Volume 8 - Issue 03
March 2010
Other Articles

THE “3 WHY” PATH TO SAI

By Mr. G. S. Srirangarajan


This is the transcript of a talk delivered by Mr. G. S. Srirangarajan, a former student and currently Controller of Examinations (Actg.), Sri Sathya Sai University, on September 25, 2009 during the Dasara Celebrations in the Divine Presence of Bhagavan Baba.

As we celebrate the Veda Purusha Sapthaha Gyana Yagnam (The grand Vedic sacrifice organized during Dasara 2009), let us spend some time contemplating on the word “Gyana”. Bhagavan says, Advaita Darshanam Gyananam - Perception of Non-duality is True Wisdom.

 

But this is not an overnight miracle. The path to wisdom is a long one and in my comprehension there are four stages of understanding or mental states, one has to go through. Inspired by the techniques used by quality managers, wherein they ask ‘Why?’ repeatedly until they reach the root cause of the problem, I have termed this “The Three ‘Why’ Path to Sai”.

What are these “3 Why” and what are the four stages? Let us spend some time to grasp this for it would help us (a) To develop a roadmap to make the most important journey in our life and (b) To understand and discover where we are in this path.

In the first stage we ask the question, “Why Me?”

In the second stage, it is, “Why Not Me?”

At the third stage, we ask, “Why?”

And finally, at the fourth stage, there is no question, there is only Sai.

Why Me?

Let us start with the first one. No human being in this world is free from trials and tribulations. All have some or the other problems and they continue to cry out to the Lord, “Why Me?”

A student who fails in the exam, says, “Oh Bhagavan, Why me alone?”

A youth who does not get a job cries out, “Swami, Why Me?”

A person diagnosed with cancer says, “Out of all the people Why me, Swami?”

Everyone has some misgivings, regret and so on, and the funny part is each one of us thinks that we alone are going through this suffering.

Altercations with the Intimate Divine

Looking back at myself I find myself guilty of having raised this question any number of times. When faced with difficulties any number of times on account of my own weaknesses, I cry out to Bhagavan, “Swami, why me?”

And the immediate reaction is disappointment and frustration because there is no instantaneous reply or response and then comes anger. Next we start fighting with Swami – of course in our minds. I have had several bouts of such sessions with Bhagavan, fighting with my Swami expressing my fury, for with who else can one be so free other than God?

He is our closest and dearest friend, and the ocean of compassion that He is, we know Bhagavan will absorb all our ignorant and arrogant accusations.

Did not Bhadrachala Ramadas cry out to the Lord, “Oh Rama, why have you not come to save me? After all what mistake have I done? I have used the money which I have collected from taxes to build a temple for you!

Bhagavan said, “God created the entire world” and told man, “This whole world is meant for you; you can enjoy as you like, do whatever you want; God will not interfere.” And thus God chose to be the eternal witness.

“But then,” Swami said, “God places only one condition: Whatever man does, he will have to face the consequences of his actions, be it good or bad.”


“I made ornaments for You and now You are gladly wearing all those ornaments. Do they belong to You?

I have made it for You!”

In all his arrogance, Bhadrachala Ramadas accused the Lord.

Saint Thyagaraja also at one point of time, cried out to the Lord, “Rama, neelo shakthi ledha? Nalo Bhakthi Ledha? Is it that You don’t have strength to save me or I do not have the intensity of devotion?”

But we know, ultimately, the Lord’s love prevails and the devotee, in due course, melts in the mercy and compassion of the Lord.

“This boy, the way he shouts at Me!”

 

Coming back to my own experience, as I mentioned there were several bouts of such anger with Bhagavan, and once in one of the interviews, Swami, looking at the people seated around me, smiled and pointing out to me, He said, “This boy, the way he shouts at Me!”

Hearing this, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. On one hand, I was excited at the omniscience of the Bhagavan for He knew all this, on the other hand, I felt so bad that I had entertained such thoughts about our compassionate Lord.

Then, Swami beautifully explained this with an analogy. He said, “See, here is an orange fruit.

“What is there inside? There is sweet juice!

“And how is the sweet juice protected? There is a bitter skin outside. God has not provided the bitter skin outside without any purpose. It protects the sweet juice inside and if you want to taste the sweet juice, you have to remove the bitter skin.”

“Similarly,” Swami continued, “If you want true happiness in life, you have to go through difficulties and problems!”

It was such a beautiful explanation that it removed all the pain from my heart. In fact all difficulties of life lose their pinch and punch when we melt in the Love of God.

Was it not for this reason that Mother Kunti prayed to Krishna, “Please give me difficulties always, because only then, I can be constantly tuned to you?”

All Freedom with One Fundamental Rule

Once in Kodai Kanal, way back in 1994, we had several interactions with Bhagavan, where He revealed the intricacies and insights into the mysteries of creation.

Bhagavan said, “God created the entire world” and told man, “This whole world is meant for you; you can enjoy as you like, do whatever you want; God will not interfere.” And thus God chose to be the eternal witness.

“But then,” Swami said, “God places only one condition: Whatever man does, he will have to face the consequences of his actions, be it good or bad.”

