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The Artiste

Gowri Rao Mehta is a Bharatha Natyam dancer for many years. She is a student of Guru Kalyanasundaram of Sri Raja Rajeshwari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir – Mumbai.

She has performed on various platforms in India and Abroad.

Gowri is a multifaceted woman, writing the script, working on the music and choreographing dance dramas for children is her forte. She has worked with normal children & Special children with various physical & mental disabilities.

She has produced numerous dance dramas the latest being Meera in which she has performed the title Role.

She has been recognized for her achievements in various aspects of the Art. Gowri daughter of Mr. & Mrs. V.V. Rao & Wife of Shri Anuj Mehta. A family that always encouraged & stood by her. She was bedridden for more than a year and was finally miraculously cured by Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba, which turn her passion for the art into worship



A shrill and piercing scream from the bathroom shattered the morning hours. Vasantha was terrified and ran from the living room. She knocked loudly at the closed door of the bathroom. Gowri moaned from inside and said she was seized from severe back pain which immobilized her. Slowly, she managed to open the bolt of the door. Vasantha rushed in and helped her out to the bedroom. Gowri was in agony even when she lay in the bed. The family physician was summoned. She came and after examining her, pronounced it to be a muscular seizure. Injections and medicines were given. Gowri went off to a drowsy sleep. This was on 21st December, 1982.

From her childhood, Gowri was a sprightly and active god. Apart from being a good student, she participated in various cultural activities. She was an enthusiastic member of the debating societies clubs, drama associations, dance performances, sports and literary activities. She enrolled herself as a student of Bharatanatyam under a well known Guru of Thanjavur tradition at a young age of seven years. For ten long years she practised assiduously. When she did her 'arangetram' in 1979, discerning audience prophesied a good future for her. Later she danced in prestigious halls Shanmukhanada, Bharatiya, Visweswarayya, Subramanya Samaj, Asthika Samaj, all at Bombay; Chowdiah Hall at Bangalore, Tagore Hall at Ahmedabad. She had an opportunity to tour as a troupe member in Nepal. In November 1982 she was a member of a group of Bharatanatyam dancers, which performed at the Asiad village auditorium. She was practising hard to perform in a dance ballet scheduled on 23rd December, 1982 when tragedy struck.

Leading and well-known physicians, Surgeons, and experts visited and examined her. Scores of X-rays and repeated medical tests showed no clinical evidence of any injury or illness. By mid January, 1983 she suffered severe cramps at the lower back which left her in agony and exhausted. A leading Osteopath who examined her suspected a serious problem with her nervous system and started treatment. It gave Gowri some relief, but she continued to suffer from pain in the lower back. She was absolutely unable to sit. She had a stoop and could not straighten herself. She had to be helped out of the bed and violently shivered when she got up from the bed.

Months passed in agony for Gowri and her parents. Astrologers and mystics were consulted. Some of them indicated that she might be a victim of an evil eye. Pujas were performed and amulets tied. Of course, all of them were kind and assured early relief.
The osteopath continued his treatment everyday. By May, 1983 Gowri improved. She could sit for a while and also stand up fairly properly. She main­tained steady progress up to October, 1983. Of course, she suffered several time a day some bouts of pain. Late evenings were spent in restless condition: she slept fitfully, Alas ! The progress proved to be illusory. By November, 1983 her condition deteriorated. She complained of severe pain in the neck and shoulders. The days and weeks seemed to pass in sheer agony.

It was already December, 1983. A year of agony was nearing completion. At this time, a good schoolmate of Gowri casually dropped in to enquire of her health. She was shocked and distressed that after nearly a year. Gowri was still unwell. She decided that she had to do something about it. She went back and, at home, she told her mother all about Gowri's illness. The mother and her friend were staunch devotees of Sri Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi. They spent a lot of time in service to the poor, the lowly, the sick and children. They decided they would pray to Bhagavan to help Gowri, whom they had known from her childhood. The afternoon they walked into Gowri's house. Gowri and her mother were happy to see them. The ladies were indeed sad to see Gowri's condition. They talked sweetly to her consoled and advised her to pray to God sincerely for cure. Quietly, they took out a packet of some vibhuti and gave it to Gowri, suggesting that they apply it to the place where it pained her. Also, it could be mixed in water and swallowed when the pain became unbearable. It was vibhuti from Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba. All of us felt intrigued but felt no harm in trying out. After all, we had tried all methods. Why not this Vibhuti ? But, the ladies added, we should have full faith in Baba. How could it be? But the ladies said….you don’t have to believe in Baba –Have full faith in whoever you believe in….krishna rama jesus…who ever. We had just heard about him, we thought. The visitors repeated their assurance that the vibhuti was a powerful cure. While taking leave, they found they had a video cassette on Baba with them, which was to be screened at some other place. When we said we might be permitted to view it, they gladly handed over the cassettee to us. They left, reminding us to pray to Baba and use vibhuti.

