Saturday 30 May 2015

What is the greatest gift in life? Life experiences of Kishore Madhamshettiwar_Part 2

A God who is also an intimate friend

Having experienced Swami’s omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience, Kishore instantly accepted Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba as his Sadguru and God. The prophetic words of his Guru, Malhari Baba, seemed to have fructified - Sathya Sai is the Paripoorna Avatar (the Absolute Descent). It is wrong to compare Him to Rama or Krishna because such a Descent has never happened nor will it happen... When the time comes, you will meet Him...

On September 24th, 1987, a holy Thursday, a National Symposium on Values Orientation in Higher Learning had been scheduled at Prasanthi Nilayam and several Vice-Chancellors and prominent Indian educationalists would be participating in it.  

A file photo of Swami delivering a discourse during the National Symposium on Values Orientation in Higher Learning.
Several Vice Chancellors of Universities attended the same.
Preparations for this symposium were on in full steam and Swami personally supervised every aspect involved. The MBA boys got the privilege of assisting with the preparations. A few days before the D-Day, Kishore was enthusiastically digging pits for the poles which would hold up buntings and other decorations. He was in the grounds adjacent to the college building. It was hard work and he was sweating it out. His clothes were almost dripping wet and were soiled with mud. That was when Swami’s car entered the Institute premises. All the students seemed to line up to enjoy this unexpected bounty. But not Kishore! He was a strict believer in duty being God and, so, he continued digging. From the corner of his eye, he could make out Swami’s car halting near him. The window went down and Swami asked,
Kishore Kidhar hain (Where is Kishore)?”

{Who is this 'Kishore' to whom reference is being made? If you are wondering this, it is evident that you have missed reading the first part of this story. Come back here after having read that for a more fulfilling reading experience...}

Apparently, Kishore was quite a common name and another student with that name stepped up. Swami immediately said,
Tum Nahi! Varanasi Kishore... (Not you! The Kishore from Varanasi)”
Kishore stopped digging now. His wife, Gargi, was from Varanasi and the couple had stayed for 3 months there before joining Swami’s University. So, he was sure that Swami was now referring to him. He moved reverentially towards Swami’s car.
Tumhara Wife Kidhar Hain (Where is your wife?)”
The students from all the campuses had arrived to Prasanthi Nilayam for the symposium. So Kishore said,
“Swami, wife is here...”
Wife ka naam kya hain (What is your wife’s name)?”
Kishore felt embarrassed to take his wife’s name in public. This is the Bharatiya Maryada (Indian respectful tradition where the wife and husband do not take each other’s name in public). But Swami prodded him on,
Bolo... Bolo... (Tell... tell...)”
Softly and hesitantly, he said,
“Swami, Gargi...”
Sharm Nahi Aata Itna Logon Ke Samne Wife Ka Naam Leta Hain (Are you not ashamed to tell your wife’s name publicly in front of so many people)?”

Swami began to smile and Kishore realized that it was a sweet prank that his Chancellor was playing on him. Looking into each other’s eyes with the deepest love was so magical. Kishore understood that Swami was Sadhguru and God no doubt, but He was much more also.
“Gayatri... Gayatri... Gayatri...” Swami said before driving away and Kishore was left wondering as to what He meant. 
Whatever He might have meant, Kishore knew that he had fallen in love with God. He wanted only Swami and nothing else.

{Much later, in 2007, Kishore had visited a Nadi reader. This was the Agastya Nadi and while identifying Kishore’s leaf, the reader got all details right. Kishore was impressed. The only error came when the reader said,
“Your wife has two names...”
“No way! She has only one name as far as I know...” Kishore had replied.
“Here it says she has two names... Gargi and... Gayatri. The latter is a name bestowed by God.”

Seeking direct Upadesh (Instruction)

Kishore was desperate to get some Upadesh from Swami - some spiritual instruction which he would strictly adhere to. In order to be ready to receive it, he prepared himself thoroughly. He would never speak unnecessarily. He would mind his own business and not interact with anyone when there was no need. Gossip, timepass, idling time, mocking and back-biting were words completely absent in his dictionary. Added to this, in just a span of a few months, he seemed to have developed an irrepressible desire to serve Swami in any way possible. The symposium gave many such opportunities.

