A CHILD AMONG CHILDREN
It is said that in the innocent and innocuous face of a child you can see the face of God. And how true it is! Even the reverse of this is so true. If you look at the face of God, you can see the clean and crystalline countenance of a small child. And why will it not be? For, there is so much likeness between the two.
Let’s just think, why are kids so lovable? Hmm ...Because they are so innocent. Because they are so pure. Because they have no grudge against anybody. Because they are so simple. Because they know no manipulation. Because they know no fear. Because they do not know what is ego. Because they love everybody. Because they play and frolic with anybody, showing no distinction. Because they know no hatred or greed. Because they only know to receive love and return love. Their mind is guileless and their heart, stainless. They can only spread happiness and joy all around.
And if you ponder for a while, you will agree that it is the same with God too. His love is as universal as the child’s. His heart is as pristine, His looks as serene, His nature as gentle, His words as simple and His smile, as exciting and as thrilling!
Just think of Swami. How unconditional is His love! Is it not His childlike simplicity that gave us such clear and candid dictums “Love all, Serve all”, “Help ever, Hurt never”? There is so much serenity and innate beauty in His face that you never get tired of looking at Him, gazing at Him for hours, day after day. You feel like forsaking a million years in heaven for just one look and a sweet smile from Him.
It is said, there are three things that a child is specialized in, which it can demonstrate at any time and which are worthy of emulation by the adults and the aged. What are these three great things?
First, to be happy for no reason. How true it is with Swami! You can never see a worried Swami or an unhappy Swami. He is always blissful. He needs no reason to be happy, just like a happy go lucky child. On His birthdays when devotees wish Him, “Happy Birthday”, often Swami has remarked, “I am always happy. I do not need an occasion to be happy. All these occasions are purely for your happiness and joy”.
Second, to always be busy with something. Swami knows no rest. He is always active. Always busy working for His devotees, sometimes apparent, sometimes not, just like the sun, the moon and the rivers. Never doing a thing for Himself. When someone asked, “Swami, why don’t you take some rest?” Swami said, “If I wanted rest, then why would I have come down taking this human form?”
And the third thing that a child can teach us, is to know how to demand with all his right that which he desires. What Swami desires, He demands it. But the only thing He has ever asked from anybody, is Love. And He asks for it with all His right. For He says, “Love is not your property. It is something which you have acquired from Me. And you must return it to Me”. And He knows how to get it from anyone he desires. He knows how to change the direction of Love of someone from world-ward to God-ward.
If you ever have been fortunate to observe Swami at close quarters or be with Him for sometime, then you probably would have experienced the ‘child’ in Him. And if you have not, then read on. You will know when God comes down in human form how childlike He can be!
When a kid sees a new object or something fascinating, what would he do? He would go round showing it to everybody and talking about it to everyone he meets until he is tired or he finds something else which is more interesting. Same with our Sweet Swami.
Once, an elderly member of the Sai family got a brochure to Swami which portrayed Swami’s plans of building primary schools for the poor children in and around Puttaparthi. Inside the brochure there was a particular picture which showed a little girl, who was sitting in the corner of a dark and decrepit room. But the room was not totally dark, for there was a beam of light coming from the ceiling and falling on the little girl making her bright and resplendent. The picture graphically sought to convey the message that the Educare programme of Swami is going to drive away the ignorance and neglect of the little children of Puttaparthi and the near by areas and provide them with quality education and love to brighten and lighten their lives. Swami, on seeing this picture, was so fascinated that He admiringly kept looking at it again and again, and then got up taking the picture in His hand. He went around showing and describing the picture, giving full explanation of the inner import of the picture again and again to each one present there, in an enthusiasm that was so childlike.
Once, when a large group of children from England visited Him in 1978 taking with them seven sacks of ‘presents’ for Swami (to be given to the needy), Swami took out and examined all the gifts – teddy bears, toy trains, cars, toys, even clothes-pegs and a packet of weetabix breakfast cereal! – and as He was taking them out, He kept on saying in wonder, “And is this for me, too?” to the childrens’ great delight. And it did not stop at that, He later took all the children to the garden and for their amusement made a beautiful tiny shiny rabbit sit on the crown of His hair! “When among children, I am a child,” Swami has declared and how wholly and solely He became one with them on that occasion.
