A rose bud offered to God
Another day at Prasanthi Nilayam
It was one of those days when speakers were scheduled to deliver talks before Bhagawan Baba’s divine discourse in the Sai Kulwant hall at Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi. Everyone began to assemble in the hall from 1:30 pm itself for the programme that would begin at about 4:00pm. The front blocks, as always, were occupied by the students. When Swami arrived for His darshan rounds, the hall was an epitome of discipline and devotion as more than 10,000 people drank in the nectarine bliss of simply seeing Him.
Baba arrived on the dais and the proceedings began with the mighty chanting of the Vedic hymns by students from the Sri Sathya Sai University. Ten minutes later, the first speaker for the evening was introduced. As he walked out to speak, he carried a little rose bud with him. Undoubtedly, that would be his offering to Swami before he took blessings and proceeded to the podium. That interaction lasted a few moments and soon, the speaker was standing before the microphone delivering his speech.
Seated at the center of the dais, Swami picked up the rose bud that had been offered to Him.
The bud ‘grows’
At first, He began to simply look at the little bud nestled in His hands. A sweet little smile blossomed on His face. Then, ever so gently, He began to open the closed petals of the rose flower. It had to be done slowly else the petal would get disconnected from the main stalk. He held the stalk in His left hand and was opening up the petals, one by one, with the fingers of His right hand.
The green, leafy sepals that were located at the bottom of the flower too opened. As the speaker continued to speak, it was an amazing sight to see Swami so engrossed in this ‘gardening’ task! The stalk of the flower had a few thorns which He broke off. That was quite amazing because the thorns are pretty strongly glued to the stalk. Once the few thorns were stripped away, He continued with the act of opening the petals. And again, the strength of His fingers gave way to their tenderness and gentleness.
It took about 15 minutes for the talk to conclude. In those 15 minutes, the rose bud that had been offered to Swami underwent a complete transformation. It was no longer a bud but a fully blossomed rose flower sans its thorns. As the speaker concluded, there was a thunderous applause. Swami smiled and there was a look of satisfaction on His face. For an observer who had been seeing the metamorphosis of the rose bud, it felt as if the applause was meant for Swami who had done something beautiful - blossomed a bud into a flower. And Swami seemed to simply smile it away in divine humility.
And naturally so, because day in and day out, He is engaged in exactly this. Accepting the lives that have been offered to Him as tiny buds and making them blossom with His divine, transforming touch!
Whatever be the objective that one wishes to achieve in life, the world believes in starting early. A child is enrolled into an arts class, gymnastics lessons, kindergarten or music at ages like 3-4. That is considered great and wonderful. However, when it comes to spirituality, the thought is to take it up after retirement at age 60!
Spirituality is not to be confused with religion. Spirituality is a way of life where one keeps in mind the impermanence of the world and everything in it.
Thus, it makes sense that one desirous of taking up spirituality should also get into it young. That was exactly what Swami told a student very poignantly in an interview -
“If anyone offers their love to God in their youth, they earn the right to demand from the Lord anything, anytime. Youth is the most sacred time in life which should be offered to the Lord.”
An excerpt from a discourse
We offer food to God on a clean plantain leaf. But today we have to enquire what type of food is offered and to whom. The human body is the plantain leaf, the heart of man is the sacred vessel and virtues, and sacred feelings and good conduct are like the sacred food items. But to whom are these being offered? These are being offered to demons of evil qualities, wicked feelings such as anger, hatred, and jealousy. The food that is eaten and left over by these demons of hatred, anger, and jealousy is being offered to God. That is why people today are the victims of restlessness, difficulties, sorrows, and misery.
Young age is like a delicious fruit. You should offer this sweet and delicious fruit to God. It is not possible to worship God after your retirement in old age, when your body becomes weak, the sense organs lose their power, and the mind becomes feeble. Start early, drive slowly, reach safely. Start praying to God right from the early age. If you do not undertake sacred actions when your physical and mental faculties are strong, then when will you perform them? What can you do when the sense organs have lost all their power?
How can you think of God when you become a decrepit old man? Offer the fragrant flowers of your mind and heart to God with total faith at a young age, when your body is strong and sense organs are powerful. This is the true naivedyam (food offering) that you have to offer to God. But people today do not make such offerings. When their senses become weak after indulging in all sorts of sensual pleasures, they offer them to God like offering leftover food.
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