At The Lotus Feet of My Master: Sri Sathya Sai - By Arun Dhareshwar

Arun Dhareshwar receiving Gold Medal from Sri Sathya Sai at SSSIHL Convocation

The year was 1984.The time, winter. The weather outside was cold and windy. Yet, the hearts of the students were warm and receptive. The reason...? The Lord was in their midst in the Hostel. After experiencing the bliss of His Divine Company, the Warden, on behalf of the students said to the Lord, 'Swami, the boys are extremely fortunate. They have got this chance due to their past deeds'. Swami said, "No! It is only on account of my love for them that they are experiencing such joy." 

In a way, Bhagavan was reiterating that the only factor that counts is HIS grace and HIS will. He often says: "No one comes to Me of his own accord. It is my will (Divya Sankalpa) that brings anyone to Me."

The story of my coming to Bhagavan's Lotus Feet is an ample testimony to the operation of His Divine Will. After completing my secondary education the question of my joining college came up. Being introduced to Bhagavan's Divinity at an early age, I naturally decided to join His College. Out of His boundless grace He gave me admission into His Brindavan Campus of the Institute. My real training in life had begun from this moment onward.
Sri Sathya Sai with Students in Brindavan

The greatest miracle Bhagavan performs is not the creation of objects, not saving of devotees from accidents, perhaps not even curing incurable maladies; it is the transformation of individuals from misguided individuals to enlightened souls. 

From the moment I came under the influence of SAI, my entire life took a U-turn. Principles displaced priorities, values superseded attitudes and insight substituted outlook in short, my whole life underwent a metamorphosis. Bhagavan started working on me both internally and externally to mould me and take me closer to Him. He has been my Guru, Guide and God throughout my life.

Two years of Pre-University Course went by too fast. Before I could realize it, I had to decide about my future. For a science student, the obvious decision is to go in for Engineering or Medical Courses. One of my uncles even sent me an application from of IITs. I did not know what to do. At this point, Bhagavan's immortal words came to my mind, "Is Nidhi (worldly treasure) blissful or Ishwara Sannidhi (Divine Proximity) more blissful?" Two years of uninterrupted bliss and unalloyed love had convinced me of the priceless treasure in my possession. Thus guided by Bhagavan, I applied to the SAI Institute successfully. 

Another three years passed off in a trice and now I had to decide my career after graduation. I was really at crossroads not knowing whether to apply for Post-Graduation, or take up a job, or enroll in any other professional course. And considering the financial stringency in our family, it was absolutely imperative that I get a job and add my might to the dwindling resources of the family. 

At this crucial juncture, I had an unforgettable experience in which Bhagavan revealed to me His omniscience and His overwhelming love and concern for me. On one hand I was brooding over the possibility of my getting employed. This seemed ominously imminent. At the same time. I was saddened by the very thought of leaving Bhagavan. This thought was unbearable. I thought I was lost and that the situation was irreconcilable. Then as a soft and sweet mother, SAI (In Marathi language, it literally means SA + AAI i.e., Divine Mother) called me and said, "MBA is coming in July. You may apply, if you wish." I then started thinking about the financial viability and economic feasibility of this alternative. At this point of time in my life, my father's job was unstable. Earnings were unsteady and at times dismally low. Bhagavan, the Antaryamin, read my thoughts and replied. 'Don't worry, I shall give you scholarship. I shall look after you.' Out of His infinite Love, He literally looked after each need of mine. Never did I ever feel the want of anything. Why did the Lord do this to me, an insignificant part of His entire creation? I said to myself often, "When I look at Thy Creation, the work of Thy fingers, what is man that thou art mindful of Him?" It certainly was not my Karma, nor was it any position or qualification. It was His selfless Love and His Divine will.
Sri Sathya Sai with the first batch of MBA Students

Thus, He gave me a seat in the first batch of MBA students. I feel that He specially created the MBA programme so that I could be at his Lotus Feet for two more years. The two years passed like two seconds. Again, I was in a dilemma regarding my future. However, this time, the decision was more spontaneous, forthcoming and extremely clear. 

