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By Mrs. Geeta Mohanram
from Washington, DC, USA

This is the transcription of the talk given by Mrs. Geeta Mohanram during a Sai Retreat at Tower Bridge, UK. Mrs. Geeta Ram comes from a family which has been associated with Swami for the last four generations. She is the daughter of Dr. Padmanabhan, an ardent devotee and a familiar figure in 'Brindavan', Swami's ashram in Bangalore. Her great grandfather, Mr. Seshagiri Rao, came to Swami in 1943 and was the temple priest of Prashanthi Nilayam for many years. Having come to Swami at a very tender age, Mrs. Geeta Ram's life is full of wonderful Sai experiences and amazing anecdotes which are both interesting and illuminating. Currently, she lives in Washington, DC.



My salutations at the Lotus Feet of our ever present Swami, and Sai Ram to all of you. Sai Ram.

I see that the theme for this retreat is “All is One’, and I was reflecting about it, in that I have come from India to United States and from there to U.K; and you enter a Sai Regional Retreat and you immediately feel one with everybody in the hall; only because our Beloved Swami binds us all together with His Love!

So, thank you for having me here. It’s late in the evening; so I hope I will be able to bring a little bit of Swami to you today. Someone just read out a beautiful story at the beginning of her talk about the Master and the three people who visited in the form of the woman and the child. Our Master is known to do things like that.

No Need For An Invitation

As she was reading that I was thinking about a strange experience that happened to me in 1970. My mother, for the first time was to visit London, UK as Swami had asked her to come and speak in Mr. Sitaram’s house (who was one of the oldest devotees who started the first Sai Center ’s here in U.K). Swami had asked her to come and visit them in their house, because this was one of the first center’s that was opened outside of India.

My mother had never traveled outside of India. She was coming by herself for the first time and Swami, with all of His love had written a letter to the Sitarams first telling them that He would be sending my mother. He had even written in that letter what she ate and she was a vegetarian; and a very picky vegetarian at that!

And when we went to Puttaparthi just before my mother was leaving - I was a young girl in school - Swami had asked us in for an interview because my mother was leaving. And in that interview, He was telling my mother: “You don’t worry; I have written to Mr. and Mrs. Sitaram, they will be at the airport at Heathrow to pick you up.”

As we were leaving the interview room, He even asked my mother about money - at that time foreign exchange was quite difficult to come by in India - and He even gave my mother 500 pounds to bring with her to UK, if she wanted to do shopping!

But fun aside, in that particular interview, there was a lady in the interview room, and as Swami was speaking to all of us, (there were several people in the interview room) she kept speaking up every time Swami paused, and she would say “Swami you must come to our town. We are doing a lot of seva, service in our town.”

And at that time, you must understand of course, that the Sai Organization was still young - it was still sort of getting a format - and Swami had chosen several people in different areas to lead the organization in their places.

So, every time Swami paused she would say: “Swami, you must come.” The first time she said that Swami ignored her; second time, ignored her; third time, I was beginning to get a little nervous because you know that when Swami is ignoring you twice when you say something you are better off being quiet. I knew that there was a lesson that was coming our way in the form of this poor woman who was going to be the scapegoat of the evening. So the third time, when Swami was still speaking about something, she said it again: “Swami, you must come to our town.” So Swami looked at her and said: “But I have! I have come to your city!” Now this poor woman, she still would not keep quiet and said: “No Swami, You have not come to our city.”

Swami changed the topic, and suddenly looked at her and said: “How is the service going on in your town?” And immediately she was very happy because she was the service coordinator in her city. She said: “Swami, the service is going on so wonderfully well; you know when we started off, there used to be about five or ten families who used to go out and do seva.” Swami had at that time said: “Everyday, when you’re doing seva, put aside a handful rice or flour that you are using for your family; collect it over a period of time, and then pool all the rice. The Sai devotees together, cook a dish and then distribute it to the poor people.” And the idea behind putting aside one handful every day was - to remember the people who didn’t have anything to eat at every meal that you cooked for your family.

