SWAMI HAD CALLED ALL OF US STUDENTS TO HIS RESIDENCE TRAYEE at Brindavan, Whitefield, Bangalore. We sat around the ornate swing where He was seated. The most coveted Trayee Session was about to begin. Swami began the session with a profound question, “Who is Swami?”

Many answers came tumbling out.

“You are our divine mother and father….”

“You are the Sadguru!”

“Swami is the Supreme Brahman.”

“You are the one who has the love of a million mothers.”

Sitting a few rows from His lotus feet, something stirred within me. Raising my hand and my voice, I blurted out, “Swami, You are the conscience, the indweller.”

Swami’s eyes immediately lit up, and He nodded in agreement. He praised me, saying, “Look, this little boy has got the right answer. Swami is your indweller, your conscience.”

I felt a surge of indescribable joy and pride within. I had just joined the 11th grade in Swami’s school at Puttaparthi. Most importantly, I got the answer right when nobody else did, and I also won accolades from Swami Himself!

“He will not be able to sing because he lacks inner
connection with me.”

Swami continued His discourse and, now and then, referred to the concept of conscience, prefacing it with, “As this little boy said….” I continued to be on cloud nine, elated with joy and pride. After about half an hour, He turned to me and asked, “If you truly believe Swami to be your conscience, will you do the things that you are doing?”

From being on cloud nine, I came crashing down to earth!

Graduating From His School to His College

A couple of years later, I was an undergraduate student at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Keen to join the music group, I participated in the MAT (Music Aptitude Test). In the evening, the warden apprised Swami about the students’ performance in MAT. He had index cards of each participating student and their status – selection or rejection. When he came to my card, he told Swami I had been placed in the University Brass Band. Swami immediately said it was good that I wasn’t in the Bhajan group and said, “His parents always encouraged him to sing, but he kept shying away. He cannot sing, and it is good that he is in the band.”

Again, I was smiling and happy because it did not matter what Swami said about my limitations as long as He talked about me! But then came a hard blow. Swami said, “He will not be able to sing because he lacks inner connection with me.”

When I heard that, I felt devastated. Everything Swami had said about me shying away from singing was true. Swami is the embodiment of Truth. This meant that I genuinely lacked an inner connection with Him! I decided then and there that I had to make that inner connection with Him and work to strengthen it. Yet again, my answer to His question from a few years ago was proven to be theoretical knowledge only–I had to connect with my conscience.

Connect With Swami Internally, Not Just in Body and Mind

When I was a sophomore in college, I suffered a ligament tear in my ankle. Hobbling around, I wasn’t even able to go for darshan. That made me very sad and feel low in spirits. That’s why I felt elated when a senior student came running into my room in the hostel one afternoon, saying that Swami was asking for me in the mandir. I thought this was my ‘cancer cancelled’ moment (where Bhagawan has instantly cured cancer by just saying “cancer cancelled”) when Swami would instantly cure me. I was sure He would give me vibhuti and make me good again.

I quickly got ready, took the crutches, and rushed to the mandir on a bike. A couple of my classmates were there to greet me and to help me sit on a chair in the mandir. Again, unconsciously, I was enjoying being the center of attention as I continued to be treated like a VIP. But that feeling evaporated as soon as Swami came near us during darshan. He did not speak to me. Instead, He asked the two students who were assisting me, “How did he break his leg?”

When they explained everything to Him, He shook His head and responded that it wasn’t surprising that I had a fall because I had my eyes on the top of my head!

“Too much ego… He does not see where he is going!”

The fact that He ignored me completely was rubbing salt into my wounds. At the same time, He discussed my condition in detail with Dr. Safaya, the Director of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences. I got the best medical treatment available, no doubt, but the silent treatment by Swami hurt me more than undergoing the medical treatment itself. For the next two months, Swami completely ignored me and didn’t speak to me.

The ligament tear got worse, and I had to undergo surgery. I became very sad and thought Swami didn’t care for me. Swami surely knew that I wasn’t getting the point. A couple of days before my surgery, He came to me and asked, “How are you doing?”

“Swami, I am fine, but it hurts…”

“Does it hurt when you walk? Does it hurt in the mornings more or in the evenings?”

Ah! I was getting His attention but not the point He was making. So, putting on an act as best as I could, I began laying it on thick,

“Swami, it is so difficult even with the crutches… It always pains.”

I was still hoping for a cancer-canceled moment. But then, Swami said, “If that leg hurts so much, just cut it off and throw it in the Chitravati river!”

He playfully slapped my cheek and walked away.

Swami rarely says anything without an inner meaning. As I pondered on His lighthearted remark delivered so profoundly, I realized that I had become so focused on my injury and myself that I had utterly forgotten Swami. I was thinking that He was ignoring me while, in reality, it was I who was ignoring Him. Giving attention to Swami is not about going to the mandir and sitting there alone. It is more about making the inner connection with Him and not focusing on the body! No wonder Swami says, “Don’t listen to the body. Don’t listen to the mind. Listen to your conscience.”

Why it is Essential and Beneficial to Develop the Inner Connection

After I left Prasanthi Nilayam, I attended graduate school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. I lived in the uptown area and drove to the University daily. Once, I was driving back after completing my work for the day. I am typically a defensive driver, and I drive very conservatively. But that day, as the traffic light was yellow and about to turn red, I instinctively began to slow down. Then, I distinctly heard a voice from within telling me, “Go faster! Step on the accelerator.”

So persuasive was the voice that I immediately stepped on the gas and rushed through the intersection. I reached home with a strange feeling.

“Why did I do that? That is not me….”

To clear my unsettling feeling, I decided to go for a run along the beautiful Lake Cajun to burn off the strange sensation and feel better. Afterward, I noticed on my phone that I had received more than 20 missed calls from family and friends! I wondered what was up, and I called my mother first. She said, “Thank God you called! I was so worried! How are you?”

“What happened, Mom? Why were you worried?”

“Don’t you know? The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River near downtown Minneapolis collapsed, taking with it more than 100 vehicles! Many people died, and hundreds have been injured…”

I had been driving on that bridge 20 minutes before the accident! I ran back home and checked the news on the television. The bridge collapsed at 6:05 PM. I crossed it at 6:04 PM! My heart welled up in gratitude to Swami. It was yet another act of Swami’s grace and benevolence that He spoke through my inner voice to save me and show me how potent and powerful it can be. It made me realize that connecting with Him within was not only essential but also supremely beneficial.

It saved my life. It can surely redeem my life, too!

Dr. Ajay Yekkirala  



Dr. Ajay Yekkirala graduated from the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biosciences at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL). He was part of the SSSIHL Brass Band as a percussionist and guitarist and has performed several times in Swami’s divine presence. He holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota, USA, and finished his research fellowship in neurology at Harvard Medical School, USA. Dr. Yekkirala is also an entrepreneur who has founded biotech companies to tackle various diseases. He is the President of the Norwood Sai Center in Massachusetts, USA. He and his wife teach Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) to Group 4 and Group 3 children, respectively.



First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 2, Iss. 10