Monday, 3 December 2012


The Problem....

Top view of the bhajan hall at Srisailam
Life at Sri Sathya Sai Vidyapeeth, Srisailam (That's where I studied class 9 and 10)  was never an easy one. It was a tough one. Tough, not in terms of the time table followed there but, peer pressure. My dorm mates wanted me to take part in their conversations in which I wasn't that keen on. I did not distance myself from them, either. The result of not taking part in their filmy conversations, was that they spoke of me as a person who had ego that I hailed from a country out of India! They totally seemed to forget the fact that I am an Indian! I did feel lonely because I did not get the right company, a company I wanted to be in, a company that loved to talk about Swami.I did not know if I was doing the right thing. Did I want to be famous amongst my dorm mates by joining in their conversations or be good to myself and Swami and remain quiet doing my job in the best way possible? I just did not know what to do. 

Good or Great???
Meanwhile, the extra curricular activities were on in full swing at school. The Sri Sathya Sai Institutions are always busy with some or the other activities. It was then that the Value Fest for girls was round the corner. We were already prepared with a drama but were not informed of the elocution contest. Just two weeks before the Fest, our Principal ma’am called around four of us for an audition. She gave us a topic, 'Being an instrument in His hands'. In the next one minute I spoke the best I could. That was how I got selected for the elocution competition to be held during the Value Fest. But what was the topic for the actual contest? It was,'I want to be good, not necessarily great'! I fell in love with the topic the moment I heard it. Something told me that the solutions to my stress was not far behind. I began my preparations with lots of gusto.

Preparation for the speech begins.....

The first thing I did was to check out the definitions for good and great in the dictionary. It was as follows:

Good: having the right qualities; behaving in a way that is right, polite or 
Great: considerably above average in extent, strength or importance.

There is a difference between positively great and negatively great
From the above definitions, I  further differentiated goodness and greatness with my own humble understanding, this way. 

Goodness has a Satwik attribute while greatness, has a Rajasic attribute in it. This can be clearly understood with the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Adolf Hitler or even Rama and Ravana. Rama and Mahatma Gandhi were good, thus achieved greatness whereas, Ravana and Adolf Hitler achieved the negative greatness through their fame and atrocity. 

Therefore all those who are great need not be good but those who are good are bound to achieve greatness. (1st take home message) 

This was a very important lesson I learnt during my stay at Srisailam.

A small observation, I have heard Swami appreciating His students, a ‘good girl’ or a ‘good boy’. Same with the teachers and parents. Have we ever heard them say ,’great girl’ or a ‘great boy’? Obviously, spontaneously that is what comes out of the mouth. But I thought this way. Perhaps, our elders know that greatness follows goodness and thus they appreciate us using ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’. 

I shared these thoughts with my teacher-in-charge for the elocution. She appreciated my efforts and thoughts and as an after thought,  said that the main idea behind we being given this topic was to show us the nature of Sri Sathya Sai Integral System of Education. So she told me that there was a need to mention Education and Educare also in my talk. That was a clue she gave me. I now had to develop more on the topic.

I pondered too much about the topic. It was then that it struck me, doesn't the topic in itself speak profoundly that the end of education is character? In short, it gave importance to educare. 

There is a thin line of difference between Education and Educare. Education is plain and merely involves  absorbing the bookish knowledge which is completely a theoretical study but Educare is so beautiful where the theory you learn is put to practice in a way that is helpful to the society. Thus education, solely can help you achieve greatness, in terms of wealth and fame but educare is all goodness where you do things without any selfish gain. 
Though you don’t expect greatness, it is bound to come to you. 

At the same time, education is equally important, for, both good and great men blossom with education. The way they channelise their education is what brings out the difference between the two.

Swami has so graciously gifted us with the Sri Sathya Sai Integral System of Education which aims at moulding the students to have the head of Shankara, symbolizing wisdom, heart of Buddha, symbolizing compassion and hands of Janaka, symbolizing selfless service. This helps us to achieve excellence in all phases of life. Thus greatness follows goodness.

