Saturday, 22 June 2013

Wherever my devotee sings my name, I install myself there.

Always pining to get close to Swami. The rest got conferred.
 Inspirational story

In most of the inspirational movies based on the hard-work and focused efforts of an individual, the scenes of the actual working are shown very briefly. Let me elaborate. The flow of any inspiring individual’s story if presented like this -

  • The failures and problems of the individual are shown in great depth and detail. This is done to ensure that the audience begin to completely identify with the protagonist.
  • The ‘inspiration’ which triggers the protagonist - a statement, a sight, a person etc - is also shown in great detail.
  • The hard-work that the protagonist puts in achieving the goal is usually shown very briefly and fast. A song or music sequence follows at the end of which the protagonist has translated his/her inspiration into concrete reality.
  • The culmination again is shown in great detail so that the audience experience the joys and highs of the protagonist with whom it had sympathized with in the beginning.

That shall be the format in this narrative too. While Aravind Sai’s inability in singing was presented as a complete article so that the readers can feel his pain and longing, the hard-work that he put in over the years will be summarized in a few statements! (If you have not read that part, it is highly recommended that you read the article entitled - Talent-Search : The experience of a student who achieved talent by loving God). Though it does not do real justice to the effort he made, this much will suffice to say that Aravind Sai put in a lot of hard work for the next 3-4 years! And the motivation behind those efforts was not for becoming an excellent singer, but for being Swami’s singer!

The Easwaramma Burrakatha

Every year, the trio got an opportunity to put up a Burrakatha  in Swami’s presence - in 2004, 2005 and 2006. As the academic year for 2006-2007 came to an end, Aravind Sai felt that this being his last year as an undergraduate student, he should put in all his efforts for a final grand Burrakatha. And so it was that the trio prepared for a Burrakatha on the divine Mother, Easwaramma.

The month of March dawned. Known for the famous ‘ides of March’, it brought along trepidation in Aravind Sai’s heart. Will they get a chance this year to perform for Swami? Far from his desire of singing on a daily basis, his annual singing for his Lord too seemed in danger as the final day of the academic year drew close. He even went around the idol of Mother Easwaramma at the Smt. Easwaramma School, praying to her to tell her ‘son’ to bless them with an opportunity. His heart almost cried with great pining for that opportunity.

The Mother worked a miracle overnight it seemed! The next day, the 18th of March, 2007, Swami asked for the trio out of the blue! Aravind Sai joined the other two boys in getting dressed and soon, found himself on stage with Swami by the side. It was such a heart-rending experience for Aravind Sai. He was so lost in singing the stories of Easwaramma and Karnam Subbamma (another lady in the village of Puttaparthi who cared for Swami as His own mother). The trio related many well-known and little-known stories about these two mothers and it was a treat for those that understood Telugu. For those that couldn’t, the music itself was enthralling. 

Before one of the Burrakatha sessions in the bhajan hall. Swami checks the costumes.

Sitting in the audience that day, I felt that Swami would shower these boys with blessings and grace galore. However, as the Burrakatha ended, I was almost shocked. Swami simply turned and went into the interview room. He did not even look at the trio, forget blessing them with namaskar or a chance to speak to Him. Aravind Sai was deeply disappointed. He felt that his efforts had not been good enough and cried. The accolades that poured in from all his teachers and classmates were of no use at all. His ears were deaf to them. His heart ached for his Swami had not seemed happy.

Little did he realize then that many times a pin-drop silence is greater appreciation that a thunderous applause. 

Two days after that day was the beginning of the New Year according to the Indian calendar. It was the Ugadi day on the 20th of March. As always, Baba delivered His divine benediction via a discourse on that day. The coming new year was the year of Sarvajith. (Incidentally, Swami named the child of champion Indian cricketer, V.V.S Laxman as Sarvajith in this year. The cricketer’s experiences are also an amazing read.)

That day, the discourse almost seemed centered on Swami’s life- His childhood mainly. Aravind Sai was seated in the audience. He had goosebumps and multiple chills running down his spine as Swami began to almost repeat entire dialogues from their Burrakatha, two days ago! Swami relived the stories of Easwaramma and Subamma! Once again, Aravind Sai had tears in his eyes. How he had misunderstood his Swami! What a blessing and tribute it was for the Burrakatha that Swami was almost repeating it from memory. He was thrilled that their performance seemed etched in Swami’s heart! You can read that entire discourse by clicking on this link - Ugadi discourse on 20th of March, 2007.

