I am not alone - Baba is with Me
by K S Shenoy
I am pleased to share my following glorious experience with innumerable Sai devotees.
It was during November, 1997. My wife and myself went to our daughter's home in the United States. I am a diabetic patient and I also had an attack of severe bronchitis before we left India. The doctors here had prescribed medication to be taken during our stay in the US.
We reached US on schedule and continued to stay with our daughter comfortably. As per our routine, we used to worship our beloved deity Sri Sainath by chanting the usual prayers everyday. We had planned our sojourn for three months. On the thirtieth day after our arrival in US, I suddenly had severe cramps in the chest. I could not bear the pain or breath. I lied down wherever I was. We were alone in the house with the infant kids of our daughter, as our daughter and son-in-law had left for their work. I was alone in the drawing room when I had these cramps. I somehow beckoned my wife who was in the kitchen. She was shocked when she saw my plight and immediately phoned my daughter at the office. It was snowing at the time and there was eighteen inches of snow on the road and approach to our home. Temperature outside was below zero. On hearing about my condition at home one of her senior colleague helped her drive through the snow and they rushed to the house within fifteen minutes.
When my daughter saw my distressed state, she did not waste time pondering. She called the emergency service and explained to them of our predicament. Within ten minutes, the emergency squad arrived at our place fully equipped. There were two doctors too in the squad. They checked my condition, took ECG on the spot and decided that it was a stroke and that I have to be immediately admitted to a hospital having facility to perform a heart surgery. There were two hospitals nearby who could perform the surgery. As it was heavily snowing, most of the roads were blocked. I was physically immobile but I was in senses. I pleaded that "I need not be taken to any hospital and I will be all right soon and that I can get necessary medical aid in India." The emergency squad insisted that I should be taken to the hospital and specialist doctors will decide the future course. They asked for our preference of hospital, and my son-in-law suggested a name known to him, where there was a specialist Indian doctor attached to them. They then put me on the stretcher and we waded through snow on the way to the hospital.
Within 30 minutes we reached the place. On arrival, the staff took me to the emergency cell. I distinctly remember that, lying on the stretcher on way to emergency room, I was continuously chanting and remembering Lord Sainath's name. Silently chanting his name I may have lapsed into an unconscious state. Within an hour I understand that they conducted various tests including catheterization. The tests suggested that there were four blocks in the arteries. A conference was held among various doctors and surgeons and it was decided that an open heart bypass surgery has to be conducted without delay.
Hospital authorities summoned the anesthetist and within two hours of arriving at the hospital the surgery was commenced. I was not aware of anything that was being performed on my physical body. I was gleefully wandering somewhere in the most pleasant gardens and lawns in a serene atmosphere. I was aware that 'I' was not alone and Lord Sainath was with me'.
It nearly took five hours for the surgeon and his assistants, to complete the task of cutting the veins from my calves and thighs and plant them firmly in place in the arteries. The operation was successful. Probably it took another six hours for me to regain my consciousness. My wife, it seems was continuously praying Baba for the success of the surgery and for my speedy recovery. Her prayers were answered. She was there to give me an assuring smile although in tears of joy.
I came to senses all right! But I was trying to find me! I was neither there nor here! It took me some time. May be a minute or two, I am not sure! Suddenly I realized that I was with Baba, and I was walking down from the inside of his heart back to my bed. I was in a state of confusion! I did not for a moment understand why I had to leave Baba and that beautiful garden and walk down to this miserable place. I started looking for him. I could not find! Then after some time, I concluded that he had walked along with me and may have entered my heart! Yes, He is still there! Always there! I am not sure when I will have another opportunity roaming those gardens with Him! Why should I worry? Let Him decide.
One thing that has entered my heart now after the surgery is not the new veins 'but that' I am not alone and Baba is always with me! He loves, provides and protects.
"I am not alone, Baba is with me" is not an exclusive privilege of mine. It is a fact decreed for every devotee. We have to be aware of His presence. He is with us hearing and looking at everything we say and do. He is witnessing our every speech and actions. The moment the awareness of his continuous presence is felt, we get transformed. The thoughts which are the cause of our speech and actions will naturally get oriented to speak and do things which have His approval. Our ego the 'I' will get a knock and a slap. Our speech will get changed to be very courteous and polite. We start appreciating others. We will start saying "Oh! You have done a great job". This is because we also feel the Lord's presence in the person, whom we are addressing. We shall start saying, "I admit I was wrong". I know how difficult it is to admit our inadequacies. But with the awareness of his presence in us it is easy. The 'I' becomes a non-entity. When the 'I' gives room for 'We' the life turns out to be a happy passing phase.
One more thing we normally say "I did this, I said this, I did that, I said that" etc. We should make it a habit to say "Let us do this, let us do that" etc. Let us include Him also in whatever we say or do. I am a non-entity without Him. It is He who does everything and we are only His instruments.
The eight words "I am not alone, Baba is with me" is a mantra that we have to repeat daily and at all times and feel His presence with us!