Monday, 28 July 2014

Kumar wins the greatest gift of life from Sri Sathya Sai_ Part 1

Off for the darshan of the Lord

The 9th of December in 1986 dawned as usual in the holy hamlet of Puttaparthi, nestling amidst the hills in the Anantapur district of the then united state of Andhra Pradesh in India. The hostel for senior boys was bustling with hectic activity as all of them got ready for the classes of the day. Among the hundreds of such hurrying students was also Mr.V.Kumar, a student of the MBA (Masters of Business Administration) course at the Prasanthi Nilayam campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Like any other place on earth, for most students in Parthi also, classes were not the most exciting prospect of the day. And that was because the most beautiful time of the day was in the evening when they would go for the darshan of their beloved Swami, Bhagawan Baba, in the mandir. So, Kumar too went through the rigmarole of all the classes, eagerly waiting for the sun to move from the east to the western skies. As the last bell of the day at the Institute went off, Kumar rushed to the hostel. He freshened up, tore away the ‘college whites’ that he was wearing to don the bright, creaseless whites that he had kept aside for the darshan.

A photograph of V.Kumar and his parents in the interview room. Swami has signed the photograph for Kumar. This was
just one among the dozens of interviews that he got.
Within a matter of minutes, Kumar was at the popular Ganesh gate of the ashram. The Ganesh gate was akin to the pit stop in a Formula 1 race. The only difference was that while tires get changed in a pit stop, footwear get lodged in the region near the gate! But just like drivers compete with each other to occupy the pit for the least time possible, the students too try to get rid of the slippers as fast as they can to rush past the chequered flag (read mandir entrance) in order to occupy vantage positions for the darshan.

As Kumar cast away his slippers, he spied on a few that were carefully hiding their footwear. In a place like Prasanthi Nilayam where a few thousand gather daily for darshan, loss of footwear is a regular affair. Some students, in fact, ran a chain around the belts of their flip flops (the most common student-footwear) and locked it, placing the key in their wallets! Prasanthi Nilayam thus, is not only a place of soul-protection but sole-protection too. Kumar was amused at this. However, he too had his own strategy to protect the protectors of his soles. He would leave his slippers near his home, room A1 in East Prasanthi, right next to the mandir. The house was a gift from Swami to his parents in 1985 - a bountiful blessing for the pious souls.

Leaving the slippers outside the temple is so symbolic and pregnant with meaning. It seems to advise us that we should leave everything that has been contaminated by the external world outside before entering God’s place. It is time for the inner world now!

The entrance door to EA1 as it stands in July 2014.
As Kumar moved towards EA1, he saw his father standing outside the house. He appeared very pensive and seemed to be searching for him among the ‘F1 racers’. The smile on Kumar’s face faded and he knew that something was wrong. He turned and rushed in the opposite direction towards his father.
“Mother is the first God; Father is the next God. Then comes the Guru and finally God.”
Kumar remembered Swami’s words as he sacrificed his vantage seat in the mandir to find out what the matter was with his father. In the meanwhile, a shout was heard in the air. It was from one of the front racers.
“Its no use! We have all missed darshan. Swami has gone into the interview room with a group.”

A tragedy no son can bear

Assured that he was not missing out in today’s race, Kumar approached his father.
“Oh Kumar!”, he said almost swooning in his arms, “ All of a sudden, your mother collapsed in the house today afternoon. She has not got up since. There are doctors in our house monitoring her situation now...”

Kumar dashed into the house. He went straight to the living room. The sight he saw there made him feel that it was a paradox that the ‘living room’ had been named that way! Kumar recollects those painful moments.

