A Divine Rescue
This is the story of a narrow escape, one that would not have happened without the divine grace of my Guru, Bhagavan Sri Pranananda. To me this story illustrates that a true Guru is always with you, as well as with everyone whom you encounter. The following event happened at a time in my life where I had lost focus on God and my spiritual practices. This taught me that although I was at the time not interested in following my Guru’s teachings, he was (and always will be) there for me.
This event took place in a large wooden house in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. I was living there with my husband, Gavin, and a girlfriend of mine, Mirela, who needed a place to stay for a while. Mirela and I both worked a few nights a week at a nightclub in the city. It was one of our nights off, and, due to a power failure, we had no electricity for the next twenty-four hours.
Mirela was staying in the bedroom that I had just moved out of, and inside it was a chest of drawers that I had not yet moved. On top of the chest of drawers was a framed photo of Pranananda and some other precious and sentimental items. Mirela advised us that she was going to keep a large candle burning for the night, and she placed it on top of the chest of drawers.
We all retired to bed. I fell into the deep sleep of someone who had not slept well for days and really needed to rest. Gavin was asleep beside me. At some point in the night (about 2 or 3 a.m.), Mirela burst into the room almost hysterically, gasping and saying that her room was on fire. Gavin leapt out of bed and ran down the long corridor to her room. I followed quickly behind him. As soon as I opened the bedroom door, I was confronted by a blanket of toxic black smoke. It had already spread from the rear of the house, all the way to the front (our bedroom was near the front door).
The back room was so thick with smoke that all we could see were the flames from the fallen candle leaping up the thick curtains. We managed to put out the flames, and then we all sat out on the front porch to collect our thoughts.
Our faces were all covered in black soot, Mirela’s was the darkest. She sat quietly for a few moments, then told me that before she went to sleep the previous evening, she had looked at the photo of Pranananda and said “I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but could you please make sure that I don’t burn the house down with this candle?” She had been nervous about leaving it burning, but had decided to keep it lit to have a source of light in an otherwise very dark house. She then took a few strong sleeping tablets (as she regularly did) and, in her own words, “passed out completely.”
Mirela then recounted to Gavin and I how she had been awakened during the night by “a presence” that had told her to wake up. As she told me this, tears began to roll down her face. She turned to us and said, “I know that it was he (Pranananda) who woke me... I just know it was.” This was the first time I had seen her cry.
Mirela used to be impossible to wake up—at the best of times, let alone heavily sedated. She was asthmatic and could not see more than a foot in front of her without her glasses on. On top of that, she had been breathing in thick smoke for quite some time, which usually causes people to perish in their sleep.
She had heard the voice of the Divine, which had awakened her and allowed her to escape the burning room. If she had not done that, we would not have awakened either, and the rest of the house would have burnt down. Our smoke alarms were in the kitchen drawer awaiting new batteries.
I was never sure what the greater miracle was: the events that transpired, or the fact that my street-smart, tough, cynical friend had put aside her natural inclination to disbelieve anything “spiritual” and open her heart to the Grace of my Beloved Guru—an Avatar whom she knew almost nothing about.
Later that day we were examining the damage, and were all astonished (our eyes were fairly popping out of our heads) to see that the photo of Pranananda and my beautiful carved wooden jewelry box that was given to us as a wedding gift were completely untouched by the fire—even though the candle had started the fire right next to them.
A few weeks later the back room had to be completely stripped and refurnished. Thankfully, our landlady’s insurance covered it, with only a small gap that was to be paid by us. I am infinitely grateful to God, and to Pranananda, as the damage could have been far, far greater and much more serious.
As my mind grasped the seemingly impossible facts, my heart opened more and more. I realised that we had been blessed with a second chance that a lot of people never get. I wept as I acknowledged that, even though I had strayed so far down a dark and dubious path (my heart and focus having drifted far away from Pranananda for quite some time), my Guru’s mantle of protection still held me and my loved ones safely within it.
- Monique McIntosh