Monday, 15 September 2014

God grants everything but should never be taken for granted - Amey's experience with his Swami_ Part 2

Flashback... Nostalgia... Beautiful memories...


There come times in life when one is unable to comprehend what more can one do. It was one such time in Amey’s life. Nearly a month had passed since that day when Swami had made the children from the Primary School sing bhajans and more than forty days had passed since he had sung in the Divine Presence. He had been practicing bhajan singing and he had been praying for the opportunity to sing in Swami’s presence. What more could he do? Situations like these, when the flow seems to be at its lowest ebb make one feel helpless. But there is a silver lining even in such dark clouds and that is the consolation that things cannot get any more worse.


Consoling himself that things could only get brighter and better from that point on, Amey went through the daily routine of attending college and presenting himself in the bhajan group in the mandir. Several days passed like this.

(This is actually the second part of a very gripping story. To enjoy it completely, it is recommended that you read Part 1 at the link below and then return here:



One evening, as he began to practice a bhajan in his favourite Raaga, Sindhubhairavi, his mind wandered into memory lane, filling him with nostalgia...

********************

Amey had always been associated with bhajans in Swami's presence. Even as a Primary School kid, he used to play
the tabla, sitting right in the front. 
It had been a cloudy day in Bangalore. The sky grew dark and the afternoon seemed to have donned the robes of twilight. There was an outburst as the heavens opened up and poured water by the tonnes. Amey rushed along with the other Seva Dal members to roll up the carpets that had been spread to cushion the lotus feet of Swami as He walked from Trayee Brindavan to the Sai Ramesh Hall before darshan. In a matter of minutes, it was all rolled up and secure. Ten minutes later, the rains stopped. Once again, everyone plunged into action, rolling out the carpets. A few volunteers picked up brooms and swept away the fallen leaves and twigs. Few others washed off the mud along the path.


Amey too joined the others in readying for Swami's arrival. Then, he brushed away the dirt from himself and straightened out the sleeves of his shirt. He set his hair back in order and got ready to receive Swami. In a few minutes, the doors of Trayee Brindavan opened and out glided the Bhaktajanaposhaka, the Lord of the Universe who is the sustainer of His devotees. As Swami came near the back door of the Sai Ramesh Hall stage, Amey stood in attention, folding his hands.


Swami came near him and stopped. He seemed to be keenly observing something on the floor. Amey followed His gaze and was shocked that He was actually looking at his feet. The devotee gazes at the Lord’s feet. Here was a case in reverse! As Amey looked down at his own feet, he could see that they were dark brown and black from the slush. If only he would have washed his feet like the others...


Swami then looked at him in the eye and made an expression of disappointment. He then gently lifted His robe to reveal His tender and sparklingly clean feet. Amey almost bit his tongue as he realized his mistake. Swami walked on and went for darshan. Immediately Amey rushed to the nearby tap and washed his feet and hands thoroughly. On His return after the darshan, Swami paused once again at Amey. He looked at his feet and then into his eyes. He granted him a beautiful smile and nodded to indicate that He was happy...
*************************



Ah! What would Amey not give to get that smile and nod today. Another tear rolled down his cheek as he felt bad wondering why on earth he could not have spent an extra ounce of energy and a little time to wash his hands and feet for the Lord of the Universe. Of course, the dirty feet had gifted him a beautiful experience but had he missed the lesson not to take Swami for granted? Swami is the Lord of the Universe right? Then, how alert he should always be in His presence...


“Oh Swami! My dear Swami... You gave me a second chance to clean my feet. Wont you allow me the same second chance to cleanse my heart and sing for you?”


As his heart pined for Swami, another beautiful memory came alive in his being. It was the memory of yet another second chance at Trayee Brindavan...
*********************

Amey was standing near the entrance of Trayee Brindavan this time. Swami was scheduled to attend a programme by the Bal Vikas children in the Kalyana Matapam hall. As Swami came out, He beckoned to Amey and said,
“Go and check whether everything is ready in the hall.”


Immediately Amey ran out of the Trayee Brindavan compound. He ran into the hall and told one of the seniors there,
“Sir! Swami is enquiring about the status of the programme’s readiness...”
Hearing this, the senior rushed towards Trayee Brindavan and Amey followed him. The senior went straight to Swami who was waiting for the answer. Amey returned to his position. Swami listened to the senior and then started off towards the hall. As He passed by Amey, He looked at him with a frown on the Divine countenance. Swami exited through the gate. Amey was wondering why he had received a frown.


“When Swami gives you a task, He expects you to complete it. Don’t pass it on to others...” an elder advised him.


A few days later, Swami gave Amey the chance to rectify his mistake. Once again, He beckoned to him saying,
“Go and check whether the programme in the Kalyana Mantap is ready...”

