Saturday, 15 July 2017

Missing what we want because of how we want it - God's dilemma

Seeking the magic of a Divine visit

Among the several magical memories that a Sai-student carries of life at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, a Divine visit to the hostel often ranks very high. When Swami visits the hostel, it feels like the Lord wanted to call all the students for an interview but did not have an interview room as big as His heart! And so, He decides to visit the students in the hostel -  it is like a mass private interview on the largest scale! Such a visit brings many close interactions with Swami. He speaks to the students and the students express their feelings for Him through conversations, talks, short skits and songs. There are momentous materializations and rousing revelations.  A taste of such a visit can be obtained by reading the happenings during one such visit that had taken place in 2003. Each visit is unique and the ‘uncertainty’ about how it will unravel only adds to the anticipation and excitement.
The memorable Divine visit to the hostel in March 2003

Thus, every student of the SSSIHL wishes to be part of at least one Divine visit to the hostel. The students in our batch were no exception!  It is no wonder that we wanted such a repeat of history. But Swami always has His ways of refusing to make such a visit unless the boys plead hard enough. We prepared ourselves for such excuses of the Lord, and went to the mandir armed with a large invitation card. The card had many photos of Swami with the students during many previous hostel visits and the wording was this,
“Swami, our home is empty without you. Please bless it with your loving visit.”

Different gender, same scenes! Swami's visit to the girls' hostel in Anantapur brings thrill to everyone.

It was the 22nd of February in 2005. The clock face in Sai Kulwant Hall proclaimed 4:15 pm when Swami came out on His darshan rounds. As He neared us, we got up on our knees with the card and showed it to Him. He looked at the card and said out aloud,
“Swami, it is empty because You are not there. If You visit our hostel, it will cease to be empty. It will become full!”, we answered.
Swami nodded and told us to go back and sit in our places.

Do we miss what we seek because of how we wish to get it?

There is a popular story that goes as follows.

A town gets flooded and there is water everywhere. A pious man is trapped on the roof of a building and has nowhere to go. The rising flood waters are slowly encircling the building and he has nowhere to go. But he is not at all worried. His faith in God is firm and he simply starts praying. He says,
“Dear God. All my life I have worshipped you and have had steady faith in you. Please come to my rescue.”

Within a few minutes, the waters have risen a few more meters and it is only a matter of 15 more minutes before they swallow the building completely. Presently, a boat comes by and the boatman shouts out,
“Sir! I have place for one more on my boat. Would you care to join?”
“No! You carry on and save someone else. God will save me.”
The boat goes away.

Minutes before the building is completely submerged, a helicopter comes above and, over the megaphone, a shout is heard,
“Sir! Please hold on. We shall rescue you.”

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

God's delays are not denials but gateways to greater joy

“God’s delays are not His denials...”

This is a quote that I have heard a million times. Well, maybe not a million times, but it surely feels like that! It is possibly one of my all-time favorite phrases to be used while consoling someone who is in despair.
“Hey! Don’t worry. Things will sort out. God is there to help. Remember... His delays are not His denials.”
But my attitude towards the quote depends on how life is panning out for me. When things are sunny and fine, I completely trust the quote. When things go bad however, I seem to desperately grab on to the quote with the secret hope in my heart that this is only a delay and not a denial from God. The truth is whether I ‘believe’ in it or not, God definitely has the perfect timing and His delays are only to bring added joy! I know this to be true based on multiple experiences with my Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. One singular experience however, stands out because it reinforces this quote with two simultaneous experiences of delays not being denials.

The Master walks into our life at the perfect time - ALWAYS!
Just like a single story of the charming Lord Krishna gets linked to so many other stories which reveal His divine facets, this incident too shall have its sub-stories. In fact, ‘deviating’ from the main story into sub stories has been termed as ‘Hari-Katha’ in India, a composite form of storytelling with poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy, which often runs for hours! The sub-stories add flavour and spice to the main story. So, here is one such Sai-Katha.

A class teacher’s classy talk

It was the March of the year 2000. I was in XII grade and was preparing furiously for the countrywide Board Examinations. In India, 12th standard is a transition from high school to University and the examinations conducted by the CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Examination) are given paramount importance. For a student in Swami’s school, it was a time of another probable, terrible transition. Since Swami had not started any medical or engineering colleges and courses for chartered accountancy, those wishing to pursue these lucrative and attractive careers had to leave Swami’s physical proximity. Further studies available in the University involved only the pursuit of a Bachelor's degree in pure sciences, commerce or the arts which is considered ‘mediocre’ by many. (This is fast changing in part due to the impressive record of the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning).

In that scenario, an informal talk delivered to us by our ‘class’ teacher, Dr.Sailesh Srivastava was vital in the enlightenment it provided. The talk lasted two hours and was delivered late in the evening in the galleries of the Sri Sathya Sai Hill-View stadium. The next day, we were to travel to Brindavan (Whitefield in Bangalore), as the school’s outgoing batch and seek His blessings.This was the practice - the outgoing students from Puttaparthi, Brindavan and Anantapur would travel to wherever Swami was and hope to elicit an interview or at least padanamaskar. The talk that Sailesh sir gave us was inspirational and full of the divine stories of Swami. He made one particular point that struck us and seemed to get enshrined in every listening heart.

He said, “Whether we stay with Swami or not, is not in our hands. If we are supposed to be away from Swami, even if we perform somersaults to stay on here, it will not be possible. If we are supposed to be here, however hard we try to get away from this place, it will not be possible. So, that is out of our hands. That is destiny. But we can decide what we feel and desire. We can have the intense longing to be with Swami always, irrespective of where life takes us. We can choose to give Swami first priority always. That is self effort. Take care of your feelings and desires which are in your control, life will take care of itself. “

At the end of that talk, everyone was wanting to be with Swami, irrespective of what they had originally desired or what their parents had planned. If fate/destiny would take them away, so be it but they would certainly not want to be away from Swami at any cost.

The rewards of the inspirational talk

Thus it was, that a bunch of highly motivated and charged up students made their way to Brindavan. In the morning, as we all sat for darshan, Swami came and made enquiries into how many of us had come and for what reason we had come. The darshan got over during which we had managed to hand over the bundle of letters that we had all written to Swami. Within a few minutes, we received word that Swami had called us all into Trayee Brindavan, His residence at Whitefield.  With great joy, anticipation and excitement we wended our way into the Trayee compound and entered the hallowed precincts of the building. The Jhoola or swing welcomed us and we sat around it. In a few moments, Swami arrived. As soon as He came into the room, He asked,
“How many doctors here?” 

Nobody raised their hands. Sailesh sir’s speech on the previous evening was obviously showing its effects. Everyone in their hearts was saying,
“Swami, we want to be with you.”