Volume 8 - Issue 03
March 2010
Other Articles

Simple Days, Simple Joys of Serving Sai –
Anantapur Campus Notes

Vignettes of a life dedicated to women’s education – the inspiring example of
Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna

 
 

Travelling with Swami

I have not travelled extensively with Swami, but the few times we accompanied Him were truly special.

In 1975, Swami blessed nine of us with an opportunity to accompany Him to Mumbai. We stayed for a week at Bharati ya Vidya Bhavan. Every day a fter breakfast, cars would be arranged to take us to Dharmakshetra, about 40 kilometers away from Mumbai. Swami is such a caring person that one day during our stay He sent us cars and told us to go shopping!

 
Bhagavan Baba, flanked by Dr. Jayalakshmi Gopinath (on His right) and Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna on His left

As Nagpur is close to Mumbai, I asked permission from Swami to visit my mother who I had not visited for four years, since 1971. Swami immediately made arrangements for me to go to Nagpur , while the rest of the teachers went to Shirdi .

In  1976, Swami held a summer course in Ooty . He made wonderful arrangements for our stay there for about 21 days. During this course, Swami gave discourses on the Mahabharata. One day, Swami even arranged a picnic in Nandanavanam. We had a lovely time, taking pictures and soaking in His presence to our heart’s content!  

However, one of the most cherished experiences was our trip to Kodaikanal in 1989. About four of us impulsively decided to go to Kodai when Swami left for the hill-station in the morning. We arrived the same evening and quickly reached His residence Sai Shruthi to attend the bhajan session.  

At the end, Swami came out to give darshan to everyone and when aarti was going on, He noticed us sitting out. He went into the bungalow and sent word that we should come in. As soon as we went in, He asked us where we were staying. We said, “A nearby hotel.” Swami immediately sent some vadas (a south Indian savoury snack) and coffee for us. He must have realized that we have travelled the long distance and must be tired and hungry!  This was another message that we received that day - that when anyone comes home, we must first ask them what they would like to have.

Not only did Swami make sure we were well fed, He sent one of the devotees to pick our luggage from the hotel and accommodate us in a house on a hillock behind Swami’s bungalow. With His grace, we had a memorable stay at Kodaikanal. The devotees tended to our needs and we had the privilege of sharing all our meals with Swami. Not just that, Swami would make sure that He served at least one item on our plate every day, with His own hands!   Imagine, God serving with His own hands? We were indeed living a miracle!

Living the Blessing

Swami has blessed me in so many ways. From the first year itself, He would call me for the distribution of prasad or other articles. He would never call anyone by name; instead He would beckon with His finger. Several times, I have stood near Him holding the bucket full of prasad in the Poornachandra auditorium and He would throw ladoos this side and that to all the devotees.

 
During laddoo distribution in PC Auditorium

Narayan Seva (mass distribution of food and clothes) would be held during Dussera time in the Hill V iew stadium. It was plain ground back then and would be filled with at least 10,000 people.

We would seat them in rows, arrange plantain leaves and water for their meals, and wait for Bhaga van to come there after the morning bhajans in the mandir. I say this with all humility that even there, Bhagavan has given me the opportunity to hold the bucket with prasad and serve rice to all the people. He has also granted me the blessing to distribute saris and other gifts.

Some days back, I shared these memories with my students and showed them the photographs that I have with Swami. More recently, during Dussera, Swami called me to the portico and told me to distribute two saris to each student.

Somehow, I have never feared Swami. The others recognized this attitude in me and would make me speak up whenever we needed to convey something to Swami. I have worked with four Principals and none of them regarded me a mere Assistant Warden.

Abiding Source of Care and Compassion

 
 
Modern facilities in Anantapur campus

Swami does not visit the campus these days. He has, however, in His own quiet way introduced so many improvements for our convenience. We now have cooking gas, vegetable cutting machine, atta or dough mixing grinder, bread ovens and other facilities for mass cooking.

We also have two fans in every room. He has provided the biotechnology lab with the latest equipment. Recently, Swami sent a laptop each for all M. Phil and Ph. D students.

The library roof top has also been renovated. Earlier, it had those corrugated sheets which would get very hot. Now, we are waiting for Bhagavan to inaugurate the multimedia and language lab, which is one of the first of its kind in the country. Our students are doing very well outside and the name of Bhagavan’s institution brings instant recognition.

 
Hands-on learning encouraged and facilitated
by Divine Chancellor

All of us who are fortunate to have stayed in Bhagavan’s proximity owe so much to Him. It is important to remind ourselves that we must not fret too much if He does not talk to us or look at us at times.

Such thoughts should never cross our mind. We should quietly take Him within and sincerely do what has been assigned to us.

The world is keen to join Bhagavan in the gram seva (village service) that He has initiated.

But, Swami has entrusted the responsibility of that project to His students and teachers because He knows they will put in their best efforts. In doing that, He is also allowing us to experience the joy of selfless service or seva.

Epitomize your Culture, Promote Modesty, not Vanity Says Swami

 
 
Swami interacting with students
during early years

I must reiterate Bhagavan’s focus on our Indian culture. Swami detests aping the West blindly when it comes to dressing. He says, “Stick to your culture. Do whatever you have to do in your own way. But don’t give up our culture and values.”

Swami stresses on ‘kattu, bottu and juttu’. Kattu is the way we dress, and bottu is the bindi or kumkum, which is auspicious. He says kumkum is mainly made with haldi or turmeric powder. It is roasted to a brown color and must be kept on a particular place in the forehead.

Juttu
means long hair. A lot of people these days prefer to cut their hair short; Swami is very particular that all sumangalis (married women) should maintain long hair, wear bangles and wrap their saris around their shoulder.

First Be, Then Do, Then Say

Earlier, Swami used to write letters to the Principal Mrs. Mukherjee. As she couldn’t read Telugu, Dr. Hemalatha, the then Vice Principal, would read them out for her. In His letters, Swami would say that both the children and the teachers should participate in the bhajans. “The teacher must first practice what she asks the children to do. Only then will the impact be effective,” was His advise.

During the bhajan sessions, Swami would go around the group and check if the students were singing with their mouths open and if their claps matched the beat. He would tell everyone to sing together, regardless of whether they had singing talent or not. This is another message that He subtly conveyed, that we should not bother about the others and give 100% of ourselves to our participation.  

During the prayer hall talks, Swami would tell the students to smile and not laugh. We continue reminding the students about these divine directions as many of them these days may not so fortunate to receive it directly from Him.

He is Ever There, Everywhere

Swami has not visited Anantapur since 1989. It is, however, important to remember that Swami is omnipresent and omnipotent.

Dedication personified, Mrs. Pushpa Ramanna remains steadfast in her commitment to Bhagavan's educational mission

He knows everything that goes on in our minds; we need to be conscious about this fact. And, if we work sincerely and selflessly for a cause, there is nothing that Bhagavan will not give us. It’s not material things that one must seek from Swami; His love and grace are precious jewels that will draw us forever to Him!

It is also important to keep in mind that whatever we do must be done to perfection as Bhagavan Himself is perfection personified. All of us are extremely fortunate to have come to His Lotus Feet and must consciously channel our thoughts and deeds to live up to His expectations, and involve ourselves in seva or selfless service in every simple way, and every single day.

Sai Ram!

 
 

- Heart2Heart Team

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