And what to say about His childlike playful nature? Which to narrate and which to exclude? Each one is so charming, so enchanting! Shall we talk about how He used to throw snowballs at other members of the group who had the privilege of visiting the Himalayas with Him in the sixties. Or, the incident in which He entered Prof. Kasturi’s house from the back door and suddenly came from behind him and covered his eyes with His hands saying, “Guess who?” Or, the occasion when He avoided the students on His arrival to Brindavan in the end of March one year and made them do lot of ‘soul searching’, only to mischievously smile and say the next day “April Fool!” Shall we talk about the incident when He asked Prof. Kasturi to come for a ‘very important’ photograph, and after Prof. Kasturi stood posing towards the camera in his best attire with a big toothful grin, how Swami clicked the button only for Prof. Kasturi to screech in horror and shock as a cotton mouse jumped from the camera and bounced on his neck! Or, the occurrence in Ooty, where, in the midst of school boys, He took an empty tetrapack, blew it to the full and quite nonchalantly placed it on the ground and stamped on it zestfully for a glorious ‘thud’! Or, the incident when He came to the college grounds one evening to watch the college band rehearsal and asked them to play a number when suddenly the drummer found his stick missing and ran helter-skelter searching for the stick, Swami patiently waiting till He returned. And when he returned empty-handed and crestfallen, Swami gave him a sweet reprimand and then with a mischievous smile gave him the stick which He had been holding all the while keeping his hand behind!
Or, Shall we go back to His younger days? How He used to suddenly disappear on the way to the river Chitravathi and after everybody gave up searching in sheer fatigue, how suddenly He would come out of a near-by bush crying “Boo!” to everyone’s wonder and utter disbelief! How, when Sakamma forced Him to take a tablet one day, He, like a good boy swallowed it and after Sakamma went with a triumphant smile, How He tucked at His robe a few times and the tablet rolled down to the floor sending everyone there into peals of laughter! Or, how He used to go near a couple chatting in whispers and from behind tie the end of the man’s dhoti with the hem of the woman’s saree to their shocking embarassment! Or, slip out of His room in the afternoons to the Chitravathi sands much against the wishes of Sakamma placing two pillows in the middle of the cot and spreading a blanket on it for it to look from a distance as if somebody was sleeping. Or,.…well, there is no end to the childhood plays and pranks of our Lord. We had read about a few pranks of Krishna in the Bhagavatham, but the plays and antics of this Sweet Sai Krishna are countless. One can go on and on.
There is no better testimony of Swami’s childlike innocence than if you ever have seen His face, when He is handling a new gadget or device. That innocence and helplessness pouring out of the charismatic eyes! The master of all creation bewildered at a petty so-called creation of man! He is truly the master of creation and master of illusion at the same time.
But this childlike nature of Swami, is always accompanied by great wisdom and startling revelations.
In 1983, there was a small exhibition organised by the students in Brindavan. After looking through the various displays, Swami then came to the last item, which was a burgler alarm. There was a beam of light and when it was interrupted, the alarm went off. So one of the students said, “Swami, please put your hand across the beam”. Swami did that. But nothing happened. The boy thought that something must have gone wrong with the equipment and just to check, put his own hand.The alarm rang. Perplexed, he requested Swami to put His hand again and Swami lovingly obliged. But the alarm did not ring ! The boy was dumbfounded. The students there looked at each other. Everybody was clueless and helpless. Swami then smiled sweetly and said to the boy, “I am not that kind of a thief. I am ‘Chittachora’ – the stealer of Hearts.” What a way to reveal Himself!
Similarly, once a devotee had got a new car for Swami. Swami went round the car, looking at it, examining it, showing it to people around Him just like a child who had found a new toy. The devotee who was watching Swami’s enthusiasm got a little carried away. Feeling proud, he said,“ Swami, this car is one of a kind in this world.” And can you guess what was Swami’s reply? Swami looked at the gentleman and said, “This Sai Baba is also one of a kind in this whole world”. Now a child,now a God. Now so innocent. Now so scholarly. That is God in Human form.
When we see a child, what do we do? We watch it, love it and admire it. We want to be pure and innocent like it, we want to caress it, we want to be with it, we cherish our moments with it.
It’s exactly the same way we must do with our dearest Swami who is so sweet and so childlike. Let us watch Him and enjoy. Let us cherish every moment we spend with Him. Let us aspire to be like Him. Let us simply love Him.
Our life will then be a child’s play!