Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Love of a Thousand Mothers

As a kid when I was introduced to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as God, I accepted and embraced Him as my only God. Very soon He showed me how He alone is our Best Friend. Now something I always looked forward to was to see and experience Swami's love of a thousand mothers that has been described by many devotees and students. 

As a kid of Class 4, when I came across a book entitled, 'Ananta Prematarangini' (A book of experiences of the staff and students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus), I had decided and prayed that I be a recipient of His motherly love whilst being a student in His institution. 

Little did I know that my desire to experience Swami as my mother would come true when my 9 year old prayer to study in His institution bore fruition. .

In this blog post, I would like to narrate two incidents wherein He proved to be a 'Mother' to me. I would call these two incidents 'The Sinus Incident' and 'The Pani Puri Incident' 

Without further ado, over to the narratives...

The Sinus Incident

It was soon after a "Miracle Season' at Anantapur, that I was down with heavy cold and cough. It got all the more problematic when I suffered severe sinus headache. Let me tell you here that for people without sinusitis, a common cold is, "Ah! Its just a common cold." However, for people with sinusitis, "It is COMMON COLD!!!" These 'sinus attacks' as I call them, are at their peak in the mornings, making it very difficult to get up from the bed. One is unable to even open one's eyes due to heaviness around the face and head area. Thus on 12th September 2014, I decided to write my first leave application at SSSIHL (Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning) However, the teacher-in-charge for signing the leave applications of students gave me only a half day's leave, which meant that I would have to drag myself to college for the post-lunch session.It was on that day for the first time since my entering SSSIHL, I missed my family. I missed my mother. I thought, "If I was at home, Amma wouldn't have questioned me a gazillion times before permitting me to take an off from school. One look at me and she would know I was feeling so unwell."

My very loving and caring seniors and co-junior helped me so much by feeding me breakfast and getting me relevant medicines.  I still did not feel any better throughout morning.Soon it was time for lunch. I had no hunger. In fact, due to nausea I had thrown up all that I had eaten. I still took medicines and went to college for the post-lunch session. I am a person who hates to be noticed by anyone except my mother as being sick. That day everyone made out that I was sick, thanks to my swollen face.  It was the Quantitative Techniques hour and I was just not able to concentrate and got most my sums wrong, when I ran to the washroom for throwing up the third time since morning. Looking at my condition, our QT teacher asked me to go back to hostel and rest.

 I came back to hostel but could not sleep due to severe pain. I finally slept after so much of crying. Within a few minutes I woke up to the sound of the door banging open. I then realized that it was my senior who had come to take something from the room. I then resumed my sleep after latching the door this time.I slept facing the wall. Again the latched door banged open. But I was too weak to get up and close it. So I left it to be the way it was. I then felt a warm and soft hand patting me on my head and cheek, soothing and healing me. I was at bliss. Suddenly, I turned around and got up to see whose hands were those and I knew for sure that it was Swami's hands that put me to sleep. I still wanted a confirmation. Praying for a confirmation I went back to sleep. There I had a dream of Swami standing at a height and putting something that looked similar to honey into my mouth. The dream ended with Swami giving a smile of assurance. It was 3:30 pm and my co-junior came to the room all excited to tell me about the room next to us, A-17 that had nectar coming from a photo. But I was fast asleep and in my sleep, I told her, "I know.". She now shook me more to ask me how I knew there was nectar coming from the photos in the next room when I was asleep in my room. I then told her of my dream and how that heavenly taste of the nectar lingered on my tongue. Even as we spoke all this, I realized that my temperature had gone down, I could move my head freely without heaviness, the pain on my face had vanished completely, there was absolutely no swelling, leaving no sign of having been sick. The best of all was that I didn't feel weak at all. I felt strong enough to go running around the whole campus! 

Ah! I wouldn't mind getting such sinus headaches any number of times if Sai Maa were to come and sit by my side to put me to sleep with those tender hands of Hers!

