Volume 6 - Issue 11
NOVEMBER - 2008
Illuminating Lessons at His Lotus Feet - Part 1
By Mr. R. Venkatesh Prasad
Many were the lessons that we learnt while we were students here. The experience was much more enriching at that point of time as Swami was amidst us, talking and spending so much time with us everyday; we learnt a lot from Him directly.
I would like to share a couple of my experiences that have made a lasting impression on my mind. I draw inspiration and courage from these lessons learned at the Lotus Feet on a day to day basis.
I Am Permanent - You come and go
I very vividly recollect an incident which happened during my B.Com days at Brindavan. It was during the winter holidays. A few of us had stayed back as we wanted to spend the holidays with Swami.
One fine morning Swami gave us a surprise – He was blessing us all with an individual photograph with Him the next day. So, the next morning, we were all eagerly waiting for this rare opportunity inside Trayee Brindavan, Swami’s abode in Bangalore. Swami decided to have this photo session on the lawns in front of His building and then Himself selected an appropriate location. A few of us stood to the right of Swami, while the others were on His left, awaiting His command.
Swami had designated two of the institute lecturers to be the photographers for the day. After having ensured that all arrangements have been made, Swami commanded us to come quickly one by one for the photo session. We took our turns alternatively, a boy from the left side followed by a boy from the right, and so on. All the while Swami continued posing for the camera without moving even an inch from his selected posture. When it was my turn.
I ran to Swami and stood near Him anxiously waiting for the prized photo to be taken. When there was a brief interlude as the film roll in one of the cameras had to be changed, Swami continued looking at the camera and then made a statement which had a very profound impact on all of us present there on that beautiful day.
Swami said, “I am permanent. You come and go, but I am always here.”
On the face of it, it seemed a very matter-of-fact statement from Swami, but it contained in its essence the very secret of human life. At the Universal level - God is always there, we come and go. At the University level - Students come and go, but Swami is always there as the Divine Chancellor.
Swami used to always talk to us about Sathyam (Truth) and Rutham (Unity of thought, word and deed). Swami used to say Rutham is permanent; it is there for all times. Swami’s statements are not just for the present moment, they are to be preserved and cherished for posterity. Each time one recollects the Divine Words, they communicate different messages to suit the occasion and time.
Being Swami's Student
This incident also occurred during my student days at Brindavan. During those days, Swami used to spend about two to two-and-a-half hours talking to us every day after evening darshan and bhajans. Our Trayee Brindavan sessions used to start at 4.30 in the evening and on some days it used to go on till even 8.00 p.m.! Swami used to speak to us on everything from the Ramayana and Mahabharata to the Bermuda Triangle! Swami literally covered everything.
During those sessions, few elder devotees were invited to join and Swami used to ask them to address us and share their experiences. On one such occasion, Swami had asked an elderly lady devotee to speak to us. She narrated a couple of incidents from her life and advised us on how we need to lead our lives. During the course of her talk, she revealed that her son was also Swami’s student and had passed out from Sathya Sai College, Brindavan about a decade earlier.
At that point, Swami suddenly said, “No”. The speaker tried to clarify by giving her son’s name, the year in which he had passed out, and so on. Swami again said, “No”. Any further explanation only yielded a firm “No” from Swami.
After a brief pause, Swami said, “He was a student of Sathya Sai College, he was not Swami’s student. Swami’s student is different from the student of Sri Sathya Sai University or Sathya Sai College.”
The message was clear – the title of Sai Student was to be earned by his Love and Grace and not to be assumed by entering the portals of Sri Sathya Sai University.
Internal Examination is Swami's Examination
During the 1980s, Swami used to spend a lot of time during darshan and bhajans standing and talking to us in the Mandir portico at Prashanti Nilayam. He used to talk to us for over an hour or so on many topics. I remember one such opportunity we had. During a morning darshan, Swami was in the portico and there were only about seven of us students sitting there. Swami walked towards us and we promptly surrounded him.
Among the many topics, Swami discussed about examinations that day, and then broached the issue of the internal examination. The internal examinations in those days used to consist of slip tests, quizzes, and so on. It was continuous evaluation on a day-to-day basis, right from the beginning of the semester till the semester-end examination. All the marks scored in the internal examinations went into the overall semester marks.
That day Swami posed us a query, “What is an internal test?” We all tried giving our response. However, Swami kept shaking His head saying that He did not agree with it. It so happened that I was kneeling right behind Swami, in fact, I was the only boy behind Him, while the other six were kneeling in a semi-circle in front of Him. Swami slowly turned and looked at me. I ventured to answer; however, I was trembling. I looked at Swami and said, “Swami, internal examination is Swami’s examination.”
