Monday, 7 July 2014

When God says No to your prayers - my experience with Sri Sathya Sai - Part 1

When God says 'Yes' or 'Wait'...

For most of us, a prayer often turns out to be a request for help. Of course, at times there are prayers of gratitude too, but more often than not, such prayers come immediately after the request-prayers! We pray for something, God grants it and, there you go, we offer a prayer of gratitude. These are instances when God says 'Yes' to our prayers and gives us what we want. There are some other instances when God says 'Wait' to our prayers. With firm faith that God's delays are not His denials, we wait with patience and perseverance. At the right moment when the prayer is fulfilled, we realize how perfect God's timing was and offer our gratitude. We seem to reflect God's own statement back to Him saying, "When it comes to offering gratitude, our delays too are not our denials." We rejoice when God says 'Wait' because though He may not give us what we want, He gives us something better.

But what if God says 'No'? I mean it is not a joy-filling 'Yes' or a hope-arising 'Wait' but a flat 'No' on the face? It is in this connection that I recall an episode which occurred on the 28th of July, 2010. This was the day when my God and best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, gave a flat 'No' to a very 'reasonable' prayer that I made. What did that teach me? The message will be better understood when we go through the happenings of the day. But for those who are curious, I can drop a little hint. The answer lies in the Madhurashtakam composed by the great Vallabhacharya which describes every aspect of the Lord in the Krishna form as sweet and charming.  So, yes, even when God says 'No' it is sweet and charming!

A cataract to be operated

After my father's retirement in the May of 2010, my parents had shifted to Puttaparthi to settle down for life as per Swami's instructions. They were in bliss, enjoying darshan twice a day on a daily basis. I too felt so happy for them. This was that period in my life which I wished would go on forever. Within a few blissful weeks, my father began to complain about his inability to see clearly through his right eye. Having experienced a cataract operation for his left eye before, he was convinced that this was a cataract problem. I immediately sought an appointment with the ophthalmologist at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences.

The doctor examined my father's eye and confirmed that it was indeed a cataract and a hard one at that. He said,
"Of course this surgery can be performed here. But I would strongly recommend that it is performed by Dr.K. He is currently visiting our general hospital in Bangalore and I could forward this case to him if you agree."
Trusting the doctor's wisdom, I agreed.

My father, being a cardiac patient, needed a cardiac clearance certificate before he could undergo the operation. (The story of his 'heart attack' is another wonderful experience in itself. That is what happens with Swami - the worst of experiences too become memorable.) We obtained that certificate and the date chosen for the operation was the 2nd of August, 2010. This was when I felt that I must inform Swami and seek His blessings for the same.
So, on the 28th of July, a Wednesday, I borrowed a pen from my neighbour in the darshan lines and began writing a letter to Swami. I wrote in brief about the happenings so far and sought His blessings for the operation which was slated to be performed on the coming Monday. Having completed the letter, I waited for Swami to arrive.

During this phase, morning darshan was no longer a surety. Though Swami would arrive almost every evening for darshan, mornings were complete bonuses. Many days had passed without Him coming for morning darshan. In fact, on all these days, Aarthi would be taken at 9:30am. Some mornings however, bhajans would go on beyond 9:30am. That was an indication that Swami was probably going to come for darshan. (Otherwise why would the bhajan boys be told to continue singing?)

On the 28th of July, the bhajans were on though the clock showed 10:00am. Hearing these bhajans on the megaphone near the Radiosai studio where I work, I had rushed to the mandir.  Thus, it was a moment of great rejoicing when Swami actually arrived during the bhajans. He came to the gents' side of the Sai Kulwant Hall after completing the ladies' side. Completing the circuit on the gents' side, He came near the students' block. Of course the block was all empty as all students were in school and college. As Swami neared me, I got up on my knees and offered the letter to Him. When He looked at me and accepted the letter, I said,
"Swami, Nanagariki operation Somavaram Chestharu." (Swami, my father's operation has been scheduled for Monday).

Even as Swami heard me, I saw that He was clenching 3 little packets of vibhuti. My mind instantly flashed back to an episode in my colleague's life. The mind is so quick that the whole flash back took under one second. However, to ensure that you experience what I experienced, I shall relate that incident here.