Amey has several memories of walking alongside his Swami, holding His hand.
Would all that change now?
Amey rushed out and, this time, went straight to the organisers and asked,
“When can the programme begin? Swami wants to know...”
“About five minutes...”
Again, a senior rushed to Swami. This time, Amey ran harder and faster. Overtaking the senior, Amey said,
“Swami five minutes Swami... “
The senior also coughed up the same words. But Swami was looking only at Amey.
“Five minutes? That much I will need to walk till there and settle. I shall start...”
Giving a smile to Amey, Swami moved ahead.

******************


Another tear rolled down Amey’s cheek. Swami had taught him that God should be made the sole focus of one’s attention and focus. And when he had not learn’t it, He had given him a second chance.


“Swami, you have always showered such compassion on me. I have been a slow learner and yet you have been so patient. Today, my heart hungers for you. I am starving for you. Will you not feed me, my Annapoorna?”


The thought of being ‘fed’ was enough to plunge him into another bitter-sweet memory... bitter because he had taken Him for granted; sweet because of the second chance that Swami had given him. (Isn’t that the story always - made bitter because of our foolishness but made sweet again because of God’s love?)


*******************
It was during the Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality. All the students from the various campuses of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning had gathered at Brindavan at Swami’s lotus feet. They would all attend the sessions together, pray together, play together and dine together. One day, Swami granted a bounty on all the volunteers in Trayee Brindavan. He called the warden of the Brindavan hostel and said,
“Let all the Seva Dal volunteers also join the students for the meal sessions from today.”


Thus, all the volunteers had gone to the hostel for the feast with one notable exception - Amey! Amey was not feeling hungry and had decided to skip the meal. Swami had once prescribed cashew nuts for a cardiac patient and though science would frown upon that prescription, that was the perfect remedy he needed. In spite of knowing this, Amey decided to skip the meal. He had forgotten that when Swami feeds the body, He also nourishes the soul!


That day, Swami came straight to him and asked,
“Did you have lunch in the hostel today?”
“No Swami...”
“Why?”
“I wasn’t feeling hungry Swami...”
His honesty seemed to have touched Swami and He said,
“Go, eat the mangoes at least. They are tasty and good.”


That was how he had eaten the king of fruits as recommended by the King of Kings. He came to know that Swami had scolded the warden for not ‘inviting’ him properly for lunch!
****************************


How many trespasses of his had Swami forgiven... Would he not give him a chance to learn and rectify now? Amey swore to himself that he would never take Swami for granted ever in his life. He just wanted Swami to acknowledge his presence...


Both his eyes welled up with tears, now. He stopped practicing the bhajans. He no longer could. His voice was choked and his mind was numbed. His heart was overflowing with prayers. He concluded and left for the mandir. There was nothing different that day too.

A picture taken during the 'good days' of bhajan singing - alongside Swami with all other singers and instrumentalists after
a programme in the mandir.
The zenith or the nadir?


Just a few days before the 50th-day anniversary of not singing in Swami’s presence, Amey was pleasantly shocked when the bhajan in-charge asked him,
“Can you sing the 3rd bhajan today? Allahu Akbar, that bhajan?”
“Definitely sir...”
The third bhajan was allotted to Amey.
Swami arrived for darshan and a beautiful music filled the air in Kulwant Hall. (Those were days when daily chanting of Vedas had not yet started.) Swami completed the darshan round and went into the interview room. After a while, He came and sat on the dais. Amey was sitting along with the other members of the bhajan group. The PMBG (Prasanthi Mandir Bhajan Group) would be seated outside and enter the bhajan hall shortly before the bhajans. Amey noticed that this day seemed different from normal.


Swami summoned a student and asked him to speak extempore. Caught totally unawares, the student barely managed to put together a few sentences and chant a few Vedic hymns. He concluded in about five minutes. Swami smiled, blessed him and summoned another student to speak. That speech too was about five or ten minutes. Then started what could be termed as a parade of speakers! Swami called almost six different students to speak that day.


Amey, sitting in front of the dais, was now getting the horrible memories of the other day. He saw the clock. It was past the standard bhajan time. Would bhajans be there today? What if they are Divinely cancelled? If they are cancelled, he alone could not be assigned the blame because he was singing the third bhajan. The first and second bhajan-singers too would have to take their share of blame for ‘cancelling bhajans’.


But Amey was not thinking logically anymore. He just wanted to sing in Swami’s presence. He looked to the other side. The children from the Primary School were not there. Ah! Something different from the previous occasion!


After six different speeches, Swami looked at the clock. It was ‘late’ for bhajans. He looked at the PMBG in front and raising two fingers of His right hand said,
“Let us have two bhajans.”


Amey got a sinking feeling in his stomach.
“Swami, could you not have raised just one more finger? Like Lord Krishna who raised the Govardhana on a finger, you too could have raised the huge mountain of sorrow and pain in my heart had you lifted another finger... But you choose not to. Swami, please forgive me. I have taken you for granted many times... I shall make conscious efforts not to be like this any more...”
Such were the thoughts coursing through him as the bhajans went on. Amey did not even turn to look at the bhajan in-charge. It did not matter any more what he was thinking. This was a situation between him and Swami alone. If that was set right, the whole world would get set right.

