by Karen Flagg
The first Sai Center meeting I ever attended was at the Mt. Shasta center in 1996. I was given a tiny red book full of beautiful quotes from Swami. At the very center of this little book, was a color photograph of Baba’s lotus feet. I was completely enamored of this picture, and used to view it quite frequently. One day, I just happened to open the book to the photograph, and immediately slipped into total bliss upon viewing Baba’s holy feet.
It was one year later, in January of ’97 that my husband and I went to see Swami for the first time. One day during darshan, after Swami took my letter, I was able to quickly take padnamaskar before He moved on. I remember so vividly the first (and only time) I touched His feet. I giggled with glee like a child. I thought I would burst with happiness. I was ecstatically happy, and felt as if I could fly–lighter than air! My feet hardly touched the ground as I bounced back to my room at the ashram, dedicating each and every step to Swami, and feeling as though it was God who was walking back to my room. I knew that when I touched His feet, he took all of the guilt and sadness from my being, and maybe even all of my karma to. I got to feel what it feels like to be ME! Pure bliss and joy–light as a feather!
During that same trip, at an earlier darshan, I held out some vibhuti packets for Baba to bless. As He passed, He blessed me thrice saying "wait, wait, wait." He meant WEIGHT, of course–grief, sadness, guilt–you name it, I was carrying it! And so it was no surprise that the heaviness returned soon after I took that blissful padnamaskar. I was not ready to be free of all the weight just yet.
Each and every time I have gone to see Baba, He has taken some of the guilt that has prevented me from receiving. I would notice that it was always so much easier to create my highest good after seeing Him and spending time with Him. Things always just seemed to ‘flow’ when we returned to the US.
We had a wonderful visit during Swami’s 85th Birthday celebration at Puttaparthi. At that time my husband and I casually mentioned to each other, that we would love to go for Baba’s Birthday every year from then on. Not long after that, the following April, Swami left His mortal coil.
After Baba left His body, we thought that our annual trips to Puttaparthi had finished. I sadly packed away my saris, my husband’s whites, and all of our travel necessities. Even though the e-mails received from residents of Parthi were affirming that the energy was great and that devotees should continue to visit, we could not see any reason to make the trip. We had no plans to visit Parthi again.
Then it happened. Swami started pulling those strings, the same as He used to do when it was time for a visit to see Him. One Thursday in October 2011 after bhajans at home, I knelt to touch Swami’s feet at the end of our service and heard myself say, “Swami, please bless us so we can come to see you soon.” I looked at my husband and told him that I did not know where that came from, as I had not been thinking about visiting Puttaparthi nor had he.
After that, the usual pre-India trip flow of synchronicities began–such as finding a ‘special reduced airline fares’ announcement in my e-mailbox. Swami even made it easy to determine how long to visit this time, as the ‘special fare’ was good only for one month. It would allow us to arrive in Parthi two weeks before Birthday, and stay two more weeks after the celebration.
Our trip to Prashanti Nilayam was amazing. The first few darshans were different indeed, and provoked a tear or two, especially when a recording of Swami singing was played at the end of bhajans. However, one soon gets into the swing of the new routine, and all seems to go on as usual.
We had many wonderful experiences of seeing Swami’s energy alive and well, sitting on His throne, interacting with the students, even dancing as Krishna on top of His Mahasamadhi, all seen with the blessings of an open third eye.
And as usual, Swami is still taking our 'stuff'. I visited His Mahasamadhi two times every day for one month. I experienced total happiness and bliss each time I connected to Him through it, sometimes placing my head on it, and sometimes by just walking by! But the best of all was when I gave a rose to Swami. The happiness that rose up in me was so strong, that I felt like bursting out laughing. And my husband had the exact same experience!
SWAMI is the God of Happiness–Sai Rama, and He is trying His best to help us to find that happiness within. He has said, “The secret of Happiness lies within you, not outside.” Sadness, sorrow and guilt are the opposite of happiness. These feelings keep us from receiving the God within us. Happiness is the sheer bliss (ananda) of knowing that we exist–that we are loveable just the way we are. When we touch Baba’s feet even today, He lets us experience that feeling of being totally loved–totally loveable–and the bliss of being our True Self.
Touching the Mahasamadhi of Baba is the same as touching His feet! I can undoubtedly attest to that. I remember reading this before our trip, and doubting the person who said it, only to have my doubts removed by Baba on this trip. But as Baba has always said, do not just believe, but come, see and experience for yourself.
Baba has not gone anywhere!