Features | Experience of the Divinity of Bhagavan | Group V | Maj. Gen. S. P. Mahadevan

Maj. Gen. S. P. Mahadevan,

Maj. Gen. S. P. Mahadevan (Retd) rendered distinguished service in the Indian Army. He retired as GOC of the Andhra comprising Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa. He was the State President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization of Tamilnadu for about 15 years. An ardent devotee of Bhagavan, he narrates a few of his experiences of the Divinity of Bhagavan in his own words.

'In 1972, I was commanding a Mountain Division of the Indian Army in the snow-covered area of Ladakh. The first taste of Swami's divinity I felt was in September 1972 when I was passing through Bangalore on leave. I came to Brindhavan to have Swami's darshan. As Swami came out of the mandir down the path, I tried to take a photo of His with powerful Cannon zoom camera. Swami signalled 'no' with His hand. My military mind did not take His 'no', and I took 3 snaps of Him quickly. When I went to Madras, I gave the film for developing and printing. To my surprise, the first 30 photos I had taken in Kashmir and Delhi came out well; the last three photos I had taken in Madras also came out clearly, but the three snaps I took of Swami at Brindavan were blank.

The second taste of Swami's divinity I felt was in Ooty in September 1974. From Kashmir I had come to Wellington near Ooty to carryout inspection of the Madras Regimental Centre in my capacity as the Colonel of the Madras Regiment. There I heard that Sai Baba had come to start a school- Sri Sathya Sai Vidya Vihar. I immediately rushed to Ooty with my family. By the time we reached there, thousands of devotees had gathered there. With great difficulty my wife and I managed to get inside the school building. Ass soon as Swami came down the staircase from His room, He came straight to me and said, 'when you came to Moga, Punjab last year, you were not wearing this dress, and when you came to Brindavan earlier this year you were not wearing this dress.'

I was surprised and so I asked Him, 'You recognized me among about five lakhs of people in Moga and among a few thousands of men and women assembled in Brindavan'. Swami replied 'yes. Wherever my devotee is, I recognize him whatever dress he may be wearing'. I at once caught hold of His feet and said 'You must be God because only God has these qualities'. Then Swami asked me 'what do you want?' I replied 'by God's grace, I have got everything, I don't want anything'. Swami again asked me what I wanted. I said 'I don't want anything for myself; but, if you kindly come to Wellington, 15 km from here and bless 3000 soldiers undergoing training in Madras Regimental Centre, they will be highly motivated to fight better in the defence of our country'.

Swami readily agreed and, accordingly, Swami came next morning to Wellington in my Army Staff Car piloted by a Military police vehicle. On the way, Swami materialized a ring with Sairam engraved on it and put it on my finger. At Wellington Barracks, as Swami entered the Hall, all officers and soldiers who were standing to their attention in their best Army uniforms, broke the ranks and rushed to take padanamaskar of Swami. Then Swami asked me, 'General, what happened to the Army discipline? I said 'discipline has gone to the background, and devotion has come forward'. Swami just smiled. Then Swami addressed the military crowd and their families like the Divine Supreme Commander and told them, 'you are the real patriots, as you are prepared to sacrifice even your lives for the sake of the Motherland', and blessed them all before leaving.

Omnipresent-God Sai

Thinking that I was just new to the command in Kashmir, Pakistan Army, in November 1972, intruded into our area of Dras, Kargil, Chorbatla, and Turtuk, and the Chinese, in collusion, intruded into Chusil and Karakoram area. I prayed to Bhagavan intensely and sincerely to show me some sign and help me to repulse their intrusion. In my lonely cottage covered with snow at a height of 12500 feet above sea level, vibuthi appeared from Swami's coloured photo (12" x 24" in size) kept in my cottage. This divine signal gave me courage, confidence and capability to throw the Pakistanis and Chinese out of our territory with minimum casualties by His grace. In 1999, when a similar intrusion took place, we lost 500 lives in evicting them across the LOC.

In the 1970s, in an interview, Swami told me, 'Why Fear When I am Near'. I told Swami 'I have read and heard Swami saying, 'why fear when I am here'; why this modification for me?' Swami replied 'If I say 'why fear when I am here', your military mind will start doubting how can I possibly protect you sitting here when you are commanding a Mountain Division in Kashmir, 2000 miles away'. True to His assurance, swami has ever since been near me and saving me from dangers, difficulties, diseases and from near-death situations both in war and peace, and both in India and aboard. Swami had saved me from Pakistan Army bullets, from Chinese Artillery bombardment and from Machine Gun fire of European Mercenaries when I was part of the United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in Congo (Africa).

During Bangladesh War, as Brigadier General, Staff, I was flying in an Alloute Helicopter over Jessore in East Pakistan on a reconnaissance mission. The Pakistan Army soldiers from the ground below were trying to shoot my helicopter down with Machine Gun on anti-aircraft role. As I was praying to our Bhagavan, one bullet that had entered the bottom of the helicopter between my two feet, instead of hitting my chest according to the normal law of trajectory, was pushed over my left shoulder by the Abhayahasta of the Omnipresent-God Sai.