The ultimate gift from Sai to Aravind Sai (and the other two boys also) came as the final few sentences of the discourse. Swami said,

“Yesterday, three boys sang a nice Burra Katha about Easwaramma. They rendered it well. There was a wonderful description about Subbamma too in that Burra Katha. I am very happy about it. In fact, it was such a unique story. No one has written such a story so far. “

After that, He called out for the three boys and honored them publicly in front of a capacity crowd in Sai Kulwant Hall. Then, He gifted them with white safari cloth pieces and blessed them with padanamaskar. The only language the boys spoke that day was that of love and they spoke it through the medium of their tears. Definitely, God’s delays are not His denials and His timing is the best ever!

The start of a new chapter

From that day onwards, it was a kind of upward spiral for Aravind Sai. His singing abilities seemed to have jumped up notches and he began to get chances to sing bhajans in the divine presence of Baba. After his undergraduate studies, he joined the Sathya Sai Institute for his post-graduation in Masters of Art (Economics). Two years, two Burrakathas and several bhajans later, it was once again the end of his final academic year.

For those that love God and pine for Him, there is nothing like the ‘End’, it is forever one ‘beginning’ after another! Aravind Sai was blessed by Swami to enrol for the MBA course in the Institute! So, even in 2009, he continued to be a student. 2009 happened to be a landmark year. As the trio prepared for their ‘annual’ Burrakatha, Swami called and spoke to them. In a jovial manner, He told them,
“There are so many people sitting in the hall. When you sing ensure that their ears do not bleed. Sing well to bring joy to all the devotees. The person sitting in the first row and the one sitting in the last row must experience bliss equally with your performance. The joy in the devotees’ heart is what will reflect on my face!”

That was a revelation - the way to please God is to make others happy; the way to love God is to love all and serve all!

“Swami, you are the one who does everything...”, the lads replied.
“That is true. But you are the instruments right? Your efforts too count.”
Swami blessed the trio and that evening was another wonderful performance. The smile on Swami’s face told them that everyone in the hall had indeed been filled with joy to the brim of their hearts.

That was also the year when Swami took him along with the other two lads, Prabhakar and Raghuram, to Kodaikanal. In Kodaikanal, Aravind Sai got the bounty of his life as Swami asked the trio to perform different Burrakathas, one after another, on successive days! And Swami was full of praises for them. He almost sang their praises making them realize that they definitely did not deserve all this.

And that is God. At times, one feels that He does not give what one deserves. But there are also times when one is convinced that He showers much more than one ever thought one deserved. He who showers without reason is allowed to withhold without reason too. It is best that we realize this and trust in His wisdom for, as Aravind Sai said,
“Swami’s timing is amazing. Today, when I look back at my life, I realize that everything happened at the perfect time and circumstances. It just could not have been planned better. I know that though I pined for Him, He didn’t give me what I desired when I wanted it. But I also know that He gave me what I desired, when I most needed it!”

Always giving what one needs...

After one Burrakatha in Kodaikanal, the overwhelmed trio broke down,
Swami, intha prema pondhataaniki memu arhulamo kaado koodaa maaku teliyadu" (Swami we don't know whether we deserve this much love which you are showering on us).
Swami replied (and this is a statement for all of us to keep in mind)
Icchinappudu teesukondi, lenappudu icchinavanni choosi anandinchandi!" (When I am giving, receive it. When it is not there, remember and cherish all that has been given and be blissful.)


When Swami said , “lenappudu icchinavanni choosi anandinchandi”, it also translates as “When I am not there, remember and cherish all that has been given and be blissful.”
It is only Swami who can strike two birds in a single stone!

“And that is why I am sharing this brother”, Aravind Sai said, “because I realize today the greater import of His statement. We should all live this way, constantly sharing His stories and experiences. I am sure that they number into millions and billions! Swami’s instructions are that we relive those memories/experiences and feel blissful.

