Wednesday, 9 July 2014

When God says No to your prayers - my experience with Sri Sathya Sai - Part 2

The contrast effect

Having refused to give me the vibhuti packet, Swami moved ahead during the darshan. when I say ‘moved ahead’ here, I am talking not about meters or feet but of a few inches. To the boy sitting immediately to my right, Swami offered a vibhuti packet. And in a sweet, childlike manner, turned around to see my reaction. Was this His test to see how I respond to the contrast between His strong refusal to me and His gracious benediction on the neighbour? I just had a smile on my face.

The vibhuti packets found their way into my neighbours' hands...
(I must confess here that my response was not because of my ‘nobility’. The prayer for vibhuti had been made at the spur of the moment when I saw the packets in His hand. It was not something that I had sought consciously and built an expectation for. So, I was able to simply smile it off.)

But Swami did not stop. He went ahead and gave the second packet to my second neighbour and once again, from the corner of His eye looked at me. Now, my eyes grew larger in amusement. Then, moving to the third neighbour, Swami gave away the third and final packet too. Before He could turn and check itself, I checked myself from laughing out loud.

What Swami did was so cute and childlike that I was beaming broadly in my face and laughing aloud in my heart.

{This is actually Part 2 of an interesting story. This part will make better sense and also more enjoyable reading if preceded by Part 1. Please read that at the link given below and return here!
When God says No to your prayers - my experience with Sri Sathya Sai - Part 1}

As I look back at this little incident, a very poignant message strikes me. It is not wrong to desire. Desires arise spontaneously and they flow through our being like water through a pipe. The secret is to allow the free flow and not ‘hold on’ to any desire via expectations. Expectations clog the flow and lead to a buildup of pressure - pressure that results in stress, frustration and anger. Allowing the flow without expectations results in smiles and laughter - even when God says ‘No’.

(It is not as if I am an 'expectation-free' person. In fact, I have suffered a lot from attachments and expectations, not understanding the difference between love and attachment. For instance, even in the above case, if I had asked for something else other than vibhuti - say a job, a relationship, a child, someone's health or money - and Swami had said 'No', would I still be able to smile and internally laugh?)

Swami now came on the stage and sat for the bhajans. After a couple of bhajans, Swami moved into the interview room and I had to return to studio for my work. Before I could go, one of my colleagues asked me,
"What did you ask Swami that He refused so vehemently?"
"Vibhuti... Just a vibhuti packet...", I replied with a smile.
"C'mon, don't say that. If it is something personal, you needn't share but don't try to tell such a bad lie!"

I just smiled. Swami's refusal had been so vehement that nobody was even ready to believe that I only asked for vibhuti! There were also some whispers about me possibly have asked Swami about my marriage! There was nothing I could do to convince and so, I got up and headed to the studio. I felt incredibly happy and was almost hopping and skipping in my step rather than walking. Even as I sat at my computer, joy seemed to be oozing out of me. The events of the morning kept playing out in my mind, again and again. I wondered what I would say if somebody asked me the cause for my happiness - Swami's vehement refusal!

But this was very special I felt. Swami had appeared so very cute in His refusal and His cuteness had only multiplied when He gave away the packets to some others and looked at me. And so the day passed till evening darshan.

The climax in the evening

The Veda chanting was on and a slight drizzle began. The chanting concluded and bhajans began. By this time, the rain had grown heavier. At 5:20pm, when Swami arrived for darshan, He came in the car. The car moved through the hall and all of us felt that the rain was so unwelcome. It had placed a glass window barrier between us and Swami. Anything (and anyone) who becomes a barrier between the Lord and the devotee is unwelcome - even the rain on the parched lands of Puttaparthi! Since I was seated on the marble steps of the dais, I could have a slightly close darshan of Swami. The car stopped in the portico of the mandir and the chair slowly came out of the car. As Swami came on to the stage from the car, He seemed to be smiling so broadly. Suddenly, He bent a little in an apparent attempt to see me in the eye, from in between the brass railings that bordered the dais.

I was thrilled and I raised slightly to ensure that my Swami did not have to bend. Even as His eyes met mine, He took a vibhuti packet from His lap and threw it in my direction! Compensation for the morning's refusal? The security guard who was close to Swami misunderstood because He had not seen Swami's reaction. He thought that Swami had thrown the packet for him and so, he collected it. Then when he looked at Swami, Swami looked at me, smiled and asked me to collect the packet. I quickly went up the dais and the guard immediately handed it over to me. I was thrilled beyond measure. With joy surging in my being, I returned to my place. By this time, Swami also reached His spot on the dais.

The bhajans were on and He threw a vibhuti packet towards the person who was playing the tabla. This person went a few feet ahead, picked up the packet from the ground, went to Swami to offer padanamaskar (salutation to the Master's feet) and then returned to his place, continuing to play the tabla. As I saw this scene, I realized to my horror that I had missed the opportunity to take padanamaskar when I went on the dais to collect my packet! Oh God! How foolish I had been.

Swami now threw another vibhuti packet towards another boy and he too did the same as the tabla player. That only added to my feeling of utter foolishness. Oh! I wanted that padanamaskar. Mentally, I prayed,
"Swami, I didn't take namaskar. Please give me a chance to rectify my mistake."

That thought had barely flashed across my mind when Swami looked at me. I quickly pointed to His feet and my heart, indicating that it was my heart's desire to take padanamaskar. He smiled and nodded. I went to Him, bent over the railings and kissed His feet. Ah! My joy was now complete.

Through the railings, on the dais...
When God says 'No'

When God says 'Yes', he gives you what you want. When He says 'Wait', He gives you something better. But I realized that when He says 'No', he gives the best! I am convinced that the joy I would have obtained if He had given me the vibhuti packet as I asked in the morning, would pale in comparison to the joy I felt through this whole experience! Just imagine, I have been able to write a 2-part blog thanks to that refusal!

In many of His discourses, Swami has said,
"Sai Ki Sarvam yes, yes, yes." (For Sai, it is always a yes.)
But the Master's words are always covered in a mystic code. That is to protect the valuable meaning they hold. One has to peel the rind off an Orange and relish the juicy fruit to come to the seed, the pip which gives birth to an entire tree. So is the case with this 'Orange' too. His words are seeds covered with the sweetness of interaction and the rind of incomprehensibility. In due course of time, it will give birth to our own tree of 'Orange'.

So when Swami says 'Yes, Yes, Yes', it is to the true 'us', our true selves - the soul. And in order to tell 'Yes' always to the soul, the Master will have to say 'Wait' or 'No' to the demands of the body and the mind. That is the difference between Divine Love and human 'love'. While the latter gives up the soul for the sake of the body and mind, the former sacrifices the body and the mind at the altar of the soul.

It is not easy for Swami to say 'No'. When a mother finds it hard to refuse her child, how tough it must be for the Divine Mother? The ONLY rationale to explain God's denial is that the denial HAS TO BE for the good. I also realized that it is indeed a proud privilege to receive a 'No' from God because He says that only to those whom He trusts - like Krishnadasa. Like in that inspiring story of Krishnadasa, can we too be trusted by God?

Ah! Before I get lost in the beauty of being the Lord's trusted one, let me conclude the story. I gave that vibhuti packet to my father. He was thrilled. He said,
"I feel that Swami gave it to you in the evening so that I too could witness the whole thing. Had He given it to you in the morning, I would not have been able to see it."

His cataract surgery went on very well. My only prayer was that my 'I' too is operated upon so that it loses its cataract of 'Maya' which clouds it when He says 'No'. 

Informing Swami about the successful completion of my father's cataract operation. He listened intently...
If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read these:

1. God never forgets - the story of Sri Sathya Sai and the green Benz car. 

2. God's Grace makes everything possible.

3. Difference between saying a prayer and praying. 

4. It is only in the depths of silence that the voice of God is heart - Amitabh Dasgupta's experience.

For all readers:

(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Also explore the many 'previous articles' listed month-wise on the top right here, in the web version of the blog. Another blog which I maintain with more than 230 articles on it is at If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".)


  1. When God says 'Yes', he gives you what you want. When He says 'Wait', He gives you something better. But I realized that when He says 'No', he gives the best!

    Thank you Bro. Aravind for sharing such a beautiful event. Sairam

  2. As soon as I receive your email with Link to your Blog, I feel strong urge to read the article. It can not wait for later time !

    We can all pray "let my 'I' too is operated upon so that it loses its cataract of 'Maya' which clouds it when He says 'No'. "
    Baba is such an Ocean of Love and mercy ! He has a marvelous and playful way to teach us most important lessons of life. I am grateful to you for an excellent sharing of your experiences with Him. Kusum

  3. Sairam. Very well written ! Always enjoy your blogs.Shall interact with you in person for speaking at a spiritual sadhana camp for a core group of dedicated volunteers in Bengaluru soon.

  4. Hi bro, I guess this is the topic you will cover on 13-Jul-2014 in Prasanthi Nilayam. All the best.

    Just wanted to share one small li'l moment in my last trip(in which I met you). I was going back to the bus stand. A elderly devotee from abroad was asking for Vibhuthi packets at the cloak room but the Sevadal ppl did not have any. Just couple of hours back, senior devotees at PRO gave me a bunch of packets(around 12). I thought, what do I do with these and kept them in my bag! Then, understood His Master plan.

    The happiness the devotee obtained when I gave him the packets is indescribable. He gently patted my back and smiled with a Thank you. That made 'My' day :)

    And I can imagine how happy you would have felt when Swami Himself gave the packets :)

    1. There is not much of a difference in the joy brother because what you did was very sweet and full of love and selflessness.

      Swami is where pure love is.:)

  5. Sairam Aravind,

    No turns to THE BEST YES......

    I got this intense desire to go to Tiruvanamalai for Giri vallam for Guru Purnima - 12th July. I usually go with my gang of friends. Prayed to Swami for his permission but internally felt Swami was in a denial mode, but I called my friends and to my dismay each of them had some reason for not making up this time.
    Felt dis-heartened at Swami's denial. I called up a friend of mine to say how sad I felt that I will not be taking up the most awaited trip. Her answer nailed me there in disbelief. She said her office friends were going for Giri Vallam and since she wanted a lady company she was in a dilemma. Immediately she asked me if I was interested to go with her.
    I scolded Swami so much but he had a different plan for the same trip. Of all the Giri vallams, this trip has a special place in me heart. Its inked forever.

    1. Wonderful! Isn't it ironical that once we realize the magnificence of the Lord's "No", we seek His "No" more than His "Yes"? :)

  6. Sai Ram, every article is so brilliant and reinforces positivity. I also was able to view your souljourns video and it was simply superb. I know it is too much to ask , but if at all in future you would be able to video record your experiences, that would be such a great gift for all of us. The positivity and energy in your speech is contagious. Jai! Sai Ram.

    1. Well, thanks to this comment, I have started video-recording in a small manner...

      Thank you for your appreciation and suggestion....

  7. Thank you very much dear Sai brother. You had written so beautifully-God saying Yes,God saying No,God saying wait..... Can you help me solve my personal experience with Swami where the reaction was "totally ignoring me" (that is not saying yes,no,or wait" How do I understand it for my growth? To be frank, the experience has frustrated me many times .

    1. Sairam sister,

      Well, the way in which Swami says "Wait" varies. From what you have described, it definitely looks like a "wait" or a "no" for me!

      But wait! For all that you now, it could be a "Yes" as well. See this story for illustration.

      Please don't lost faith... Hold on...

    2. Sai Ram Aravind, just thinking to myself whether there is a MAYBE, wait let Me think about it, in there somewhere. Something to ponder about! if you have an answer please share. I feel that there is no maybe as far as Swami is concerned. You might enjoy the picture that popped into my mind giving me much mirth. You hop skipping down the lane behind the Mandir singing lah-di-dah-dah as you went back to work. chandan aunty.

  8. beautiful brother.. I am smiling rather laughing at Swami's play and visualizing the scenes in my mind..... naughty sai Krishna ;-)

  9. Brother Aravind, ever grateful to you for this Bhagawatha stories being penned by you, each story makes our heart more clean, pure and more loving, Your stories are the food for the heart Thank you very much Baba yes his presence in your heart is evident by such writings

    1. Thank you. Jai Sai Ram. Please keep me in your prayers. May our love for Swami grow stronger every moment.


Please do take some time to leave your valuable thoughts and feedback here. It will be an enriching read for me. :)

If you have questions or reactions which seek my response, please leave your name at least. Do not hide in anonymity. :)