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Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan by Devotees | Group VII | Ms. Maria Hopp

Ms. Maria Hopp,
Staff Nurse,
Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital,
Prasanthi Nilayam.

      Ms. Maria Hopp, hailing from Denmark, was initially inspired by Bhagavan in her dreams even before having seen His Form. She has turned a very ardent devotee of Bhagavan. For quite sometime she worked in Bhagavan's General Hospital, Whitefield as Staff Nurse. With His permission, she has come 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.

One night in 1986, I had this vivid dream in which an unknown man with bushy hair appeared. He invited me to come out of my house, and go with him. He wanted to show me a beautiful expression of nature. His eyes were full of Love. Somehow, I trusted Him and decided to go with Him. Almost immediately, I found myself looking into a beautiful bright light above a vast stretch of water. It was not at all uncomfortable to my eyes. On the contrary, it made me feel very happy. The following night, the same man appeared in another dream in which I somehow called Him 'my Father'. In the dream, it was my turn to cook food for all of us, but I had made a mistake. No food was on the table, and what I had made I wanted to hide. I did not want 'my Father' to see it. I was somewhat ashamed.


Two years later the first dream became a deep experience. One night, I was told 'do not be frightened, everything will turn out well'. For sometime, I had not been feeling well at all. A certain notion of 'something is going to happen to me' was with me. Actually that night, I felt so strange and so unwell that the thought crossed my mind 'I am dying!' I do not know why such a thought came, but the voice came again and said 'that child you got with which you were allowed to play was meant for building a bridge to the spiritual world!' Immediately after this information, I was aware of being disconnected from my body. I did not breathe any more. Nor did I feel my heart beat.

I was somehow experiencing myself being lifted out my body from the crown of my head. Lo and behold! I stood in this beautiful light, and realised that the vehicle in which I travelled (even though I cannot describe it really) had a dim light. The quality of the light was of the same essence as the overwhelming, beautiful light, which I now name Home, Love, God, and Consciousness. The most wonderful thing is that I communicated with this light even though no words were used. Somehow, this Presence and I came to an understanding that I was going back. 'We' decided that I was not finished yet. Later, when I was aware of being back in my body, I decided to sleep, because the next day, I had to go to work. I knew that something very precious had touched the core of my being. Painful days were to come with a continuous deep longing to be back in this Loving Presence (which I had learnt to call Reality or Divinity).

One day, two years later, as I entered the room of my friend, my eyes looked into the eyes of a man in the picture on the front page of a book. He had bushy hair. I was allowed to take this book home. While reading it, I was surprised at myself, nervous; a little scared, but joyful. I couldn't believe what I was reading. This is what I had wanted to know, ever since I was small! A promise of the Beyond of this Existence! With heartfelt thanks, I started crying ever so intensely, but softly, like a prayer:

'God, You are out there, and now, make Yourself known to me. You have a Form and Name. You are on earth! Can I see You? Can I come close to You? Can I talk to You?'

Later I learnt to pray this most wonderful prayer which expresses what the experience brought me:

                             Asathoma Sadgamaya
                               Thamasoma Jyothirgamana
                               Mrthyorma Amrthangamaya

               Untruth is shattered - Our Atma is the Truth.
              Darkness becomes full of the Light of Understanding.                     Death is in fact for the vesture only - the entity that we really are is Eternal.

I got busy, more books to read, and people to meet. There was an organisation in Holland! We all felt drawn towards it and inspired by Bhagavan Baba's teachings and Love. Another two years passed, and then out of the blue, I got this message 'and now you are coming to India'. What a joy! I was allowed to come. I found twenty other people, who were travelling and I joined them. After three months, I actually had my first darshan. Token No.1 - front line.


