Even if one grows up into youth, there are moments, events and incidents, which one can never forget. Though seemingly trivial, they are tiny drops from the shower of His grace and to the recipient such gestures unfold their meaning and significance with the passage of time. He is the loving shepherd who picks up the wayward ship in His loving arms. I still remember the days when I used to come to Puttaparthi since I was six years old. For me flippancy was a creed and seriousness was a circle. As a child my only purpose of coming to Puttaparthi was to play in the lovely sands. I would always make a lot of noise only to be pulled aside by a volunteer and made to sit quietly. Even during subsequent visits I did not realize what was in store for me.
It was in 1976 that my parents had the first interview with Baba. But I did not come with them. At that time Baba asked my parents to settle down in Prasanthi Nilayam after retirement from service and assured that He would have me admitted in His College. I knew that great days were ahead. I knew that blessings come slowly and when they come they come in plenty. But the fact that I had to study hard in order to ensure safe entry into His College did not escape me. But this inspiration died down soon and I never studied hard.
In 1979 after completing my 10th standard examinations I somehow felt that I should go to Puttaparthi and spend the summer vacation there. It was not a prompting from parents but a prompting from within. At that time the Summer Course was in progress in Brindavan and I stayed on for two months. In the month of July, Baba gave me an interview and said, “What do you want?” I answered, “Baba, I want to study in Your college.” But Baba queried, “But if you don’t pass in your exams, how can I give you admission?” I broke down into tears and told Baba that I would not study anywhere else and then fell at His Feet. Baba said that I fared very badly in English and Mathematics. But at the end of the interview, the Lord with a twinkle in His eyes said, “Don’t worry, Swami will pass you.” It did happen that I just managed to clear the papers and Baba chided me for not studying properly. Here I would like to touch upon a point that Baba never leaves a sincere wish of His devotee unfulfilled. It might be the most impossible for things but that is where the Divine operates.
I got admission in Baba’s college, my most cherished desire. This proved to be the turning point in my life. But for His helping hand, this ship would have lost its way in this stormy world. This is just one instance. Baba does this for millions of people. His inestimable help to those in difficulties and trouble can be understood only by those who have actually received it, and of such the number is a legion. Baba feels pained when He sees young students taking to wrong course of life. Who else is He but a refuge and shelter to countless souls that come to Him for guidance? There is a sublime, a grand meaning behind life. Certainly Baba had given me a new lease of life.
That is how Baba draws young students towards Him for they are His chosen instruments. Every student has his own experience to narrate. A student primarily comes here to get a degree. But that is not the only thing he ends up with. It is much more. Baba had once told students in one of His discourses that He is like mother Yashoda who in order to catch Krishna shows butter in one hand and hides the stick in the other hand. Similarly Baba attracts young students by offering the ‘Secular Education’ in one hand, hiding ‘Atma Vidya’ in the other. This is just His love and concern for His children who would otherwise go astray forgetting their true nature.
This Atma Vidya is not taught to students in separate classrooms. His proximity is the classroom, His presence is the lesson, His life is His message. Baba lays stress on the three D’s and character building. He says that without character any amount of academic excellence is useless.
A student has certain initial difficulties in adjusting to the rules and regulations of the hostel. He feels that discipline is being imposed on him. But in course of time he internalizes it and becomes self-disciplined. He feels responsible and participates in all activities that make him an integrated personality. And by the time he completes his studies his attitude changes completely. He is bound by Sai’s Love, he hesitates to leave his Lord and this is something which is an inner urge and I shall not make an attempt to describe it.
During his stay here, a student gets an opportunity to experience Baba’s Divinity. It so happened in 1981, while playing football, I had a fall and fractured my right wrist. It was plastered in the Prasanthi Nilayam hospital. The pain didn’t subside even after the plaster was removed after three weeks. I happened to go to my home town for summer vacation and there I visited the orthopaedic surgeon who advised me to go to a wrist specialist. This doctor took an X-ray and said that there was a fracture in the Scapoid bone and that it did not heal. He also said that it is the most delicate and mischievous bone that if it does not heal it would be a lifelong trouble. He plastered it again and said that it should be removed only after eight weeks and prescribed some medicines and exercises.
