Sunday, 14 February 2016

Being Good and Appearing Good, both are important_Part 2

That sinking feeling...

I began to walk towards no particular direction. Possibly because I had planned to go for that dinner, my feet automatically took me towards Round Building 5 where the others had gathered. I did not know what to do. I replayed the happenings during the evening darshan. I had thought that the elderly person offering the rose to Swami did not have the good luck to get a photo with Swami where the Lord was smiling and posing. I realized that I had been a culprit who had ruined that opportunity for the devotee! My heart was racing. My emotions were on high octane and the predominant ones were those of fear and sorrow.

I pulled out my phone and dialled Sai Prakash’s number. He was several years my senior and had gone through many ups and downs in life. He would surely be able to help in some way.
“Hey tell me...” his cheerful voice came over the handset.
I almost broke down telling him all that had happened. I vented continuously and the fear in my voice was palpable for him. I felt that I might be thrown out of Puttaparthi and that was my greatest fear.
“Barru, see the bright spot. Focus only on that...”
“CG! What bright spot do you see in this man? All I see is pitch darkness...”
“Swami cares for you enough to scold and correct you... That is His love - nothing else.”
“Frankly CG, I wouldn’t mind if Swami cared a little less about me. I am really scared and ... what will my parents think about me? I will never be able to forgive myself for having thrown away such an opportunity.”
“That’s not the way to take it. I assure you that this is an opportunity. Recognize it and put in efforts.”

{This is the second part of this story which will make better sense if read after the first part. In case you have missed it, the first part is at the link below:

The call did not give me much solace though I hoped that whatever CG had told me was true. I was reminded of how Mother Sita had been banished to the forest by Lord Rama because a washerman had passed some loose comment about her. It was not as if I was anywhere as ‘chaste’ or ‘pure’ as Mother Sita. Still, I shared the similarity with her that I had appeared to society as if I was in the wrong and my Lord seemed to have punished me for it.

God’s wrongdoings?

Time has this magical way of lending maturity and wisdom to the naivest of people. Over time, I have definitely understood that God is never vengeful. He knows the past, present and future and every decision He takes is for the best from all perspectives. But my perspective is limited. So, feeling that God is not a very loving being is because of my limitations and not His!

For instance, I remember this very thoughtful extrapolation that a Sai-brother had done to the Sita situation. He wrote to me:

Mother Sita was blessed with the opportunity to focus on a spiritual
life and the upbringing of her children alone!
“What would have happened if Rama had not abandoned (if i can use that word) Sita? A simple logic (from a worldly point of view or rather a common man's perspective with sanity) shows that this washerman's evil ideas could have taken a much larger proportion which could have created terrible repercussions. Imagine, if instead of this washerman, someone inside the Ayodhya palace had said this and Mother Sita had heard it. Imagine if after Luv and Kush's birth someone had  raised similar questions.

Rama indeed cared for Sita and loved her. More importantly, to uphold the respect of woman he "isolated" her from this evil society, and provided her an opportunity to prove herself. In fact, in Ramakatha Rasavahini Swami says that Rama asks Sita for a wish and she expresses her willingness to spend time in the pious Ashram environment hearing the glories of the Lord. Rama was indeed an ideal man who used this moment as the right opportunity to save both Sita and the people's minds. It’s like uprooting the weeds before weeds destroy the whole garden. Ideally Rama and Sita both could have left Ayodhya once they realized that people did not respect them. However it was Rama's commitment to Praja that made him stop.  Ramayana could not have had a better ending than Luv & Kush themselves proving the chastity of Mother sita and everybody in Ayodhya accepting that - we need to have pure thoughts while witnessing Divinity.”

I may or may not agree 100% with that extrapolation. But I totally subscribe to this brother’s concluding statement that ONLY PURITY CAN HELP VIEW DIVINITY. Thus, God never does wrong.

With that little detour, I continue back with my story where I was left with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Some balm for relief

I also called up Ranjit, my fellow photographer, to request him alone to take photographs for all the elders who would offer roses.
“You don’t want to take photos alternately?”
“No Ranjit. Swami does not want me to take it.”
“Eh? What are you saying?”
“I’ll explain everything later. Please pray for me...” I had broken down again. I quickly cut that call. I felt that was the least I could do at that time to ensure that other photographs did not get ruined because Swami would not want to smile and look at my lens.

Just when it seemed bleak, I got a call from CG. He had spoken to GV sir and he revealed something that made me stop in my tracks.
“Barru, here is something that will cheer you...You remember GV sir told you that though he wanted to scold you he was not able to?”
“Maybe... Ya.. I remember...”
“Why do you think he said that?”
“I have no idea...”
“Listen, Swami broached your topic during the dinner session. He indeed was very upset it seems. He also coloured the whole Radiosai team because of your disobedience. That was when He asked GV sir to speak to you and warn you...”
“I thought you said that there was something to cheer me...” My voice had become very morose.
“Listen man! GV sir said that he couldn’t scold you because Swami told him not to scold you...”
I was a little confused.
“What do you mean?”
“Just as Swami was leaving, He summoned GV sir near the lift - away from everyone else. There, He told him that he should not scold you but make you understand in a gentle manner. He said that your heart was very soft and it would get broken if you were scolded.”

