Friday, 24 July 2015

The handkerchief-mischief of my sweet Swami - 3 episodes of insight with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

If we take any aspect of Swami’s (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s) physical life, we see that it has changes according to the time, place, person and situation. The way He grants darshan, for instance, changed from walking among a few dozen people in a small hall to walking in a disciplined gathering of thousands (with music backing) to personal appearances at the homes of the devotees themselves currently! And in between this spectrum of three distinct points that I have mentioned are many other intermediate stages. Each of these stages have their own speciality.

During the late 90’s and early years of the new millennium, Swami used to bless the students with one special kind of chance - the handkerchief chance. Before I proceed to narrate three interesting stories, let me explain this 'kerchief chance'.

Unlike the years before and after, 1997-2001 saw Swami walk alone during darshan without anyone following Him. So, He would collect and carry all the letters which devotees offered on His own. Thus, when He materialized vibhuti (holy ash) for any devotee, any student in possession of a handkerchief could run up to Him and offer the same for Him to wipe His hands. And I was one among the many students who decided to build a relationship with Him through this ‘kerchief chance’! In fact, my first, memorable interaction with Him was also through this kerchief chance.

Now, we are ready to enjoy three little episodes that hold a significant message for all of us.

Whenever Swami materializes vibhuti, it is a source of joy not only for the recipient but to everyone, all around!
Mischief should only bring joy and no pain - Episode 1

It was one hot afternoon in the holy hamlet and all of us students were assembled in the Sai Kulwant hall by 3:15 pm for darshan. I got a chance to be seated in the first line and since I had a handkerchief in my pocket, I feverishly hoped that Swami would create Vibhuti for some devotee who was seated near me. I could see another boy who was also cuddling a handkerchief in his pocket. If Swami created vibhuti at little distance away from me, then the ‘kerchief chance’ would fall in that other boy’s ‘territory’! And so, I was hoping that it would happen close to me!

I scanned out the faces of devotees with the hope of being able to locate one who might be in ‘distress’ and thus deserve the materialized vibhuti. Today I realize that all these efforts are so foolish but those were my ways then. And almost every other kerchief-chance-seeking-lad had similar ways. 

Darshan began. The gentle music floated through the air and the Lord floated into the hall. He seemed to glide so beautifully. One would find it hard to believe that He was actually walking - the full-sized robe made it seem like He was skimming over the land surface. When He was just a few feet away from me, He materialized vibhuti for a devotee. It was in my ‘territory’! I was overjoyed! I rushed to Him with the kerchief. 

He took the kerchief from me and wiped His hands. Then, instead of throwing back the kerchief to me, He threw it down. It fell down straight on His lotus feet. I thought that I would wait till He moved ahead and then pick up the kerchief before returning to my place. And then, the unexpected happened!
As Swami walked ahead, I saw that there was no kerchief on the ground! I wondered as to what had happened? Had some devotee taken the kerchief as a token of Swami’s blessings and grace? It was very much possible - in the bygone days, people used to collect the sand on which He walked as a treasure! I began to scout the devotees quickly to see who had taken away ‘my’ blessed kerchief. Even as I searched desperately for about 9-10 seconds, I saw smiles blossom on the faces of many devotees.

I looked up and saw Swami at a distance. He was about 10 feet from me. He turned around, smiled and gently shook His foot. As He walked on then, I saw the kerchief neatly deposited on the floor. The mischievous Swami had held the kerchief with His foot and had carried it away! Now, a smile blossomed on my face too. I walked the ten feet, picked up the kerchief and returned to my place.

The beauty of His mischief is that it never hurts anyone - it makes everyone around happy. How wonderful if all our mischief too can be that positive and beautiful?

The gift of the holy ash is to remind us the transience of everything worldly. From dust we have come; to dust we shall return.
Love God's uncertainty, even when things seem to go wrong - Episode 2

On another occasion, the ‘kerchief-chance’ competition really had heated up. It was a session when two of us with handkerchiefs were sitting side-by-side. Just like any devotee who wished to give a letter could get a letter, any student who wished could get a kerchief. There were no restrictions. (In fact, many devotees too would get handkerchiefs with the hope that they would be able to beat the student and offer the same to Swami!) Thus, I knew, if Swami created vibhuti I would have to be really quick to outrun my ‘competitor’.

That is the beauty of being with Swami. Competition gets created for who can get first to the Lord - a far better alternative to the rat races that exist for money, position and fame. 

Swami came for darshan. As He came near where we were seated, He began to talk quite a lot with a devotee. Now, this meant that there was a high chance of that devotee getting vibhuti. My muscles tensed and I saw my ‘competitor’ tense his muscles too. He was sitting by my side and I could feel his muscles tensing! 
“I have to be real quick if I have to get this chance”, I thought.

