Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Shraddha and Saburi - Ganesh's experience about the prerequisites for devotion

The first step

Eighteen year old Ganesh enrolled into the Brindavan campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning for the Bachelors course in Chemistry. Little did he realize that his pursuit for higher learning would transform into a pursuit for the highest yearning and would lead him to learn the highest pursuit in life. He did not imagine that along with a 3-year Bachelors course, he was also being enrolled for a lifelong internship in internalizing Divine love.

The Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality was beginning and every student joining the hallowed portals of the University had to compulsorily attend it. Thus, for the first two weeks, of his life as Swami’s student, Ganesh was showered with daily discourses of Bhagawan Baba. Apart from those, he was also blessed to hear many talks and satsangs by scholars, devotees, people of eminence, teachers and senior students of the University. What he heard enthralled and excited him. He kept awake late in the night replaying to himself all the wonderful things he was listening to.

But grasping God, Swami, by listening to narratives about Him is like trying to understand the magnificent oceanic depths by standing on the shore. While one gets a sweeping view of the immensity, to truly understand the beauty, grandeur and tranquility of the ocean, one has to dive deep into it. However, listening to a devotee extol the Lord is also akin to listening to a restaurant waiter passionately describe a delicacy. It prods the listener to quickly seek that, which is being described! That is exactly what happened to Ganesh.

The more he listened to the leelas, mahimas and experiences divine, the more he thirsted to experience Swami directly and His Divine Love. It was not a passing desire or a comparison-game where he wanted to be in the position of others. It was a genuine urge to experience the Divine acknowledgement that his Swami was omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. And so, Ganesh began to silently yet intensely pray to Bhagwaan. Several days passed in this manner but no experience seemed to be forthcoming. One day, Ganesh just happened to come across a quote by Baba,
“Take one step towards Me and I will take a hundred towards you.”

He instantly knew what the problem was - he had not taken the first step. He prayed to Swami and immediately took a sankalpam (resolution),
“Swami, I will read the fifty chapters of the Shirdi Sai Satcharitra (the holy story of Shirdi Sai) over the next 50 days, one chapter daily. It is said that when one completed the reading of the Satcharitra, one’s prayer is answered.  All I pray to You is this - bless me with the gift of a Divine experience. I have heard several experiences from students, teachers and devotees but if you grant me one personal experience then my Faith will become firm forever!”

Ganesh wanted to give his heart entirely to Swami and wanted Swami to extend to him the same deal!!

He knew what Swami had once told a devotee in this regard. In spirit it went like this,
“If you are praying with the objective of developing faith, you are allowed to put conditions and test Me. I will satisfy all your conditions and grant you that faith in Me. But after I have satisfied all your conditions, if you put one more condition, then you will become a ‘Doubting Thomas’ for life and suffer in your self-created ignorance.”
However, Ganesh had not made a prayer with this intention to test Swami, challenge Him or sign a contract with Him. It was simply a humble plea of a boy who was thirsting to taste the nectar of His Divine Love and was ready to do anything for that sake.

The lad earnestly started the Shirdi Satcharitra Parayanam (reading of/listening to anything spiritual) with the bated expectation of a Divine miracle. He even invited some of his classmates to join him in this sadhana of his. Initially he had a lot of enthusiasm, but as the days turned into weeks and weeks turned into a month, anxiety started stepping in. Ganesh began to wonder whether his efforts would bear the fruit he was desiring. In order to ensure that he would not be deprived of what he sought, he went through an intense phase of introspection and self-correction. In spite of all this, nothing unusual happened. Desperately, Ganesh continued with his sincere reading.

That was when he came to know that Baba demanded payment for granting experiences!

The payment to receive experiences

Anyone with the slightest acquaintance with Shirdi Sai Baba knows that Baba often demanded two coins of payment from many of the people who came to Him. These were the coins of Shraddha (Faith) and Saburi (Perseverance). Baba said that once a person was ready to make a payment of these coins to the Guru/God, then one would be able to ‘buy’ the greatest treasures of life. How could it be anything different with Swami who had shown on many occasions that He is Shirdi baba Part 2?