So the lady said: “Swami, when we started off there were ten families who were putting aside the rice. Now we have a hundred people and we have about 25 kilos of rice that we get together. And we are feeding a lot of people. Swami, the seva is going wonderfully well!” And this is asking for trouble if you know Swami! Because it is not for us to tell Him how wonderfully well we are doing seva, it is for Him to tell us how well we are doing. Swami said: “Oh! Very happy! Very happy!" "Chaala Santosham!” in Telegu. Now, this lady was beside herself with joy! She was the seva coordinator; she was all ready to go back and tell everybody how wonderful it was.

And then suddenly out of the blue, Swami said: “What kind of rice do you use for cooking?” I immediately nudged my mother because I was sensing that a lesson was coming - and they come in the form of a smile in the beginning! She said: “Swami, very good rice! We use very good rice!” Swami said: “No, I am not asking about the other people, I am asking about you! What kind of rice do you keep aside for the seva activity?” She said: “Good rice.” Swami said: “Oh really! Good rice?” She said: “Yes Swami, very good rice!” and in the middle, she kept saying: “But Swami, you must come to our city to see the seva!”

Swami said: “Very good! Very good! Ah! I know, five rupees rice for the family, two rupees rice for the Narayana seva, for the service, for the poor feeding.” So the lady says: “No, no Swami!” Swami said: “Yes, Yes! You don’t believe me? Five rupees rice for your house, two rupees rice for the poor.” Obviously the five rupees rice the quality is better, the two rupees rice is not properly cleaned; not a good quality. She said: “No Swami, good rice Swami.”

And Swami’s whole smiling face changed! To this day even as I narrate this incident to you, I can go back in time to 1970 and see His face changed! He said: “You don’t believe me? Wait! I will show you. Did you not give the beggar who came to your house who said: ‘Mother give me rice?’ a whole sack full of rice that you had bundled in a red cloth that you had kept aside for Narayana seva? Did you not give it to that beggar two years ago? You don’t believe me? Wait!” And He walks into the inner room, to His bedroom and comes out holding the red sack which was given to the beggar two years back filled with the two rupees rice! “Did you not give this to Me? I have been to your city!”

You can imagine the silence, the utter silence in that room and the embarrassment of that lady! She was embarrassed. She had tears in her eyes. But believe me, the ten people in that interview room that day would never dare to go out and ever do seva in a way that would not please Swami! Because it was such a moving experience. Swami does come, as the Master did in any Form at any time!

This is the wonderful Swami I have seen since I was a small child. He has been my Mother, He has been my Father, He has been my Teacher, a very good Friend, and He has been a Wonderful, Loving Master too.

To give you a little bit about the background that we were talking about earlier. My grandfather came to Swami in 1943. He came in a very strange way - he didn’t want to come - they dragged him along. My aunts had seen Swami 6 months before that in the year 1942, and they had seen a young Swami who was just sixteen years old at that time. They had been so moved by His singing, and His message, that they had gone back home and Swami had told them to come back for the Dussehra, Navaratri celebration - the ten day celebration that happens in the month of October. So they wanted my grandfather to take them along to Puttaparthi because in those days, the journey to Puttaparthi was so difficult!

‘Highlights’ Of The Journey To Puttaparthi…Those Days

I am sure you have all read in books about the horrendous journey to Puttaparthi. It is only a hundred miles from Bangalore where my family lives - all the members of my family live in Bangalore. It was only a hundred miles, but it would take us more than a day and a half to get to Puttaparthi! We would leave Bangalore around two o’clock in the afternoon, and reach a town - a small village in Andhra Pradesh - called Pennukonda around two o’clock in the night. And the train would stop there and we would get out. And at two o’clock in the night, there was nothing there - just a granite block which was the station - and we would just sit on that stone.

I remember all of my childhood, having spent many, many hours in this place in Penukonda. We just took out our sheets from our little bags, and we just spread it on the stone and just laid down and dozed off till about six in the morning, and around six o’clock or so, some of the elders would run around and try to get some milk from the near by shop keepers to give milk to all the children in the group.

And nobody would sell milk to us because we were going to Puttaparthi and nobody in Penukonda believed in Swami (who was 16 -17 yrs at that time). Nobody had Faith in Him. And they said here’s a crazy boy who says He is God and you’re all coming from the city and making it worse! So they would actually stone these people and say: “Go back in the next train, don’t go!” And these people (devotees) would just sit there saying: “Sai Ram, Sai Ram.”

