Volume 12 - Issue 07
July 2014
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Posted on: July 12, 2014

Sai Sadguru – The Preceptor Unparalleled



Go to Part 01

sai sadguru

This happened in 1971. The Guru Poornima celebrations were on in Prasanthi Nilayam. As always Swami was extremely busy attending to the thousands of devotees who had gathered.

When Does The Lord Rest

During this period, one morning when Mr. B. V. Ramana Rao went up to Swami's room, he saw that Bhagawan's robe was wet with sweat; Swami looked visibly tired. In fact Swami had a late lunch that day as He was busy all morning personally distributing theertham (sanctified water) and granting pada namaskaram to at least 2,000 lucky souls. Once He started at 8.30am, Swami did not stop until everyone had their share of the special blessing. He continued to walk non-stop for three hours, bending and pouring with a silver spoon the aromatic ambrosia into every cupped hand, one after another. For the devotees it definitely was a unique gift of darshan, sparshan and ethereal prasadam!

Mr. Ramana Rao had the opportunity to hold the silver bowl as he walked behind the Lord. The previous night itself Swami had instructed him to inform every person in Prasanthi Nilayam, whether they were car drivers, washermen, cooks, elderly devotees, the disabled or the other residents - all of them were to be in the Mandir by 8am the next morning.

Once the distribution concluded, Swami again enquired with Mr. Ramana Rao if there was any one who had missed. Only when He was completely satisfied did He enter the interview room. Here, He conferred this blessing onto the cupped hands of Mr. Ramana Rao too, and lovingly accepted the handkerchief he offered. Bhagawan used that white linen on His soft face and returned it as His gift to him. Then He retired upstairs.

sathya sai baba

Those days Mr. Ramana Rao, along with another dear devotee Mr. Khayal Das, had the chance to 'assist' Swami during darshans by holding letters, carrying the vibhuti bag, etc. Every afternoon he would be ready by three and wait for intimation from Swami to go upstairs.

That day he guessed Swami would take a longer rest than usual before He emerged again for evening darshan. So he leisurely sauntered into the interview room past 3pm. But as soon as he stepped in, he was summoned to Swami's room. 'Bhagawan would most likely still be resting today, probably darshan will be postponed’, he guessed. But when he reached His presence, he was flabbergasted, actually a bit shocked. Swami was not only not resting but was fully ready and eager to step out; in fact He had been waiting for him since 2.30pm!

Mr. Ramana Rao tried to quickly recover from the jolt, and assiduously placed himself near Him and started massaging the Lord's feet. When his mind calmed down, he decided to wait for an opportune moment, and then spell out to the Lord what was troubling him within. He wanted to say, “Swami, you already had a busy morning, and in fact had your lunch so late. You were so tired... and now again you are about to go out. You should take time and relax...”

Even as he was thinking thus, Swami asked him to go down and wait for Him to come down. Now he could withhold this feeling no longer and blurted out, “Swami, please do not go out for darshan this evening. Today please take some more rest.”

puttaparthi darshan
Mr. Khayal Das is someone whom Swami entrusted with many important responsibilities

The moment Swami heard the word 'rest' He instantly retorted, “Rest? Rest is rust. Have you ever seen Me taking rest? Change of work is rest.”

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “In all the three worlds, there is no duty binding on Me. There is no need for Me to undertake any task. I am under no compulsion to do anything. Yet, I am always engaged in constant activity.”

The only One in this world who is beyond the karmic cycle and has no obligation to busy Himself with anything, works incessantly on His own volition, only for others welfare. Whereas we, who have plenty of duties and rightful responsibilities, at times want to take it easy. Isn't this something to think about?

Recalling that moment, Mr. B. V. Ramana Rao told me how he has personally been a witness to Swami never taking a moment to simply relax. “I can tell you with firm conviction Swami never sleeps. God never sleeps!” he went on, “I was fortunate to sleep inside Swami's room for 28 days in 1993. I would be lying down perpendicular to Swami's cot, and I have never seen Him sleep. Even in the middle of night if I went out to use the restroom He would be watching. He was alert and active, 24 hours a day, always.”

sathya sai baba darshan  

Who Sees Whom During Darshan

Again, on another Guru Poornima day, now in 1976, Swami had spent the entire morning visiting the new houses that He had constructed for the harijans (economically most disadvantaged section of Indian rural societies).

A flood in River Chitravathi had washed their huts away, and Swami had now built for them permanent structures. Not only this, Bhagawan had also provided employment to every one of them by assigning them work inside the ashram premises. That morning He had gone to personally assure them that He is always with them and would look after their welfare in every way. The delight that he lighted in the hearts of those hapless people was a sight which would make even the most depressed person on earth blossom into a smile.

Yes, they were so happy. Even the Lord was ecstatic; He revelled in their happiness and spent 3-4 hours with them, talking to them, moving from one house to another, listening to their woes, blessing an infant here, caressing a child there and so on.

That afternoon, when Swami asked Mr. Ramana Rao to go down and wait for Him, this time again he could not contain his anxiety and insisted, “Swami! Please do not strain yourself more...this evening do not venture out for darshan please.”

