Volume 11 - Issue 01
january 2013
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Posted on: Apr 03, 2013


Law, love & life:
Learning it all from the lord

Conversation with Mr. Nimish & Mrs. Kamala Pandya

Part - 5


part 2 part 2 part 2 part 2 part 2

NP: In fact, I like the way Swami used to say “why should you mortgage your happiness to anybody else?” This applies to every relationship. In the case of a couple, why should the wife mortgage her happiness to her husband? Or why should the husband mortgage his happiness to the wife? Why should a mother mortgage her happiness to the child? Why should a father mortgage his happiness to a son? Why should the employer-employee relationship be mortgaged? The fundamental objective is for me to be always happy. And that happiness stems from the ability to be at peace, which in turn comes only when you put your conscience into action. I think this is the true sadhana that Swami has always been telling us about.

All the prayer, bhajan, nagar sankeerthan, seva, study circle - all these things that Swami has taught us in the organization are geared towards one thing – to be at peace, to be able to quieten our mind and hear Swami from inside.

If you cannot listen to Swami from inside, you can never hope to hear from Him outside. This will never happen. Yes, for 80 years, this was given to us as His grace on mankind, but now we have come down to real brass tacks. The voice of Swami will always come from inside. The organizational activities, the sadhana that Swami has given us must be practised if we are to hear His voice - a voice that will always make us happy, never sad.

KM: So well said.

NP: When you lose somebody physically, say your wife, husband, mother, father or you lose money, don't get your desire fulfilled, your expectation doesn't get fulfilled - all of this will not bother you if you fundamentally choose to be happy all the time and tell yourself that you don't want to be unhappy and don't want to experience lack of peace.

KM: It is the mind that makes us dwell on the negativity. And, it is up to us to draw it away.

NP: We must do that because that’s the factor which keeps you away from Swami and takes you away from Swami's love. If you control this mind, then the conscience takes over completely and you would have no problem in life. Whether you're sitting on the footpath and eating a chappathi or you're in a five-star restaurant having dinner, both will be equally happy for you. This sense of equanimity is most important. The ability to be peaceful both in happiness and sorrow is vital. And, this will come only to a person who makes it a goal of his/her life. There cannot be two ways. I cannot say I love Swami and not do what Swami says because that is going to make me quite unhappy.


KM: I think that's where the root problem lies.

NP: Yes, that’s a fundamental reason. We find ourselves in an unhappy situation or in a depressed state of mind only because we profess to love Him but do not practise what He says.

KP: There are no two ways, there is just one way.

KM: You can't be riding two horses.

NP: So, if you decide not to follow Swami totally, then you must face the vagaries of life and be tossed around like a football. Having faith in His message is important if we are to achieve our inner balance.

KM: In other words, if somebody is going through a period of obstacles and disappointments, we must accept that phase as His will.

NP: All our obstacles and disappointments are born out of expectation. I expect that I must get this job. I expect that I must make that much money, I expect that person to be just to me, I expect gratitude for what I have done for someone – all these are expectations that we set up. One of the best things that profoundly impacted me from Swami's earlier life is the first picture I got of Swami. It had a quotation — “Forget all the harm that others have done to you, forget all the good you have done to others.”

Now, this has been a tremendous anchor for me in life because all problems arise primarily out of our inability to forget both. We need to drop the luggage that we carry in our mind in order to achieve the peace that eludes us.

KM: Are you really able to live up to this dictum from Swami?

NP: Not really, I am not able to forget all the good that I've done to others and neither can I forget the harm that others have done to me. But the moment I am able to forget, I'm a king.

KM: The trick is to drop all your anxieties by the wayside.

NP: Correct.

KM: Do you both argue with each other?

KP: Lots. I am the one who argues the most.

NP: I can never win an argument with her.

Swami Inaugurating Sai Shruti Studio, Dharmakshetra (Mr. Anup Jalota on the right)

KM: So, now we know who is the better lawyer of the two!

