Why visit Prasanthi Nilayam (or any pilgrimage spot) when God is everywhere? - A message from Sri Sathya Sai
The story so far...
This is the second part of a double-experience bonanza having its roots in the first part:
Should we write letters to God when He knows everything? - A revelation by Sri Sathya Sai.
The author humbly suggests that one read that first before reading the concluding part here. The story will definitely feel more wholesome and fun that way. :)
If you have arrived from that part, please read on...
The pilgrimage visit or letter is made into an instrument
Drawing tremendous inspiration from the experience of his teacher, Amey went back to his room and decided to resurrect his torn letter. No! He did not take the pieces of paper from the dustbin and glue them together. Instead, he re-wrote the same letter. It was an easy task because every year, he wrote more or less, the same lines. Thus, within minutes, pen came in contact with paper and the letter poured out from his heart.
Most beloved Master,
I offer myself at your lotus feet dear Bhagawan. You brought me into this world to figure out the puzzle of life. You have become my master who is going to take me out too.
Let me understand that you are the divine wirepuller of my life. Let me love you more and more each moment.
Please become the thinker of my thoughts.
Please become the doer of my deeds.
Please become the speaker of my words.
Guide me. Guard me. Protect me.
You are me and I am you.
Let me realize that O Lord.
Bless me this day.
Your loving son and student
Having written this letter, he decided to offer it to Swami the next day itself.
A long journey for a little letter
But Swami’s plans seemed to be different. Forget being able to give the letter the next day, for weeks after that also, the letter was not accepted. But Amey’s inspiration was not one to die down. It had slowly transformed and grown into Shraddha and Saburi, faith and patience - the two favorite qualities that God looks for in the devotee.
In fact 3 months passed without the letter being taken. The piece of paper got yellowed with the sweat from Amey’s hands. But that did not stop him from holding it in offering to Swami on a daily basis for about 2-3 hours. When the paper got too yellowed, he would tear it up and re-write the same on a fresh paper! The letter too seemed to go through the cycle of birth and death till it met its ultimate objective of realizing its oneness with God!
The letter that Amey wrote to Swami
March 13th, 2008 - the landmark day
It was like any other day. Amey sat in the bhajan hall with the other members of the bhajan group. He was still holding his letter, the 4th ‘reprint’ of the letter actually! He was in the 5th line and Swami had walked into the bhajan hall about 15 minutes before the bhajans had actually begun. He was interacting with a few students and teachers in the front.
All of a sudden, Swami looked at Amey and asked,
“Boy, how is your father?”
Having got used to being ‘neglected’ for months now, Amey was not sure that Swami was talking to him. He sat in his place. Swami repeated,
“How is father?”
Now he was sure that Swami was talking to him. He pondered on the meaning of what He was saying. He felt that it was either one of these cases:
1. Swami had seen him holding the letter for so long and therefore was ‘thinking’ that maybe his father is ill.
2. His father was ill and Swami was indicating this to him.
However, instead of getting lost in thoughts, he immediately got up from his place and went up to Swami who was seated on the chair in the bhajan hall. Swami instantly accepted his letter. He asked him again,
“How is father?”
“Swami, you know... (I have no idea)!”
Swami waved His hand and materialized vibhuti and gave it to Amey.
“Send this to your father.”
Amey was immediately at ease. He knew that he didn’t have to worry about his father any more. Whatever be the problem, Swami had already taken care of it.
God knows everything - And that is why He encourages to write letters!
Swami now opened the letter and began to read through it. He read each line of the letter and began nodding His head as if He was listening to Amey speaking. Amey too, on his part, began to mentally speak out the letter for he knew the whole contents by heart.
Swami suddenly seemed to stop at one particular point. Amey, who was mentally reading out the letter, too stopped. The statement was,
You are me and I am you.
Swami now turned the letter towards Amey. He underlined that statement with His finger. He said,
“Treasure and foster this feeling and Truth in your heart. That is enough”.
He then patted Amey and sent him back to his place among the students in the Bhajan group. He put back the letter into his pocket for him to cherish as a souvenir of this beautiful lesson. (That is the letter presented in the picture above.) Soon the bhajans began and Amey just could not help but feel the overwhelming love of Swami. He just did not understand why he felt so, but he simply felt it. No wonder that there seemed some added divine melody in the bhajan he sang that day.
The highlighted line...
It is definitely true that God has no need of our communication. But there is something magical in writing a letter to God. During that act, we achieve the rare unity in thought, word and deed! Our thoughts for and of God, get translated into words for and of God resulting in our act of writing the letter for God! Through this simple act of writing Swami a letter, we are achieving what the sages and saints of yore strived to - trikarna shuddhi or the unity and purity of thought word and deed.
“Manas ekam Vachas ekam Karmanyekam Mahatmanam” ( A great soul is one who has unity and purity in thought word and deed.)
And that is why God has always encouraged the devotee to engage in some sort of communication/prayer/dialogue with Him/Her. This was the reason why the Lord Maha Vishnu asked Dhruva to state the desire in his heart though he knew his thoughts and feelings even as they arose!
On a parting note, one has to accept the ultimate reality that God is everywhere and at all times. One does not need to seek Him in a separate form. But until one reaches that level of oneness with Him, one should seek. And that is because even such seeking takes one closer to realizing the ultimate reality as it happened in Amey’s case. He sought the form no doubt, but that endeavor resulted in boosting the message that he must realize his oneness with God!
Writing letters to God, going to a religious place, praying and the like are all media to reach the Reality. They help us achieve our ultimate objective like tools help in completing a project. They are like ladders that one uses to scale a wall. Having scaled the wall, there is no need for the ladder. However, it would be foolish to kick the ladder away before scaling the wall, or worse, while one is climbing the wall!
And this is seen in Swami's exhortations in many discourses:
The battery of your "car" is charged when you come to Puttaparthi, or at least when you go to some other holy place. Charge the battery of your spiritual discipline (sadhana) and then, after you return home, do not keep the car idle. If you do, the battery will run down. Take the car around and keep it going; then the battery will charge itself. So also, if you do not continue the company of the good, engagement in truth, devotional singing, and repetition of the name, then all this charging becomes a waste.
Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Speaks I, 26, 159.
This thought struck me a bit later. There is a lot of benefit in synergy. That is why team work is always emphasized in corporate offices, schools, sports etc. In spiritual endeavors too, Swami has always encouraged group activity and group satsangh.
In that light, pilgrimage places like Prasanthi Nilayam in Puttaparthi are hubs of intense devotional and spiritual activities. An aspirant will greatly benefit from the helpful atmosphere created by the synergy with fellow aspirants...
Don't you think so?
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya
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