In Buckling up for Himalayas, we saw how the trip came about. An entourage like this meant Satsangs were part of our itinerary, and were scheduled in the nights. The rest of the day was either spent in traveling, or visiting the spots.
I remember how few wanted to know why I was so interested in listening to the stories.
There is an yester year Tamil hymn by Kulasekara azhwar which goes, “Padiyai kidandhu un pavazha vai kanbena”. To translate: Kulasekara, a devotee of Lord Govinda sings, “Dearest Lord!, Would you give me the coveted opportunity of being the main step that bifurcates Thy sanctum sanctorum, for then I would be blessed to see Thy coral lips!”
These satsangs were like that ‘main step’ the devotee wished for, for they took me to His beautiful form. Most of us never really lived, or interacted with Swami that way.
Satsangs like these brought His everyday life unto me: the way His hair wafted in the breeze, the angelic way with which He glided through darsan lines, the way He drew His head back and laughed, or the way He simply interacted. Even if they were to take me away from the highest advaitha, I didn’t want to barter. God walked the earth. I wanted to breathe in the form. Simple.
Charged with that celestial love, it became easy to see Him in the wild trees, in the stones that were pelted across, or in the muddy mountains, as we journeyed along. Like how Winnie the Pooh said, I didn’t feel like spelling love, I just wanted to feel it, and I did.
Giddy, during one of our official satsangs told us that we are at liberty to go to anyone, and ask them for those nectarine experiences – be it Sanjay Sahani Sir, Ravikumar Sir, etc. People who molded several students year in and year out. No sooner I heard it, I was grinning from teeth to teeth. That was exactly what I wanted, an affirmation that I do have the LIBERTY to bug them any day, any time.
I thanked Swami, and did a mental jig.
Till then, unofficially, I went over to Brother Sanjay Mahalingam, Brother Sai Giridhar, Brother Aravind (who we all know as the avid and famous SAI blogger), and I constantly asked them for stories – in the bus, on the roads, during walks, in the places that we stayed. I couldn’t wait for the nights.
Bhagwan was benevolent. I had a fair share even post Suprabhatam, when most of us usually hung out, to witness the morning grandeur of the Himalayas. Invariably, all such hang-outs turned out to be a satsang session.
Most of those brought unto me the pristine love of Bhagwan, and I had to fight my tears almost always, while few made me laugh as well 🙂
Over to those beautiful musings:
Let us start with lighter side of things, shall we?
*The first is not much of a story, but a snippet of the funny side of talks that we come across every now and then. A speaker at the Sai Kulwant Hall with full animated vigor spoke thus on Swami’s compassion “…In dwapara yuga, Kunti had to pray to Krishna to give her troubles, so that they could be close to their paramatma. But our Kaliyuga avtar Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is even more compassionate, He gives us troubles, even before we ask for it…” 😀
Not only did it cause quite a riot, but the piece-de-resistance was the look on Bhagwan’s face, or so I was told. I can only imagine how embarrassing it would have been for the speaker, when he realised the gravity of what he said. [Much in line with the funny hostel announcements that my Anantapur mates would remember like, “Please come to the terrace and remove your clothes. Men are waiting.”] 😀
Just as we laughed our hearts out for this, Brother Amey followed this story with another one in darsan hall, which personally for me is the most romantic of them all:
*We all know darsan sessions meant ‘being quiet’ was a quid pro quo. During one such session, Swami was peeping out through the interview room window to see what was transpiring in the brothers block.
At the very same moment, this hero-boy of our story also happened to look at Swami. Bhagwan immediately hid Himself behind the curtains, only to peep back a little later. The mischief maker that He is, He didn’t want anyone spotting Him.
Unfortunately for Bhagwan yet again in the second peep, their eyes met. Seeing Bhagwan’s play, the brother started whispering to his friend that Swami had been looking at them the whole time. Since Swami was caught in action again, He had to show ‘who-is-the-boss’. He stormed out of the interview room and blasted the boy for not keeping up with the mandir decorum by talking.
The brother remained silent as Swami scolded Him. He then took a chit, wrote something, and gave it to Swami. With a furious face and furrowed brows, the master grabbed the chit.
After the contents were read, the exasperation in His face changed to one of awkward flush. Swami could say nothing more.
As eager eyes looked on, Brother Amey concluded, “This was what was written in the chit that made Swami go all pink and silent:
‘Looking through the window darling, what do you want to say?
If you love me so much darling, come through proper way!’”
As our laughter subsided, I couldn’t take my mind off this brother’s love for Swami. If there is one thing that most of us dread, it is seeing Him get angry with us, but here was this boy in the midst of a public blasting from Swami, and he turned that into a love tale.
How beautiful! 🙂
Proving to us yet again, how we can win over ‘Sai’ with love ❤
*As the satsangs continued, Ravikumar Sir looked at C’s tee that had the 4F quote printed, and asked us if we knew how it came about. Taking cue from the monumental silence, he started narrating the story.
