Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The importance of loyalty to the Guru

Sathyam Shivam Sundaram! Truth Auspiciousness Beauty! 

The vacuum of the Omnipresence compared to the Presence

What happened on the 24th of April, 2011 when Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba left the physical frame is inexplicable for anyone who considered Him as Guru or God, Master or Mentor, parent or pal. All devotees were heart-struck at this act of their Swami. And the question that arose in all was,
“What next now?”

The Bharatiya scriptures have always accorded a very special place for the Guru. It is said that the mother points out the father to the child. The father points out the Guru and the Guru points out the Lord.

The term ‘Guru’ is loosely translated as the ‘preceptor’ for want of a better word just as the term ‘Bharatiya’ is often loosely translated as ‘Indian’ for want of a better word. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba says that the term ‘Bharatiya’ is made up of two Sanskrit roots - Bha meaning God and Rathi meaning lover. A person who has love for God is a Bharatiya and the land in which such people reside is Bharat. Since India has been the birthplace of many religions, prophets, men of God and the incarnations of the Lord, it is referred to as Bharat. Thus, when Swami refers to the glorious Bharatiyas in His discourses, He is referring to the people who love God and not exactly to those that reside in the geographical boundaries of India.

In similar vein, Baba says that Guru is made up of two Sanskrit roots - Gu which stands for Gunateeta (beyond attributes) and Ru which stands for Rupavarjita (beyond form). A famous Sanskrit verse says,
“Acharya Devo Bhava” which translates into, “The Guru is God”, because the Guru shows the way to God. In this scenario, one can only imagine the good fortune of having the Lord Himself come as one’s Guru as I strongly believe happened with the advent of Bhagawan Baba.

But having a Master / Lord / Guru in human form has a big disadvantage too as I learned on that fateful day in April. The physical human frame is temporary in its nature and has to go one day even when it is occupied by the Supreme Being. And when that happens, the devotees and followers are totally at a loss as to what to do. The form that they love and adore has departed and they are drowned in sorrow.

And while some decided to wait for Him to take up the promised form as Prema Sai Baba, some decided to seek Him within. Some, in their desperation, began to seek Him in other Gurus, in other objects of faith (like the house of some particular devotee which is ‘specially blessed’ with manifestations of Grace like vibhuti) or in the company of people through whom they believed their Swami 'talks’.

The special blessing and a very significant lesson


I am honestly not waiting for Prema Sai. I am trying to connect with Swami in the form that my heart loves and longs for. This divine hide and seek is a game and I shall not change whom I am seeking simply because He has managed to hide well! My heart races back to an episode during the Ashadi Ekadasi celebrations in 2009, the 4th of July to be precise.

The children of the Bal Vikas programme from Mumbai had put up a drama on the life of a saint, Gajanan Maharaj. Swami was very happy with their performance and as the drama concluded, He decided to move down the stage and grant them group photos with Him. I was seated on the stage, behind Swami, from where I was photographing the drama. As He was wheeled down the stage, He looked at me and said something.

I could not make out what He was saying and so I went close to Him. He was pointing to something behind me. I turned and saw that He was pointing to a cutout which had been placed on the stage. It was a large wooden frame on which there was a collage of all the saints from the land of Maharashtra. The frame had been placed on the main stage as part of the Ashadi Ekadasi decorations.

As He pointed to the frame, Swami asked me,
“Are you sitting along with your Gurus?”

The collage of the various 'Gurus' which had been placed on the stage for Ashadi Ekadasi. 
I turned around, saw the wooden frame with the many masters painted on it and smiled.

I almost nodded my head to say, “Yes” for were these not great men of God; masters who had shown the way to God? But in a fraction of a second before I could nod, I realized what I was about to say and changed my words. I told Him,
“No Swami. They are saints but not my Gurus. Only you are my Guru.”
He smiled and He seemed happy with the answer which He Himself had inspired from within me.

The bond between an aspirant and his/her Guru is very unique. It is made when the Supreme Soul decides that the time is now ripe for the ‘ignorant soul’ to gain wisdom and decides to make contact. That contact leads to a contract for evolution! Just like the tsa'haylu (connection) that Jake makes with his Ikran (the mountain vehicle) in the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster movie, Avatar, this is a bonding for life in the case of the Sai Avatar too!

Swami showed that He appreciated that answer in His own unique and sweet manner.

It was the 7th of July 2009. There was a programme scheduled in the Sai Kulwant Hall to felicitate four senior devotees who had served in Swami’s institutions for more than two decades. After the whole programme (which lasted about an hour), Swami asked for the sweets to be brought to be distributed as Prasadam. It was laddoos on that day. He blessed the sweets in the trays as they were taken up to Him.

