Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Any desire other than God is a distraction at best - Govinda's life story with Sri Sathya Sai

Destiny is another name for God’s arrangements

Govinda had a broad smile on his face as he filled the application form to enroll into the National Defence Academy. Joining the Indian army had been his only dream during the school days and he was just a step away from achieving it. The 12th grade National Board Exams had concluded and Govinda was very confident of repeating his 10th grade Board Exam performance where he had topped his school. But there was only one problem. His father, a temple priest by profession and his mother, a simple housewife, wanted him to study more and gain degrees in accordance to the traditions of the Brahmin caste they belonged to. It was obvious that they had not understood the Bharatiya tradition of caste based on aptitude and not birth. Govinda’s aptitude had always been for physical rigour, discipline and courage. Though he was born to Brahmin parents and carried the surname, Upadhyaya, the ancient Indian tradition would have placed him in the Kshatriya caste with a different surname perhaps!

He had somehow prevailed on his parents and was hurriedly filling the forms before they could change their minds. That is when his friendly neighbour, Gupta uncle walked into the house holding some other forms.
“Govind beta, take this. You should join this college. I have all the necessary forms here.”
Govinda saw the name of the college - Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.
“Thanks uncle but no thanks! I am joining the army...”
“This is like the army and better than it also. You just apply. The entrance exams are in the first week of May in Prasanthi Nilayam.”
“Where is that?”
“Puttaparthi... Andhra Pradesh. That is Sathya Sai’s ashram.”

All these were new words for Govinda. He had not heard the term ‘Sai Baba’ in his life so far. He knew of some Babas near his hometown, Dehradun, and assumed that this Sai Baba also must be a wandering renunciate like them.
“But I have my NDA exams in the first week of May.”
“Just do as I am telling you. This will be the best decision of your life.” Gupta uncle was persistent.
“This is what you should do - study. Please do this instead of becoming a Kshatriya”, the parents pleaded.

Out of respect for the very loving Gupta uncle and to please his parents Govinda agreed to fill the forms. To his surprise, his favourite Mathematics teacher also egged him to apply in the Baba’s college in spite of having no information about him.

For the first time in his life, Govinda decided to step out of his home state of Uttar Pradesh and travel more than 2000 kilometres to the state of Andhra Pradesh. Before he left, Gupta uncle gave him a filled rucksack which contained several pairs of white dresses along with other essentials that he would need for a year! He also gave him Rs. 15,000 before bidding him all the best. His parents gave him an additional Rs. 5,000.  Thus it was that in the first week of May of the millennium-changing year 2000, Govinda found himself in Puttaparthi, to write the entrance examinations for the BSc degree.

A ‘hot’ welcome

Puttaparthi was an immediate put-off for Govinda. It was simply too hot for him in sharp contrast to the cool Dehradun climate. Added to that, it was a ghost-town (as Swami was in Brindavan, Bangalore, in the month of May 2000). He was accommodated along with three others from the states of Himachal Pradesh and Bihar. These three would always have Sai Baba’s name on their lips and would keep studying for the exams. Govinda thought they were crazy. He had decided not to study one bit so that he would flunk the exams and go back home. Little did he know the power of the destiny-strings with which the Lord beckons to a devotee!