By Nirmala Jayaraman from Campbell, CA

Nirmala is in the darshan

Who is a mother? A dictionary defines a mother as someone who gives birth. Mother Sai, who has a thousand mothers' love, showed me that a mother is much more. A mother nurtures, cares for, encourages, and lovingly corrects the precious child entrusted to her.

My family came to know of Swami in the late 1960s, much before my birth. I’ve been going to see Him since I was little. On every such trip, He would come near and interact with me. Time just froze for me as I basked in His Motherly Love. I knew that I meant a lot to Him!

When I was about ten years old, my world collapsed, and I felt lost. Most compassionately, knowing the anguish of His young child, Bhagawan made a trip to Chennai, granted me a Padnamaskar, and assured me of His Presence in my life forever. The problems didn’t mitigate, but I knew I had His support! When I joined the summer course in 1995, I saw the Mother in action, taking care of us, offering us loving discipline, and enabling us to become independent individuals.


Swami wrote 'Om' for Nirmala as part of akshara abhyasa

I’m a successful software professional. When I was pregnant, He gave me a clear directive of always being mindful of my first duty - being a mother. He has challenged me to prioritize motherhood over my career twice already and gives me the courage to forge forward with that decision.

On the duty of a parent, in the Dharma Vahini, Swami says, “One has to make the children independent of one’s care and leave them to themselves,” and hence dictating that we raise self-reliant individuals while learning to practice detached attachment ourselves. That dictum resonates inside me consistently and provides me the goalpost in my life.

Indeed, transformation is a life-long journey. Swami’s inspiration has pushed me to aspire to become a better parent every day, offering my child a shoulder of support whenever needed, yet resisting the urge to take over and allowing my child to develop into a resilient, persistent, and self-reliant person. It’s certainly not easy to watch and let go of the urge to intervene, but that’s part of the learning! For example, when we taught our child to eat independently, it took longer for her to finish her meal, and there was quite a mess. While it would’ve been easy to grab the spoon and start feeding her, it was gratifying to show restraint, stand back, watch, and allow her to learn.

Swami signed the photo with the laddoo

Today, I strive to be a coach, teaching life skills with loving discipline. Be it finishing homework, time management, moderating technology usage, or making healthy food choices, we offer avenues to learn, hone skills, and strengthen the muscle of self-reliance. Deriving inspiration from Swami, we attempt to create a structure of emotional support and opportunities to help her bloom while internalizing that we're merely gardeners!

Several lessons await us in this parenting journey. Swami keeps challenging us at the next higher level. However, when we take one step, He holds our hand and propels us forward, using His embodiments, namely our children. When we aspire to emulate His example of striking a balance between love and discipline, our children too get to experience Him through us!