NP: Absolutely. The gold medallist is the better lawyer. I have to draw from Swami's grace.

KP: Swami keeps telling me, “Bahut bahut argue karti hai, bahut argue karti hai” (You argue a lot, you argue a lot). I cannot help it and I feel a compulsion that if we don't speak out, it will be worse. Internalising and keeping everything in the heart is not correct. What is the purpose of living together if you cannot express? I am quite watchful, more discerning and can figure out something is wrong by the mere flicker of the other person’s eye; instantly I go on the alert mode.

Presenting Dramas Before the Divine Playwright

NP: And, Swami would always add fuel to that fire. I remember, in the earlier years, she was on the National Board of Education and all the ladies got called to Ooty. The moment she reached Ooty, Swami rubbed it into her — “Your husband is very jealous that I didn't call him and I called you”. Not just that, Swami’s constant rhetoric would be: “You better tell him. Your husband is not listening to me”.

At Ooty , Mrs. Kamala (third person to the left of Swami) with the National Board of Bal Vikas with Swami

KP: (Laughs) He would do this more during the Aashadi play rehearsals.

NP: Swami would find mistakes with the costumes we made and everything that we did.

KP: On that particular instance, it had to do with the voice recording. The buffalo's lip-syncing did not match with the Veda chanting. Swami even came to me in the Kulwant Hall and said: “Tum udhar nahi aaya?” (You didn’t come there for the practice)

I said: “Swami, all boys are there. I am with the girls.”

And He replied: “Achcha, husband ko dekhaa udhar. Woh practice karta hain lekin voice match nahi hota hai.” (Okay. I saw your husband there. Practice is going on but the voice is not matching), referring to the lip movement of the buffalo and the Vedas the buffalo was supposed to be chanting.“Tum bolo, woh mera nahin sunta. Tum bolo usko.” (You tell him. He doesn’t listen to me. You tell him to make the buffalo's mouth sync with the Veda chanting correctly).

NP: I regard it as a rivalry between two directors. He was a superior director. He'd always find fault with whatever I did. I got His kudos only once, for a play called ‘The Supreme Verdict’. This had to do with the court of duality convicting the Advaita chap and the Advaita court convicting the duality chap.

The Supreme Verdict - Ashaadhi presentation of the year 2004

There is a jury of Ramanujacharya, Sankaracharya, and the others, and another jury with all the saints. None of them could come to a conclusion and ultimately they say, “Let us leave it to Bhagawan because it is His message that is important”. When we staged this play, Swami was very happy and called me on the portico and said: “Achcha kiya.” (Well done).

KM: So you did get your commendation from Him?

NP: My award came only once and after a lot of attempts (Laughs). He was very happy. My greatest joy with Aashadi was that He would always look forward to it. I would even say that most of my learnings about Sai's philosophy have been through the Aashadi dramas.

KM: These were huge, Broadway-like productions. How did you do them? You had children from different parts of Maharashtra, Goa, all coming together?

KP: It was all about teamwork. We had a good team. Dancers, lyricists, the actors, costumes, stage props. We would put it all together in about four weeks – four Sundays actually.

Swami blessing the Bal Vikas children during the Aashadi Festival

NP: The most unforgettable production was the play that was based on the cosmos. We staged this twice, once in the Hill View Stadium and the other time in Mumbai. We had the countries of the world come together to put up this cosmic play. Swami and I used to enjoy the fact that we could do something different all the time. I would often wonder why He allowed me to direct so many dramas. And, then I realised that Swami always knew I wanted to be an actor, not a lawyer.

KM: Now that’s interesting, tell us more!

NP: I remember when I finished higher secondary in 1969-70 with brilliant marks, I didn't want to join a regular college. That was when the Film and Television Institute of India was set up in Pune. I filled up the form to train as an actor. But my father was extremely opposed to the idea and we would have huge arguments. He had decided that I should become a lawyer, while I resisted the idea.

KM: Your dad was a lawyer himself.

