Volume 7 - Issue 11
November 2009
Other Articles

Drawing from the Fountain of Infinite Bliss

- The golden memories of an alumna of Sri Sathya Sai University, Anantapur campus.

By Ms. Veenavardhan

If bliss is a happy memory that can be revisited in the deep recesses of the heart for repeated enjoyment, without diminishing its power in the least bit, I am blessed to have a vast reservoir at my disposal. Having been among the first batch of students (1970-73) to have graduated from the Anantapur campus of Sri Sathya Sai University, I am blessed to have plenty of blissful memories to fall back upon, and soak my soul in this warm spring of pure joy from which I draw my strength to face life and all that it throws at me.

Conquered by the Deluge of Pure Love

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Divine Darshan in the yester years.... The Lord walks on the sands and drenches every soul with His sweet smiles

I hail from Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh and currently I live in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu.  When I studied for my Bachelors in Arts from what was then the Sri Sathya Sai Arts and Science College for Women at Anantapur, in Andhra Pradesh, I was among the very first batch of girls to reside in the newly constructed hostel building.

My parents wanted me to study at Bhagavan’s college since my elder sister V. Pullamma was a lecturer in the department of Economics at the college.  Initially, I did not know much about Bhagavan.  But as I experienced His parental love and care for each of us, His daughters, my love for Him and faith in His divinity grew on its own.
 

College Foundation Rests Solely on His Love & Sacrifice

It was His detailed attention towards our welfare that was impossible to miss.  For instance, right into the program, Bhagavan realized the challenge that many of us faced coming from a non-English speaking background.  He arranged extra coaching classes to help us cope with our studies.

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Swami in the Anantapur campus of Sri Sathya Sai University

Like a concerned parent, He visited us almost every week, traveling the 120 kilometre distance to and fro, just to ensure that we were well looked after, happy, comfortable and at home in our new surroundings.  What sacrifices He made for our welfare! His love was simply the sweetest experience of our lives.  We fervently counted days until His next visit. 

Open Communication with the Divine Parent

Bhagavan encouraged us to be forthcoming in expressing our problems to Him.  He told us, “Do not fear the Principal or Warden.  Tell Me your problems.  Be bold, bangaru (bangaru means gold – a term of endearment in Telugu) about what you want, and ask Me. You all have left your parents and come here.  It is My duty to take care of you.” 

So in all simplicity, we asked for fans to be installed, troubled as we were by the arid and hot weather of Anantapur.  The very next day Bhagavan got fans fixed in our dining hall, making our meal times a lot more enjoyable.  Like a doting mother, He sent pickles, sweets, fruits and such goodies for us.  Bhagavan became our ever-smiling, ever-loving, ever-caring mother. So pure, gentle and sensitive was His love and concern for us that the progression of our bonding with the Divine Mother that we found in Sai was natural and unstoppable. 

Bhagavan encouraged us to be forthcoming in expressing our problems to Him.  He told us, “Do not fear the Principal or Warden.  Tell Me your problems.  Be bold, bangaru (bangaru means gold – a term of endearment in Telugu) about what you want, and ask Me. You all have left your parents and come here.  It is My duty to take care of you.” 

During the times He came to visit, which was almost every week, often for overnight or a few days, He spend the mornings in meeting with the staff.  We the students could not help ourselves from hovering in the corridors of the college building, waiting for the meetings to conclude.  Then we could interact with the Lord who had now become the only goal of our lives.

Divine Draw Irresistible

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Evenings with Bhagavan were the most memorable.  We gathered around Him as iron fillings are drawn to a magnet. We were all one big happy family with our Divine parent, seated in the centre, ever willing to fulfill our childish fantasies.  I remember how we used to ask Him to sing bhajans of our choice.  He always obliged!

Ever so sweetly He belted out such numbers as were most popular with the students then:

Chitta chora Yashoda ke baal, Natavaralal, Govinda Krishna Jai and Sathyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma ….

After the bhajan singing session, Bhagavan used to dine with us.  He often enquired if we were getting the same quality of food always or if the good food was a special treat because He was visiting us?  We just could not miss His parental concern and love for us.  The cup of our joy overflowed too many times over and our Sweet Sai became to us our divine mother, father, friend and guide, all rolled into one.  The experience was just heavenly.

“you must learn to conduct yourselves well in the world after you leave the portals of the college.”

Cosmic Comedian, Playful Teacher

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At times, He made us laugh our heads off with His great sense of humour.  His divine comedy shows included the time He insisted that a young lecturer, who had just got married, tell Him the name of her husband. 

As it is not considered proper etiquette for a wife to utter the name of her husband in some traditions, she simply blushed and lowered her head.  Bhagavan then mischievously coaxed her, “I am asking you.  Won’t you tell Me?”  At last, she relented to His pressure tactics and told Him the name of her husband ever so softly. 

Immediately the playful Swami teased her,Dunnapota, (or buffalo – another term of endearment in Telugu) can any lady mention her husband’s name?”  We all laughed merrily at her discomfort as Bhagavan pulled off the trick so sweetly.

Homemaking - the Highest Spiritual Discipline

Ever the teacher, in His light and serious moments, He taught us life lessons that have stood the test of time through the four decades since.  He told us repeatedly that “you must learn to conduct yourselves well in the world after you leave the portals of the college.”  Emphasizing the vital role that women play as the thermostats of the spiritual and moral climate of their homes, He urged us to strive to be good homemakers first, and to bring a good name to our parents, in-laws and college, before venturing into other ambitions.  First things first, He reminded us, because, when all is well on the home front, life will flow and expand with greater ease beyond the home as well.  He knew that by educating girls, He was educating the entire family on how to live a values-based life.

