The Divine Shepherd – By Amartya Awasthi

For some, He is the King of Kings,
For some, He is a Miracle Maker,
But the Saviour as the Shepherd
Embodies all tender sympathy,
And love is the name that brings
A sense of comfort to the spirit,
For we need a shepherd when our
Footsteps go astray.
We are like the silly sheep,
How often we break free…
Seeking strange pathways, but when
Weary and lost,
He finds us and brings us back
Into the safety of His fold.

Life is a long road, with all its winding ways, curves, ups and downs. I seemed to be a lonely traveller wandering aimlessly on and on, often straying from the path. I walked on unawares, sometimes basking in the sunshine of joys, which lasted, but for a moment. And at times, I would come under the clouds of despair and worry without even a single dim star to guide me forward. My restless mind tossed me from one direction to the other to seek satisfaction, happiness and contentment where there was none. I was constantly in search of a refuge, of someone who could give me solace but knew not where to find that. Often I heard a sweet voice from within, “Call Me; I shall come to you.” But I foolishly ignored it and refused to respond. I chose to fight back against this trouble, but slowly it worsened. At last, I gave up. I was exhausted. 

And then He came and at once, I knew that my inner struggle was over. The sense of relief was overwhelming. I had not even known the danger I was putting myself into; yet He had rescued me. I had not realised that I was straying from the path He had laid for me. Yet, He chose to put me on the path. I was no longer a lone traveller, for He was with me. I put myself completely in His hands, for I knew He was my Lord, my Saviour. It was here that I experienced the truth that God is the embodiment of Love. Each day brought me new expressions of His Divine love. His love overwhelmed me. I realised that I found my home. The love He showered on me was boundless and I knew that I could never reciprocate it. I gave Him the only thing that I could - my heart - and He entered it. 

He says, “Love gives and forgives” and I have experienced this. How often had I been like a sheep in the flock, often straying farther and farther away from Him, searching vainly for greener pastures? Yet, time and again, He brought me into His fold. He chided me for my wrong doings. He gave me a clear-cut path which ultimately leads to Him. He promised to guide me all along this path. He was both a mother and a father. 

He is also like the shepherd who takes care of each and every one of His sheep, counting His loved ones every moment. He does not scold His erring sheep when they come back to Him. I have ultimately realised that my wandering is over and my shepherd has taken me over and will never let me down. 
Amartya with Sri Sathya Sai at Kodaikanal - May 2005
I consider myself very lucky as I was brought under the care of the Divine Shepherd when I was very small. During the course of my stay here, there have been numerous occasions when He has responded to my prayers and showered His Love on me. One particular incident always comes to my mind. I was studying in the Primary School and was in my seventh standard. It was the middle of the year and I was suffering from malaria. The temperature would rise very high and I used to shiver a lot. I was completely bed-ridden. I was hardly able to eat and this added to my weakness. A peculiar thing was that happened every alternate day. On the other days, I would be normal with only a slight weakness. 

The Paduka Puja festival was fast approaching and Bhagavan was to give Darshan in a golden chariot. I was thrilled and excited but I could not get up from bed. A few days passed without any problem, but I had the fear that I would get fever again, as had been happening in the past few days. I began praying to Bhagavan with all my heart that I sincerely wanted to see Him on the chariot and did not want to miss the unique opportunity. And what happened can only be attributed to Him. For, He saw to it that my ailment subsided within three days, so that I was able to see Him. It was only after this occasion that the fever resurfaced. I was happy and content. I thanked Bhagavan with all my heart realised the love He had for me. The ailment I mentioned was completely cured after a few days. 

In my quieter moments when I sit and look back at the way I had lived life until then, it looks as though I had been trying to cross this vast ocean in a leaky boat. Sometimes life would be as calm as the pleasant sea and I would travel with ease. But my pride and ego began to swell and the boat travelled through despair, anxiety and worry. Just when I was about to drown, He came and patched my heart with His love and grace. And as though this was not enough, He chose to row me across the ocean Himself. Bhagavan has told us time and again, “Why fear when I am here?” He is the beacon of hope in the midst of anxiety and ignorance. Bhagavan is carrying out an extensive educational programme. By this He wants to bring about a complete transformation in the students who come out of the portals of His sacred Institutions. 

Sai Education gives priority to the daily conduct and behaviour of students in the school as well as in the hostel. Stress is laid on discipline and good conduct as evidenced by regular hours of study, play, Bhajans, meditation, etc. The mutual understanding among fellow students and above all, between students and teachers is a testimony to the bond of love that binds one and all in Swami’s Institutions. The educational programmes of the Divine Educator are gaining momentum. The day is fast approaching when the Institutions all over the world will receive nourishment from Bhagavan’s Institutions. The Institutions and the students will become instrumental in spreading the Divine Message. 

Bhagavan is everything for the students. He is our mother, father, teacher and above all, our true friend. There is nothing we can offer Him, for conferring on us the boon of joining His Institution; we can only dedicate ourselves to His ideals and offer ourselves with all humility at His Lotus Feet. Bhagavan! We will always rise to the noble heights that You have set for us, and respond to Your Divine command. 

O Sai, only You can pilot us to greater heights,
Only Your power can preserve us,
Only Your wisdom can instruct us,
Only Your hand can protect us from evil,
Now and ever more…

- Amartya Awasthi
Students (2006-2008), Department of Physics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Technical Consultant, KLA-Tencor, Korea

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