Tuesday, December 8, 2009
December 8th, 2009.
At the request of Smt Renuka Karunakaran of Sydney, Australia, I shall reproduce in this post, a copy of the e-mail I received from her today.
In my previous post, published yesterday, I have written about the sequence of events that led me to draw this portrait of Sai Baba. The photo from which I based my drawing was pre-selected by none other than Baba himself.
Also, while I was initially going to do this drawing using only black charcoal pencils, an interesting incident happened at the art store that made me change my mind.
A young girl with an afro hairdo walked up to me as I stood undecided in the aisle displaying charcoal pencils. She said “ I’ll show you what pencils are good to use for portraits”. She took me by hand and selected a set of charcoal pencils in various colors. These were the shades of brown, ochre and yellow I have used in the painting. I thought this girl was an art student and asked whether art was her profession.
Her reply “ Oh no, I just draw from my heart. You don’t need expensive art lessons when God has given you the ability to draw”. She ran off and I didn’t see her in the store after that brief encounter.
Renuka has informed me in her letter today, that Swami wanted me to draw his robe in yellow color. He had also told her the exact pose he wanted to be portrayed. However, after our initial phone chat I didn’t communicate with Renuka for nearly a week, until the picture was finished and I published it on the website!!
Furthemore, like I have mentioned previously, even after Renuka’s initial request, I wasn’t too keen on drawing Swami and instead did a pencil sketch of Bala on that Thursday!
I hope people who come across this painting of Sai Baba and read this story, realize exactly the divine nature of this “ leela” played by both Sri Bala and Swami Sai Baba on two devotees living thousands of miles apart ; myself in New York and Renuka Karunakaran, in Australia.
Here is the letter from Renuka:
When I spoke to you last Thursday, you mentioned you’d purchased a card from the art shop but didn’t quite know what to draw. I told you to do a painting of Baba since this is exactly what he was telling me ( in my mind) at that very moment. “ Ask Uma to do a drawing of me and bring it with you when you visit me in Puttaparthi. I will bless it”.
So, I merely passed on his message to you that day. I remember you asked me in what pose you should draw Swami . I replied when I attended the Sai center for bhajans during the weekend, I might get this message and would indicate it to you. But I never did get back to you!
However, immediately after our phone conversation, I went to my puja room and looked at the picture of Sathya Sai Baba with his hand raised in blessing. I kept looking at it for a long time. Then, my attention was focused on another photo of Swami ( from which Vibhuthi often materializes). I got the mental message from Swami “ Ask Uma to go to my website. She’ll know which picture of mine to copy and base her drawing”.
Since I was busy that weekend, I did not call and relay these messages to you. So, it comes as a true surprise, indeed as a miracle, that Swami guided you to his website and “picked” a photo for you to copy!!
Also, on Sunday, Nov 22nd, we celebrated Swami’s birthday at our local center. There was a cake decorated with a picture of Swami dressed in his yellow robe. I was sitting in the front row looking at this picture and He kept telling me “ Ask Uma to draw my robe in yellow color, just like in this picture”. ( I’ll send you that cake-picture soon).
I didn’t pass on this information to you as well.
I checked out your blog yesterday and was overwhelmed to read about your experiences while doing this painting.
Om Sai, Sri Sai, Jaya Jaya Sai!
Your loving sister,
Monday, December 7, 2009
December 7th, 2009.
Om Sai ,Sri Sai , Jaya Jaya Sai!
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from my friend, Renuka, a Sathya Sai Baba devotee living in Australia. She requested me to draw a portrait of Swami Sri Sai Baba. She said “ You have depicted a lot of our Hindu deities in your art including Shirdi Sai Baba. Will you not attempt to portray Sathya Sai Baba? I am planning to visit Puttaparthi in December and would love to get your drawing blessed by this enlightened soul!”
I wasn’t too sure if I could undertake this task. After all, over the past few years, Sri Bala had made sure I depicted none but her in my many drawings. Furthermore, I have always maintained an indifferent attitude towards Swami, since he is a personality shrouded by much adverse publicity, especially outside India.
However, I did not wish to sound impolite to my dear friend and promised to do my best.
On November 19th, 2009 ( Thursday), I bought a small sheet of paper from the nearby art store. I placed it on the table in my apartment, closed my eyes and beseeched Bala silently.
However, the mental suggestions or directives that came to me that day were exceedingly clear. I was to draw a portrait of Bala seated on a lotus!
This is exactly what I did without any further questions. I prayed sincerely that Bala should bless all her devotees by giving them her “darshan” in this art work, in the form of an enchanting and beautiful child.
“ Make this the best portrait I’ve done of you”, I wished really hard before starting the drawing. By the end of the day almost half the drawing was finished and I went to bed happy with my efforts thus far.
That night my sleep was disturbed by the sound of raindrops splattering against the window pane. I looked at my bedside clock. It was exactly 4 a.m. Smiling , that it was Bala’s number, I turned over to go back to sleep. However, what happened next was simply amazing!
A powerful, white light seemed to be slowly filtering into the room. I tried to close my eyes but the light kept bothering me. I looked out of the window. It seemed like a million small stars were rushing in through the window, each tiny star gleaming like a frosted snowflake. The light was white in color and my bedroom was soon bathed in this warm glow. I glanced at the photo of Sri Bala on my window sill. To my utter surprise, I noticed that the frame was empty and in the place of the tiny image of Bala, I could see the “live” image of a young child dressed in a white frock moving inside the photo frame.
Involuntarily, I cried out “ Bala is this you? Are you here with me in this room?”
Very close to my ear I heard the reply of a small child “ Mmmmm, I’m right here”
Then, the most extraordinary thing happened. I felt a huge bolt of electricity surging through my body right from the tips of my toes up to the head and following this the bed started to move!
Very soon, I seemed to be spinning in circles around my bedroom. However, there was no sensation of fear. I cried out “ Bala are you having some fun at my expense?”
I felt I was on a ride in a huge roundabout in a theme park for what seemed like a few minutes. After this, I found myself sliding off the bed and falling on the wooden floor at the exact same spot I had placed my half-finished portrait of Bala the previous night.
By now, the room was getting hot from the powerful lights and I remember thinking to myself
The next minute, I found my head resting on a soft pillow, the electric current coursing through my body subsided and the bedside clock revealed it was 7.30 a.m. on Friday morning.
