Should we write letters to God when He knows everything? - A revelation by Sri Sathya Sai
The regular reader of these blogs will be undoubtedly aware of the major influences in my life - people and events. However, I always remind myself that there will be a few readers for whom this might be the first one they are reading. And so, I seek indulgence from the regulars to allow me to give a brief introduction which is very important for the story that follows. The MOST important influence in my life is undoubtedly my Master, Best Friend, guide and love - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba or Swami as He is endearingly and reverentially called. Through His love and grace, I have been granted many a loving friend, brother, sister, uncle and aunt. One such magnificent and understanding ‘Sai’ brother for me has been Sri Amey Deshpandey. I have already written about his first experience with Swami and about how he was an integral part of my search for the best friend of my life. He has been a student at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and currently teaches in his Alma Mater subjects like Management Control Systems, Corporate Financial Strategy, Strategic management and General Spiritual Awareness.
Now that these introductions can be taken out of the way, it is time to delve into the story proper. This is the part that everyone loves - the part for which they are ready to take the time and pains to read through anything that is written before it! :)
The annual letter-writing program
Writing letters to Swami was a very common practice among the devotees. They would pour out their hearts - their joys, their sorrows, their problems and their gratitude - on this piece of paper and hand it over to Swami during His darshan rounds, when He walked amidst the devotees in the morning and evening. Darshan literally means “sight of the holy one” and all of us devotees believe that just being in the presence of and seeing Swami is uplifting and spiritually beneficial and thus the special term, Darshan.
Now, Amey had a unique letter-writing practice. He would write a letter to Swami only one every year - on his birthday which falls on 23rd December. Why so? Simply because he felt and knew that there is nothing that Swami is unaware of. So, why to write to him at all? He would remind himself thus and refrain from writing any letters to Swami. However, it was his sentiment to write that single letter annually on his birthday and try to offer it to Swami. He gave Swami a very short opportunity window to accept that letter - only one darshan session. If Swami did not accept the letter during that time, unlike the most of us, he would not carry the same letter the next day. He would simply tear it up and throw it in the dustbin with the feeling that “Swami knows everything anyway”!
It was this that happened on his birthday in 2007. Swami did not accept the letter and at the end of the day, it made its way to the dustbin having been shredded into bits by its author!
A talk that changed the letter-writing program
That same night, as Amey settled down for his studies in the hostel, he got a call from one of his classmates seeking some academic clarification. Unable to clear the doubt on the intercom phone, he decided to go up to his room and help him out. On the way, he heard one of the teachers (who also stayed in the hostel) sharing an experience of his with a few students in the corridor. While passing by the ‘all-ears’ group, his ears caught a statement that made him to a part of that interested listening group. That sentence was,
“So, the question is, should we write letters to Swami when he knows everything?”
The teacher continued to share an experience with Swami during his student days - times when he shared the privilege of staying physically with Swami along with a few others as what the world terms as “His attendants”. For us devotees, we know that as ‘attendants’ we help Swami in no way but get the unique privilege and opportunity to observe the Avatar from close quarters and learn from His life. The teacher reminisced happy about one episode.
The teacher’s narrative
“By Swami’s grace, we had this chance of sleeping just outside his room as “security”. One night, before we could sleep, two of us got into a debate. The debate was about whether one needs to write letters to Swami who knows each and every thought or feeling that courses through us. While I strongly opposed such letter writing, the other boy was strongly in favor of it saying that when Swami Himself was accepting letters, why not write it? There was no end to this debate and the final moderator that night was Nidra Devi, the goddess of sleep, into whose arms we drifted into.
The next morning, I was standing in Swami’s room and Swami was on the chair, sifting through the huge pile of letters that He had received from the devotees. I saw something very strange. Swami would just look at a letter and discard it into the dustbin. He would open some, but such letters were very few in number. Most of them went into the dustbin even without Him seeing them. That stunned me and I thought,
“The devotees write with such love and faith. And here is Swami throwing the letters into the dustbin without even glancing at them. How unfair! Well, that is another reason why it is better not to write letters to Him!”
I thought I would definitely report this to the other boy and prove my point. Even as these thoughts filled my head, Swami looked at me and asked,
“Ay! What are you thinking?”
OMG! I was caught. He knew!
“Nothing Swami... just seeing You”, I answered.
“Come here”, He commanded.
“I am fine here Swami”, I replied out of fear.
“Come here.” The voice was very loving and firm this time. “You are wondering what Swami is doing with these letters right?”
He called me close and told me to pick a letter from the huge bundle that had been piled up in front of Him. He then told me to walk back to my place and open the sealed envelope. Then, He told me to read the contents of the letter by myself. As I completed reading the letter, He started speaking,
“What does that Bengali Babu say? His daughter was very sick months ago. He had come here to seek my blessings. I gave him vibhuti to apply for the daughter. Today she is fine and he is expressing his gratitude...”
I could not have summarized the letter better! Swami smiled. That gave me courage and I moved close to Him. I asked Him,
“Swami, then what is the use of writing letters to you? You know everything.”
“It is in answer to your (all the devotees’) prayers that I have descended in this form, else I have the capability to answer you even from above right? You wanted to enjoy the joy of interacting with the Lord. Now that you have got it, you should not cease your efforts”
I then realized my folly. When I write a letter to Swami, it is not for His sake but my own. I am seeing it wrong when I think why Swami needs my letter. It is not Swami who needs my letter. It is I who need my letter to Swami! And it is for our need that Swami accepts letters and prayers - not His! He needs no inputs from us - He knows everything. I will continue to write letters to Him forever because it benefits me immensely to put things down on paper and to get in touch with Swami via that action.
After Swami told that to me and lovingly patted on my head, I went back to my place and continued to stand there. He continued sifting through the letters, throwing most of them straight into the dustbin, reading a few here and there. My heart was totally changed now. Instead of wondering why He was not reading so many letters, I was now wondering why He needed to read even the few that He was! And I got my answer - He did not need it, I needed it.
Hearing this narrative, Amey forgot the task at hand - clearing doubts of his classmate. Some of his doubts had just cleared and he was struck with an inspiration. He decided to immediately act upon that inspiration.
...conclusion available in the next part entitled....
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