No word of God is ever in jest - an experience with Sri Sathya Sai
It was recently that I completed penning down a suspense-filled and tense episode on how the will of God never takes one to a place where the grace of God cannot reach. (For those that haven’t read it, my recommendation is that it be read before diving into reading this experience!)While writing the conclusion of that previous article, I was reminded of an escape from the possible jaws of death or terrible injury at least that we had during that trip! The actual event took place in the deeply forested regions of East Godavari. And it further added weight to the statement that God’s grace reaches wherever His will takes you!
As mentioned in the final part of that article, Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba ) blessed us to leave for the Godavari and Orissa trip with a ‘strange’ blessing/warning -
“Go happily and return safely, without injuries.”
Both of us made our way to the railway station, lost in the nectarine bliss that Swami showered on us. The joy was so much that though both of us felt it a bit odd that Swami blessed us with such a peculiar choice of words, we did not pay much attention to the “without injuries” part of His statement.
We reached the railway station just in time to board the Prasanthi Express. To our great delight, it was filled with many members of the Seva Dal (volunteers) who were returning to their respective places after their Prasanthi service.
At this point in time, I would like to take a small detour in the narrative. I do this for two reasons:
1. To mention an interesting episode
2. To put on record that same episode about which I would not want to write a separate article on!
A critic who bashed others' Gods...
The two of us took our seats and we sat, closing our eyes. We were reliving our beautiful moments with our Lord. That was when my train of beautiful thoughts was rudely derailed by a voice from opposite to me.
“Hey! You coming from Puttaparthi?”
“You also like that Sathya Sai Baba?”
What was I to tell him - that I was coming straight from Him now? I just smiled and did not say anything.
“I wonder why people simply flock to Him... What about you? Where are you from?”
“From Puttaparthi”, I replied.
“You stay and work in Puttaparthi? Oh God! Why? What have you studied?”
I thought he was trying to imply that since am staying in a ‘village’ I must be uneducated.
“I have completed my Masters in Chemistry and have an MBA degree as well! In fact, it is Sri Sathya Sai Baba that gave me my education.”
“That is why you are here. My only daughter also did an MBA. But she is now in America and she earns handsomely.”
I said nothing. I noticed that the other people in my area of the compartment were also getting irked by this person.
But nothing stopped him from going on and on. I wanted to just keep contemplating on the beautiful experience at Yajur Mandir. I did not want to be drawn into an argument. At that time, I had not yet been introduced to the amazing solution from the Mahabharata on dealing with God-bashers! I kept silent and allowed him to speak whatever he wanted.
“See, you have nothing to speak!” he concluded.
Soon, we had our dinner and went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up, brushed my teeth and returned to my seat. My ‘critic’ was wiping his face with a towel. He said,
“Ah! You slept without answering anything. People say Sathya Sai Baba makes people dumbstruck. He made you dumb or what?”
And he sniggered.
Even as he did that, the brush slipped out of his hand and fell on the floor. It rolled under the seat. This person was unable to bend down. I bent down, retrieved his brush and said,
“When your daughter is earning handsomely, you should make use of flights instead of trains! Otherwise, you should tell her to come back to you. She can then help you when you need, so that people you criticize do not bend down to fetch your brush!”
"Listen sir! The education that Sri Sathya Sai Baba has given me can get me a job in any part of the globe. But that same education has taught me to respect my parents and serve them well. They have sacrificed so much of their time and energy for me. It is only right that I repay them to some extent at least!"
There was a tear in his eye I thought. Clearly, he was missing his daughter. I did not want to proceed along the same topic.
I then asked,
“Tell me. Do you believe in God?”
“Yes! Of course! Jesus is the only God!” He got back some energy.
“Then, what did he mean when he said, ‘Break down this temple and I shall build it back in 3 days’?”, I asked
He seemed stunned. I explained to him what I had learn't from Swami.
"People think that Christ was referring to building when he said the temple of God. He was actually referring to his own body. And that is what he did - resurrected himself 3 days after crucifixion! Thus, he kept his word!"
I did not stop there. I went on to quote Christ,
“When your Lord has told you to show your other cheek when slapped on one, why do you simply go about slapping whomsoever you get with your verbal abuse?”
One topic led to another and I told him so much about Christ. He was partially in awe and partially in shame.
“If you love your Lord, you should spend time on journeys like this, reading about Him and thinking about Him.”
He now asked me whether I was a Christian. Ah! Now came the perfect time. I told him that everything that I knew about Christ was Swami’s gift to me. I also told him a few stories of Christians who had been so touched by His presence and Love! He just sat there listening and seemed dumbstruck! He never spoke again - not even once - for the entire journey.
I thanked Swami. He had won over a 'critic' through matters that were close to the critic's heart - his daughter and Jesus.
Thanking the readers for their indulgence of this detour, I proceed with the narrative.
Every word of Sai is a Vedic Dictum
After a brief stopover at Vishakapatnam, we were soon in the heart of the East Godavari district. There we were witness to the most inspiring service that the devotees had taken up! This service was in fact the progenitor to the SSSVIP programme all around the country. So inspiring had been the service that the All-India President of the Sathya Sai Organisations (India), Mr.V.Srinivasan had convened a conference of all the state youth leaders at East Godavari.
One night, after a long and hectic tour of the villages, we were driving back. We were in a Maruti Swift-Dzire car. It was quite late in the night. Though the roads leading to these villages were all termed ‘highways’ there were absolutely no street lights at all! Many villages seemed to grow along this road also and they comprised of a few dozen homes on either side of the road.
All of a sudden, a cyclist in a village decided to cross the road almost in the middle of the night. Our driver was going at a good 90 km/h. When this cyclist suddenly cropped up in front of the car, the driver took evasive action and tugged at the steering wheel. The power steering of the vehicle was such that the whole car got stuck in a circular motion.
In the middle of a highway, we were turning like a merry-go-round in our car!
Someone called out, “Sairam!”
My mind instantly flashed to those words of Swami,
“Go happily and return safely, without injuries.”
How could anything happen to us on this trip when He had already blessed us to return safely? And I felt calm.
The car came to a halt. At precisely that time, there were no vehicles on-coming and we had left behind the long convoy of vehicles. So we had not collided with any other vehicle. The car had not upturned either. It had come to a clean halt at the side of the road! The only damage was a punctured tire.
I realized that every word that Swami says is a blessing. Only that we may not realize it at times. The truth is that He does not joke - even in jest!
Takes me back to two separate episodes -
One in which an elder asked Sri Kamavadhani - "Whatever that Swami speaks about the vedas, are they present in the Vedas?" The answer was straight, "What do you mean? Whatever Swami speaks is the Veda! His words qualify the Vedas and not the other way around!"
The second is what Sri Ghandikota Subramanya Shastry, the great scholar and devotee who 'saw' the Sai Gayatri mantra and gifted it to mankind, said on his deathbed to his children,
"Swami is verily the Sarva Devata Svarupa ( The Embodiment of All Forms of Divinity)! Never ever forget He is God!"
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