Volume 6 - Issue 10
OCTOBER - 2008
One day, years ago, Swami distributed amrita (nectar) to all of us. I don’t recall if He said anything specific about the significance of Amrita. He just said we were all very fortunate to receive it. Looking back, what I have understood now is this: We always operate from the level of body consciousness - “I think”, “I do”, “I listen” and so on.
What is He trying to do? Remove the body consciousness from our minds and reveal to us, our atma swaroopa (our true form, which is of the Self). Amrita has a very significant message. An often repeated prayer goes Mrityorma Amritangamaya (Take me from death to immortality).
Death is limited to the body; there is no death for the soul. Swami has come to dispel our body consciousness and reveal our atma swaroopa to us. What is atma? It has no roopa (form), but it is immanent in the body as infinite power. So, He says, “You have all the power in you, you’re immortal! Then, where is the room for fear or anxiety?”
All of us, sisters, (Rani Maa and her sisters) are indeed blessed! We did not come to Swami to ask for help with material issues such as health or wealth. We took to the path for spiritual help alone and came to Swami only with that purpose. He would Himself enquire if we had any physical problems concerning our health many times. But we never initiated such conversations.
Transforming Ignorance to Bliss!
When we visited Kodai Kanal in accordance with His direction, Saroja, a friend of ours, stayed with us. She would return every day from Swami’s darshan and cry inconsolably. We asked her why. She said, “Swami has been ignoring me, He never looks at me nor talks to me”. This went on for a few days and she confided the cause of her anguish to several of us. We tried to provide many possible explanations to her that Swami was doing this for her own good, and that she must learn to accept it. But she was unconvinced and felt there must be a meaningful explanation behind Swami’s behaviour.
Since we ran out of options, we prayed fervently to Swami to grant the right explanation to Saroja. Following the prayers, I had a dream, in which Swami said, “Pass on this message to Saroja: I know she is crying and this will console her. When the master of the house invites guests, will He attend to His family members or will He attend to the guests? Those who are close to Me, who are family members, should not think I am ignoring them! You are like gopis, you live for My sake; always thinking about what you should do to please Swami. You are family!” When I woke up in the morning, I related this to Saroja and she was overjoyed.
In a recent discourse, He said old devotees must not expect anything and make place for newcomers gladly. The fresh ones should get an opportunity to be educated and guided by Swami. He told me personally as well: “Rani Maa, you have received so much! What more do you want? Make place for newcomers! Be contented and happy. Do not envy others. They need My guidance. You have already received it. Now, you must live it!” The last interview I received was in 1984!
More Self-Cultivation, More Grace
It is pertinent here to also mention something else that Swami has said. “If you haven’t practiced what I told you the first time, I will ignore you”. This is much like going to school when we have not done our homework! Supposing He says, “Love all serve all”, and if we go back, get angry at home picking up quarrels with everyone, not helping others when the opportunities arise, and so on; what is the use of going back to Swami for more upadesha (advice)? He will not talk to us again until we have practiced what we have received.
Atma (Self) gives us the power of wisdom and strength. In every family, we may love some members more because they are kind, while we may love others less, because they may be callous. But we cannot do that! Swami says divine love is unconditional, human love is conditional.
“Why are you bothered about how others are? Be concerned with how you are! If you want My grace you must cultivate unconditional love! Love everyone equally and unconditionally”. Our being good will help us grow spiritually and not help others a great deal. If we do well in class, it will not help someone else to do well. They must make an attempt on their own; if they wish to do well, they have to practice.
Practicing True Wisdom
In a letter, Swami talks about “Communion with Bhagavan”. He says, “You must keep talking to Me always”. Since you are practicing and experiencing His presence as pure consciousness in you all the time by talking to Him, this becomes meditation! What is pure consciousness? It is the knowledge that body has no great importance but is an encasement of atma - the pure consciousness.
