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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group IV | Mr. Sunil T. Patell

Mr. Sunil T. Patell,
Post Box No. 260407, Plano (Dallas),
Texas - 75093, USA.

Tel: 1-972 867 8022

Mr. Sunil T. Patell (46), a businessman and NRI, relates a few of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in his own words.

'During 1969, my father, Mr. Thakoorbhai Patell was facing financial cringe in business. He was a devotee of Shankar, Ganapathi and other deities. He used to pray to them.

One day some person gave my mother, Mrs. Lataben, a small portrait of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba which she kept in the pooja along with other deities. My father has three sons. I am the middle one. Mr. Prakash is the eldest, and Mr. Kiran is the youngest. My father and we three brothers were antagonists to Sri Sathya Sai whom we then used to consider a magician. We used to criticise Swami. When we went to pray in the pooja room daily we took care not even to look at Swami's portrait. However, none of us dared remove the portrait from the pooja.

There was a pan shop near our house. The shop owner was a devotee of Bhagavan and displayed a photograph of Bhagavan in his shop. Whenever I passed that way, I used to accost him in mockery 'Om Sri Sai Ram'. There was a priest also who was a devotee of Bhagavan. I used to taunt him similarly.

Our house, then, was a rented one. It was one of the houses constructed under the aegis of a Housing Society. The Society developed the housing on a cemetery. This information came to light later. There was some or other difficulty in every house. Some even died due to the evil effects of the site on which the houses were constructed. We did not realise at that time but we escaped the evil effects only owing to Bhagavan's grace. In fact, our financial and other problems began getting solved after the portrait of Bhagavan came into our house. Far from realizing it, we, the male members of the family, were criticising Bhagavan.

In 1980, we shifted to the USA. My mother brought the portrait of Bhagavan also to the USA along with other deities in the pooja. Even in the USA, we continued our antagonistic attitude to Bhagavan.

In the USA, we, three brothers, set up business working under the guidance of our parents living as a joint family. In 1987, again, we faced financial cringe in the USA also. During 1987, my father began praying to the deities incessantly. He was doing so for three days when he broke down out of desperation and cried, 'who will come to our rescue? Which God among those here would save us?'

As he was praying thus, with tears rolling down his cheeks, the phone rang. One of our close relative was on line. 'A devotee of Bhagavan came here. He is performing pooja and Satyanarayana vratam in our house', the caller told my father on phone, 'please attend with family and receive blessings of Bhagavan'. My father was amazed. 'Is this an answer to my prayer?' he thought, 'so Sri Sathya Sai responded to my prayer'. He decided to attend the pooja, leaving aside his earlier antagonism to Bhagavan. I had to accompany him reluctantly as I had to drive him to that place.

The devotee of Bhagavan who was performing pooja on that day was Mr. Subba Rao of Bangalore. He was originally in cinematography and, later, became an ardent devotee of Bhagavan. He used to be referred to as Guruji by his devotees. He used to see and talk to Bhagavan on astral plane. Bhagavan told him in one of such visions, 'perform pooja for 25 Gurupoornimas'. Every year, he performs pooja at Bangalore for Gurupoornima for seven days. When he visits the USA, many people invite him to their houses and arrange pooja.

He gave us all a little quantity of vibhuti of Bhagavan and said, 'you take a shower and after that, you place a little of this vibhuti on your forehead and on top of your head. After that don't wash it off but allow it to remain there. This will help you concentrate better on pooja'. We all had a bath and put the vibhuti on our heads. I did so only to humour my father. The pooja went on far six hours. He performed it with zeal and devotion without skipping or hurrying up, along the prescribed version of mantras. I do not know how I sat through the whole pooja for six long hours; but I did. I began to think, 'if the mere ash from Baba is so powerful as to keep me sit for six hours of pooja, how powerful he would be?' We were there till the end, took prasadam and left.

After that our finances began to improve. We all became devotees of Bhagavan.

In 1990, Guruji came to the USA again. This time we invited him to do pooja in our house. He brought a bigger size photograph of Swami with frame, put it for pooja and Satyanarayana vratam and, later, left it with us to be kept in our pooja room. Next morning, we went into the pooja room as usual to pray. All deities were there, but the small portrait of Bhagavan disappeared. No one in the house removed it.

'Who gave you that, Ma?' we asked our mother.

'I don't remember', she replied.

