Dreams of God are true - another experience with Sathya Sai
Love lives by giving and forgiving
It was during the Ugadi of 2006, the New Year day for the Kannada and Telugu people in India, that the Yajur Mandir got sanctified with the divine touch for the first time. It was on this day that Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba entered His 'new' Divine Residence. When my mind flashes back to the happenings of that day, I cannot help but recollect yet another instance of dreams being reality where Swami is concerned. The episode took place as the Hindu year, Vyaya, began on the 30th of March 2006.
Swami seemed excited like a child about the inauguration of the new residence. Even as I type this sentence, my heart takes a detour. From my limited knowledge, this would be the first time that Swami would be getting a decent-sized room for Himself. Swami has always been liberal when it comes to comforts of the devotees. As far as His own comforts are concerned, notwithstanding the prayers and pleadings of thousands of devotees, He stayed in a small room that measured hardly 10 feet by 5 feet. His cot, table and chair were the only furnishings while a fan was His only companion against the harsh Puttaparthi heat. He had no TV, no gadgets - absolutely none of the items that any one of us consider as absolutely necessary. It was only Swami and Himself. His room above the Prashanti bhajan mandir led out to a stairway and this stairway was so narrow that Swami fitted on it only due to His petite frame. Once off the stairway, His privacy ended and the interview room opened out in the ground floor. Here, the environs were so different. A soft carpet on the floor, an exhaust fan, good lights and a modern fan! After all, wasn’t it for His dear devotees?
In 1993, He shifted residence to a room in the upper portion of the Poornachandra Auditorium. He again did not allow for any luxuries and comforts. His residence, in fact was a modified green room! Again, the veranda and public hall where He met devotees were well furnished but he did not allow the same to be done to His room!
Ah Lord! You never ever cared for yourself. All the while your thoughts and concern was about the devotees only. The small bathroom light in the residence was most used for He sat there late in the nights at times and early in the mornings reading the letters that His devotees offered. He used His human frame like a candle, burning away to provide light and warmth for everyone!
The Ugadi programme comes to life...
After pleadings, prayers, letters, requests and penance, He had agreed for Yajur Mandir. All of us students and the devotees were happy. We were excited because we felt that by convincing Swami to move into Yajur Mandir, we were doing at least something for Him! Swami, on His part, seemed to be mirroring our excitement. When Swami is eager about something, everyone shares in that eagerness! Thus, a host of programmes were planned for Ugadi 2006. The students' brass band had prepared a Band programme along with the Nadaswaram troupe. Another group of us students decided to plan a presentation on the significance of Ugadi in general and this Ugadi in particular.
The presentation we prepared was a medley of many things - songs, speeches, short skits, demonstrations and role-plays. In the recent past, Swami had seemed to enjoy them so much that whenever we sought His permission to put up a programme, He would instantly agree. On some occasions, we had even come prepared with a programme to the mandir and as Swami moved during darshan, had asked Him,
“Swami we have a programme ready; can we present it before you?”
Swami had readily agreed on that occasion.
In fact, it is with some pride that I say this - our batch was partly responsible for the inspiration that many districts and states derived to start putting up regular programmes in Sai Kulwant hall. Before 2005-2006, programmes were never held with such frequency! What beautiful days those were... but I shall reserve that reminiscence for another time perhaps.
It had now come to be that any occasion in the mandir was reason for us to celebrate because we would prepare a programme to be put up in front of Him. This time, there came a ‘hitch’. The devotees from Andhra Pradesh had also prepared a programme for Ugadi for it is the New Year Day in the state.
That was not the hitch. The hitch was that the warden called us and said,
“See, so many devotees from Andhra Pradesh have come prepared with a music programme. You boys get so many chances to put up programmes. (The years 2005-2006 saw us put up almost 16 programmes in His presence!) So, sacrifice Ugadi for those devotees.”
We were disappointed. When it comes to Swami, how much ever one gets, one is not satisfied!
“Sir! Let Swami decide that. We shall also prepare a programme. Whomsoever Swami wants, will put up the programme.”
“If Swami sees you boys, He will definitely give you the chance and that will deprive those devotees of their chance. So, you should not interfere this time.”
“Sir! Please don’t do this. Swami loves all equally and whatever He does is for our good...”
“Think that this as Swami telling you through me...” He smiled as he said that.
The tug-of-war went on. Finally, a midway solution was reached - we could prepare for a programme but we would have to sit for darshan in our normal uniform instead of colourful costumes.