Once in a while some poor villager will feel sorry for the children and sell a little bit of milk. And the children would be given milk, and around 7 o’ clock in the morning, we would all be put into a little cart and taken to another place called Bukkapatnam - that was the next village - and you got out there. And then, once you got out there, there were two choices; either you could walk to the River Chitravathi and wade through the water to cross the river and get to Puttaparthi- the old Mandir) - or you could get into a bullock cart.

And the bullock cart guy would take us across the river, if he felt like it. Sometimes he would take you up to the river and say “I am not going anywhere, everybody get off!” because the river would be in spate; it’s not the same Chitravathi as you see now; there would actually be water there! Especially in the month of October, there would be a lot of rain, the river would be flowing quite rapidly and then you had to get off!

Puttaparthi in 1940s - 50s

Sometimes, he would say: “I’ll take you across but only the children and the luggage.” So all the adults had to wade through the river and the poor ladies would all be screaming and yelling trying to cross the river wearing saris, and they would all be scared as nobody knew swimming!

And the children, I cannot believe our elders did this to us! Now that I think back, they would put us in this bullock cart - with the luggage - put all of us in it! I remember my cousins and all of us, we would all sit in the bullock cart and the bullocks would be made to go into the river. And you know what happens when the bullocks go into the river, they start swimming! So the cart floated behind these bullocks; and this hill that we had to come down - there would be a whole bunch of people standing on the hill - and the first victim group would be the bullock carts.

Everybody would be screaming: “Sai Ram! Sai Ram!” And these guys with the bullock carts would be making some really strange noises! And we would say: “Why are you scaring us with these screaming?” They would say: “We are not scaring you; we are trying to scare the bullocks into swimming!” So they would scream and yell and these bullocks would swim faster and faster, and we would be in the cart with the entire luggage, going up and down in the water.

One load got off, he would come back; and then the second group of people, so you can imagine the heart attack the second group was having after having watched the first group from the hill! We would all be dumped in again!

In the meantime, on the way back these guys in the bullock cart would eat all the food! There was nothing available in Puttaparthi! Those of you, who have gone to Puttaparthi now, believe me; you are all very, very lucky! There’s the Italian restaurant, there’s the Pizza Hut, there’s everything! When we went to Puttaparthi, there was nothing there! There was not even a store! If you forgot one thing to bring from Bangalore, you had to go back on the bullock cart, back to Bukapatanam to buy it. So believe me, we packed everything quite well.

So, this would be our journey. We would have left the previous day, at two o’clock in the afternoon, and this is the following morning at 11 or 12 o’clock when you’re going through the river, going on the bullock cart, and arriving there in Prashanti Nilayam soaked to your skin!

But on the other side of the bank was our Beloved Lord, waiting to help us out of the bullock carts! “Come on! You must be really tired! All the ladies are wet. Come in!”

And there were no rooms. No Prashanti Nilayam, nothing! They had to go to the old mandir; there would be just three rooms there; Swami’s room, my grandfather’s room and one extra room. So we all went into that room to change. By the time we came out, the food was ready! Swami would have had the village ladies cook the food, and He would make sure that all the children were fed, all the adults were fed. And then this is about three o'clock in the afternoon; He would say: “Ah!! Now that everybody’s hunger has been taken care of, sit down and tell me what happened in Bangalore ? How did you all get going? How long are you going to stay?”

Grandfather and the Sixteen-Year-Old Sai

So this was our trip to Puttaparthi. And on one of these trips, my grandfather (I haven’t forgotten that I had started the story with my grandfather) was asked to go with the ladies; because they couldn’t go by themselves without a male escort on these journeys that were so difficult. And he was an orthodox Brahmin gentleman in those days when things like that mattered. He said; “I am not coming to see some sixteen year old! He is not even a Brahmin! He has never gone to school! He doesn’t know Sanskrit! I am not coming!” So the ladies pestered him, they said: “No, you don’t have to come. You just escort us all the way to Puttaparthi because we want to see Him again. He has asked us to come.”

In that village of Puttaparthi, there was a relative of ours who lived there, who was a priest of the temple, so he said: “Alright! I will accompany you all but I am not coming to see this young boy! Do you think I am crazy to come and see a sixteen year old, uneducated, non-Brahmin, illiterate person and believe that He is some kind of important person? You people are all crazy!