By the way, hasn't  Swami said that all of us are good? This means all of us have goodness latent in us. Our search for greatness, solely in terms of fame and wealth, afflicts us with the vices like pride, ego, jealousy.In fact being good, is being oneself, in the best of your character, living your life just to please God and no one else. If you are good, greatness has no other option but to fall in place.

 It is just like His grace, that is, one must yearn only for God’s grace and pray fervently for His grace but not list their worldly requirements to God which are transient commodities. One must pray for God Himself and God will take utmost care of his worldly requirements and the eternal life in bonus. Thus everything falls in place.
 So just be yourself, be good and greatness will follow (2nd take home message)

I felt that this was my solution. I made up my mind to be the way I am, come what may! 

The D Day.........

The D day arrived and it was my turn to give the talk. I just prayed to Swami that He  make me speak my heart for, this was not a topic I had mugged up, but a topic Swami had gifted so that I get my solutions. So I just prayed that He makes me an efficient instrument to convey His message.

I spoke for five minutes, nah, not me at all! I had applauses till I left the podium . I couldn't do anything much but thank Him for a wonderful talk and a lesson of many lifetimes I learnt through this.

Swami, further encouraged me to move ahead practising what I spoke by rewarding me for the talk. Yes, I secured an A+ grade for my talk. (Sathya Sai Schools, don't have the system of first prize, second prize and third prize. For this particular contest, the grades were just A+ and A for the simple reason that B grade could de-motivate the students) 

The topic turned out to be the best solution ever! 

Good Girl! 
Still there were people who spoke about me, behind my back but considering the lesson I learnt through preparing for my elocution, I continued doing all that I could. I continued being myself. 

The result of what I saw at the end of two years of my stay at Srisailam was that they bid me farewell telling,''Sreenidhi! You are a good girl. We will miss you!''

I heard it from people who spoke behind their backs about me. I was very happy. 

The credit entirely goes to Swami. He showed me how greatness follows goodness.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Dream of Lifetimes - II

Dear Readers, have you come to the second part of this topic without reading the first one? If so, I would request you to please come back after reading the first part. You may read the first part here.

And now, if you have finished reading the first part, please read on.....

As each question was being answered , I felt more doubts welling up in me. Moreover, I felt listening further could clear me doubts. I actually began realizing that the ‘avan’ or ‘he’ Swami referred to was Swami in the form of Br, Aravind , more so with the realization that He has decided to clarify my doubts at any cost that day 


Lets get on with the questions and answers :

 Swami says one should have contentment regarding the worldly matters. Does it mean we should have contentment even in our spiritual path?

 Worldly matters are finite. They have a beginning and end. So one should have contentment in respect of things which are finite. Spiritual field is endless. God has neither a beginning nor an end. A person doing Sadhana or a Sadhaka should not rest until he reaches his goal.

 It is said that without Divine grace, all effort is useless. If one has Divine grace, no effort is required. Is it true?

God helps those who help themselves. Haven’t you heard the story in this context in your Balvikas class during you 1st year?

(The story is given below for the benefit of those who don’t know)
Both, effort and God's grace go hand in hand. 

The story is of a man whose wheel got stuck to the mire on a rainy day. He stood there and prayed to Lord Anjaneya to pull out the wheel without putting an effort to do the same. So at that situation, he hears a voice from above saying that God helps those who help themselves. The man who realized this, put in his strength into pulling out the wheel and as he did this he felt a Higher Strength lending him a helping hand.

Thus, God helps those who help themselves. From this one can understand that individual effort and Divine grace go hand in hand. Without effort, grace will not be conferred; without grace, there will be no heart and sincerity in the effort. By the way, grace is ever present with us. It neither comes nor goes. Your effort should only tap the grace. This is what Swami says. (4th take home message)

 Swami, please don’t get angry with this question of mine. I know I am too small to ask such a question. But still, you know me. I am struggling to sleep. I need to know this answer. Is spiritual path very difficult to tread upon? Do we need any sort of deservedness for this?

