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LOVE THAT CANNOT BE DUPLICATED

By Ms. Lakshmi S. Menon


Ms. Lakshmi S. Menon is a former student of the Anantapur Campus of SriSathyaSaiUniversity and currently is engaged in service activities at Bhagavan’s ashram in Prasanthi Nilayam.

Many moments make up a life - some happy, some sad, some remarkable, some mundane. But there are certain moments which stand out in our lives because they are moments filled with the Presence of God. What then of moments when we experience the tender love and infinite compassion of a living, loving God who showers us with His Love and Grace in His physical presence and envelopes us with His Divine protection when we are away from Him physically? Such moments are many in the lives of the devotees of Bhagavan; however, the bond that He shares with His students is something truly unique.

God is a Part of Our Every Moment

When we enter the portals of Bhagavan’s holy University, the Sri Sathya Sai University, either at the women’s college at Anantapur or at the men’s campuses at Puttaparthi or Brindavan, it is as though we have entered a new world, a tranquil world, untouched by the noise and turmoil of the world outside. In these sanctuaries of Bhagavan’s immense love, we learn many lessons. To my mind, the most important lesson we learn is that spirituality is not something separate from daily living.

In fact, the way of the Spirit is the base on which the way of the world truly rests. God is not to be worshipped on certain days, or at certain times; God is a part of every moment. God is not separate from anything; He is Omnipresent because nothing is too small for Him. He is in everything.

   
Sri Sathya Sai University's Anantapur college for women

From the smallest need to the biggest emergency, we experience Swami’s watchful and loving care that manifests in the most practical of ways. To our amazement, we realise that God wants to be totally involved in our lives. He wants to help us in every way; it is we who distance Him because sometimes we think we should not ‘trouble’ Swami for silly matters. The Omnipotent and Omnipresent One cannot be troubled! The Omniscient One is aware of everything, but He likes us to pray so that we become aware of what we truly want and through our dependence on Him, we build up this sweet relationship with the Divine.

 

“How can I rest?”

During my days as a student in Anantapur, more than a decade ago, when the holidays approached, we girls used to face some problems getting confirmed railway reservations, especially for students from far-off places states of India like West Bengal, Delhi and the North-east. Those days, in the eighties, direct trains were not that many, and railway ticketing was not computerised. Typically, our journeys took a couple of days. From the sheltered environs of the Anantapur campus, to suddenly enter the hustle-bustle of cities like Bangalore, Madras or Calcutta was like a minor culture-shock!

But while travelling, we used to concretely experience Swami’s presence. People would mysteriously appear to help us on our way and then just as mysteriously disappear when we turned around to thank them. Meanwhile our confidence got further boosted when once we heard of Bhagavan’s response to the words of some devotees. These people, well-meaning no doubt, told Swami that now that the students were all going home for holidays, Swami could take some rest, finally. Swami often used to declare those days that His only property consisted of His students and that He spent 75% of His time with them, because all His hopes for the world rested on His students. Swami’s reply to these people was very thrilling for us. He said, “How can I take rest now? I have to go with each and every one of them, travel with them and see that they reach their homes safely. So how can I rest?” The following incident stands testimony to this wonderful statement of the Lord.

Superior Love at Play

It was the spring of 1992. We were a group of 21, travelling from Anantapur to Kerala. Many of us had completed our courses of study, and so we had a lot of luggage too. I still do not know how it happened; now, it would be an unthinkable risk to take, but on the day of our home-ward journey, we had only ‘current’ tickets and no reservation. We boarded the train at mid-morning from Anantapur station and we would all be reaching different parts of Kerala the next day. The train came, we got into the carriage that came in front of us, many of us stuck like refugees near the wash-rooms; but the resilience of youth did not deter our high spirits! We thought we would handle the Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) when he came and not worry till then. Cross the bridge when you come to it! After some time, to our dismay we learnt that this particular coach would be going a relatively shorter distance with this train, and then it would get attached to some other train, at a station that we would reach at mid-night. So we decided to get down at Dharmavaram railway station and relocate to another coach that would go all the way to our destination.