When I went into the living room, I could see almost all the famous doctors of Puttaparthi inside. I turned and on my left and saw my Amma (Mother) lying on the bed - straight chested, eyes closed and arms on the side. On the right I could see Dr. Chari, Dr. Alreja, Dr. Shantamma and several others. There was an ECG machine plugged in and it was bleeping weakly.  I was totally flummoxed and speechless. Dr. Chari came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, took me to the front room and said
“Your mother’s pulse rate is dropping every minute. We are doing everything that we can from a medical angle but she is not responding at all. At this rate, we might see another 20 or 25 minutes of life for her. I feel you should go to mandir, sit in the front and inform Swami about this situation. He is the only one who can save her.”
For the first time in my life, I had the feeling of a ton of bricks falling upon me. These words of the doctor left me bewildered and motionless. I asked him,
“Sir, will you also sit in the front and try talking to Swami?”
“Yes, I will try my best”, he nodded.
I looked at my dad. He was in tears. Being the only son without any siblings, I suddenly felt more responsible in terms of emotional expression. I told my father,
“Dad, do not worry. I will try to talk to Swami. Swami is the only refuge we have.”

Kumar stormed out of his house and into the mandir. Swami was still in the interview room and he went straight into the bhajan hall. Now, Kumar is a singer par excellence. Innumerable have been his experiences with Swami involving his singing alone. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I know that an audio file also is worth a thousand words. Enjoy Kumar singing a Sarva-Dharma bhajan. Let it play in the background as you read on because it carries the pathos of the article! :)

Kumar requested the other singers to allow him sit right in the front, next to the bhajan hall door. The idea was to be the first person whom Swami would see as He exited the interview room.  Sitting in that strategic place, Kumar closed his eyes and tried to focus his mind on prayer.

The loneliness of sorrow

That proved to be a Herculean task - the mind would again and again turn sad at the thoughts of his mother. Memories are really funny. You sit back, think of all the times you cried and laugh to yourself. Then you think of all the times you were happy and your eyes well up with tears. As memories filled Kumar’s being, he had a smile on the face with tears in the eyes. Would his beautiful mother (which mother isn’t?) be alive when he returned? When was the last time that he had spoken to her? What did she tell him? Of course, she had asked him whether he had his dinner or not. From the first words that he remembered her speaking till her final few words, they were all filled with love and concern for him. Now, he might be losing all that love and care!

He looked out of the bhajan hall and saw Dr.Chari arrive and take a seat in front of the portico. He was definitely doing his best with all the other doctors. Kumar then turned to the clock. 15 minutes had passed since Dr.Chari had predicted about 25 minutes of life for his mother.

This was perhaps the only time in my student life when I felt that time was ticking too fast. My prayer was - Oh lord! When are you going to come out of the interview room? Do you even know that my mother is going farther away from me every passing moment? Can you please come and save her?

My heart was pining for His physical presence. Everything seemed to have come to a standstill. But not the clock! Time was ticking. I continued seeing my watch for the nth time and I realized that it was past 20 minutes. I looked at the doctor sitting in a distance and gestured to him asking whether the 20 minutes had elapsed. I wanted to know what his feelings were with regard to Amma hanging on to her life. He stared at me but did not reply. That made matters even worse for me. I now focused on the handle of the interview room door. When will Swami push it down so that I can see Him? It was past 30 minutes now. My head was telling me to accept what seemed as the inevitable. My heart was just refusing to obey. The internal tussle intensified and there was none that could even comprehend what was happening to me. I felt so alone...

When the head takes over the heart

Death is an enigma. It arouses awe. It kindles fear. Death happens so simply but is so complex to understand. It is a mystery that man has sought to solve from the beginning of life itself. Almost everyone fears death - if not one’s own, at least that of those that he/she holds dear. There are only a very blessed few which realize that death is not the end; that it is just the companion of life like night is the companion of day. Not many of us think of ‘life after death’ because we are very busy leading our ‘life before death’! It is thus understandable that we are shocked and numbed with death - nay even the prospects of it.