The Pani Puri Incident

It was one of those hectic days at ATP (Anantapur) and probably only one of the very few days I remember studying. Not that we never studied otherwise. It is just that on other days, studying was fun and time just flew.Studying was never something that was being forced into us. But that day, every 40 minute period seemed like 40 days.However, even in those tiring circumstances, I developed craving for Pani Puri so randomly! I thought to myself, "If I were at home, I would just have to voice out my orders and Amma would treat me like a princess with not just Pani Puri but all sorts of Chaat items. I can only dream of it here. Pani Puri at Anantapur. No way! Forget it, Sreenidhi!" 

If that was one disappointing and tiring day, a week after that was such a big day. Big day, not because of any celebrations but because the day didn't seem to end and it felt like it was going bad, I had been coughing throughout the previous night, felt sleep-deprived that morning, got late for the Auditorium session which meant I could not meet our Ganesha of ATP , forgot my Veda book in the room, Balance Sheet was not getting tallied, lost my Economics notes and to top it all the craving for Pani Puri hadn't ceased.Trust me, at certain points of time, the disappointment of an unfulfilled craving for food is more than any other sorts of disappointment. I still wanted it knowing I will never get it. I was badly waiting for the day to get over and thought of treating myself with a nap spanning 20 minutes after College and before I am off for music practice. So I had decided to bunk evening snacks that day. 

As I  entered my room in the Hostel, put my bag in place and landed 'thud' on the bed, I heard an announcement being made on the PA system, "All the students are requested to come to the Dining Hall immediately. EVEN THOSE PLANNING TO BUNK SNACKS MUST COME. There is something special awaiting you." Now my ears picked only the second sentence. I thought, "Let us see what is so special" Even as I was going to the Dining Hall, I could see the door closed and all the students waiting outside. We waited and waited for 12 minutes (Yes, I was counting! Just so that I could go back to the room and sleep if they were to delay serving snacks further) Suddenly the doors flung open with Sharada Ma'am (Deputy Warden, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus) welcoming us inside with her wide and warm smile. I was wondering what was so special about an evening snack? I go the counter and my jaw dropped at what I saw! We were being served Pani Puri! When I asked a 3rd Year Senior about how often they got Pani Puri for snacks, what she said blew me off. She said, "Ever since my 1st Year, we have never had Pani Puri for snacks. Don't know whose prayer is being fulfilled!" Even as I sat down to eat my heart, there were tears rolling down my cheeks, not because of the spiciness of the Pani Puri but the sweetness of His love. My eyes then fell on this photograph of Swami and I could feel Him tell me, "Now, how is that? That's my timing!" 
"Now, how is that? That's my timing!" 
Thinking back now, I cannot but help marvel at Swami's timing. He knew when to give me what. There was a day when I did crave for Pani Puri but then, He foresaw that I would meet an even more tiring day and decided to give me Pani Puri as a surprise on that day. 

Also, this is something that struck me - Even if I were at home, I would have had to voice out my desire to eat Pani Puri to my parents so that they fulfill my wish. But here, I hadn't even asked Swami for Pani Puri.I just wished for it in my mind and there it was in front of me, for doesn't Swami know our thoughts even before they arise out of our minds? 

I know these incidents are too small to describe His love that is not just that of a thousand mothers but equal to and more than that of a thousand mothers. But these are just to drive home a point that none should ever feel left out and not loved by Swami. A mother's love never gets diluted, how many ever children she may beget. Similarly, Swami's love is so abundant and equally spread that none can claim to not have been its recipient. It is just that one has to keep their hearts and minds pure and be alert to receive one's share of that Love of a thousand mothers. 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

I 'SAW' Swami, but was it the way He wanted me to 'SEE' Him?

I thought with SH's experience, everyone would learn the lesson that Swami is not partial and that He pours His grace on everyone equally and just that each of us should keep our hearts and minds open and alert to receive a Divine experience. I thought my faith got strengthened that day. 

Who is SH? What was her experience? These were the contents of Did I SEE Swami  - Part 2 of which I strongly recommend a read before you go on to read the following so that the message this 3-part article wishes to convey is clear to every reader. 

So done with reading Part 1 and Part 2? Welcome to Part 3. 