Once He told old devotees who would clamor for His padanamaskar (to touch His feet) and run after Him constantly: “Why do you run after My physical body for paadanamaskar? You can always visualize Me in your heart, and do any number of namaskaars (prostrations). That yields much better results because you are doing it in your spiritual consciousness rather than the physical consciousness”.
Why do we run after Swami’s physical form? By doing this, we not only limit ourselves to the body, but limit Swami to His body! This is no jnana (wisdom)! This is ignorance. This is why Swami says bhakti (devotion) must progress hand in hand with jnana (wisdom). Dhyana (meditation) must follow Jnana and bhakthi. What is dhyana or meditation? It is not being seated in a posture. Until you go deep within and be completely in tune with yourself, it cannot be dhyana.
It can at best be contemplation; not meditation. Dhyana comes after years of sadhana or spiritual practices. Swami says, “First practice being in My presence”. If you are constantly talking to Swami in your heart, where is the need for you to go to Puttaparthi and get an interview to talk to Swami? He is your maata, pita, bandhu, sakha (mother, father, companion, friend) - your everything. So, open your heart to Him and share everything. You must develop the conviction that He is in you.
I get so many experiences despite not going for darshan for days. I probably go two to three times in a month now. I do not talk to Swami physically, or give Him any letters. When you get jnana, He helps in you in many wonderful and special ways, and makes you feel joyful. In my sisters and my case, He has taught us in stages. When we started, we would offer flowers, camphor and other paraphernalia. Even at that time, He told us to read a minimal number of books. He would say, “Books that carry Guru’s upadesha (advise) and Swami’s books will help you”. He has His own ways of giving you messages at the right time – He will give you messages through books.
I don’t buy any books these days. There are a few published recently, that are very informative - “Sai Darshan”, “Saicology”, “Sai Sandesh” to name a few. Sai Sandesh is very helpful in understanding the set up here. The author explains why the set up in the Prasanthi Nilayam ashram is the way it is. We get disturbed if a particular individual or an important person, at times, is given preference in the ashram.
What happens in Prasanthi Nilayam is not our concern. We must leave it all to Swami. He says, “Do your best and I will do the rest!” He expects a very good performance from us. He says, “You must do three-fourth of self-analysis and one-fourth should be sadhana (spiritual practice)”. Sadhana can be japa, dhyana, bhajan, reading and self-introspection – how did I behave today? Did I help or turn away anyone who came to my door seeking help? Was I kind to everyone? We must wipe out differences in our perception. Advaitam (Non-duality) is nothing but unity. Pray for even the terrorists!
This is more in tune with spiritual understanding. Swami says: “You are all playing a role on the stage of the world. When you are acting, do you concentrate on how the other person is performing? You must focus on how you must act out your role successfully! You’re on the stage only for a short while. You have to perform every role well. But, if you identify yourself with any of the roles, you will be disappointed. Stay focused on what is happening on the inside. Don’t worry about the events on the outside.”
Have Faith in Sai’s Compassion
Let me narrate an incident that vividly demonstrates Swami’s omnipresence. My son was about 8-9 years old then. We used to live in Nagpur. My son had the habit of riding adult-sized bicycles; although he had one that was much smaller in size, he didn’t like it. One day, he had gone to play with his friends riding a big cycle and carrying a football in his hand.
After they were done, he was on his way back home. He wasn’t even tall enough to sit on the vehicle properly and reach the pedal. So, he was standing on the bicycle and pedaling while balancing the football in one hand. And then, he lost control of the bicycle near a big culvert.
The football fell from his hand and got in front of the bicycle which came crashing down on him. He was bruised all over and covered in mud. Fortunately, all his bones were intact. He came home pushing the bicycle, a short distance from his friend’s house where he had been playing. Upon seeing him, I was shocked and upset.
I called a doctor immediately who arrived after a couple of hours to examine him. By this time, my son had developed a fever. The doctor said this may be septicemia, which could be fatal if not treated soon. He advised that the medicine needs to be administered without further delay.