I am not coming to see Him. I believe in my Lord Shiva that I worship everyday. I will drop you off all there and go to my relative's house and spend my time there and that’s about it!” So they finally convinced him.

They were happy to have a gentleman to go with them. And they did this whole trip of the bullock cart, and the train, and the bus, and being stoned in Pennakonda and everything else! He was scolding them as the time went by - as he saw what the journey was like - and finally, they arrived in the old mandir. If any of you have been to Puttaparthi and have not been to the old mandir, please do so, it has changed a lot now but I think the stone where Swami used to sit is still there.

They arrived there around five-thirty in the evening, and Swami in those days, used to sit on that stone and there was no bhajans as we have it; no devotional singing the way we do it these days. They used to just sing long songs one after the other, one person would sing a song and a second person would sing a second song, and Swami would sing the third one, but Swami would join in the bhajan too!

At that time in the evening while the bhajan was going on, these four people - my grandfather, and my two aunts – arrived, and as they entered the compound of the old Pattam Mandaram, the old mandir; there was Swami, sitting on the rock. And here comes the gentleman who is supposed to be helping these two ladies - this is my grandfather, Sheshagiri Rao. He takes one look at Swami that he had vowed not to - because he was going to go away - he takes one look at Him; two seconds, and bang! He has fainted on the floor.

So you can imagine these two aunts! He was supposed to be protecting them and here he is on the floor in a dead faint! Swami gets up from the middle of the bhajan and says: “Don’t worry, don’t worry!” He gets up, and helps them carry this 58 year old man into Swami’s room and puts him on His bed. Swami says “Don’t worry; he is going to be like this for two days. You people go and attend the bhajan.”

So these poor ladies, this is the second time they’re seeing Swami; they have a father who has fainted away, and they are sitting and trying to sing bhajans! Talk about concentration! And there is Swami, happily sitting on the rock continuing with the bhajan. As the bhajans are done, they say: “What has happened to our father?” Swami said: “Don’t worry, he’ll tell you when he wakes up. But he is alright, I’ll look after him.”

So, for one and a half days, Swami looks after this old man - 58 years old, puts water in his mouth every two hours, materializes vibhuti, puts it on his head every two hours. This goes on for two days and these poor women, they don’t know if he is going to recover or not.

Two days later he gets up and he is a completely changed man! He said: “You ladies, you two daughters of mine, you can go back to Bangalore, but I am not coming back.” They said: “You said you were not going to come here! What do you mean you are not coming back with us?” He says: “No, when I walked in into that compound, and I saw the young boy sitting on the rock, in His face, I had the vision of Lord Shiva. In His head, I saw the moon, and on His forehead, I saw the third eye! This is the Lord Shiva that I have been worshipping for the past fifty years. And now that I have seen Him, why would I leave Him? I am not coming back.”

So he resigned his job from Puttaparthi and he never came back. He would visit Bangalore; he would visit us with Swami - when Swami came to Bangalore - and he lived there till 1965, until he passed away.

We are all trying to get closer, and nearer, and dearer to Swami. But it is a lot of work. It is a wonderful thing to hear all these stories, but then it is not just listening to the stories; fortunately or unfortunately, we have to practice what He teaches us. From that place where my grandfather said: “He is not even a Brahmin.” Where “I” am more important than somebody else, had to change into “We”, and then it had to change into “Us”. We had to grow from a narrow “I”, my family to our family, relatives, and friends and then all the Sai devotees included. It has taken a long time to grow.

So he stayed there and because of him, my father came into Swami’s fold at the young age of 21; and I was very, very fortunate therefore to be born into this family. So it wasn’t too difficult really. In fact, I admire all of you, who have come later to Swami; because it is more difficult when you are a grown up. When you are an adult, when the world has already entered your system; to come and accept and see and believe; it’s much more difficult. And especially for those who have come from a different culture; it’s even more difficult and I really recognize that and I didn’t really realize that until Swami asked me in 1988 to go away to U.S.A.