During the course of seven years at the Lotus Feet, I have realized the good fortune of being in the continuous contiguity of the Lord; I have experienced the utility of His Divine Presence and perceived the futility of going away from Him. The journey has begun; the flight from the terrestrial to the celestial has taken off. And now there is no turning back.

When I came to His Lotus Feet, I was half-backed, coarse material. The spiraling technology concomitant with its tantalizing lure of materialism had gripped me. I had vulgarized my external life and pauperized my spiritual life. As I look back, I conclude that what I have become today is only because of HIM. He has transformed me from a street dog to a street lamp. For me He is everything. We sing in the Arati song, "Mata Pita Guru Daivamu Mari Antayu Neeve", i.e., You are Mother, Father, Teacher, God and everything. 

Bhagavan is an inexhaustible treasure-chest from which we can draw out the jewels of life endlessly. What I have learnt at the Lotus Feet can be summed up in only one sentence: “Karishye Vachanam Tava”- I shall follow your command. Following Bhagavan is the only Mantram. If we follow Him, bliss and happiness follow. If not, doom and despair will be our fate. This is because He is the Lord who is Trikalajna or Trikaladarshi. He knows our past, present and future. Whatever Bhagavan does is always for our own good. I have indeed come to realize that the only Sadhana we have to undertake is 'TO FOLLOW HIM'. It is difficult to follow Bhagavan because the things He asks of us are simple. He does not want us to run away from the world and retire to the forest for meditation. Bhagavan says retiring to the forest without any goal is like fleeing from the battlefield. Some rationalists view such meditation as an act of indolent immobility, bovine absurdity and selfish laziness. Nor does He want us to undertake rigorous austerities and meditate on inverted yogic postures. All that He wants from us is pure unsullied love from a heart that is always in communion with Him. He says often, Tear of Sin, Love for God & Morality in Society. 

Arun Dhareshwar (extreme left kneeling) with Sri Sathya Sai after a drama performance

We all say that we have come only for Bhagavan and our only goal in life is to please Him. In this context, the Lord says that He and His Words are inseparable. Hence in order to please Him, He says, we must follow His Words. This reminds me of a loving Mother teaching a toddler to walk. The child just knows how to stand with support. It is very unsure of walking. The mother showers love, gives encouragement and goads the child to walk with stretched arms. The child's feet wobble, it is scared of falling. but being carried away by the mother's love, makes attempts just to please the mother. It knows that if it falls, the mother is there to protect. If the child falls and gets hurt, the mother will take it on to her lap, cajole and console it, shower affection, give it a break to gain confidence and then start the learning lessons once again. 

Bhagavan is doing precisely the same with all of us, to make us walk on the right path. Just as a child does not know or does not care why it is walking and how it will help, but is prepared to make efforts just to please the mother, let us walk on the SAI path just to please our Divine Mother and evolve ourselves. 

In conclusion, I offer a grateful supplication: 
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feet,
Praying I came for a single seat.

Mind troubled and senses bound,
running I came to this ant-hill mound;
To rid of ego and desires, a million pound,
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feet....

In Maya's grip wound and turning round,
To be sad, for the Lord I hadn't found
Then I heard His call and the sound
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feat

All come to this Abode of Peace,
Yearning and striving for the Lord to please,
A new leaf and for life a new lease,
Obtaining for us eternal release,
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feet

Fortunate are we in this Kali Age,
He's come to complete our life's voyage,
Sinner, saint, bandit or sage,
All of them come for His message,
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feet

Friend or foe, Honor and fame,
Joy or sorrow, censure and blame.
He teaches us to treat all the same,
With the flame of His Divine name,
He helps us to finish Life's challenging game.

His heart melts at Prayers' Heat,
It requires our hearts, pure and neat,
At my Beloved Master's Lotus Feet,
Praying I came for a single seat

- Arun Dhareshwar
Student (1983-1988)
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Currently, Head Operations and Collections
APAC Housing Finance Co. Pvt. Ltd.

Source: Sai Vandana 1990 (65th Birthday Offering)

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