In 1973 when I was returning to my HQ in Leh, after visiting my troops in the Karakoram Pass facing the Chinese, the weather became turbulent and so my helicopter found it difficult to cross the Khardungla Pass (18920 feet above sea level). On my insistence, the IAF pilot made attempts and managed to scrape over the Pass and some metal at the bottom of the helicopter chipped off, resulting in loss of fuel making it impossible to reach my HQ. So the pilot managed to crash-land on the rocky riverbed of the Indus. As I was praying to Bhagavan, He saved the pilots, my ADC and me without injuries; but the helicopter was written off, resulting in a loss of a few crores of Rupees to the Government.

In January 1975, on my return from Siachen area, I found another helicopter lying in damaged condition in Shyok valley. I landed near the helicopter and found that the pilots were injured. I used my helicopter to evacuate them to the base hospital and asked my pilot to come back and pick me up. As the helicopter did not come till dusk, I decided to walk 32km over the Khardungla Pass with my aide at midnight. When we were about 5km short of the Pass, I heard a noise of thunder, and thousands of tonnes of snow was coming down on us as a snow avalanche. I told my escort party and radio detachment to pray to their favourite Gods, and I kept on praying to my 'Ishtadevata' - Sai Ram'. As a result, the rescue party came from the opposite direction and pulled us out of the snow by our finger tips, though we suffered snow blindness, chilblain and frostbite. Swami, out of His love, saved our lives and limbs.

Omniscient-God Sai

On 22nd November 1977, Swami came to me in the verandah at Prasanthi Nilayam and asked me to take three cars and go towards Bangalore, as one of the lorries bringing the Military Band had met with an accident 27km away. Swami added. 'I have saved their lives. Bring the injured soldiers to General Hospital near the Ganesh Temple.' I brought them. Swami came and enquired about the injuries, and asked them whether they would be able to play the Military Band next day, On Swami's birthday, the Military Band of Madras Group, with bandaged eyes, hands and legs, played martial music to the appreciation of all. Swami was happy and gave them all boxes of sweets and fruits, and posed with them for a group photograph.

In 1984, Swami, in the interview room, told me and my wife the seating plan in my friend's car in which we had travelled from Bangalore to Prasanthi Nilayam. He also said 'you tried twice to sing Sai bhajan, but your friend who gave you the lift was not interested in the bhajan. He started talking politics and about cinema stars.'

In April 1994, at Kodaikanal, for some reasons, swami was displeased with the behaviour of some students He had brought with Him. Swami announced 'we are going back to Brindavan today'. He told me that He was going for a drive for 20km and, that by the time He came back, I should have all the students boarded the bus with packed lunch, ready to leave for Brindavan. With good intention, I gave a short lecture to the students and advised them to do meditation on Swami, regretting and repenting their misconduct. When Swami returned from the drive, the all-knowing God-Sai asked me 'who gave you permission to give a lecture to the students? Though I was 25km away, I heard every word of your lecture'. The students and I fell at Swami's feet and asked for His pardon. The loving God forgave us and stayed on in Kodaikanal for three more weeks.

Omnipotent-God Sai

In May 1980, I came to Prasanthi Nilayam to tell Swami that I was going to retire from the Army the next month. Swami smiled and said, 'who said, 'you are going to retire'? I am going to re-tyre you.'

On the day of my retirement, after a big ceremonial parade in my honour, I went home for lunch. Shri M.G.R. (the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu) rang me up and offered me appointment of the Chairman of the Tamilnadu Public Service Commission. In that capacity later, I went to Hyderabad to attend an All India Conference presided over by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. At lunch time, in the house of my Air Force Officer's son in the Air Force Academy at Dundugal, I felt giddy and fell down unconscious. My wife, sitting next to me, started praying and crying in front of Swami's photo. Exactly at 2.10 p.m. on the 24th April 1986, the same time I fell down unconscious, Swami, sitting in His room in the Prasanthi Nilayam, told Shri Kutumba Rao and Swamy Karunyanada standing next to Him, 'General Mahadevan had a heart attack in Hyderabad, and I have saved him'. He then materialized vibhuti and sent it to me with His letter written in English saying, 'Why Fear When I am Near. I am in you, with you around you, guiding you and guarding you. With Love and Blessings to you and your wife'.

During the 21days I spent in the Intensive Care Unit of the Military Hospital in Secunderabad, I had no fear of death as Swami used to come in my dream and assure me the He would not allow me to die. I also used to get the smell of Swami's vibhuti all the time. When I returned to Madras accompanied by a doctor, a nurse and oxygen cylinder, I came to know that Swami had come to Kodaikanal. I wanted to go there to be of some service to Swami, but my cardiologist, who did Echocardiogram and ECG on me, said that I should not to go Kodaikanal as it is a very high hill-station and a cold place. I felt bad and sad.

During that period, one fine morning, Swami came all the way to my house in Madras without any prior notice, and took me with Him to Sundaram. There Swami announced to all the devotees assembled 'I came to bless General Mahadevan; you are all lucky to have extra darshan of Mine', and left.'

-- Maj. Gen. S. P. Mahadevan

(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.)