Prasanthi Diary
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Seek Divine Grace for Success

It was the battle of Kurukshetra. The two mighty armies of the Kauravas and the Pandavas were facing each other. A deathly stillness was in the air. It was the eerie silence that precedes the mayhem and gore to follow. The silence and tension was so palpable, it could be cut with a knife.

Just before the signal for the attack could be given, there was a little stir in the ranks of the Pandavas. Yudhistira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers and commander-in-chief of the Pandava army, got off his chariot and slowly but deliberately, walked across the no-man’s land separating the two armies.

Tying a red ribbonWhat was going on? Did Yudhistira lose his nerve? Is he going to surrender, before a single arrow could be fired? No. Even in the tension filled last moment, even in spite of the war setting, Yudhistira, the very embodiment of dharma, was holding fast to tradition, and respecting Bharatiya culture. He was crossing over to get the blessings for victory in the war from the very elders who were now arrayed against him. From his grand-father Bhishma, now the commander in chief of the Kaurava army, from his gurus Dronacharya and Kripacharya, and other elders who had joined forces with Duryodhana, his arch enemy. And history records, how that one single act of asking for the blessings from the elders enabled the Pandavas to conquer all odds and ensure victory in the battle that followed, a battle enshrined in the history books as a victory of good over evil, of dharma over adharma.

While this scene represents an extreme, which perhaps almost all of us will never face, the philosophy behind the act gets repeated often in myriad different ways. Our hearts beat for You

The setting was Sai Kulwant Hall, February 2004. It was the Study Holidays, the calm before the start of the mayhem to follow in the guise of the CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Education) examination. (Note: The CBSE is a common All-India Public Exam conducted for the students of the 10th and 12th Grades of all the High Schools affiliated to this Board. This year about 900,000 students from all over India took this exam.) While students all over the country were busy studying and preparing hard, the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School were literally singing, singing a bouquet of songs to please and earn the blessings of their Lord before this all important examination, the first real test in their young lives.

Expressing their love for HimAfter getting permission from Swami, the young men had prepared and come ready to Sai Kulwant Hall. They brought not only their musical instruments but also a collection of writing pens (that will be used by them in the examination) to be blessed by Swami. These young boys also wrote poems expressing their love and gratitude to Swami for the countless gifts and intense love that He had showered on them during their sojourn at His Lotus Feet during their entire schooling. They wrote this in beautiful calligraphy and tied a red ribbon around it, to make it presentable to Swami. Another young boy had handcrafted a violin that could be opened out to reveal his feeling for his Lord.

The normal time for Swami’s arrival had come. Expectations were heightened. Last minute instructions were whispered. Throats were cleared. The tension was reminiscent of the start of the Kurukshetra war. Pens to be blessed by the Lord

But no Swami yet. More time passed. Swami still had not come. But there, His car has just been spotted. He had gone to inspect the Sai Sreenivas Guest House, to ensure it was okay to receive the Prime Minister of the country who was due to visit the Ashram in a couple of days. The Veda Chanting started, a sure sign of His imminent arrival into Sai Kulwant Hall. But lo and behold. His car is not turning into Sai Kulwant Hall but going away - back to His residence, back to Poornachandra. The Veda chanting also stopped seeing the car turn away.

Singing His praiseA deep silence pervaded the atmosphere. The disappointment was deep. Was Swami angry with us? Did we offend Him? Eyes were closed in deep heart felt prayer, expressing the intense longing of their young hearts to have Swami come and receive the bouquet of songs that they had composed and practiced for Him. The paper on which they wrote their poems of love to Him was unfurled. Hearts drawn in red ink were added to the text and perhaps a teardrop or two. But Swami, as only He knows, did not respond immediately. That evening, He came and went straight into the mandir hall and sat for bhajanPresenting their poem to Him, ignoring completely these young men waiting outside for Him on the verandah.

It was a long night of introspection. And intense prayer. And hard practice to perfect their rendition. And more prayer. For the only thing that can win the Lord’s heart and secure His Grace is intense heartfelt prayer from deep within. As Ramakrishna once explained, “When you gasp for God with the same desperation as a drowning man gasps for air, only then will God reveal Himself”.

The following day, a sacred silence hung easily on Sai Kulwant Hall. The hearts and minds were now one-pointed in their yearning for the Lord. Will He come and bless? Swami’s car was approaching and the Lord was all smiles. He was happy in His success; that He was able to foster devotion and get these young boys to think so intensely about Him. And now He was here to reward them for their efforts.

Recounting their experiences with SaiComing to the verandah, He stood for a moment and looked very benevolently around at each and everyone of the High School graduating class. He swayed for a moment, hands upturned in His characteristic manner listening to the resonant Vedic chants. He then gestured for the boys holding the tray of pens to come forward and blessed it - thus ensuring their success in the public examination!!