I looked at the photo of Bala on the window sill. Sri Bala’s tiny image remained hidden in the vast folds of her blue skirt. Yet, a mischievous smile hovered on her lips!
I completed the pencil sketch of Bala very quickly that Friday morning and put it aside. It is my intention to take it to India during my next visit and finish this painting there.
A couple of days later, on the morning of November 22nd, I sat down at my computer , cup of tea at hand, to check my e-mail. Almost without my volition, my hands typed out Sai Baba’s web address and within a second I was looking at some gallery of pictures of this enigmatic Swamiji!
I was flipping through these photos of Sai Baba randomly when all of a sudden a single image flashed by and enlarged itself magically to fit the whole screen. It was a photo of Sri Swami with his right hand raised in blessing, squinting his eyes in a lovely smile. I tried to move the arrow forward to view some other pictures in the gallery, but somehow the cursor would not move and for a long time this image was frozen on the computer screen . I got a very clear mental message to draw this picture .
However, I needed to print this picture so I could copy it. I closed my eyes , thought of Baba and prayed “ If you really want me to draw your image, you must help me print out this picture”. Within a few seconds the photo was printed out. I was surprised since many of these websites contain copy-righted material one cannot print easily. Nevertheless, the size of this copy was very tiny and I prayed again to Baba “ You should help me to enlarge this picture. I can’t seem to do it on my computer”. Shortly afterwards, I went out to buy some supplies at the nearby grocery store. Just in front of the grocery store was a tiny shop I’d never noticed before. Yet, on that particular day, this tiny shop tucked in between two larger stores simply caught my eye! This was a photo shop. I walked inside and within a few minutes walked out with an enlarged print of Swami!
I felt clearly and distinctly that I was meant to draw this picture!
Without hesitating, I went out to the art shop one more time and bought another sheet of white card. Returning home, I placed it on the table, picked up my pencil and was just going to start when I heard a peal of bells. The melodious ringing of bells came from a church nearby and I looked at the clock. It was exactly 4 p.m. It was as though, Sri Bala was giving me her blessings to proceed with BABA’S portrait.
However, I could not work on the painting on November 22nd as I had to visit my daughter that afternoon. Eventually, I started Sai Baba’s drawing on November 23rd. I visited his website that morning before commencing my art work and an interesting fact “leapt” out at me. It was Sri Bhagawan’s birthday on November 23rd!!
I had simply not been aware of this at all!
There was no doubt anymore in my mind that I had to work on his painting on that auspicious day.
Although I finished most of this drawing on that day, I had to cease work on it during the rest of the week as it was Thanksgiving holidays and I had social commitments. I resumed work and finally finished Baba’s painting on Pournami day, December 1st, 2009.
Although I have published images of various deities on my website, I don’t regard them as works of art for the simple reason I’m not a professional artist. Every single drawing is a result of clear directives given to me in my mind by Sri Bala. So too it seems is the case with this portrait of Sri Sai Baba.
I sincerely hope that with SRI Bala’s blessings and boundless grace, I can publish this auspicious image on my website so devotees of both Baba and Sri Bala can find happiness, peace and fulfillment of all their desires!
Sri Bala Charanam.
December 7th, 2009.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
September 13th, 2009.
There is no doubt in my mind that everything I publish on this blog site is at the will and express command of Sri Bala. The exact date and time that I put up images or songs have all been pre determined by this very powerful child deity.
So, it will come as no surprise to my readers if I state that despite many, many attempts, I was able to complete the nine auspicious images of Sri Bala I had started in April of this year only a week ago, after receiving the blessings of Sri Baba.G.
In fact, I commenced painting these Navashakthi paintings of Sri Bala ( she has just placed this title-Navashakthi- in my mind!) on September 4th, 2009 and finished it within a week.
Initially, I thought these paintings were meant to illustrate Sri Bala’s song “Navaratna Malai”.
So, after completing the paintings, I sat down to type up an explanation for each image. However, every time I sat down I was interrupted. After this had happened for two days, I appealed to Bala silently. Her swift response came this morning as I sat down at my computer to try again.
“Go have a bath and type up this foreword today. Delete whatever you have written before and do not attempt to translate into English my Navaratna Malai song. These images you have drawn are very powerful. By focusing on one image each day during the auspicious nine day period of Navarathri, my devotees will immediately be rid of all evil forces in their lives and attain immediately all they wish for.”
So, this is what I have done today. I do note the date is September 13th, which is no doubt Bala’s number. However, on many previous occasions I have typed up my articles beforehand and published them on the day specified by Sri Bala.
For the first time, Sri Bala has actually made me “delete” the word document I’d prepared earlier.
These nine images will be put up on my blog site after I have sent them to Sri Bala Peetam. Obviously, the symbolism and power of these pictures, which come on the eve of Navarathri, lie in the impact they have in the lives of those who chance to come across this website.
Sri Bala Thunai.
Friday, August 7, 2009
EN THAAYE TRIPURASUNDARI
My mother, beauteous ruler of three worlds!
My mother, beauteous ruler of three worlds
This is the moment
Give us your grace
Goddess you are our last resort!
Without you in our hearts each day
Can we get peace or happiness?
Aren’t you the one who gave us life?
Can we be a burden to you?
Oh mother will you not speak out your grace
And make our sorrows
Our hearts come seeking to get your grace
And happiness increases every day
Seeing your form day by day
Our feet, they seek to reach your house
Grant us ever lasting peace
Goddess who lives in Nemili!
Translated by Uma Kumar
ULAGATHAI KAAKKUM ORU BALA
Bala, protector of the world!
Protecting this world is one Bala
Living in Nemili Nagar is our Bala
With Goodness she protects us
All throughout our lives
Blessing us forever to lead good lives.
To this whole world
You give Love, Oh Bala
In the hearts of those who sing
You come Bala!
A new life is ours
Thanks to your grace Bala
To this poor soul lend
Your hands, Sri Bala
Goddess filled with grace
Our mother Bala
Glorious ruler of three worlds
We salute you
Banisher of darkness
Oh mother Bala
Glorious ruler of three worlds
We salute you
Glorious ruler of three worlds
We salute you Bala!
Beauteous Goddess of this world
We worship you!
Translated by Uma Kumar
NEMILI NAGAR AALUM NAYAKIYE.