Then, looking in my direction, He threw one laddoo. Since I was in the second row, the boy in the first row went up to Him and took the sweet. He repeated the act and another boy from the first row went up to Him and took the sweet. Now, He looked straight at me and told me that I should take the laddoo. Then, He threw the third sweet. When I went up to Him and took the sweet, He told me to take padanamaskar. I did so happily. Even as I was returning to my place, I realized with goosebumps on my skin

Bhagawan called me out of the blue and seemed to 'reward' me for my one-pointedness in loyalty to the name
and form of the Guru.
“Today is Guru Poornima!”
I immediately connected what had happened three days back where I told Him that He was my only Guru and this special blessing on Guru Poornima day. It was as if Swami was pleased with my 'loyalty' to Him and He was expressing that on the day when one worshiped one's Guru.


Why loyalty?

A second episode in this context happened on the day of Ramzan in 2006. We were all ready to put up a cultural programme in His presence. Before we did that, Swami decided to speak to us in the bhajan hall. During the course of the interaction, He looked at me and asked,

“What is your name?”
“Swami, Aravind...”
“What is your father’s name?”
“Swami, Balasubramanya...”
“...and your mother’s name?”
“Hema, Swami...”
“Then, you are a Hindu. Why do you wear the costume of a Muslim?”

Here, in my excitement, I began to discourse Swami Himself! I said,
“Swami, I believe in the brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God. I am ready to wear Muslim costume for a Muslim festival, Christian costume for a Christian festival and Hindu costume for a Hindu festival.”

His reply was simple and straight,
“That is correct. But try and follow the code of at least any one of the costumes!”
He smiled and I sat back embarrassed.

Swami was conveying something very deep. He was urging me to hold steady to a single path with determination. He was trying to tell me that while digging the earth for water, it is better to dig one deep well rather than a dozen shallow ones. So too, when digging through the layers of ego (body-consciousness), it is better to do so via a single ‘form of the Lord/Guru' rather than hold on to different forms with different depths.

Basing on this comparison, a question arises in the monkey mind.
"Okay! I shall dig deep in a single spot as you say. But what if, after all my digging, I do not strike water at the end as it happens with some wells?"
The answer from the heart is spontaneous,
"Don't worry. The Lord is pleased by efforts. If, in spite of all your efforts you do not get water from below, the Lord will shower rains from above!"

Oka Chinna Katha - One small story

Baba has narrated a beautiful short story about this.


There was once an aspirant who approached a Guru for guidance. The Guru gave him an idol of Lord Shiva with instructions for daily worship. But the aspirant found that, even after months of meticulous worship, he did not get any spiritual reward or elation. So, he reported his dissatisfaction with the idol and the Guru gave him another idol, this time of Lord Vishnu, and asked him to have another try. The disciple came after another six months demanding another idol, because even Lord Vishnu had failed him. This time, he got an idol of Goddess Durga which he duly installed in his domestic shrine. The two previous idols, were standing, dust ridden and neglected, on the window sill.

One day, while the Durga-worship was going on, the disciple found that the perfumed smoke from the incense stick was wafted by the breeze towards the idol of Lord Shiva on the window sill. He got angry that the ungrateful, stone-hearted God who was deaf to his heartfelt entreaties was getting the perfume intended for his latest idol! So he took a piece of cloth and tied it round the face of Lord Shiva’s idol, closing up the nostrils that were ‘inhaling’ the perfume.

Just at that moment, to his shock, Lord Shiva appeared in all His splendor and glory before him! The man was dumb-founded. He did not know how the ill-treatment had induced Lord Shiva to give him darshan.

But what had really happened? The aspirant, for the first time, believed that the Shiva idol was alive, conscious and breathing. It was that belief which forced him to tie the bandage on the nose. The moment he realised that the idol was full of chith(consciousness), he got the realisation he was struggling for!

Parting thoughts

God/Guru will appear to us in the form we love and adore. He responds always as Swami says,
“There are people without faith who have got ruined. But those with faith will get ruined - NEVER, NEVER and NEVER!”
(Nammaka Chadinavaru Unnaru Kani Nammi Chadinavaru LERU, LERU, LERU - in Telugu).

Even to this day, those words echo in my ears. He always thundered them thrice to remove any trace of doubt in my body, mind or spirit! As I sit before His picture, I pray,

“Lord let me not be like the monkey which constantly pulled the sapling out of the ground to check whether the root was growing. Let me water the roots of my connection to you with my heartfelt love and have faith that though I cannot see it, the roots are indeed growing. Let me hold firm to the name and form I have chosen. Let me dig my well deep and not start digging in a new spot.”

All said and done, like that lad in the story, maybe we need multiple idols to make us realize the life in the idol which is our first love!

In the meanwhile, a sweet voice from the heart tells me from within...

"..........So the ringing voice is silent. The majestic form has vanished. We shall no more see the sweet little figure clad in orange, gliding bare-feet, floating amidst the devotees, letters in hand, ready to distribute vibhuti, wisdom and work to us, his beloved children. That child-like giggling, with the chubby cheeks quaking with convulsions of joy—a laughter so wholesome that tears of joy bedimmed the sparkling eyes; a laughter that radiated the bliss of God to all—can be heard no more.The end is perhaps shocking. But that is not the end. It is a beginning. The Builder worked outside: he was on view. He created an inside, and he has entered it. Now he works inside, out of external view, but more truly and purposefully active, therefore. Swami has moulded us, given shape to shapeless masses, laid stone upon stone in us and built a shrine, entered it and is now busy at work in there..........."




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17 comments:

  1. Sai Ram Aravinda.....I have not seen Swami as guru...though once Swami had given us all(brindavan students....we had come to parthi for guru poornima in 1986)padanamaskaram....on that auspicious day...and said...it is guru poornima and very lucky that you are getting blessings from your guru....

    What iam trying to ask you is that....for me Swami is god....but swami mentioned guru blessings...actually iam confused...for me he is everything..which is god.

    Please elaborate

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    Replies
    1. Dearest Nundah, how blessed you are, that you take God as your Guru and your Guru accepted you as His scholar. Don't be confused, because your teacher can be a person, who teaches you the right path to God, or God Himself. Many people came to Swami because of Holy Man like shown in the posting of Aravind. But after a while, Swami caled them to His feet and became their teacher and God. Consider all the wonderful discourses Swami has given in His time walking on earth, in which He showed us the path to reach Him. His teachings are still available to us today and thereafter, and that does makes Him not only our God, but also our Guru (teacher) and yours and mine too, right. If i am seeking guidance i am seeking the direct contact with Swami, by talking to Him as if he sits or walks next to me. If i am seeking blissful moments, i am taking a book of Swami's Vahini series. Nectar for your soul! Once you have choosen, you should stay with one divine form and as Aravind says - you have to dig for water only in one spot, but with determination and patience and all the knowledge will be there, free to take and use for you, to make you happy. Guru is God and God is Guru Swami says. And since God is your Guru, how blessed were you by taking padnamskar on the holy day of Gurupoornima. Alas, feel blessed and enjoy each day in HIS divine omnipresence. Have firm faith and don't worry - just be happy. With warm greetings from a Granny living in the large Sai Family :-)) Please forgive that i took the freedom to reply before Aravind did. Aravind, a wonderful post - Granny

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    2. A hub post by Aravind might help - https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Guru-Preceptor-is-Everything

      Reminds me of a story mentioned by Ramana maharshi of Panduranga Vithoba and namdev

      Further in the book " Path of Ramana - Part Two" chapter 2 discusses about seeker lord and Master

      Guru is guide, God is destination

      Sai Ram

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  2. Dear Aravind,

    Had a dream this morning before waking up.

    Swami came about among a group of people.

    He blesses a brother next to me with a ring.

    Actually swami asks the ring worn by the person and changes it which glitters with blue and white stone and when the person receives it, it is a mobile phone with a screen which changes display to Krishna, Saraswati, Rama!!!

    Further swami plays with a little child of about 6 months old, that is dirty and sticky with oily black material

    Swami's dress gets soiled with that black oily material

    His dress also gets a torn in the back at about right hip

    Swami then walks away

    Probably to get to change into newer cloth


    This dream relates with your post dramatically


    Swami gives a gift to the brother nearby that displays images of God of choice,

    swami interacts with humanity that is like a child soiled and dirty, due to which swami's dress is also soiled and damaged.

    Now swami goes away, surely for a change of cleaner and new dress, bcoz he would not wish to present himself in that soiled and blackened and torn dress anymore to all of us.


    Swami many a times equated the human body to the dress worn which can be changed


    Sairam


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  3. Dear Aravind, the anonymous post above, about swami's dream...

    I'm your school mate at Sailam, calicut. My name sreeehar. You do remember me as the guy who played his guitar at nights... I dreamed of swami this morning and on seeing your post wanted to share my dream

    Thankyou
    Sairam

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  4. Simply loved the ending! Thank you! This was beautiful.

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  5. i was exactly thinking of the example of digging for water in various places when i read the topic and you have exactly quoted the same.
    i knew the physical swami when i was 15 in 1985.From that moment its just Him. No temples,poojas,other forms of God or gurus. even if i need to goto temples, i pray "swami..sairam' etc.Many talk to me about other spiritual orgns.but i tell them, there can be none like SSSSO where God himself is CEO.I dont read books of any other gurus since there is so much pending of swami's writings that i am yet to read. There is no topic that swami has leftout. From 2009, i started connecting to swami internally. When my body lay asleep, he comes, gives vibuthi, answers my doubts. I visit prashanthi twice a year and i feel a big change /boon granted everytime i visit.Infact i feel my connection stronger now than when swami was in physical form. Its only happiness always. nothing in life to worry about

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  6. we are ready to submit all our original documents while joining an educational institute. Without a TC (transfer certificate) from them, we cant leave and join another institute. We sign bonds with the employer when we join office. without his relieving letter, we cant join another office. Without getting official divorce , you cant marry another. Likewise, our heart is a single seat sofa, we cant make swami get up and make someone else sit? no way.