When I heard this, I began to cry. I felt so touched with Swami’s concern. Will anyone in the Universe care for us like this?
CG continued,
“Just hold on to that thought man! Seek Swami’s forgiveness. Pray to him. Put in efforts to better yourself. It’ll all be fine...”
“Thank you CG. That is quite soothing to hear but I still feel that this may take some time...”
The conversation ended there and I had a quick dinner before retiring for the night.

However strict the Master may appear, it is always the love of the Divine Mother that is showered on us...
Love gives and forgives; but will it forget also?

The next day, I wrote a letter seeking Swami’s forgiveness for having forgotten His instructions. I promised Him that I would be careful in future and that I had been sincerely foolish in doing what I had done. I sat with the letter in my hand as He came close to me during darshan. However, at the last moment, Swami turned His head away from me, totally ignoring me. I knew that there was no chance that He would take the letter from me. He seemed to still be upset with me.

When He sat on that dais and the Veda chanting was on, I kept looking at Him intently. I wanted Him to look in my direction so that I could plead to Him from my eyes at least. That never happened. I could feel the water welling in my eyes. So, every now and then, I would shut my eyes for a while. The only times He looked towards me were when I was shutting my eyes! Imagine that! I had to close my eyes on my Lord to open His eyes on me. I decided to abstain from looking at Him only because I felt that He was looking at me. It was a very different experience.

At the end of the bhajan session, when the Arati was about to begin, the elderly devotee came to Swami with a rose. As decided the previous night, Ranjit got ready to go with the camera. Since Swami ‘did not know’ about this, He was looking at me from the corner of His eye. He was checking whether I would get up and whether He should again look away from the camera. I did not get up and Swami saw Ranjit in front of Him. I felt that Swami’s gave an extra large smile to Ranjit. Strangely, I felt happy at this conscious avoidance from Swami. Whether Swami consciously comes to you or consciously avoids you, it is a blessing because He is at least acknowledging your presence by modifying His behaviour! Further extrapolating that thought, everything the Lord does is a blessing because is there anything that He does non-consciously or unconsciously? That in turn means that we should Always Be Cheerful, irrespective of what He does - the other ABC of life that Swami stresses on.

It is easy to be wise in retrospect. Though I felt happy at His avoidance that day, that happiness was short lived. I pined for the conscious recognition instead.

Unexpected calls

After the session in the Mandir, I met CG. He had some news to convey.
“Apparently, Swami asked GV sir today whether he had spoken to you. He informed Swami that he had done his duty. See, though Swami is avoiding you and is upset with you, He cares for you. In fact, He asked Chakravarthi sir (Secretary of the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust and Ashram) to also speak with you. You will be summoned by him tomorrow. Be ready.”
The summons came the next day shortly before lunch time.
“What is it that I am hearing?” Chakravarthi sir asked, “You have done something it seems...”
I knew he was waiting to hear from the horse’s mouth. I opened my mouth and my heart to him. I told him all that had happened.
“Sir, it is Amey’s sister and I only helped her...”
“You see”, he said calmly, “things get coloured by the glasses we wear. Whatever might have been your intention, unless it is communicated to the other, the other will understand based on the glasses he is wearing. You have to be careful because when you call yourself His student, all eyes of the world will be on you...”
“Sir, tell Swami that I am sorry...”
“That is something you only have to tell him. Write an apology letter. Accept your mistake and promise Him to be careful in future. Keep praying... AND don’t take any girl on your bike. Use the bike only for your own purposes...”

There was no need of the last statement actually. I would never dream of taking another girl on my bike. (The next time I actually took someone was when I took my wife, Pooja!) I nodded and returned. I wrote another letter to Swami.

The next couple of darshan sessions proved to be quite uneventful for me. I tried giving Him the letter I had written and Swami kept ignoring me totally. I did not know what else to do when, one afternoon, I was summoned again by Chakravarthi sir.
“Why are you not writing an apology letter to Swami?”, he asked.
“Sir, I have written it but Swami is not taking it...”
“You expect Him to take the letter from you during darshan?” he asked me incredulously.
I was a bit taken aback. How else could I give a letter to Swami.
“Yes sir... But He is not even looking at me.”
“He will not take it from you during darshan! Fax your letter to Swami. Ensure that it reaches Him. Send one every day if necessary...”

Blessings in pain

I knew that Chakravarthi sir would never give me advice on his own. I somehow was sure that it was Swami who had instructed him to instruct me so. There was no way to confirm but when I shared this with CG, he too felt the same.

