Faces In Focus


He ‘organises’ the Sai mission

Sometimes friends can help change life permanently. Indulal C. Shah met Bhagawan ‘by chance’ while visiting long-time friend Mr. Java in Bangalore in 1965. He stayed on to become a cornerstone personality in the mission of Sri Sathya Sai. Moving up the Organisation ladder, he is today the International Chairman of the Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisation. He and his wife Sarla have literally nurtured the Sai Organisation and made it the most important part of their lives.

Sri Indulal Shah has been a Chartered Accountant since 1942. He participated in the ‘Quit India’ Movement and was an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He had been Secretary to the Indian National Congress from 1951 to 1960 for the Bombay Region. He had been associated with the Khadi Movement for a decade from 1954. The President of India and the Prime Minister have decorated Sri Shah with a gold medal and a shield for rural work and contribution to the building of rural economy.

Sri Indulal Shah has since long been spiritually inclined. His baptism into spirituality took place when he stayed in the Ramakrishna Mission Hostel in Bombay (Mumbai) from 1937 to 1942. From 1949 to 1964, he had been the joint secretary of the Mumbai branch of Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

In 1951, Sri Indulal Shah visited Shirdi for the first time. He has been making pilgrimages to the shrine of Sai Baba ever since.

With this blessed background, Sri Indulal Shah had Bhagawan Baba’s darshan in Malleswaram in 1965. Bhagawan was to address a public meeting and rain clouds had filled the sky. But Bhagawan willed the filled clouds away. The clouds of doubt and reservation too disappeared from Sri Indulal Shah’s mind. Along with wife Sarla and daughter Darshana, he went to have Baba’s darshan in Whitefield. Bhagawan saw him only after five days. The five days wait gifted Sri Indulal Shah his first personal interview.

Sri Indulal Shah’s long association with spiritual institutions has created in him the zest to present spiritual messages through words and pictures to the masses. Trained in the direction, he was able to prepare an exhibition on Bhagawan in the 60’s that ran for four months. Earlier he had prepared a ‘Sant Darshan’ exhibition in Mumbai and in 1969, the Gandhi Centenary Committee of the Government of India nominated him member secretary to oversee the preparation of a mobile exhibition on the Mahatma. In years to come, Sri Indulal Shah was to co-ordinate Prajnan Pradarshan (exhibition on spirituality once housed in Bangalore), Sanathana Samskruthi - Eternal Heritage Museum in Prasanthi Nilayam and finally his crown offering to Bhagawan - Chaitanya Jyoti, also at Prasanthi Nilayam.

In 1976, Bhagawan visited the residence of Sri Indulal Shah in Mumbai for the first time. Ever since, on some occasion or the other, Bhagawan would visit his home to shower His love on the man who officially ‘looked after’ His organisation. Even recently in June 2001, Bhagawan flew down to Mumbai to call on his ailing wife.

Sri Indulal Shah’s association with the Organisation is ever since its inception. In August 1965, when the registration of the organisation was in progress, Sri Indulal Shah was actively involved in the process. In March 1967, Bhagawan stayed at his Mumbai residence and finalised the site for the Dharmakshetra ashram of the Organisation. Dharmakshetra was ready by May 1968 to host the First World Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations.

In 1967, during the first All India Conference of office bearers of the organisation, Sri Indulal Shah prayed Bhagawan to enlarge the scope of the Organisation and include education in its scope. After a gestation of twelve years, Bhagawan announced the Education in Human Values Movement in 1979. The EHV Movement has since flourished into a landmark step in the evolution of education in India and abroad.

For many years, Sri Indulal Shah held the position of All India President of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. After 1985, Bhagawan gradually drew him to the international scene. Today Sri Indulal Shah is the International Chairman of Sri Sathya Sai Service Organisations.

Yet, Sri Indulal Shah is a humble sevak of Bhagawan. It was his humility and tremendous concern for others that made him the recipient of tremendous grace from Bhagawan. In 1967, at Madras, during the All India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Organisations, Bhagawan was speaking to a private audience in Telugu. Sri B. Ramakrishna Rao, once Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Governor of Uttar Pradesh, remarked that Sri Indulal Shah did not understand Telugu and that a translation was necessary. Bhagawan then said, "No, there is no time, he understands Telugu" and patted Sri Indulal Shah on his head with His fingers. To his surprise, Sri Indulal Shah was able to understand every word in Telugu that followed during the discussion!

Many such remarkable incidents are cherished with sweetness in this soft-spoken gentleman’s life. However, he cherished the teachings of Bhagawan the most. He has made a particular saying of Bhagawan central to his life: "It is not enough that you love Me, but you must see whether I love you." Sri Indulal Shah leaves no stone unturned to deserve the love of Bhagawan.

Sri Indulal Shah has authored four books on Bhagawan, all of them reflecting on the Divine teachings: Sixteen Spiritual Summers (1980), We Devotees (1983), Spiritual Blueprints of My Journey (1993) and I, We and He (1997). He had also produced the popular film in Hindi on Sai Baba of Shirdi, Shirdi Ke Sai Baba.

Sai devotees have been privileged to work directly under his inspiring personality and guidance. His love and concern for his co-Sai workers is immense. When the serial blasts took place in Mumbai in 1993, he called up the residences of his brother Sai devotees to enquire if they were safe. A man of principle, Sri Indulal Shah has been a role model for many youngsters on how to lead and run an organisation. After all, he ‘organises’ Bhagawan’s mission.                       l