Whenever we had prepared a programme, we had worn costumes as our way of indication to Swami (as if He needed it) about the same. Swami invariably would call one of us and ask, “What is up?” We would then detail Him about the programme and begin the presentation in His presence.
In that light, this ban on costumes put us at a disadvantage.
“Sir! How will we indicate to Swami? “
He smiled again and repeated our line back to us,
“Swami loves all equally and whatever He does is for our good...”
Accepting that, we began our preparations in full gusto. We had only 2 days to get a programme going and we began in right earnest. We broke down the programme into speaking parts, acting parts and singing parts and assigned them to different talented champions. Within a day, a nice programme had been whipped up and we practiced it for the whole day and night.
29th March 2006 - the day before
We had been informed that Swami was hosting a magnificent lunch for all the staff and students in the Poornachandra Auditorium on the occasion of the ‘house-warming’ ceremony of Yajur Mandir. 29th March was a Wednesday and we came to know, for the next day, Swami wanted only a short morning programme. He wanted all of us to be early in the auditorium for lunch. The thought of feeding His children seemed to have brought an eager anticipation in Him.
This combined with the fact that the Band, the Nadaswaram and the Andhra state organisation had prepared programmes, acted as a dampener for us. We wondered whether we were being too greedy in wanting to put up a programme on Ugadi. So, as we met for the final practice session on the night of the 29th, we were a set of doubtful faces. The next day was going to be a big and busy one. Was it worth the effort to keep practising the whole night and end up drowsy in the morning - all for our greed of putting a programme in His presence?
Not able to get an answer, we resorted to a method that has been used with Swami for decades - the toss! We went to His picture in the altar and asked,
“Swami please tell us whether we will be required to put a programme tomorrow morning?”
When we tossed the chits, the answer came - “NO”.
We all just dispersed and went to bed early.
Faith behind a toss
If you thought that we were crazy to do this ‘tossing’, wait till you hear the story of my classmate. Another little detour here to help the flow of the story! It was in the summer of 2007. There was news that Swami would be leaving for Kodaikanal anytime soon. When news of a Kodaikanal trip came to our ears, we students would immediately polarise into three categories.
The first were those who had received some sort of intimation from Swami that they were also in the entourage. They would spend all the time in preparing physically, mentally and spiritually for the trip.
The second were those who had made up their mind to go home during the vacations. They would concentrate on getting as much as possible of Swami before they would leave for their homes for a lovely vacation.
The third were those who were hopeful of being selected for the Kodaikanal trip in the days leading to Swami’s actual departure from Puttaparthi. About 30 of us were in this category! Being in the third category was challenging in ways more than one. If selected, it was joy supreme and the wait would have ‘fructified.’ If not selected, then one had to make hurried bookings to leave for home. Being the vacation time, all train bookings would be full. Thus, many of us would have to estimate a probable date of Swami’s departure and make a booking as a back-up!
Swami left for Kodaikanal on 26th of April that year. And this friend of mine, who was with us in the ‘third’ group started packing all his luggage.
“Hey! How are you going home?” I asked him.
“I have a train tonight.”
“Wow! How did you get reservation for tonight?”
“I had booked a month earlier. So it was no big deal.”
“That was pretty lucky! You booked so perfectly! Swami leaves in the morning and you leave for home at night.”
“That was no luck. I did what Swami told me to do.”
“Swami told you to book your tickets for the 26th? How?”
The ‘chits’ method is a variant of the ‘toss’. You write two options on two different pieces of paper and throw them before Swami. Pick one and follow it is the guidelines. I was wondering how this guy got answer through the chits.
“How did you do it?”
“Well”, he began “I was sure that Swami would leave in April. I just knew it. So, I took 30 chits of paper and wrote dates from 1st to 30th. I tossed all thirty in front of His picture and picked one. It was 26th. So I booked tickets for the 26th of April.”
Was I dumbstruck!
Now you will appreciate why we just agreed to the result of the toss and went to bed at night on the 29th of March 2006.
That night was a restful and uneventful sleep. There were no dreams too for me. We woke up in the morning to the New Year according to the Telugu and Kannada calendars. We got ready and went to the mandir. It was a Thursday. The mandir bore a festive look and in the background we could see the Yajur Mandir standing in all grandeur and majesty, awaiting the Lord to make a formal entry. Four bands and two music groups waited in readiness to perform in the Divine presence.
Swami made a royal entry in a specially made Lamborghini car which had His seat in the front and the driver’s seat behind. He was in a yellow robe and everyone gasped in joy and exclamation. Swami completed the darshan round and even as He entered the portico, asked for Aarthi. Aarthi was given instantly after the darshan round, even as the darshan music was on! So, there was no other performance in the morning. Swami told all of us, “Come there! A feast awaits you!” He was so happy and that made us happy.
