A few days remained for the Navaratri festival to begin at Prasanthi Nilayam. I was at Madras, having no hopes of witnessing the grand celebrations at Parthi.
One night Bhagawan appeared in my dream. The next night too He appeared in my dream and repeated His order, "Leave for Parthi immediately." I dreamt that I pleaded with Him, "Oh Baba! How to come to You when I am caught in the coils of never ending troubles." Bhagawan replied, "Nonsense! Come immediately." I was worried how I could leave for Parthi when my mother and sister were critically ill, and I not much better than they. The day passed while I was in a dilemma.
On the third night again my Lord appeared in my dream but not as Sai Baba, but as Sai Shiva, for He looked at poor me with angry eyes and lashed and thrashed me verbally for not obeying His divine command, and once again He summoned me to Parthi, without regard to my tearful pleadings.
I woke up in the morning dazed. I was unable to make up my mind. But the thought of Bhagawan again coming in my dream made me tremble. I dared not keep my head on the pillow, fearing I would fall asleep and He might again appear in my dream and give me another sound verbal thrashing. Somehow I decided to leave for Parthi that very night.
That day Madras seemed to have incurred the wrath of Indra for it rained incessantly. With the help of our sympathetic neighbour, my ailing mother, sister and myself boarded the night bus for Anantapur. We were to reach Anantapur at dawn. We spent the night miserably but waiting for the glorious day to dawn. As the bus sped by, tearing through the dark night I pined to see the golden rays of the sun. My childish emotions overpowered me, for I accused the sun of being lazy and a late riser. It was not too long when my angry accusation turned into prayers too. I prayed to the sun to rise fast at least for my sake. But the sun took his own sweet time, and the day dawned.
The bus was nearing Anantapur when it came to a halt with a sudden jolt. There was a bridge which it had to cross. It was heavily flooded. All around was a scene of destruction. The bus took an hour to cross the flooded bridge, with great difficulty. After we had crossed the bridge, to our great delight we found a bus going to Puttaparthi trying to cross the bridge. Our bus conductor advised us three to quickly get down and board the bus leaving for Parthi, without our going to the Anantapur bus stand. We hurriedly brought our luggage down and boarded the Puttaparthi bus. The latter's conductor was very hostile. He rudely said, "There is no place, so get off the bus." When I tried to request him, he took our luggage and threw it out of the bus, and forced us to get down. To our great dismay we found that the Anantapur bus was nowhere in sight and the deserted look all around made me shiver in fright. To my great surprise, as soon as we got down from the bus bound for Parthi, the bus could not move as its engine refused to start. Half of its chassis was in the water and half on dry land. It could neither proceed forward nor go back. It refused to move an inch.
My mother and sister seated themselves on the luggage and were on the verge of collapse. I stood beside the raging river and viewed the angry waters, while mother sat lost in prayer or despair, I do not know. Broken logs of timber rolled and came dashing against the bridge. The corpse of a goat was caught in the swift current of the swirling waters. The dark sky above seemed to be determined on a downpour to drench us, The grim situation cast a gloomy spell on me. I cursed myself for being responsible for the watery grave I had chosen, as I felt our end not far.
Something said within me that the Lord is my host and why should I give myself away to despair and frustration. No sooner had this thought occurred in my mind than I felt the pressure of a hand on my back. I whirled round and saw, "a white long robed yogi with a white beard and matted hair" smiling at me. He had a tender voice and spoke softly. His eyes twinkled and his face shone with splendour. I stood bewitched while he spoke, "Son! You seem to be troubled. Tell me, it may be that I could help you." Hearing him speak such kind words, I was very much delighted. I told him of the soup that we were in. He gave me a reassuring smile and said, "Is that all! O. K. How many persons are you?" I replied, "There are three of us." Then I saw him dig his hand into the side pocket of his robe and take out three pink tickets. The smiling yogi said, "I don't need them, you can take them." Now with tickets in our hands we boarded the bus that still stood there. As I was boarding the bus, I again felt a pat on my back. I looked behind and saw. It was the smiling yogi. He then uttered these mysterious words, "You go to Puttaparthi and `I' shall meet you there." And he hurriedly walked away.
We climbed the bus. The bus conductor gave us a threatening look before he could speak out a word, I showed him the tickets that the yogi gave me, The conductor was shocked and he questioned me, "From where did you get them." I told him about the yogi. He got down from the bus to look for the yogi. The yogi could be found nowhere. He seemed to have melted into the thin air of the deserted region. The conductor climbed into the bus. He looked shaken. He timidly got three seats vacated and offered them to us. As soon as we took our seats, the engine that had refused to start for two hours miraculously started all of a sudden, and the bus moved towards its destination.
The happy passengers shouted with joy and the air was rent with shouts of JAI SAI RAM!