Friday, 22 August 2014

Destroyed in seconds but rebuilt over years - the love story of Vijaya Sunder with his Swami_Part 3

Unfolding of the Divine punishment

God is often seen as a Mighty Judge, sitting high above mankind, branding and separating people as good and bad; as noble souls and sinners. How very wrong this idea is! In fact, every part of the statement is incorrect. To begin with, God is not a judge. When you judge someone, you cannot love him/her. When God loves everyone equally, how can we ever criticize Him of judging? Every moment of Swami’s life is filled with pure Love. Where is the time and space for Him to judge then? The next part of the statement about Him branding and separating people is also false. He always exhorts us to be united - to see unity in the apparent diversity. Finally, the way God views ‘noble souls’ and ‘sinners’ is totally different from the way we view them. For God, every saint has a past and every sinner, a future!

Therefore, when we speak of God’s ‘punishment’, we have to understand the context properly. For instance, while the Government of India decided that the apt punishment for a murderer was a noose around his neck, Swami decided that the perfect punishment would be a rosary instead of the noose. And this is because Swami believes in finishing off the murderous tendencies rather than the murderer. That was the life story of Kalpagiri. So, when Swami says that both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ done in the Divine Presence come back to you a hundredfold, He speaks not about reward and punishment the way we understand them, but of balance and harmony.

Vijay had no doubt destroyed a picture of Swami. And no doubt he had to ‘pay’ a hundredfold to set that right. But it would be totally wrong to consider that as ‘punishment’ the way we understand it. The way Swami made him pay back a hundredfold was so beautiful and uplifting.
{This is the final part of a story which has a lot of background. To enjoy it completely, please read it only after reading the first two parts which are at the links given below.
PART 1: Destroyed in seconds but rebuilt over years - Part 1
Destroyed in seconds but rebuilt over years - Part 2 }

“You destroyed an image of Me. Now you will have to make a hundred images for Me. That will be your punishment; that will be your redemption.”

So beautiful isn’t it? The way God ‘punishes’ us ensures that it helps us attain the ultimate goal of life at the earliest. His ‘punishment’ too is an act of supreme compassion and grace. That was what an overwhelmed Vijay discovered on his journey of a hundred ‘payback images’. Speak to him today and he will say that he wishes he could pay back a thousandfold! One of the earliest among his sketches was of Sri.N.Kasturi.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

PART 2_Destroyed in seconds but rebuilt over years - the love story of Vijaya Sunder with his Swami

First trip to Puttaparthi

Vijay informed his parents about the chance he had got to go to Puttaparthi and be part of a drama to be staged there. They were happy. The past few years had seemed to really improve their son and his positive outlook towards Swami delighted them.

Vijay performed his role behind the scenes to the best of his ability and sincerity. As instructed, he made sure that he did not peep to get a darshan of Swami during the drama and, when the time came, he showered ‘Adi Sankaracharya’ with gold. When the drama concluded, Swami moved down the dais, amidst the children. He blessed all the actors with clothes. He also materialized vibhuti for some of the actors. Having done this, as He sat on the stage, the supreme Lord of the Universe seemed unsatisfied! He is never satisfied when it comes to giving.

He said something to the attendant boy by his side. A tray was brought from within and Swami beckoned to the actors. He handed over a wristwatch to each and every one of them. The line of actors ended but not Swami’s enthusiasm to give. He looked beyond, at the sets’ boys seated behind. Sathya Sai is a silent worker - always acting behind the scenes and giving credit to others. He definitely knows what it is to be a background worker! He beckoned to the sets’ boys too and Vijay was one among the first few to go to Him.

Swami blessing Vijay with gold chain that He materialised with a wave of His hand. This was in 2008. 

(This is the second part of an interesting story. You will get maximum joy by reading it in the proper chronology. In case you have missed it, read the first part at the link below before returning to this part.

Vijay knelt before Swami. It was for the first time in his life that he was seeing Swami from such close quarters. Swami held out a wristwatch for him. But Vijay’s attention was not on the watch. He was drinking deep into the fountain of beauty that Swami is. That momentary experience was enough to make Vijay desire madly for a seat in Swami’s college. He remembered Shyam’s words that one got admission in Swami’s college only when He wills. So, he told Swami,
“Please give me admission in your college. I want a seat.”
“Ok. Take”, said Swami, handing him the watch.
Vijay did not understand whether Swami was asking him to ‘take’ the watch or the seat. He did not know then that Swami has the ability to bless two birds with the same stone! He felt that Swami wanted to get ‘rid’ of his pestering presence. He took the watch and walked back to his place.

Thus concluded the Parthi trip which triggered an insatiable thirst in Vijay to become a student of Swami.