GODDESS WHO RULES OVER NEMILI.
Oh Goddess who rules 0’er
The village of Nemili
Living in our Hearts
Bala our dear Mother
Oh Bala, our dear Mother.
Your glance is enough
No more fear do we have
Many songs do you give
And bless us so fully.
Seated in a house
Showering blessings like a mother
You dissolve in your songs
Oh Divine Damsel
The whole world is
Your domain of grace
In your form is revealed our true selves.
Both our eyes Oh Bala
Always yearn to see you
Both our ears,Oh Bala
Yearn to hear your music
Deep down in our hearts
We seek your grace
Our sinful hearts are peaceful
The moment we see you.
Translated by Uma Kumar
Friday, July 31, 2009
SRI BALA CHARANAM
English Translation of:
“Ninaikkum Pothey Anandam”
Happiness is thinking of You
Happiness is coming Near You
Bala standing before You
Gives us so much Happiness.
Seeing you is happiness
Songs of you are happiness
Bala, coming to your house
Gives us so much happiness!
Happiness is looking at you and
Happiness is seeing your eyes
Happiness, Happiness, Happiness, Happiness.
Oh my heart, how you rejoice
Every day you think of her
Maybe once? Maybe twice?
Maybe many, many times!
Oh sweet life, how you melt
In her memory you’re fulfilled
Is that happiness, or is this joy?
Is it a new ecstasy?
Divine beings and the Holy three
Come searching for you
Can’t you see?
All your wishes, all your wants
They will grant you straight away
Oh sweet one, my little one
My very heart and my life
You’ve stolen completely!
You’ve stolen totally!
When night and dawn
They do merge
At sunrise and sunset
Your sweet songs resonate
With such joy, with such joy.
At that moment your lovely face
Granting fame and good fortune
See how it glows, see how it shines
All our wishes they’ll come true.
Relatives and friends do come
Searching hard to see your face
Wealth and pleasures we don’t need
Saying this we come to you
Inside you we come to rest
Within you we come to melt.
There’s no need for us to stray
There’s no need to go elsewhere!
Translated by Uma Kumar
SRI BALA CHARANAM.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF :
“Chinna kozhundai chella kozhundai, Bala Varugindraal”.
Little child, Precious Child
Bala here she comes
What we seek to ask
Before they can be voiced
Bala grants them all
Our Bala she grants them all
Before our eyes, She does appear
“What more do you need?
Don’t worry, don’t be confused
Bala is here”
She wipes away our tears.
When will a new dawn
Begin in my life
We have often thought.
When will this sorrow
Finally depart, we have often cried.
When we beheld you today
In our hearts we rejoice.
No more worries
So we proclaim
Oh Bala, we worship You!
What penance did we do
In this birth to attain you
Setting eyes on You
Almost at once
Our bodies shiver with glee!
From having no bonds
One bond I have found
No other place
Has been like this before.
Nor have our hearts rejoiced
As in this place
Bala we worship You!
( translation by Uma Kumar).
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sri Bala Charanam. JULY 13TH, 2009.
Sri Bala’s Divine Miracle!
“Keep your right leg absolutely still. Don’t move your body for the next 45 minutes”, said the lab technicianas he prepped me for an MRI scan of my knee.
I closed my eyes as I slowly slid along the conveyor belt into an extremely claustrophobic capsule. A pair of headphones were clapped on my ears. “You might hear some really loud noises, don’t be afraid” said the assistant helpfully, and then I was left completely alone.
I tried to compose myself while lying on that very narrow bed inside the cylindrical shaped tunnel where magnetic rays would map and take a detailed picture of my leg. A dye was to be injected so that the soft tissue areas surrounding the bone could be highlighted and interpreted accurately. “ Please help me Bala”, I screamed loudly, yet silently in my head. “Where are you when I really need you?” I whispered and then tried to bring all my energies and concentration into the middle of my eyebrows. I imagined I could see Sri Bala Peetam at Nemili and the smiling faces of Sri Ezhilmani, Baby Amma, Baba.G, Mohan and Murali.
I tried to hold on to these familiar faces as the loud noises started, beating out a tuneless pattern like a hammer hitting a tin drum.
How did I end up inside this enclosed space? Why was I inside a hospital? Why was Bala making me undergo this unreal scenario?
Well, it all began like this. For a month now, I had experienced pain and slight discomfort in my right leg. This had started while I was engaged in the task of creating the beautiful “mandapams” for Sri Bala. In fact, on the day I delivered Bala’s sparkling dresses and the colorful mandapams, my right knee was extremely swollen and painful to the extent I could not carry out my namaskarams to either Bala or the Peetathipathi, Sri Ezhilmani.
I treated this condition with ice packs and pain killers and by the time I reached London, it wasn’t too bothersome. However, especially after my arrival in New York, the right leg was acting up again . I found that my knee was hurting all the time and walking and climbing stairs were proving to be difficult.
Although I did allow a few weeks to slide by, I knew that I had to take myself to a doctor soon. I was merely finding excuses to visit the hospital. First, I busied myself doing the “homework” set by Baba.G in his CD “Guruvarullum Thiruvarullum”, where he had asked his students to carefully sift through all the songs he had written and jot down his advice on various topics like “anger, ego, hatred, vengeance, etc, etc”.
Next, in the final lecture for the month of June, Baba.G had asked us to listen once again to all 3 CDs he had published and then write him a letter.
While I started off this letter in Tamil thinking I would merely emphasize a few of the salient points in his weekly speeches, I got totally carried away. I ended up writing about 22 pages in fluent Tamil ( this itself is a miracle for someone not used to writing in this script for over 30 years). The second astonishing fact was that I was able to quote from many of Baba.G’s sayings each week providing what looked like a concise précis of all his advice thus far.
I mailed this long letter to Baba.G on July 6th and called him on Guru Poornima day to both receive his blessings as well as to alert him to the fact he had to read a long letter from me.
Baba.G’s reply was amazing . He said “No one except you turned in the first homework I set . However, a relative in the family has completed the second homework and has handed over his thoughts on my weekly speeches in a long letter format. Since you are the only lady to finish it in this manner as well, I am really happy. I’m going to publish these letters in a pamphlet soon.” He gave me all his blessings on that auspicious day honoring our Gurus and I felt totally happy and relieved as if I had passed out successfully after an arduous exam!