Assuming that you know what to ask, how to seek and where to
knock! Otherwise, it would be best to trust God's wisdom. :)
Ask and it shall be given

The colleague I spoke about is Sai Krishna. He suffered for several years from urinary stones. When the pain first started, He had gone to the hospital and the doctors had recommended surgery. When he sought Swami's blessings for the same, Swami had told him not to go for surgery. Though it was painful, Krishna obeyed his Lord and within a few weeks, the stone got flushed out in his urine. Krishna's joy did not last long for, soon, he had pain once again. This was another stone and again, a surgery was recommended. The same story repeated as Swami advised against a surgery and the stone exited Krishna's body a few weeks later on its own accord.

Krishna now began to practice diet control to ensure that stones do not form again. Though he avoided foodstuffs that might result in formation of kidney stones, he suffered from these painful episodes every now and then. But now, he was experienced. He stopped telling Swami about the stones and bore it bravely each time. And each time, within a few days of pain, he would shoot out the offending stone. During one such painful episode, Sai Krishna was unable to even attend bhajans.
I must take a minute to say that Sai Krishna is a wonderful singer. He has sung hundreds of times in the physical presence of Bhagawan. He was blessed to accompany Swami as a singer to Kodaikanal, Hadshi and Delhi. He later also offered his voice for the Bhavanjali and Nada Brahmam series of bhajans produced by Radiosai under the brand Sai Blossom.

That day, as Krishna lay in his room, Swami was asking for him during bhajans. A fellow-singer went up to Swami and said,
"Swami, he is in pain because of a stone. He has not come for bhajans."
Swami nodded and said that the pain would pass. Encouraged with His reply,  the boy now asked,
"Swami, will you give some vibhuti as prasadam for him?"
"He has come to me several times with pain. Not once did he ask me for vibhuti. Why should I give vibhuti for him?", was Swami's counter question.
The boy had no answer and he returned to his place. Much later, Sai Krishna narrated this incident to me and said that we should always ask from Swami, whatever it might be.

When I asked and was not given
Seeing the vibhuti packets in His hand and recollecting Sai Krishna's narrative, I asked,
"Swami prasadam isthara?" [Swami, will you give me prasadam (vibhuti).] As I asked this point, there was a sudden reaction from Swami - a reaction that I least expected.

He looked at me and shook His head vehemently to say, 'No'! I was taken aback. It was not because of His refusal to give me a vibhuti packet but because of the vehemence of His refusal! He once again looked at me and shook His head to say 'No'. I was sure that I wasn't getting any vibhuti packet that morning! How did Sai Krishna's prescription fail me? And here, when I say Sai Krishna, I am referring not to my colleague but my Swami who is as mischievous as the playful Krishna in these matters. Wasn't He the one who had said that He would give only when He was asked?

Even as I proceed with my story, a question might arise in the mind of the reader. What should one do when one thing that Swami speaks seems to contradict another thing that He has previously spoken! For instance to that singing-mate of Sai Krishna, Swami, in spirit, seemed to say,
"Whatever you desire, ask God. If not God, whom else can you turn to?’

But on several other occasions, even in public discourses He has said,
"Shut up and do not ask anything of God. Don’t you think He knows everything and loves you enough to provide all that you need?"

What should I accept as the take home lesson when such contradicting advice is given?
This has been dealt with to considerable detail in the an article entitled,
 Encouraging the reader to visit that link in case of curiosity to know the answer, I shall proceed with the narrative here.
My immediate reaction to Swami's refusal was a smile. What else could I do? I quickly made a mental note - Do not follow directly what Swami says to a person in private. Each one's relationship with Swami is unique and I should build my relationship with Him based on my experiences and not that of others.

Swami then told me something that showed me His omniscience in an instant,
"Get it done in Bangalore."
I was thrilled and wanted to say,
"Swami! How did you know? That is what the doctor recommended!" But I just knelt tongue-tied. He smiled. The I asked Him,
"Can I go to Bangalore for a couple of days for the operation Swami?"
Swami nodded and I bent down and took padanamaskar. As Swami moved ahead, He did something really amused me. I had to stop myself from laughing aloud.

Learning from others' experiences?

It is often said that a wise one learns from others' experiences. Today, I feel that, when it comes to tasting sugar or understanding God, one needs personal experience. No amount of description from others will ever help us enjoy that sweetness.

"Nice wisdom buddy! What then are you doing, writing and sharing experiences by the hundreds via blogs?"

Good question. The answer is simple. The wisdom in learning from others' experience has to be understood in the right perspective. As long as others' experience builds in us a thirst for experiencing God ourselves, they are good to read and listen. But we should never stop at just listening or reading or, worse still, turning the person who has experienced God into a sort of God for ourselves! Then, others' experiences become distractions on one's Path.