"Swami! Will you not give me a second chance?"
The second bhajan concluded. Swami stretched forward to hold on to the gold-coloured railings to rise. The railings had been put ever since Swami had sustained a hip fracture. Even as Swami rose, the priest also rose, ready to light the camphor to wave the Aarthi. Amey closed his eyes and began to cry internally. He did not want to see Swami leaving. He wanted Swami to enter his being. Apparently, the ‘treatment’ was not over yet and he had no more energy left to sustain his efforts. If Swami did not want him to sing, he would give up singing. Singing was not important; Swami was.


At that moment, he heard his neighbour call out to him in an excited whisper.
“Amey, start...”
He opened his eyes and saw an unforgettable sight. Swami was standing and th priest was sitting down. With one hand, Swami was holding the railing and with the other, He was raising His index finger and indicating,
“One more bhajan now...”


Ah! In an instant, everything had transformed. Sai Krishna had indeed raised the mountain of his sorrow and pain on a single finger. The smile on Swami’s face rejuvenated Amey instantaneously and a booming voice issued forth from deep within.


“Allah Hu Akbar... Allah Hu Akbar... Allah Hu Akbar”


Even as he sang the first line of the bhajan, Swami began to keep rhythm with the ‘liberating’ finger on the railing in front. The sight of Swami putting talam (keeping rhythm) excited the whole audience into a singing-volume crescendo. The energy in the hall was unbelievable. Amey’s heart was rejoicing. His Lord had given him yet another second-chance.


That was when it struck Amey. Allah Hu Akbar translates into ‘God is the greatest’. His situation now was in perfect agreement with the meaning of the phrase.


A day to remember


“Brother! Swami has a special corner in HIs heart for you...”
“... He stood there only because YOU were singing...”
“During those five minutes, it was as if nobody else existed for Swami... It was only you...”
“You should start singing regularly.”


The last statement was from the bhajan in-charge. Innumerable were the accolades and compliments that Amey received that day. But he did not allow the sounds of celebration to drown the silent whisper of wisdom,
“Never take Swami for granted. Give Him top priority always because if you give God second priority, then you give Him no priority...”

Amey also realized that if he spent time daily counting his blessings, his heart would always ooze with love and gratitude to Swami. He would never ever take Him for granted then. To ensure that one does not take God for granted, daily and regular gratitude to Him is a must!

If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy the following articles:

1. Time-travel to days of declaration of Avatarhood of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

2. Sachin Tendulkar and Sathya Sai - the story of the little master and his 'little' Master

3. Missing what we want because of how we want it

For all readers:


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16 comments:

  1. Very moving account! Yes, we should daily and even on a moment-to-moment basis keep thanking Swami for every little thing He does for us. Even the fact that we breathe and live is His grace. We should keep thanking Him. That's what I try to do all the time. I thank Him for even the tiniest of things. That keeps me focused on Him all the time.

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    Replies
    1. Gratitude brings fullness while complaining brings lack... Great effort sister... :)

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  2. Swamy is my only priority

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  3. Sairam Bro. Aravind and Bro. Amey....tears well up in my eyes......Thank you for sharing your experiences

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  4. beautiful, thanks for sharing brother Aravind

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  5. Bro.Amey is a blessed one who got chance . There are many sai bros in organaisation who are not realizing it. Swamy is our only priority.

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    1. with all respect to Subramanian sir, Let us not complain whether some one is realizing or not . Lets stop complaining that would be the best way to change.

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  6. Its a lesson for all students and for everyone wanting to earn the title of "Sai Student"

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  7. sairam brother,such a lovely narration of this touching episode. The climax was an ultimate proof of HIS love for HIS children. Was teary eyed throughout. Hearty thanks for sharing this

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  8. All of you students had chances galore and we enjoy the accounts, what about so called devotees at a distance, who were never around the form to be directly taught, we read and study and no one can replicate anyone else's experience as they are legion and different and personal, how does
    one know for sure how to please Swami within the context of our existence without this type of express real experience, we can only guess day by day-this is most complex ?

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    1. The experience may be personal but lessons are universal. For whatever reason, it is not possible for all to get all sorts of experiences. It is only the mouth that is fed though all parts of the body get nourished.

      If we are the mouth, we should be humble. If we are other parts of the body, we should feel happy that the mouth is fed because that nourishment will soon come to all of us. :)

      I don't know the "why" part. I just know the "what to do" part - derive inspiration and feel oneness with other's experience. That is the ultimate goal - to feel oneness with all...

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  10. Sairam brother Aravind and brother Amey from brother Ajay {3 A's "-)}... while going through this experience it was as if happening to me, tears of sorrow and heavy heart was felt when Swami did not look up and later it was tears of happiness when Swami was waiting for the bhajan..... Ah...beautiful....

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