[I think this happened to one Mr. C. Srinivasan, but I am not very sure.] He was blessed with an opportunity to speak in front of Swami, and an august gathering. He intended to ask Swami for a topic, but an answer never came about. He tried in vain for days, and it was not until an hour before his scheduled speech could he get an audience with Bhagwan. Swami called him close, and asked, “So you want a topic for the speech, is it not? Okay then, let’s see what the Swami in your heart is saying.”
So saying, Swami asked for a white sheet of paper, and placed it on Srinivasan’s heart. After taking it out, He asked him to dip it in water, and out came the quote: ‘Follow the Master. Face the devil. Fight till the end. Finish the game.’
Ravikumar Sir concluded that there are so many stories out there like this, and most often we never get to know these miraculous origins.
In hindsight, I feel Swami helped us realise how satsangs do leave a legacy of its own. It’s like having our own ‘HisStory’ baton. On some days, we get to pass it on.
Thank you Swami for the benign blessing.
*The next is a story of a Brindavan student, which surely took me back to my student days, wherein we had all sorts of funny prayers to Bhagwan.
It was examination week, and the students were preparing for Awareness. Bhagwad Gita was part of the syllabus, and this particular student didn’t know any of the slokas.
As the exam hour approached, he prayed to Swami ‘Bhagwan, please make sure that we are not asked any bhagawad gita slokas.’ He then got seated in the exam hall, glanced through the paper, and answered the questions one by one.
One of the questions happened to be: ‘Have you experienced God?’
“Did you know what he had written?” asked Sahani Sir, and continued with a laugh, “He wrote this exact incident of how he didn’t learn Bhagawad Gita for the exam, and how Swami compassionately responded to his prayer. He further went on to thank me in his answer for not asking Gita questions in the exam.”
Even as Sahani Sir was narrating us this story, he couldn’t resist laughing at the student’s witty bravado.
“When He is with Children, He really is a child” answering our simple and silly prayers…
…but when the time comes, and we need to face the world, He dons the role of a Master as easily. But before I share a story of the ‘Guru-student’ role, let me share a small incident that reminds us how Swami gives more value to our intentions.
*It was darsan hour, and Swami was walking amidst the devotees, collecting letters and giving prasad. It so happened that one devotee passed on an envelope which had a cheque for 10 lakhs INR. The brother who happened to hold it was instructed by the devotee to keep it carefully. Swami asked the brother to return back the cheque to him, even as He dearly held a 5 rupee note that the local Post man gave month on month from his 15 rupees salary.
Later, He told the students, “This 5 rupees is what I treasure, and such devoted offerings is what comes to you all as salary.”
This story by brother Arvind took me to one of those Geetha Ram talks, wherein Swami held in contempt a devotee who gave low quality rice for Narayan seva, while keeping for her own, the best rice.
Both these stories remind us time and again that we may not be rich or powerful in worldly terms, but to our bhava priya, our love is all that matters, and we cannot let our ego/judgement intercede when we do service.
Now to the final story –
*All of us in the Sai circle know a little, if not entirely, of waiting boys and its concept. While few stories on those lines went about, this story of Brother Indreshwar drives home a very valuable lesson: (as told by Brother Amey)
It was that time in brother Indreshwar’s life, when he had to decide his future. Having no clue of which side to branch out, he decided to ask Swami. It was darsan hour, and Swami asked, “So you want to know what you should do next, right? Ok. You go and do market research.” As much as the brother had no interest in it, he immediately accepted and was at ease. Next day dawned, this time again, Swami put forth the same question to him, and said, “Why don’t you join politics? It would be good for the country if well-educated IAS officers are administrators.”
The brother couldn’t comprehend why Swami changed His mind, but simply nodded. The next day followed and the next, and each day Swami gave him a new goal – “Do family business”, “Be a florist”, and more confusion rattled his heart. The following day, before Swami could say anything, he said, “Swami! Ek minute. I am already so confused, and I came to you to ease up this plague that has been bothering me, but you are also saying different things every day.”
With a smile playing on His lips, Bhagwan uvacha, “I am only reflecting the confusion in your heart.”
The brother replied, “Swami, you should only guide me” and Swami said, “Your job is to still your mind. Then you will know, for the answers are already there.”
That’s how our master has always been – ‘to the point’. Even attachment to Him, He never preferred, always wanting us to rely on our inner source of light and wisdom.
To that guru, I offer this post!
PS. There were many more experiences shared of course most of which made me dearly weep for the sheer portrayal of unconditional love. Unfortunately, for either privacy or copyright reasons, I cannot write them here. Someday maybe, we could talk about it. I even called my husband, as I was writing this, and told him the predicament, for I know those stories will sing to you His love, in the way that love should be sung. However, I am going to rest myself in the faith that if not me, someday someone will sing it, and I hope to hear them again along with you. 🙂
To unconditional love!