This message of Bhagavan is so profound that once you understand this, we realize, why difficulties and problems come in our life, and how there is always a higher purpose, an inner meaning in these tribulations.

Mrs. Murphet says, Swami looked deep into her eyes and said, “You want me to cure your daughter? Yes, I can. But remember, she is going through this suffering on account of her past karmas. If not now, she will have to go through this in some future birth. But now, I am with her. I will take care of her. So, it is for you to decide if you still want Me to cure her, if you insist, I will.”

Once we realise this, the question “why me” loses its significance and now we learn to accept whatever comes in our lives, and we ask “Why not me”.

Why Not Me?

Let me explain the second stage “why not me”, with an example of two great personalities. One is a tennis player Arthur Ashe of whom some of us might have heard.

 

[To read a story featuring Arthur Asle published in October 2009 issue of H2H, please go here.]

Arthur Ashe was the first African American Tennis Player, who in his career played the international sport at the highest level of the game. He won three grand slam titles in 1968, 1970 and 1975. But unfortunately, thereafter destiny drew him into the jaws of death in a very strange way.

He first underwent a heart surgery in 1982 followed by a brain operation in 1988, after which he was found infected with HIV virus which causes AIDS, and this was on account of a blood transfusion. His family members and several of his fans all over the world were deeply pained and several letters came to him. One of the letters read,

“Dear Arthur, why did God have to choose you to suffer this deadly disease?”

Arthur is believed to have responded in a very profound way. He said, “Every year, 50 million children start playing tennis all over the world. Of these, 50 lakh learn to play good tennis.

Among them, 5 lakh learn to play professional tennis and then 50,000 somehow manage to reach the circuit, 5000 reach the grandslam, 50 reach the Wimbledon, 4 reach the semifinals and 2 reach the finals and that day, when I won the finals, and I held the Wimbledon cup with my hand, I was so delighted and ecstatic, I did not pause to ask, ‘God, Why me?’

“In that case, now when I am in pain, I have no right to ask God, Why me?”

Here was one person, who had understood that whatever he was facing in life had an inner meaning and a higher purpose.



The Omniscient One is an Ocean of Compassion

Let me narrate one more beautiful story. This was an anecdote narrated by Mrs. Howard Murphet, the wife of the author of one of the most popular books on Bhagavan titled “Sai Baba: Man of Miracles.”

One day, Mrs. Murphet was in the interview room with Bhagavan and there was an elderly woman, a senior devotee, with her daughter. It so happened that this daughter was suffering from a disease called leukodermia, which triggers the skin to lose pigmentation and one has white patches all over the body.

 

The mother was in deep agony and was crying out to Swami to cure her. She started narrating how difficult it was for her to even attend school because her friends would tease her, and in the future, this disease will only prove too costly for her.

Bhagavan listened to all her pleas and then as Mrs. Murphet says, Swami looked deep into her eyes and said, “You want me to cure your daughter? Yes, I can. But remember, she is going through this suffering on account of her past karmas. If not now, she will have to go through this in some future birth. But now, I am with her. I will take care of her. So, it is for you to decide if you still want Me to cure her, if you insist, I will.”

There was total silence, and we can imagine what a tough decision it was for the mother to make.

After a few seconds, the mother cried out, “Your grace and love is more important than anything. Let my daughter go through this suffering and wash away her karmas!”

The moment Swami heard this statement, He was overjoyed. He was ecstatic because the mother had allowed her wisdom to overpower her emotions.

Needless to say, the girl grew up to be a very happy woman with a good family basking under the grace and the love of the Lord. Therefore at this stage, people learn to accept difficulties that come their way and say “why not me”.

Why?

As we move on this evolutionary path, the question “why me” or “why not me” disappears, but a deeper understanding starts emerging and we start asking, “Why?”

Why has man to go through all these trials and tribulations in life? Why is pain an interval between two pleasures? And once we start asking these questions, an inner understanding dawns.

Every Divine Decree is a Mystery, but Always Right

Going back to the interaction with Bhagavan in Kodai Kanal in 1994, Swami narrates a very beautiful incident which is also cited by Ms. Phyllis Krystal in her book, “Sai Baba: The Ultimate Experience”.

Swami says, “One day in the darshan, you are all seated waiting for Me and there is a mother who has come with her young son who is blind.

Once we allow Bhagavan to become the driver of our lives, He will steer our lives amidst all obstacles to its destination. When we allow Swami to take control of our lives, He will intervene and see to it that our journey is very smooth. In fact, God himself, our Swami Himself, defines various strategies that God uses to intervene in man’s life to help him escape from the consequences of past evil actions.


“And the mother is crying out, ‘Swami, please help, please save my son, give him back his eyes’ and you find Swami is moving and just ignoring the lady.”

And this is how Swami was explaining the entire situation, and continued, “All of you feel very bad, and seem to say ‘Swami, why can’t you help her?’”

This is the time we must ask ourselves whether our love is greater than the infinite love of God!

But then we ask, “Why is Swami ignoring the plea of this woman?”

And then, Swami himself revealed the secret!