Swami immediately patted my cheek and said, “Bangaru (golden one)! That is the right answer. Internal examination is Swami’s examination.” Swami’s fun always has a meaning. In this occasion He wanted to drive home the point to us that as far as ‘internal’ examination is concerned, Swami is the only evaluator as He is the Indweller within all of us.
Keep it Simple
There is another incident related to examinations. This occurred during the period when I was pursuing my MBA course at the University. One day, I happened to get the opportunity to sit in the first row in the Mandir. During those days, Swami used to reside in the Mandir itself. When He came out for darshan, to my surprise, He came straight to me and asked, “What examination do you have tomorrow?”
“Swami, it is Operation Research.”
I inched closer and with all confidence and a louder voice said, “Swami, it is Operation Research.” To my astonishment, I found Swami getting angry with me. He said, “What is this pichivada (crazy boy), operation… operation?” Saying that, with obvious displeasure, Swami walked away for darshan. Why was Swami angry? Did I say anything wrong? I could not understand. So, I asked my brothers who were seated beside.
“What did Swami ask? What did I say? Swami asked me what the examination was on the next day and I answered that it was Operation Research. Did I mispronounce it? Was my diction incorrect?”
They had heard me loud and clear. I had given the ‘correct’ answer. However, Swami was not happy. I pondered throughout darshan. Swami completed His rounds and came back to the Mandir, but He refused to look at me. He took people in for an interview, while I waited with bated breath to seek forgiveness from Swami. After a while, Swami came out and then it was time for the bhajans. In those days, evening bhajans used to start at six o’clock, and for fifteen minutes before this, there would be a flute recital by a devotee. On most days, while the music is going on, Swami used to come out and stand right at the edge of the portico. Looking towards the devotees’ side, both gents and ladies, He used to sway to the melody; none would speak. All eyes would feast upon His Divine Form. It was a blissful moment.
During such a divine moment, I was in the Mandir full of agony. Swami, only a few yards away from me, was enjoying the flute music. Once it was over, bhajans were about to start, and at that moment, Swami slowly turned, looked at me, and said, “You have Statistics exam tomorrow not Operation Research.” So saying, He went in for bhajans.
What Swami said was absolutely correct! Operation Research is nothing but Statistics! Throughout bhajans, I tried to comprehend the inner significance of what Swami had said.
The message was clear. Simplify.
The lesson that I learnt that day was this - whatever you communicate, please do so in the simplest manner so that the listener gets the message straight. Even though Operation Research by itself may have been the name of the examination, conveying it as Statistics would have made it simpler.
This lesson has been of great value to me in my life. I have always applied this dictum in my various interactions with people both in my professional and personal life, and have found that it has worked wonders.
When Swami is Happy Everybody is Happy
One more valuable lesson learnt at the Lotus Feet which has been of immense help to me in my life is this:
“How do you make everybody happy?” Swami asked one evening during darshan time at Prashanti Nilayam.
I knew that Swami was about to impart a very important message. I looked at Swami not knowing how to answer.
“How do you make everybody happy?” Swami repeated the question.
“Can you make everybody happy?” Swami asked me again. I now knelt down and awaited the message.
“No, it is not possible,” Swami continued
“You have a house with taps in the kitchen, wash basin, and in the bathroom; you have taps everywhere. Do you give a separate water connection to every individual tap? What do you do?” Swami asked lovingly and continued in his infinite Love and Grace.
“Water flows from all the taps because they are all connected to an overhead tank. When the tank above is full, water automatically flows through all the taps, whether you open the tap in the kitchen or the wash basin or in bathroom.
“The same is applicable in life too. Swami is the overhead tank and the people whom you meet in life are all taps in different rooms. It is not possible to make water flow (make people happy) by individually connecting each and every tap. So too, it is not possible to connect individually with every person or make every person happy. However, if you focus on keeping Swami happy, who is like the overhead tank; you automatically will make everybody happy. When Swami is happy, everybody is happy.”
I think there is one more truth in this. Swami used to say:
“Happy, happy, happy.
But now Swami said, “Make Swami happy, everybody will be happy.” Isn’t there a difference? The meaning to be understood from this is, ‘Yes, we make Swami happy by making the Swami present in everybody happy’. When we talk to a person, we should look at the Swami who resides in that person and try to make that Swami happy. Automatically whomever we meet in life will be happy.
The lessons learnt at His lotus feet are numerous; these are few that are etched in my mind forever.
(To be continued)
Vol 6 Issue 11 - NOVEMBER 2008
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