The day after Guru Poornima, I decided to take myself to a nearby hospital to have my knee checked. I read Bala’s “Noi Neekum Pathigam” and the “Andhadhi,” and filled with a lot of confidence and the certainty that Bala would surely take care of me, I set off to the hospital along with my husband.
It was a nice, sunny morning and we walked the 20 blocks up to the hospital. My husband, noticing that I was walking briskly, commented that the doctor would probably let me off quickly with a few painkillers. We reached the hospital by about 10 a.m. and got the “fast track” service to see a doctor that morning. After a few preliminary checks, my knee was duly examined and since it was still swollen, an x-ray was required to get a clearer picture.
Half an hour later, the x-ray results were produced and the doctor returned to interpret the results. One look at his face and I knew something was wrong. The x-rays had revealed an abnormality. A dark mass, presumably a tumour or a bone growth, was visible near the knee. Possibly this was the culprit causing both the pain and a certain loss of sensation in my leg. The doctor suggested gently that this situation needed further investigation. “It could be a benign growth or a cyst. However, we can’t rule out cancer. So, you need an MRI scan to help give the proper diagnosis”, he said.
I could see the doctor and hear his words clearly. However, “I” seemed to be a mere witness to what was going on. One part of my mind was telling me “ this scene is unnatural and surreal. Surely, Bala is not going to make me undergo a major health set back”. However, the reality was that the next step would be a complete analysis of my blood and kidneys to see if the latter could process the dye that would be injected during the MRI scan.
The doctor stood up and said “Please don’t worry. We will merely evaluate your condition and give you the option of having the knee surgery eitherhere or in London”.
Once again, while I registered this conversation, my mind refused to accept the implications. Involuntarily I started to shiver even though it wasn’t cold inside the room. My husband remarked that perhaps we should proceed directly to London that weekend to perform the exploratory surgery on the knee. His reasoning was that we should not delay finding out whether the tumor was cancerous or not.
Meanwhile, my daughter was summoned to the hospital and I could see that this news deeply troubled her. Although I tried to remain positive, we all knew that inevitably my knee required some immediate surgery to determine if the “dark mass” was indeed “sinister”.
The hours passed by slowly. It was almost 3 p.m. by the time the doctor popped by again to apologize for the long wait to get into the MRI room. Apparently there were many emergency cases that day and there were no openings until 6 p.m.
There was nothing else to do but resign myself for the long wait. I took out the Bala Parayanam book to read the “Noi Neekum Pathigam” ( Song to remove all diseases). Almost immediately I heard Bala’s voice “Don’t read this prayer inside the hospital”. So, I decided to read through the calming verses of Sri Bala Andhadhi. Although my lips moved to enunciate the words, I could not concentrate. So, with a silent appeal to Bala, I closed my eyes and thought about her instead.
It was exactly 3.55 p.m. when my daughter and husband returned after a late lunch. I remember the time exactly because I got the directive at that moment to send an SMS message to Baba.G’s cell phone. I requested my daughter to type out the following message.
“ Sri Bala Charanam. Namaskaram. I’m sending you this message from my daughter’s cell phone. I came to the hospital to check out my knee pain. The x-ray was abnormal. A tumour is suspected. I’m waiting to get an MRI scan done.
We are all very shaken up. Please Baba.G pray to Bala for a miracle.
If you get this message please send me an SMS”.
My daughter glanced at me while typing out the request for a “miracle”. She said “Mum, you can’t really ask for the impossible. Just accept in your mind that some sort of exploratory surgery might have to be done to get a biopsy of that tumor. Maybe you can ask Baba.G to pray that it won’t be cancerous”.
I replied “ No, I am going to request Bala for a miracle. I want to ensure that no knife comes anywhere near my knee!”
My daughter sighed in disbelief but dutifully typed up the message. “ Wait” I exclaimed, “don’t hit the send button until 4 p.m.” But it was already too late. The message was sent at exactly 3.57 p.m.
In my heart I knew that the message would probably never get read instantly since it was about 1.30 a.m. in India. Baba.G was bound to be fast asleep!
For the next couple of minutes I closed my eyes and thought of Baba.G’s face in the portrait I’d done .My reverie was broken by the “ping” of an SMS message.
My daughter came up to me with her phone “ Mum, he’s sent you a reply”.
I could hardly believe my eyes! It was exactly 4 p.m. ( Bala’s number).
The message read “ Baba.G and Bala are always with you. Don’t worry, all your problems will soon melt away”.
At that very moment a hospital attendant approached me with a wheel chair. There was a vacancy in the queue for the MRI scan and I was to be taken to the third floor x-ray room immediately.
I knew with certainty that Bala had heard my plea. My eyes were moist and a fresh energy surged back.
A few moments later, I found myself in another room waiting to be taken into the area where the MRI scan was to be done. Hardly ten minutes after the first SMS message arrived from Baba.G, another message was sent to my daughter’s cell phone. This one said “ Bala’s and Baba.G’s rains of blessings are on you”.
I thought of my painting of Baba.G. I recollected the manner in which Bala made me change the background color three times and later made me paint many gold dots on the pale blue color as if to depict Baba.G would rain down blessings on all Bala’s devotees.
So, this is the background story of how I came to be lying on that narrow bed, with my knee strapped in, hearing discordant, loud hammering sounds as the magnetic imaging device was mapping out the contents of my leg!
I remained in total darkness for about 30 minutes as I closed my eyes to avoid both the bright lights inside the capsule as well as to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia.
I imagined I was in Bala’s Peetam at Nemili. I pictured in my mind’s eye, Ezhilmani Mama walking in with his customary smile, greeting me with a joke. I could see Baby Amma smiling at me , enquiring how I was. I saw Mohan wearing his red, silk dhothi , doing “abhishekam” to Bala so tenderly.
I could see Bala, little Bala standing proud and “tall” despite her physical stature, accepting the turmeric, coconut water and milk “abhishekams”.
I could see very clearly Mohan taking out the “alankara deepam” and swirling the lamp so lovingly and respectfully in front of Bala.
Then, I could see Murali taking care of all the people who had gathered at the Peetam, attending graciously to all their needs.
Finally, I got a glimpse of Baba.G. However, unlike the others, I could only see his face just like it is in the painting I have done of him. I tried very hard now to concentrate on his face.