Ganesh knew that it was now time for him to make the first installment of the payment - the first coin! He had to have faith and hold on because many days passed and nothing special seemed to be happening. Finally the 50th day arrived. For Ganesh, it was as if he was taking his fiftieth step towards his Lord. As per the mathematical calculations, Swami should have taken at least five thousand steps towards him! But why was he not able to see Him even in the distant horizon?

Ganesh arranged for a special prasadam, with the anticipation that at least today God will do something. As far as the attendance was concerned, it was the highest that day as even those students who had never attended the parayanam thus far turned up for the obvious reason - tasty prasadam! The vow was completed and then came the ultimate portion - the waving of the camphor before his God. As the lad did mangala aarti it was with near desperation that he looked at the picture of a smiling Swami and prayed that at least one flower should fall from His photograph as a sign of His acknowledgement.

But NO! That was not to happen. Ganesh understood better the meaning of the statement,
“Not even a blade of grass moves without His Will.” Here, he was wanting a whole rose to move and fall and it was not happening. The parayanam complete, everyone left. Ganesh was crestfallen, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
“If someone has to learn the art of breaking hearts, he/she must definitely contact GOD!”, he thought.

Ganesh was convinced that he had failed miserably. He experienced that mixture of emotions which he had never felt before. His insides were churning and his spiritual anguish pierced his very inner core. Whenever such things happen, people are told to turn to God. But what could he do when God Himself was responsible for this happening? As such thoughts flooded him, there was miraculous relief, all of a sudden.

“Phone call for K.M.Ganesh... Phone call for K.M.Ganesh...”
An oral message was transmitted to his room in the hostel. Ganesh knew that somebody was calling him on the landline in the hostel lobby. Coming out of the room, he shouted out,
“Who is it?”
The person holding the phone there said,
“You mother...”


A child in agony always rushes straight to his mother. Ganesh ran to receive the call. His mother’s voice on the phone came as a soothing balm,
“How are you my son?”
Ganesh was wanting to explode in his sorrow. He wanted to tell his mother the whole thing - the desire to experience Swami, the vow, the rituals and the ultimate disappointment. But at that moment, the only thing he managed to say in a quivering voice was,
“I am fine mother. How are you?”

“Ganesh, today, in our altar at home, lots of Vibhuti manifested from Shirdi Baba’s mouth!”
“Yes, that picture of Baba at home... Vibhuti is pouring out from Baba’s mouth...”

Those words went straight inside the heart of the boy and in that moment he felt an indescribable bliss in His heart. He knew that he was blessed with Faith. His prayers were answered. The tears came out again, only this time they were charged with gratitude and love.
“Amma... I did Satcharitra Parayanam...” said an overwhelmed Ganesh as he went on to narrate everything to his mother.

Shirdi Baba often demanded the coins of Shraddha
and Saburi as "payment" for Grace. Things have
not change much now...
Shraddha and Saburi

Shraddha and Saburi are depicted as two coins that have to be made as payment to receive experiences from God. However, there is a slight catch. The payment cannot be made in instalments as Ganesh thought because, in reality, Shraddha and Saburi (Faith and Perseverance) are not two coins but two sides of the same coin! You cannot have one without the other. Faith is not faith if it is not accompanied by perseverance. And if one has to persevere, one definitely needs faith!

That was Ganesh’s realisation that day as he let out a heartfelt prayer,
“Bhagwaan, I will never ever ask for any more experiences. Please make me Your instrument. Please make me Yours, and only Yours.”

Several years rolled by. Ganesh completed the Bachelors degree and was close to the completion of a Masters degree in Chemistry as well. All these years he ensured that his coin with Shraddha and Saburi as its two sides was always offered to Swami. But then, as humans, we falter. Ganesh too had many cases of faltering, but Swami was there to lovingly remind him and encourage him.