And then, Swami slightly moved and began to encircle His palm. Ah! That is a sign that He is materializing vibhuti. Even before He could create the same, I got up and rushed to Him with the handkerchief. I had beaten my competitor who was still sitting. With jubilation at this victory and the anticipation of the ‘kerchief-chance’ with Swami, I went to Him.

What an anti-climax it was!

Swami did indeed wave His palm. But instead of the fragrant, grey ash, out came an emerald-studded ring. Even as He placed th ring on the devotee’s finger, He seemed to look at me questioningly. It was as if He was asking me,
“Why did you come running here?”

While a ring instead of vibhuti may make the recipient smile, it made me, the 'giver of the kerchief' feel embarrassed! 
Since Swami is a strict disciplinarian, I got so scared. I returned back to my place at double the speed at which I went to Swami. Everyone there were smiling and laughing. It was with great relief that I saw my fear turn into a joke and I too joined in the laughter.

“Love my uncertainty”, Swami says. 
We love it only when we get unexpected bounties, but can we love it even when things seem to go wrong?

God has a plan for us and that is all we need to know - Episode 3

This time, Swami created vibhuti for a student. Three of us students rushed to Him with a handkerchief. Each one of us had started off at the same time and though each one saw the others, nobody wanted to give up. And so, all three of us kneeled before Him with our respective handkerchiefs. Now, it looked real funny! And we were wondering as to what He would do.

I secretly hoped that He would simply wipe His hands on all the three handkerchiefs being offered. In that way, everyone would be happy. But what Swami told was totally the opposite. He told all of us to put the kerchiefs back in our pockets! When I was hoping He would bless all the three of us, He seemed to have decided to bless none of us!

Even as we put the kerchiefs into our pockets, came the unexpected master-stroke. It was one such occasion where Swami's uncertainty brought joy with certainty! 

Swami told each one of us to stretch out our hands and gave us also the same vibhuti which He had materialized! We were pleasantly shocked. Presently, a fourth student came to Swami with a handkerchief and Swami wiped His hands on that! The fourth guy was also thrilled at this unexpected bounty. 

God’s plans for us are always way better than our plans for ourselves. If only we can hold on for that extra bit longer, we will enjoy His love and grace in a greater measure!

If you enjoyed reading this, you will also enjoy the following articles of a similar nature:

1. Vibhuti manifestations: Sathya Sai keeps up His word and His pranks too

2. God's sense of humour - incidents with Sri Sathya Sai.

3. Sai Humour: Speech bloopers in the Divine Presence of Baba

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  1. LOL. Had you posted this earlier? Remember reading handkerchief adventures earlier. I have sat with a handkerchief in the devotee line many times. But never got a chance.

    1. Yes! I had posted this in my other blog more than 2 years ago.... The HubPages site seems to be slowly losing it... In their efforts to ensure"quality" they are blocking so many individual blogs from search engines!

      So, I have started the process of shifting all such blogs to this blogspot of mine. :)

      Glad you enjoyed it anyway...

  2. Nothing like waking up to a new post. I read it and smiled, already a great start to the day.

    1. Thank you... Glad at the effect it had on you...


  3. Sairam Aravind, even though it is a repeat one can read it any number of times as we tend get lost in this world with false impression that what ever we are going through is real, get sucked into maya. These narrations help to get our bearings back and lead us on to right path. Thanks a lot. Best wishes and love.

  4. Thank you very much for sharing. While reading couldn`t stop laughing... you have such a good sense of humour! Enjoyed it thoroughly. " God’s plans for us are always way better than our plans for ourselves.” How true!
    In Bhagvad Gita He had said, “surrender unto Me.” This time He said “ I am always with you. In you, around you ... ” Do we truly BELIEVE 100% what He said ? If we do believe it then ... we will enjoy His love and grace in a greater measure!"

    Kusum L

  5. Awesome brother..such wonderful experiences..swami is so naughty at times. I was laughing out all the while..thanks for the post😊

  6. Awesome brother..such wonderful experiences..swami is so naughty some times.. I was laughing out all the while..thanks for the post

  7. Sairam Aravind,

    I have a query... when Swami shook his foot to reveal that he has taken with him your kerchief, in whose territory was he standing in!!!!!!!!!!!! Lucky some other lad was not ruling that territory.
    OMG I am still laughing for two reasons. 1. Mischief behind the Kerchief drama and
    2. your narrative style made me imagine how all you small kids would have ran helter shelter.
    Am sure you still treasure those divine kerchiefs.

  8. Sairam, enjoyed ur post.... enjoyed ur book tooo

  9. Sairam,I am sorry I didn't understand when you said if we can hold that extra bit longer,... Cud u plz explain

    1. There comes a point where we feel that we cannot hold on any more. At that point, can we sustain a bit more? That is what I meant by that statement. :)


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