On the western end of the front verandah of the Prasanthi Nilayam is the Private Room. On the verandah sit a medley of men, women and children, the rich and the poor, the zamindar and the ryot, the uncommon as well as the common man. They all sit facing the closed door, looking at watches, waiting impatiently for the Divine Doctor.
It is eleven, now. The sound of “OM” starts filling the Prayer Hall and overflows into the verandah. He is due, any time! The door opens; Baba’s serene face casts a searching look at the expectant humanity. There is no smile on His Face, which indeed, looks very serious. Although He has known me for some time, (this is my seventh visit to Puttaparthi) He looked at me indifferently, as if I am not there! I wonder! Perhaps, He has changed since I saw Him last… But He spoke with such intimacy, then! And, now?
I thought that considering the obvious urgency of my problems (He should know better!) and the thousand and odd miles I had travelled hither, I would be His first invitee into the room. But, no. His eyes search on, for others!
I wait ….. In goes, the first invitee. The door closes and all of us wait on, counting the minutes, rehearsing how best and how quickly to acquaint Him with the disease or the difficulty. The door opens again.
Well! Surely, this time Baba will call in his old devotee… But, His Eyes are searching again. I wonder why He does not see the most obvious and call me in. O! I was not wrong after all. Don’t I know my Baba?… No! There is some mistake. The call is not for me, but for the gentleman sitting behind me! Very gently, but with the same indifference He asks me to sit down and calls in, that stranger. (Yes He has come to Puttaparthi for the first time!)
The anxious wait is resumed. I am not sure anymore; my seniority, apparently has no claims in Puttaparthi! The story repeats itself many times; I am giving up hope. Wait! This time, the Finger beckons me. I turn back and look. No. This time, it is truly my turn. The Face is still very grave. I almost fear that He is about to give the most disheartening news, or perhaps, chide me for some foolish thing I have done. Well! There is no retreat now. I go in…. The door closes.
Lo! That indifferent smile has melted into the most gracious enchantment. He pats on the back, asks me news about the family, bridges the past with the present and knits them with the future; He tells me why things are as they are, gives me the correct advice on my everyday problems, reminds me of my social duties, chides me for judging others harshly, and even talks with respect about persons for whom I have contempt! He talks on and on. It is almost half an hour and still, He is in no hurry! I get the feeling that I have been favoured and that I must be very dear to His Heart. He talks on my problems as if they are His own. The Great Psychologist delves into the innermost recesses of my heart and graciously overlooks the dark spots that I know are there. (Surely, He knows them all) With His characteristic Grace, He fills the heart with hope and courage and gives me the right perspective to view all my problems. Baba is still in no hurry! Each, according to His need and at the right time, the Divine Healer calls in and prescribes. He pats me on the back. I almost feel guilty that I should have misunderstood the expression on His Face. He opens the door and lets me out in to the wide world, with renewed hope and courage.
I look back, The Face no longer smiles! He looks at me with what seems to be indifference. The eyes are searching again for the next patient, trying to pulse other heartaches. After all, He alone knows whose heart aches more.
The Finger beckons again; and, into the private Room leaps another heart, in quest of cures for the body and the mind, which only this Divine Physician can give!