Unfortunately my husband was away at the time. The doctor said he could not get the medicine as there was a strike in the city, and there was no stock of this drug in his hospital either. He said that I would have to procure it as quickly as possible somehow! My immediate thought was, ‘How can I leave my child alone and go?’ I prayed to Swami for help. Soon after, Madhavi, a friend of mine, who was at the nursing college, came home on some work. I entrusted the child to her care, thanked her profusely, took a peon of our house in our car and drove to the chemist. The shop was closed, and the chemist was not around. I went to his house and found that he wasn’t there either.
Swami always tests how persistent you are! His help always comes at the last minute, after you have tried your best!
I met the chemist’s wife, Mrs. Bannerjee, at his house and asked her about his husband’s return. She said he had gone to supervise some work at the hotel that they ran, on the top of the same building where their shop was located, and that he should be back by about 8 p.m. I sat there praying to Swami. Just before 9 p.m., a gentleman came and said to Mr. Bannerji’s wife, that her husband needed the keys to the shop.
Someone else needed a medicine urgently. Mrs. Bannerjee gave the key to the gentleman who had arrived on a bicycle. I told him that I would follow him in my car to the shop. And so, I met Mr. Bannerjee, who gave me the medicine, and then, I rushed home and administered it to my son. He regained his health after a few days without any complications.
A couple of months after this incident, my sister, Prathima, who lived in Delhi was on her way to Puttaparthi for Swami’s darshan. Before proceeding to Puttaparthi, she stopped for a few days to stay with us at Nagpur. Only later I came to know what transpired with her in Puttaparthi. Upon her arrival in Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami called her upstairs, and asked, “How is Jawahar (my son)? Is he alright?” She was surprised by the question. She asked, “Why do you ask Swami? He is alright”. He said, “Don’t you know? He met with a serious accident recently. Rani Ma didn’t tell you?”
She said, “No, Swami! Please tell me what happened?” Then, Swami narrated the entire incident to her in this manner: “He was riding a bicycle and fell down. He would have sustained a head injury which would have been very serious. But, since Rani Ma is constantly praying to Me to protect her children, it is my duty to do so. I instantly knew that he was involved in this accident, I went, took him in my arms and saved him from the mishap.”
Conversing with God is Meditation
This proves Swami’s omnipresence. All I was doing was talking to him all the time and praying to Him, to protect my children. This is what Swami means when he says, “Talking to Swami is meditation!” Contacting Him as antaryaami (our indweller), and constantly praying to Him for guidance and support is meditation. What is meditation? Having God’s presence in our hearts and forgetting the world! It is asking for guidance in every act we need to perform all day. It is to keep appealing to Him, and seek His guidance. As you develop spiritually, your own inner voice will guide you on what to do.
I no longer perform worship with lamps, camphor and other paraphernalia. He will guide you. Swami helps you and sends you messages through a song, a book, or someone. All the three books that I mentioned earlier, “Sai Sandesh”, “Sai Darshan” and “Saicology”, came to me at home. I did not go and purchase them. These have been of great help to me spiritually.
When you are constantly saying, “Swami, help me grow spiritually, let me please You in everything that I do”, He helps you spiritually. This song below was taught to me by my granddaughter who studied in Swami’s school. “Duniyaa ne chadaaye phool tujhe, khud ko chadaane ayi hu” (The world has offered you flowers, but I have come to offer myself). Each stanza in this devotional song is pure advaita (non-dualism). I feel uplifted when I sing this.
An elderly person told me that her whole body aches in pain. She said her painkiller is to talk about God. When she does that she does not feel any pain! So, she constantly wishes to talk about God. This shows she has evolved to that stage and is sincere. Swami says, “Be simple, sincere and make your best possible effort - and watch how I will take you up!”