Now that this temporal business was taken care of, the real business could start. And what followed was a real love feast, a divine romance, indescribable through mere words, but something that could only be experienced and tasted through being there.

The boys sang a song first expressing their love for Him. While the song was going on, another boy got up and gave Him a sheet of paper that had the lyrics written on it in beautiful calligraphy (red hearts included) so He could follow easily. Another boy then got up, while the song was still being sung and presented Him a red rose. At the conclusion of the song, yet another boy got up and recounted a stirring experience during his sojourn in the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. And so it went. Song followed by experience, followed by song and so on.The coveted group photograph

The tales were different, spoken in a babel of tongues (English, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada etc), but the language of love was the same. All spoke of their love for Him and His Love for them. All expressed that though they were away from home they were never homesick, for He took care of them with the love of a thousand mothers. They spoke of how He encouraged them, ceaselessly looked after their welfare, and nourished them when they were sick or unhappy, understood their needs and really cared for them, as even their mothers could not.

Some were humorous. Some were poignant. Some were heartrending. But all were uplifting, for the speaker as well as everyone blessed to be there.

One boy spoke of his first grade class. Every day at darshan, Swami would ask the kids, “How many idlis did you eat today?”. The answers were invariably one or two, for that is what these 6 year olds could manage. Swami’s answer would be, “Why so less?” So one day this young boy decided that he would please Swami by eating four idlis. As you might imagine it was quite a feat. After the second one he was feeling full. The third one was all that he could muster and he was ready to be sick. He could not however bear to break his resolution as well as waste the fourth idli on his plate, so with great effort he managed to finish the fourth one and dragged himself and his bloated stomach to Sai Kulwant Hall for morning darshan. He was sure Swami would ask him how many idlis he ate and knowing that he had eaten four would make Swami happy. But Swami just went past him without even a glance. He was disappointed. What a waste of my hard work, he thought! After sometime Swami came near the boys and called for a few primary school kids to speak. As always, the boys came one after the another and astounded the audience with their oratory skills. Suddenly, the boy saw Swami beckoning to him to speak. The boy started speaking in a feeble voice. Swami immediately said, “Boy! speak up, loud. Did you not eat four idlis today !”. Yes, mother knows everything!

Another boy spoke in Telugu about how Swami cured him of an acute attack of eczema. He tried a number of medicines and treatments – all in vain. Often, he would get up at night crying with pain. At times it was so severe that even sitting and standing was very painful and unbearable. The boy suffered thus for almost a month.

One day this boy celebrated his birthday by bringing a tray of goodies to Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami normally blesses these “birthday boys” and accepts their letters. Swami beckoned to all the birthday boys to come forward. This boy availed this opportunity to tell Swami about his ailment. In all concern Swami asked him, “Since when have you been suffering?” “Who has been treating you?” “What actually happened?”

After giving a patient hearing to the boy’s woes, Swami asked him full of motherly love and care, “Why didn’t you tell me all these days?”

And then it happened. The Lord’s Hands began to move in a circle and out poured the mother of all medicines, the Holy Vibhuti Ash. He gave it to the boy and assured him that everything would be all right.

The boy began to take the Vibhuti regularly. And the disease that had plagued the boy for 30 days just vanished within 3 days of taking the vibhuti.

Loving gaze on the studentsThis is just another testimony of His Benevolent Grace and Immense Love for all.

Another boy spoke about the saga of White (students) and Orange (Bhagavan), a saga of Divine Love. He narrated the experience of a boy who once told Swami, “Swami, I am willing to do anything for You. I am even ready to die for You!”
Bhagavan looked deep into the boy’s eyes and said something that will linger in the hearts of all forever. He said, “ I don’t want you to die for me. I want you to live for Me”. Such is the love the Lord has for His students - His children and His property.

Swami was very happy with the students. Benevolently, He posed for group pictures with all the students. And then He stood and gazed lovingly at all of them for a long time.

And this love story went on and on. The following day it was the turn of the graduating undergraduate class of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. And then the postgraduate class. Soon it was the turn also of the graduating girls from the High School.

This “ceremony” marks the rite of passage for a Sai student. While students in “advanced countries” celebrate their school leaving in what is called the High School prom, an expensive and rather licentious practice, the Sai student feels privileged if he could just sing for Him. Their expression of love and recounting of warm memories stirs devotional feelings not only in the students but also in all the staff and devotees present.

And so passed another day at the Lord’s feet. It was another reminder that the true rite of passage is when you remember the Lord incessantly. When you remember that the only real purpose of life is to reach Him. And you can achieve everything if you just win His Grace. For He is all that matters.


Volume - 2 Issue - 7 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004