Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan | Group V | Begum Parween Sultana

Begum Parween Sultana,

Begum Parween Sultana is a gifted Hindustani Classical Musician with an enchanting voice. She has been known in India and abroad for her prowess in classical music. She has been an ardent devotee of Bhagavan ever since she came in contact with Him in 1993. She narrates a few of her experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in her own words.

'Our first experience with our Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was in 1993. We were invited to sing for His Birthday Celebration. Before that, my husband Ustad Dilshad Khan, a doyen of Indian Vocal Classical Music, saw Baba many times in his dreams, and we both eagerly wanted to go and meet Swami immediately. Soon, we got an invitation to sing before Baba. We were really happy, thrilled, and excited. Finally when we arrived at Puttaparthi before His Birthday, on the 22nd midnight, my husband Mr. Khan suddenly got up from the bed and woke me up to say that 'just now I saw Swami standing here before me'. Sweating with excitement and shock, he added that Swami told him 'I will meet you both the day after tomorrow, that is, 24th November 1993'. And He disappeared. It was very difficult for me to believe that Swami had come to our room in the middle of the night.

Any way I calmed my husband, advised him to sleep and assured him that we would discuss the whole matter in the morning. On the 23rd morning, one sevadal came to our room and gave a small written message to my husband saying 'it seems Baba had already informed you that He would call you tomorrow for interview'. Sender's name was Mr. T. V. K. Shastry, who was the secretary for that particular musical festival. Then I realized that whatever incident had taken place the last night was true. Both my husband and I prayed to Baba and thanked Him for such a wonderful Divine message and we asked for blessings for our evening concert. The concert went off wonderfully well with His grace. He came on to the stage, met both musicians of ours and us, blessed us and straight went to my husband and said, 'do you remember I told you yesterday night that I would meet you all tomorrow? So please come tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m.'. We both had a heavenly experience with our Swami for almost 45 minutes during our interview. This was our first experience.

After that, every year we have visited Bhagavan for Shivaratri, Gurupurnima or Birthdays. Even otherwise we regularly visit Puttaparthi and Whitefield. Another incident with Baba was in the year 1994 at Brindavan. In the afternoon after darshan, He called many of us to His bungalow. We were about 3-4 hundred devotees and Baba was sitting on the swing and invited from the crowd who ever felt like coming forward to speaking something about Baba and His experience with Baba. Suddenly He called my husband, 'Mr Khan, you also come and say something'. My husband was very thrilled and nervous, but he spoke for more than 15 minutes. Baba was hearing His speech and liked it so much that He patted on His shoulder and said 'very good; I am very happy' and then He looked at me. I was sitting with Late M. S. Subbalakshmi and our daughter Ms. Shahab S. Khan. Baba asked me: 'Parween, will you sing a bhajan for Me?' I was overwhelmed with happiness and I started singing a Meera bhajan. Listening to my bhajan, Baba was enjoying; then suddenly He told one of His students to bring the cymbals (the taalam for rhythm) and, can you believe, Bhagavan Himself was playing the taalam for me when I was singing the bhajan. It was the most auspicious and memorable day in my life I GOT MOKSHA that BHAGAVAN Himself was accompanying me when I was singing the bhajan and we were all enjoying it. It was so heavenly that we did not know how we passed the time. After the bhajan, He blessed me with a beautiful gold chain along with sari. To my husband He gave a suit length and sweet mangoes. Then He spoke to my daughter Shadaab who was also accompanying me in the bhajan. He asked her 'do you practise regularly?' My daughter Shadaab very nervously said 'yes, I do practise.' Then Bhagavan said 'you must practise everyday. You sing very well and your future is very bright'. I cried and both of us touched Baba's feet and Baba asked us 'when are you all leaving?' We replied 'day after tomorrow'. Then Swami said 'before you leave, come and see Me tomorrow morning.'

Next day morning after darshan, Baba called us again for interview. As soon as we entered the room, we saw some devotees seated inside; one couple was Mrs. M. Subbalakshmi and her husband; one Chinese couple with their two year old son, and two Japanese ladies and a Telugu couple. First Baba called the Chinese couple with their son. The mother was crying. Before she could say anything, Baba touched the small boy's head and told the mother 'your son is having brain tumour'. The mother said 'that is why I have brought him to you Baba, please, Baba, cure my child.' Seeing that we all became very emotional and most of us were crying. Baba blessed the little child with a chain having a locket with Bhagavan Buddha's picture on one side and Baba's on the other. Baba said 'he will be alright'

Then He called my daughter Shadaab (she was then 6 years old) near His knee, and asked 'what do you want?' We thought that she would ask for some colour pencils and erasers, because that time she was very fond of them; but surprisingly, she said 'I want Baba'. Baba was very happy with her reply and gave her gold chain with Bhagavan's locket. He then asked her (jokingly) 'what is your husband's name?' She was very surprised and nervous, and replied her father's name. We all were laughing and He patted her saying 'you are a very good girl, and like your father, helping others always'. After that my daughter Shadaab asked Baba's permission for a photograph. He gave permission and I clicked photos. Just then many voices requested for photographs to be taken with Baba; Baba allowed everybody to click photograph with Him. After a pause, He told all of us smilingly 'look, only mine and Shadaab's photograph has come, others will not come.'

When I gave the reel for printing, believe it or not, Swami and Shadaabs's photograph alone came, the rest was all blank.

Like this I have thousands of incidents with my Bhagavan. Another incident, which took place two years ago in Puttaparthi on Baba's Birthday:

In the morning He came near me and said: 'you have to sing for me in the evening around 4:00 p.m.' I was very happy and exactly at 3:00 p.m., we all gathered at the mandir. Inside I was doing my rehearsal wearing a beautiful sari, which Baba had given me earlier. Suddenly Baba came to me and said 'why are you wearing such a dull coloured sari?' I nervously explained 'Baba! It was given to me by you only, and it is a very lucky sari for me.' Then Baba said 'it's ok, but on stage you must wear bright colours' and further said 'wait'. He then went to His room and came out with huge packets of saris and asked me to choose one (especially a bright coloured one). When I was just looking at Him, He Himself chose a sari (red coloured Banarsi with very heavy golden Jari work) and gave it to me and said 'go and change'. Then I wore the new sari and He told me 'remember always, wear bright colours while giving concerts on stage'. Like a father to daughter in conservation, He taught me many things about stage performances which I don't think my own parents ever taught me. I guess I must have done something good in my last birth and that's why I have got such a Divine Guru, Father, Mother Sai in this birth.'

-- Begum Parween Sultana

(Source: The devotee's article in the special souvenir Tribute published by the Sri Sathya Sai Books & Publications Trust on the occasion of the 80th Birthday of Bhagavan.)