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Bhagavan taught us to integrate spirituality into our practical lives as homemakers, telling us never to undermine the significance of this role.  He explained it by giving us easy-to-relate-to examples on how one can actually follow the paths of action, devotion and knowledge, all at once as homemakers. 

He said the path of gyana or knowledge came into play in the very act of cooking a wholesome meal for the family, as one had to know which ingredients and in what quantity to use for making the food healthy and tasty.  If knowledge of balanced culinary skills was indicative of the Gyana Marga (path of wisdom), then the very act of preparing for the meal, and cooking it was Karma Marga or the path of action.  Finally, the path of devotion or Bhakthi Marga is easy to follow through if one thinks of God while cooking, and offers the food to God as prasadam or consecrated food for the family members that consume it, seeing them as the incarnations of the same divinity.  Then to serve it, one must be loving and ever smiling, happy to have the privilege to be doing so. 

When undertaken in such a spirit, the seemingly simple act of cooking and serving a meal becomes the highest spiritual discipline. Swami explained how the role of a homemaker offers great chances for spiritual growth. He also told us that a good homemaker fosters devotion by organizing devotional and service activities.

Surprise Visit, Fresh Apple - Did I Dream it Up?

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Personally for me, the most memorable experience of my student days goes back to the time when one day I had to wrap my head around an unexpected Political Science test for which I was totally unprepared.  So for some last minute cramming, I retreated to the quiet college building early one morning.  It was a Thursday, and I was wearing a white saree as we all dressed in white on that day of the week.  Stressed and panic stricken, I was engrossed in serious studying when I suddenly heard a soft, sweet voice saying “Virisina mallepoovu” which means “Blossoming Jasmine”. 

And lo and behold it was Him!  Bhagavan had arrived in the college just then, totally unannounced and was standing right next to me, just as it typically happens in one’s dream!  If that wasn’t enough, He then proceeded to materialize a delicious apple and gave it to me.  My joy knew no bounds.  Even today, when I think of that moment, I find myself lost in bliss.  Sometimes I wonder if it really happened!  I later ate the apple and shared it with everyone else.  Then Bhagavan advised me to go and inform the Principal and the Warden that Bhagavan had arrived in the college.

Now you know what I mean by this reservoir of bliss that I dip into every now and then to refresh my soul.

Coming Home to Prashanthi Nilayam

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If His love and caring for us made Anantapur our home away from home, then Prashanthi Nilayam was definitely our second home to which He invited us for all the major festivals.  We had many chances to participate in the various service activities as Bhagavan constantly told us to open our hearts and broaden our minds by performing acts of selfless service. We worked in the canteen joyfully and to endorse our efforts towards self growth, our divine Sai treated us to sweets, ice creams and fruits. 

We celebrated His birthday with great joy.  Those images are etched in our hearts of Him coming in a procession early in the morning along with the chosen mother Eswaraamma.  The blessed mother and senior ladies applied the ceremonial oil on Bhagavan’s hair.

I remember He used to wear yellow in the morning and a white robe in the evening, as He sat on a swing while playback singer and devotee Mrs. P. Susheela rendered devotional songs.  Those days of the birthday celebrations felt so heavenly that we didn’t realize how time flew by and we used to return to Anantapur with a heavy heart.

Life Deals a Different Hand at Each Turn

While I enjoyed such close contact with the divine Lord Sai during my student days, life dealt me a different hand afterwards. Later, for a period of 20 years, I could not come back to my home, my Prashanthi Nilayam!  I did have an occasional darshan of Baba at Bengaluru or Chennai but not much else.  Then one night I dreamt that He came to my house.  I was confused as to how I should receive Him.  He said to me: “You need not do anything.  Take padanamaskar (salutations at the feet).  You have got higher sense.”

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After this dream, I have always felt Bhagavan’s guidance in overcoming the problems of my life.  And these solutions come through different channels; it can be intuition, books, timely advice through elders and so on.

No Season, Reason or Location for His Love

Six years into my marriage, Swami finally blessed me with the experience of motherhood.  Once it so happened that I was at a function at the factory where my husband worked at that time.  I prayed to Bhagavan to bless my child.  Just then a roll of paper fell from the sky and landed next to me.  After a moment’s hesitation, I picked and unrolled it.  I was astonished to find a 10 by 10 inch picture of Bhagavan lighting a lamp.  I cried with joy.  His blessings in the most unexpected of locations lit my child’s life.  To this day I treasure that precious picture. 

After many years, I took the leap of faith and decided to continue my education. I wanted to get a Bachelors in Education degree.  As I anxiously awaited my results, my son brought me a picture from his friend’s mother.  It was of our dearest Bhagavan with the words “Why Fear When I Am Here”.  I felt a resurgence of confidence and calm.

Once when my husband was sent on a military mission to the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir, I was very worried, since I was unable to contact him for many days due to stormy weather.  I prayed hard and heard Bhagavan’s voice assuring me “You are going to get a call, don’t worry.”  Within a few seconds, the telephone rang and sure enough it was my husband on the line.  All was well with Bhagavan’s grace and compassion.

Today, after a gap of 20 long years, finally, it looks like He has tested me enough.  Now, for the past 12 years, Bhagavan has given me the opportunity of visiting and serving in His divine abode Prashanthi Nilayam.

Additionally, I feel so blessed to serve as His instrument as I assist the visually impaired by being their reader and scribe.  It is as though my tender-hearted parent is making up for the two-decade long exam He put me through.  I pray that this shower of His love and presence in my life continues forever. 

When I try to say it all, I realize how inadequate words are as a medium to express my deep and loving gratitude to Bhagavan for His presence in my life.  I shudder to think what and where would I be without Him! In being His daughter I draw my sense of self-worth and that is all that matters to me.

        

Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like more such stories from devotees who have been touched by His Love? Please write to us at [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

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