"You are my father"

Sonal Arora, February 2018
Around two years ago, I noticed a strange coincidence. While commuting to work, I would notice cars that had stickers with "Guruji" on them. Or I would see emblems of Lord Shiva. On social media, I could see photographs of Guruji. I got very curious. Finally, one day in office, I saw Guruji's photograph—on the mobile screen of a colleague who had joined recently. I got to know about Him and wanted to really go to Bade Mandir. My husband is naturally skeptical, however, and I couldn't visit as soon as I wanted to.

Two months later, my opportunity came. My husband was out travelling to the US for work and I spoke to my in-laws about the Mandir. They wanted to accompany me and we all went. Since then I haven't looked back. My husband also visited the Mandir next year. We both became devotees even though I was a follower of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi.

On 7th July 2015, Guruji's birthday, while returning from office I saw a bus, filled with balloons, going to Bade Mandir. I was dismayed; I knew there was no chance I could go and I complained to Guruji that He never called me for functions at the Mandir. I mentally spoke to Him, saying that if He was indeed my Sai Baba, I wanted to see Him in a yellow chola—since that is how I like my Sai Baba to look.

At home, I got busy doing chores. At night, a lady devotee who had gone to the Mandir called me up. She had wonderful news. She had been asked to distribute Guruji's swaroop and had kept one for me. Guess what? It was a photograph of Guruji in a yellow chola! I couldn't believe it, but it was true: My Sai Baba is my Guruji! Soon, my 12-year-old daughter too became a devotee of Guruji.

Then I had another wish. I learnt that a devotee, Jyotika Mehta, had written a book titled My Spiritual Journey with Guruji. I tried but could not get my hands on it. But a day after my birthday in April, I received the book. I was thrilled.

Late last year another incident gave impetus to my rising faith. A death in the immediate family had meant that Diwali would not be celebrated. On Diwali day, I was missing doing up the house with diyas and flowers and making the rangoli—I was feeling quite low. That morning I wished I could spend my Diwali with my Guruji. Around 4 in the evening, my husband suddenly wondered if we could go to Bade Mandir. And we did! We reached the Mandir at 6 in the evening and were back at home by 8:15 in the evening for pooja.

Such instances encouraged and deepened my belief

My husband too got an amazing blessing. His promotion was getting delayed. Just after he had done sewa in Bade Mandir for the first time, he got it.

And then Guruji saved him from a certain fatality.

Last year in September, my husband was coming home from work after finishing his late-night shift. It was just after midnight when his car collided with a van. His car was crushed while the van overturned. When I reached the accident site, I saw that my husband was unhurt. I was worried about the van driver, but with Guruji's grace nothing had happened to him, too. It was impossible that both of them could have come out unhurt. Only Guruji could have saved them. I believe that Guruji was sitting with my husband in the car and that's why he escaped from injury and even fatality.

In response to a single complaint of love (about not inviting me to functions at Bade Mandir), Guruji called me to the Mandir not once but thrice—during Shivratri, Mahasamadhi day and Diwali. I feel so blessed. And I have changed a lot. I don't know when and where I left my ego and my anger. I wonder at times if I am the same person who came to Guruji.

Thank you, Guruji, for everything you have given me. Thank you for making me a different human being. You are my father; please keep me and my family in your sharan always.

[Following section added September 2018]

My father gets a new life

At the very fag end of year 2017, on December 30, my father called and complained that he had a stomach infection and fever. It would be a normal viral infection, we thought, and went about celebrating the New Year. My father, though he was not well, managed to spend some time with us. But two days later, when my husband went to see him, he was far more ill: His high fever had not abated and he had lost his appetite for the last few days. He was not even able to stand up on his own. My husband immediately took him to a doctor and got him hospitalized on 3rd Jan, 2018.

The following morning, Papa began to bleed continuously. Doctors took a battery of tests even as they shifted him to the ICU. They told us that something was seriously and severely wrong as Papa's bleeding was not stopping. I could not see Papa suffering, with wires and cannulas going into his body. I am very close to Papa and can't imagine a life without him; I really wanted him to stay in my life. My mother and I prayed, continually chanting these lines, "Nase rog harai sab peera/Japat nirantar Hanumat beera". ("To those who forever chant the name of heroic Hanuman, he grants freedom from disease and suffering.") We were following our aunt's advice whose recourse is to chant this verse from the Hanuman Chalisa (Forty verses in praise of Lord Hanuman).

A week later, Papa was in a critical condition, and I had lost all hope. At that point of time, I somehow managed to give him jal prasad in the ICU. He took a sip and asked me what it was. Though I go to Guruji, Papa didn't. I told him that this was Guruji's prasad and was pleasantly surprised when he asked for more.

Meanwhile, the father of one of our friends, who dabbles in astrology, told us that the stars foretold that Papa's chances of survival were a dim 33%. He advised us to do jaap of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra. One night, sunk in deep foreboding, I took up the mantra. Yet I was sure that Papa would not recover and that I would lose him. I cried that whole night and kept talking to Guruji. I petitioned him in urgent distress: He always wrought miracles for everyone and gave a new life to His devotees, why could He not then do the same for my father?

The following morning, at home, I prepared for the worst and began worrying about how to handle my mother. I then left for the hospital. There I got surprising news: The doctors told me that Papa was recovering! His bleeding had stopped, and he was to be shifted out of the ICU to a room. I could not believe my ears, but I knew it was Guruji who had done it. He alone had listened to me that night, heard my prayer and given my father a new life. Thank you, Guruji.

After his recovery, my uncle (another astrologer) proclaimed that my father's stars had turned favourable. He predicted that my father would be fine. How can the stars change their pattern so suddenly? Only Guruji can do this.

Today my father is back at home, has faith in Guruji and wants to visit Bade Mandir as soon as his health improves.

Thank you, Guruji, for everything you have given me, for a beautiful family and for my father's new life. Jai Guruji!

"Teri rehmato ka dariya sare aam chal raha hai/Mujhe bheek mil rahi hai mera kaam chal raha hai." (I take my alms from the river of your grace that flows through our common ways, and find that all my work is done.)

Sonal Arora, a devotee

February 2018