I was so touched. Here was the Lord teaching me how I should even seek forgiveness too. When I look back at this, I feel overwhelmed. I remember with gratitude how He protected me, telling GV sir not to scold me harshly and how He guided me to say sorry when I was at my wits end. I understand a little better what Swami means when He says,
"I am Nataraja—the dance master, the first among dancers. You are all dance pupils. I alone know the agony of teaching you each step in the dance!"

For the Divine Teacher, all of us are 'BalVikas' students!
So, the next day, I was off to Samadhi road, to a shop from where I would be sending the first ever facsimile message of my life. It feels so wonderful that my life’s first fax was to Swami. As advised by some seniors, I called up the student who had been blessed with the opportunity of taking all the fax messages to Swami. He confirmed the receipt of the fax.

I returned to the Ashram. I hoped that there would be a change in fortune for me.

to be concluded in Part 3 which is at the link below:

Being Good and Appearing Good, both are important_Part 3

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    1. Sairam,

      I have not followed what happened to the story of those who might have complained. I say 'might' because it could also be that Swami Himself asked about it.

      Just like we don't know what happened to the dhobi who spoke about Sita, I don't know what happened here! :)

      (In no way am I comparing myself in purity to Mother Sita but just making a point!)

      I know for sure that nobody can escape karma... It will definitely get to them in some way or the other; some time or the other!

  3. Your story touches devotees heart. Our Lord is so sweet, and knows how to play His role.

  4. So sweet swamy... How he teach reach him

  5. Really I have missed reading your blog earlier.It is a sumptuous feast to the soul.

    1. :) Glad to have you here also.

      Please see the archives on this blog. There are more than 200 articles here as well.

  6. Sairam Brother!

    Please be kind enough!! Pleassse share the concluding part at the earliest. can't wait for it..You are the beloved child of our beloved lord! He has played with you in his unpredictable ways! (and is still playing!!). Blessed you are! and you make our day by sharing those blessings in the form of your writings. So kindly don't make us wait further. May he keep on blessing you...

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    2. Will be putting up the final part on this Monday... :)

      Thank you for the patience

  7. Sairam Aravind waiting for part 3, I am enjoying reading your narratives, look forward to waiting for next episode of a serial on TV about 3 to 4 decades earlier. SWAMI cured my desire to watch Tele Visham....:-)

  8. Sairam Brother, this part of story is so touching for it is advise to all devotees from Swami.His love is unconditional.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  9. Sairam Aravind. I have always been a silent reader of your blogs & books and this is actually my first comment!
    Firstly, Hearty Congratulations! A beautiful name Bhakti.
    Secondly, your writings are truly really awesome.

    And well, here is something.. Whenever my disturbed mind asks a question to Swami and I'm awaiting some peace & answer to it, you would come knocking on my FB news feed with a blog update which strangely & miraculously is the perfect answer to all my doubts. I guess it's Swami's answer to my questions through you! __/\__

    And this has happened yet again. I have been asking Swami about this concept of being good and appearing good for quite some days now ! And here you are stating the very same doubts that I have had.:)

    As I'm eagerly awaiting your next update, there is still 1 doubt. In terms of 'appearing good'; isn't it a subjective concept? As our behaviour could be good or bad depending on the eyes of the other person. The reason why this doubt has still plagued my mind is because every different person has a different version of "appearing good" for the same situation depending on their perception. Then, how do I know which is God's version?

    Thank you. Sairam.

    1. Sairam Pooja,
      Thank you for your kind words. I have taken this much time to respond to your query because it got me thinking.
      It is a very good question. Here is what I feel.

      While it is definitely impossible to 'be good' in everyone's eyes, there are rules and general norms in society which we could all abide by. Keeping these in mind, we should definitely try our best to "appear good" as well. (Assuming we are already good! That is important else we become hypocrites!)

      In the name of "God knows our intention" we sometimes become audacious in our disregard for for others think, what the society thinks and so on. We become very individualistic, so much so that we get on the verge of losing the 'social animal' tag even! Swami set the ideal for all the students to live in the hostel with the feeling of "each live for the other and all live for God". So, while intention and our inner goodness is most important, we cannot neglect 'reputation' and 'good name'.

      Why do you think Swami always made it a point to take in a group of ladies for interview and never individually? Who would think wrong of Swami? And if they did also, how does it matter to us? But apparently, it mattered for Swami and He set an ideal in behaviour towards the opposite gender (when He had no need to do so).

      So, in terms of being good, we do our best. IN terms of appearing good also, we should do our best. After that, we can leave the rest to HIM and rest ourselves coz He will take care as you shall see in the conclusion of this story.

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    3. Sai Ram Brother. Your posts are always mind blowing. This gives an insight of actually Beloved Swami wants from us & the way HE grooms. Each one of us experiences in the Life & how HE has taught & guided us to cross this Bhavsagar. Keep writing for the benefit of all. HARI ANANT HARI KATHA ANANTA....


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