'Pack Your Bags'

My husband and I were in Bangalore - my husband was taking care of the Sai Center there, I was a Bal Vikas teacher there, my children were born there. We were both very involved in the Sai activities in Bangalore and in Swami’s physical presence all the time and we had no desire to leave Him and go so far away. And then suddenly out of the blue one day, He told us: “Pack your bags, time to go!” And we didn’t want to go! We cried, I threw a tantrum - I have been a bad problematic child for Him; but He has been very kind to me like mothers are usually for difficult children - and I didn’t want to go. He said: “No, you have to go!”

He gave me a very beautiful talk that day when I had to leave. He said: “You know, you have had so many experiences here near Me, do you think that was for free?” Nothing is free in this world unfortunately. He said: “You have to go; and when you go - you’ve seen only the little Swami, the five foot three inch Swami - but when you leave me and go away to the United States, you will see a Cosmic Swami!”

And I really have! Only because I have come to all these retreats and I have seen all these Sai devotees and I ask them: “How did you hear about Swami?” And they tell me all these wonderful stories and I say: “My goodness! There was I in Bangalore, running to him with my littlest problems; and here people come to Him without seeing Him, without having ever spoken to Him, without having ever had a single interview! How does He do this? It’s just that His Love radiates to each one of us when it is our time to come to Him.

So, I came to United States and over the years, I have really understood what He meant when He said: “You’ve just seen a little Swami here, and you go and you will see a Cosmic Swami there!”

God And Dog

And as the pervious speaker was talking about the dog, I was reminded of another incident. There’s a beautiful letter that Swami has written to my cousin who lived in the town of Mysore, which is about eighty miles from Bangalore.

At that time, the mother had gone to Puttaparthi for one of the functions and left all the children by themselves. The oldest one being sixteen or seventeen and the little children were younger. And they had gone there telling them they will be back in two days. They had gone away and the children were there alone. And when the mother went to Puttaparthi, Swami asked her to stay on for the birthday celebration which was almost a month away! So the mother said: “Swami, I have left all the children and come away, I cannot stay for one month in Puttaparthi!”

Swami said: “Why are you worried about them? I am there with them.” She said: “No Swami, the children are so young; they will be worried about me and if I am not there, they won’t be able to manage going to the school - the oldest one is going to college.” Swami said: “Don’t worry, I will write a letter to them.” And Swami wrote a beautiful letter to my cousin - which he still has!

He wrote: “Are you really worried that your physical mother is away from you when your Cosmic Mother; the Mother who has given birth to this whole Universe is with you?” That is the question He asks: “Are you worried that I am not there with you? I am always there with you!”

And He quotes a number of incidents in the letter of their daily routine! He says: “Haven’t you all done this yesterday? Didn’t you all do this day before yesterday? Didn’t you pour extra oil into the lamp while lighting it in the pooja room day before yesterday?” He writes all these incidents in the letter and then He says at the end: “But if you’re still worried, don’t worry, the dog that you have in your house in the morning he is D-O-G, DOG; and in the night he is G-O-D, GOD! He will look after you!”

Lots of incidences today that Swami has taken me back in time. So this is the wonderful Swami that I have experienced throughout my childhood where He has assured and re-assured us that He is always there with us and I am sure that He’ll have plenty to say to me the next time I see Him, that I walked in 15 minutes late for the bhajan - the bhajan had already started when I came - I am sorry Swami that I came in late!

High Drama At High Tea

I remember General Cariappa who was the First General of the Indian Army after we gained independence. Swami used to be very fond of General Cariappa. He was a very tall man - tall of course for us Indians - he was about 6’ 3” or 6’ 4”! And he would look down at Swami whenever Swami spoke to him, and Swami would always have to look up. So being a very well mannered person General Cariappa would kneel down and come down to Swami’s height, so that Swami wouldn’t have to look up at him!

One day, Swami was coming to my parents’ house for dinner and General Cariappa said: “Swami, You must come to high tea to our house on the way to Dr. Padnamban’s house.” Dr. Padmanaban is my father. So Swami said: “Surely! I will come. What time is high tea?” So General Cariappa, in all our presence said: “Swami, exactly at five o clock, not one minute before, not one minute after.” So Swami said: “Oh! Okay!”

