|Sai Chittaranjan receiving Best All Rounder Student Gold Medal from Sri Sathya Sai|
Swami blessed my elder brother and me very early in our lives by performing the traditional ceremonies of Namakaranam, Annaprasanam, Mundanam, Aksharabhyasam, and Upanayanam (naming, feeding the first morsel, the first haircut, initiating into the alphabet, and initiating into spiritual life). My elder brother had joined the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School and I was very eager to follow him.The selection process included an entrance examination. More importantly, it required the grace of Swami. I had a simple prayer to Swami. I only wanted Him to bless me with a seat in His school. Before I learnt how to write, I would ask my mother to write my prayers, and after I learnt to write, I would write the same simple prayer, and during Darshan I would offer the letter to Swami. During one Darshan session, Swami passed me without accepting my letter. In my innocence, I believed that Swami hadn’t noticed me and therefore He did not accept my prayer. I immediately got up, called out to Swami, and rushed to Him. Even as the Seva Dal members came forward to control me, Swami turned, walked towards me, and smilingly accepted my letter. And in a few years, my simple prayer was answered. I joined the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School and started my journey towards becoming a ‘Sai Student’. The path to being a ‘Sai Student’ is not necessarily easy. It has its due share of tests and trials. We derive the courage and strength to face them from Swami’s reassurances and grace.
Swami has always emphasised on cleanliness. This particular incident happened when I was in the third standard. As students of the Primary School, those of us who shared our birthday would go as one group to receive Swami’s blessings during that day’s Darshan. The senior most student among us would carry a tray of Akshatas and chocolates. Swami blessed all the birthday boys with the Akshatas and throw the chocolates to all the other students. The rest of the birthday boys carried photographs of Swami which He lovingly autographed for us as His birthday gift to us.
|Sri Sathya Sai with Primary School Children at Prasanthi Nilayam; Chittaranjan is in the last row, fourth from right|
On another occasion, when I was in the fourth standard, our teacher asked us to sit silently in the classroom and study. She appointed a monitor with strict instructions that we were not to leave the classroom and left on some work. After a few minutes, there was commotion in the corridors and we heard students shouting that Swami had come to the Hill View stadium. All the students were rushing out to get a brief Darshan of Swami. Many of us were tempted to do rush out for the Darshan. But the rest of the class was sitting silently and the monitor was giving us a hard stare. Soon the commotion turned into a thundering of footsteps and shouts that Swami was coming into the Primary School building. Still the entire class was seated as per the teacher’s instructions. Suddenly the building burst into a chorus of Bhajans and we realised that Swami had entered the lobby of the school building. I could hold out no more. Some of us dashed out of the classroom and were met by a happy surprise. At the end of the long empty corridor was Swami! He was closely followed by the warden and a couple of senior devotees. Swami was walking towards our classrooms and we were the only ones around. There are 8 classrooms in the wing. As Swami walked towards a classroom, we rushed inside before Him and took the liberty of explaining the charts displayed in the classroom. We also showed Swami the altar and a small chair that was kept for Him in each class. And as Swami turned to leave the room, we rushed out before Him and ran into the next classroom waiting to ‘welcome’ Him. Swami visited all the 8 classrooms and we were blessed with the opportunity of ‘showing’ Him around the classrooms. We got the fruit of maintaining discipline that day. Had we rushed out of the classroom at the first commotion; we would have lost this beautiful opportunity of spending those precious few moments with Swami.
|Sri Sathya Sai with Students in the Primary School |
at Prasanthi Nilayam
The ‘career choice’ question again arose for me towards the middle of the 12th standard. My mother wanted me to join the B.Com. (Hons.) program in the Brindavan Campus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. I was torn between course.Com. (Hons.) and pursuing law. I filled up the application for the B.Com. (Hons.) program and decided that I would try to get it blessed by Swami. If Swami blessed it I would go ahead and work hard for an admission into the B.Com (Hons.) program or else I would pursue law. I sat in the first row during an evening Darshan with the duly filled in application form neatly folded and kept in an envelope. During the Darshan rounds, Swami accepted the letters of the students next to me and also took my application form. Now, I was confused as to whether this was a blessing or a sign that I should opt for law as the application form was now not with me! Swami finished the Darshan rounds and retired to the Interview Room. I mentally decided to apply for law. In a few minutes, the door of the Interview Room opened and the brother who was serving Swami came towards me with my application form and its envelope. He handed it to me and said that Swami had instructed me to submit it to the Registrar (of the Institute)! Swami had again decided the future course of my life. With Swami’s grace I joined the B.Com. (Hons.) program.
|Sri Sathya Sai with Students in the Trayee Brindavan Lawns|
We dispersed from the Mandir and most of the students retired to their rooms. Some of us were still waiting near the Hostel entrance when, all of a sudden, a message came that Swami had agreed to bless us with a Trayee session. Since it was a very short notice we rushed into the Trayee Mandir without waiting to fall into ordered lines. I got a seat near Swami’s footrest and was very happy. This joy was soon replaced with a worry. I was worried that the Bhajan group members would arrive before Swami, and I would be asked to vacate my place for members of the Bhajan group. Swami arrived before my worries could materialize and that day I was blessed with the opportunity to pada seva. Swami had answered my forgotten prayer. The story did not end with that single blessing.