Monday, 18 August 2014

PART 1_Destroyed in seconds but rebuilt over years - the love story of Vijaya Sunder with his Swami

An introductory chapter on the Divine Romance

The Indian summer in 2003 was coming to an end  and giving way to a cool spring. But that made no difference to the sultry climate in the city of Chennai in South India. With the sea breeze plucking the beads of perspiration off his face, Vijaya Sunder ran towards his home. His calf muscles ached from the strain of running and his lungs huffed and puffed with exertion.  But he had a broad smile plastered on his face. The results of the state level (Tamil Nadu) grade XII exam had been declared and Vijay had performed exceedingly well. In fact, he had obtained the perfect result, a centum, in his favourite subjects - Physics and Chemistry. He was convinced that he had moved a step closer towards achieving his dream of becoming an engineer.

“Mom! Dad! Look. I am the state-topper in Chemistry and Physics...” screamed Vijay as he entered the home.
“Ah! Praise be to the Lord”, exclaimed the mother as she rushed out from her morning worship to hug her son.
“C’mon Mom! I wrote the exams and you give credit to your God!” Vijay couldn’t suppress the smile as he said that.
“Whatever you may say. Everything happens because of God.”

Yet another story of divine romance  between the Lord and Vijaya Sunder.
Vijay did not say anything to his mother. She was firmly entrenched in her devotion to god. In spite of the tough life she had lead so far, she found things to thank god for. But Vijay was not interested or bothered about god. He just didn’t want to be bothered by him or her or it - whatever God was. His philosophy was very simple - hard work fetches its rewards while the lack of it results in disappointment. He had worked really hard for his academic excellence and it was only natural that his results reflected that.

Vijay now showed the results to his father who did not say a thing. The tears in his eyes said everything - he was proud, happy and grateful. Vijay’s chest swelled in pride.
“Dad! I want to study in the best of engineering colleges and my marks will ensure a ‘merit’ seat for me.”
“Yes my son!” agreed the father and embraced Vijay. He would get ready now to withdraw the special savings he had made for precisely this purpose.

Like anywhere else in the world, to get into the top notch colleges, one either had to be rich in the intelligence department or had to be the child of a parent rich in the finance department. Finances had always been hard to come by for Vijay’s family. Vijay had been a late-born and his father had retired as a cartoonist at the Indian Express when he was barely 11 years old. On retirement, he had got about 4 lakh rupees (about $10,000 then) as his lifetime savings from the Provident Fund. That had been invested into two separate Chit funds, which are basically microfinance organizations. The interest amount was being used to pay Vijay’s fees and the father hoped to use th principal amount to pay for Vijay’s higher studies. The fees for the 4 years of engineering would be as low as 1.8 lakhs now since Vijay had secured a ‘merit’ seat. (A seat by ‘Management quota’ had to be bought for about 7 lakhs!) This was better than what Vijay’s father had bargained for.

A God-shattering experience

It was Vijay’s father who received the shock first. Chit funds operate in different ways, and there are also many fraudulent tactics practiced by private firms. The basic necessity of conducting a 'Chitty' is a group needy people called subscribers. The foreman—the company or person conducting the chitty—brings these people together and conducts the chitty. He is also the one who has the ‘power’ to commit fraud.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Each life has a purpose and meaning - a story and an experience with Sri Sathya Sai

Grass is greener on the other side

The expansive garden stretched as far as the eye could see. The myriad variety of trees - crabapples, citrus, myrtles, maples, oaks, banyans and the bright flame of the forest created a multi-hued canopy above. Dandelions, roses, daffodils, magnolias, chrysanthemums, dahlias, daisies, tulips, asters, begonias, carnations, buttercups, foxgloves, clovers, lilacs, jasmine, petunias and even lilies and lotuses in the pond adorned the garden which had aptly been named ‘Eden’. The floor was covered with a soft and velvety carpet grass. Birds and bees abounded in this green space and and their sounds coupled with the breeze to create nature’s harmonic melodies.

And the gardener stood in the middle of the garden with a smile on his face. His toil might not have borne fruits but it had certainly presented him with flowers galore! The sweat on his brow tasted sweet in the magical environment of his garden. The scene was simply perfect. He was  a very satisfied being and it was with great pleasure that he gently ambled along the garden path.

A garden of heavenly delight... That is what life is isn't it?
In this happy scene however, there was a hint of sorrow. In one corner of the garden was a little patch of grass. In that was one single blade that was shedding tears. This blade of grass was not part of the carpet lawns but sadly, felt that it did not belong to the garden too. Seeing the grandeur and beauty around, it cursed its very existence.
“Why did the gardener have to plant me in the first place? The garden is complete even without my pathetic existence...”
The grass blade bent low in its sorrow. It was lost to the peace and joy of the garden.

Dimitri’s tryst with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

It was in 1978 that a gentleman of Greek origin, Dimitri, came to know of a supposed living God - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Dimitri had shifted to the city of Denver, Colorado in the United States of America when he felt an urge to make a trip to India to visit this ‘God-man’. Thus, in 1980, he travelled halfway across the globe to Puttaparthi. Being informed that ‘Swami’ was at His Bangalore ashram in Whitefield, he added another leg to the journey, travelling by road to India’s Garden City. Everyone who has come to Baba has had a wonderful story. You have yours and I have mine. Dimitri was about to get his.