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Shruthi Desai's Experiences with the Miracle School
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In the Spring of 1997 my life had taken a disappointing turn. Inspite of my high G.P.A and impressive test scores, every law school I had applied to had rejected my application. I was dejected and depressed, and my dreams and hopes were shattered. Although I agreed to my parents' suggestion that I should come home, relax for a year and use the opportunity to re-think my future, I did so reluctantly as I was agitated at the thought of wasting a whole year in Zambia. I did not know that going home would be my first step towards encountering God.

My parents had been devotees of Sathya Sai Baba ever since I had started college so I had heard of him, read about his miracles and seen his pictures slowly begin to adorn every wall in our house. I look back now and wonder why none of this made an impact on me, why nothing touched my heart. Devotees have told me that one only moves towards Swami when it is one's time. I have since recognized all the times when his love and blessings were so clearly present in my life and I unfortunately shrugged them off as luck and coincidence.

My first few days back at home were filled with restlessness and discontent. I would stay up watching old reruns and lie in bed until noon. Then one evening Mr. Kanu, the chairman of the Ndola Sai School, dropped by and invited me to spend some time at the school. I had read the newspaper accounts of the "miracle school", had heard my parents talk of the tremendous faith and love that had gone into establishing the school and my curiosity was tweaked. I am so thankful now that Swami invited me into His school. I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of peace that surrounded me when I first walked through the gates of the school - I knew that I had come to a sacred place. I have never been to Prashanti Nilayam, but have heard from those who have made the pilgrimage there that they have had a similar experience.

The school is truly a product of service and love and is so different from other educational institutions I had been exposed to. The purpose of education at the school was not to amass wealth and a string of letters behind one's name but to develop character, to attain knowledge and use it for the benefit and service of others. This vision made sense to me and gave my life a new purpose. Swami's teachings on education and the development of youth covered the hallways I walked through everyday and soon I found I had committed them to memory. His words made so much sense and answered so many of the questions surrounding my life that I was forced to probe into and question my own education. Had I emerged from 16 years of study as a woman who embodied the five human values or was I just someone with a decorative diploma? The students, who were all much younger than me, had more confidence and faith than I ever had. They approached learning in a different manner and embraced their studies with dedication and commitment. I started probing more and more into Swami's teachings and opened my heart to him. Thus my personal transformation begun.

Being at the school every morning meant that wonderful people with personal experiences and amazing insights continually surrounded me. Going home every evening gave me the chance to hear how Swami had captured my parent's hearts. Every conversation I had would provide answers to questions I hadn't even voiced out loud. Every interaction would give me the guidance I was previously lacking. It was almost as though I was part of an intensive and narrowly tailored summer showers course! I began to eagerly read the books that stuffed my parent's bookshelves, old copies of Sanathana Sarathi replaced Glamour on my bedside table, prayer once again became part of my daily routine. I will never forget the day when I closed my eyes to pray and saw the loving and beautiful face of Swami looking back at me. It was that night that I acknowledged Swami as the divine parent, the powerful presence and the loving God that had always been a part of my life and was now in my heart.

With hindsight I see how carefully Swami was preparing me by exposing me to his teachings, to this words and to the importance of integrating the five human values in our everyday life. One day I came to school as usual, and discovered that I would be teaching the fifth grade class! What a blessing I thought, what an opportunity to serve the Lord. I was very excited . . . until the awesome responsibility of teaching at Baba's school actually began to dawn on me. The stakes were so high. The expectations were great and the thought of failure made my stomach churn. Would I be a good example, would I be a good teacher, would I be able to teach English and also implement EHV in the classroom? I had so many doubts and fears about my abilities. However I was quickly reminded by the wonderful role models that Swami had surrounded me with that God was in control and that I had no reason to fear when his presence was clearly all around me. The first day I was to begin teaching, the calendar in the principal's office caught my eye. Under Baba's smiling face were the following words, ""Take refuge in the almighty God who resides in your heart... Feel that you are in His hands and therefore always safe."

I took the message as my personal mantra as I stepped into the classroom. For the first time in my life, I completely surrendered to God and dedicated all my work to him. I would pray with my students before each class and thank him silently at the end. Through His grace I was able to experience the joy that comes from teaching. I reminded myself everyday that I too was a student and although the boys looked up to me as a teacher I was simultaneously learning from them. Teaching was challenging yet the fulfillment and satisfaction that came from serving God was infinite. I began to see every experience, however big or small, as an opportunity to grow in love and in faith. I began to see miracles in all the little things that I had never paid attention to before.

As I experienced this wonderful transformation, fears and worries about my future began to dissipate. I knew that God had a wonderful plan for me that would unfold. Not only had Swami given me the opportunity to serve him, he had also blessed me with many qualities that I did not have before: trust, patience, self-confidence and compassion. I truly felt as though I had emerged from a cocoon and became a better woman. In the spring of that year I received a letter from a prestigious law school that I had forgotten I had even applied to. Not only did the envelope contain an acceptance letter but also a scholarship came along with it. This miracle overwhelmed me. Swami has always said, "If you take one step towards me, I will take a hundred towards you." I feel as though I gave so little of my time and he bestowed nothing but love and attention on me since the first day I walked into the school. He gave my life a renewed purpose, brought me closer to my family and gave me the golden opportunity to serve him. The year that I had thought would be wasted, he made into the most important year of my life.