Towards the end of each academic year the graduating students offered a gratitude program during which they expressed their love and gratitude to Swami. Towards the end of my third year in the B.Com. (Hons.) program the final year students of the Brindavan Campus were blessed with the opportunity to offer a gratitude program. Towards the end of the program all of us were very emotional. Swami reciprocated our love by blessing us with group photographs. After the photograph session concluded Swami asked us the strength of the group. Two of us went forward and gave Swami the answer. He signalled for Prasadam and personally gave the Prasadam to each student. After the Prasadam distribution session concluded Swami again blessed us and retired for the day. It was only after this entire episode that I realized that my forgotten prayer was answered again! For the entire duration of the Prasadam distribution and ensuing interaction I was blessed with another student to do Pada Seva. I had nursed a small desire, made a quick prayer, and forgot about it. But, Swami had not forgotten my prayer. He answered my forgotten prayer twice!
The Annual Sports and Cultural Meet of the Sri Sathya Sai Educational Institutions is a galvanization of human effort with a deep sense of dedication. The culmination of these festivities was an abundant outpouring of Swami’s blessings and grace. He would often visit the practice venues, oversee the practice sessions, bless the participants, and even advice the students on how to improve the program. I was a part of the gymnastics team for many years. During the practice sessions and performances we learnt Swami’s teaching of ‘Bend the body, Mend the senses, and End the mind’ even as we overcame our individual fears and limitations in our efforts to please Swami. The performance time for the gymnastics team (along with other groups) was cut short during the Annual Sports Meet 2009. Due to the shortened time slot not all members of the gymnastics team were given adequate time to perform. Undeterred by the reduction in the allotted time for the gymnastics performance we continued our practice sessions sincerely. Swami would visit the stadium every evening to bless the practice session of one of the campuses. One evening, after watching the Anantapur campus’ performance, Swami asked if there were any boys’ performances. The gymnastics team were the only boys’ team practicing nearby on that evening. Since our allotted time was reduced we were practicing a new sequence in the basketball court behind the Shanti Vedika. As soon as we got the message that Swami wanted to see any of the boys’ events’ practice we rushed in and set up the equipment. We offered our pranams to Swami and began our performance. Soon we reached a part of the performance where a few of us would use a trampoline to somersault over a car.
|Sai Chittaranjan (second from left) with other Cultural and Sports Captains of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet with Sri Sathya Sai|
The only cars that were around were Swami’s car, the Vice-Chancellor’s official car, and the security jeep that followed Swami. The Vice-Chancellor’s official car, a red Maruti Esteem car, was driven in and positioned. The first three gymnasts somersaulted over the car and I was next. I mentally calculated my run-up and took off from the trampoline. Mid-air I realised that the car was positioned farther than usual and my jump wasn’t calibrated to clear it. It seemed evident that I would not clear the car and in all likelihood I would crash onto it! That car had been used by Swami personally, and I was going to crash on to it! Luckily, I could complete a handspring and landed without damaging either myself or the car. I could hear a collective sigh as I landed. I got up and joined the rest of the team. We again offered our pranams and Swami blessed us profusely. Later that evening as we sat down to discuss our performance, we realised that every member of the gymnastic team had got an opportunity to perform in front of Swami. In fact, Swami had given us so much time for the performance on that evening that we had even included our warm-up routines in the performance! Our omniscient Swami recognised our efforts and blessed us in a way that we hadn’t imagined and we were grateful.
One morning, as I rushed to the College, the Warden stopped me and informed me that I was in contention for the Sri Sathya Sai All Rounder Gold Medal, and that I should conduct myself carefully and pray hard as the final decision was Swami’s. Two days before the convocation, the Registrar of the University informed me that Swami had blessed me with the gold medal and asked me to inform my parents. The Sri Sathya Sai All Rounder Gold Medal is the only medal conferred based on the direct decision of Swami. All the other medals are conferred for excellence in academics. The medals for athletics, sports, and cultural activities are awarded during Sankranti. While all the other medal winners were decided by competition, the Best All Rounder gold medal was decided directly by Swami. My happiness knew no bounds. On the morning of the convocation day, as the ceremony began and as my name was announced, I could see Swami smiling at me, and as I walked up to Him, His eyes welled up and I could see Him becoming ‘emotional’. Swami blessed me with the medal and that love charged moment was captured by photographers. I am smiling in the picture, while Swami is ‘emotional’. It was another moment when I felt that Swami demonstrated a mother’s pride. True achievement for me was not the medal but to be reassured of a place in Swami’s heart. What more could I ask for when both, my physical mother and my Divine Mother were proud of me!
I had asked Swami for an admission in His Educational Institutes and I was granted the opportunity of becoming a ‘Sai Student’. Over the years I learnt that to love God and to live for Him is the greatest blessing. And to love Him and to be loved by Him is the greatest joy. I learnt that when I dedicate my every action to Swami, and perform it to the best of my abilities, Swami takes over the responsibility of the fruits of the action. Gratitude isn’t about giving for receiving. Gratitude is about loving and being loved.
|Sai Chittarajan with Sri Sathya Sai after receiving the All Rounder Gold Medal at SSSIHL Convocation - November 22, 2009|
- K. Sai Chittaranjan
Department of Management and Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Currently, Doctoral Research Scholar
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad