To Deserve more than to Desire – By Gaurav Kudtarkar

Gaurav Kudtarkar with Sri Sathya Sai
A very soulful Bhajan goes: “Deena Dukhiyo Se Prem Karo, Mera Sai Prasanna Hogaa” (Love the downtrodden and distressed, My Sai will be pleased). This Bhajan is insightful not only in the message of Love that it gives, but also has the personal reference to Swami as ‘My’ Sai. Indeed, the relationship between Swami and His devotees is so customized and personal that it would not be wrong to say that there is not one Sathya Sai Baba, but as many as there are His devotees. Swami is like a mirror in which our deepest need is reflected and shaped into an appropriate relationship that connects us to Him. Accordingly, for some He is ‘Mother Sai’, for others ‘Father Baba’, for still others ‘Friend Sathya’, ‘Teacher Swami’, ‘God Bhagavan’, and so on, with the nature of each relationship being further nuanced.

However, the one role that is most significant and held so by Bhagavan Himself, is His role as the Guru. Swami began His incessant flow of nectarine wisdom to the world with the message: ‘Maanasa Bhajare Gurucharanam’ (O mind, dwell on the feet of the Guru). Do not the Upanishads also etymologically mean knowledge gained by sitting at the feet of the Guru? I believe this is why Swami gives a lot of importance to Padanamaskar. Moreover, while the larger devotee community is the Sai family, the subset that studies at the Sai educational institutions are ‘His Students’ who share a bond nonpareil with Swami. Indeed, He is first and foremost, a Guru to us. The word ‘Guru’, Swami explains, is a composite of two syllables that describe His/Her nature: ‘Gu’ – standing for Guna-teeta (one who has transcended the three Gunas), and ‘Ru’ – standing for Roopa-varjita (one who has grasped the formless aspect of God). ‘Gu’ also means darkness and ‘Ru’– dispelling, making ‘Guru’ the person who dispels darkness. Indeed, 

Ajnaana Timiraandhasya Jnaanaanjana Shalaakayaa
Chakshurunmeelitam Yena Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah
(I was born in the darkest ignorance and my Guru opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisance unto Him.)

Kahlil Gibran has said that, a wise teacher does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind. Indeed, being Wisdom personified, Swami has always exhorted us to realise our own innate Divinity and thus, activate the Sadguru latent in us, for the voice of God within us is the greatest Guru. And to initiate us on this path, Swami plays the role of the Jagadguru (Teacher of the World). In fact, of all the major Avatars, none had as predominant a teaching role as does the Poornavatar Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He has not only taught all possible subjects, in all possible ways and through all possible media, but He has illumined us.

During my ten years as a Sai student (2001-2011), I was a witness to many instances of Swami as a Guru, and was blessed on one occasion to directly receive tutelage from Him. I was in my eleventh standard in 2005, studying in the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. It was my first year being a ‘direct’ Sai student. During the three years before that, when I was studying at the Alike Sai School, I had heard of many instances where students had got gold chains and rings materialised by Swami. Now as I was a student myself, the desire for the same was intensified. What was more; I would often fancy getting a chain, a ring and a bracelet – all at once! Silly as they may seem to me now, I am thankful for those fanciful thoughts, for they were responsible for Swami teaching me an indelible lesson – ‘Deserve more than Desire’.

The date of the ‘class’ was February 10, 2005, and it was the day when the Bhima Ratha Shanti Ceremony (where elderly couples are symbolically remarried) was being conducted in the Sai Kulwant Hall. It had been my birthday a few days back, and I had been sitting in the Birthday boys’ line in the Sai Kulwant Hall during Darshan to get my birthday tray blessed by Swami. It was a practice, then, for Birthday boys to take nuts, sweets, Vibhuti and Akshantulu (auspicious yellow rice) in a tray to be blessed by the Lord. Not having been called by Swami on the preceding days, my wait extended to the 10th of February. On that day, there were two other students who were waiting with their birthday trays. I felt that, it being a ceremony day, our best chance of being blessed would be if Swami called us while He was taking His initial round along the Darshan path. Swami, dressed in a yellow robe, soon entered the Sai Kulwant Hall. Coming to the central area of the Hall, Swami moved slowly looking at the arrangements and the eager elderly couples. When He did pass in front of us, the birthday boys, we gently thrust our trays in His direction, eager to capture the tiny window of opportunity available. But the only thing that came in through that window was a gentle smile from the Lord, which, although was as bright as the colour of His robe, did not satisfy us. Swami finished the Darshan round and went and sat in the portico. We still had a sliver of a chance of being called, which duly dissipated when Swami directed the ceremony to begin. Now our chances were all over.