Kishore was part of a group of boys who were seated in Poornachandra Auditorium, cleaning crockery and cutlery for the event. While all the others chatted as they did the task, Kishore sat silently in a corner, diligent in his work. Once again, Swami arrived suddenly on the scene. He came directly to Kishore and without any introductory remarks, asked him,
“Why did you come here?”
Kishore did not know how to answer that.
“You come to Sai Baba and you are sad. You are morose and nervous. Be happy! That is the most important. Just be happy. From tomorrow onwards, read the Dhyana Vahini. Learn meditation and do meditation.”
Swami then walked away. Kishore was thrilled. He had received not one, but two direct instructions from his Swami! He knew that this was the Upadesh he had sought.

Following Swami's Upadesh, Kishore kept smiling from happiness ever since... To this day, he exudes happiness
and enthusiasm...
He took the words seriously and ensured that meditation was an integral part of his daily routine. Deep into the night and in the early hours of the day, he would sit in meditation on the hostel terrace. The mosquitoes of Puttaparthi were a happy lot because they got a ready victim to gorge into - a victim who wouldn’t even swipe at them! Kishore’s dresses had many blobs of red - telltale marks of the feast that the mosquitoes were having. But he didn’t bother in the least because his joy was greater than that of the mosquitoes. He used to enjoy the meditation. It gave him a greater purpose in life - to find out the purpose of life itself! Along with the meditation, Kishore drowned himself in various service activities in the hostel, mainly serving food in the kitchen and tending to the sick students.

As days passed his longing, pining and thirst for Swami grew exponentially. And that made him so blissful. He was an addict who needed ever-increasing amounts of his nar(ayan)cotic to be alive! God is the greatest and most beautiful addiction one can have. Swami, on His part, kept the addiction alive by doling out regular opportunities of sparshan  and sambhashan to Kishore. He realized another Truth - Swami’s instruction is also His blessing. Swami had instructed him to be happy always. He had ensured that an unending stream of joy flowed Kishore’s way when he put in the necessary efforts!

Implicit faith and instant obedience - traits of true surrender

The only things that Kishore ever dwelled upon were Swami’s discourses, the Dhyana Vahini and the various scriptures. He would think about and speak of only these things. He kept the company of only those that discussed these. He had neither the time nor the inclination for anything else.

One fine Sunday, sitting at the feet of the Ganesha idol at the college, Kishore was discussing about the Tittiri birds (partridges) of the Taittiriya Upanishad. The story of how the Upanishad came about is very interesting. It is said that the great sage Yajnavalkya quarrelled with his Guru, Vaishampayana. He was thus asked by his Guru to return the Veda which he had studied under him. Yajnavalkya walked to the presence of Vaishampayana and vomited. The pupils of Vaishampayana, assumed the forms of Tittiris (partridges) and ate the vomit. They then sang out the Upanishad!

That day, during the darshan, Kishore’s neighbour pointed to a few pigeons sitting above and said,
“Who knows, maybe those pigeons up there are also some sages waiting for wisdom from Swami...”
Kishore nodded in agreement. Who could say but Swami Himself?

During darshan, as Swami was passing by Kishore, a pigeon darted across the hall. As it flew across, it eased itself and the droppings fell on the ground, a few feet away from Swami. Swami turned to Kishore and smilingly said,
“That is nectar divine! Eat it...”

It was definitely implicit obedience that took Kishore closer to his Swami. His position and
place in this photograph is definitely true "Upanishad" as defined later in this article. 
All the students around laughed out aloud. But their laughter soon faded as Kishore sprang up in a flash. Like a cheetah leaping on its prey, he sprinted to the spot. He scooped up the bird’s droppings, put it in his mouth and swallowed it whole! There was a shocked silence which was broken by Swami’s words,
“That is true surrender.”
Swami patted him and moved on.

Once the darshan was complete, everyone seemed to be lost in admiration for Kishore. But Kishore felt that it was no big deal. He was ready to do anything that his Swami says. He wanted to achieve the purpose of his life and he knew that only Swami could confer that to him. Did the pigeon’s droppings actually turn to nectar? Just as Prahalada and Mirabai discovered, under the anesthesia of devotion, even poison turns to nectar! Kishore experienced ambrosial joy sitting at Swami’s feet receiving those words of appreciation. Wasn't that the true Upanishad?