He said, “This boy in his past birth got into a fight with another boy. And then, he pierced his eye in anger with a nail.

 

“Having committed this sinful act, he had to pay for it. And the best way would be for the boy, rather his mind, to go through the same pain that he had caused for the other boy, and so, he is born blind.”

Therefore, often God’s response to our pleas and prayers may seem different from our response; it is only because God knows the past, the present and the future.

Remove Suffering = Remove Ignorance

But then, why does man commit all these mistakes? Why does he cause so much pain to others? Why does he cause so much suffering to another person and then cry out when he has to face the consequences? The reason Bhagavan says is only one - ignorance.

On account of ignorance, we fail to realize that we all are essentially One, arising and coming from the same divine source. Because of the lack of this understanding, we feel we are separate and are threatened by everything that is around us, and then we spend all our lives creating a false sense of security for ourselves even at the cost of hurting others. Therefore, the only solution is to give up this ignorance and bring God back to our lives and the key to this is faith.

Once we allow Bhagavan to become the driver of our lives, He will steer our lives amidst all obstacles to its destination. When we allow Swami to take control of our lives, He will intervene and see to it that our journey is very smooth. In fact, God himself, our Swami Himself, defines various strategies that God uses to intervene in man’s life to help him escape from the consequences of past evil actions.

Though man messes up his life and commits lots of sins, Swami looks out for some small act of goodness, a tiny act of selfless service using which as an excuse He can relieve the person from the results of his past karmas. Therefore, the key is surrender to God.

The Thilodhayaka of Sai – His Infinite Compassion

Going back to the interactions of 1984, Swami one evening narrated a very beautiful profound message. Generally we associate God with three attributes, Shristi, Sthithi and Laya - Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. But then, Bhagavan said, “There is one more special attribute called Thilodhayaka!”

This, He said, is Special Grace, and gave a beautiful analogy. Say, there is a teacher and a student. The pupil is very well behaved and sincere, but unfortunately in one subject, he scores very low; he gets only 30% and as per academic regulations, 35% is the required percentage to pass. So, he is deemed to have failed.

The teacher, however, fully aware of the background of the student takes mercy and gives him grace marks of +5, making the total 35, so that he passes. Swami said that God also uses this special grace at times.

Though man messes up his life and commits lots of sins, Swami looks out for some small act of goodness, a tiny act of selfless service using which as an excuse He can relieve the person from the results of his past karmas. Therefore, the key is surrender to God.

But this is not the final stage on the path to wisdom. It is a stage wherein we develop strong faith in the Lord, no doubt, but yet we leverage on this faith for our own benefit. We love Him so that He may help us and see us through this journey of life. But we do not Love Him for His sake.  

However, once we repeatedly taste the Love of God and experience His interventions in our life to save us from many a mishap, the bitterness associated with life disappears. All negativity dissolves and we see life in a totally new dimension. At this stage, we transcend both pain and pleasure. We understand that everything that happens in our life has a meaning. We just learn to accept life as it is, cheerfully. 

 
Sri Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, better known as Rajaji

Let us recall the life of Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, better known as Rajaji, who was the second Governor General of independent India and twice the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency. He was a great soul who had reached this final stage of understanding.

That is why, though he faced several hardships in his life, he had no complaints against God. He had no regrets. He knew it was all for his good.

Rajaji married at an early age and his wife passed away giving birth to three sons and two daughters. He then lost his much-loved son and both his sons-in-law, leaving his two daughters as widows.

Yet, later in his life he composed that wonderful song, which remains etched itself in the hearts of so many of us, and sung by none other than Smt. M.S. Subbulaxmi weaving the magic of music and devotion into it. Kurai Ondrum Illai Marai Murti Kanna……. 

As Rajaji lay dying in General Hospital, Madras, in December 1972, the last words spoken by him from his death bed, were: “I am happy”. This is the final leg in the journey towards wisdom. Total acceptance of everything in life, cheerfully! 

 

I wish to conclude by narrating a wonderful story of a little girl who was once traveling in an aircraft. Suddenly, the flight developed some problems on account of wind turbulence and started losing altitude. The pilots were contemplating on a crash landing. All passengers were anxious and panicking but this little girl seemed so calm.

One woman aboard the flight was watching this scene and couldn’t believe her eyes. To their luck, the plane regained control and landed safely few minutes later at the airport.

After alighting, the woman made her way to this young girl and asked her how come she maintained such calm amidst all the chaos. Was she not frightened? The answer that the girl gave left the woman dumbfounded.

The innocent girl replied with a smile, “No Mam, it’s just that Daddy was driving the plane. He was the pilot and so I knew nothing would go wrong”!

Brothers and sisters; that is the faith we too should have in our Lord. Let us remember always that our Divine Father and Mother is driving the plane of our life. He is in full control. He is in charge. Why fear then? Why worry then? Why complain then? Why this why at all? Let us not ask “Why me?”, nor “Why not me?” nor “Why”. Let it be just Sai, Sai and Sai. 
 

Dear Reader, did this article help you in any way? Please share your feelings with us by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

 

 

 

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