I started at the crown of his head and moved my attention to the three vibhuthi stripes on his forehead and then down to his eyes. I looked into his big eyes, dark and fathomless as if outlined by an eye-liner pencil. They seemed to be looking inside the whole of me- trying to send me a message. But I could not hear it. Then, my attention was drawn to his nose and finally rested on his mouth.
At this point, the whole face came into view and the mouth started to move and talk :
“Ungallukku ondrum illai. Neenga Ezhundhu Vara Poreenga. Intha Navarathirikku, Neenga Nemilikku Vandhu Engalloda Irukka Poreenga. Ondrum Illai Ungallukku. Bayam Vendam”.
“Nothing is really wrong with you. You are going to get up and walk. This Navarathri, you will be spending with us in Nemili. Nothing’s wrong with you. Have no fear”.
The hammering sounds rose to a crescendo and then stopped for a bit. The lab technician came into the room and said I’d done well so far and hadn’t moved at all . “Now”, he said, “I’m going to inject the dye. Please keep still for another 15- 20 minutes”.
I was pushed into the confined space once more. This time, I was feeling a bit uneasy. I just wanted this episode to end quickly. Once more the loud noises began to resonate in the small chamber. With my eyes closed I appealed to Bala.
“Oh Bala, please help me. I can’t stand this anymore. Why are you putting me through this unnecessary stress and tension?” Bala’s face came floating into my mind’s eye. This was the face painted on the wall of the Peetam by an artist, long time ago. Her eyes were very bright and Bala’s face came closer and closer towards me. I could now see her standing in her green skirt, with her right hand raised high in blessing. I could see this hand also coming closer and closer to me. I could see this small, tender hand decorated with “Marudhaani” (Henna), with one small orange-red circle in the center of the palm, surrounded by smaller dots and the fingers covered too, with little orange- henna caps.
Immediately after this vision, another face came into view. This was the face of Bala in the painting I’d given to the Peetam in January, 2008. This time, Bala’s eyes were glowing like diamonds as she came closer to me. Next, I could see two hands. Why, these belonged in the painting of my “Arpudha Bala”.
Then, I saw the face of Arpudha Bala merging into the face of “my” Bala painting and then both these faces dissolved into the face of the “standing Bala in the green skirt”.
All this happened within a fraction of a second. What happened next was even more astonishing. The “merged” face of all these three Bala’s entered the face of Baba.G in the portrait and seemed to get totally absorbed in his face!
Baba.G’s face looked like an amalgamation of all the Bala images I’d drawn so far and then a golden glow seemed to emanate from his face and spread all around like a halo!
I remembered instantly, the reason why Bala told me to put in that golden halo when I painted Baba.G’s portrait.
Bala’s message sounded very clearly at that moment:
“Nothing is wrong with you. The MRI scan will show no tumor. I have orchestrated this whole incident to “prove” to you how much power my son Baba.G possesses”.
The next minute I felt a warmth over my knee as if someone was caressing it. I thought it must be the dye doing its job.
A few more seconds and then Baba.G’s face appeared and said “It’s all over now”.
At that very moment, I heard the door of the room opening and the technician entered to pull me out of the capsule.
“What happened to you just now?” he asked.
“What do you mean?” I enquired.
“Your leg moved after I injected the dye. Up until then you were keeping very still”.
I was totally confused. I certainly didn’t recall moving my leg. Worried that this could mean the results might be skewed, I said “Maybe it was an involuntary action. I hope it won’t hurt the results”.
The man didn’t answer; just took me back to the waiting area where I could see my daughter and husband waiting anxiously.
There was a further wait for about 45 minutes before the doctor re- entered with the radiologist’s reports.
I took out the precious Bala dollar and photo that Ezhilmani Mama had given me, from my purse and clutched it tightly in my left hand.
The doctor’s face revealed straight away the good news. He said “Look, the radiologist says that the mass isn’t malignant or dangerous. However, the bad news is you do have a degenerative bone condition that has to be treated. I’ll give you some pain killers and you can get follow up treatment back in England.”
These words were like manna from Heaven. While the possibility of frail bones is something I had to attend to immediately, it was indeed a great relief that the tumor wasn’t cancer!
I thanked the doctor. It was exactly 7 p.m. when I sent the following message to Baba.G.
“ Thank You Baba.G and Bala for the miracle! You were the doctor who helped me today!”
The following morning (Thursday) I listened to the CD “Guruvarullum Thiruvarullum”. Today was the first Thursday in the month of July and Baba.G had elaborated on his role as a “Guru” who comes home to personally help each and every one of Bala’s true devotees.
My eyes brimming with tears, I called Nemili and spoke to Baba.G.
“Thank you so much for all your help yesterday”, I said “but tell me something. How come you were awake at 1.30 a.m when I sent that SMS message?”
Baba.G’s answer is perhaps the true climax of this entire incident.
“ Amma, I was woken up at that early hour by none other than Bala herself. I glanced at the clock and it was just past 1.30 a.m. I was directed to pick up my cell phone and read your message. What is really surprising is that I can’t usually read without my glasses. Normally all reading material would appear blurred. However, at that moment I could read your message very clearly. Yet, I only scrolled down to the bit where you had written you had a tumour and were waiting to go in for the MRI scan. I immediately sent you that first message and prayed for you. Then, I lay back in bed and went back to sleep. A few moments later Bala woke me up and said “Uma needs your help now. You want to know what a “miracle” is? And how you can perform miracles for other people? I will give you the power to help heal people. However, I shall tell you whom to use it on , when and how to administer it. Just at this moment Uma needs your help. This is what you should do. Get up and sit on the bed with your legs stretched out. Massage both knees and legs three times with your hands. Remove your hands on the final time and throw away all her problems. After you do this send her a second message”.
Baba.G continued “ This is exactly what I did. I massaged both my knees three times and almost like a sorcerer who removes the negative effects of “evil eyes”, I threw out whatever was causing you a problem. Then I sent you that second message”.
“Do you know what else Bala told me that night?” he carried on “ Well, she said this whole world would soon become aware of exactly what I can accomplish but my fame will be spread by those very people who are already, currently famous in the media today for their spiritual pursuits”.
I listened with awe. I couldn’t really say anything. After this revelation I was rendered completely speechless.