With tons of luggage, it was indeed a daunting task. As planned, we got down at Dharmavaram, and forming a human ‘chain’, were passing on pieces of luggage quite a further way off, when a TTE accosted me and demanded what we were up to. I had really no time to explain, so I mumbled something incoherent and continued to pass luggage. The train would be leaving any moment. He watched us for some time and then he asked me, a little impatiently, “Are you students from Sai Baba’s college at Anantapur?” On hearing Swami’s name from a total stranger, I stopped in my tracks and paid attention. Then he went on. “See madam, we got a message from our ‘superior officer’ that a group of girl-students from Sai Baba’s college at Anantapur would be coming by this train and that we were to keep 21 berths ready for them at Dharmavaram.” As I listened open-mouthed, He went on, “If you don’t care to claim those berths right now, I am going to dispose them off to others.” There was nothing else to do. After that we quickly re-assembled and triumphantly went to claim our reserved berths. I tried to ask the TTE who this ‘superior’ officer was, and how did he send the message and so on, but he was extremely vague and after checking our tickets, disappeared. We had told no one of our plight. Also, we would never have known that this arrangement had been made for us, and whom to approach to avail of this facility.

But for the fact of having got into the ‘wrong’ coach we would not have met this TTE either. In this world, even when you plead for help, not many people bother, or even if they do, it seldom comes free. But in this case, it was sudden, unexpected help that came unasked, in our time of need. We had been anxious, but perhaps, in the exuberant and trusting faith of the young had truly surrendered to Swami. We believed that somehow things would be taken care of. We never imagined it would be done in such a royal way though!

Self-confidence is Sai-confidence

The story does not end here. I was to travel till Trivandrum, but I had to get down at a small station called Alwaye, and then board another train, since this one wasn’t going all the way. I got down and went to the ladies’ waiting room that was next to a small cafeteria. The room rapidly filled up with many women, but after a while, I heard some commotion and then to my surprise, I saw that people were hastily leaving en-masse. On enquiring, I was told, some rioting had suddenly erupted in the town, on account of a religious issue and a violent mob was approaching the railway station. I was stuck there, all alone with my entire luggage and nowhere to go. I could hear the mob coming nearer. I just quietly sat inside, and strangely, I did not feel any sense of panic. It was one of those times when I was sure Swami would protect me. So I waited. I heard sounds of shattering glass next door, and shouts and yells. After some time there was silence. Slowly, people started coming back. I too got up and went to investigate. I found out then that the mob of rioters had come till the cafeteria next door, smashed the windows and so on and then simply retreated back the way they came. Some “invisible hand” had made them turn back and go away from where I was sitting all alone, relying on the Lord without whose Will, not even a blade of grass can move. The same Lord, who had assumed the guise of a “superior officer” of the Railways, the one who mysteriously answered unasked, unwritten petitions, was at work here too.

 
Swami distributing pens to the final year students
 
Sai Mother with the girl students of the Anantapur campus

The Inimitable Divine

When you live in the proximity of the Divine, miracles are very common-place. After a while, you even take them for granted. Once I was asked by a priest of a Church, who was a visiting examiner while I was studying for B.Ed at Trivandrum, whether Sai Baba’s miracles are true. Does He really create things? And what I told him then was, miracles are not miracles in Swami’s presence, but very natural to Swami. That the sun should rise every day and send beams of energy to sustain the earth is a great miracle. But we take it for granted. We do not question why there should be life only on Earth and not on Venus or on Mars. We do not stop to marvel at the wonder of it. We simply believe and it becomes a part of our psyche and we accept it. So too it is with Bhagavan Baba. His devotees, after having experienced Him, believe in Him and so for them, nothing is impossible for Him. Why talk of the para-normal or the super-natural?

