Wednesday, 11 December 2013

God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called - Part 2

The story so far...

Nitin Kanade has had a wonderful transformation journey; from being dead-against being a student at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, he now pines to be a part of that hallowed community. But, the universe seemed to have conspired against him and played a cruel joke because of which he is forced to leave the college.
Dear reader, I would request you to come to this part after having traveled the journey with our protagonist in the first part.

Part 2 continues from now on...

Not a man who expressed his anger, the warden told him with restraint,
“Swami has come here for the practice session of the music programme. Only music boys are allowed into the prayer hall. I cannot tell you to go to college for you are no longer a student there. But I cannot allow you into the prayer hall. So, if you want to have darshan, stand here itself and maybe you will be able to see Baba from the window.”

Nitin understood clearly the meaning of the saying, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” That little window in the prayer-cum-dining hall of the hostel would be his only window of opportunity to continue as a student. The senior-boys hostel in Puttaparthi has a large quadrangle with lawns at its centre. On the west side of the quadrangle is the prayer hall. Nitin stood on the east side of the lawns, quite a distance away from his Swami. He positioned himself strategically so that he could see Swami through the window. His eyes focused on that little orange-robed figure and his heart broadcast prayers.

If you look to me, I look to you

Nitin seemed to be on a ‘learning’ spree, getting greater clarity on the workings of the Lord. Within a short while, he realized the meaning of yet another of Baba’s statements,

Even as he watched Swami from the window, he saw that Swami was looking directly at him. His heart rejoiced and basked under that loving glance. He felt very special - Swami had come for the music practice but was looking at him! That gave him courage to slowly inch his way towards the prayer hall. Within a few minutes, he was inside and sitting along with the sick students who had rushed from their dorm beds to the prayer hall. When the Lord arrives, illnesses are all forgotten! In such times, those very illnesses seem to become blessings for they literally take you closer to God!

Swami sat through the entire practice session, making corrections and changes in the songs. At the end of the practice, as He got up to leave, He began to speak to some of the boys. Out of the blue, He asked Nitin,
“Boy, why are you here?”
The question was asked suddenly and so the answer was spontaneous and factual.
“Swami, I have been asked to leave the college. Since I cannot attend classes, I came to the hostel.”
Swami’s reply was emphatic.
“How can that be? I have called you and given you admission.” Patting him on his shoulder, Swami continued, “Go to college and attend classes.”
And He walked out of the prayer hall.

With thankfulness, Nitin remembered the words of his teacher, Sai Giridhar. Things had indeed changed in an instant. But it was not going to be ‘happily ever after’ so fast for Nitin.

Twists of fate arrive only to amplify God’s love for us

Ten days elapsed and Nitin continued attending classes in the college. Just when he was thinking that the matter had been settled, the vice-chancellor, Sampath sir, arrived to his classroom and summoned him. Walking with him in the corridor, he told him that there was no way he could be permitted to continue studying a course which included Chemistry when he had failed in that very subject.
“But Swami told me to attend classes in college...” whimpered Nitin.
“He told you to attend classes. Did He tell you to attend BSc classes?”, asked Sampath sir.
Nitin’s reply was a blank stare as the vice-chancellor continued,
“Go to the BCom classes. Consider yourself as a student of the commerce stream from now on.”
And so, Nitin shifted classes and streams to become a student of the BCom course of the Institute. But he was still far away from peace of mind as the registrar called him to his office and gave him a piece of his mind!

“What audacity do you have to sit in classes like this when you have flunked your high-schooling? University is only for those who have cleared high-school. These are rules which we cannot flout. I promise you it will not be a pleasant sight for anyone if I see you in class tomorrow. Now you may leave.”
“But Swami...”
“No ifs and buts here. You may leave.”
Nitin had to simply leave the office room and head to the hostel. He was in a deep dilemma. Whom should he obey? Swami or the university authorities? He knew that the registrar was absolutely right in what he was doing - his duty. But Nitin could not imagine a life without Swami. That evening, during darshan something unexpected happened.
Swami commands Nitin to become a
participating Marathi poet in the Kavi Sammelan
during Guru Poornima.

Swami walked up to him and told him,
“There is going to be a kavi sammelan (poets’ meet) for Guru Poornima. I want you to be one of the poets. Compose a poem in Marathi.”
Being ‘raw’ and ‘unseasoned’ in responding to Swami, Nitin shot back,
“Impossible Swami! I don’t know Marathi well and I cannot compose poetry in any language. This is something I cannot do.”
“This is something you have to do and you will do”, said Swami with such a stern look that Nitin cowered. He felt that it would not be wise to get into the bad books of Swami when he was already in the bad books of all the college authorities.
“Yes.... Swami....”, he replied and received a lovely smile from his Lord.

All the student-poets participating in the kavi sammelan were exempted from classes to allow for composition and practice. Nitin knew that he did not qualify in any way to be a poet, that too a Marathi one. But Swami had called him and chosen him. It was yet another reinforcement that Swami’s call in itself is a qualification. Needless to say, within a few days, Nitin was ready with his poem and began to practice for its punchy delivery. The punch came with its best impact on the D-Day, Gurupoornima Day 1989, when Nitin recited his Marathi poem to the audience in Swami’s divine presence. It was an unforgettable experience for him.

Pleasure, an interval between two pains

With the conclusion of the Guru Poornima festivities, the focus shifted back to Nitin’s problem of attending classes. On the very first day itself, he was forewarned by the registrar against trying to attend classes. The explanation that Swami had asked him to did not work and it was obvious that Swami had not spoken anything about Nitin to any of the authorities. Swami had not done anything ‘out of the legal framework’ to support Nitin and yet, He had always told him to attend classes. Between the authorities and Swami, Nitin felt like the blade of grass amidst two fighting elephants! What was he to do?

He was summoned to the principal’s office, two days after Guru Poornima.
“Boy, you have to leave. There is no choice”, said Mahajan sir.
A crestfallen Nitin walked out of the office and into the hostel. He began to pack his bags because the orders had now been issued to evict him from the hostel too. With no other choice when he walked out, he was accosted by Mr. Sanjay Sahni, one of his teachers in commerce. Sahni sir told him,
“Nitin, Swami has told you many times that you should attend class and be in college. Whatever may happen, do not leave Puttaparthi without telling Swami first.”
Nitin agreed to this piece of wisdom. But that also was not going to be easy.

With his seat in college gone, he had also lost his opportunity to sit with the students in the mandir for darshan sessions. He moved over to the area allocated for the alumni or ex-students as they are called. During these days when he literally had no succour other than Swami, his Lord chose to ignore him completely. Now, he was completely at his wits’ end. He seemed stuck between the devil and a really deep sea. Weeks rolled by and the last ounce of hope in Nitin seemed to dry up. The mid-semester examinations of the Institute were conducted and Nitin was not allowed to sit for them. Since these carry 40% weight of the total marks, there was no way Nitin could complete his course by missing them. He began to bid goodbye to one year of studies at least. That was when, again the unexpected happened. (Where God is concerned, the unexpected always seems to happen. Isn't that why He asks us to love His uncertainty?)

One fine day (the day has become ‘fine’ in retrospect for NItin!) in August 1989, Swami walked up to Nitin and beckoned to him. Startled, Nitin rushed to Swami and knelt before him.
“When is the supplementary examination?” Swami asked.
The Supplementary Board Exam in India gives a second chance to students who have failed to clear certain subjects in the first go. The supplementary exam for Chemistry was due in 3 days and Nitin ‘informed’ Swami about it.
“Can you reach in time for the exam?”
“Swami, they will be held in Delhi and I will be able to make it if I can catch today evening’s train from Dharmavaram.”
“Go immediately then. Take padanamaskar. You have my blessings”, Swami said, giving him a sweet smile.

Nitin could not believe it. Even if he cleared the Chemistry paper via the supplementary exam, what could he do about the missed mid-semester exams of the University? He did not have much time to think and so he rushed to get a bus which would take him to Dharmavaram. There, he jumped into the ‘unreserved’ general compartment and readied himself for the arduous 2.5 day journey.

Managing some sitting space, he opened his Chemistry textbook to study and prepare for the impending examination when the train experienced a sudden jerk. Moments later, he was flying through the compartment as his train bogie ran off the tracks. What a time to get into an accident! Chemistry somehow seemed to be a specialist in derailing Nitin always!

By God’s grace, Nitin escaped without a scratch on his body but his mind was in a state of shock. Though delayed by 8 hours, he managed to get on to another train and reach Delhi just hours before the examination! He has no idea of how he wrote the exam during the afternoon. Having done that, he took the same night’s train back to Dharmavaram and hoped for Swami to work a miracle for him.

He returned and immediately Swami told him to attend classes again. The smile on his face did not last long as the registrar personally walked into his class and kicked him out! This divine ‘football’ went on and Nitin, in a span of a week, was in and out of classes 4 times! Now the case against him was stronger - he had not cleared the mid-semester exams. Nitin felt that the inevitable had been delayed enough by Swami. There was no more hope now.

Receiving a certificate from Swami after the Summer Course in Indian Culture
and Spirituality.
The called gets qualified

When the Lord decides to get a work done, He does so in matter of moments. As Nitin, the football, was being kicked from pillar to post, Swami decided that it was time for him to rush into his goal! That happened during another darshan session, in the course of another unexpected twist.

Swami called the registrar, K.Chakravarthi, and began asking him about certain University rules. In the course of the discussion, He asked,
“Tell me, is there a provision for a supplementary mid-semester examination?”
“Yes Swami, there is?”
“Who is eligible to write that?”
“Swami, those who have not been able to clear the actual mid-semester examination.”
“What if someone was absent for the exam?”
“Swami, if the absence is justified, then the candidate could sit for the supplementary exam.”
“What about this boy then”, said Swami and pointed straight to Nitin who was sitting with the students.

Nitin had missed the mid-semester because he had been preparing for the supplementary exam in Chemistry without which he was ineligible for University examination. He had cleared the Chemistry ‘acid-test’ and now had a justified reason for writing the mid-semester exams which he had previously missed.

“He is eligible for the supplementary exam Swami”, said Chakravarthi sir.
“Then, let him write it and if found eligible, let him be taken into the college.”

Nitin completed BCom with honours from the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and later went on to get his MCom degree as well. During those student days, he got hundreds of opportunities with his Lord and Master, his Swami. He learnt lessons for life and won the friendship of the ONLY friend in the Universe - God. He went on to serve in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences till 2005 after which Swami guided him to his current job. His two little girls embody every bit of his love and devotion to Swami as they listen with rapt attention to all the stories their father has to tell. In fact, they have no taste for videogames, movies or the television. They do not own a television at home too. All that time, they spend playing with their parents and listening to stories and experiences with Swami.

Qualification does not matter when it comes to God. Qualifications are results achieved and conferred by mortals. God does not seek results. He only seeks efforts - efforts to be near Him, and dear to Him. And if only one makes those efforts, God will crown those very efforts with His love and blessings - the greatest qualifications that one can ever seek.

Coming back to the quote - God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called -  what more can one say. Isn’t Nitin’s story evidence enough?

It was 'happily ever after' in the real sense for Nitin now...

If you enjoyed reading this, you will definitely enjoy the following:

1. Sometimes things have to go horribly wrong before going right.

2. How I got my job and career at Radiosai.

3. Faith and self-confidence - Story of the little bird

4. Misfortune becomes a blessing in disguise when God is your good luck talisman

For all readers:
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  1. Harreh wow beautifully wriiiten some one should make a movie out of all these experiences how thrilling only the lord can do this sairam Aravind thanks for sharing

    1. "Truth is stranger than fiction" - It is more exciting and thrilling too! That is the nature of Swami's stories...

      My pleasure Ruban. :)

  2. So beautiful! How Mr Nitin must have felt, being tossed about like a football. I was absolutely moved to tears on reading the following lines -- "Qualification does not matter when it comes to God. Qualifications are results achieved and conferred by mortals. God does not seek results. He only seeks efforts - efforts to be near Him, and dear to Him. And if only one makes those efforts, God will crown those very efforts with His love and blessings - the greatest qualifications that one can ever seek."

    These lines mean a lot to me coz they reflect what I feel within. I continue to pray to Swami. Thanks Aravind for this wonderful narrative.

    1. Very happy that your heart found resonance with the theme sis. :)

      May our love for Swami grow stronger every passing moment.

  3. wow, what a roller coaster! while it makes great reading years later now, cannot imagine what Nitin as a student must have gone through in those moments. What a story.

  4. tears roll down as I finish reading this. Just like him, we are all being tested in the university of life but swamy is always there to see us through the door

  5. Thank you so much .We are so great full to you.When u said Nitin shares his story with his daughters ,we do the same with our 8 years old daughter through your blog.Every time she will ask did u get new story :)May swami bless u.

  6. What a wonderful story. Can't describe my feelings as this Story completely illustrates Faith in GOD. How Swami still follows the rules and makes us follow too.

  7. ooooh yes! -that story had me smiling all the way through and following the twists and turns of the Divine Leela - so happy for Nitin.

  8. Loved the story of Nitin....can't imagine being kicked out and tossed back and forth between the two elephants as you so well put it. Hats off to Nitin in holding on to his faith, staying in touch with his heart with a oneness only with Swami. Very inspiring experience. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wow, what a wonderful story! Nitin's perseverance and faith in the midst of such a nerve wracking roller coaster ride is admirable. As is his eagerness to do social service while waiting for his entrance exam results. Those who bounce back from failures do better in life than those to whom success comes easily.

  10. Sairam Arvind. Thanks again for the movie like writing. I was a part of that Kavi sammelan and relived every moment through your blog after 25 yrs!. May Sai bless andbinspire you always...
    with love and prayers

    1. Aha!! Must have been wonderful reliving for you... Thank you for your wishes... May our love for Swami grow stronger every passing moment...


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