The entire family crowded around and viewed the cassette; they were spell­bound at what they saw. They were charmed at the red robed apparition. Baba looked so lovely. The crowds seemed to adore him. He looked so compassionate and kind. Of a sudden, he waved his right palm and created vibhuti. He gave it to a devotee who was thrilled. And the torrential vibhuti which Baba made flow out of the empty inverted container on to an idol of Shirdi Sai Baba, was unbelievable. And his message of Satya, Dharma, Santhi, and Prema was thrilling. There is only one religion-the religion of love. There is only one God. He is omnipresent. What a splendid unification of humanity.'

The entire film over whelmed us. We were moved at the splendour of Baba. Pity, we did not know him earlier. But, never mind, it is never too late. We ran the film again and again. The more we saw it, the more we loved it. It was an experience.

The lady devotees came the next day. They brought us a couple of books on the life and teachings of Baba, We had used the vibhuti as directed. Was it true? The pain seemed to reduce and disappear when the vibhuti was applied. Mixed in water and swallowed, it made her bright and cheerful. What was happening? Did we indulge in imagination? Some sort of make-believe? We waited to see further developments. Subsequently, vibhuti was used freely at the spots where it pained and generously dosed in water for Gowri to drink. On each occasion it seemed to act instantaneously. In particular, the left arm which went numb and lifeless, sprung to life the moment vibhuti was applied. We were delighted but kept our peace for fear some evil eye should rob us of this new found experience. When the stock of vibhuti started dwindling, we felt concerned. But the lady devotees visited and filled up the container. In fact they themselves were surprised on their way to our place by other devotees who handed over vibhuti packets which they had received at Parthi. They could hardly conceal their happiness at the wonders the vibhuti did to Gowri. Did we not tell you, they seemed to ask us? They encouraged us to pray to Baba faithfully. We thought we should now.

The weeks following, a lot of things were happening to us. It was not a gradual development. Our house was literally invaded and stormed, as it were, by Baba. Soon, his pictures flooded in. They stood on walls and tables. Small and big, but all of them charming. Bhajan tapes were the next. The melody and devotion held our heart. Other music took less priority. We appeared to recognize the unseen divine intervention. For Gowri, it did not appear to be a new acquisition. Perhaps her love of him was dormant. It gushed forth like a spring of water. It engulfed us and other visitors. The message of love was irresistible; many were the occasions when we sat deeply absorbed with the thoughts of Baba. We thought he was around. We could not think of eating food before we could offer it to our Baba. A living divine presence seemed to have made its stay in the house.

Suddenly, a deep desire developed to visit Parthi. But how? We were told that the place was always crowded and even darsan of Baba could be difficult. A friend who was a Sai devotee for decades encouraged us to make the visit with full faith and all would be well. When Gowri said that she would also go with us to Parthi, we were aghast, how could she? She couldn't even stand freely. Even a little disturbance was causing pain to her. How could she travel twenty hours in a rattling train and later by road to Parthi? It seemed unthinkable. But, the firm look on her face indicated that she was going to make it. We realized that we had very little to do with the plan. It was Baba who seemed to be making the decisions." We just submitted to his will, and, we found that he arranged all the requirements.

Soon the day of travel dawned. It was 7th February, 1984. We had to go to the main V. T. Station to catch the train leaving at about Sam. Our apartment was on the second floor. It was a painful experience for Gowri to go up and down staircases during the last one year. What would happen now? Just nothing she walked down the forty steps in a normal manner. Then came the long drive of fifteen Kilometers to the station. All the way, she sat quietly despite the bumps. At every turn we were racked by doubts. When she reached the compartment she had to pull herself over the footboard steps by holding the handles. With the past one month's excruciating pain in the shoulders, we again wondered. We seemed to be of little faith. The divine hand guided, helped, and consoled us all the time. She pulled herself into the compartment and quietly lay down on the seat. During the journey the rattle and swing of the train did cause her discomfort. And again, it was vibhuti all the way which kept her cheerful and happy.
Early next morning we reached Anantapur. The journey to my niece's house was soon accomplished in a cycle rickshaw. It was with considerable effort that Gowri stepped up and down the vehicle. When we reached the house, we groaned as it was on the first floor served with a narrow flight of stairs, somehow she could slowly crawl up We allowed her to rest the whole day. On 9th February, 1984 we hired a car and drove to Parthi. The last lap of the drive was a painful time for her. By 8.30 a.m. we were  in Prasanthi Nilayam.  We were thrilled and delighted.