I thought of that mysterious “warmth” I had experienced in my knee and the remark from the lab technician about “how my leg had moved” without my awareness.
To think that Bala herself had intervened on my behalf; to even imagine that she had heard my call for help from thousands of miles away; to even consider for a moment that this divine child had woken up her son in the middle of the night and passed on instructions to cure me; to even think that such “miracles” can happen in the world we live in today, and I’ve been fortunate to experience it, is something I shall cherish until my dying day!
This entire incident defies all known logic and I am convinced they can be fully understood only by those who possess complete faith in Bala.
I have, thus far, written a lot about my experiences with Sri Bala and about the unique family living in her house at Nemili. I have painted a lot of images of Bala at her command and certainly over the last few months she has ensured that I understood the value of total faith in both her and my Guru Baba.G.
However, this recent experience has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sri BALA does not exist in Nemili as just a small statue hiding in the folds of a vast, colorful skirt.
She is definitely a “living” presence; a mischievous child Goddess who is loving and affectionate towards her devotees, always hovering nearby, waiting to rush in and protect them from impending danger.
I shall finish writing about this amazing incident by bowing in respect to Sri Baba.G who has been endowed by Sri Bala with such “miraculous” powers so that even he is not totally aware of his full potential!
Baba.G’s parting words to me were :
“Only this morning (Thursday), I read your original SMS fully. You had requested me to pray to Bala for a miracle. I wasn’t even aware of that request. I didn’t even read that sentence. Yet Bala made sure you got exactly what you wanted- just that Divine Miracle”.
“ When everyone else abandons you
I am here to protect You,
When everyone else lets go of your hands
My tender hands shall clasp yours warmly
And protect you until the very end”
Sri Bala’s Golden words as proclaimed by Sri Baba.G.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
It seemed to me that once I finished a task set for me by Bala, the next one automatically cropped up!
Over weekend of May 16th, certain circumstances led me to take the decision to stay on in Chennai until the first week of June. Although I knew I had to go to New York to be with my daughters, there was still an intangible, unknown force holding me back in Chennai.
I fully understood that Bala had not yet approved of my plan to leave India. I was also intensely conscious that she had requested me for several more stone- studded skirts.
Since I was postponing my departure, I decided to purchase the required colored stones and leave them in India pending my arrival closer to Navarathri when I could use them to bedeck the skirts.
Partly by way of an exploratory trip, I descended into the bowels of Mint Street once more hunting for stones. As Swarovski crystals are very expensive, I decided to look out for “cheaper”, colored glass and acrylic stones.
Finally, on Monday May 18th, after hours of searching, I found a shop that seemed to possess an abundant stock of various types of beads, sequins and stones.
There were stones in glittering shades of pink, blue , green, red, gold, orange etc. I was bewildered by the rich assortment and was at a loss what colors to pick . I need not have worried . Bala made this choice extremely simple. Within a few minutes, I had selected about 15 different colors. Now came the difficult choice I had to make. Since all of these colored stones were going to be stuck on cloth skirts or “pavadais”, I had to buy some white crystals to give a proper contrast. For example a skirt filled with pink stones would need a contrasting diamond-effect border or have some other effective design strewn all over on the body of the skirt.
Two varieties of white crystals were available and I had to select either the cheaper acrylic stones or the more expensive but more beautiful, diamond-like Swarowski crystals.
I chose the cheaper variety . In fact, I was congratulating myself for being “economical” for once, in my life!
The next day, Tuesday, May 19th I made a trip to Nemili in the late afternoon. A few Bala devotees in Chennai who had come across my website requested me to take them to see Bala and with Bala’s permission and Grace this trip came to pass.
It was also my intention to ask Ezhilmani Mama when I should return to London.
We reached the Peetam just after 5 p.m. and apart from Mama and Baby Amma, not too many people were about. After the customary introductory speech for newcomers, Ezhilmani Mama showed Deeparadhanai to Bala.
I was sitting right in front of Bala and savoured the moment by closing my eyes briefly. Almost like a whip shot I heard her voice:
“Do you think you can finish me off CHEAPLY?”
The word “cheap” was emphasised strongly.
I was totally stunned by Bala’s question and decided then and there to cast caution and budget to the winds and carry out this project to the best of my ability.
Soon after he gave prasadam to all of us, Ezhilmani Mama retired to his room and I realised I hadn’t really asked him when I could depart for London. My mind was still thinking about Bala’s question. I couldn’t even discuss this with anyone else in the Peetam since I was so embarrassed. I remembered Mama’s words everytime he welcomed a new visitor to the Peetam. He would remark how Bala is in total command in this house and would often go on to narrate the many “direct” and awkward questions she has asked him as well as visitors in the past. My favourite is the one where she has asked “ Do you think I’ve got nothing better to do than sit here and welcome all sorts of people. Let not any fool think he is coming here to see me. It is I who have taken pity and finally allowed him to visit me”. Bala has also stamped out the ego of many VIPs and wealthy people by refusing to accept their “charity”.
Numerous are the stories Mama has regaled us with. However, this was the first time I had a personal experience.
I got up from the dais slowly, as if I was suspended in a trance. Baby Amma lingered by the wooden Mandapam holding on to one of the side posts. I walked up to her and prostrated, asking her blessings so I could make beautiful coloured skirts for Bala.
Baby Amma responded “ Don’t think you can make skirts only for Bala. You will have to make one for her Mother, Sri Raja Rajeshwari as well. I think ten skirts each should suffice. Oh, and we do need a smaller one for Bala for the chariot procession
( Thaer Ula)”.
I smiled inwardly. Bala was certainly having fun with me! Not only did she tell me off for even “thinking” I could use “cheap” stones but now, she had doubled the quantity of skirts that were needed.
I promised myself that I would complete this project, witness the happiness in Baby Amma’s face when she saw these skirts and then depart. I sincerely prayed to Bala and left the Peetam that day with a mixture of both elation and apprehension that this task should be completed to Bala’s satisfaction.
The following day saw me back again in the heart of Chennai’s crowded streets purchasing more stones. This time, I purchased a sizeable amount of sparkling diamond-like Swarovski crystals as well.
On Thursday, May 21st, I had promised to take my aunt to Nemili. A friend also joined and three of us reached Nemili around 4.30 p.m. I had taken with me samples of the various stones I’d purchased in order to place them at Bala’s feet and get her blessings.
