Sri Sathya Sai: The Versatile Teacher - By Santosh Muralidharan

Swami often says, “If you take one step towards Me I will take a hundred towards you”. At first I found this statement very confusing. I thought, here I am, ready to take any number of steps to be with Him and here He is ready to take a hundred steps for one step from me. Then why aren’t we already together? Is this saying of His figurative or symbolic or poetic or something else? But over the years through various experiences wisdom has dawned on me and I have come to believe that when Bhagavan says, “I’ll take a hundred steps towards you,” He really does that in letter and spirit. Let me explain this. 

After having joined the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, I thought of putting into practice some simple things that Bhagavan says. “Love All, Serve All”, was the first such experiment. Service was easy. But I was at my wit’s end trying to find out how to love everybody equally and unconditionally. I was depressed by the response that my efforts received. I almost came to the conclusion that it is simply impossible for me to love everyone unconditionally.
Sri Sathya Sai delivering a Discourse during the Summer Course on Indian Culture and Spirituality at the Brindavan Campus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
It then struck me that I can put my problem before Swami in a letter. Due to some reason I could not finish my letter. The Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality was in progress. I got an opportunity to listen to the speech of an elderly devotee. During the course of his speech, to my surprise and astonishment he said he had faced a problem similar to mine: How to love everyone unconditionally? He shared with us the response, which he was fortunate to get from Swami Himself. Swami asked him, apparently going out of context, “What game do you play?” He answered, “I pIay golf". Then Swami asked him, “How did you start playing golf?” He replied, “I had to struggle initially but with practice over the years I can play golf far better now.” Then Swami explained that the approach should be the same with Love too! Constant practice can make one love everybody unconditionally. What a beautiful answer! Here I was with my unfinished letter to Swami and He had already redressed my grievance completely. The child need not tell the mother that it is hungry. The mother knows and rushes to feed the child. Bhagavan has come down verily to appease the spiritual hunger of the humankind. Then how can He not respond to such queries? 

The question may arise, “Could it have been a simple coincidence of my having asked a question to Swami in thought and getting a reply the very same day through a devotee?” I feel it is not so. Man generally explains the apparent absence of God’s help using this word ‘coincidence’. And if at all God’s help looks very obvious, man dismisses it saying, “I was lucky!” Such instances as narrated above have been too frequent and too many for me to think of them as something other than God’s help.
Divine Darshan in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam
One day sitting for Darshan in the Sai Kulwant Hall, I was reflecting on the question, “Why do our minds vacillate between the good and the bad? What is the root cause of this problem?” I could not arrive at a convincing answer. I presumed that it was the nature of the mind to vacillate. Having dismissed this topic from my mind, I picked up a book lying next to me and opened a page at random in the middle. To my sheer astonishment the very page I opened had this question addressed to Swami, “Swami, why does our mind vacillate like a pendulum?” Swami’s reply was that the mind is like the leaves on the branches of a tree. They themselves can’t and don’t move. Only when breeze comes, do they flutter. Likewise, only when the breeze of desires comes does the mind vacillate between good and bad. No desire, no vacillation! This was the hundredth time I got a reply to my query in a dramatic fashion almost instantly. I had not even asked Swami in thought and He had already answered me. 

Swami is very keen to answer all our sincere spiritual queries. But for some strange reason He chooses to clothe His reply in the colour of the ordinary and the mundane. He wants us to perceive His hand behind the ordinary. He teaches through different mouths, in different ways. He is the most versatile teacher of all. 
When He makes us look at a crippled man or a handicapped person He is reminding us, “Look, My child, I have given you a perfect body with all limbs intact, use it for doing good to others.” “Paropakarartham Idam Shariram” (the body is given to serve others). 

When He makes someone criticize us He is reprimanding us, correcting us and improving us through him or her. When He makes us look at a mentally retarded person He is reminding us, “My child, I have given you a sound mind. don’t entertain crooked thoughts. Think of the Lord.” Like this, through very thing that we see, everything that we hear, everyone we meet, everything read, He is teaching us lessons, answering our queries and talking to us.

When we come to accept this truth, all our speech will become a conversation with God, all our actions will become a service to Him and we would be unconsciously thinking of Him all the time. We will then realise that when Bhagavan says, “If you take one step towards Me I will take a hundred towards you”, it is not a poetic phrase, a symbolic statement, or a confusing line. It is a promise, a promise given to every spiritual seeker, nay, everyone in this whose destiny beckons him to arise and march forward on the spiritual path towards God, but hand in hand with Him.

Santosh Muralidharan
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning


  1. it is completely true!
    I had an incident to say-- I was praying swami to
    come to me in dreams. Swami replied me, inform of
    lady devotee, that "I will come to your dreams,as and when I feel like and not as you like."
    so he know when to come and what to give or take.


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