Volume 6 - Issue 08
AUGUST - 2008
MY DEAR SAI – ALWAYS INFALLIBLE
Ms. K. Saidutta
A Relationship with God, Right from Birth
This personal story is not an account of any extraordinary experiences of a devotee with Swami. It is, on the contrary, about a simple middle class girl from Orissa (a state in the east of India) who experienced God and His omnipresence, and later learned to love His uncertainties, delays and denials. However, unlike the many other mortals in this world, this girl was quite lucky.
She was inducted onto the “Sai Path” right from her birth. She grew up with complete faith in Swami. She was taught that Bhagavan was the head of her family, and that He loved her as if she was the only one to be loved on this earth. She was told that Bhagavan was her only true friend, her Sathya Sakha, who would be with her forever come what may. She learned that it was okay to shed tears and pour her heart out before Him, and that He will always be there to take care of her.
Over the years, her bonding with Swami grew stronger. She started having everyday conversations with Swami’s photos – talking, chatting and praying to her best friend. While she never got instant replies and never saw any Vibhuti materialize from His photos, her prayers never went unheeded. They were always answered… just that they were either “Yes, granted”, “No, this is not for you, my child”, “Wait, this is not the right time” or “Take something better, dear”. In all, her Lord always kept her happy and satisfied.
A few more years and the girl grew to become thankful to her parents, who introduced her to Swami and showed her the path to the ultimate happiness. Her family was different from the ones her friends had. Her parents were always involved in Swami’s service work. She had a father who was blessed to serve as a district president, a mother who was a Bal Vikas guru – a family she knew was the blessing from her dear Lord Sai.
Sacred Blessing as a Babe
Her years of emotional proximity to Swami, however had its roots in an experience which she had when she first went to Puttaparthi. It was the year 1988; the girl was only two years old, when her parents took her to Puttaparthi. Her father was praying that his daughter be blessed with Bhagavan’s divine touch. But then do we not know that Swami answers prayers only when the time is right? In her case too the right time had not yet come. Her father had to wait patiently, and so he did.
Days passed, but Bhagavan did not bless the girl. And then, when it was time for the family to leave, their last darshan, Bhagavan blessed the girl! Walking amidst the devotees who stretched their hands out to their Lord with lips bearing silent prayers, eyes wet with tears, who were trying to touch the Lord’s Feet, Swami slowly walked towards her father. He glided near and nearer… came right in front of her father, took the slate he was holding and wrote the magical word - OM.
That marked the beginning of a life that had found its meaning. Needless to say, that slate since then has been one of their treasured possessions, and even today is preciously preserved in the family’s pooja room or altar, with the date – 16-08-88, written behind it – a day, which is etched in their hearts forever. The girl was indeed lucky.
She grew up learning devotional hymns, bhajans, attending Bal Vikas and not to mention the frequent trips to Puttaparthi and Whitefield. She was also formally inducted into music, so that she could sing bhajans with more finesse. But testing times were up ahead. The girl attended a normal convent school, where only a few had heard of Swami’s name, and to her despair, many others spoke ill about her beloved Lord Sai. Initially their irresponsible remarks made her furious and she went into heated arguments, but later she learned to exercise restraint. She realized that people cannot develop faith in Baba, unless He wills it so. She reminded herself of the divine quote: “Even hundreds of horses cannot pull them near Me if I haven’t called them” and thus taught herself to accept the invisible and inscrutable ways of the Lord.
She loved listening to Swami’s miracles, the various touching incidents of God’s supremacy and love; the miracles at Swami’s Hospitals and His University – the Sri Sathya Sai University. She resolved to herself that she had to get a seat in Swami’s college. This was her life’s dream – a dream that appeared far but yet reachable if her loving Lord willed it. And thus began a quest that, with time, would teach her many important lessons.
Modeling Herself on the Divine Pattern
Right from the time when her neighbour got admitted into Swami’s college, when she was in the tenth grade, her every wish, prayer and efforts were towards getting a seat in His divine college. She wanted nothing else; she wrote no other college entrance examination. Her quest to study in Swami’s college was so intense that even when she was in school she learned to wear a saree, inculcated the habit of rising up early in the morning for Suprabhatam, grew her hair long, developed a routine of saying morning and evening prayer – to sum it up, she left no stone unturned to tell her Lord that she wanted to study in His college.
She spent a lot of time drawing His pictures, collecting His articles in a diary given to her by her father. She wanted to show that to Swami some day. She had a strong feeling that Swami will surely call her.