In the crass materialistic and divisive world that we inhabit, what could be a greater miracle than someone providing free medicare, educare and socio-care of the highest quality to thousands of people, with no strings attached, no questions asked about caste, creed, religion, nationality, race, or any such consideration? Need is the only criterion here. That is why, from the ‘naxalite’ regions of interior Andhra to the parched city of Chennai, Swami’s Drinking Water Supply Project reaches out with the same concern – of alleviating human distress. There are people who try to prove scientifically, that this is all very clever trickery, that there is some ‘catch’ somewhere and certain TV programmes even have so-called magicians reduplicating the creation of vibhuti, in front of small children, in order to ‘enlighten’ them.

It is typical of science to destroy the essence of phenomena and to focus its narrow-minded gaze at the ‘how’ of things and never on the ‘why’. That is why very often, they miss out on the bigger picture or miss the most obvious facts that are clear to the layman. Hence, these so-called rationalists do not even pause to realise, that Swami’s vibhuti has certain qualities which can never be duplicated. The vibhuti of our beloved Lord has healed, cured, ‘cancelled’ cancers, warded off calamities, averted accidents, made the dumb speak, the crippled walk, the blind see and the same vibhuti manifested at one time can taste bitter to one and sweet to another. It would be interesting to see a re-duplication of all this, and that too outside the confines of a laboratory, without controlled conditions. Swami cannot be copied because of Who He Is and Why He has come.

 

Finally, miracles are natural to Swami, because they are an expression of His immense, all-encompassing love for suffering humanity. It is His infinite compassion that gushes forth as holy ash and chains and rings and talismans or a golden siva lingam in response to the prayers of millions of devotees on Sivaratri day. However, to comprehend even a minute fraction of this Divine phenomenon, one has to have a heart that can believe in the possibility of Love in a loveless world. Such a Love that seeks no returns, which is gentle, immediate, patient, forgiving and kind and radiates to all beings, human and animal and insect, irrespective of whether it is understood or not and very often misunderstood by narrow human minds is something that can only be experienced, never explained.

Another Sweet Moment

 

To illustrate the simplicity of His Divine nature, I recall yet another sweet moment from my student days. It is a healing that comes to mind. Once we girl-students had all come to Puttaparthi from Anantapur for Swami’s Darshan and those days, we were allowed to take trays of toffees if it happened to be our birthday or some such occasion. I was sitting with a friend behind a girl holding a tray. Swami came near us, picked a whole fistful of chocolates and showered them merrily all over us and walked away. After He had gone quite a distance, I found this friend suddenly weeping uncontrollably. All I knew was that she wasn’t well; she had some eye ailment. And then she told me what had just occurred.

She had some problem in her eye, due to which she would see black spots in her line of sight. A doctor at home had advised minor surgery, but she was terrified of being operated upon. When Swami came for Darshan, these black spots in her eye covered Him too and she could not see Him clearly.

She was very remorseful at this and that is when a toffee thrown casually and playfully by Swami hit her eye and dislodged her glasses. She was in tears but after a while, she wiped her eye, still throbbing with the direct hit from Swami, when to her amazement she discovered she could see clearly! The black spots that had plagued her vision for weeks had simply melted away!

Life with Sai – Journey Extraordinaire

This is what Swami is – Sweet, Simple, Natural, Unostentatious, Jovial, and Compassionate beyond compare. He watches over us, as He often says, like how the eye-lids guard the eyes. And yet, He never expects anything back. He used to tell us about the value of gratitude; of showing it to our alma mater, our parents. The only thing He ever expects from His students is to bring a good name to Him and to be ideals in society. His life is a silent saga of Love and our lives with Sai is a challenging journey of hope and love towards a truly meaningful existence. Jai Sai Ram.

Courtesy: Mathrubhumi’s “Divine Love”.


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Vol 5 Issue 06 - JUNE 2007
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