SWAMI ENTERED MY LIFE LONG AGO WHEN I WAS A MERE FOUR-YEAR-OLD CHILD. My mother's eldest sister and her husband lived in Anantapur, a city less than two hours away from Puttaparthi, where my uncle served as the District Medical Officer. Even in those early days, Swami had built relationships with the medical community, and my aunt and uncle were one of the families that were close to Him. Once, Swami was going to visit them and stay at their home for a few nights, so my aunt and uncle invited our family to visit and meet Swami.
I remember having a fever, so I was lying down on a cot at the end of the hallway that led directly to the front entrance. When Swami entered, He walked straight toward me, pinched my cheek affectionately, and then went on to meet the rest of my family in the living room next to the hallway. I learned later, on that night, my mother had been fretting about my fever, while my dad didn't seem worried. Instead, he said, "look, you're in the District Medical Officer's house; there's nothing to worry about." His remark led to a bit of an argument.
The following day, we all had an opportunity to take photos with Swami. When it was our turn, Swami turned to my parents and asked why they had been arguing all night. My dad was taken aback by this question; he had no idea how Swami could have known about their argument. This experience strengthened his connection with Swami and was the initial catalyst for his spiritual journey.
Growing Up in the Fold
My mother grew up knowing about Swami since her mother was a devotee, but my father had always been an agnostic, never believing in God. However, he was very kind in spirit and constantly sought to help and better the lives of people around him.
In the late 1970s, my father volunteered for the Tamil Nadu Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization. He was part of the volunteer team helping transport materials for constructing the Poornachandra Auditorium in Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami was very involved in this project and often came to the site to watch the work and speak with the workers. While carrying a heavy load of bricks over his head, my father stepped on a thorn that pierced his foot. Right at that moment Swami was passing near my father. Realizing my dad's predicament, Swami bent down, removed the thorn from his foot, relieving his pain. That memorable moment of Swami's compassion and love moved my father and touched his heart so much that despite his lack of belief in religion at that time, he found himself very much drawn to Swami—by the magnificence of His love.
It was at this point that my parents began to devote themselves to Swami fully and became dedicated to doing His work. They visited Prasanthi Nilayam countless times every year, even when there were no comfortable accommodations or amenities, and they took my brother and me along with them. Eventually, my father took on leadership roles in the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization, and my mother began coordinating the Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) program for children in Tamil Nadu. Under her stewardship, countless children learned about Swami and His teachings, and many of their children also participated in the Sai Organization.
I had the immense privilege of getting a front-row seat to my parents' spiritual journey and many private conversations with Swami. I witnessed the valuable personal guidance He gave and the overwhelming love Swami showered upon them. Ultimately His love was the sole reason my parents became His devotees and dedicated their lives to serve in His mission. Watching this transformation was truly amazing, which is a source of inspiration for me even to this day.
Power of Love
I continue to benefit significantly from the wisdom I have drawn from Swami's teachings, the most essential of which is that Swami loves everyone just as they are.
I once heard a story about His unconditional love, which has stuck with me ever since. A Russian group had come to see Swami, and one young child from the group was unruly, misbehaving, and not staying with the group. Everyone in the group was unhappy about the situation, and during an interview, one devotee asked Swami to send the child away from the Ashram. When Swami asked why, the devotee said, "Well, because he's crazy." Swami responded, "If I drive all the crazy people out, the Ashram will be empty." The point of the story is that Swami gives us opportunities not because of our good or bad qualities but because of His infinite love and compassion. He loves us all unconditionally despite our faults.
In my conversations with Swami, He never once has spoken to me about the challenges in my life. Though He knows more about my problems than I do, whenever He talked to me, it has always been about positive things—about love.
I asked Him once, "Swami, how do I control my senses?" With the utmost kindness, Swami said, "You know the answer to that." He would tell me that I do not have to control my senses—I just had to use them the right way. He never judged me. He only showered love upon me, and it was only because of that that I was motivated to do the right things that pleased Him. It was only because of His love that I was inspired to understand the gap between my actions and Swami's expectations of me. I could then work to close that gap, not because He asked me to, not because He demanded it, but because of the love He showered on me.
It is not always easy for me to express love—I still struggle sometimes. I recall one instance when my wife and I were sitting in front of Swami. He looked straight at me and remarked that I get angry sometimes. I remember looking behind me to see if He was talking to someone else, but He said yes, He was talking to me. He then turned to my wife and asked her, "Am I not right?" She agreed. Finally, I told Him I get angry with my kids because they didn't, at times, listen to me. Swami said, "Well, they're not going to listen to you just because you're angry. So, how is that going to improve the situation?" Then He told me that I had to speak with love, which would motivate them rather than speaking with anger.
It is vital that we learn to understand love. Swami's life is a beautiful example of practicing love for love's sake.
Another lesson I have learned is that if you love everyone, it is easier not to judge them. I want to share an incident that occurred when my son was three-year-old. I was sitting quietly reading a book when a hard object hit my head. I was upset for being disturbed and hurt. I looked around, and it turned out that my three-year-old son had playfully thrown a small marble at me. With just one look at him, my anger disappeared, replaced by my intense love for him. When you love someone, it is easier to forgive that person – which is a valuable lesson learned from Swami.
Another important lesson I learned is that it is essential not to look at others’ faults because nobody is perfect. What is the point in looking at someone else's faults when everybody has them? It only makes it harder to love them if we keep finding faults in others, whether a stranger or our brother. In Prema Vahini, Swami emphasized that we should practice this to nurture divine love. I remember how Swami exemplified this so beautifully – as He never looked at my flaws. He always loved me just the same.
Mr. Harish Naidu
About the Author:
Mr. Harish Naidu came into the fold of Swami in 1968 at the age of four. He was greatly influenced by his parents, who were transformed by Swami’s love and dedicated their lives to serving Him. Harish moved to the USA in 1986 and obtained his master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the State University of New York, Buffalo. He has held senior executive positions in technology companies. Harish has served in the SSSIO USA in various roles including, Regional President, Deputy National Council President, and currently serves as the National Council President.
First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 1, Iss. 7