Wednesday, 16 October 2013

When one is made to move away from God to get closer to God...

From the frying pan into the fire
The last photo which Amey received before he was thrown out of school.

It was the conviction of Amey’s parents that whatever happens, one must not let go of the feet of the Lord.
“Even if the Lord kicks you, do not let go of His feet.”
That was their guiding motto and so, even though the rejection letter had reached them, they decided to do the only thing that they knew – rush to Puttaparthi for succor. It was the June of 1993 and due to certain happenings, the place reserved for the alumni of the Sathya Sai Educational Institutions was taken away and the seating privileges of the alumni were revoked. This was precisely the blow that Amey did not want at this time because he was desperate to gain some physical access to his dear Swami and tell Him about the misfortune that had struck him.

( This is actually part 2 of a riveting story. If you have come here directly, please visit the first part and then continue reading: Sometimes things go horribly wrong before going right. )

Within a day of Amey and his parents arriving at Puttaparthi, Swami left for Brindavan.  The trio followed him to the Bangalore Ashram but the same ‘seating rules’ prevailed there too and there was nothing much that Amey could do. He cried bitterly when his father inevitably informed him that it was time to head back home and enroll in a school before it gets too late. The prospects of having to face the many devotees back home who looked up to him and having to answer their queries terrified him even more. He only cried and cried more. A little respite came from the fact that his father too got a transfer from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi. At least, he would be spared of the uncomfortable questions.

Thus life went on, dragged on drearily in fact. Instead of being a special student at Swami’s school, Amey had become one among many in just another school. He now got very angry and that ire was directed on all the teachers who had ‘complained’ against him to Swami. How could he be said to have ‘unwanted connections’ and be a person of ‘too much talk’? And what was the meaning of him being ‘medically unfit’? Had not everyone seen how Swami had made him the apple of His eyes when he had to undergo the appendicitis operation? What could have been the malicious intent behind anybody wanting to chuck him out of what he considered as his whole life? These questions rankled him and along with the anger in his heart, tears brimmed in his eyes on a regular basis.

When, after two years, he applied for admission into XI grade, he again received a rejection letter. The parents were ‘advised’ not to bring their ward for admission in Puttaparthi. Suddenly, it dawned on Amey that because of the charges levelled against him, he might never ever get admission into Swami’s institutions again! That wrenched his heart and sank his spirits. He applied again for the degree in Bachelors of Commerce. Since he was a NRI (non-resident Indian), the ruled did not permit him to get admitted. So, it was disappointment again.

Some respite finally!

Amey joined the Seshadripuram college in Bangalore (Bengaluru now) and completed his degree in commerce. Following that, he took up a job in the same city. Alongside this professional progress also came the much-needed respite in terms of his relationship with Swami. Amey became part of the Brindavan Bhajan Group and, thus, every Thursday and Sunday when Swami was in Brindavan, he would get the coveted chance of sitting in the first row and singing for his Lord. Slowly but surely, Swami began to speak with him. Amey now began entertaining hopes of attaining his lost former glory in terms of endearing himself to his Lord. This endeavor of his seemed to get crowned with success during a visit to Puttaparthi.

In the darshan lines, Swami spotted him and called him by that endearing term,
“Appendicitis boy...”
Amey rushed and knelt before Swami.
“Where are you?” Swami asked.
“Swami, I have completed my schooling and Bachelors in Commerce.”
“Why did you leave the school? Why did you leave Swami? All the other students happily continued to study here...”
Amey had no answer. Once again, he felt his anger against those unknown perpetrators rising. But he chose not to tell anything to Swami. With a flick of His finger, Swami indicated to Amey to go to the interview room!

Two personal interviews followed in the next 3 days. And in an instant, Amey had become a celebrity again. Friends who often avoided him, now came back flocking to him. Even as his stock price shot beyond the ceiling, Amey did not get carried away. He knew that it was his newfound  stock price which had attracted the clamouring ‘investors’ - the same ones who had totally avoided him all these years.  He kept quiet and did not care one bit for the attention. However, he could not hold back when his former ‘best friend’ came to speak to him.
“Keep away from me. How is it that suddenly I have become dear to you? I am the same guy but your treatment has varied so much. You are simply an opportunistic and selfish person.”

His friend smiled and replied. And that reply was enough to pick Amey from the peak of his joy back to the same abysmal depths of depression, if not deeper.

Back to square one

Looking straight into Amey’s eyes, the friend replied,
“What could I do? The day you left the school, the class teacher revealed what had happened. When the list of new students had been taken to Swami for approval, he had specifically asked for the roll number of the ‘appendicitis boy.’ The teachers were sure that Swami wanted to confer some special blessing on you as they pointed out to your number. Swami simply struck your name off the rolls and said that you were no longer needed in the school! So, all of us naturally assumed that Swami did not want any of us to interact with you. Nobody knew why you were thrown out but this much is certain that Swami expelled you. We feared His ire if we spoke to you.”

Amey was now in another daze. He simply walked away from the friend and could not believe that it was his Swami who was behind all this. He felt deceived and let down completely. Thinking back about the past few days, he was in mixed feelings. While the sweet talk and interviews had convinced him that nothing had changed between him and his Lord, this revelation from his friend shocked him into thinking whether he had got things right. He left Puttaparthi and returned to Bangalore. He needed some time by himself to come to terms with the information he had received.

Acting in the MBA Day drama in 2004.
Being a positive person by nature, his thinking in solitude resulted in a pure thought with a steely determination,
“Come what may, I shall strive to become dear to the Lord. I don’t know what I did to make Him take this drastic step of kicking me out of school. But I shall strive for one more chance to redeem myself.”
Born from this resolve was the desire to join the MBA course in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. Even as he worked for Hewlett Packard, Amey constantly kept preparing for admission into the University. In the meanwhile, his prayers during the bhajans at Brindavan gained a new intensity. He kept praying,
“Swami, please give me one more chance and I shall prove myself worthy of your love.”
That pining was reflected in his singing and everybody agreed that this boy - Indraneel - was one of the best singers. (Yes, he had changed from Amey to Indraneel. To this day, he continues to be Indraneel for the people from Bangalore.) His thought, word and deeds were directed towards an MBA admission.

The achievement of the goal

His first two attempts at getting an MBA seat were failures. But that did not deter him and he kept trying, year after year. Exactly a decade after being sent out from the school, Amey, in 2003, achieved the first part of his dream - he was selected for the MBA programme in the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The ten years away from Swami had given birth to another realization in him.

“I came to know that there is nothing in the world, nothing in life other than the Lord, my Swami. I decided that I would do whatever necessary to be with Him and never lose contact with Him again. I realized that I would possibly have left Swami to pursue a career after my education if not for this decade-long stint in the ‘outside world’. Those 10 years made me realize the magnitude of the blessing of staying with Swami. It trained my focus on to Swami and Swami alone. Thus, when I got an MBA seat, I was delighted. This would be my re-entry into the world with my Lord and, this time, I would ensure that nothing ever takes me away from it.”

Even as he achieved the first part of his dream, he did not lose sight of his ultimate dream - to become near and dear to his Swami. Being his classmate, doing the MSc course as he did his MBA, I can definitely vouch for his efforts. Amey became a lead singer in the bhajan group, was regular in all the hostel disciplines, excelled in studies and was clearly in college to pursue a lifelong sadhana. Everybody felt that he was different - some even criticized his ‘needless adherence to the ideal way’ but that was surely born out of their own inability to be like him! Amey also became part of all the cultural programmed put up in mandir in the Divine Presence. He excelled as a speaker and actor.

His faith in Swami had been strengthened by a statement that he often read and and heard from Swami,
“I sometimes act as if I keep you at a distance; that is done to reform you quicker. When a stretch of road is being repaired, I go by another detour and I do not use that bit of road for some time. The purpose is to let the repair works proceed more quickly so that I may use that road again.”

Ah! That is the property of Divine Love alone. Even at the cost of being misunderstood and ‘hated’, Swami continues to do what is best for the individual. He knows that though you may criticize Him now and feel bad, in due course of time, the divine wisdom and love will be appreciated. While human love is concerned only with the comfort of the body and the mind, divine love sacrifices the body and mind at the altar of the soul. Divine love is concerned only with soul which is forever, rather than the body which keeps changing with every birth.

The cherry on the icing

In 2007, Amey was a research scholar, pursuing his PhD in Management. He had no idea that Swami had been silently witnessing his ‘growth’ and had decided to give him a pat on the back. The 21st of August is celebrated as the ‘MBA Day’ to mark the inception of this professional programme in the University. Every year, the MBA students would put up a drama in Swami’s presence on MBA day. However, in 2007, Swami scripted the day differently.

He told the vice-chancellor, A.V.Gokak that there was no need of a drama as the students had put up one less than a week ago (that would be the Independence Day Drama on 15th August). He wanted a couple of speeches instead. When the names of some senior teachers were presented to Swami to select as the speakers, Swami said that he wanted speakers who could sing very well. He wanted many songs in between the talks he said. Only two people from the MBA department fitted this bill - Amey Deshpande and Subash Subramaniam. That in itself gave a hint about Swami’s selectivity.

On the 21st of August, 2007, Amey and Subash delivered their talks. It was unbelievable to see that Swami was almost in tears after an hour. He said,
“I am feeling so full today that I am not able to speak. You have given me so much joy.”

For Amey, that was an acknowledgement of his decade-long efforts. Swami did not stop at that. He said that since He was not addressing the students that day, He would specially address them the next day morning.  Conferring the two boys with lots of blessings, Swami left after the bhajans.

That evening, the vice-chancellor visited the hostel to invite all the students and teachers to the mandir next morning for Swami’s discourse! Having done his duty, he sent everyone out but these two boys. Then, he told them,
“Swami was all the while remembering and speaking about you only. He said that He wanted such boys to stay with Him forever. He even discussed with everyone at the dinner table about the steps and measures to be taken to retain such excellent Sai-students. He has advised me to ask you this and so I am doing it in private. What would it take for you to remain here always? Swami is ready to pay any salary, give you any comforts and do everything possible so that you remain here with Him always. He says that students like you are His greatest treasure and He wants to retain you here forever. So, tell me, what is it that you seek?”

Amey was now in tears. Ten years ago, Swami had sent him out. Today, He was pleading him to stay and stating that He was ready to do anything to keep him with Him. Ah! What humility! The ten years ‘away’ from Swami had brought Amey very close to Swami. So, he answered the vice chancellor,
“Sir, Swami has given me more than I could ever imagine. It will be my privilege and opportunity to be here with Him forever. Please tell Swami that he has always given me even before I have asked. The fact that He wants me here forever is the greatest blessing that is conferred on me. It is Swami’s love and humility that makes Him seek this as a favor from me when, in reality, this is the greatest blessing that I can ever imagine.”
Chained to his dear Lord for Life...

And that was when Amey realized that at times, you are made to move away from your goal to achieve your goal! The next morning, Swami materialized a gold chain for Amey and ‘chained’ him to Himself for life. He did the same to Subash as well. During the discourse on the 22nd of August,2007, He presented the two students as ideals for the whole student community:

“Yesterday, the talks delivered by two of our MBA students were very good. Listening to them was a great pleasure to Me. We are very happy to have such good boys in our college. These two boys stood first in their class and were awarded gold medals. But you should not be satisfied with these awards and rewards. You should become good boys. Even the value of gold may diminish but not the value of goodness. Hence, you should cultivate goodness and earn a good name which will remain forever.

Students, you are like pure gold. You are all very good. But sometimes you encounter waves of disturbance and doubts in your lives. Many a time, your faith is shaken by some aberrations. Do not pay attention to these. They will go as they come. Come what may, you must remain fearless and steady. Your studies are meant to develop steadiness in you. Study to be steady. Keep this always in your mind. Look at these two boys. How happy they are! In fact, all the MBA students are good. It is not possible to say that one is good and the other is bad. Their singing also was so good. They are intelligent, virtuous and full of vigour. They will be an asset wherever they go. Such boys should stay back to serve the institution so that they can impart their goodness to others. There is nothing great in going abroad and earning a lot of money with your academic qualifications. Money comes and goes, morality comes and grows.”

Today, a decade after joining the MBA programme, Amey continues to be in Puttaparthi as a teacher. He continues to motivate and inspire love for Swami in the hearts of the students and is happy to have achieved his dream of being close to Swami forever.

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  1. Yaay Amey! :'D
    Very very nicely written Barru, thanks!

  2. No comments... only tears of joy.. I have surrendered a pray at my Lord's feet. If he wills it wil happen. Thank you my Swamy.. my Beloved....

  3. Ever since reading part 1 of this episode, I have been very eagerly awaiting part 2, sincerely hoping and praying that it wouldn't take too long for it to be available online! - such is the thirst for reading about Swami's Leelas - thanks for so expeditiously quenching it, albeit temporarily, through yet another wonderful episode of His Divine Leela - waiting for the next one now, for the thirst goes on! Thank you for this incredible seva! Sairam

    1. I too am a big beneficiary in this writing sadhana.... :)

      Thank you.

  4. So moving Aravind! Thanks a ton to you and bro. Amey for sharing this riveting and truly inspiring account.

  5. I am totally amazed at Amey brother's faith and love for swami.He did not even ask once,why he was chucked out from the school by swami even at that young age..I admire him for his wisdom and faith in swami.How on earth should we develop that level of faith in swami?No doubt he is a chosen one!Thanks Aravind brother for sharing such a wonderful experince..It means a lot to me...

    1. That is indeed an important lesson for us because we will just not be able to get all our "Whys" answered. That is where faith and love for Swami comes into play. Once we have that kind of faith, we automatically become chosen ones.

  6. Sairam
    Amazing story!
    What an inspiring devotion and faith.
    Credit to the parents of Amey

  7. Dear Brother Arvind,

    What a wonderful series of riveting real stories about the values a MAN should have even when he is kicked about by the LORD himself to straighten him. Getting Goose pimples writing this comment and you need ,my word , real SHRADDHA to go thro this.
    Hats off as usual to our Divine Brother for depicting this true incident in his Charismatic way.
    I pray to Bhagwan to BLESS you both good friends. SAIRAM.

    1. Thank you for your kind and loving words... :)


  8. As swami would have said .. very nice bangaru

  9. When the heart is full..the tongue is words can express the joy i felt reading this...Truly you people are his chosen instruments....may he always continue to shower his blessings on you...Sairam

  10. Bhagwan's Divine Master Plan!

  11. A very touching experience of brother inspiring story to hold on swami no matter what ever happens....

  12. Amazing.From that small age he developed so much love for swami.He didn't give up.No words to express .That was the test he passed.May swami bless you all.

  13. I kept thinking about this and here is what emerged -- when something goes terribly wrong, we need to 'trust' Bhagawan, for He knows what He is doing to us but He is doing it for various reasons best known to Him, which we too will appreciate over time. I think trusting Him and holding on to Him will help us get through every moment of the present, even though much of it may be painful for us. This will ultimately lead us to our goal.

    1. Yes. The important thing is to 'enjoy' and be joyful at all times. It will not be useful if one waits with the anticipation of being a 'martyr' for the Lord. What differentiates true waiting and normal waiting, I think, is that the one who is truly waiting does not feel the weight of the wait. :)

      We all have to grow till we reach that level...

  14. It is very beautiful, touching really all the students of swami institute really you have done great punyam for having enjoyed ll this divine things

  15. Sairam Aravind anna. thanking you and swami.that he blessed me to read this.
    May swami bless u always..


  16. Sairam Aravind and thanks a lot for sharing this very touching 2 part narration of events in Amey's life, I could not hold my tears back while reading it. This is what is meant by words - Absolute Surrender, Sharanagathi etc. Look forward to reading more such inspiring narrations from you.

  17. "Those 10 years made me realize the magnitude of the blessing of staying with Swami. It trained my focus on to Swami and Swami alone." - It is what penance done by Amey. Excellent one. it shows how Swami chose His devotees.

  18. "Those 10 years made me realize the magnitude of the blessing of staying with Swami. It trained my focus on to Swami and Swami alone. "- It is the penance done by Amey to get the blessings of Swami. He got pass in the test given by Swami.

    1. And then, Swami's discourse at the end highlights the same too... :)

  19. suresh mavinkurve19 October 2013 at 11:54

    This shows the complete faith and perseveranse pays

  20. Lovely Article !!!

  21. Why did swami put that boy away from him only just to test him?how big punishment!!!

    1. I have penned down the story as Amey revealed it.... Each one of us should introspect and get answers for ourselves I feel...

    2. I think "Sai Messages" above has given a pretty nice answer to your question nevertheless...

  22. I am truly amazed n Inspired by Bro Amey's saburi n shraddha. Thanks for sharing Aravind. Thank You Swami!

  23. True.. Swami does make u undergo some pain to remove a bigger pain.. But the faith and love.. D blessing of him saying "Everything will b ok" wen u take a padnamaskaar, it gives us the strength to move on.. And he looks after us like his own children :) very inspiring ... Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing story :):) sai ram:)

  24. Sairam.. It's when I'm feeling so low, I open up this blog and read.It's like a drug that takes away your pain. i was feeling this rejection from Swami from the past few days. Now I have understood why he distances u from him.. to reform soon.. thanks for sharing, brother.. sairam.

  25. Nothing to say... just tears of happiness on the steadfast devotion of Amey brother and the love of Swami...

    1. shows how swami makes us realize the importance of unflinching faith in him under any kind of circumstances we come across.. Only tears of joy and happiness. So blessed to read this inspiring story ...thank you for sharing such stories sairam

  26. This is incredible. .I keep reading this. .It helps me in continue focusing on swami


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