 Will you abandon pursuing of wealth just because you are not capable of accumulating it in a life time? You will, at the least gather hundreds or thousands if not for lakhs or crores? Which path would you choose- the difficult path leading to happiness and bliss or the easy path leading to misery? We should take the path leading to right destination though it is very difficult. Thus, spiritual path may seem difficult in the beginning, but it is really not.

 It is said that even a blade of grass cannot move without His will. If everything happens according to His will, what is the role of man’s will? How can he blamed for his sins?

Even a blade of grass cannot move without His will.

 The scope of free will of man is very limited in this world. In your 4th year at Balvikas, when you learnt about Christianity, you came across this, “God made man in His own image!” Only man has this greatest blessing and privilege to overcome the laws of the Universe and become God Himself. This is the reason, free will has been given to him.

But from God’s point of view, there is no free will, for nothing exists other than God. But from the point of ego of an individual, there is free will. There is a general law or the God’s law along with the individual and society. The individual acts in the society according to His free will but all corresponds to the God’s law. Thus His will is the most important. (take home message 5)
Woke up! :)

The dream ended there and I woke up, both physically and spiritually, if I may say so. No sooner, I got up I began jotting down all that happened in the dream for I knew this is the Dream of lifetimes firstly, because all dreams where Bhagawan Baba appears, are indeed true and we see them just because He wills so. Secondly, this dream answered all my questions that troubled me since quite some time. Thirdly, this was the dream of Swami that I was gifted after a long time, say a year or so. 

Through this dream I understood that He has a plan, a Masterplan that He is plotting for us and that is the best. All we have to do is be patient, keep our hearts, minds and ears open to grasp His signals to move forward in life!

P.S: Actually as I sat down to write this,I realised that I did not remember the exact words spoken to me,though I remembered all the answers. It was then that I happened to pick a book from the book shelf, very randomly and it happened to be the book entitled, Helpline on the Sathya Sai Path authored by Shri.B.N.Narasimhamurthy. I randomly opened a page and found the answer to the second question, in the words that I was explained. This book contains questions answered by Swami Himself and I take the words above to be His too!


A Dream of Lifetimes

There are so many times I wish Swami to appear in my dream but He seems to know when to come. That's exactly when I need Him! He appears rarely but gives to- the- point answers leaving me blissful for days long. This is one such dream which I thought I should share with you as this was a dream where He chose to give answers to those questions which I had always wanted to ask.

The day of 13th May 2012 was highly a stressful day for me. I could neither meditate peacefully nor could concentrate on my studies. My mind clouded up with a few silly disappointments(I understand now!) and lots of questions to ask of Swami. I tried all my best to listen to my inner voice without silencing my mind! I fought with myself to sleep. Finally the Goddess of Sleep took pity on me and embraced me.

 It was then that Swami gifted me this dream. So the dream was as follows:

A beautiful morning at Parthi
Source: Anyaa Studios 
 Its a beautiful morning at Prashanti Nilayam. Yet, this monkey mind of mine was not prepared to enjoy Mother Nature. I was preparing myself to ask questions to Swami if He comes for Darshan. Just as I wished, I got seated in the first row. It was towards the end of Vedam chanting that Swami glided in. He stopped in front of a lady sitting right next to me and spoke to her. I stood on my knees, waiting for an opportunity to pour out my doubts. I could make out Swami seeing me through the corner of His eyes, throwing a look of mockery. After He was done with the lady, He turned to me and looked at me as if asking,”What now?”
I was still in my position and as I opened my mouth to speak,He said in Tamil, “Enakku theriyum! Idhu ellam silly doubts,da! Avan Solluvan!” (I know! All these doubts, child! Still, he will speak to you!)