One can only empathise with Kumar when his ‘sane’ head took over his ‘fluttering’ heart. He began to mentally chart a list of all the relatives he would have to call for the impending funeral.  It was sad that a death would be the cause for these relatives’ first visit to Puttaparthi. Maybe that was how Swami had planned to pull in more of his family under His Divine umbrella. But he didn’t want to be the proverbial ‘sacrificial goat’ for that! How would he ever cope with the loss of his mother? Kumar steadied himself by silencing his protesting heart. Wiping away a trickling tear, he made plans to procure firewood for the funeral rites from the nearby Kothacheruvu via a tractor. He also thought of what he would speak to the various ‘authorities’ in the ashram to arrange accommodation to the dozens of his family who would be arriving.

The clock had ticked well past 50 minutes since the doctor’s prediction. The heart attempted one last wail for a miracle but Kumar’s head simply snuffed it out. It was not as if Swami had never done a resurrection miracle before. Just like the resurrection of Lazarus of Bethany is considered as a ‘miracle-magnificent’ of Lord Jesus, there are several recorded and documented resurrection miracles of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Three of them come to mind immediately - the deliverance of Karnam Subamma,  the resurrection of Mr.Walter Cowan and the raising from the dead of Brigadier Bose. However, for some reason, the Lord seems to be very reluctant to ‘perform’ the resurrection on a regular basis. Else, what would be the necessity for the mortuaries in the hospitals at Puttaparthi?

The bhajans were about to begin. Swami had not yet come out. Kumar took his seat among the members of the bhajan group. The whole group could sense that there was something amiss but Kumar was silent.

Kumar knew that irrespective of how he was, Swami always had stood by his side. Would He stand by him now also?
The final blow

After the preliminary Aumkaar, the bhajans began. The Ganesha bhajan was on when the interview room door opened and out walked Kumar’s Lord. But it was too late by now. Swami had a beaming smile on His face and that felt so terrible to Kumar. He quickly turned and asked the bhajan in-charge,
“Sir, could I please sing the second bhajan?”
Everyone knew that Kumar was in the throes of some great pain. And everyone knew that Kumar was a phenomenally good singer, someone who had been painstakingly trained by Swami himself. His wish was immediately granted.

Kumar saw that Dr.Chari got up, walked up to Swami and told Him something. But Swami, very casually brushed him aside and gestured to him to sit down. Entering the bhajan hall, Swami took his seat. Sitting a few meters away, Kumar tried to catch His eye.

Here was the creator of the universe sitting right in front of me and yet I was unable to communicate to Him about Amma; about my plight. I kept staring at Him hoping that he would see me and call me up unto Himself to balm my grieving heart. But then I realized that I was under Swami’s ‘cold treatment’. In this mystical phase of a devotee-Lord relationship, the devotee is given the impression of being totally ignored by Swami. In other words, the Master gives an opportunity to the student to go within, analyse, contemplate and delve on the reasons of being ignored by Him. Swami’s behaviour during this phase includes shunning the entire zone where student is seated during darshan, not taking letters, not talking, not seeing eye to eye but secretly observing without the student’s notice etc..
I understood that I was being given the cold treatment. But at such a time? In such a situation? It was so unfair. I saw the Lord turning his face and seeing out of the bhajan hall though his hand was perfectly patting his thighs matching the rhythm of the bhajan. I concluded that there is no way I can talk to him. So I decided my best bet was to sing and communicate through my emotions.

Kumar had given up hopes of seeing and speaking with his mother again. He knew that a Master’s ways are unfathomable. The Master teaches not only by saving but also via tragedies. In fact, the greatest lessons of life are learned through tragedies alone. That was the experience of Kisa Gotami who desperately sought her dead son’s life from the Buddha. She learn’t the inevitability of death and the true purpose of life. Kumar felt that possibly the time had come for him to learn the same from his Master. Still, he would pour his heart out to Swami.

As the chord of the harmonium indicated that it was time to start his bhajan, Kumar began in such a soulful cry that it would have struck a chord in any heart.

Tvam-Eva Maataa Cha Pitaa Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Bandhush-Ca Sakhaa Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Viidyaa Dravinnam Tvam-Eva |
Tvam-Eva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva ||

(You Truly are my Mother And You Truly are my Father .
You Truly are my Relative And You Truly are my Friend.
You Truly are my Knowledge and You Truly are my Wealth.
You Truly are my All, My God of Gods.)

