Thursday, Apr 18 2024  


When I think of the word "inspiration", the first person who comes to my mind is my mother. She inspires me with her heart, mind, actions and thoughts, both as a friend, and as my mother. Like many of us, I respect my parents for bringing me into this world, loving me unconditionally and most of all, for being there to take care of my needs

My relationship with my mother is a little different because I don't regard her merely as my mom or my best friend, but as my daily message from Swami. There have been many such messages and lessons but one stands out as a true inspiration to me.

My parents' world turned upside down the day my dad was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. This meant that the tumor would not spread but that it needed to be removed immediately. By Swami's grace, the surgery went well and my dad survived with only a few disabilities. After 7 years of marriage and two young children who needed her constant care, my mother became the sole breadwinner of the family while my dad was our stay-at-home parent. Her focus on being a good mother, a supportive wife and a good employee was a true inspiration for us to see while growing up. Her dedication to her duty while maintaining a balanced life taught me the importance of staying focused on one's challenges by not letting them control your heart or emotions. From my perspective, as a child, my mom was practically a single parent dealing with quite a bit of responsibility but she managed to amaze me with her love for Swami and how she constantly integrated Him into her lives.

We had a small Sai Center in our home growing up. As President of the Center, my mother exposed me to ideals from the importance of doing seva (service) and namasmarana (repetition of the name) to understanding Swami's teachings in everything that we do. The message I got from this experience was no matter what was going on in my life, if I maintained a close relationship with Swami through my actions and thoughts, He will make sure nothing touches me in a negative way.

For the next nine years, my family became comfortable with dealing with my father's disabilities and loving him for who he was and not what he was capable of doing.
However, soon after, my dad was diagnosed with another brain tumor - this time in a more intricate part of the brain and surgery was our only option. I remember the day my mom came home from the doctor's appointment. We were all sitting in a circle, everyone showing their emotions in a different ways. After she shared the news, my uncle stared pacing, my grandmother stared crying uncontrollably while knotting her sari around her fingers asking Bhagavan "Why?", my sister hid in a closet because she didn't want dad to become more "different." My family was again in a state of turmoil and despair. But my mom was a source of strength. She calmly said, "Swami will take us through this, He has brought us this far and He will take us through this".

She immediately made plans to make a quick trip to India to seek Swami's blessings and to go on a small religious pilgrimage around India before heading back to New York to have one of the top neurosurgeons operate on my dad. For the 4 weeks that my mom and dad were in New York, my mom stayed at a family friend's house. Each day she would wake up and read only Swami's literature on her ride to the hospital. Even at such emotionally draining times, the message she taught me through this was that by keeping my mind and thoughts focused on Him, I was not allowing my mind and ego to go in a negative direction. She was surrendering her mind to Him.

At the hospital, she would apply vibhuthi (sacred ash), which Swami materialized for her on their last day in Parthi, to my dad's forehead with firm faith and devotion. Here I learnt to believe in the power of Love which Swami sends in everyone's direction whether it's in the form of a dream, a quote read at the perfect moment, or Swami's own sacred ash. Again by Swami's grace, the surgery was successful and my mom brought my dad home safe and sound.

By Swami's grace our family has learned to take my dad's life in stride through the years. We are able to laugh at the funny moments that only occur because we have my dad in our lives. We are able to look at people with disabilities not as unfortunate, but as people who take on life in a special way. We are able to appreciate and cherish the concept of every day being a brand new day! My dad has now gotten to the point where he needs full time care and the only caregiver who he responds to is my mother.

Once again my mother has adjusted her life to accommodate his needs in terms of feeding times, sleeping times, and making sure that he is as comfortable as possible. Of course we have our hard days and our easy days but very rarely do I see her throw her hands up in frustration.

I understand now that because she recognizes and listens to the language in which Swami loves her, she rarely gets frustrated and that is what gets her through EVERY moment. It's not in English, or with His physical presence, or with tangible miracles. She feels Swami's Love because He has accepted everything she has ever truly surrendered to Him - which is everything.

Sis Shanti Gangadharan
Tustin, California, USA


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