Questions continued to be raised. The "Why SH" attitude made people get depressed, angered some and turned some pessimists. Back to the same old story of telling "I am not blessed" , "Swami has decided to reject me." (As if they could read Swami's mind!) All this ruined my peace (first sign of dwindling faith) I felt bad seeing some turning pessimistic about Swami's grace on them and angry on some for blaming poor Swami for not blessing them. I thought I should go and ask them to define 'blessing'! It was thus that I started praying that Swami blesses the entire ATP Campus with His Darshan! Mega Prayer! Wasn't it? Even I knew it was too much to ask. But that is what I prayed back then. Every day I prayed and prayed, in fact, I was ordering Him. Days passed and there were a couple of experiences that happened in my life (These will form a part of another blogpost) the sweetness of which I completely or partially ignored because I was so lost in Mega Prayers. In fact the months of June and July could aptly be called the "Miracle Season 2014" at ATP. 

You see, this is a situation most of us come across in our lives. God's grace is constantly with us and miracles are happening all around us. However, we fail to notice them because they do not come in a manner we expect them to come in. All of us fail to realize this - The Lord who is powerful enough to bless us with miracles, isn't He also powerful enough to decide when and how He should bless us? It is like going to a doctor to get an illness cured and advising him on what medicines to prescribe! 

Sadly, in spite of knowing all these also I did not want to give up and leave it to Swami.This was one more instance of me being a 'platform hero' (heroine actually) but a 'practical zero' like Swami says.  

I did not want to give up. When in Part 1, I said retracing one's steps is not a sign of true devotee, I didn't mean dictating what, when and how God has to do something. It meant holding on to Him strongly and asking of Him to do that something. While pining is in your hands, dictating means of grace is nowhere close to our business. And I was dictating terms to Swami which was not my business at all. I thus spent the rest of my First Semester and Second Semester at ATP in Mega Prayer. Nothing else mattered to me. But if I was stubborn, Swami was more stubborn. He kept mum. I cannot even adequately describe in words how miserable I felt everyday, though Swami was not ignoring me but my Mega Prayer. I continued to miss out on those sweet incidences He gave me to cherish. Basically I did not live in the PRESENT. 
My desperation to see the my MEGA PRAYER get fulfilled knew no bounds.

I waited for every trip to Prasanthi Nilayam from Anantapur, every bhajan session in the Prayer Hall and every Auditorium prayer session before College. Nothing happened. I began thinking, "Swami just 2 months in the beginning was all so smooth and nice. You took me to heights of blissfulness. I currently feel like you have dropped me from those heights! What exactly is happening? Have you gone on a 'Sleep' Mode? " Forget about telling others to stop feeling pessimistic, I too started becoming a pessimist. I waited till 15th April 2015! (The day all of us left for our homes for Summer Vacations)  A wait from August 2014 to 22nd April 2015. That seems like a long wait, wasn't it? It indeed was. While I sat wondering what happened to Swami, He would have been wondering what was wrong with me!

But wait, why only till 22nd April? Was there something that happened on 23rd April 2015? Let me come to that. Swami was not only sad, He was angry too. In the early hours of 23rd April, Swami appeared in my dream:

The setting was that of the dormitory allotted to the Music Group in the dormitory building (opposite the Gayatri Mandir at Prasanthi Nilayam)  the students and staff of Anantapur Campus stay when we come to Prasanthi Nilayam. Swami tells me "Good Night" and falls asleep on a bed. In the dream, the bed was ith place, where we originally keep our altar in the dorm. I too sleep on a mat below His bed. The next morning I wake up to the voice of teachers trying to wake up Swami. Strangely enough, Swami has a mosquito net around His bed and none of the teachers removed the mosquito net to wake Swami. I then gathered courage to remove the mosquito net and gently shook Swami to wake up. Even after 4-5 times of calling out to Him, Swami did not wake up. During the course of the dream itself, I got reminded of how the next day was 24th April which meant that it was the Aradhana Mahotsavam day. I became all the more worried about Swami not waking up.The fear of losing Him gripped me tight and I almost screamed into His ears, breaking into tears, "Swami, please do not leave us go. Please get up. We don't have a life without You. Get up Swami! Get up!" Suddenly, Swami wakes up and glares at me looking deep into me. All my tears dried up instantaneously and I now feared that look of His for I had never seen this face of Swami ever. 