NP: We are a family of lawyers. And, somewhere in my mind, I didn't want to disappoint my father. So, I would attend the law college but remained very unhappy within. In fact, those three to four years of studies in the law college were my very sad years when I didn’t have much purpose in life and simply drifted. When I met Swami, I gained some solace. But, even then, things were not all that easy because my father had a better audience with Him. Once, he went and told Him, “Swami, this boy is not working hard to become a lawyer.” Swami instantly picked it up with me and asked, “Kyon? Why don't you want to become a lawyer?” I just replied, “Swami, why are you starting all this now? I am just handling this issue with my father and I don't want you to start all over again.” But He persisted. So now, the situation turned from arguing with my father to arguing with Swami. I said, “Swami, law is very boring. What a useless profession it is! I've seen my father struggle. I don't want to study.”

Swami watching the Bal Vikas Rally at Dharmakshetra, Mumbai

KM: So, how did you manage to graduate as a lawyer then?

NP: Whenever Swami constantly repeated that I should become a lawyer. At one point, I even tried an alternative strategy and said: “Swami, you say lawyers are liars!” To that, he said: “No no, you don't worry about that, become a lawyer.”

Those were the days when the awe of Swami's divinity had not really sunk in. It was more like friendship that we shared.

Summoning all my courage, I pushed for the final line of argument and said, “Swami, law is such a boring subject. Even if you read, you will not like it Swami, it's that boring. I am studying so much but cannot remember a word that I am reading.” He said, “Oye! You continue studying, I will remember the rest for you.”

KM: Nice arrangement!

NP: This conversation that I had with Swami “You study” was during my final year in law college. The last paper was on my specialisation - criminology. As I didn't have the textbook, I had not studied, I had not even gone to college. I was even worried that my attendance would go against me. But Swami had told my father, “Chinta nahi karo. June mein lawyer banta hai.” (Do not worry. He will become a lawyer in June.) I would tell myself: “What's wrong with these people, I don't understand. I don't have a book, I have not studied. How could I ever become a lawyer?” In my mind, I was telling Swami, “Swami, people say your word comes true but this one time, I'm sorry, I am going to be instrumental in proving that your word does not come true.” I went to the exam just out of sheer respect for Swami and my father. I had not studied at all. I went to the examination hall and sat there. The question paper was handed to me. Obviously, I didn’t know anything because I had not studied. And, I smiled to myself instead of feeling bad.

KM: That you would finally prove Swami and your father wrong?

NP: I thought to myself, “Swami, what are you going to do now? Dad, what are you going to do now in this situation?” As I was a little ashamed to leave the examination hall immediately, I decided to wait for 15 minutes before I slipped out. After some 15-20 minutes, I picked up the question paper and read the questions again. Out of the 14 or 15 questions, around 10 or 11 were all based on ‘Why is there an increase in crime among children and women in India? Why is there an increase in delinquency amongst children and women in India?’

These had nothing to do with law, but as a keen follower of Swami's message, I remembered a discourse that He had given on family as a unit of the society. When the family is a strong unit, when the mother is taken care of, the child is taken care of, the woman as a sister, the woman as a wife, all protects everybody, the family protects and there is no crime. In the West, when the family unit breaks down, everybody gets exposed, there is more crime. And the same is happening to our society in India. I reproduced that discourse in many, many ways in my answer sheet and I passed.

NP: The situation was as if Swami was saying, “Dekha? Tum nahi padaa, phir bhi main yaad kiya!” (See? You didn't study, still I remembered!)

KM: Amazing.

NP: Although I became a qualified lawyer, Swami knew my heart was in drama. And that's why He gave me a life-long opportunity to put up plays with children right through the years thereafter. I've not missed a single year since.

KM: So you have it both ways.

NP: I became a good lawyer (even if I have always believed that my wife is the better one).

I am proud of the fact that I'm an intuitive lawyer and not an intellectual lawyer. I have always believed that intuition is a far greater gift of Sai than the intellect.

