Wednesday, 31 May 2017

God's PUSH is always for the greater good of the individual

How many times do we go through something in life, wondering why that is happening to us. We are convinced that life would be much better if things proceed in the manner of our thinking. Hours, days, weeks, months or (sometimes) even years may pass. One day, suddenly, looking back on those very same episodes in life, we are grateful for them because they have made us what we are today.

In matters concerning Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my God, Master and best friend, I always felt that I wasted those ten-odd years of my life during which I did not know Him. I used to wonder how much better life would be if only I had come to Him earlier. Today, in retrospect, I am simply happy because I am convinced of God’s perfect timing which I have experienced and understood multiple times. Of course, there are still those instances where I do not understand why something is happening. I try to tell myself in complete faith that things are happening in the best manner possible - only that I am not yet aware of the significance and beauty of the Lord’s action. That is the secret of surrender.

Let Go... Let God
A big opportunity and an even bigger challenge

In 1994, I had wanted to study in Swami’s school but was not getting admission at Puttaparthi. I was told that I could apply in the Puttaparthi school only for grade 11. Desperate to be in His school at any cost, I had got myself admitted at the Sri Sathya Sai Vidyapeeth in Calicut, Kerala. I was in 8th grade in 1995 when I was presented with an irresistible offer after I won the Hindi elocution competition.
“Would you like to deliver a speech in Hindi for the festival of Onam in Sai Kulwant hall, Prasanthi Nilayam, in Bhagawan’s divine presence?”
I was thrilled. I would have been ready to memorise and deliver a speech in French also if it was in Swami’s immediate presence! I nodded and jumped at the opportunity.

The opportunity was also a big challenge. My Hindi was (and is) at best average. The elocution competition victory was simply an ode to my memorizing skills and definitely not a confirmation of my mastery over India’s national language! So, I decided to use the same technique as the elocution competition for this speech also - I decided to learn it by-heart!

I had two months to prepare and I requested my Hindi teacher to write down the entire speech for me. Then began the act of ‘mugging’, the colloquial term at school for committing something to memory!  Weeks of labour and hundreds of rehearsals later, I had become adept in my speech. In fact, if someone woke me up in my sleep and uttered “Aum Sri Sai Ram” - the first line of my speech - I could simply rattle out in the next 7.5 minutes my entire speech with the voice modulation and body language! I was quite well prepared for Onam in the Divine presence.

In order to justify some of the feelings I went through later, I must give a brief background of the atmosphere in my school which was also called Sri Sailam.

A picture that fills me with nostalgia today - the bust of Swami welcoming everyone into Sri Sailam.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Dating and Marriage - insights from a divine drama staged by Sri Sathya Sai Baba

By the love and grace of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, many opportunities have come my way to address the youth from many countries. It is a great privilege to be able to share thoughts, ideas and ideals with this reservoir of great potential - the reservoir that will be sustaining the society and world in the future days to come. My observation has been that though the themes of the different conferences, meets, study circles and satsanghs may vary greatly, the questions and problems that the youth face fall broadly into just 3 themes. These are:
  1. Relationships
  2. Money and career
  3. Practical Spirituality

Here, in this piece, the idea is to deal with ONLY the first theme - relationships (and that too dating and marriage).
When it comes to relationships (in the youth), the focus is invariably on friendships, dating and marriage. The other relations either are not given that much attention or they come into picture only because they too have a role to play in the “friendship, dating and marriage” theme.

"I shall direct My own drama to leave behind a message for posterity", that is what the Divine Thought seems to be
as He gazes into the future with a smile... 

Imagine my joy when, while flipping through the pages of my personal diary, I came across an unexpected episode that happened on the 2nd of March, 2010, in the direct physical presence of Swami, which provides many insights on this very sensitive theme of dating and marriage! I felt a thrill in my heart because I realized this was Swami’s way of helping me and, in turn, all those that have questions and doubts in this regard. So, with deep gratitude and prayers, I shall take this nostalgic ride down memory lane, to the day when Swami amazed the whole of Sai Kulwant hall with His seemingly childlike actions. Though it is very tempting to fast forward and rush to the Divine delight that drenched the devotees, it is only fair that everyone be allowed to participate in the day as it unfolded. And so, we begin from the beginning.

In the beginning, there was nothing...

That is how the history of the universe begins; that is how the Parthi Yatra (Parthi Pilgrimage) began for the devotees from the Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand began. They had come prepared with multiple cultural programmes to be put up the Divine Presence on the occasion of the festival of Holi. Holi was on March 1st but to the great disappointment of the pilgrims, even as the clock showed 06:30 pm and the bhajans were on in full swing, there was no sign of Swami coming. It was a sort of anti-climax because on the previous 5 days, Swami had granted darshan in the mornings as well as evenings. The day ended without even a single darshan. Holi didn’t turn out to be so holy after all!

The Lord has His reasons and those are beyond the comprehension of us mortals. On the morning of the 2nd of March, Swami told the pilgrims that He would see their programme in the evening. The devotees from Bihar and Jharkhand began preparations in right earnest and with sincere prayers. Many cancelled their return tickets to stay an extra day in Prasanthi. Soon, the backdrop was in place and the children were ready in costumes. As was the practice, Veda chanting began at 4:30 pm and concluded at 5:00 pm. But well, as said earlier, in the beginning there was nothing! Nothing in terms of signs of Swami's arrival.

Then there was the Word! The word was with God; the word was God! It was at 6:30pm that there was word of Swami's arrival. And then He came!