The legend of Gajendra, the elephant king, from the 8th Skanda of the Bhagavatha Purana offers us a very interesting answer to how far God is away from us. The story goes that the bull elephant, a devotee of Lord Vishnu, once entered the waters of a cool lake on Mount Trikuta. A crocodile which lived in the same lake caught him by the leg and began to drag him into the deeper parts of the lake. Gajendra fought with all his might but a crocodile's strength in the water is ten times greater than its strength on land! As Gajendra was dragged in, he began to fight with all his might. Legend goes that the battle went on for a thousand years at the end of which, Gajendra trumpeted in pain and helplessness until he was hoarse.
Then, he remembered his Lord and called out to Maha Vishnu. Instantly, Vishnu arrived on His mount, Garuda, decapitated the crocodile with the Sudarshana Chakra (the discus) and liberated Gajendra.
|The moment Gajendra called out to his Lord, Maha Vishnu was there in a trice.|
As long as Gajendra fought on, Vishnu watched on, respecting the elephant-king's choice to use his own strength. But the moment he surrendered, Vishnu was there in a trice. That story teaches us that God is just as far as our call can reach! That was the discovery of a little boy too. Amey Deshpande realized that, no matter what, his God, his Swami is always within earshot of his cries.
Amey was devoted to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba since his birth as he was born into a family devoted to Swami. He was enrolled into the Bal Vikas classes and he became a role model for all the other children - He would sit straight for hours, chant all the shlokas and mantras, participate in bhajans and play the tabla. Such was the praise heaped on the child by the elders that he sincerely felt that he was several cuts above the rest when it came to discipline if not devotion!
In 1984, as a 5-year old, Amey came on a pilgrimage to Prasanthi Nilayam, the abode of supreme peace. Like Amey's understanding of Swami, Prasanthi too was very different back then. The schedule revolved entirely around Swami's routine. The most sought-after times were the Darshan times when Bhagawan would gently walk, nay glide through the seated devotees, ladies on one side and gents on the other. He would speak to a few, take letters from some others and call the lucky ones for an 'interview'. An 'interview' was not a Q&A session though it could be that also. It was a personal interaction between the devotee and Swami in the interview room where healing, transformation, miracles and counselling took place.