Swami at Aksa, Mumbai

"Swami's Every Word is a Promise" - Baba

KM: Swami has visited Mumbai several times and you have always been actively involved in all these visits. Could you share with us some of your memories of interacting with Swami?

KP: This was before we got married. On 11 May 1983, we had the foundation stone laying ceremony for the EHV Building. Swami came in the morning. We had a performance by the children from the Sathya Sai Dharmakshetra School. It was hot and Swami got upset that the children were exposed to the heat. He fired Nimish and told him to stop the performance.

While passing by me, He asked: “Husband kidhar hai? Aata hai? Ghoda par aata hai ki cheenti par aata?” (Where is your husband? Is he coming? Is he coming on a horse or on an ant?)

Later, during a meeting with the EHV faculty members, I saw Swami firing him again. When we went up to the Sathya Deep Hall, I was seated right behind. It is a very small room, so I didn’t push myself to come forward in the line.

All of a sudden I heard Swami’s voice from behind: “Bombay Bal Vikas kaisa hai?” (How are you, Bombay Bal Vikas?). He said this from the door, as He was entering.

When I heard Him saying that, I started crying. By that time, He had already walked up to me and said: “Father kidar hai?” (Where is father?). I said, “Swami, he wanted to come but cannot. All the creditors are after him.”

He asked: “Aisa kaisa?” (How can that be?)

Swami immediately turned to Indulal Shah and said: “Indulal, today is 11th, a Wednesday. Friday, 13th May I'll go to Borivili.” Then he turned to me and said: “Friday 13th May, tum tumhara mother aur father ko leke aao. Swami baat karta hai.” (Bring your mother and father. Swami will speak.) I said: “Swami, but the creditors are threatening to kill my father.”

He then turned back and told Indulal: “The car will not wait down. Gaadi seedha upar aayega.” (The car will come directly up.)

So, we had a blanket permission to just walk into His interview room. He had asked us to come at three in the afternoon. By 2.15, we were all waiting for Swami to come out of His room.

Speaking in the divine presence at Dharmakshetra

KM: Swami had asked the car to come straight to the driveway of Dharmakshetra, so people could not see you?

KP: He used to go from His room to Anand Kutir for interviews, lunch, tea, dinner. There's a small, little aisle where He would walk across and converse with people on the way. We were seated there. And, Swami came charging like a bullet, straight to where my father, mother and I were seated and said: “Kaisa hai?” (How are you?) “Money comes and goes. You have not cheated anybody. So, why are you worried? Worry about Kamala. Now, it is time to get her married.”

My father said: “Swami, we don’t have even one rupee to get her married.” To that, Swami said: “Why are you worried? I will give money. Don't worry. Get her married fast.” He then told my mother: “Kitna worry karta hai! Swami ka ek ek word promise hai maa, ek ek word! Same boy deta hai!” (How much you worry! Swami's every word is a promise, mother, every single word. I will give you the same boy!). Saying that, He rubbed Vibhuthi on her eye. That moment proved life-altering for me.

From that day onwards, everything was on fast track.

  Outside Satyadeep , Swami with the Bal Vikas children

He told me: “Don't worry. I will take care of everything.” So, we went to Prasanthi without anything. We came here on 5th June without a sari, without a ring, without anything. I just had a pair of earrings. We had spent Rs. 60 per person for the train ticket.

Baba in Dharmakshetra

NP: I have always found Swami to be very happy and enthusiastic whenever He is at Dharmakshetra. I remember His child-like innocence. Many years ago when He came, there was this public meeting in the Shanmugananda Hall, which is a very huge auditorium in Mumbai. He was going to give a discourse there to teachers from the municipal corporation schools and I was the Master of Ceremonies. Swami gave a powerful speech and was very happy. During the darshan time in the evening, at Dharmakshetra, He came hopping and skipping down the staircase like a young kid. He then came running to me and asked: “Nimish, main kaisa baat kiya?” (Nimish, How did I speak?)