Hardly had he completed his prayer, Swami shot back, “You think all these people have come for My darshan? Are they here so that they can see Me? Wrong! Absolutely wrong.”

Mr. Ramana Rao was bewildered. 'If all these people are not here for Swami's darshan, then why on earth have they gathered?! Why have they come from so many places, far and near? Why are they waiting for Him with so much patience and silence?'

Even as he was grappling to make sense of what had emerged from the Lord's mouth at bullet speed, Bhagawan went on. But Swami was now gentle; He looked deep into his eyes and in a firm tone asserted, “It is I who is going to have their darshan! They have all come at My sankalpa, at My instance so that I can see them. How am I to take rest when they are waiting for Me?”

The moment Mr. Ramana Rao heard this, he thought to himself, “This is really athishayokthi (pure exaggeration). How can Swami say that He is going to have devotees' darshan! This is too quixotic!”

And right at that split second when this thought occurred in his mind, Swami snapped at him with His piercing look and chastised him angrily, “You think it is athishayokthi?”

Mr. Ramana Rao was shaken to his bones. He sat there transfixed to the spot, perspiring profusely. The profundity of the message notwithstanding, the functioning of Divine Omniscience at that lightning speed just left him speechlessly dazed. His mind went blank, muscles became still.

Then Swami lovingly explained, “When I go amidst the devotees, do you think I look at their bodies? I see their souls. When I see them, I see their past, their present and what I should do for their better future. Unfortunately you look at Me as the One with this body...”

Even before Mr. Ramana Rao could register and assimilate the enormity of what Swami had just revealed, Bhagawan went on and added, “Every time I speak, I address you all as Divya Atma Swarupulara (Embodiments of Divine Atma), do you think I do this to simply praise you, or to please you?! I mean it. You are all atmas and that is how I always see you. My advent is for My devotees. I am a devotee of My devotees!”

sathya sai baba darshan
Mr. B. V. Ramana Rao had the blessed opportunity of serving Swami at close quarters for decades

It is only because the Divine always sees us as atmas, as His reflections, that He loves us so unconditionally and so mercifully. We may have a million shortcomings, we may have faltered a thousand times, we may not have trusted Him to the extent He wants us to, we may not have truly loved Him with all our heart, all our strength and all our soul, still He waits for that slightest opportunity to lift us, to save us, to hold our hands and fill us with His love. Yet again, absolutely unconditionally.

That is also the reason why He loves all regardless of whether one is a spiritual giant, a proud intellectual, a selfish devil, a clever ignoramus or an honest gentleman. Or, whether one occupies an exalted office and wields power and wealth, or has spent all his life trying to keep his flesh and bone together precariously moving from one challenging circumstance to another – all for his very day-to-day survival.

The Love of the Sadguru - Eternal and Enigmatic

“I will share with you a telling episode to illustrate this,” Mr. Ramana Rao went on, “This too happened in the seventies. It was the time of Dasara celebrations in 1974. Like every year people were streaming into the ashram from all parts of India and elsewhere.

“On the morning of Vijayadasami day, Swami distributed clothes to all inmates of the ashram as well as to all sevadal volunteers. After this when He was retiring to His room, He called me near and started giving me a running commentary:

prasnathi nilayam

'Just now, an old couple has entered the shed. He is 70 years old and she is 65. The man has a tuft of hair on his head (like orthodox Brahmins in India maintain), there is a string of rudrakshas (beads) around his neck, on his body is the sacred thread...he is now opening his trunk with the key that is tied to his sacred thread...he is taking out two towels...he changed into one...the other towel rests on his shoulder...he removed his dhoti and shirt now and kept it in his bag...he is now taking out a chembu (a brass vessel used as a mug) from his bag...'

“Swami stopped now and said 'Go and bring this couple here'. When I was about to leave, He said, 'Wait. They are from Gulbarga (a town in the state of Karnataka). They know Telugu but they will converse in Kannada. Take a boy with you who can speak Kannada.'

“I said, 'Swami, I will be able to recognise them, there should not be a problem.' But Swami insisted, 'No, take a Kannada-speaking boy with you....' and explained, 'Because the old man will say “Why would Baba call me? How does He know me? This is the first time I am coming here...” Then I said, “Swami, I will tell him that You are God, You are Omnipresent...” Swami just cut me short and forcefully said, “Do as I say!” and further added, “That old man will ask you 'who will take care of my box and bag if I go with you?'”

“I laughed within myself listening to Swami. Will a person worry about his box and bag if Swami is calling him?! In any case as per His instruction I had the boy accompany me. Once I reached the shed it was not difficult to identify him after all the detailed description that Swami had given. I paid my respects to him with a namaskar and then told him that Swami is waiting for them outside the Mandir.

  pada namaskar of sathya sai baba

“Interestingly the old man immediately remarked, 'Me? It cannot be...I am coming here for the first time. Baba has not seen us...He does not know us...you are mistaken...it is not us!'

“I was perplexed and amused. Perplexed at his funny behaviour and amused at Baba's omniscience. I then asked the Kannadiga boy to explain to them about Swami's divinity. On hearing all this, the old man then said, 'Okay, if listening to you we agree to go with you, who will take care of my box and bag?!'

