stood in the queue for Darshan at Srisailam, I was reciting Lalita Sahasranamas. I do so whenever I get some free time. That was a Thursday. Suddenly, I had a vision. I saw Dattatreya clearly with three heads. I wondered, ‘I did not see either Siva or Devi as I should, in a Siva pilgrim centre. Why Datta?’ After Darshan of Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba, I came out. ‘Tomorrow is Friday’ I thought, ‘why not I stay on and do abhishekam?’ I decided to stay. I bought a book on Srisailam in the temple bookstall, as I wanted to refresh my memory on sthalapurana. When I opened it, it opened on page 9. There it read: ‘The deity here is Trimurthyatmaka Swaroopa’. Then I understood why I was blessed with the vision of Dattatreya, as I was about to enter the sanctum sanctorum. Who is the ‘Trimurthyatmaka Swaroopa’ except Bhagavan?

From there I went to Amaravathi and then to Vetapalem. Many miracles were taking place in the house of one Mr. Sambasiva Rao, a handloom weaver by profession at Vetapalem. There is a lingam in their pooja room. I kept a new slate there and performed abhishekam to the lingam. When I saw the slate after that, Aum was found written on the new slate! In the place of the dot in Aum of Devanagari, there was a triangle. Swami wrote Aum for me in Devanagari earlier also. He always puts a triangle for the dot in Aum above the crescent. Why? The triangle symbolizes unity of three aspects. Thus, ‘Trimurthyatmaka Swaroopa’ was confirmed here also.

When my brother Mallikajruna Rao saw the slate, he brought a magnifying glass and looked at it. On the front, the fingerprint of the thumb of Bhagavan was imprinted in vibhuti or chalk. On the reverse were the fingerprints of the remaining four fingers to indicate how Bhagavan held the slate in His left hand while he wrote Aum on it with His right hand. We were astounded. I got the photographs of the slate taken on both sides. I have got an enlargement of the fingerprints also.

From Vetapalem, I went to Chennai. I learnt that one of my earlier colleagues was going to the USA. I sent the slate to my third daughter, Malati who was in the USA. After a couple of days, she telephoned from the USA. ‘I thank you Dad for sending the original slate with Baba’s fingerprints and Aum’, she told me, ‘after its arrival, my doctor has withdrawn steroids’. She did not tell me anything earlier. Only then I came to know that she had an attack of blood cancer and was under chemotherapy, which was very painful. By Baba’s grace, she was completely healed. She received the slate as a crowning symbol of His grace, as the good news that she had no further need to take steroids was broken to her simultaneously. Had she been here in India, I could not have afforded such an expensive treatment. Swami’s grace is such that He sent her to the USA and enabled her bear the expensive treatment even before the disease attacked her. When she was in Delhi, she used to spend almost all her salary on Narayanaseva at the Shirdi Sai Temple in Lodi Road. She is in good health now working in California.

From Chennai, I returned to Puttaparthi in July 1996. Swami, too, had arrived there after summer stay at Brindavan. He gave Divine Discourses. Consecutively for two days, Bhagavan spoke explaining ‘Trimurthyatmaka Swarupa’ mainly!

-- Mr. I. Haragopal,

(As narrated to Mr. B. Parvatala Rao at Prasanthi Nilayam on 25.04.2005)