Through the affectionate care and counsel of my mother of revered memory, the seeds of spiritual aspiration were planted in my heart and fostered with vigilant attention. She initiated me in meaningful religious practices and guided me along the paths of truth, equanimity and right conduct. Since a few years, I was fortunate to secure the friendship and constant company of a few good men who introduced me to the treasure chest of Sai literature. Studying those books and perusing the `Sanathana Sarathi' and listening to their experiences, I earned firm faith in the Divinity of Sathya Sai. During the hours of meditation, I was even blessed by visions of Baba and intimations of His Presence. Ah! How rich was His Mercy! How deep was His Compassion! Whenever a cloud of doubt cast its shadow on my faith or across my path, the wind of His Grace wafted it away and made my mind free.

Ours is a small village. My forefathers eschewed the entanglements of political or economic ambition. They were happily engaged in religious and spiritual studies and sadhana. The family found joy and peace in the Gita Samaj, the Prarthana Samaj and other similar satsangs. The village vibrated with holy thoughts. Recently, however, the fumes of factional politics and class conflicts have spread into even isolated villages and so, the springs of brotherhood and mutuality have dried up. My heart was filled with agony at the turn of events. But, since Baba has exhorted us in the Gita, "Uplift yourselves by your own effort,” I continued my spiritual search, unaffected by external upheavals. Baba taught me, during meditation, to practice loneliness and love of God. Besides, I benefited greatly from some holy men and elders whom I contacted; I was able to rid myself of many negative attitudes and habits as a result.

On 20th March 1980 (or thereabouts) when I was reciting the Gayatri preliminary to meditation, the Mrtyunjaya Mantra silently interpolated itself and took hold of me. I had to recite it for long and give up the Gayatri. The mantra rolled on my tongue and echoed inside my heart. I inferred that I was being instructed by Baba to repeat this Vedic formula which ensures safety from the fangs of Death. Thereafter, I began repeating it daily with all my heart.

Ten days later, on 31 March, about 2 am, when we were fast asleep in the home, absolutely unconscious of the outer and inner world, a band of violent antisocial revolutionaries surrounded my house and gained entrance, breaking open the doors. I was stunned and struck dumb. They looted and shouted; they plucked even the sacred Mangalasutra from the neck of my wife and rained blows on her. Then, they yelled `death' for me and jumped in my direction. I was calling on Baba in my heart of hearts and He came to my rescue, pointing out a way of escape. Before they left they vented their still unspent anger on the beautiful picture of Goddess Gayatri which they stabbed with the daggers they had.

I realised that the Name of Baba which I had on my tongue had saved me from certain death. I bathed the Lotus Feet in my heart with tears of gratitude. When I was bewailing the loss of valuables, Baba's Divine Voice illumined my mind from His Form, I could clearly sense Baba during meditation, standing between my eyebrows in my forehead: "Which of them is yours? Why pine over the loss of things that did not belong to you?"

The agitation was quietened by this sublime revelation. I could win back the level of concentration which I had attained, previous to the dacoity. I could fix all my awareness on the splendour of Divine Consciousness which He vouchsafed to me.

My friends and well wishers prompted me to take measures to punish the miscreants and take revenge against them. Man in the village knew who they were. But, during the hour of meditation, Baba told me, "They have inflicted injury on themselves. You had no injury.” So I ignored the promptings and plunged in Sadhana again.

I stayed out of my village for over a hundred days after that awful night. The day arrived when I had to carry on my legitimate duty at the village, for I was a teacher at the village school. My friends and kinsmen advised me to stay away and warned me against returning. I must admit that my mind was unsettled again. I prayed to Baba for guidance. I sought guidance on the right step. During meditation, I heard Him quote in Sanskrit, "Jatasya Maranam Dhruvam": "That which is born must certainly die.” I thrilled from head to foot when these words entered my awareness; for, "the body alone dies; you are neither born nor do you die"; that was the instruction granted to me. I was reminded that I am eternal, immortal, and free from modification. I reached my village with a clear and courageous heart and I am engaged in the duty Baba has allotted me.

Imagine how many millions Baba has thus saved from frantic fear and anxiety! How many is He saving and guarding every moment! I have not yet had the fortune of having His Darshan so far but yet, He is guiding me and protecting me, directing me along the righteous path. When His Grace is conferred on even me, so copiously, one can infer how affectionately He is ever present with those who have surrendered their thoughts, their speech and their deeds to Him. In fact, Bhagawan has proclaimed in the Gita that He will grant Peace and Bliss here and hereafter to all those who are attached to Him and His commands. And, He is fulfilling that promise every moment now.

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