With that I woke up to find myself sweating profusely in spite of the air conditioner that was switched on throughout the night. All I knew was that He was angry with me but I did not know why. I therefore went to my altar immediately and sat silently, asking Swami what that dream and that glare meant. It was then I heard words so loud and clear which still ring in my ears, "Don't wake Me up. Instead, you wake up. Remember that I am always there, whether you SEE Me physically or not. Just have FAITH."  Swami clarified things further when I narrated the dream to my father without mentioning a word of my conversation with Swami. I then asked him, "Appa, what could that dream be all about? " My father in his usual way of speaking said, "Swami also knows you sleep more than anyone else. That is why He asked you to wake up instead of waking Him up." Though the 'sleep' my father referred to was so trivial compared to the 'sleep' Swami mentioned, both of them told the same and I knew it was Swami who again spoke through my father to calm my monkey mind. The words I had spoken to Swami when in utter desolation hit me hard, "Swami just 2 months in the beginning was all so happy. You took me to heights of blissfulness. I currently feel like you have dropped me from those heights! What exactly is happening? Have you gone on a 'Sleep' Mode? " I understood why He was angry with me. And all the dawning arrived. 

All the while He gave me experiences to show that I could  'SEE' (physically) Him and He placed so much hopes on me and went to the next level to teach me to "SEE' Him within and I had so hopelessly ruined His lessons while doing my Mega Prayers.My faith had been fragile all the while. Rather I had failed His tests after nodding my head when the Swami in my  Balvikas teachers told me, "Swami is Omnipresent". When Swami was physically present at Prasanthi Nilayam, I had no hesitation in telling my people at Muscat, "Swami is Omnipresent" It was as if Swami was telling, "Now what? Now also Omnipresent?" and instead of telling "Yes, Swami. Omnipresent even now." I began scratching my head and waiting for Him to appear. So what does that imply? I had only nodded but not understood what His Omnipresence really is. The Lord to whom I had promised to be that someone He can depend on, I had ruthlessly, put Him down once again. Hence, He decided that He had to show His love in another form and that He showed in the form of the glare. 
"Will she ever realize the grandeur and richness latent in her?"

On further introspection, it struck me how the teaching of the lesson began almost one year back on 24th April 2014 when I saw Swami physically on His blue throne in the Sai Kulwant Hall and concluded on the 23rd April 2015 when He appeared in my dream and told me that He is there always and that we should have faith. His lesson plan never ceases to amaze me. Our Swami is such a systematic teacher. 

He first taught me that it was possible to SEE Him if we pined and then He went on to teach the way He wanted us to SEE Him. At this juncture, I am reminded of what Swami says, " I have come to give you what you seek so that one day you will seek what I have come to give." Swami is here to give us Himself and we always look up to what Swami has to give us. We ask Swami, "Give me Your Darshan, Give me this. Give me that." Let us stop and think for a point of time when we asked Him, "Swami I want You." This 'You' is not the the body we seek, but Swami in us. It is this way, Swami wants to give Himself to us.  When that is the case, why not move to the next level and look for Him within, for it is only the Hridaya Nivasi Sai who is permanent and ever closer to us. Why attach to a form and come down to Level 1. I strongly believe Swami had decided to take us to Level 2 when He decided to give up His form.Remember every body that takes birth has an expiry date. Then why limit yourself to a form when you know another 24th April is inevitable. Then why not simply sit back like good students, cooperate with what our Teacher has to teach us. 

 In my case, I was so used to seeing Swami (Twice only could I see Swami but that was enough to spoil me. In fact, what attracted me also distracted me, if I may say so), that when after my Mega Prayers started, I never saw Swami. I went mad. Even in visualizations, I visualized Him coming and sitting on His throne in the Prayer hall. However, I had almost stopped listening to voices I heard from within. If not for my habit of diary writing, I would have missed those heart-to-heart conversations with Swami.  I kept day dreaming of that day when Swami would give a grand entry into the Prayer hall. I was not wrong but Swami was wanting to give something greater and my prayers were a barrier to it. I was growing dependent when Swami was trying to make me independent. Why depend on a form outside when there is Swami you can reach out to within you, with a little effort? Trying to find a form outside is easy but is not long lasting. However, getting God is not easy. It requires some serious Sadhana. But once you get Him, there is no looking back. He is permanently there to stay. So it is up to us to choose an easy path or a tough path, nay, not up to us. We have to choose the tough path, because Swami is waiting for us there, because He wants us to grow beyond the form, He wants to make us independent. This was always His mission. 

