It is our greatest good fortune that, we have in our midst, a Divine Incarnation who has assumed the role of a preceptor and a teacher. One of the highest inspirations that I have derived from this spiritual phenomenon, is from the methods He adopts to teach. To my knowledge, this unique quality can be attributed only to Him. He has His own ways of conveying messages. When He talks to you, for instance, He explicitly conveys what He wants to say; and when He doesn't talk, His silence is equally profound. When He looks at you, even if it be for a second, mountains of doubts melt into nothingness before that fleeting glance; and when He doesn't look, He makes sure you know why He has not done so. Then again, He has other planes of consciousness through which He could reach you. Dreams, visions, miracles in your home. And every time He comes and goes, there is always a message left behind. To live with such a mystifying and inexplicable personality is really an experience by itself.
What shall I write and where shall I begin? Having spent so many years at His Lotus Feet, my heart is so full of experiences that to choose from among them and to write my feelings in words becomes a near impossibility. Nevertheless, allow me to relate two incidents — one on the psychic plane (a dream-vision sequence) and another on the physical plane, where the Lord taught me two beautiful lessons. Perhaps, after reading them, you will be able to understand better, the beautiful, yet powerful ways He chooses to bless, guide and inspire us on the spiritual path.
'MY TRUE NATURE'
It was early in the morning; I was lying on my bed half-awake and half asleep, when suddenly Bhagavan appeared and called me. I looked up to see Him, and He offered me His Hand. Grabbing my wrist which I offered hesitatingly, He took me to a deserted place. In front of us was a huge bonfire which was lit. The flames were leaping high (perhaps even dancing, I thought, in the presence of Lord Sai), and Bhagavan said, "You always wanted to understand my nature. Now listen. He turned towards the blazing fire, His eyes bright and powerful, and murmured softly but surely, "My nature is pure love, like this FIRE you see here — pure, powerful and divine. I do not know whether it was the early morning breeze which was chill or His words, but a cold shudder went through my being and I clutched Him even tighter. Then recollecting myself I braved to ask Him — "Lord, I said with an imploring tone, "You say You are like the Fire. But fire does not distinguish between the good and the bad. It burns everything that comes its way. If, both a theist and an atheist were to put their hands in the fire, it would naturally scorch and burn both." Even as I was finishing, He stared straight into my eyes. "Divine Love”, He said, His voice rising above the crackling flames "Divine Love, burns up everybody in the end. But how you burn depends on what you are." I looked up at this awe inspiring spiritual master, and wondering inwardly as to why He always chooses riddles for answers, I said, "Lord, I do not understand. Then smiling, He rotated His hand and materialised a piece of wood. It was a small piece, perhaps a foot in length and less than a centimeter in thickness. Handing it over to me, He asked me to light it from the flames in front of us. I did so, and it did not take long for it to burn itself out. All that was left of the wood piece was just a tiny mound of ash that lay in the ground. With His feet, Swami strewed the ashes and said, "This is the atheist, the cynic and the sceptic. When he burns, he leaves behind ashes - ashes of doubts, ashes of ego and ashes of skepticism.
Then taking a step back, He once again rotated His hand, and this time He materialised a big lump of something white. He asked me to light it from the fire. I instantly obeyed, and to my surprise I found it was camphor. Within minutes, the camphor was finished. Swami asked, 'What is left over of the camphor? I looked down where it had burnt itself. There was nothing. As I slowly lifted my eyes to Him, with light dawning within me, He said, "My child, my chosen ones, get burnt in the fire of my love, like this camphor. Once they offer themselves to me, there is nothing left behind, no trace that they even existed. And, did you get the perfume? " He added, with almost a twinkle in His eye; their lives are offered to My service with such happiness and willingness, that their actions and thoughts become the sweet perfume that the world benefits from. He let go the grip on my wrist, and through the veil of tears that had now blurred my vision, I saw Him walking towards the blazing flames and slowly but majestically entering the fire. THE FIRE THAT WAS TRULY HIM.
I was lying on my bed, now, wide awake; I looked out of the window. Faint glitters of the early morning sun were just beginning to brighten up another day. On an impulse, I smelt my right palm, in which I had held the camphor. Then I laughed to myself. What if it smelt of camphor and what if it didn’t.? the Master had come and taught — one more lesson in this game of Divine Love!