I was stunned for a moment because that was the last question I expected Him to ask. I said: “Bahut achcha baat ki.” (You spoke very well.)

Dekha? Aisa baat kiya sab teacher abhi change ho jaayega overnight.” (See? I spoke in such a way that all teachers will change overnight). He was so excited about education and about transforming the way we teach.

KM: And, He wanted your feedback on how His speech went.

NP: Imagine Swami was so child-like and enthusiastic.

He wanted reassurance that He had given a good speech. He also used to be very happy with our Bal Vikas programs. If you have seen Satya Deep, there are lawns outside that can accommodate nearly 3,000 children.

KP: We used to have question and answer sessions there with Swami. He used to dearly love that ambience and interaction with children.

NP: I remember just two or three years years ago, before He left His physical form, Mr. Ratnakar came to me and said: “Swami is asking when you will be doing that question and answer session again?”

It was so touching that Swami was recalling those days. I said: “We will arrange one very soon.” Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to do so.

A Profound Lesson for Every Bal Vikas Guru

It was on one such occasion that He gave Kamala and me a huge life lesson. And that lesson is relevant not just for us, but for all Bal Vikas gurus across the world. This function had just got over. And I was arranging everything. Just before entering the guesthouse for His breakfast, Swami turned at the gate and asked for me. I went in running. There were a lot of big shots and the so-called senior devotees standing around Him. I too stood in front of Bhagawan. It was a public interview kind of situation where everybody's listening.

Swami turned around and asked me: “Kitna bacchaa tumhara?” (How many kids do you have?)

Swami blessing the Bal Vikas children at Dharmakshetra during the 5 D's Rally

We had been married for just 2-3 years then and didn't have children. So, I said: “Swami knows that I don’t have children."

He repeated: “Tumhara kitna bacchaa?” (How many children do you have?)

Again, I said: “Swami, you know I don't have children.” Again, he insisted: “No, no. Tumhara kitna bacchaa?” (How many children do you have?)

I was helpless and embarrassed by now. Yet I said: “Swami, you know I don't have children.”

So, here I was arguing with Swami with everybody watching me. The conversation between Swami and me went on for some time until He said: “Why? These 3,000 children are not yours?”

That was like a shocker. I felt as if I had flunked an exam, completely taken aback. But then, I had to recover myself. But Swami did not stop with that. He made sure that I had learnt my lesson well. In the evening, He came down for darshan time. Before the curtain opened, He walked over to where I was standing and said mischievously: “Nimish, kitna bachchaa?” (Nimish, how many children?)

I meekly said: “Swami, 3,000.”

KM: Ha ha ha. (Laughs)

NP: It didn’t stop there too. Swami threw another googly. He said: “Nahi, tumhara kitna? How many of yours?” I didn’t want to sound stupid again and repeated: “Swami, 3,000.” Even to that, He asked: “No, how many of yours?” Again I said: “Swami, 3,000.” He made me repeat that umpteen times to din home the point. That day, it was as if He said: “You Jolly well understand that all the kids in the world, every Bal Vikas child is your child and not one of them is away from you”.

Bhagawan presiding over the rally by the Bal Vikas children at Dharmakshetra

KM: Swami’s way of teaching is indeed class apart.

NP: He's so much at one with us that He does not like us to say things like ‘sorry’, ‘beg your pardon’ or ‘thank you’. He does not like such formalities because He believes that He and you are one.

I remember, I was in the interview room with Dr. Mistry and Indulal Shah. We were discussing some organizational issues. Suddenly, He changed track and enquired about my father and younger brother Mayur. On behalf of the family, I thought it was probably a good time to beg pardon for all the mistakes done by us during this lifetime. I made the mistake of saying: “Swami, Kshama karo.” (Please forgive us.). To that, an amazing reply came from Him. He smiled broadly and said: “Poora kshama? Why kshama? Poora shareer kshama hai” (Total forgiveness? Why forgiveness? This whole body is forgiveness.)



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