Move ahead. Grow up. Realize that Swami is within you. Then there is no need to point out on a an exact date when you actually saw Swami, for every day you will SEE Him. 

In conclusion, Yes, I indeed SAW Swami. You too can SEE Swami but that is not a big deal. Do you SEE Swami the way He wants you to see Him, within you? Well, finally, that is all that matters. 
"Hey, you there! Where are you looking? I am right there within you :) "

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Did I SEE Swami? - Part II

SH is my batchmate and also my neighbour in the Hostel. One evening after bhajans, she came over to me and asked me to narrate my experience of seeing Swami in the Sai Kulwant Hall. I then narrated the whole thing to her.

Dearest Readers. What I narrated to SH forms the Part 1 of this series. If you haven't read it, please go back and read it in order to appreciate the happenings of this Part 2 better.

And once your are done with that, you may proceed further to know what happened next. 

After she heard all that I had to say, she said this , "You know what? I guess you could see Swami because you come from a family that worships Swami as God. I do not have a Sai background. In fact I joined this Institute only because of the free and good quality education given here. I am slowly  beginning to pray to Swami. Can such things happen to me also? Can I see Swami too?"

Now what I liked in her was her attitude towards my experience. While there were people who came with the question of  "Why you?" all over their faces, here was a girl who came to me with the question of "Why not me?" on her face. In fact, that should be our attitude when we hear of anyone being blessed with an exhilarating experience of the Divine, for such an attitude is free of jealousy and will attract Divine love and grace. Also when the question "Why any XYZ?" is asked, there is no introspection involved. Hence, no corrective measure is taken by an individual who asks such a question, thereby his/her effort is at zero level. When the question "Why not me?" is posed, it is a question to oneself and involves self-introspection. Hence, deviations if any from the right path can be corrected by taking up corrective measures , thereby putting in efforts to seek God.

Getting back to what SH asked me, I replied to her in the affirmative and told her how it did not matter to Swami whether someone came from a Sai background or no. If He has decided to touch her life, then no factor in the Universe could stop Him from doing so and the first step was that she was already in His Institute. I encouraged her to pray harder and asked her to visualize Swami the way she wanted to see Swami. 

The picture of Swami in this photo is the picture referred to in this blog post
A few days passed and it was 19th July 2014, a Saturday and like every Saturday we were to have bhajans in the Dining Hall after the video show. For that day's video show, we were shown the Convocation Discourse of 2009, at the end of which Swami asks all the students to sing the "I love You" song (Humko Tumse Pyar Kitna) Even as we saw and heard the song being sung, all of us watching the video too sang along. All of us but could not stop ourselves from breaking down as we sang, "We love You, Dearest Sai,We love You" 

But then, amidst us was a girl who ran back to her room creating a commotion and Warden Ma'am had to send a few sisters to bring her back.What surprised me even more was that it was SH. What happened to her? Why was she doing what she was doing? She looked so drained of energy crying and didn't have any stamina to even walk. She was made to sit in front of the altar. Almost a few minutes after that she starts speaking to herself (at least that is what we thought looking at her) and cries out telling that Swami's knees were getting burnt and that it was hurting Him. (There is a photo of Swami in the Dining Hall, wherein He is squatting and looking down) And then it was realized that the lamp was kept too close to the photo, so much so that it touched the knee of Swami in the photo. Immediately, the lamp was moved a little away from the photo. At the end of bhajans that day, a video of Swami singing a bhajan was played. Just then, SH again exclaimed that Swami was getting choked and that water had to be brought and kept. Just when some eyes  looked at her skeptically, the CD that was playing smoothly all the while, created some problems and Swami's voice began cracking as if He was really choking. Immediately, a glass of water was kept for Swami. It could be coincidence as well, one might say. But aren't coincidences instances when God chooses to be anonymous? 