With a humble prayer to Swami that each experience inspires the reader to seek His/Her own God within, I continue to share via blogs. And sharing of experiences is what I shall do even in the second and concluding part of this narrative. 

Others' experience can help us only to a certain extent when it comes to swimming in a pool or in the ocean of life!
One has to dive in with faith and learn by one's own experience...

To Be Continued and Concluded in PART 2. 

For all readers:

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  1. The tiyou tle of the hub scared me. I'm ardently praying for something and I wondered what if Swami says no to my prayer!I I think that's one of the acid test of faith- the conviction to hold on, to believe. To know He is right, He is God. I again prayed for the strength to be able to accept His will and began reading your narrative.
    At the end of it, my fear has changed to curiosity and gratitude for the take home lesson- Learn from others and use it to strengthen my personal relation with My God.

  2. wow.....reading this i was reminded of those beautiful days during june2010 when i had written a very long letter to swami and everyday during evening bhajans standing on my knees and pointing the letter towards him....every darshan i showed him the letters nd everytime he was looking at me very surprisingly nd turn his wheel chair....during the last day of my darshan when he didnt took the letter i cried the whole nyt nd also got scoldings frm my mother.....but later i came to know of his omniscience when he fulfilled each and every wish without even opening my letter .... .i remember during our first darahan baba raised both his hands to bless us..... sairam :)

  3. It might seem very uncanny but I see some sort of a pattern here and I am filled with gratitude to Swami.

    I say this because my mom too had a cataract operation in her left eye in Jan 2010 (in Sankara Netralaya, Chennai) and she waited quite a long time and finally got the cataract operation done for her right eye last year in August 2013. And guess what the date was? August 2nd!!

    Since she has thyroid problem, she needed a clearance certificate and the doctor whom we consult did give her the certificate in June 2013 and also gave us Vibhuti packets. We took it that Swami was reassuring us saying He would take care of everything on the D-day.

    But on the afternoon of July 31st 2013, when we went to Sankara Netralaya for a check-up by the physician there, he said that mom's BP was high and that only if it was normal on August 2nd morning could she undergo the cataract surgery. He gave her some tablets to take for next 2 days.

    You can imagine the tension we'd have had that day and the next. We just prayed to Swami and said that if He willed it, mom's BP would be normal on Aug 2nd morning.

    In the midst of all this, I had wanted to buy a rakhi and send it to Parthi for Swami, because I consider Him as my elder brother. And I did buy them on August 1st. But I was fighting with Swami that day ('coz we were a bit worried about mom's BP and wondered what would happen the next day reg. her surgery). I was even wondering whether I should send the rakhi for Him to Parthi.

    That night just before 12 before I went to bed, I said, "Swami, I want a message from you now and I am going to open a book." I was not looking for any specific message but wanted something reassuring.

    The book I opened is 'Students with Sai: Conversations' (1991 to 2000) and on the page I opened, exactly where my eyes fell, I found the following lines, which Swami had spoken on August 19, 1997.

    (The conversation then shifted to Raksha Bandhan – the previous day being Rakhi Pournami. Bhagawan disclosed that the practice had started during the Mahabharatha War)

    One day, as Lord Krishna was about to leave for the battlefield, His sister Subhadra came and asked if she could tie a Rakhi to His hand and Lord Krishna agreed.

    I was simply amazed to see these lines and felt Swami was encouraging me and saying I should indeed send the card and rakhi to Parthi. I felt He was in fact giving me the assurance of a brother saying He will always protect and help me and keep me in His care. I thanked Swami and slept peacefully.

    By Swami's grace, the next morning we went to the hospital and when mom's BP was checked, it was normal. In fact, only after that was I even allowed to go to the cash counter and pay the fees for the surgery. And there, I saw a small photo of Bhagawan in a corner of the room. I instantly thanked Him for taking care of everything. Mom's surgery went off uneventfully. She recovered and got back to normal within 3 weeks. :)

    That is the way Swami works! I'm so grateful to Him for the way He takes care of us. :) Such a loving Lord! Only tears can convey what we truly feel inside for Him, which words can hardly express.

  4. really nice to know your experience!
    swami has to help!

  5. Chanting Sai Bhajan Daily Gives us Relaxation, Peace in mind and also Hope, confidence to do any work.. Because we are under the survillance of Swami. This article is Similar to the teachings of Lord Krishna which is explained in Madhurashtakam


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