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  7. swami never left us orphaned without a 'guri' or goal. He gave us a radiosai to keep us in constant integrated awareness and connected to prashanthi nilayam happenings.He gave us sai centres in every town for our satsang and service activities.He gave us enough websites,blogs and all socialmedia platforms to connect with sai brothers and sisters to share His glory.

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  8. Aravind, when I was at Puttaparthi I missed Swami's physical form very much It was just like going to my Dad's place after he passed on. I always felt like a daughter coming to visit Dad whenever I was there.. And Swami made sure my experience there matched my feelings. This time though I missed my dearest Lord's physical form he made sure I had the "coming home to Dad" care at Puttaparthi

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  9. Excellent post. Thanks. The wildly wandering mind was placed with Swami during this post.

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  10. Sairam Aravind. Mine is almost the same as that of Dr Satyavathi. We mostly engage or conbcon with one form or one God or one Avatar. He already have enough evidence that he is everything. We are fortune to be connected with this Greatest Avatar or Guru of All Time.Great to read. It clarified lit of my inner queries. I'm just recovering from the Second Greatest loss of my Life I.e of that of my Physical mother recently. The first one that of my divine mother Swami.I had a very troubling period with all my spiritual experience gone for a task. But this Article gave me everything and how I should be. Thank you so much. Sairam. Kannan

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  11. Sairam,
    When Swamy was physically present also, in all His Discourses He was referring to find Him within ourselves.Sairam

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  12. Sairam brother,

    I too have reflected along similar lines. While I did not have significant attachment to Swami's physical form (having visited Parthi only a few times), I developed a mental relationship through learning about devotees' experiences. Whenever I get upset about not having had physical interaction, I ask myself the question, "who was Swami before he was born?" Similarly, "who was I before I was born?" I think we tend to accept the fact of life without reflecting that once we were 'nothing' and will eventually return to 'nothing,' which is no problem because we are not what we currently think we are in the first place! I find great solace in simply having the faith that God exists, and feel grateful to Swami for having instilled this faith. Once we expand the perception of our identity beyond the transient occurrence of life and recognize the truth of our identity as indicated by Swami, what use is there to pine for physical manifestations. Whatever entity materialized as 'Swami' on Nov. 23, 1926 is the same entity that even now pervades this whole universe and always has/will. Whatever entity materialized as brother Aravind or anyone is the same entity that always was/will be - a drop of the divine. What a blessing to rest secure in this Faith!

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  13. Sairam Aravind. Time for us to develop Inner View, get in touch with HIM inside us, hold fast to that inner view, wake up from maya to be present to HIM all around every where and finally reach Sat Chit Ananda state.

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  14. Sairam. Thank you for your wonderful insights. I enjoy all your posts and it is my first activity of the day to check if you have posted any new blogs. Thanks a ton for sharing !!!
    Am sorry but differ with you on one topic ie. With respect to going to Prema Sai or to others through whom Swami “talks”. Please note that Swamy gave very indivualised medicine and directions. What is good for you may not be the right one for others. So, maybe you are supposed to continue to be on the current path but since Swamy did not give this explicit instructions to others they may not be bound by that. Since Swamy knows everything and guides all equally, we should also assume that if we are deviating we will be cajoled, directed, guided to the right path by HIM as long as we are not blinded by ego or desires. Would like to observe that this is the very same reason touted by Shirdi Sai followers to deride Swamy and prevent folks from going there since the methods used by Shirdi Sai was very different from Sathya Sai. Hence we should not be making the same mistake ourselves. If this path works for you then it is line with your temperament and you should continue rather than “digging” multiple wells. If it doesn’t and another one appeals there is nothing wrong in checking it out. There is no lack of loyalty in exploring. Guilt or fear should not be the basis for any action or inaction. If that does not appeal or is a fake, then stick to the current activities. For all you know there could be more to it than the second hand information that is available to you. I know for a fact that the place where Swamy purportedly talks through someone, the devotees thronging there are not really rebounding from Swamy’s dropping of the body. That would be a very uncharitable assumption to make. Most of them have moved past the body, exploring the essence of Swamy’s message and being pushed by Swamy to act on the same and not be purely academic about it. Do not believe all that is put out in the name of what is happening there. Evaluating the quantum - There is no way the volume and speed of activities there could be done by a human being. On the quality side, the same love flows, the message and the teachings are the same, so, very addictive. Sorry if I have been out of place with this note. Love you and please keep posting !!

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