Finally the day came when she filled up the form for her dream Institute, for a normal graduation course that some of her friends aspiring to be engineers or doctors failed to understand. And then began the days of long waiting hours and sincere prayers. Each time someone rang the house bell, she used to run to the door to see whether it was her call letter. But that day came soon. April 9, 2004 was the day when destiny knocked her door - she was finally holding her call letter that day. She was elated so much so that her mother warned her to keep her excitement low – she still had a long way to go, this was after all just her first step.
The girl and her father left for Puttaparthi to appear for the entrance exam. But at that time Swami was in Whitefield. They planned to go there only after her entrance exams were over. Her exams were on May 1, 2004. As soon as she entered the college campus, she fell in love with everything she saw there. All the classrooms had Swami’s photo and everyone present had a friendly smile that carried the holy name -“Sairam”. She immediately felt at home. She felt she was born to come there. Her finished the exams and her prayers became more and more fervent by the hour. She promised Swami that if given a seat she would utilize those three years to her best.
The Unexpected Blow
The results were to be announced the next day. Both the girl and her father went to the college to check the results. Students, who would clear the entrance test, had to face an interview before their admission is confirmed. Her faith was so high, that she had even prepared for the interview! But she never got a chance to face the interview panel. She had failed to secure a seat in the college. Unable to believe her destiny, she checked and rechecked the entrance results sheet… her name was not on the list.
All her dreams were now shattered. She could not contain her tears; she held her father’s hand tight, but that was not enough to weather the emotional onslaught. Even her father was equally hurt but he had to stop his tears to support his daughter. He was choked with emotions but he couldn’t cry out loud, for his daughter’s sake.
The two of them decided to leave for Whitefield; they had no energy to walk back to their room. But they somehow managed to pull themselves together and collect their belongings. In the meanwhile, the girl came to know there were many students who didn’t want to study in Swami’s college but were selected. She could not help but wonder at her Lord’s uncertainty. On their way to Whitefield, both father and daughter, could not stop weeping; they cried till there were no more tears to shed.
They were speechless, everything seemed dark, pitch black ahead. They reached in time to have Swami’s darshan in Whitefield. On seeing her Lord, her best friend, her tears flowed out with more vigour. Her mind had umpteen questions for Swami. Did she not deserve to be Swami’s student? Did Swami not love her? Why did Swami call her this far then? Why did her eyes see such dreams that were never made for her? However, all her questions were left unanswered then.
On returning home, she hugged her mother and cried her heart out. Her mother had accepted Swami’s Will and smilingly embraced her daughter. She taught the girl to accept Swami’s Will for whatever He did could only be right for her. The girl’s mother told her that Swami had come in her dream and given her His most assuring million-dollar smile. In the dream, she was fortunate enough to get a chance to sit in the first row and received the sacred Vibhuti from the Divine hands.
The dream happened on the night before the girl came to know that she had not been selected in Swami’s Institute. The mother taught her daughter that since joy and sorrow come from the same source, both should be accepted with a smile. Those were the most difficult and unforgettable times of this girl’s life.
But we all know that it is only in difficult times that we grow as individuals, and so was the case with this girl too. She got immense support from her parents and some of her friends. Her parent’s devotion was questioned. People around her felt Swami had sent her back, rejected her - she was unlucky. But her father explained to her: “My dear, staying at Anantapur/Puttaparthi/Whitefield and abiding by Swami’s teachings is an easy task, but staying among the people in the outside world and not only abiding by His teachings, but also spreading them is comparatively difficult. So be happy and grateful that Swami has chosen you for a difficult task.”
A Stalwart Promise
That day she made a promise to herself that she will be no less than a Sai student. She will make her life Swami’s message. The only aim of her life will be to participate actively in Swami’s grand mission, much like the squirrel who tried to help Lord Rama (in the epic Ramayana). After that she read her first book on Sai Literature -“Sai Baba - Man of Miracles” written by Howard Murphet. It was then she understood the difference between listening to Swami’s miracles and reading about them.
She no longer wondered why her father was so fond of collecting those books and spent ample amounts of time with them. One of those countless books was “Sathya Sai Speaks - Volume II”.
That was a special one. It contained our Beloved Mother Sai’s signature in the first page -“With love, Baba”. These are their priced possessions that include the pen Swami had used that very day. These books helped her recognize the countless miracles occurring around her.
Despite the initial setback, she had managed to get along with life. While some of their family friends suggested that they try again, the girl was sure that she wouldn’t come back empty handed even if she did not succeed in getting admission. She made her last efforts, sent a fax to Swami and hoped against hope to get through this time.
She got a chance to interact with the Registrar of the Institute. But yet again she had failed to secure a seat in Swami’s college. She returned, but this time not empty handed, for now, she had a promise to keep. She thanked Swami for calling her twice in the same year to His ashram.
With a new-found vigour, she moved ahead with life. She joined an engineering college at Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa. To her hostel, she carried a photo of Swami along with her. Through her, her roommates heard about Sri Sathya Sai Baba for the first time. Her friends started joining her during evening prayers. They loved to hear the Suprabhatam. One day, a few students beside her room, on hearing the Vedic chants, came in and showed interest to hear more.
They enjoyed listening to bhajans too. She realized that each person on this earth has a spiritual being hidden in them, they just need to identify it – that there were no atheists even if some claim to be. Life rolled on and soon came time for exams. There were many students brighter than her in the class but she managed to be the second best in her batch of over 400 students. Swami had indeed blessed her. How dare she feel that Swami had left her?
She was again assured that Swami and His love was always there for her. Inspired to live His message to perfection, she later joined a group of students who taught the little children in the slums. The group was named “Prayas - an effort”. Her parents who were involved in such noble activities at their hometown, Nalconagar, inspired her. She enjoyed spending time with those children.
Who is a Sai Student?
Once when her younger sister had gone to Puttaparthi as a part of the group III Bal Vikas students’ visit arranged by the State Samithi, the participants got a chance to interact with Professor Anil Kumar. During the course of the interaction, her sister asked the Professor – “Sir, when Swami refers to ‘My students’ does He mean only the students in His Institute?” And then came a reply from the Professor which answered all the doubts and questions that had bothered the girl when she had failed to get admitted in Swami’s college.
Prof. Anil Kumar said that each one of us is Swami’s student. He further explained the difference between “Swami’s institute student” and a “Sai student”. The former, he explained, is one who is a student of that Institute for a certain period of time and the latter is one who surrenders at the Lotus Feet for the entire lifetime. She realized that the Lord assigns different jobs to each of His children.
Next, came the campus selection, a process in which students get job offers from companies in the final year of their college. Yet again Swami’s grace came in abundance. She got through at the first company (Tata Consultancy Services) that visited the campus. Thereafter, the girl’s family planned to visit Shirdi and Puttaparthi.
After darshan in Shirdi, they went into the village to visit the houses of those fortunate people who had the chance to be a part of Shirdi Baba’s leela. They visited Shyamaji’s, Laxmiji’s house and saw the nine coins (representing the nine forms of devotion) given by Baba to Laxmiji that are preserved by their grandchildren. They were on a spiritual high for their stop was at Puttaparthi. A few days later, after returning from Puttaparthi she received a great gift. She got the chance to touch the auspicious orange robe given away by Bhagawan in a District President’s meet at Puttaparthi to her father in August 2007. This added to their most priced possessions.
Living Swami’s Teachings
In the meanwhile, back in her college with the help of friends, she initiated a movement to help underprivileged students. They called it - TOMS (Tomorrow On My Shoulders). When they had started they had nothing but a few dedicated students. But slowly as the project took shape they were bestowed with many helping hands. They had decided to survey different orphanages in the city. And in the very first orphanage they visited, Sri Anand Mission, Bhagavan proved His omnipresence. When she spoke to the owner of that mission over the phone, she got to hear the same friendly holy name -“Sairam”. Wherever she went she saw Swami’s photo already present there, giving her the same mysterious smile as if it was Swami’s plan to call her there.
Soon time came to leave the college. In the four years at college, she had earned love of many hearts and respect from friends and juniors alike. But while she had won her friends' trust, she had also brought a smile back to father, who was glad that his daughter would be returning home. What more she could ask for? She had managed to build a small Prashanthi around her. She was proud to be a “Sai student”.
The girl now firmly believes that “God is too wise to make a mistake; He is too kind to punish us.” He mends our plans to make His - and His plans are Masterplans. She had realized that God knows what suits each devotee and gives them only what best fits their need - not their desires. Who are we to dispute Divine Providence?
The girl confessed that she did not understand what salvation meant, but she knew that life spent under the divine Lotus Feet of Swami was no less. With Bhagavan’s grace she has grown to accept the Will of the divine which works through mysterious ways.
The girl is none other than me, Ms. K. Saidutta, named after our Beloved Mother Sai. I offer my sincere thanks to all those readers who had the patience to go through this article and I hope it will inspire many to accept everything that comes in our life as God’s gift, as God can only do us good all the time, nothing else. Sairam!
Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like to share you feelings with us? Please write to us at [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.
Vol 6 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2008
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