Aravind Sai’s dream achieved

It started off as a journey to become Swami’s singer but Aravind Sai has realized today that singing is just a medium. The ultimate journey is to achieve Swami/God Himself. For that, singing is a means but so is playing, dancing, studying, sweeping, serving food and any of the millions of activities and actions. The most important point to be kept in mind is to simply love God while constantly putting in efforts because God confers everything. God’s grace is such that once obtained, it makes one lose interest and taste for anything else.

“As long as I strived to sing, I seemed to be struggling. Once Swami was pleased and He blessed me, I just wanted His love and grace. I no longer strived to sing but got so many opportunities to sing! Is it not paradoxical - the minute I stopped trying to be His singer and chose Him, I became His singer!”

Gone were his difficulties to sing on pitch. Chances to sing in the divine presence were showered on a daily basis. In fact, for several years till Swami’s Mahasamadhi, Aravind Sai sat in the first row, singing bhajans for Swami on a daily basis. 

Even to this day, the trio comes together once a year and does a Burrakatha in His presence.
A final message

One thing that amazes me about Aravind Sai is that even to this day he continues to sing with the same enthusiasm and energy, even in Swami’s physical absence. In fact, the trio, even to this day, sing their annual Burrakatha in Sai Kulwant hall. I asked him what was the secret behind this enthusiasm. He replied with a sweet experience.

In 2009, Swami asked Aravind Sai to get his dental clips removed.
Aaa mulla kanchani eppudu teesthaavu, adhi teesthe chaala baaguntaavu “ (Remove those fences and then you will look nice!”)
And so, he had to get an appointment in Anantapur (a nearby town) to visit the dentist. The day he had to go, he told Swami,
“Swami, I am sad...”
“Why are you sad?”
“Because today I will not be able to sing for you Swami.”
“What time will you be returning?”
“By 5:30 Swami...”
“And when is the bhajan session?”
“Swami, that is at 5:00pm.”
Swami smiled at him and then told him.
“Wherever you are at 5:00pm, close your eyes, think of me and sing. I promise you that I will be sitting there and listening to you.”

That is what Lord Narayana promised Narada too,
Mad bhaktha yatra gayanti, tatra tishtami” (I am present wherever my devotee sings my name.)

Swami has modified the same,
Mad Bhakta Yatra gayanti, tatra sthapayami” ( Wherever my devotee sings my name, I install myself there.)

“And so, everytime I sing, I know that He is listening. How can I not give my best and have enthusiasm?” Aravind Sai concludes. 

For all readers:
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  1. I'm moved to tears! I just need to constantly reiterate to myself that Swami knows every tear I shed for Him in pining. He knows every effort I make. He will reward in the best way possible in His best time and that time will be perfect!

  2. An amazing experience. Thanks for sharing and sairam.

  3. eyes blurred!....thnx for sharing such an amazing & Blissful exp. bro...Sairam

  4. sairam awesome brother........... really he is a blessed person and chosen flower by our swami
    awaiting for next part of this article........


  5. so extremely beautiful!!

  6. Wherever you are, whenever you are able to contemplate on the Divine, I am Present there! Yes, this is the Truth of Vedas, Sasthras and all Upanishads. Swami has confirmed this to you all personally. You are all very lucky to be in the Presence of Bagawan always and everywhere!

  7. SaiRam! we have no words to explain

  8. Absolutely also a witness for these events...
    thanks brother for sharing.



  9. This email was delivered to me by a friend, and I think I needed to sit quietly and read and absorb the message. Thank you so much. My life is at crossroads. I am waiting for something to happen, but, it just doesn't seem to be happening. I now know that Swami knows when it is necessary and take care of it for the greater good.

    Sairam and please do continue. You are providing great service

  10. Sashi

    This experience and your narration brought tears in my eyes..please keep writing the way you do. Sai ram

  11. Literally crying. Swami telling him sing and I will be there. Only our swami can be like this. are all swamis heros. ..keep singing HIS GLORY for us....I even liked the part where swami via telling him take whatever I'm giving and........We must cherish what HE has done for us. Aravinda all your articles have lessons for life. What an Instrument in HIS HANDS. ....GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS... What more can I say.....Thanks a million times....SAIRAM

  12. Arvind I want to hug you yaar...!!!!
    It will be like hugging Swami.


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