“Wow! What an experience that was! How I marvelled at Swami's all-encompassing vision that presides over the past, present as well as the future!

“With deep humility and politeness I explained to the old man that the boy I had brought would look after their luggage until they returned, and then took them along with me to Swami. The moment I was in His presence I said, 'Swami, this man repeated exactly what you had said.' 'I know it,' Swami remarked immediately and added, 'I am also aware of your garrulousness. That is the reason why I asked you to take the Kannadiga boy also with you.' Feeling admonished, I slapped my cheeks loudly, sincerely seeking His forgiveness.

“Swami then blessed that innocent couple with great love. He presented a pair of dhoti to him and a saree to his wife, and then said, 'Both of you wear these new clothes after your shower on this auspicious day. You have quarrelled with your son and daughter-in-law and come away, I know. Do not worry. Stay in the shed itself. Your belongings will be safe. Today is bank holiday. Once the bank opens tomorrow you can deposit there the money you have in the box. Everything will be fine. You have My blessings.' So saying He granted them pada namaskaram and then sent them back to the shed.”

People often ask, 'Where is God?' But the right question to be put is 'Where is He not?'

How Does the Lord Know Everything

Sometime in the eighties, Venkatesh Prasad was a student in Baba's college. One evening as he was sitting in front of Trayee Brindavan (Baba's residence in Bengaluru) waiting for Swami's darshan, a respectable senior person seated next to him asked, “How do you know Swami knows everything?”

Now Prasad did not want to get into a conversation as that was a dangerous place to engage in a chat; Swami would come out at any moment. So he simply said, “Swami is antaryami (all-knowing).” But the man was not satisfied. He said, “That is what Swami tells us. How do you know that He knows everything.”

Prasad had only one thought going on in his mind: stop this conversation. So he tersely said, “Swami is God.”

universal sai  

But the old man persisted, “This is what Swami says about Himself but how does Swami know everything?”

The question-answer volley was now going into a never-ending trajectory, which Prasad thought could put him into serious trouble as he was sitting closest to the door. So to quickly conclude the conversation, he politely told the senior person, “Uncle, why don't you tell me how Swami knows everything?”

The old man then asked, “When an ant bites your hand or feet how do you know?”

“It is my hand or feet, so I know,” Prasad replied matter-of-factly.

“Very true!” he said, “Have you seen in Hindu households a picture of a standing Vishnu with 20 arms, 20 heads, a cow in His stomach and so on.”

“Yes, I have seen this.”

“Good,” the senior devotee continued, “Through that work, the artist wanted to communicate the cosmic form of the Lord. If you notice, all living forms are present in His body; in fact the entire Universe is in Him. Everything is Him and He indeed is everything. Now just as you come to know of the sensation when an ant bites your hand or leg, the Lord knows whatever happens in this Universe or Universes beyond. Because everything is sustained in Him. They are part of the Lord. That is how Swami is Antaryami - this is why He knows everything.”

“I cannot describe the profound impact that simple explanation made on me,” says Prasad, “It was a very lucid, crystal clear explanation of how Swami is omnipresent. The devotee cleared once for all in my mind any ambiguity that may arise when we say Swami is watching us always. I felt how much mercy Swami had showered on me that day. I wondered in total amazement at how many years this uncle would have struggled and prayed to the Lord to arrive at this state of mind, and here he was putting everything in one small, sweet easily swallow-able capsule.”

The moment the uncle stopped the narration, as if on cue, Swami opened the door and came straight towards them, stood right in front of Prasad and granted him a wonderful pada namaskar. “From that day,” recalls Prasad, “I never even for a moment doubted His omnipresence. I lead my life in the firm belief that I am in Him, and so whatever happens in my life is His will.”

Elaborating on the One Truth that can elevate the life of any individual, Swami Vivekananda once said:

“In Whom is the Universe, Who is in the Universe, Who is the Universe; in Whom is the Soul, Who is in the Soul, Who is the Soul of man; to know Him, and therefore the Universe, as our Self, alone extinguishes all fear, brings an end to misery, and leads to infinite freedom.”

This freedom, this Bliss can be experienced when in our practical lives we live the principle of - The Oneness of All Beings. This is what Swami, the Supreme Preceptor, demonstrated all His life. This is the reason why He is always in Bliss. Yes, it is not easy but it rewards us handsomely when we decide to put in sincere efforts to translate this in our real lives.

Can we look at the gardener tomorrow and think, 'Lovely! Swami is cleaning my garden so beautifully?' Can we go to our offices and say to ourselves ‘The Swami in my boss is so good, I am so thankful to Him'?. Can we go to the market and ponder ‘Swami in the shopkeeper is so kind and helpful, how nice?'

Well, if we can do this, or at least make an honest beginning, we would have taken our first solid step towards experiencing ultimate freedom, perpetual happiness. And happily be the reason for a sweet smile playing on the lips of our Sai Sadguru, the Soul of our lives. This indeed would be a beautiful tribute to our merciful Divine Master.

- Bishu Prusty (Radio Sai Team)

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