Once again, there were hardly any other visitors and I was able to converse freely with the family members regarding the specific manner in which I had to make these tiny skirts for Bala. Mohan gave me a few skirt samples for both Bala and her Mother as well as a tiny skirt for Bala’s outing in her Chariot.
Finally, when I was about to take leave, Mohan came to me with a big cardboard carton. Inside this was a plastic Mandapam, (decorative miniature hall-like accessory), an exact replica of Sri Bala’s mandapam in the Peetam. Apparently, these mandapams fashioned out of plastic were not available anymore and Mohan wondered if I could try and scout in the back alleys of Chennai Town for a few more in different colours. The eagerness and interest that all family members, particularly Baby Amma, showed with regard to beautifying Bala and making her the Grand cynosure of all eyes at the Peetam , moved me to tears.
I promised them I would do my very best . Just as Mohan handed over the plastic model of Bala’s Mandapam to me, a loud rumble of thunder could be heard. As we walked out to the car, I could see that the hitherto blue skies were now completely overcast. Spectacular flashes of Lightning lit up the dark grey cloud blanket. We hurriedly got into the car just as the Heavens opened. Baby Amma and Mohan saw us off with the parting words “ Don’t think this is a normal occurrence. Nothing connected to Bala is either simple or straightforward. Don’t think it’s an easy matter to walk in and take her skirts and Mandapam”.
I already knew in my heart that what just happened was momentuous. This was no ordinary event. Taking Bala’s permission to make her Mandapams in different colors or fashion stone studded skirts for her to wear, was a great boon indeed which she had condescended to bestow on me!
On May 22nd, ( appropriately, since it was Bala’s number), I began the process of getting these skirts done. I summoned a few tailors and carefully explained the precise manner in which each skirt had to be done. At the same time, I was able to contact a few more artisans who would be able to fix stones onto these skirts in a creative manner. We decided to start work after the week end and I gave them a deadline of ten days for the whole project.
At the time of writing this, I still have no idea if Bala will bless me by completing this project successfully!
On the same day, I took the plastic replica of Bala’s mandapam and returned to the crowded shops hoping to find a few more of the same style. For three hours I searched in the tiny shops, traversing through several narrow streets. However, I wasn’t able to find a single Mandapam that matched the one Mohan had given me.
Finally, with a heavy heart, I decided to decorate just the one, sample mandapam and returned to the stone- shop to purchase slightly bigger stones for use on this plastic mandir.
There was a huge crowd inside this tiny shop and service was slow. I was already tired after hunting for the Mandapam in dusty alleys and a further wait of one hour in this tiny shop was too much for me to physically endure. My driver who had accompanied me was also tired and weary. I told Bala in my mind “ Oh Bala, you are really trying me too hard. This is the final time I’m going to come to the Town area of Chennai shopping for You”.
No sooner had this thought crossed my mind when I was startled by a sharp, splintering sound. The plastic Mandapam that my driver was holding in his hands had been subject to a small accident! Accidentally my driver had exerted pressure on the front portion and the front pillar snapped in two.
This was the last straw. I simply got up and we both left the shop. On the journey back I remained silent. I tried not to think of anything, even Bala. However, one thing was sure. I could not possibly repair this mandapam and then decorate it and return it to the Peetam. Although we could glue the broken pieces, I wasn’t ready to give Bala a broken Mandapam.
Returning home, I had a bath, lit the lamp in my Puja room and sat in front of Bala. I apologised to her for those words spoken out of tiredness and sought her help.
That night, my mind was uneasy and I did not sleep well at all.
The following morning, I went down and took a look at the Mandapam. We had glued together the broken parts effectively and once I painted it in a different color, I was sure the crack would never be seen.
In any case, my driver called Mohan since he too felt guilty at having broken this precious Mandapam. Since the Nemili family were on pilgrimage the phone connection wasn’t clear but from the brief conversation with Mohan, it appeared that we could fix this mandapam, redecorate it and bring it in to Nemili.
Despite these assurances, I wasn’t satisfied. Then, something strange happened.
My driver lifted the cardboard box housing the plastic mandapam and I saw something written underneath the box. Why, here was the telephone number and address in Mumbai of the company that manufactured these decorative accessories.
What utter fools we had been, wasting time searching for this when I could have justed lifted the phone and dialled this number.
Without further hesitation, I did just that. One little snag, though. I do not know Hindi and the voice at the other end knew neither English or Tamil. Somehow, I made the man understand I wanted a plastic Mandapam and asked him if there were any sales agents in Chennai.
I was given a name and phone number.
Within a few minutes, I was talking in Tamil to a man who used to be a wholesale distributor for this particular type of Mandapam in Chennai.
However, my elation soon subsided when he reiterated that he had no stock left. Just one left, he said and that was in his Puja room. No, he could not part with this at any cost.
I was totally dejected now and appealed sincerely to Bala.
For a few moments the man remained silent. Then he said “ You come to my house. After I see you, I can place an order with my friend in Mumbai. I’ll check and see if he has any Mandirs of this type left for sale”.
He gave me his address.
He lived in ( you might have guessed) in the same, crowded, Town area of Chennai that I had by now become very familiar with.
Once more that morning I embarked on another outing hoping and praying to Bala that I would be successful in locating or ordering her special mandapams.
Within half an hour we located the contact’s house. An old man opened the door and I could see instantly that the focal point of his tiny flat was an orange, plastic Mandapam, an exact replica of the one in Bala’s Peetam.
After a few minutes discussion with him, and a few phone calls later, I have placed an order for twelve mandapams to be couriered to me in Chennai from the warehouse in Mumbai. I have given this man Bala’s sacred photo and Prasadam and at the time of writing, am still waiting for the packages to arrive. He has promised me I should get them by Tuesday, May 26th.
The outcome, however, rests ONLY with Bala.
Similarly, while I have engaged a few tailors and craft persons to create lovely skirts for Bala, no progress has taken place so far. I can only sincerely pray that Bala will soon curtail her games and grant all her devotees the thrill of seeing her gorgeously bedecked in shining, dazzling and shimmering creations.
A tiny voice in my mind keeps reminding me “ You can never play games and hope to win where Bala is concerned. Play with her and lose gracefully. She will then clasp you to her heart with boundless love”
May 25th, 2009.