Normally after bhajans, a song and a stotram is sung everyday. Accordingly, we sang O Maa O Maa at the end of which SH whose eyes are still closed, tells that Swami wants us to sing the "I love You" song again. We thus sang it again. It was then time for Mangala Aarthi, during the course of which, SH with her eyes still closed was speaking to Swami in Telugu. The Senior who was seated next to her said how SH kept taking Padanamaskar and kept telling her how Swami was standing right in front of them. She says, "It seems He was standing right in front of me. Sadly, I could not even see Him." 

SH was taken to her room and she slept in peace after that. I remember her coming to my room before night prayers at 9:30 pm and narrating all of the above mentioned details. She was so weak (That is how she looked) but she said she did not feel so. So without feeling guilty of grabbing away her time to rest, I went on to ask her how it all began. That is when she said, "When all of us were singing Humko Tumse Pyar Kitna, I looked at the jhoola that was swinging and I saw Swami there. Since I had never seen Swami all my life and I know that He is physically no more, I got scared and ran to my room. However, seniors got me back here and I started crying more when I did not find Him on the jhoola. The rest then followed as all of you saw and heard. You know what Sreenidhi? People are not ready to believe me. But please trust me. It was all true.Swami did speak to me. "  She was about to break down. Her tears brought tears in my eyes because I believed her. 

SH was otherwise a very bubbly and talkative girl and none could imagine to see the form of SH that all of us saw that day. When she cried telling people thought that she was lying and acting, I got angry. I then quickly realized that it is not easy for everyone to believe in something they haven't seen and when there are some who haven't even heard or seen Swami, it is natural that they find it hard to believe in anything SH said or experienced. However, no amount of realization brought down my anger because SH was in tears and she cried pitiably. I don't know what made me make the statement I made next. I told her, "If you are right and Swami indeed gave you this experience, you needn't prove its validity to anyone. Swami has His ways. If at all He wants to prove. He will do it. Just leave the matter here and don't ruin your bliss. Go and sleep well." 

A mantra to keep oneself humbled about one's experience. 

There were people who asked me how I could believe all the she said. When I asked why not, I was given many adjectives about SH saying she was talkative etc etc. Basically, people had decided that she didn't deserve such an experience. Once again it was "Why her" mentality which made them make such comments.I remember Warden Ma'am tell us in one of our Hindi classes, "Of all kinds of jealousy, spiritual jealousy is the most harmful"  Like mentioned before, one should always have the question of "Why not me" in their minds and never "Why some XYZ" It is also equally important to understand and say to oneself, "If God can speak to me, work through me and show Himself before me, He can speak to anyone, work through anyone and show Himself to anyone."  

It was the 22nd July and there was an Alumni Meet at Anantapur. The 1992 Batch had arrived. SH was still being viewed by some as an actress, some as a blessed one, some as a saint and some people simply ignored her. She told me that morning how she yearned for a similar Darshan like she had a few days back. In the evening during bhajans in the Prayer Hall and when the batch of 1992 shared their experiences, she again broke down and prayed and prayed. I saw her from a distance and was happy at the change that had come over SH from the first day I had seen her in ATP (Anantapur).After a blissful day of listening about Swami and partaking of yummilicious dinner in the company of the Alumni, I was to get back to my room, when I saw a crowd outside A-17 (That was SH''s room)  and A-16 (that's my room). While I checked out what the issue was, I realized A-17 was crowded because there was vibhuti on almost all the photographs of Swami in the altar of their room. Everyone were busy congratulating SH. At 10:30 pm, she same to my room again and told me so happily, "See, you told na that Swami will prove it if He has to? I was worrying and praying for that only today during bhajans and He proved it today. All those who didn't believe me too came to my room to see the vibhuti appear on the photos. What can I say? I am so happy." 

So there it is  Hence proved anyone can see Swami. Anyone can experience Him. But all that one needs to do is pine for Him for a happening becomes an experience depending on the value one gives to it. Please trust me when I say that everyone sees Swami everyday. Swami happens in every minute and every second of everyone's lives. It is just that pining that makes the happening an experience to cherish. And let us remember these happenings are waiting to be transformed into experiences. 

In fact, the feelings that arise when in the process of pining are so beautiful. I used to feel it was like an incomplete love story that gives so much bliss waiting to experience the love.Now, I understand that With Swami, the love story can neither be limited to an experience nor can it be said incomplete when you are still pining for experiencing His love. The love story is complete in its own way, because Swami features it while pining as well as experiencing.

So SEEING Swami alone does not mean everything. There is more to it. Swami taught that too. 

Read Part 3 ,the link for which is given below. This speaks about what Swami taught me through this experience. This is also the concluding part of this 3-part series  - 

I 'SAW' Swami, but in the way He wanted me to 'SEE' Him?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Did I SEE Swami?

Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus
"All of you are here, not because all of you or your parents wanted you to be here. It is only because Swami willed so. Therefore, remember that you are the Chosen Ones and make the best use of this opportunity bestowed upon you "

These were words I as a Fresher heard invariably every day during my first year at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Anantapur Campus. However, no sooner I heard the above sentences, the next question that I would ask in my mind was, " How do you call us Chosen Ones Ma'am? We are a batch that has lost the opportunity of basking under His love, physically.  Forget the blessing of Sparshan and Sambhashan, not even Darshan." (So pessimistic, right? I know. That is how I was) 

 As if Warden Madam read my mind,she made her next statement ," All of you, especially are more fortunate than any other batches that have passed out and have enjoyed His physical proximity. He chose you all to study here during this phase because He has lots of confidence on all you. He knew that His children studying at His Institutions during the period of His 'physical absence' would need more faith and more courage. It is to build up on the little faith and courage already latent in you, Swami has so confidently chosen you all to study during this phase."

Outside the Hostel Building. Warden Ma'am had told us how
Swami stood there and gave Discourses
Courtesy - Jaya Sankar

Wow! What a beautiful way of putting it, right? 

No. I didn't think so. I thought, "So easy to say." These words could not convince me back then because as days passed inside the campus, both College and Hostel, as I walked all those places our dear Lord and Chancellor Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba walked, I sure did feel my heart swelling up with gratitude for this beautiful blessing but at the same time there was a vacuum. Atleast, that is what I felt then. 
The Jhoola. My favourite spot in the Dining Hall.

 I am not a tea-drinker. However, I would go to the Dining Hall every morning after Suprabhatham for tea just to stare at His jhoola that He once upon a time so gleefully swung on and would sing out with tears in my eyes the last line "Aao Pyaare Muraliwale Darshan Do Prabhu Gopala" of a bhajan Hey Giridhari Gopala, hoping to see Him there at least once.

I never found any difficulty in adjusting with the time-table followed because Swami had already gotten me used to a similar schedule when I studied at Sri Sathya Sai Vidyapeeth, Srisailam.So since Day 1, my only concern was to be able to see Him and feel Him and love Him more with each passing day. 

And then came another gift, the gift of getting selected into the Bhajan Group. No sooner the auditions for the same was held and members selected, all of us started working on the Summer Course Music Programme. 

Well, for those who do not know what is the Summer Course I am talking about,  the Summer Course on Indian Culture and Spirituality is an initiative started by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in the early seventies with an objective to expose students of the University to the rich culture and spiritual heritage of Bharath, The format of the Summer Course is that there is a morning session in the Poornachandra Auditorium, Prasanthi Nilayam, afternoon session consisting of study circles, evening session consisting of talks and music programmes by students of individual campuses and a post-dinner Parayanam sessions, wherein senior teachers would share their experiences with Swami. So it was for that Music Programme that we sat down to prepare.

Now, fast forward to Day 2 of the Summer Course, this was 14th June 2014 when the Anantapur Campus was to put up a music programme. Though I was seated with the Music Group, being a fresher I was not a part of the lead singers in the programme. The freshers of the Music Group, 7 of us were seated behind the lead singers. 

There was a particular song that was being sung as a part of the programme ' Dil Ki Har Ek Dhadkan Mein'.  This was the penultimate song that evening and my eyes which were fixed on Swami's Mahasamadhi now moved without my knowledge to His throne and once again I felt everything  going out of focus and I saw Him there, for 5 seconds or so.That is how it is when one sees God, everything goes out of focus. 