I returned after the vacation and one day Baba happened to see the plaster on my hand and enquired as to what had happened. I told Baba that I had a fracture while playing and that I was having continuous pain. Baba said, “You don’t know how to play, you are careless.”
The next day Baba told the doctor in-charge of the Prasanthi Nilayam hospital to remove the plaster (in fact eight weeks have not yet been completed). The doctor obeyed Baba’s command and instantly the plaster was removed. The wrist became very weak and the pain was still there. For eight months the pain lasted. In one evening when I was sitting for Darshan, Baba came to me, created Vibhuti and sprinkled it over my wrist. The result is obvious… a wrist I feared might become useless, became totally fit and I never felt the slightest pain even to this day. Only then I realized how foolish it was on my part to go to various doctors when I had the Doctor of all Doctors here. Truly, no insurance can equal to this total protection provided by Divine grace.
Baba gives experiences to instil faith in the devotee. He can do anything if He wills. Nothing can move without His grace. The Avatar behaves in a human way so that mankind can feel kinship and rise to its super-conscious heights. He acts like a human so that mankind can aspire to reach these heights and through that aspiration actually reach Him. Baba, no doubt is certainly close to the students but He is also a hard taskmaster. Swami sometimes talks so intimately to a student that the student feels as if Swami has taken Avatarhood for him alone, but the very next moment He shows how far He is from him. He is attached but at the same time is detached.
Baba never spares anybody. If a student falters, He gets angry. He totally ignores him as if he were non-existent. No outward appearances can move Him. Baba says, “I am as soft as butter and as hard as a diamond.” But He is never angry. He is like a mother who cannot see her child going astray. Once the mistake is realized, He would talk to the student, makes light of the failure and bucks him up with words of advice that fortifies his faltering faith.
Baba does so much for us but He does not expect anything in return. Baba wants His students to become ideal examples and torch-bearers. Our Dharma lies in realizing this. Each individual is a spark of Divinity and each has certain potentialities. A seed does not know its strength; it doesn’t know that it can grow into a big tree. If the seed is thrown on the roadside it will not sprout. The soil should be cleansed of stones and weeds and there after yields the fruit. The gardener reaps the harvest after all the labour and travail. The supreme gardener has come. He has incarnated for our sake. There are His subtler compassions. He knows that each one has the potentiality to achieve the highest. He sees that opportunity given to us, if lost we may not get another. We should not spend our lives in heedlessness. It is foolish to think, “I will take bath when the waves of the sea subside.” Now, it is our duty to respond and live up to His teachings.
Baba in an interview to the final year students said, “Ultimately there would be only ‘one’ who would succeed in following My teachings completely, so try to be that one.” But nothing worthwhile is to be achieved without undergoing a corresponding number of tests. No enduring ideal can be achieved without toil and sweet. It is in the furnace that gold emerges from the ore.
We certainly are living the greatest moments of history. The Avatar has come again in the human form to restore Dharma in the world which is full of strife and discord and robbed of peace and unity. This is not the life of an adventurer or the hallucination of an obsessed zealot. It is a fact profound. We are having the crowning good fortune of being chosen by Him to do His mission. But if this has to come true, everybody must believe in His message. If there is no faith in His message, if there is no faith in His teachings, no one will do what must be done to fulfill His mission. Those who refuse to follow His message might as well say that they have to renounce their old personality but they fail to see that they would gain much by this renunciation. However these people, who cling to the past, would one day fall at His feet… The compassionate Lord has a loving welcome even to them, if only they return to lean their heads on His lap.
If I were asked to say what I have known of Baba after having stayed with Him, all I can do is to keep silent. The more I try to understand Him, the more I realize that I have not understood Him. Mere intelligence cannot fathom the ways of God. One can only benefit from God but one cannot explain Him.
Truly, ours is not to fathom the ‘serene blue water’. Ours is to see, wonder and enjoy. Ours not to dig deep to find the source of the “Fount Immortal” but ours is to drink the water of life that gushes forth from it in ceaseless flow.
O Thou self-revealing One
Reveal Thyself to me
Thou who are the spirit of manifestation
Manifest Thyself to me.
- A. Srinivas Rao
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Source: Sai Nandana 1985 (60th Birthday Issue)