THE GRAND FINALE
June 3rd, 2009.
Whatever I thought was impossible has been accomplished through Bala’s boundless grace. All I do know is I really wanted to create beautiful skirts for Bala so Baby Amma’s dream would come true. So, within a short period of exactly thirteen days
( from May 22nd until June 3rd), I have been able to design and make sixteen sets of beautiful stone studded skirts for both Bala and her mother, Raja Rajeshwari. In addition, I have made a very tiny skirt embellished only with sparkling rhinestones for this precious child- deity to use whenever she sits gleefully on her swing or inside her chariot!
Furthermore, ten beautiful Mandapams , in different glowing colors have been painted and decorated with twinkling stones to house both Bala and her glimmering dresses.
I am poised to make a trip to Nemili tomorrow carrying this precious load for the little child’s approval!
However, the past couple of weeks haven’t been without either heartache or problems. Although I had the help of a couple of tailors, the progress was extremely slow to begin with. The craftsmen responsible for sticking the stones did not come in every day as initially agreed upon. Also, there was a lot of stress and tension regarding the arrival of the plastic Mandapams. Although I had pre paid for them to be couriered to Chennai from Mumbai, they did not arrive for nearly a week. Even when they did come in, I found to my horror that only five of the twelve I’d ordered were intact. The rest had suffered in transit and there were broken pillars and domes in all the Mandapams.
Nevertheless, I did not give up hope. Painstakingly and lovingly, I repaired the cracked pieces, spray painted them in various bright colors and have decorated them to the best of my ability. Similarly, the small crew of helpers have toiled away diligently creating a dazzling array of lovely, glittering stone skirts for dear Bala.
What remains to be seen is if Bala and her family really give their seal of approval!
SRI BALA CHARANAM.
June 4th, 2009.
On the evening of June 3rd, all of those many- colored mandapams for Sri Bala had been packed into large cardboard boxes. The glittering skirts were put away carefully into colour- coded brocade bags made with left over fragments of fabric.
It was 7 pm and I lit the lamp in my puja room and was about to listen to Bala’s songs. The first song I played was a “Thank You” or “Nanri Paadal” composed by Baba.G in 2008. This song is a sincere expression of gratitude to Bala for all the miracles she causes to happen in our lives. I thanked her for enabling me to carry out this most recent skirt- making project.
The song had hardly ended when the phone rang. My sister in law was on the line. She said “ Both your brother and I are planning a sudden trip to Shirdi tomorrow. We have made excellent arrangements to have a few uninterrupted moments in front of Sri Sai. Would you like to accompany us?”
I was stunned!
I had been longing to make this pilgrimage for many years now, especially since I had finished my portrait of Shirdi Baba in 2005. However, every single time, there appeared to be obstacles. Now, just as I was poised to go into Nemili on a Thursday carrying Bala’s skirts, comes this request!
However, I did not hesitate for a single second. I replied “ Thank you so much for inviting me. Hard as it is to turn down such a magnificent opportunity, I am committed to go to Nemili tomorrow. In fact, I’ve informed all the little grand children of Ezhilmani that I am bringing in new skirts for Bala. So, they will be disappointed if I don’t show up”.
After I put the phone down I realised this was no ordinary occurrence. Why, this was just one more of Bala’s little “tests” to see whom I would choose.
This time, there was no mistake. I had straight away ticked the correct answer; “B” for “Bala”.
So, in the afternoon of June 4th, we set off to see Bala once more in her powerful abode in Nemili. Our car followed a slow moving vehicle carrying a very valuable burden! Our departure got slightly delayed since I insisted on making a detour to get fresh flowers for Bala!
It was just past 5 .30 p.m. when we reached Bala’s house and I was surprised to see Sri Ezhilmani Mama himself waiting outside in the front porch. He told me he had been awaiting my arrival for the past one hour.
We carried in the boxes one by one into the Peetam. I kept apologising to Mama for making him wait to perform the Deeparadhanai since I wanted to unpack all the boxes myself and place the Mandapams and skirts right in front of Bala.
It took a good half-hour to get this small exhibit laid out to my satisfaction in front of Bala’s tiny Peetam.
By this time all the children of the house, a few relatives, Mohan, Baba.g, Baby Amma and Murali had gathered around to witness the “arrival of these new dresses for their precious child-resident”.
My heart was filled with joy as I looked at Baby Amma’s beaming face. Carefully she inspected each dress and was overjoyed at the colourful display. The children competed with each other to pick their favourite colour. Ezhilmani Mama, said he liked the “baby” pink color the best and then proceeded to show Deeparadhanai.
I can’t think of a happier moment in my life!
I was tired yet completely fulfilled that this task had been carried through to Bala’s satisfaction.
A small regret remained that two mandapams ( out of the twelve ) I’d ordered had broken completely. However, Bala soon saw to it that even this little unhappiness vanished.
Observing the successful transformation of those simple, nondescript plastic mandapams into bejewelled, colourful thrones, Mohan brought in two older Mandapams from his room and asked me to re paint and decorate these as well!
Finally, just before I left Bala’s house I received Bala’s command or “uthiravu” for my departure back to London. She has asked me to leave Chennai on June 10th and has said I will return during September to witness Navarathri at her Peetam.
Baba.G took me aside and said “ I received this information just as a flash while going to tell Mohan to come down and look at the skirts you brought. Bala has told me She really loves you. However, she is extremely possessive and will not let you out of her sight. That is why she will not let you visit any other temple, or do anything for anyone else except her”.
I pray that Bala will always be with me!
Ezhilmani Mama has said I am a part of his family and we will visit Shirdi together taking Bala also with us, one day.
Meanwhile, I am all set to depart to London after visiting Nemili for a final time tomorrow to celebrate Sri Baba.G’s 42nd birthday.
With Sri Bala’s blessings, I shall put up all these writings on my website tomorrow along with only those photos of my paintings She consents to making public.
She has already turned down the request to make public her coloured, jewelled skirts. “ These photos will be taken at the Peetam officially and sent to devotees” is her Arul Vakku to Baba.G.
My next project will be completing the nine divine pictures Bala has commanded me to draw to illustrate her Navarathna Malai ( Song of Nine gems).
Sri Bala Charanam.
Sri Bala Thunai.
June 7th, 2009.