‘I cannot let them down!’ - Baba
My daughter and I were keen that my grandchildren study at Baba’s school. I was keener than anyone else in my family. However, my son-in-law didn’t like the idea of sending them to Puttaparthi. He felt that they will be misfits in the real world if they got educated at Puttaparthi, and that their approach and understanding of life would become very different. So, he did not want to send them to Swami’s school. Although they are my grandchildren, I could not force them to take a decision against his will. So, I decided to pray to Swami. I went to Puttaparthi alone, took up a room and prayed for 40 days for Him to grant the opportunity to my grandchildren to study near Him. After this, I asked my daughter to talk to her husband again. When she did, he said, “Perhaps this is good, let us try it”. His opinion had changed!
My daughter proceeded to apply for admission. Dhruv, my grandson, was in his 8th class, and my two grand daughters were in the 6th and the 7th class, studying in Valley School at Bangalore. My daughter was informed that she would receive a card for Dhruv to take a test/interview. One month before the date of admission to the school, my daughter said, “Amma (mother), take Dhruva to Puttaparthi and coach him in English, general knowledge and other subjects, since I have to stay at Bangalore”. So, my grandson and I arrived at Puttaparthi, a month before the admission date. Swami gave me a room in the south block; it was a nice room, and was very close to the Mandir.
So, we settled down. A few days before the day of admission, at about 9 p.m., when we were about to go to bed, someone knocked. When I opened the door, he said, “Please send your grandson with me immediately. Mr. Kutumba Rao wishes to speak with him”. I wondered why Kutumba Rao (the secretary of the ashram at that time) wanted to talk to my grandson and offered to accompany him. But he insisted that Mr. Kutumba Rao wanted only Dhruv to go. So, I sent him with the gentleman. Upon his return, I asked him what the conversation with Kutumba Rao was all about? Dhruv said he was asked all kinds of questions.
On the eve of the test day, we had still not received the card! Anxiously, I checked with my daughter, and she said she had not received it either. On that day, I sat in the front line. So, when Swami approached, I asked him: “Swami, you gave us permission to admit Dhruv, but we have not received a card. How can he take the test?” Swami said, “No card? Don’t worry about the card! Send him to the test without the card”. I persisted, “Swami, but he will be in trouble! Without a card, they will throw him out”. Swami said, “Did I not tell you? I will take care of it; let him go and attend the test”.
Next morning, I sent him without the card for admission. Nobody stopped him and the moment they heard his name, they let him through. Finally, he went to Mr. Habbu, the principal. He invited him in. He wrote the test and was admitted to the school!
It was only later that I came to know what had transpired. Mrs. Habbu was a good friend of my daughter’s mother-in-law, who had been living at Puttaparthi for a long time. When Mrs. Habbu visited her, she mentioned to her how lucky our family was! And then here is what had happened: Swami personally went to the school in His car and told Mr. Habbu, “Tomorrow, a boy named Dhruv Subbayya will arrive for admission without a card. Admit him. Whether he passes or fails in the test, you must admit him! Do you know why? Because that family is very close to Me and I have to do this for them. I cannot let them down!”
See how important talking to Bhagavan constantly is! I didn’t go back just because I didn’t get the card – see what faith can do? Look at His compassion! He personally went to the school for this one student! He lays down His conditions for receiving His compassion in the book, “Sai Darshan”, written by Mrs. Seema Diwan. It is an enlightening and inspiring book. It explains what we must do to receive maximum grace from Him, and be a good devotee. It is very difficult to meet the conditions He has laid down. But if you meet those conditions, He promises that He will constantly take care of you! You will have 24x7 service from Swami! This is a promise directly and authentically from Swami Himself! Reading the book is not enough. Putting it into practice and living by those conditions is what gets us His grace.
(To be continued…)
Vol 6 Issue 10 - OCTOBER 2008
Best viewed in Internet Explorer - 1024 x 768 resolution.
Story from Heart to Heart E-Magazine:
© H2H 2007