General Cariappa

My father, who used to drive Swami around at that time, was deputed to take Swami to General Cariappa’s house and from General Cariappa’s house he was to take Swami to our house for dinner. And my father is terrible at finding any place. You take him to the nearest place which is two minutes away and he will still manage to get lost! So my father was having a complete nervous breakdown at the thought of having to drive Swami from Brindavan to General Cariappa’s house and then, to our house. Brindavan to our house was not a problem; he knew the way because he has done that a million times, but he was really worried to take the deviation to General Cariappa’s house. So he said: “I am going to do a trial run on the previous day; I will go to Brindavan and from Brindavan to General Cariappa’s house and then to our house; so I know the way correctly.”

In the meantime, Swami told my father: “Make sure you are here on time because we have to be at high tea - not one minute before, not one minute after five o’clock.” My father was even more petrified!

So I was the lucky eight year old, and I always went wherever Swami went; my father used to drive - when my brother was a little bit older he was sixteen or seventeen, my brother used to drive Swami’s car - but I always tagged along. I was lucky to go in that car wherever Swami went till I was about 13-14 years old. Swami told me in Brindavan too that “Make sure you are ready and you’re in the car and not making anybody wait.”

So the previous evening my father and I go to Brindavan, we drive to Carriappa’s house, and drive back and everything is absolutely timed so that we are not late. The following day, we arrive in Brindavan. Swami gets into the car and asks him: “Do you know the way Padmanaban?”- Because Swami knows my father - “Yes Swami, I have the directions, we have done a trial run yesterday, and I know the way.”

“Very good!” He says and gets into the car. My father starts off from Bangalore and drives and he knows the road so well; he is there ten minutes early! So Swami of course, who never wears a watch, says: “Padmanab, you have come ten minutes early! Remember, he said not a minute before or after?’ Then He says: “Go around the block a couple of times so that we are there exactly at five.”

Oh! You should have seen my father’s face! He went around the block - but he didn’t know how to come back! Because that was not a part of the trial round! So he goes around and of course the ego doesn’t let you say: “Swami I am lost!” How do you say that to Swami? Father looks at me and says: “Did you make sure that you looked at all the cross-roads?" And you know in Bangalore at that time there were no street signs, no road names, nothing. And I am like nine years old!

He says: “Did you look at all the street names? Where did I turn?” And he is asking me all this in whispers - because Swami is sitting in the back seat - And I don’t know where he went!

Swami bends down and says: “Don’t worry, I know the way.” So Swami very sweetly directs my father and we come back exactly one minute before. And at five o’clock we are at the door-step of General Carriapa’s house.

And we walk in and General Cariappa, who is very well mannered, says: “Come in Swami!” And then Swami turns and looks at me - and I was a little girl - and He whispers: “You are not allowed at the tea-table; just sit in the veranda”. Because I was gate crashing you see, only Swami and my father are invited and I was part of this whole car routine. “You sit in the veranda; I’ll make sure they will send you a biscuit.”

So here I am, a little girl sitting in the veranda, eating my biscuit with Swami sitting inside for about half an hour; and then General Cariappa comes out and we all get into the car. And I was thinking, as I walked in: “Swami, what would you say I am walking in the third bhajan when the bhajan has started!

That is Swami, who is punctual! He is here. If you told Him you are starting at eight thirty, believe me, exactly at eight thirty He would have sat on that chair and it is ten minutes to ten and I dare not exceed my time again. I didn’t come prepared for these talks and I will tell you a little story about that then we will stop.

Speak Or Retreat

In 1996, out of the blue, the U.S Retreat in my region asked me to speak because the vice-president of the Region was a member from our center in South Defesta; Washington D.C. He said: “Geeta, you keep telling us all these stories whenever we come to your house for dinner, why don’t you speak at the Retreat, and share all your stories with our friends?’ I said: “No, I don’t know if Swami would approve or not and I don’t have His permission to speak.” He said: “No! How can you say that? This is Swami’s work, you should do it!” I said: “Swami’s work or not, I am not sure if He would want me to talk about my interactions with Him!”

But he kept on saying: “No, you have to speak, you have to speak!” And I was very nervous! I have spoken at EHV training meets and it’s very easy because they give you a topic and say: “You speak on this topic.” And you prepare and you read from the Sathya Sai Speaks; I don’t know but I am sure all of you in the U.K are very well versed in reading the Sathya Sai Speaks. But in my center, I can tell you in Washington; the only books that are absolutely new for the past ten years are the Sathya Sai Speaks. The pages are so beautiful and the books are so well maintained!