We looked for our friend but nobody could tell us about him.  In the mean­time, we were told that Baba was scheduled to give a discourse at the local collegeauditorium and that the morning darsan was dropped. We still had no accommodation.   We were told that there just was none available. We decided to do first things first.  We dumped our baggage in a make-shift cloak room and rushed to have a                   glimpse of Baba on his way to the auditorium.   The place around the Nilayam was already crowded-silent and expectant crowd of devotees.  We joined them and as he drove past we had his first darsan. At last, we saw him. It fulfilled our ardent desire.

Everyone was rushing to the auditorium.  A discourse by Baba was a rare event. And he had just returned from a long tour of south India. We decided to walk it up and Gowri too fell in-   Baba spoke for nearly two hours in his inimitable style with a number of examples thrown in.    Wit and humour enlivened the discourse. The audience listened with rapt attention to the philophy of love.  Baba recounted
 many episodes of his journey to various places in South India. When he broke into
a Bhajan the whole place reverberated with divine name.   The audience joined with enthusiasm.               

The long walk in the hot sun brought Gowri down. We still had no accommodation. She was in real agony. She collapsed and lay down on the parapet wall outside the Nilayam. Many kind hearted volunteers rushed to her aid. They helped her with many pillows to provide some comfort. When I looked anxious, they assured me that by Baba's Grace, Gowri would be cured. I could only hope for the best.

By afternoon we found our friend and some accommodation too. We got hold of a cot and a chair as Gowri could not sit on the floor; for over a year she could not do so. For the evening darsan, the chair and pillows had to be sent as there was a separate arrangement for those who were not well We found scores of invalids who used chairs awaiting Baba's darsan. Gowri joined the group. I went over to the men's lines At about 4-80 p.m. we found the dainty red-robed Baba sail out into the open. Absolute silence and complete discipline were the highlights of the event. He walked slowly—almost floated, I should say—and the devotees filled their heart with his darsan. It was enough even to cure intractable illness, we were told. We had no other ambition. Would he accost us and talk to us? Would he bless Gowri? Wouldn't we be thrilled if he did that? Perhaps every visitor felt the same way. When he beckoned someone in the crowd for an 'interview' with him, we envied their good fortune. But, then, we ran into devotees who were there for months together and did not have the good fortune and oddly enough, they looked satisfied and contented. We realised that his darsan was all that one desired and it worked wonders. Perhaps, they saw him in their own hearts, for did he not say he was in the hearts of everyone, and by deep devotion, they could feel him. Gradually, this truth dawned on everyone and grew in conviction. No longer was one concerned with the obsession of a personal 'interview'. They surrender to his grace and choice. Nobody rationalized the choice of Baba, for in his eyes, the entire universe was a reflection of the Self. Only immature devotees like us tried to evaluate his grace.
In any case, I did seem to run into bit of good luck. Both, in the morning and evening, I sat in the front line. Baba came and stood right in front of me. I seized the opportunity and literacy grabbed his small soft feet and put my head on it. He took the letter from my hands and seemed to look at me with curiosity-at least, I thought so. That was the end of my good luck! For the next four days, I was right at the back of the lines. Enough was enough, he must have thought.

Gowri sat in her chair while he walked past her. He gave her a hard look. On another occasion, he took her letter, tried to touch his feet but could not bend down, of course. With his darsan twice a day, she seemed to get better and better. . We could hardly contain our emotions.

On the morning of 13th February, 1984 we had his darsan and were delighted to see the re-robed Baba. I saw many that day with beatific smile on their faces. ‘I wondered what they found in him that I missed. The entire setting ripped with love and joy. Afterwards, I was with my friend in his room when there was messenger from Baba saying that he was calling us! I felt incredulous. It was an unheard of command. Yes, Baba, in his grace, sent for us! It was true. In sheer ecstasy, we ran helter-skelter to collect the numbers of the group. While my elderly friend sprinted across to round up others. I herded my wife and Gowri to the Nilayam. Suddenly I remembered a beautiful engraving on an acrylic sheet handed over to me by an artist at Bombay with a request that I try to pray Baba to accept the gift.

