It’s going to give me great pleasure writing this article because I’m going to tell you a true story about about how Swami bestowed his loving grace onto a truly wonderful man. A man that I have great pleasure in being aquainted with; and a man who was truly deserving of Swami’s grace.
For about the last four years I have been attending, whenever possible, the once- a-month bhajan (devotional songs) sessions at the Claverton Hall in Bath with the Bath Sai Baba group. Because I live around 25 miles away it is not always possible for me to attend, and take part in the other activities that the group organise. I am eternally grateful to my wonderful friend and brother, Satyan, for introducing me to this group after I met him for the first time at an event celebrating Swami’s birthday in 2007. However, I digress slightly. Whenever I went along I noticed that a man called Patrick was always in attendance, and I also found that he was always one of the first to arrive to help set up, and always one of the last to leave after clearing away and tidying up. I learned also that Patrick always got involved with the seva (service) activities that the group organised, such as the feeding of the homeless at the hostel in Bath City Centre. I got to know Patrick after a few visits and quickly became aware that he was a man of great humility with the wisdom of a sage, and I also just assumed that he lived in Bath. I also just assumed that he had been to Prashanti Nilayam on a number of occasions.
Two things, however, really surprised me. Firstly, when I was chatting to Patrick just prior to my first visit to Swami in 2009, I was amazed to hear that he’d never actually been himself. Secondly, I was equally amazed when someone told me that Patrick does not actually live in Bath; he apparently lives in Bradford-On-Avon, which I believe is at least five miles away. Not only that, he doesn’t drive either; he travels everywhere by pushbike. Nothing too unusual about that, but not only is the Claverton Hall at the top of a very steep hill, but it’s also a very long hill, and I remember one particularly bitterly cold Thursday night in December when the group held a Christmas Carol service at the hall, Patrick had been there then; helping to set up and pack away. It’s difficult to believe that someone would be so devoted to Swami that he would go to those lengths to ”do his bit”. Anyway, that’s the background information, now on to the main point of the story.
As I mentioned in a previous article Swami had invited devotees from all over the world to attend a pilgrimage in 2010. The UK had been invited, along with several other countries, to attend in August of that year. Various devotees from Region 7 (of which Bath is a part) were going. Unfortunately, Patrick, being a family man, didn’t have the spare cash to spend on the cost of the flight. However, Baba had other ideas. Because the group booked a bulk ticket the airline offered one free seat for the return journey. So, it was decided that all the names of people who wanted to go but couldn’t were put into a hat. Patrick’s name was amongst them, and lo and behold, his name was drawn. But there was more to come.
I saw Patrick some time after and I was telling him how happy I was for him that he was able to go. What he told me next left me nigh on gobsmacked. Patrick said that he had been at Prashanti for a number of days and did not even think that he would get any personal attention from Swami, especially on the day in question, because when he was sitting in darshan he was quite a few rows back and never in a million years even dreamed that Baba would single him out.
Now anyone who is familiar with Baba will know, that during the last few years in his physical form, he was in a wheelchair. This particular day Patrick was sitting in line with the throngs of people and Swami was being wheeled along in the gangway area specially left clear for his wheelchair (the days when Swami would glide amongst the masses like an orange-robed angel were long since gone). All of a sudden the wheelchair stopped and Baba looked over towards Patrick. As he did so a man sitting a few rows in front sat up obscuring Patrick’s view. Patrick said he quickly moved his head to one side just in time for Swami to make eye contact with him and say ”so you have come at last”.
I was overjoyed to hear this and I can just imagine how he felt. Out of all the thousands and thousands of people in darshan Baba chose to shower his grace on Patrick. I was over the moon for him.
I will close by sharing an experience that occurred just six days prior to writing this article.
I had not been to the hall for what must have been over six months and I was having an ”inner calling” to attend. I wanted to get there at 13:45 in order to take part in the study group prior to bhajans. But due to circumstances I wasn’t able to get there until the bhajans were about half-way through. As I entered I noticed empty seats at the front where Patrick was sitting. I sat down and we acknowledged each other. Within seconds of sitting down Swami enfolded me in his Omnipresence and I felt my heart bursting with love; my eyes just filled up with tears of joy. It was as though my loving Father was welcoming me home. When the bhajans were over I was able to have a brief conversation with Patrick. As ever I found a few minutes in his company so uplifting and inspirational. It was like a double whammy for me. Baba showering me in his love, and words of wisdom from Patrick; a truly perfect afternoon.