When Knowledge Becomes Skills – By Ashok Sundaresan

This is based on an incident that occurred a couple of years ago, during the Grama Seva done by us, Swami’s students, as part of Swami’s Birthday celebrations. Bhagawan had sent truckloads of food, clothing and sweets to be distributed to each house in every village, in and around Prasanthi Nilayam. The students used to leave for these villages with Bhagawan’s Benediction and distribute these gifts as ‘Prasadam’ to the villagers. Every evening, Bhagawan used to ask us specific details – about the villages visited, whether gifts were distributed to each and every home and so on. The boys used to narrate all that happened during the visit. 

One such day, when Bhagawan enquired about the village that had been visited, they replied that it was Karnatenagepalli. Bhagawan evinced keen interest and asked “Oh! Did you see Parvathiamma then?” The boys replied in the positive. Bhagawan with a nostalgic glee recounted how during His visits to nearby villages in His younger years, He had visited this village too. Parvathiamma then used to prepare ragi balls with her own hands, fry it in pure ghee and give them to Bhagawan. He used to relish them. Bhagawan asked whether she had given them such sweets on that day also. The boys replied in the affirmative. Bhagawan then said that Parvathiamma last visited Prasanthi Nilayam a few years back. Although she stayed close by, her circumstances did not permit her to visit Bhagawan often. Bhagawan then became serious and said, “But she is a great devotee.” She was always ‘connected’. Her devotion to Bhagawan was simple, but deep. It was rustic, yet profound. She was physically away, but mentally connected.

Then Swami made some significant statements about her. He said that by profession, she was a midwife. Her skill in judging the baby’s position, its health and the mother’s well-being was tremendous. He said that just by holding the mother’s hand and feeling the pulse, she could comment on the baby, its growth, the mother’s health and so on. He then went on to say something that has profound implications for each one of us. He said that her skill surpassed the skill of some of the best doctors in the Super Specialty Hospital. Did she receive any formal medical education? Does she continuously attend professional development programmes? Does she meet her peers and superiors and discuss her cases? Does she have access to the latest technology? None of the above! Bhagawan said that when you are mentally connected to Him, when you do your work, its efficiency reaches perfection and work itself becomes worship!         

We have two lessons to learn from Parvathiamma. Firstly, we may be placed in our life in some situations where we may not have access to the best material, best talent, best scope for learning, best superiors, etc. Still we can make our work reach the highest levels of professional competence and the greatest milestones of efficiency. All this by just remaining connected to Bhagawan. That one factor alone makes all the difference. Others may have so many advantages in life by way of wealth, position, education, location and the like.  As a Sai Student, I have one great advantage that surpasses everything else. I have lived with the Avatar, seen Him, touched Him, heard Him speak and learnt from Him. I can access Him from wherever I am and this makes all the difference in my life and work.

Secondly, when I remain connected to Bhagawan, my work becomes worship. I surely think about how best I can serve Him through the daily chores I do. He teaches me how to have the right attitude when I do my work. He guides me how to Love Him better through my work. I don’t think many people have this opportunity. We are blessed with that opportunity and His Grace enables us to recognise it. I also pray that He endows us with the necessary strength of character to use this opportunity to get closer to Him.

-    Ashok Sundaresan
Student (1993-1995), Department of Management and Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Entrepreneur, Tiruchchirappalli

Source: Fragrance 2005

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