After the ceremony, Swami called for the mike indicating that He intended to give a discourse. The excitement around was starkly in contrast to the relative gloom among us birthday boys, because that meant further slimming our chances. As the discourse began, I lazily placed my tray on my lap and decided to focus on the discourse, instead of trying to draw Swami’s attention in vain. After speaking on the importance of respecting and taking care of elderly people, Swami started expounding on the topic of Divine energy being present in all things. Midway, He suddenly looked in our direction and beckoned the three of us. It was a jolt of me. I clumsily came out of my stupor, picked up my tray, and heart pounding with excitement, made my way to Swami. As I was the second in line, I watched as Swami picked the Akshantulu (sacred rice) from the first boy’s tray and sprinkled the same on his head. And then, it was my turn. My eyes were transfixed on Swami’s hand as they moved across my tray, first touching the bowl of raisins, then the bowl of almonds, and then the cloves. Finally, Swami picked up the Akshantulu and I braced myself for a shower of blessed love. But it did not come, yet. Swami, for some reason, held the Akshantulu in His palm with His last two fingers. Then, He picked Akshantulu from my tray for a second time and this time dropped them gently on my head. It was the first time Swami had blessed me on the occasion of my birthday.

As I returned to my seat, the joy was so immense that it precluded curiosity as to why Swami had taken Akshantulu twice from my tray. Soon, the third student also returned after having been blessed, and Swami continued His discourse. Though my eyes were on Swami, not a word entered my head, as I was still lost in savouring the blessed moment. What brought me back to the present was Swami moving His hand in a circular motion indicating that He was materialising something. The next moment, there was a gold chain dangling from Swami’s hand. Pausing His discourse, gold chain in hand, Swami turned in our direction and looked briefly at each one of us. When He looked at me, it seemed as if the pounding of my heart had not only cut out my hearing but had also blurred my vision. Normalcy returned when Swami passed me over and looked at the third student.

Fixing His gaze on him for a while longer, He asked the student, “From where has this chain come?” The student was totally flustered. Getting up with folded and tremulous hands, he managed to bring out the words, “From God, Swami”. To have answered something in that moment was itself great, but Swami obviously did not think so, for, His face took on a stern expression and He said, “No. It has come from Akshantulu”. Then He called the student and put the chain around his neck, and I joined the entire hall in rejoicing over the shower of Swami’s love. Swami then reiterated the point that everything contains Divine energy, and His statement that the chain was from the Akshantulu fell into perspective, it was the power inherent in the Akshantulu which was responsible for the creation of the chain. And then it struck me. Akshantulu? From where did that come? My mind literally swirled and rewound to a few minutes back and I could see Swami picking the Akshantulu from my tray for the first time and holding them in His palm.

Soon after the Darshan, as I was returning to the Hostel, all my castles in the air of getting a materialisation from Swami came crashing down and I was left staring at the seeming injustice of it all. Prima facie, or so I thought, it was a tight case in my favour. It is my Akshantulu from which chain materialized, therefore, it’s my chain. Why should the other student get it? However, on reflecting further, I realised that Swami had given me something more important and precious than any gold chain, a lesson for life. I, firstly, realised that it was not ‘my’ Akshantulu. So what if it had come from my tray? I myself had got it a few days back from some other source. Secondly, I realised that I did not know anything about the deservedness of the student who got the chain. Lastly, I understood most clearly that I was totally not deserving of the chain. What I was deserving of was a lesson, and Swami gave it to me in the best possible way.

Indeed Swami is the greatest Guru for this very reason, He not only knows what lessons we need (even better than we ourselves know), but also knows the best way to drive them home. The biggest Gurudakshina (Offering to the Guru) that we can give Him is to cherish those lessons and keep relearning them. In my case, I have had ample time to dwell on the lesson I received. I don’t know if I have become more deserving, but I have definitely become less desiring.

-    Gaurav Kudtarkar
Student (2009-2011), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

Source: Sai Nandana 2015 (90th Birthday Offering)

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