It was the year 2006. A few days before his birthday in October, Ganesh got a strong desire that Swami should speak a few words with him. He was a part of the Prasadam-distribution team in the mandir. One of his privileges was to sit in readiness in the upper portico of the mandir whenever there was to be a prasadam distribution. He was seated there and Swami walked out of the interview room.

Swami was walking gently, taking support from a student. He entered the upper portico, at the end of which was seated Ganesh. And He seemed to talk to almost each and every one seated there! Ganesh was excited at the prospects of receiving a few words from the Divine lips himself. But then, after a few minutes, when Swami passed by him, He completely ignored Ganesh. Again, Ganesh was crestfallen. The added contrast of Swami speaking to most of the others made it tough for him to swallow the disappointment.

Examining deeply, we realize that more often than not, our joys and sorrows are relative. If we compare ourselves to those whom we perceive to be more ‘blessed’ than us, we have sorrow. If we compare ourselves to those ‘less’ blessed than us, we feel joy. Ultimately, comparison is not good because we have little idea of the situation and scenario that the other person is in. The best would be to feel “blessed” always because every moment of our lives is being planned and executed by the most powerful and loving force in the universe - God!

Swami walked on and reached the end of the lane. He was about to turn into the lower portico when an elderly gentleman sitting on a chair tried to desperately give Swami a letter. Swami turned to him and asked,
Kya (What)?”
Mujhe Aapse Kuch Baat Karna Hain (I need to speak to you about something).”
Swami looked at the gentleman. Then, He swivelled to turn and look at Ganesh in the eye. Turning back, He said in a sweet tone,
“There are so many people seated here. How can I speak to all at once? Wait... Have patience. Your time will come.”
He turned again and smiled at Ganesh before moving on.

Ganesh needed nothing more than that. He was happy and gratitude oozed from his heart towards Swami who had lovingly and gently reminded him of the other side of the ‘faith coin’.
“Every time I faltered, my Divine Mother was there to lend a hand. That is what He did that day. I know it continues even today... None of my desires go unfulfilled - its just that they might not get fulfilled the way I want them to. I am peaceful and happy.”

Many have been the instances where Swami spoke to K.M.Ganesh after that message in the mandir portico... He is a teacher and researcher in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning today and that is, without doubt,
due to his Shraddha and Saburi. 

For all readers:

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice bro it gives happiness knowing about people whom we see around every day

  3. Very inspiring an oasis for a desert traveller

  4. Sairam. Beautiful lesson for all of us. Thank you, Aravind

  5. Madhusudanvithal Nori16 April 2015 at 15:44

    Sairam Aravind, thanks a lot for Ganesh's experiences, as narrated by you, enjoyed reading it. Best wishes and Love.
    Madhusudanvithal Nori

  6. Truly inspiring, elevating and illuminating article !

  7. Sai ram thank you

  8. What Swami said is a very important point to be noted, "But after I have satisfied all your conditions, if you put one more condition, then you will become a ‘Doubting Thomas’ for life and suffer in your self-created ignorance.”

    Once faith has arrived, there must be no more conditions, tests, and asking for signs on our part.

    A relevant explanation by Joel Goldsmith:
    "The transition into divine sonship brings about that change from faith in the visible to faith in the Infinite Invisible, in that which can never be seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled - or even thought or reasoned. There has to be a faith without reason for that faith. There must be an all-consuming inner conviction which agrees with this faith, even while not knowing what it is - an inner instinct, an inner intuition, an inner Grace.
    'There shall no sign be given': The signs follow them that believe. When the faith comes, the signs follow. If we are given any sign, any thing, or any thought to which we can cling, then that thing or that thought is that upon which our faith rests instead of upon the Invisible which is God."

  9. thank u so much for sharing such a beautiful experience...


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