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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group III | Pandit Shivkumar Sharma

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, a Santoor player of international repute, Padmavibhushan awardee, relates a few of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in his own words.

‘In 1968, I came to know that vibhuti was emanating in a house in Vile Parle - a suburb of Mumbai, from the photograph of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I went there to play Santoor. I was amazed to find the glass in the frame of the photograph of Bhagavan completely covered with vibhuti. It was completely removed in my presence, but by the time I finished playing Santoor, the glass frame was covered again fully with vibhuti.

‘When did this start and how?’ I asked the landlord of the house.

‘My wife is a devotee of Baba’, he told me, ‘but I was not a believer. I used always to reprimand her for playing into the hands of Babas. After sometime, I had a problem of gout in my knees. I tried all sorts of treatment but in vain. My wife used to tell me to go to Puttaparthi once and pray to Baba. But I used to admonish her for such foolish advice. Finally I relented, as the problem grew acute. At Puttaparthi, Baba did not come my side for several days. I was growing restless. One day He came to me and stood before me. Touching me on my knees with His Divine hands, Swami said, ‘what is wrong with you? Get up!’ At once, I got up and started walking. The gout problem left me for good! Then we returned to Mumbai. We opened the doors of our house and entered. The first thing I noticed was that Baba’s photograph was full of vibhuti. Since then it has never stopped!’

From that day onwards, I yearned to have Darshan of Baba. Dr. Shukla, my family doctor, was keen that I should get a chance to play Santoor for Baba.

Baba called me for personal interview. At the interview, Baba told us all about our problems. Santoor - the instrument I play, was never used till that time in Indian classical music. Those were the days when I was struggling to establish the instrument. Swami materialised a ring for me. He put it on my finger and said, ‘this is your home from today and my home is in your heart. Come to me anytime’.

After that I had many chances to play on Santoor for Swami at Prasanthi Nilayam, Brindavan and Mumbai.

Once Swami was in Mumbai. But I could not go for Darshan as I was advised rest on medical grounds. A friend came to see me and began to criticise Bhagavan. It was a very unpleasant situation. I did not like to join issue with him. After a while he left. Then I noticed suddenly that the golden bust of Swami on my ring was missing. I was upset. Later, I found it on the carpet. Even though I was advised against movement, I took a taxi and went to Dharmakshetra. When we reached the place, Swami was going out in His car. It was a big disappointment. I kept the ring and the golden bust of Baba in a silver casket. Every morning, I used to unlock it, take out Baba’s golden bust and do pranam before I put it back.

One day I had a dream. I was sitting under a tree in Dharmakshetra. Swami was standing in front of me. ‘Don’t wear this ring’, He told me in the dream, ‘now take a new one’. He gave me a new ring in the dream.

I woke up in the morning. Immediately I opened the silver casket. The ring was there but Swami’s golden bust disappeared!

After a few months, Baba came to Mumbai. I went for Darshan. After bhajan, a few of us were called to meet Baba. When Swami came near, I said, ‘Swami! My ring…’ Before I could complete my sentence, Swami said, ‘Swami came into your dream and gave you a new ring’. Suddenly I realised that I was sitting under the same tree under which I had sat in my dream. Swami then materialised a new ring and gave it to me.

That day a young American requested for a lift to the airport. On the way, I asked, ‘how did you come to Swami?’ He is the son of an American Ambassador. He got interested in Indian spiritual thought and visited many ashrams in India. However he was disillusioned and wanted to return to his land. That day he had a dream. In it he saw a person very charming and loving. ‘Don’t go back. Go to Puttaparthi’, he said and explained how he could reach Puttaparthi. Later he went to the railway station and enquired only to find that the train numbers and timings he was told in the dream were correct.

After he reached Puttaparthi, Swami came to him and said, ‘so you have come, my son!’ He could not believe his eyes and ears. Baba not only directed him in his dream to go over to Puttaparthi, but also recognised him on arrival. Since then he has been staying in India.

One day I ran into the famous singer Asha Bhonsle. She saw Baba’s ring on my finger and said, ‘I don’t believe in Him. Why are you going there?’

‘It is purely a personal thing. I don’t want to discuss it’ I said.

‘Let us have a bet’, she told me, ‘if He comes in my dream today I will believe in Him. Otherwise, no!’

I was in no mood for bets. I said, ‘I don’t want to go into any betting on this, mataji’, I told her, ‘please stop this discussion’.

That night Asha Bhonsle had a dream in which Bhagavan appeared. On her request I took her to Dharmakshetra. She went to Puttaparthi afterwards. Swami did not speak to her for several days. One day Swami came to her and narrated to her how she had come to Puttaparthi – the bet, the dream and all.