Nothing needs to be said about the inauguration and the lunch that followed. It was a lovely event and the happenings of the morning are recorded separately. In brief however, here it is. Professors, Heads of the departments as well as doctors and other special guests were seated inside the annex building to the new house, where on the ground floor there is a huge open hall.
Swami first entered this annexe and blessed everyone and supervised the serving of the food there before He proceeded to the Poornachandra auditorium. The boys had prepared a cake for Him which He cut and made all of them happy. He went up and down the aisle raising His hands many times to bless one and all, and interacted with many people before He retired to His ‘new’ abode.
After a happy morning session, we returned to the hostel with our hearts (as well as our stomach) filled to the brim. Our students ‘programming’ group was happy that we had followed the ‘toss’ decision. Looking back, it felt so perfect and nice. So, with great satisfaction, we lay on our respective beds and were soon lost into the dream world. And then, I had the dream.
Swami sent a student as a messenger asking us to put up the programme in His presence. I was in a state of shock. We had not been expecting this. So, I rushed to the others and woke them from slumber telling that Swami was expecting us to put up a programme in the mandir.
I woke up in the hostel room. The time was 1:40pm. I rushed out and woke up everyone telling them Swami wanted us to put up a programme. Everyone was taken aback and I told them all about my dream.
“But the toss said that there was no need of us to prepare the programme... you remember?”
Now, I was in a fix. How could the toss have gone wrong? It was then that another boy said,
“In the toss we asked Swami whether there would be our programme in the morning. That does not rule out the chances of the programme in the evening!” With that realization, we all went ahead with the preparations in all seriousness.
In the evening, when we told the warden about this fresh development, he also seemed to be in a fix because the programme by the Andhra state organization had been ‘agreed’ to. He agreed for us to sit in the front lines. But he still stuck to his guns about none of us wearing costumes or color clothes. We agreed ( what choice did we have anyway?) and proceeded to the mandir. We had prayers in our hearts. I was a bit tense. Everyone had prepared for the programme based on my dream. I was constantly trying to remind myself that it was not my dream but His dream actually!
Swami arrived for darshan and came to the stage after completing His rounds. As He sat on the chair, He beckoned to us who were sitting in the first line. Two of us rushed up the stage and knelt at His feet. He asked what the programme was. Even as I began telling about the content of our programme joyously, He asked, “Music programme?”
I understood that He was referring to the programme by the Andhra state devotees. So I turned around and beckoned to the organisers of that programme. I told Swami that they would be performing. As they came to the stage, I slowly moved down and sat in my place. I was wondering as to what was happening but was happy that I got a chance to speak to Him.
“Maybe that is only the ‘programme’ - a reward for all the efforts.” I thought as the others began to ask me about what Swami had said. In the meanwhile, Swami was blessing the dozen or so people who had moved up the stage. He received flowers and saw the cards that had been made. He spoke to many of them and gave padanamaskar ( chance to bow to the feet) to all of them. The whole thing took about 3-4 minutes and then all the organizers moved down the stage. Swami then called the Vice-Chancellor of the University and told him to announce the programme for the evening.
The VC came to the podium and began the announcement. It simply took our breath away. He said, (the gist is here)
“Today evening, Swami has blessed the senior students of the Institute to present us with an Ugadi programme. They will now begin the programme immediately.”
He looked at us and told us to begin.
Were we shocked! The singers were given the mikes and quickly the Aumkaram began. Even as we started, Swami called the VC to him and seemed to be scolding him for getting Him wrong. The VC was offering to redo the announcement and Swami was telling him something more. I thought that maybe the VC had made a mistake in the announcement. Maybe, Swami wanted the other programme. And so, as the 3 Aums were complete, we stopped completely.
At that time, Swami looked at us, smiled and said, “Continue”. He also told the VC to sit. And that was it!
We performed for almost 40 minutes after that. At the end of our programme, Swami was so happy that He decided to deliver His Divine Discourse! The happenings of that day ( without the background stories of course) can be found in the Prashanti Diary.
As far as I was concerned, this was another among the many confirmations that I received that Swami in the dream is as real as Swami in reality. Reminds one of King Janaka’s classic, “Is this real or that real?”
( Those that would wish to read the Janaka story can find it as the 131st storyhere. )
By the way, just to complete the circle, I must say that the devotees from Andhra Pradesh got their chance to put the programme up in the Divine Presence on the 31st of March - the next day!
What more need to be said about Swami's dreams being true?
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