Choking with emotion, Kumar began the bhajan, ‘Sai Pita Aur Mata Sai’. He was sure that now at least, Swami would turn and look at him. But he was in for a shock of his life. Even as he came to the second line of the bhajan, Swami got up from the throne, walked out of the bhajan hall and into the gents’ side of the hall to grant darshan! Ignored, neglected, desolate and dejected, Kumar began to cry.

to be concluded in the second part at the link below...

Kumar wins the greatest gift of life from Sri Sathya Sai - Part 2


In an unfortunate turn of events, Kumar today has become a follower and proponent of a group that proclaims the existence of a fictitious "Sukshma Sai" or "the Subtle Body of Sai" - which nobody can perceive with the five senses. Kumar propagates the existence of channelers and, at times, acts as a 'medium' which goes completely against the tenets of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (as declared by Him in several discourses) and against the principles of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization established by Baba.

That just serves as a warning to the reader that each and every one of these stories should serve to highlight only Swami's love and grace. We should not start hero-worshipping the recipient of the Grace instead. The only Hero was, is and will be Swami.

If you enjoyed reading this, you might also enjoy the following:

1. God has no need of memory beads for He never forgets - an experience with Sri Sathya Sai and the green Mercedes Benz

2. Every word of Sathya Sai is as true as the Veda - an experience of a Sai Student

3. Why visit Prasanthi Nilayam (or any pilgrimage spot) when God is everywhere? - A message from Sri Sathya Sai

For all readers:

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  1. Replies
    1. :)

      Am writing it and getting a few photos as well. The second part will be up the day after morning IST. (Wednesday, 30th July by 9:00am IST) :)

  2. Sairam

    Please complete the second part too asap...

  3. Sairam brother. Eagerly waiting for the next article. Including the sarva dharma bhajan in here was great.

  4. Sairam Brother Aravind, 30th August is well after the 31st of July.
    This article brought in a flood of memories.
    Regards, Arun

    1. Sairam brother! You caught my typo... I have corrected it.... :)

      I will publish it by 30th July itself... Someday, you should share your experiences also. Could you please give me your email id?

    2. Will wait eagerly for second part.Thanks for this part. Sai Ram.

  5. What a divine voice brother Kumar has. Sheer joy.

  6. luking forward to second part of the article of Mr .kumar

  7. Hey aravind...this song and V.Kumars voice is played on our local cable network, regularly. waiting eagerly for swami's miracle and meanwhile enjoying 'deen dukhiyon ke' :-)

  8. interesting article

  9. suspense n climax
    sairama is all sai drama

  10. Aravind- You have great story telling abilities and make very interesting observations. I guess you could easily fit as a scriptwriter for any of the unending TV serials. As always awaiting your second parts of V.Kumar's and SV Satheesh's stories. Take care.

  11. Part 2 of SV Satheesh's story has been published long back.

    Part 2 of Kumar's story will be published within the hour... Possibly, by the time you see this comment, it will be ready. Maybe you should 'subscribe by mail' or follow via G+ so that you receive an update as soon the new blog is published...

  12. now i get it why there are not many posts...gud buddy write a nice book ..don't settle for anything less than extra the how subtle everything small gesture and sign is from we should not be matter what..bcoz hopelessness indicates we lost faith in him.....get demoralized by our own doings in one thing...questioning the lord for all our misdoings is another thing...that's why more and more troubles come to us....they have to realize this....keep on going what u wanna say to everyone with love..inspire us all :)

    1. To carry out a meaningful discussion, you should come out of your anonymity. I saw your many other comments but am unable to make out what you are exactly trying to say there. this was the only comment that seemed to make meaning for me and I "allowed" it so that I could send you a reply.

      Message me via email or with some details. else, I will not be willing to converse with you.



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