Once I was flying from Rome to Mumbai. The plane stopped at Athens when a few persons boarded the plane. A Greek couple emplaned there and sat next to me. After the take-off, the lady said some thing to her husband.

‘Do you know Baba?’ he asked me.

‘Who Baba?’

He touched the ring Bhagavan gave me earlier and said, ‘I mean Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. What a coincidence? We are on our way to Puttaparthi and we sat by your side – a devotee of Baba’.

‘How did you come to know of Baba?’ I asked him.

‘I was passing through a difficult phase in life’, he told me, ‘one night I saw a person in my dream. He was a total stranger but was very loving. He blessed me and said, ‘everything will be all right’. After that day things began to move and all my problems began to get sorted out. One day I saw a book displayed in the showcase of a bookshop. I was pleasantly shocked to find the photograph of the person who blessed me in my dream, on the book. I went into the shop and bought the book. It is in Greek and is about Sri Sathya Sai Baba.’

Once I was in Canada for my first major concert in Toronto. It was heavily raining on that day. Organisers were sceptical whether people would come for the concert in that rain. Their previous concerts in that place had not done well. But, owing to Bhagavan’s grace, the auditorium was full by the time I came on the stage. The concert went off well.

After the concert, there was dinner at somebody’s house. The host came to me during dinner and said, ‘when you were playing tonight, I had a very strange experience. I had seen Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s photograph earlier. I am neither a believer in Him, nor His devotee. But during the performance, I saw a couple of times your face changing into that of Sri Sathya Sai Baba as if he was playing Santoor.’ Everybody present was amazed to hear this.

Similar experience was reported to me in San Francisco also. Just before the concert started, the sound system began to give trouble. I went into the green room and prayed to Baba. When I came on the stage, I was surprised to find that the auditorium, which was sparsely occupied earlier, was full. Another miraculous development was that the sound system began to function well. Added to this, a person came to me during the dinner and said, ‘I am a devotee of Baba. When you were playing, your face disappeared a few times and Baba’s face was seen as if He was playing Santoor!’ I was amazed that two different types of individuals reported the same kind of experience at two different places.

In November 1998, I went with my son Rahul to Dubai to give a concert there. One day prior to the concert, the organisers took us to see a Sand Dune Safari, which is famous there. Shafath Ahmed Khan, the famous Tabla player and a Baba devotee, Rahul and others were in one car, and my wife Manorama and a few others were in another car. The car in which my son Rahul was travelling was a brand new car.

We were quite ahead of them when the driver turned our car back on receiving a call on his cell phone. After a while, we saw a lot of people surrounding a car. There was an ambulance and a police car also. We were shocked to find that it was the car in which my son Rahul and others were travelling. The sight was so frightening that my wife lost control being in a state of shock. Then, to our great relief, we saw Rahul, Shafath and others in the car looking at the car standing in the gathering.

When the car was travelling at 135 km speed, there was a tyre-burst. The car hit the steel railing in the middle of the highway and was about to collide with a big trailer-truck coming from behind, which missed it miraculously by a few inches. The car overturned and began to spin like a toy till it came to a stop on its own. Everyone was trapped inside. The police who arrived soon helped them come out. Though the car was completely smashed all its occupants escaped miraculously. My son had no injury except a little pressure on his finger, which turned blue. Only one passenger had a minor bleeding injury. But for that, everyone escaped without even a scratch. My son and others were taken to a private hospital for check-up. The first thing they saw there was a big photograph of Bhagavan. Next day the concert could be held as scheduled. It was a grand success.

On November 21, 1998, we came to Prasanthi Nilayam to attend Baba’s Birthday celebrations. During Darshan, Swami came to me and asked, ‘where is Son?’ Rahul was sitting next to me. I said, ‘Swami! He is here.’

‘Where is Son?’ Swami again asked. I thought Bhagavan was enquiring about my elder son.

‘Swami! Rohit has not come’, I replied.

‘Where is Son?’ Swami repeated the same question.

I was confused that Swami was asking the same question. Suddenly it’s meaning dawned on me.

‘Swami saved him’, I told Swami.

‘Yes! I know’, Swami replied with a smile and left.

Next morning we were called for an interview. Swami narrated the whole incident giving description of the car, its speed, tyre-burst and Rahul shouting ‘Baba! Baba!’

‘When it (accident) happened in Dubai, some were with me here’, Swami told us, ‘I told them, ‘Shivkumar Sharma’s son met with a serious accident.’ They asked, ‘Swami! How is he now?’ I told them, ‘he has been saved.’

Swami gave a new life to Rahul, Shafath and others in that car.’

-- Shivkumar Sharma

(Based on the article of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma in the souvenir published on the occasion of the 75th Birthday of Bhagavan in 2000.)