Enakku Theriyum! (I know) 

 I was happy that He did not get angry with my questions. At the same time, I was also disappointed for I felt He spoke something without any connectivity and walked off smiling. What ignorance! Can Swami ever speak without connectivity? It was absolute ignorance, that I failed to understand the meaning behind His words He spoke to me. I was left absolutely clueless as to whom this ‘avan’ or ‘he’  Swami referred to. I felt like crying. I could feel a heavy heart pushing me down. (I don’t know how its fair the heart has to get heavy when the mind is what is responsible for this heaviness! But at that moment, that’s what I felt)

The venue of the Balvikas class was much similar to the hall above this
North Indian Canteen inside Swami's Ashram at Prasanthi Nilayam. 
I headed back to my room, cried as much as possible and proceeded for my Balvikas class. The venue where the Balvikas class was held was more or less like the hall above the North Indian Canteen at Prasanthi Nilayam. I entered and whom did I see? Who was my Balvikas Guru? It was Brother Aravind Balasubramanya, a student of Bhagawan Baba and serves at the studios of Radio Sai at Prasanthi Nilayam.As the class commences, he begins talking about the importance of Balvikas as there were a few new comers. That day’s Balvikas class was not the same format as is held generally. We did not chant any shlokas, no stories, no worksheets, no quizzes, no bhajans. Brother Aravind spoke of so many things and I felt everything was out of context (With reference to doubts troubling me) I wondered what happened to everyone around me, because from Swami to my Balvikas Guru, all of them were speaking without any connectivity! Though I did not pay much attention  to what my Guru was speaking because of a disturbed mind , something urged me strongly to listen to him speak. I listened and there comes my first answer! He shifts to another topic and there lies my second answer, exactly the way I sequenced to ask Swami! It was just like Swami speaking to me. The life situations that my Balvikas Guru, Br.Aravind gave as examples was very much the same situation that I was at. To this day, I know that it was Swami who chose to answer me in the form of a person I admired and respected.

Well here is the most important part of the dream, my  questions and the profound answers. Let me begin right away.......

 Why am I unable to meditate peacefully even if my thoughts are not disturbing me?

 First of all how do you know your thoughts are not disturbing you? Meditation is a state where you are free of thoughts. When you have thoughts  it is difficult to concentrate. For this purpose you have got to control your mind for this is the producer of thoughts.

What should I do to control my mind?
 What should I do to control my mind?

 A sad and depressed mind is the most disturbed one. When you are happy, there is just no need to think too much and cause anxiety (1st take home message). That is the reason Swami tells us to be happy .

But the means to happiness? Can that be compromised? 

 No. Not at all! The means to happiness is very important  You get true happiness only when you perform a righteous action and it is only true happiness that is a pre-requisite to control your mind. 

 Good people suffer. The evil ones roam around happily. How does the All Knowing Lord tolerate this?
Good and Evil

 God doesn't  do anything without a meaning (2nd take home message). He has his own calculations. One needs to understand His ways for this which is just next to impossible. Lets take two situations. Firstly, when we see a man tormenting his servant, we curse the guy and ask God as to why this evil fellow has been given so much wealth and strength that it has nourished his ego. Secondly, when we see a blind and crippled old man by the roadside, out of deep sympathy and kindness we ask of God as to why is the poor man put to a rude test. Ultimately, if you notice, in both the situations, you blame God! Now, sensibly if you link both the cases, you would see that the second case maybe the result of the first! In that way we wouldn’t question His Divine justice or doubt is Divine grace. About the evil ones roaming happily, they are destined to face the consequences of their actions shortly.

 Swami barely comes in my dreams! Does He love me less compared to others’ dreams he appears in?

Why doesn't Swami come in my dreams very often? :(
 It is very foolish to think so. One cannot have a dream as and when one likes to. You think of so many people. Do all of them come in your dreams every time you sleep? No, right? Therefore it’s a mistake to think that He doesn’t love you or loves you less. His Love is immeasurable. There are many other signs of His grace of which dreams are only a part of. Look for other signs. When you are able to feel the love for Him in you heart, that in itself means He loves you. One of the greatest signs of His grace is to feel the blessing of being an instrument in His hands. Its next to the bliss of unifying with Him (3rd take home message)