God Has a Sense of Humor: Incidents With Sri Sathya Sai Baba
God loves fun - Sai humor
There is a section of people that believes in a serious and non-joking God. Frankly speaking, one of the big reasons why I began to love my God, my Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) is because of His simply awesome sense of humor and fun. There might be a network of religious or ‘spiritual’ people who consider laughter and fun as a sin and that faith equals no humor. But all said and done, God is funny. He loves fun! And I love fun too. For all those that love fun and Sri Sathya Sai, here are three episodes to make your day!
Two animals that made me feel that God definitely has a sense of humor!
When the student’s face turned red
This is one of the most hilarious episodes that I have heard involving Swami. The few years following the starting of the school and institute at Puttaparthi were lovely ones for the students because Swami would find the smallest of excuses to visit them, interact with them and fill them with great joy and satisfaction. This episode happened during one of Swami’s such visits to the institute boys’ hostel.
There are many ‘self-reliance’ departments in the hostel which are managed by the students themselves. To quote a few examples there is a ‘maintenance department’ which takes care of the electrical and plumbing works of the hostel, a ‘dietetics department’ which cooks food for the sick and ailing boys, a ‘tailoring department’ to make and maintain costumes to be used during cultural programmes, a ‘lighting department’, a ‘newspaper delivery’ service and so on. During this visit of Swami to the hostel, the boys hoped that Swami would bless a new service venture - the ‘hostel stores’ which would help the boys obtain daily needs at their doorstep.
And so, all was set. The idea was to invite Swami into the new ‘Stores’ room just before He left the hostel. There was a privileged set of boys who would be manning the stores. They were privileged because when Swami would walk into the stores room, only they would be allowed inside with Him. Since everybody knew that Swami would be coming to the stores after all the proceedings and it could be quite late, the stores boys were advised not to take up too much of Swami’s time. Thus, they were told,
“Take padanamaskar (touching of the feet in respect and devotion) only if Swami permits. And even if He permits, be quick about it else someone may miss out on that opportunity.”
Perfectly as they thought, Swami visited the stores just before leaving the hostel. He spent quite some minutes with the boys in the stores. They were happy beyond their expectations. In happiness, they asked Swami whether they could take padanamaskar. Swami agreed just as He was moving towards the door. The boys were delighted. They excitedly whispered to each other that the namaskars should be taken quick and snappy.
As per plan, the first boy bent down, touched Swami’s feet and was up in a trice. The second boys’ behavior however, took everyone by surprise, nay shock. He bent down at Swami’s feet and simply stayed put there. A few tense moments passed but the boy did not seem to have any plans of rising at all! The other boys looked at each other and Swami nervously. They felt that if that boy took so much time, they might miss out on that coveted chance. The boy however, continued his tryst with his Lord’s feet.
After what seemed like an eternity, the boy got up from Swami’s feet. He seemed to have an overwhelmed look on his face. His face was almost swollen and red. There were tears in his eyes. It was obvious that he had had some inexpressible experience. But was this the time for that??
The other students took their chances for the padanamaskar and then Swami left. Thankfully, the boy’s devotions and emotions did not deprive them of the chance to take namaskar.
After everything, the boys accosted the emotionally overwhelmed one and asked him what had happened.
“You think I got overwhelmed and shed emotional tears!”, the boy was shocked. “You do not have the slightest idea of what happened. When I bent down and kissed His feet, Swami held my nose tight between the big toes of His feet! Try as hard as I might, I could not free my nose. That is why my face was red and tears came from the eyes - because of the effort and not out of devotion!”
Now, the faces of all the other boys turned red as they laughed out at the prank that their Sai Krishna had played!
In this context, it is hard not to remember the ‘hot-water tap episode’ (click on that blue part to read that story) where Swami had gone to the primary school to inaugurate a new tap for hot water!
When Swami’s face turned red
Indeed rare are those instances when Swami has gone red in face. But there is one episode when a student put Swami in exactly that situation. It happened so casually and so fast. It was during the ‘walkie-talkie’ days. (Don’t know what days those are? Those were times when Swami would keep walking around the students’ seating area and talking to them. Thus the name, ‘walkie-talkie’ days as Swami Himself referred to!)
Swami was walking with His hands tied behind Him. He came across a student and stopped. The student was sitting straight upright with his palms folded in respect. Swami looked at him and asked how he was. The boy was happy that Swami had spoken to him. Next, Swami revealed something. He said,
“The mind is troubling you. Lots of bad thoughts... Right?”
The boy was no doubt amazed with Swami’s omnipresence and thrilled at this interaction. However, his response was something that Swami ‘did not expect’ (in the worldly sense of course - what is Swami not aware of?). The boy said,
“Yes Swami! But don’t worry. They are just passing clouds. They will be gone.”
A surprise spread over Swami’s face which almost turned red. He told him,
“Ay! Adi Na Cheppali!” (meaning: Ay! That is my line to say!)
In his spontaneity and innocence, the boy had straight used Swami’s line on Him! Swami smiled and walked away.
And then, my face turned red
I just cannot help including one tiny occasion where I found my face turning red. It happened in 2009 when I thought that Swami was upset with me over something. I did not know what had upset Him because I had been my ‘best-behaved’ self in His presence. So, when Swami, on the chair, was passing by me, I took courage to rise on my knees and say,
“Swami, please forgive me.”
“For what?”, Swami asked.
I had no idea what my mistake was. I actually was feeling a bit wronged. So I said,
“Swami, forgive me my mistake.”
His answer turned me red in the face.
“That is what am asking, which mistake. There are so many mistakes that you are making, which one do you want me to forgive?”
In a flash I realized that I was speaking to my God here! Not only do the thoughts, words and deeds in His ‘physical presence’ count but every thought, word and deed counts. It hit me. I turned red. Thankfully, Swami smiled at me. That gave me courage and I said,
“Please forgive that mistake which has made you upset with me now!”
He smiled and moved on. Things changed for the better after that. :)
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya