Thursday, 26 December 2013

The powerful attraction between goodness and Godliness - a college professor's experience with Sri Sathya Sai PART 2

Godliness is always attracted to goodness, no matter how disguised or buried that goodness is
within an individual. Gangadhar bows down to his Lord in love and gratitude. 

A postponed appointment?

Within a few days, a letter arrived for Gangadhar from Puttaparthi. They were orders for him to report on the 7th of July at Prasanthi Nilayam as a lecturer in political science. The journey to be undertaken now was to a tiny hamlet in his own state instead of Bangalore. Once again Gangadhar landed up at his in-laws place in Tanaku because all his brothers-in-law told him that they would help him out with the details of the journey and the ‘how to’ of making it.. It was indeed an arduous journey featuring four breaks and bus changes in between. Gangadhar arrived to Puttaparthi by a dusty bus and got off at the Smt.Easwaramma High School. As guided by his father-in-law, he sought a certain Ammanashastry, the headmaster at the school.

(Have you read the first part of this story? If not, it is highly advisable that you read it to have complete enjoyment and fulfillment of a tale of unmatched grace. Read the first part of the story at the link below:

Ammanashastry received him warmly after getting to know that he was his friend’s son in law. He however warned him,
“You better have a haircut right away. Long hair is not good.”
“Not good for what or whom?”, Gangadhar protested, “I have been called here as a teacher and my hair should not be a matter of concern to anyone here.”
“Oh! You don’t understand. Just do as I say please”, requested the headmaster, surprised at Gangadhar’s strong response.  

It was only out of reverence for an elder and with intense grumbling under the breath that Gangadhar had a haircut before meeting with the principal of the Arts and Science College, Mr. Amarendra. The principal was a very principled man and had been blessed on several occasions to serve as the translator for Bhagawan Baba. Principal Amarendra escorted Gangadhar to the portico of the mandir where he was seated along with several other VIPs. Gangadhar was almost frightened with the pin-drop silence that existed in the premises. Everyone seemed to be lost in themselves and didn’t seem to have the slightest inclination to carry on even a casual conversation.

Suddenly there was a hush as the door right up in the front gently opened. Everyone in the mandir portico seemed to stiffen in anticipation and out walked the orange-robed form of Swami. With a finger, He beckoned to Principal Amarendra who got up in a jiffy and rushed to him. Gangadhar was surprised to see such a rapid response from the principal of a college! Swami spoke almost into the principal’s ears and Amarendra, on his part, seemed to be hanging on to every word that was being spoken. Again, Gangadhar found this extremely different from whatever he had seen in life. Swami then moved on and walked into the sandy grounds that surrounded the mandir. The principal informed Gangadhar that Swami was going on His darshan rounds.

Gangadhar learnt to always keep Swami in the
front in his life...
Seeing the adoration and devotion in the eyes of the assembled people, Gangadhar realized that Swami was not just the Chancellor of a University - He was more, much much more. He wondered as to what could attract so many people so powerfully towards one being. His reverie was broken by Principal Amarendra after the darshan session. He called him aside and told him,
“Swami was enquiring about you. I told Him that you have reported today so that you can join for duty from tomorrow. He however said that you should not report tomorrow but on the 14th of July.”
“So, are you going to rescind the old order and issue a fresh joining order?”, was the question that Gangadhar posed immediately.
“No! There is no need for that...”
“What do you mean? What about this previous communication?”
“Swami has said 14th. That is enough. That is official and the final authority.”
Gangadhar learnt something new about this “Swami” - His Word was the necessary and sufficient authority in this part of the world. He would soon be learning that His Word is the necessary and sufficient authority in any part of the universe itself!

Though Principal Amarendra and headmaster Ammanashastry advised Gangadhar to stay on till 14th, he decided to go back to Tanaku and return on the 13th of July.

The first conversation

On the 13th of July, when Gangadhar came back to Puttaparthi, he was once again seated in the portico of the mandir. This time, Swami came straight to him and asked,
“When did you come?”
“I came yesterday sir”, was his reply.
Swami smiled and asked, “How are you sir?”
“I am fine thank you sir. How about you?”
“I am fine”, Swami replied, “Where are you put up?”
“Do you know the Easwaramma High School sir?”
“Do you know that headmaster from Tanaku, Ammanashastry?”
“Yes, I know him.”
“I have been graciously accommodated by him near his room sir.”
“Will you come inside if I give you a room?” Swami asked.
“What do you mean by ‘inside’?” asked a puzzled Gangadhar.
“Inside the ashram premises, inside Prasanthi Nilayam”, answered Swami.
“I will be very happy then”, beamed Gangadhar.

Swami now looked the other side and, with a finger, beckoned to Sri Kutumba Rao, the secretary of the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram. He too, in a jiffy, rushed to Swami.
“What is with all these people running as if they are on fire whenever He beckons?” wondered Gangadhar.
That would be another thing that Gangadhar would soon learn - the reason why everyone are on their toes when it comes to Swami.
“Take this gentleman and allot him room C11 in East Prasanthi”, commanded Swami.
“Swami, the owner might be arriving shortly”, said Kutumba Rao. (All rooms in Prasanthi Nilayam are let out as accommodation quarters when the owners are not in station. The rooms become the property of Prasanthi Nilayam after the current owner passes on. They are not passed on as heirloom.)
“Tell them to stay in a shed for a while. Let that room be given to this teacher.” As always, Swami’s word was the final say in the matter.

Several thousands of conversations followed that memorable first one for Dr.Gangadhar Shastry. Here, Swami
instructs him to silently evict a person who had stealthily got into the college auditorium in guise of a
student! Gangadhar completed the task and reported to Swami that it was silently and efficiently done
without any ruckus being raised. Swami was happy. 
Graduation from Sir to Swami

The happenings that Gangadhar began to observe on a daily basis amazed him. Every day in the mandir, Swami would devote at least a few minutes without fail to speak and interact with him. Everyone around told him that he was blessed and lucky and he too began to feel that this was a wonderful period in life. However, he continued to have his long hair and moustache. He also continued to be the chain smoker that he was. His wife, Rani, joined him at Prasanthi Nilayam and they began to live in the room allotted to them by Swami.

One day, as he was teaching a chapter in Civics, Swami came to his classroom. Swami said that he wanted to see how well he was teaching.
“Please come in and take a seat... Swami”, said Gangadhar.
Calling this Chancellor as “Sir” somehow did not seem fine and so he chose the now familiar term - Swami. Swami told him to continue teaching and stood observing him. Gangadhar was telling his students about “Svechcha”. This term doesn’t have a comprehensive translation in English but in context of Civics, it means “self-determination” or “according to one’s will”. As Gangadhar finished his explanation, Swami told him,
“It is fine that you talk to them about Svechcha in the worldly context. But you must also tell them about Adhyatmika Svechcha (spiritual Svechcha).”
Then, Swami left.

That triggered Gangadhar into the spiritual quest - an education for life rather for just living. Today, he understands the true import of Svechha. Sva means the ‘Self’ and Ichcha means ‘Desire’. Svechcha refers to the ‘desire of the Self’ which is actually nothing but the precursor to seeing Unity in the apparent diversity of the universe - seeing God in all. Such trysts with divinity made their impact on Gangadhar and slowly but surely, he fell in love with the form in orange and began to refer to Him as Swami.

He saw the miracles that He performed; the transformation that He effected. During the occasion of the inauguration of the college, as Dr. Suri Bhagawantham had translated His discourse, Swami had said,
“In a few years time, there will be a University here.”
Dr.Bhagawantham had been shocked. What Swami had said was technically not feasible because the Sri Krishnadevaraya University (also referred to as SKU) was at Anantapur and the government didn’t permit the commissioning of a new University within a 100-mile radius of an existing one. Swami had told him to simply translate then.
Gangadhar was present to see the University being inaugurated at Puttaparthi. During His discourse, again it was Dr.Bhagawantham who was translating. Swami said,
“When I announced that a University would be coming in Puttaparthi, this very Bhagawantham said that it was not possible. Today, he is able to see the concretisation of my will.”

In fact, a special act passed by the then prime minister of India, Smt.Indira Gandhi, allowed Swami’s University to also have campuses in any state of India.

A moustache-trimmed Gangadhar sits beside Swami to His right in the college foyer. He weathered a
great storm to continue as 'Swami's teacher', a responsibility greater than that of a 'Swami's student'.
That is a story for another day, another blog - Part 3 of this story.

Gangadhar was convinced beyond doubt that he had been specially blessed. He was in the presence of the supreme power in the Universe. And yet, he was unable to give up his smoking habit. He continued to find moments of solitude, away from his students, to enjoy long puffs. However, out of respect to Swami, he trimmed his hair and his long moustache too. How much longer would it be before he would give up his smoking which Swami had seemed to tolerate for more than a year now? Gangadhar had no idea. That was when a dramatic and drastic episode took place where he was forced to tender his resignation - was it to be the end of his spiritual journey?
I am sure that the answer is obvious to the reader. But the story of how that came about is a sure thrilling one to read and follow. be concluded in part 3 which is present at the link below ...

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  1. Sairam, eagerly awaiting 27/12. What a divine Grace that was showered !!

  2. I am enjoying this series - appetizing, satiating and then tantalizing.

  3. Once again awesome!!

  4. excellent. It was my earnest desire to learn the journey of Dr Gangadhara Sasatry. Thank you very much

  5. Nice to read about our very own Professor's journey….awesome..

  6. dear arvind thank you very much pleaseeeee more and more such episodes of devotee you post it, pleaseee thank you very much

  7. What a gripping story Aravind. Can't wait to read the third part.


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