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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 bhajan,
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.
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 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.
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
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.