But when I was given a topic, I would refer and the best thing that has come out in the past few years is the index and when you want to talk about non-violence; you look for non-violence in the Sathya Sai Speaks number 7, page number 42. And you read up that part of Swami’s discourse and prepare it. Those talks are easy. And I have done that many times!

But I had never spoken about my personal experiences. Because, when you speak about Swami in that personal fashion, you have to carry a great responsibility on your shoulders. So I said I am not going to do it. He said: “No, you have to do it!” I said: “Okay, I will see, Swami is in Bangalore, I will see if my father will ask Him.” My father has spent 60 years serving Swami, and his one rule in the past has been: “I never ask Swami anything personal for myself or my family!” That has been his rule.

I didn’t know how to tell my father: “Can you ask Swami if I can speak at the retreat?” I kept thinking how can I ask my father to ask Swami because he is with Him all the time; and I came up with a loop-hole. We all like loop-holes right? So I thought: “It’s not really a personal matter, it is a Sathya Sai Organization matter. They are asking me to speak at the retreat. Ah! That’s good.” So I called him on a Thursday afternoon; I was going to say can you please ask Swami on my behalf, because they are pestering me.

As soon as I call my father, he picks up the phone. He had just come home from Brindavan having spent all day with Swami. He said: “Oh I am so glad you called. I have something to tell you. I said: “Forget what you have to tell me. I have something important to tell you.” He said: “No, no, this is something that Swami said.” I said: “Oh! What did Swami say?” So he said: “In the afternoon Swami took me for a drive in the car and He asked: ‘How is Geeta?’ I said: ‘She is fine.’ He said: ‘Tell her to go and speak if anyone asks her.’

My father didn’t know what Swami meant. “What Swami?” He said: “Tell her it’s okay to do Swami’s work, what is the confusion to do Swami’s work. There should be no confusion in doing Swami’s work.”

My father is a very strict man. He said: “Have you not been doing Swami’s work?” I said: “I have been doing everything at the center! Okay, here’s what they have been asking me to do: they have been asking me to speak at the Retreat. I want you to ask Swami is it okay to speak at the Retreat.” My father said: “You want me to ask Swami for you? No!”

I told him: “Please can you ask because it’s an organizational thing?” And I told him about my loophole strategy and it still didn’t work. He said: “Look, Swami already said there should be no confusion to do Swami’s work. So go and do it if they have asked you to do it!” I said: “But, you’re not getting it! Tell Swami that at the Retreat really important people like Dr. Hislop and Dr. Goldstein have spoken there. I can’t go and speak! There will be a thousand people who are going to be at the Retreat! At our Retreats in the mid Atlantic region 900 to 1000 people attend the Retreat! I cannot speak at this Retreat. It’s a huge crowd and all these important people have spoken there. Will you explain to Swami that this Retreat is big?”

My father said: “I am not going to go and tell Swami: Swami, the Retreat is big and You don’t understand it.'” I said: “Well, can you do something?” My father said: “I am not going to do anything, you call me again over the weekend, and if Swami wants to say anything, by that time He would have!”

I wait for two or three days and in the meantime Uncle Singh has been calling me everyday: “Have you decided?” I said: “No! No! No!” Finally I call on Saturday night and my father said: “Swami said for you to go and speak.” I asked: “But, what did He say?” He said: “He took me for a drive again and asked: “What? Is your daughter still confused? What’s the confusion now?”

I am always confused, Swami knows that. My father told Swami: “She is very nervous because there’s going to be a thousand people there and all the important people have spoken.” Swami said: “Ask her to go and speak.” So, I did that - in ’96 for the first time. Then, when I go to India in ‘97; He asked: “Did you speak at the Retreat?” I said: “Yes Swami. I spoke at the Retreat. It’s over right? I don’t have to speak again?”

Swami looked at me and said: “Oh! Is it you that is speaking?” I said: “Swami I don’t want to speak again”. He said: “You think you are the one that is speaking? What are you afraid of? You are just the tape recorder. When I turn you on; speak; when I shut you off; quiet!”

So that is how I started to speak. And it’s time to be quiet now.

Sai Ram!

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