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GREAT HANSHIN Earthquake - Personal Experience - Ram Chugani of Kobe.

 

 

 

     On January, 17, at 5.46 am - First there was a big flash of light followed by a loud rumbling noise and next moment, we were thrown out of our beds as the whole floor start to move up and down very rapidly as if the apartment building was swinging. 

 

   For the past 20 seconds we held what -ever, we could, in the dark still wondering whether it is a dream or reality. The morning rays of the sun were just appearing out side. However this day looked little hazy, penetrating the huge smoke engulfing the whole Kobe city. My wife grabs my hand and we sat on the floor between our beds. At that instant, a huge wardrobe collapses hard on my wife’s bed and the bed breaks into two pieces. In a big shock we looked at each other in great fear.  

  

   What if we stayed on our beds a few more seconds, instead moving to the floor? We would have been smashed and badly hurt. The thought of this made us shiver, worried and shaking. Now we were worried about our daughter, who was sleeping in the next room with her baby. She had come from L.A to spend some times with us.

 

   In our house Swami’s huge painting had fallen on Baba’s chair and the arm of the chair broke the glass, penetrated the painting on Baba’s chair supported this huge painting from falling on top of our daughter and her baby, the glass shattered everywhere but, protected the baby and daughter, who were sleeping in the adjacent room, with small curtain. My daughter and my wife cried loudly and shouted Swami Swami… please stop this and save us, the tears coming crying please Swami save us. Swami you are everywhere please stop this shake so we can move. We also did not know what happened to our two sons who lived next door, but they came soon all safe but shaken.

 

 

 We had three flats side by side the whole family was in panic but safe. We knew we should evacuate the building immediately, as we saw our furniture broken, T.V sets and glasses shattered everywhere, in the kitchen, in dining room, in hall, in bedrooms all over, as we presumed the damage must be beyond measure and the building may collapse any moment. The whole building was shaking left and right. But there were pictures 17 picture of Swami everywhere in our house

 

 Slowly we proceeded to go down seven floors with our torchlight’s. It was complete darkness as all lights went off; as we reached the first floor, the view of out side from ground floor was not pleasant one.  Was this an earthquake or we were being bombed? We did not know what to expect, as there was no rescue teams, only aftermath of the event, which we could see, had caused enormous damage, everywhere we look. The temperature was around 5/6 degree, very very cold.

 

 We gather with a few other neighbors sitting on the road in terror listening to morning radio news.  It was January 17th, 1995 and I recall my son showing me later Baba’s thought for the day as: < The grace of God is like an insurance policy, which protect the devotees in time of crisis. >.

 

  On January 17, 1995 at 5.46 AM, we experienced one of the most devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan. I first came to Kobe in 1952 for business and in 1960, decided to bring my whole family from Pune, India to live in Kobe, which has been our permanent residence ever since. Despite occasional tremors here and there in Kobe. The Kobe was declared to be one of the safest places in Japan; therefore this was one of a great cause of shock and surprise to everyone when Kobe was the epicenter.

 

   Many people lost their lives in the most horrible natural disaster. However we later found out to our amazement that not a single sai devotee was killed despite 6432 people were dead in the area. More than 300,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.  Everywhere we could see fire, buildings clasps, roads and highways damaged. We could feel Swamis grace as there are quite number of Sai devotees staying in the affected areas, but none of Sai devotee, Indian or Japanese were injured or dead,

 

It was an act of grace of Bhagavan and at the same time, the suspected tidal waves, tsunami did not occur in spite of repeated aftershocks and tremors that were going on for many many days after the event. From Tokyo Sai center Brother Hira called me, and arranged one truckload with blankets, water, food and snacks and some Sai volunteers came from Tokyo to help us in this helpless situation.

 

   The tidal waves could have wiped out the whole city of Kobe In one sweep as land is very close to ocean here. We knew, in our heart of hearts that it was only Swami’s divine interference, which stopped these tidal waves. Water, gas and electricity were out in most places and all lifelines, roads, highways, trains, buses, cars, stores, telephones etc, were out of service, and we then decided to go to a nearby OPA Hotel.

 

  On the way we saw so many buildings cracked, broken and some even toppled. We could not be sure how safe our apartment was. We all stayed over night in the Hotel Lobby praying Swami for safety, where many other people old and young had found refuge.

 

  Every minute we could sense a tremor as aftershocks for a long time. Next day we decided to go to our Indian social society about a mile away, which is a gathering place for all Indians in Kobe. Here many other Indians from our community were already there as the place was newly constructed and safe and the hall big enough to accommodate large numbers. Here, we all spent the night in the hall. There must have been over 100 Indians gathered there. The next day, all of us decided that it was no safe to stay in Kobe as the city was totally destroyed and anytime, there could be a stronger aftershock or tidal waves.

 

 So we decided to caravan through the mountains by cars and go to Osaka City.  30 km away where our offices are located. Also, we were not sure how badly or to what extent our residence buildings or any hotel in Kobe area was damaged or safe enough to stay.

 

 Frankly, Kobe City looked as if it was a war zone, being bombed and totally destroyed. Kobe was turned into a ghost town. But the car journey was full of fear, as we passed mountain we could see, stones cracking dust all over and shakes on our way to Osaka. Osaka, which normally takes one hour by regular road, was not an easy one. Fortunately, 2 people had mobile phones working to find out the road directions and inquire conditions in Osaka city before we embark.

 

 We had to cross very risky mountain roads to reach there as all other roads were cracked and broken and not a single regular road was available. All normal roads were destroyed beyond measure.  An hour drive took almost 8 hours through the hills to reach Osaka. Osaka was still better off than Kobe and at least business can be carried on there. We were all glad to see this and decide to stay up at a hotel in Osaka for some time until our Kobe residence was at least safe to return to and the water, gas, electricity supply restarted. We didn’t know how soon that will be, and ended up staying in Osaka for about a month before we could go back to Kobe.

 

   It was around this time that I decided to plan for a visit to Swami with my whole family during our golden week national holidays, which start from end April. We wanted to spend some time in Swami’s presence to thank Bhagavan for saving our lives and of those Japanese and Indian Sai devotees living in Kobe during this devastating earthquake.

 

              Devotion alone bestows the supreme good;

              Devotion alone is the destroyer of disease of

              Cycle of birth and death:

              Devotion alone is the means of recognizing Divinity 

              Devotion alone is the means of Liberation

                                                                    BABA                                                                                                                          

Jai Sai Ram

Experience of Br.Ram.Chugani Kobe in 1995.