For the followers of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the 24th of April 2011 marks the end of an era and (naturally so), the beginning of another. It is a day on which everything changed forever because the Swami that they so dearly loved discarded the lovely form that He had donned for nearly 86 years. Having painstakingly taught them for decades that He would always be in them, around them, beside them and with them, He decided that it was the time for the practical examination.
When my mind goes back to the period after that, it just becomes numb. It is hard to remember anything 'memorable' after that 24th. Yet, His word can never fail. It is possibly with this faith or maybe hope that I stay on, doing the things that I feel will please my Swami. It is this faith (or hope) that keeps the millions of His devotees going. Lucky are those with that hope; luckier still are those with that faith. But for those like me, who have bouts of doubts and sadness at missing His lovely form, here are a couple of stories that Swami would narrate which give us a solution and thus solace.
It was the 22nd of August, 2011 - the first Krishnashtami (birthday of Lord Krishna) that we would be celebrating at Prasanthi Nilayam in the physical absence of Swami. I suddenly felt a pinch of emptiness in my heart. My mind raced to the years before when He would feed the animals so lovingly. It especially raced to the the most memorable Krishna Janmashtami of my life when Swami showed me that though He seems to be absent, He knows everything that goes on everywhere and at every time! And soon, there were tears in my eyes.
This is the irony of life - we laugh remembering the moments we have cried in the past and we cry remembering the moments that we have laughed and been happy in the past!
The form of God can be matched by ONLY one thing
Among all His many wives, Lord Krishna seemed to have special love for Rukmini. In the eyes of the Lord, all are equal. But some appear to be more equal than the others! And this has happened in every Avatar. Even in the Sathya Sai Avatar, in our human vision, many of us felt that the Lord has His favourites. In that age, the Lord’s consort, Satyabhama was jealous of Krishna’s ‘partiality’ to Rukmini. So, she sought the help of the celestial sage, Narada, to improve her standing with Krishna. Narada realized that Satyabhama suffered from acute jealousy and it was time for her to learn her lesson.
“However be warned! If you fail to make the offering, Krishna becomes my slave!” Narada warned.
An overjoyed Satyabhama conveyed her desire to Lord Krishna.
“But my dear Bhama! I do not want to be the slave of that Narada!”
“That will never happen my Lord! I will never let go of you. You will be mine forever.”
With a smile, Lord Krishna agreed.
|It was finally a leaf that displaced the Lord.|
Dehapatram - the leaf of surrender of one's
Dehabhimanana or body attachment.
Swami explains in His discourse,
“Remember, its only the name of the Lord that can equal the form of the Lord. Wherever His name is, the form is automatically there!”
This message is something very unique and it gives us so much hope and solace today. It definitely gave me succour on that Krishnashtami day.
Everyone had assembled in the Sai Kulwant hall - people and animals alike waiting for their Lord. I was sure that some administrators or elders would be called to feed the animals. What a contrast it would be! Not wanting to witness it, I tried keeping my eyes closed and chanting the name. Then, there was a sudden joy. Even as we all missed the days when the Lord would feed the animals, little Krishna came out and He fed bananas to the cows! I was thrilled. Ah Swami! What a lovely idea this had been of the students to deck one little boy as the Lord to feed the animals! Only Krishna could give joy like Sai Krishna. Immediately, I swung into action, taking photos and I take a picture of Krishna feeding each of the cows, just as I would have done when Swami was feeding the cows. I was happy though the form of Swami that I loved so much was not there.
|Krishna feeding the cows...|
|Dear little deer!|
Surdas was born blind. And he also possessed a blind love for the Lord. He spent all his life in the thought of Lord Krishna, his beloved. It is believed that whenever he sang, little Krishna himself came to hear him.
Surdas was immediately plunged into grief! The Lord whom he sought throughout his life was in his grasp but now, He was gone! And in the depth of his grief, illumination happened and he burst forth into a song:
Baaha Chudaye Jaat Ho,
Nibal Jaan Ke Mohe,
Hriday Se Jab Javo Tho,
Sabal Mein Jaano Tohe.
“Oh Krishna, you think am weak because you are able to free your hand from my grasp. But I shall consider you really strong only if you are able to leave my heart where I have enshrined you.”
“Swami! You think that you can escape me by leaving me physically? I have bound you strongly in my heart! Try leaving my heart if you can! You will never be able to do that. And I will bind you even more firmly by incessantly chanting Your name.”
With that resolve sprouted a smile on my face. Krishna, by now, had fed the cows and he seemed to have disappeared. I thanked Rukmini and Surdas for the inspiration and love they provided in my heart. Looking up at the smiling picture of Swami, I too simply smiled.