Let me share with you one more experience, where He chose to instruct me on the physical plane. Bhagavan had come to the hostel. During the course of His discourse, He elaborated on the effectiveness of chanting the Soham mantra along with the breath. That evening I found myself in a highly excited state of mind. I was in my second year degree course at that time, and having been recently initiated into the practice of Yoga Asanas, my mind would invariably be dreaming of snow clad mountains, yogis steeped in austerity, miraculous powers and so on. Now, this practice of Soham! I immediately took to it most diligently, with the fervent hope that somehow Bhagavan would respond and Bless me.
The first day went by most uneventfully, though I had kept up my practice. During darshan, Bhagavan went past me without any sign of acknowledgement whatsoever. However, this only spurred me on. The second day saw me even more determined and eager to practise the Soham Mantra. I practiced almost non-stop, one could say. In the evening, I managed to secure a place along the path that Bhagavan usually takes. To my utter dismay, Bhagavan took a detour and went by another route. which He normally never did. Even later, though He came out and talked with many boys, He made sure never to come my side. Spirits were dampened, and my enthusiasm was at its lowest ebb, as I walked back to the hostel. But I did not give up. The next day, I knew, our class was going first in the line. The probability of me sitting in the front row, right in front of the interview room door, was very high. And I was almost sure that Bhagavan would speak to me. So once again, I summed up the remaining bits of optimism, and practiced hard the third day. I was quite happy with my performance, and was certain that He would somehow come and bless me in this Sadhana. May be He might come and give me Namaskar; or perhaps a pat on the back for my sincere practice, or a world of encouragement or praise. you never know!!!
With my mind crowded with such feelings and my heart apparently full of prayer, I found myself seated in the first line for the evening darshan. Bhagavan came out, as usual, ever so beautiful and charming, walking slowly and gracefully There are moments, it is said, when even a glimpse at Bhagavan's Divine form can transport your mind to those higher realms where time and space stand still and empty, meaning nothing, or perhaps showing themselves to be what they truly are — ILLUSIONS.
But this was definitely not one of those moments. Bhagavan had come out, and for me, what mattered most was whether He would come and speak to me. He blessed some birthday boys, gave them Namaskar and turned away into the crowd. My prayers were at their peak Bhagavan went around giving darshan, selected a few fortunate for interview and returned. My mind was now screaming in prayer, and my eyes were fixed in anticipation upon Him, waiting for the moment. Bhagavan stood in front of me, spoke to the boy to my left, took a letter from a boy to my right and enquired about the health of a third just behind me, and went towards His room. There was an uproar within me, as my ego hurt and wounded, lay dying. 'Swami', I could hear myself almost sobbing as I prayed within, 'please me. After all I only want your blessings.' He came out and called the devotees He had selected for the interview. After a few more agonizing moments, the interview room door closed. and the floodgates holding my tears opened. All my expectations had been crushed; all my yearning was in vain. wiping my tears least somebody should see them, I quietened my mind. I realised I had tried my best and had prayed the hardest. There was nothing more I could do now. And so, I let go all my feelings…….
|Sri Sathya Sai at the Prasanthi Nilayam interview room door|
That very moment, Bhagavan opened the door and came out. Only about five minutes had passed. Surely, He had not finished the interviews so fast I Bhagavan had just materialised Vibhuti inside, because His fingers were still full of them. And then it happened. As if searching for somebody Bhagavan came right up to me, looking here and there. I had no feeling now; No screaming prayers, no noisy vexations, no hysterical anticipations. nothing. I had already let it go; Everything had become still within and without. He turned to go back, and as He turned, He took a step towards me, and even before I could realise what was happening, He pressed His thumb on my forehead between the eyebrows, and rubbed the Vibhuti that was left on His fingers……
|Dr. Sunder Iyer with Sri Sathya Sai|
It is now more than a decade with Bhagavan. A decade full of joyous experiences, spiritual illuminations and cascades of ever flowing love. Every moment, I spend with Him, I get lost amidst an infinite number of totally new impressions, for the expression which I have neither words nor forms …….
- Dr. Sunder Iyer
Student, Research Scholar and former Faculty Member
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Source: Sai Vandana 1990