|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.
(Click to listen to the recording of the song Dil Ki Har Ek Dhadkan Mein as it was sung on 14th June 2014. In the 2:34th minute comes the interlude and the claps can be heard in the background.)
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