LIVING WITH GOD IS
all started innocently enough! Swami had just come out for
the Sunday morning darshan. The Sunday morning darshan is
always a little special, as all the students including the
Primary and the Secondary School students, both boys and girls,
come to Sai Kulwant Hall for the Divine darshan on this day.
As is His wont,
Swami came to the verandah to the sounds of Vedic chanting
by the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Institutes. Slowly He
was walking from one end of the verandah towards the other
side to talk and joke with the Primary School students. He
happened to see a High School student from overseas, chanting
Vedas with full feeling along with all His Indian brothers
and fellow students. Visibly impressed, Swami beckoned to
him to come up and listened carefully to the Sanskrit verses
rolling easily off the tongue of this young man from the United
Swami then asked him to turn and face the crowd and continue
the chanting in unison with the rest of the boys. Perhaps
Swami wanted to hold this young man up as an example of how
people from overseas come and drink deep from the fathomless
well that is the Bharatiya culture, whereas Bharatiyas themselves
neglect their cultural heritage and go West in pursuit of
the Almighty Dollar.
Swami then called another young primary school student to
come up and join this young man. Pretty soon there was a collection
of young students with varied backgrounds reciting the Vedas
in front of the thousands who had assembled in Sai Kulwant
Hall that morning. The entire assembled crowd listened spell-
bound and with rapt attention.
Swami. He was bursting with pride that some of the very youngest
of His students could recite the Vedas with such ease and
correct diction. After all, an important facet of the Avataric
mission is Veda Poshana or the nourishment of the Vedas, enabling
it to flourish without restriction or hindrance.
But the story does not end here. Swami then called an MBA
college student from the Institute and asked him to not only
recite the Vedas but also explain the meaning to the crowd.
This young man recited and explained the Narayana Upanishad,
the story of how the supreme person Narayana, willed to create
all the beings. All things and all beings emerged from Narayana.
Everything is sustained by Him and ultimately merges in Him.
Swami then called a Sanskrit teacher and
asked him to recite and explain from the Purusha Suktham.
mantra describes the greatness of the Purusha or the Cosmic
Person. It describes His omnipresence and omnipotence. From
Him is born the entire manifested Universe. From this Cosmic
person, all the Devas (Celestial Beings) are born. Then the
Devas performed a sacrifice (yagna). The Vasantha and the
other seasons became the offerings of this sacrifice. (Swami
then asked the teacher to name the six seasons, as they are
not explicitly named in the mantra. The teacher correctly
replied –Vasantha (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Varsha
(Rain), Sharad (Autumn), Hemantha(Spring), and Shisira (Winter.)
As there was nothing else, the Cosmic Person Himself became
the first ‘animal’ for the sacrifice. From that
Yagna is born everything. As the teacher explained this part,
Swami asked him, “What is the meaning of Yagna?”
The teacher replied that Yagna or sacrifice refers to all
the actions that we do. Clarifying, Swami replied, ”Whatever
we do, whatever we think, whatever we utter, should be considered
as the sacrifice. Without expecting any fruit of the action,
all actions must be offered to God. That is the true Yagna”.
What a simple explanation of one of the most profound truth
of the Vedas!
A subtle fact that perhaps eluded most devotees present there,
witness to the progression of these events on that day, is
Swami’s commentary on education. At the ‘primary
school’ level, it is enough to learn by rote with perhaps
some attention to diction. At a more advanced ‘college’
level, one should not only learn by rote but also understand
the meaning in full. At the ‘post-graduate’ or
‘teacher’ level, one should not only know the
literal meaning but also understand the inner significance.
Additionally, the ‘teacher’ should also have a
deep understanding of all connected and related material.
Compare this simple truth with the situation prevalent today
when all material is learnt by rote with the examinations
in view, and college students go to court if even one question
on their examination paper is from ‘out of syllabus’.
the story still does not end. On a couple more occasions,
Swami asked the same young man from overseas to come up and
recite in front of the crowd. On one occasion, while the young
man was reciting, Swami called up the ‘birthday boys’
to come up and receive His blessings. (Note: On their birthdays,
the students generally bring a tray with some cloves, dried
fruits, and chocolates, to be blessed as prasadam by Swami.
They also utilize this opportunity to give a letter to Swami
or else have His photograph autographed by Him). After blessing
the birthday boys, Swami asked the young man to stop, and
said, “Here boy, this chocolate is for you”. The
boy’s face lit up like a neon light, especially happy
that Swami had singled him out for this special attention
and glad that he was given the opportunity to contribute his
mite towards the Avataric mission.
The story still goes on. On New Year Day,
Swami called the young man, yet again, and asked him to chant
facing the mammoth festival crowd. Visibly nervous, he gamely
did his best, closing his eyes to shut the crowd out and concentrating
hard on the recitation to please his Lord. Swami also perhaps
chose this most auspicious day and setting to appropriately
reward this young man who had served Him well. Waving His
hand, He manifested a beautiful gold chain and personally
put it around the neck of this young man. What a beautiful
lesson to managers that you should publicly praise and reward
everyone who has served you well.
The story also has an interesting post-script. On January
12th, 2004, Swami gave a sudden, but welcome, discourse in
the morning. Touching upon a topic very dear to His heart,
He exhorted the students, “You must respect your parents,
whoever they may be and in whatever condition they may be.
You must respect their words and obey their commands, without
any reservation. Then only you will be able to command respect
from society”. Furthermore, Swami went on to explain
that the ancient traditions of Bharat are meant to promote
humility, respect and reverence among people. He also explained
that one must strive to earn the ‘grace’ of God,
whereas people these days are craving only for the ‘grass’
of worldly desires. Then calling this American boy to the
dais, Swami said, “This boy is securing first class
not only in studies but also in the study of the Vedas. He
has given immense joy to his parents with his good behaviour.
His father is very happy that his son has earned a very good
name and is appreciated by one and all”. Swami then
called the boy’s father, who was present in the crowd
up to the dais and asked him, ”Are you happy?”
In a choked, emotion-filled voice he replied, “Very
happy, Swami”. This moving scene is still etched on
The sight of this lanky Yankee kid with braces on his teeth,
but profound Sanskrit Vedic hymns on his tongue, and the sight
of his equally tall father answering Swami in a moving voice,
provided a simple but powerful imagery for the thousands to
remember Swami’s teaching that pleasing your parents
is what pleases God the most.
Yes, verily living with God is true education.
Heart to Heart captures for its readers these events and we
hope you are as moved by them as we are. Do write and let
us know. We can be reached at [email protected].