When I look back into the corridors of my memory lane, I see many events and incidents which have contributed both to my happiness and sadness. Some are small, while others are big. In retrospection one can easily say why it happened or for what it must have happened. But, there is one very mysterious incident which has actually resulted in a totally dramatic change in the course of my life, the benefits of which are immense. Little did I know then, the significance of that sudden and unplanned decision.
At Bangalore, my native place, I went to Sri Kumaran’s Children’s Home. It was a good school with very caring and loving teachers, a few were of course strict. I was a very naughty and talkative boy, and the only way I could be silenced was by threatening me that I would be sent to a ‘hostel’. I always feared to go away from my mother. To me my mother is everything in the world. Our family has always been devotees of Bhagavan. In my childhood, I recollect having seen my father praying to Swami. I sometimes even accompanied him in the cold early morning hours to Whitefield for Swami’s Darshan. However I didn’t develop any kind of personal relationship or special love for Bhagavan.
One morning after the Darshan during summer vacation, (I vaguely recollect and my memory was refreshed by my father) my father asked me with considerable doubt and apprehension if I was ready to join ‘Swami’s Hostel’. To everyone’s surprise, I was excited at the opportunity and hence readily agreed. Though my father made it very clear to me that I would have to leave home to go to the Hostel, I was just not worried. Later I learnt that it was Swami’s decision and hence even my parents got a glimpse of the irreversible will of Bhagavan.
Since then, there has not been even a single day when I loved home more than staying with Swami. After having stayed in Swami’s proximity and under His guidance for the last twelve years, my heart is overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Through the years, Swami has kept a close watch over my learning, growth and development. I have felt His presence on every single day of my stay. In my opinion, the greatest gift that anyone could ask for is to become a student of Swami at the Sai Institute. For, students have a unique privilege that could never be comprehended, but only best experienced.
Arjuna was lucky to have Lord Krishna by his side all the time. He had the Lord as his friend. Hanuman was indeed blessed to serve the Lord directly all the time. He infact competed for opportunities with Lakshmana and Mother Sita to serve the Lord. But the fortune of students is more. We get the unique fortune of both having the Lord as our friend and opportunities to serve Him all the time. For a student, life with Swami is full of hope, and life without Swami is truly hopeless.
Swami often says that living with God is true education. When I was studying in the Primary School, Swami would ask any one of us, “How many brothers do you have?”, and we would innocently reply the correct number as the case may be. Swami would then correct us saying that all are our brothers. He would then ask, “How many friends do you have?” Being very smart and intelligent, we would answer, “Swami, all are our friends.” But then very lovingly Swami would correct us saying, “Only God is your friend." And thus at a young age, so subtly and silently we were introduced to our true friend. Swami made sure in his mysterious ways that we all developed a personal relationship with God. Well, could anyone expect or even dream of more than this? Bhagavan Himself was showing us the path to Him.
As we moved on to high school and college, we began to hear Swami more often. Swami then began to tell us that not only He was God, but we are also God. At first, it sounded very absurd, but slowly we began to appreciate it, though we may not have understood its true meaning even now! Each one of us, even without our knowledge has developed a unique relationship with Swami. I am totally unaware as to when Bhagavan occupied the sole spot in my heart. I often thought, my relationship with Swami began when I joined the Primary school in my 6th standard, until my parents told me that the two sacred ceremonies in the Hindu tradition, viz. 'annaprastha' and 'aksharabhyasa' was performed by Bhagavan Himself. I am greatly indebted to Bhagavan for having touched and transformed me.
There are innumerable instances where Swami showed me His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. With His grace and love, I have gained enormous confidence and feel blessed to know the presence of God and sometimes even understand the meaning of His actions.
The journey from my little home to the understanding of 'VasudaivaKutumbakam;' from my love for one sweet mother to my love for the 'Jaganmaata' has been extraordinary, and it continues to elude me. I continue to learn at the Lotus Feet. I only wish to offer my gratitude.
- Manoj Gadi Prakash
Student (2008-2010), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Business Partner, Sai Kamala Creations, Bangalore