Though we did not believe at that time in Sri Sathya Sai, we were devotees of Sri Shirdi Sai. I used to sprinkle vibhuti on my answer paper while taking an examination. So irrespective of what we thought of Him, Bhagavan was caring for us all-through. We, too, were doing His namam even if it was only to decry Him.

In 1991, my father went to Kodaicanal and had darshan of Bhagavan. There he stayed in a house as per the advice of his friend's friend. The land lady was a great devotee of Bhagavan.

'If you have any desire, write it down as a letter to Bhagavan,' she advised my father, 'and sit in the darshan line. If Bhagavan takes your letter, it means your desire will be fulfilled'.

My father was not aware of this practice earlier. So he wrote a letter to Swami, he told us later. Swami came and took it from my father's hands.

'What did you write?' we asked. After much pestering by us, he revealed, 'Swami! Grant me moksha - this is all that I wrote'.

In 2001, Mr. Shyam Kanakala returned after a visit to Prasanthi Nilayam.

'Do you know this?' he told us, 'they announced at Prasanthi Nilayam that there would be no more padanamaskars'.

I was very disappointed after hearing it. 'There was some scope of securing padanamaskar till now', I began to reflect sadly, 'now even that hope ended'.

After this, I had a dream. I was sitting with folded hands bending my head down. Suddenly, a hand grabbed the back of my head and pressed it down, in the dream. I saw the feet. Above the feet were the borders of a robe of ochre colour. I could not see the face as the hand was pressing my head on to the feet. I wanted to free my head from the grip of the hand. 'Don't you want to take another padanamaskar?' a voice asked me with love. My head was turned to the right by the hand when I saw Shirdi Sai Baba squatting on the floor with one of His legs on the floor and the other bent at His knee and erect up to the knee. I took padanamaskar again. The dream ended. Thus Swami granted me padanamaskar in the dream and fulfilled my desire. When did this happen? On the day when akhand-bhajan was going on! I attended the bhajan and came home for a short break. I lay down on my bed when I dozed off and had this dream.

My elder brother, Mr. Prakash used to keep a photograph of Swami in his hotel office room. He put it in such a way that a visitor to his room could see only the back side. 'Why should you be apologetic to display Bhagavan's photograph?' I used to argue with him, 'we should openly and proudly display it'. We used to have heated arguments on it whenever I went to his hotel. One day, the argument went to such an extent that I stopped talking to him for three days. On the fourth day, I had a dream. Bhagavan appeared. 'Why are you so much exercised on this issue?' Bhagavan asked me in the dream, 'he is elder to you. Respect him. After all, I am in your heart as well as in his. What does it matter which way my portrait faces as long as he keeps it?' After that day, I have never raised that issue with my brother. If we are able to remain a joint family even in the USA in modern times, it is only owing to His grace. I realise that His love is the best cementing factor of individual, domestic and social relations.

Before we became devotees of Bhagavan, my younger brother, Mr. Kiran Patel and I came to India. Those were the days when we were facing financial problems. I was married in India on December 5 and Kiran on December 6 at Surat. After that we went to a number of saints, god-men and, even, astrologers. All suggested without exception that we should all worship Lord Ganesh with his trunk turned rightwards.

In 1994, I came to Bangalore and attended Ganesh pooja on Ganesh Chaturthi day at Guruji's house.

'Why don't you go to Brindavan and have darshan of Bhagavan?' Guruji advised us. We went, but they told us that Swami had just left for Prasanthi Nilayam. One of our Parsi friends, Mr. Mehernosh who is not a devotee but was with us at that time said, 'why not go tonight to Prasanthi Nilayam and have darshan in the morning?' So we came to Prasanthi Nilayam. It was around 6:30 p.m. or so. We thought that the evening darshan would have been over and wanted to take a room in some hotel outside.

'You can think of your room later', someone told us, 'rush. Swami is giving discourse in the Poornachandra Auditorium'. We ran there. Swami was giving a discourse on Ganesh. All god-men ask us to pray to Ganesh. Here we came to attend Ganesh pooja at Guruji's house at Bangalore, and arrived at Prasanthi Nilayam in time to listen to Bhagavan on Ganesh, and that, too, on the suggestion of a non-devotee, our Parsi friend.'

-- Mr. Sunil T. Patell

(As narrated to Mr. B. Parvatala Rao at Prasanthi Nilayam on 03.07.2005)