I ran to the room and grabbed the packet and in no time. I was back in the foray of the Nilayam. The lady members awaited further Instructions and stood near the barrier wall. Seconds ticked by and they were still kept away. My mind tore into a million anxious moments. But I was necessarily worrying. Soon enough the obstacle was brushed aside. They were allowed in. Baba came out of the room into the foyer, all of us stood up. He waved us in. It was a simple and direct gesture. We trooped in. He closed the door. At least we were in. Right next him too. Just a couple of steps away. All of us were in an ecstatic euphoria. So near to him, at last. He sat on the high-backed chair with his feet on the small step. He started talking in his simple Telugu language. I remembered my own childhood Telugu when I lived at Anantapur. It was delightful. The awesome barrier of aloofness just melted away. Here he was talking to us in a simple, jocular and intimate style. His eyes brimmed with love and compassion. The smile on his face lit up the entire room, bright and iridescent. He gave a long discourse on the aspects of Chaitanyam. He emphasized the need for continuous and steady sadhana.
I noticed a stranger quietly sitting in the corner of the room. Baba turned to him and stretched his hand. The devotee gave a packet. It contained two beautiful diamond ear rings, which Baba had materialized for the devotee earlier. One of the screws was jammed tight. Nobody could loosen it. Baba took it in his hand and with some amusement blew on it. Presto! The screw just turned like a well oiled one. There was no flourish, no high drama. It looked simple. .And yet it was astounding to us. (Swami with his grace carried a chair for her.)

All of a sudden, he turned towards Gowri, who was also seated in a chair as she could not sit on the floor along with us. What had the doctors to say? She explained how all the medical experts found nothing wrong with the reports. I started saying that every one of them came in and kept repeating the tests, ultimately to find nothing wrong with them. I started saying that Gowri was an .active Bharathanatyam dancer. He held up his hand gently. I stopped talking. He said that he knew everything about Gowri and her problem. He knew the reasons for her suffering. And he was curing her right now. Then and there. She would be quite normal. We were astounded and speechless. We could not comprehend what was really happening. It was a stunning moment. Baba got up and went near her. Gowri was already on her feet. And as though she was just normal she went down on her knees and fell at his feet. What better proof did we need other than what we were witnessing? It has happened after an interval of fourteen months. She could at the best stand erect and move about in the house. She could not think of bending forward. Of course, to kneel or sit on the floor was unthinkable. Medical experts did caution her not to attempt any such activities. And here she was right all his feet. As parents we tried hard to fight back the tears flooding out of our eyes Other members could hardly conceal their joy and emotions. We followed Gowri and were right at Baba's feet. His grace, love and compassion poured on us and on all of us in abundance. Perhaps he accepted our devotion when he permitted us to bow at his feet for such a long time. For long years we have also been struggling "in the path of spiritual progress. But the grace we received now literally heaved us forward. We felt as though a powerful force intensified our love of God. An inexplicable 'ananda' flooded us, through and through. Baba broke the silence and assured that Gowi will be normal. In fact, she would visit him next time in great 'ananda'. He enlivened the final moments with his characteristic humour. He distributed vibhuti to all of us in generous measure. It signified the end of the 'interview. We filed out in a flood of Joy.

It was time for the morning bhajan and we joined he devotees in singing. After the 'arati' we came out to find the whole world sunny and smiling. But more of Baba's grace was to be known by us. We found Gowri walking with a jaunt towards us. When she came near us, she told us in excited tones how she discarded her chair and pillows kept for her at the bhajan hall and squatted right on the floor throughout the bhajan. Many members of the audience who had earlier witnessed her agony were astounded and broke into spontaneous joy at her complete trans­formation. The news had already spread around and the loving volunteers all around beamed with joy when they saw her. Most of them gave her a did-we-not-say-so looks.

The next day we returned to Anantapur and all our relatives and friends were delighted. We took a train to Bangalore and to the joy of visitors, who came to the station to help her and were astonished to find her tripping up and down the staircases with alacrity. It was only three weeks before they had seen her at Bombay in agony. They could hardly believe their eyes. When we took the flight to Bombay it was just nothing for her to run up the ladder and get into the plane.

When we landed at Bombay she continued to be in an exuberant mood. She insisted that she visit the Sai dvotees right away. The reunion was beyond words. The devotees were ecstatic with joy. Immediately we went to pay our regard to the Guru who had shared her agony during the entire period of her illness. He was beside himself in joy while tears welled up in his eyes. Being himself a sincere devotee of God, he prayed to Baba to shower his grace on all of us. It is time to add here that all the places we visited on that day were situated on the third floor of the buildings. Perhaps we were till to know the splendor of Baba when we went through few anxious moments while Gowri ran up the staircases ahead of us every time. It was a magnificent spectacle of his grandeur.Today she is perfoming  as usual.

For some days, I refrained from recording this great event in our lives. But, the Avatar's command had to be the obeyed.  He wrought the miracle, and now, wrote the miracle.