The Privilege of Being a Sai Student... – By V. Vijayakrishnan

Sri Sathya Sai distributing blankets
Hot sun… humid air…. smoky roads… It was a normal day in Chennai. A Sai devotee was driving her car. A police constable stopped her vehicle. She wheeled her car to a halt. The constable said, “Why are you speaking over the mobile phone while driving?” She opened her hand bag and showed the mobile and said “Sir, I was not using my mobile. It is in my hand bag”. Since the constable had an unexpressed hidden motive, he was not ready to believe her. An argument ensued. Slowly people gathered around. But she was not willing to monetarily compensate the constable to escape the embarrassment.  

Suddenly a police vehicle arrived. A well dressed police officer got down. The constable, noticing the officer, immediately saluted and explained the situation. The officer turned to the devotee and looked at her and then at her car. There was a photograph of Swami pasted on the front glass. The officer then enquired whether she was a Sai devotee.  She replied in the affirmative and said that she was a State office bearer in the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. Immediately the police officer told the constable that since she is from the Sai Organisation she would not lie and hence he should let her go. The constable obeyed with a sullen face. 

When we are ready to uphold Swami’s teachings against all odds, His Grace will surely flow! When Swami says, ‘Our life is His Message’, it is not a mere aspiration of Bhagawan, but the desire and expectation of the world. Apart from being a privilege, the title ‘Sai Student’ attaches additional responsibilities. The respect shown to any Sai Student or to any devotee is not to that individual but to the message that he or she represents. And the message is ‘Selfless Service with abundant Love’. 

With every passing day, I understand more clearly the Vision of Bhagawan and the depth of His Teachings. The experience of being a student in Swami’s Educational Institution expands one’s vision and gives clarity. Because, it is the Divine that teaches us. We would have heard Swami saying that the four pillars of society, namely, Vidyalaya (educational institutions), Bhojanalaya (food houses), Vaidyalaya (medicare centres) and Devalaya (temples) should generally be left to the benevolence of the benefactor and should not be priced. Bhagawan therefore, went on to establish Institutions providing various services free of cost. 

The far reaching effects of Swami’s teachings could be further elaborated. When Swami is asked why disasters happen, it is always the same answer – ‘The diminishing human values and degraded human character’. Though it looks like a simple statement, it is pregnant with meaning. Just a decade or two earlier, when we would travel in a bus or train or by foot, we could ask anyone for water to quench our thirst and they would happily give it. But today, we cannot expect the same. A government, instead of utilising the Divine and natural free gift for the benefit of all, licenses it to be plundered and sold.  

Dried Chennai Water canal before Sai Ganga project
It was a pleasant day at Sundaram and I was with the Sai Samithi State President. An old woman with a helping stick walked in with great difficulty. She stopped a passing devotee and showing a small old bag, asked as to where she could donate the money.  The devotee pointed to the office and guided her. Then she came into our room and opened the small old yellow bag which contained some money. She slowly laid the money on the table and said, “Give this money to Sai Baba because He is giving water to us. We suffered for many years without water. I sold my belongings and this is all the money that I could get.  Please give it to Him and ask Him to use it for our water project.”  She had read some newspaper reports on Swami’s water project in Chennai. And she further added, “Because this project is for the benefit of all, I decided to dedicate everything.” Bhagawan inspires us to practice values and ensures the blooming of the goodness of human nature.  

Part of the 200 km long canal after completion of the Sai Ganga Chennai Water Supply Project
Swami not only teaches and practices, but also shows us the way to practice. A few years ago, it was one of those cold days at Kodaikanal. Swami was distributing blankets to the needy. Even after Swami had finished giving blankets to all those present, a good number of blankets were still left behind. While we were wondering what should be done, Swami ordered for His car. He asked us to load the blankets into the van. He then asked the van to follow His car. As and when He came across the needy, He ordered the blankets to be given to them. And when all the blankets were distributed, He returned to Sai Shruthi (His residence). He alighted the car and remarked, “You should not wait for people to come and accept your service; instead you should go to them and serve them.”

Being a Sai Student trained under Swami’s watchful eyes for years, I associated myself with the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation immediately after my studies. It was a great opportunity for me to participate and witness the amount of work that the devotees and students of Bhagawan undertake. To involve oneself in any of the activities, requires conviction and courage – conviction that I am obeying the teachings of the Avatar and the courage to traverse the indicated path against all odds.

It was the first day after the devastating Tsunami hit the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu. We immediately rushed to the coastal districts. Being the State Youth Coordinator, a greater responsibility rested on my shoulders. The Nagapattinam Collector requested us to take care of the relief operations and body recovery activities at Velankanni, a small pilgrim town near Nagapattinam which was one of the worst affected areas. We, the Sai Youth numbering around fifty, immediately plunged into the work recovering bodies. The Tsunami hit on the day after Christmas and Velankanni was a Christian pilgrim centre. One can imagine the extent of loss to human lives and the amount of work we needed to do. By the end of the first day, we had recovered around five hundred bodies. 

The youth members were all from far off towns with a good financial background too. On the first day we did not have any protection material with us. But we all knew that it was Swami’s work. As we were cleaning the debris, a middle aged man came to us and said, “This was where my house was yesterday, and today it is in shambles.  Moreover, my six year old daughter is missing. So could you just see whether she is caught anywhere in this rubble?” So we started carefully removing the debris. And after a few minutes we found his daughter. We slowly removed her body and placed it carefully on the ground. He identified her as his daughter and started wailing but was not prepared to touch the body of the child. A father was not ready to touch the decayed body of his own daughter, but the Sai devotees were ready to work with those bodies – all in the name of Bhagawan!

Devastation caused by the Tsunami at Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu
Many organisations later joined in the recovery and relief work, but there was a significant difference. Members of many social service organisations got themselves photographed, gave press reports and the publicity went on unabated. But here was a group of devotees, working silently and relentlessly, shying away from all potential publicity, only for the labour of Love – for the relationship with God.

Sri Sathya Sai Seva Dal lovingly serving the needy
Can the joy of being in Love with Bhagawan ever be explained? Can the joy of working for Bhagawan ever be worded? These are feelings beyond the expression of human language. Each moment, when we reflect and realise that we are the messengers of Bhagawan, every human cell gets infused with energy. This allows the blooming of the inner character shelled in devotion, that spreads the fragrance of selfless service permeated with abundant love.

When the Divine Painter takes the brush and colours the canvas, can the shades be anything but beautiful?  When the Divine Sculptor chisels, can the statue be anything but exquisite? When Absolute Wisdom decides to teach, can the student ever be other than one of blemishless character? And can I ever express fully the privilege of being one such Sai Student?

I would like to conclude with a small prayer – ‘Swami, it was your Love and Mercy that has bestowed upon me an opportunity to be Your pupil. Give me the strength, confidence and will power to practice all that You have taught me.’

- V. Vijayakrishnan
Student (1993-1995) Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Owner, Kavi Investments, Tiruchchirappalli, India

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