“What is the inner meaning of the term Upanishad? ‘Upa’ - near, ‘ni’ - down and ‘shad’ - sit. It means that you should sit down at the feet of the master and listen to Him.”
That is exactly what Kishore had done right?)

Swami had already acknowledged Kishore’s act as an act of true surrender. However, Kishore was not satisfied. He wanted not only a single act but his entire life to be one continuous surrender to Swami. That is why, the next time Swami spoke to him and asked him,
Kya Hain... Bolo... (Tell me, what’s up with you...)?
Kishore replied,
“Swami, I want to surrender to you...”
“You have...”
“Swami, I want to experience surrender to you always...”
Swami smiled and moved close to him. With His finger, He gently combed Kishore’s hair and caressed his head nine times, saying,

Then, Swami said,
“Granted! Now take padanamaskar.”

Thus it was, that Kishore got in nine seconds what people take lifetimes to achieve! (It is poetic and nice to state it like that. However, one must remember, that when the 'rock' appears to break in one blow, it only means that the rock has already received a thousand blows before - maybe in previous births. God is not partial to some; nor does He impede the progress for anyone. Each one recieves as per his/her efforts in the past and present.)

No taste for life itself

No student can ever escape the examinations. How could Kishore then? So lost was he in his Swami that he had hardly studied. But then, life-lessons and wisdom do not come from academics. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj - and thousand other wise people who had solutions for everything in life, were not accomplished academicians!

To make matters worse for Kishore, Swami selected him to deliver a speech during the Dusshera week which coincided with the exams! There was no doubt in Kishore’s mind that he would spend all his energies preparing for the talk in the Divine Presence. Exams had supplementaries and second chances; but not opportunities with the Divine! So he spent a miniscule part of his time reading subjects. Most of the time was spent in contemplating on Swami, in the name of preparing for the speech.

The speech in the Divine Presence went off very well. The exams were tough but Kishore found that, ‘mysteriously’, whatever little he studied was always an integral part of the question papers! So, he had no problems passing his exams.In fact, in one of the several interviews that Kishore got with Swami, he was told,
“Don’t share this experience with everyone.”
It was evident that Swami too didn’t seem to enjoy ‘writing’ exams even though He does it for a devotee’s sake!  

At this point in time, nothing else in life seemed to matter for Kishore. In fact, life itself didn’t seem to matter when it came to Swami. He wanted Swami, more Swami and only Swami! That was when he realized that God had gifted him with something greater than life - the intense desire to know God and experience Him. Adi Sankaracharya in his seminal work, the Viveka Chudamani, says that there are three greatest gifts that a being can receive. The first is Manushyatwam or life as a human. The second is Mumukshatwam or the intense desire to discover the purpose of life.

Just when Kishore felt that Swami had granted him the greatest gift in life by giving him life, Swami had gifted him something greater. Kishore couldn’t have asked for more. But Swami had planned to give him more, much more.

Surely Kishore did not think that his Sadguru would make him a teacher for His students! But well, who can understand
God's plans?
And for that, we will have to await part three which is at the link below:

What is the greatest gift in life? Life experiences of Kishore Madhamshettiwar_Part 3

You may also enjoy reading these experiences:

1. Sachin Tendulkar and Sathya Sai - the story of the little master and his 'little' Master

2. The powerful attraction between goodness and godliness.

3. Visualizing and materializing the Lord...

For all readers:

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  1. Madhusudanvithal Nori30 May 2015 at 12:14

    Sairam Aravind, now I wait eagerly for the next part of the irresistible narrative from your pen. Best wishes and love....!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Amazing levels of surrender & big time lessons on love for our Swami.

  4. Really Inspiring. How steadfast was the devotion. How much love for Swami. Amazing !!

  5. He is a man of goodness by heart

  6. Wonderful as always take us back in time like a time machine.can't wait for next part. Be an effective instrument is Swami forever.

  7. Awesome 'Chinta nahin chintan karo' mantra. Cant wait for the third installment. Wish you Godspeed!
    Love and prayers

  8. OMG!This story is so awesome!I loved it!Lol!Swami too don't want to write exams!!


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