As I saw Baba come out on the veranda, my only thought was 'how small You are. We better look after You very well'. That same Darshan, He made me feel that the form and the actual power have little to do with each other. As He came walking towards us, I don't know what suddenly happened to me, I felt hot and frightened, and I was shaking. I requested Baba not to come any closer. I couldn't handle 'His Energy'. After one week, I wanted to leave; it was very difficult with the heat, the food, the shed and the crowd. Most of the time, Baba was physically far away. Then, He gave me an experience to show how close God actually is. Closer than I ever thought He could be!

As Baba was about to come for darshan, I suddenly got very irritated and said within myself 'who are You, any way?' As I thought this, Baba appeared full size in my mind's eye. He stood in front of me, showed His hand and said 'I am you and you are I' (Oh! my God, I better be careful. He knows what I am thinking!) My mouth dropped open, tears running down my face. Inwardly, I was sobbing 'why do You tell me all these only now? Why not earlier? If You had, I would not have done this and this….. and wasted so much precious time, and made so many wrong decisions!' Unnecessary to say, I did not leave. On the contrary, He allowed me two years later to serve in His Whitefield General Hospital.

From day to day, through mistakes, but most of all, through His Loving Guidance, I got to realise that it is He who is the Doer. One day I experienced Swami's presence in my room, He asked me to follow Him. All this happened in my mind's eye. He took me to the room of a patient, for whom I had been praying that day. As we stood there, He lovingly said 'she has to ask, herself.' I had prayed to Swami for the healing of this patient's leg. Now I understand that we can be instruments in His hands to inspire the patient to pray to their God, as we also pray for them. If that prayer meets God's grace, then healing is the result. What an eye opener! Thank You, Bhagavan. In this case, the young lady got total relief of the pain in her leg.

Two years ago in July, after a long rest from Whitefield General Hospital, I was allowed to come for an interview in Puttaparthi. Swami asked 'why are you here?' I said 'I have come to ask for permission to go to Holland on leave, Swami.' He replied 'very good, very good. When are you coming back?' I said, 'I want You to tell me when to come back, Swami'. A little later, He said 'December.' I asked Swami 'what about seva, Swami?' He pointed at a photograph of the Super Speciality Hospital, Bangalore and asked 'do you want to work there?' Without thinking, I replied 'no Swami.' He said 'there are Super Speciality Hospital and General Hospital here. When you come back, you choose where you want to do seva.'

On returning to Puttaparthi in December, I was told to ask for service in the Operation Theatre of the General Hospital. It felt like the loving hand of Swami guiding me back to active service. The work as such was not new, but I had a lot to learn again, before I could adjust to the new scene. Living close to God's form on earth is strenuous as well as joyous.

When I am still and take time to look at it, I realise that, all the time, it is Swami, who enacts the drama as the Divine Stage Manager, all my moves, thoughts and utterances. I can pray for help. Most of the time, help is received before knowing, or a knot is undone without my realising it. That is life in His immediate presence. Sometimes I do not know how to handle the imbalance within, even though I seem to function on the outside. I am asked to trust as He is doing it all. I realise, more and more, what a gift God gives us in allowing us to serve under His guidance. It is a practice ground for all the human values and spiritual lessons. I realise that if I want to 'be awake' to it, every minute of the day, every day of the year, day in and day out, he gifts us chances to grow, become aware and learn to become more selfless and understanding. To show my gratitude for all these chances, I must respond to Swami's clarion call and stick to the biggest gift God gives us. He descends to our level so we can love Him through loving our fellow beings and all the creation as such. I pray to Swami that I may never forget this prayer.

'God, wherever I am, whatever I do, I give myself fully to You.'

And His answer: 'Continue seva wherever you are, seek chances to help others. Never lose on opportunity to use your skills and enthusiasm for the alleviation of sorrow, pain and distress. Do not neglect your own sadhana - japam, dhyanam, bhajan. Have faith that Swami is always with you, in you and around you'

What an inspiration! What care! God, thank for Your gentleness and patience with me. I pray 'keep me ever so close and all will be well'.'

-- Ms. Maria Hopp

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