 It was exactly then that an interlude was being played and there were applauses. I then came back to normalcy and looked around to see if the whole of Kulwant Hall was actually seeing Swami and if that was the reason all of them clapped.I then understood that the applauding would have been thunderous had the whole Kulwant Hall seen Swami. So I knew I had alone seen Him.  Or wait, was I just hallucinating the whole thing? The next line that followed after that interlude gave me an assurance that I wasn't hallucunating and also goose-pimples - "O Sai Ma Anuanuvu Neevele". This literally translates to "O Sai, You are in the smallest particle of everything around me." After that I was completely choked with tears running down my cheeks. 

Just then, something hit me.

 I remembered how on the 24th April 2014, the Aradhana Mahotsavam, when I was at Prasanthi Nilayam, I had seen Swami just like this when the students and staff of His institutions were singing two of the Sai Pancharatna Kritis and I had asked Him to show Himself to me for all the music programmes Anantapur campus would put up, if at all I get into the Music Group. I hadn't joined the Institute back then and had just completed writing my entrance examination and been interviewed. That day on 14th June 2014, after I had forgotten what I had asked, He gave it to me. That thought brought all the more tears of gratitude. 

So that was my first Darshan of Swami after becoming a student of His Institute.

 Days passed and very soon July arrived and very soon I got back to my old ways of counting blessing conferred on others, forgetting all the grace and fortune Swami was so bountifully showering on me. It was a Friday, which meant that there would be talk by a senior in the Prayer Hall before the commencement of bhajans. It was on that day I was to sing Rama Hare Hari Naam Bolo. She had some very sweet experiences to narrate and almost all of what she spoke had happened in Swami's physical presence. All of it only added further to my "grief'.

In a fit of anger, I childishly, yet firmly told Swami that I was not going to look at Him that day throughout the bhajan session (Looking at Him meant, looking at His chair or His photograph) I had more or less succeeded in doing so till I finished singing my bhajan and I sensed something moving on the footrest of Swami. I felt it was just my own desire to see His chair that made me feel so. But this time my desire to "punish" Swami was more than my desire to "see His chair" and I still held back and decided not to look up whatsoever. As soon as I thought thus, I saw a sight I had never seen before.

I saw Swami seated on that chair in front of me, not in flesh and blood but in plasma! Yes, top to toe in plasma. He was enjoying the bhajans and cast a glance at the extended part of the Prayer Hall, where all the freshers were seated. When I still sat there so pleasantly shocked, and as Mangala Aarthi started, I observed that the two sisters who were waving the Aarthi were too close to Swami's chair and this time since Swami was seated on the chair, I could see His reaction to this.  It seemed like the fire hurt Him. Quickly, I passed the message through another sister seated in the first line to ask the two waving the Aarthi to move two steps back. Swami seemed relieved. After bhajans got over, Swami once again looked around the entire Prayer Hall and spoke in sign language to me telling, "I can see everyone but none are able to see Me." 

The countenance that He bore while He said this choked me and that picture stands even today in front of my eyes. I recall it so painfully.  Swami's grief that no one is able to see Him was greater than the grief that we were not able to see Him. I could see how much Swami was waiting for each one of us to reach out to Him, try and see Him but we just give up trying and say, "Swami did not give me His Darshan" or "I am not worthy enough to get it." I too fell under the same category until the technique of visualization came to my rescue. It is the first step from a devotee's side that will inspire the Lord to take a hundred steps towards the devotee. Hence, efforts and grace go hand-in-hand. One must never give up because retracing one's steps is never a sign of a true devotee. Pine...Pine...Pine.....And He has to appear before you! How long can He play this game of hide and seek! Will He also not get tired? 

Meanwhile, the news of me having seen Swami in Kulwant Hall had spread like a wildfire in the hostel, the source being my Music Group members with whom I had shared this on being questioned about the state that I was in after that Music Programme.  Everyone seemed to be asking me about it and I got busy explaining the entire thing. I would have explained it a hundred times. However, I also told them of how everyone could see Swami and I would go on and on speaking on the efficacy of visualization. It was then that, my neighbour in hostel and my co-junior SH came to me one day.......

The rest of the story is continued in the next two parts. Click the below links for Part 2 and Part3 Did I SEE Swami - Part II