God has no need of memory beads for He never forgets - an experience with Sri Sathya Sai and the green Mercedes Benz
This is the second part of an interesting story of the green Mercedes Benz that was gifted to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. It would be best to read the first part and then go ahead with this. The first part is given below as a link:
Misfortune becomes a blessing in disguise when God is your good luck talisman.
If you have read the first part, please proceed! :)
God needs no memory beads...
My mind raced back to that day in 1981 when I felt that I had missed out on a wonderful opportunity. But before I go into the details of that day, a little information and introduction about the situation is necessary.
We seek many things from God in our lives. It is our good fortune that we got to interact with Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) and seek from Him directly. Whenever we seek, we are eager to elicit a promise out of Him because somewhere deep within, we know that He will never go against His word. However, at times delays become so great that they almost seem like denials. And we begin to wonder whether the Lord remembers. We even try to serve Him prayers and reminders through our thoughts,words and actions hoping to act as memory beads for the Lord! This happens because the question pops in the mind whether He forgot what He had promised.
The recall that hit me, made me realize that the Lord never forgets. We think that we have waited so long - days, weeks, months or years - for Him and start to feel frustrated and self-sympathetic. We make martyrs of ourselves in our minds not realizing that His wait for us has spanned across several births! It is not simply that He is worshipped by the scriptures as Kaalaya Namaha Kaalakaalaya Namaha - the one who is the embodiment of time and the one who is beyond time too! That is why in the Shirdi form, He asked for Shraddha and Saburi (faith and patience). Because, once He gives His word, He WILL keep it up. He will deliver at a time when we need; not when we want. God’s timing is always the best. In reality, it is we who need memory beads to remind us constantly about God’s love and grace for us!
The green Benz car
It was some time in 1981 that Swami was presented a green Mercedes Benz car. It was a gift from Mr. Antonio Craxi, the brother of former Italian prime minister, Bettino Craxi. Even as the car was presented to Him, Swami said that He had no need for cars. But the devotee persisted. He wanted Swami to accept the gift at any cost. When divine wisdom is not listened to, it only allows events to unfold in their natural cycle.
The green Mercedes car that arrived was of a color that none of us ever imagined a Merc to be painted it. One either had to love or hate the color - it definitely evoked strong responses! The day after the car had arrived, Swami walked out of the interview room. The morning darshan had just concluded and all the students were getting ready to attend classes at the school and university. But just as they were getting up and walking out, Swami arrived. So, everyone sat back in their places. Swami walked into the verandah of the mandir and through it till the end to reach the carshed area on the gents’ side of the hall.
Standing there, He summoned for the new car. All of us thought that Swami was driving out in the new car. We were in for a surprise. Swami did not walk up to the car. Instead, He tapped the shoulder of a boy sitting nearby and told him,
“Go! Get into the car. I shall drop you off at the college!”
As the pleasantly shocked boy got up to go to the car, Swami waved in the general direction of the students, telling all to get in. Needless to say, there was a huge rush to get into the car. Almost 4-5 students got in. And then came the greatest surprise. Swami too walked to the car and got into the back seat. One can only imagine how cramped and crowded it would have been. None of the boys minded for it was a great opportunity. And Swami did not mind for the boys were happy!
Those half a dozen students who were dropped off at the college (which was held in the 1st floor of the current day Eswaramma School) by Swami became the talk of the hostel. Everyone seemed to envy them for their special fortune. However, when it rains, it showers. That is what we discovered the next day when, once again, Swami came out after the morning darshan and summoned the car. He told another boy to get in. Instantly, there was a mad rush from all directions to get into the car. Feet ran all over the place in a bid to reach the car at the earliest! It was a sight to see! Unfortunately, there are no pictures of that car and the mad rush that it attracted.
This became a sort of daily practice and the students would position themselves strategically so that they could rush to the car and enjoy a divine ride back to the hostel with Swami. Swami’s beckoning index finger was akin to the gunshot of the referee at an Olympics 100-meters dash - only that, it triggered off a 20-meter, free-for-all dash!
My secret desire
Seeing this scene of the new Mercedes Benz car acting as a ‘school bus’ for many of my classmates, I too nursed a secret desire. No! I am not referring to the chance to get into the car - that was no secret desire as every boy nursed it. I wanted to be told by Swami,
“Ay! Get into the car.”
There were two reasons for this desire of mine -
1. I prided myself to be a strict follower of discipline. So, there was no way I could think of being part of that mad rush to the car.
2. If Swami told me to get into the car, irrespective of the rush, I would have an assured place because Swami had said so!
A few days passed and every day, without fail, the ‘school bus’ drama repeated itself. The number of satisfied and happy hearts grew and many students were discussing on how it felt to travel with Swami. Hearing these, I grew desperate with each passing day till, one day, I could bear it no more. I decided that there was no use of waiting for Swami to personally indicate to me. I too would join the scramble and hope to get a coveted seat in the car.
I calculated my chances. Only 5-6 students at best could get into that car. One would definitely be the boy who received Swami’s ‘indication’. That left me with 4-5 seats to aim for. I trained myself mentally to rush the next day.
My first ever 20-meter Olympic dash
The next day, my heart was thumping in anticipation even before the darshan. I had decided to run towards the green car as if my life depended on it! I don’t remember what happened during darshan that day as all my attention was on the impending race. The actual race happened very quickly.
Swami walked out towards the car garage and said,
“Boys, quickly get into the car.”
All my pent up adrenaline found its release. My calf muscles kicked into life as I sprung up and sprinted towards the car. There was a flurry of whites all around as several students too gave vent to their adrenaline rush. A few fell down too. Even as I was a few meters away from the car, I saw it filling. I felt like a drowning man who helplessly watches the water-level rise. To my surprise, Swami had already got in to the back seat from the other door. As I reached the door, I almost cannon-balled into the car.
Swami looked at me and smiled. he said,
“Come in ra! Come completely in.”
I smiled back. But that is all I could do. Try as hard as I might, I was simply not able to get into the car. It was packed. The water level had risen above my nostrils! I pleaded with the other students in the car,
“Please...please make some space for me. A little place will do.”
No miracle happened and the laws of physics held good. There was no way in which I would be able to fit my torso and backside into the car. I looked around. The car was jam-packed. Swami was being kept waiting and I felt it was improper. With great sadness in my heart, I decided to withdraw and let go. I had come last in the ‘elimination race’ and it was only right that I be a graceful loser.
With God, there are no losers. Even as I ‘let go’, I seemed to have ‘let God’ because Swami looked at me and said,
“I shall take you in the car with me. Don’t worry.”
I smiled back and, folding my hands, withdrew. I closed the door of the car like some hotel doorman and walked back to my place in the hall. In my heart, I was feeling like a victor. I had elicited a promise from Him. That was good enough.
The next day, I was very confident that Swami would walk up to me and tell me to get into the car.
Nothing like that happened.
It was the same race all over again - He simply came out and told all the boys to go to the car. Hell broke loose as the boys scrambled for seats by Swami’s side.
A day passed...
But that promised call never came. I had tried sitting in various places to catch Swami’s eye and act like a memory bead for Him. But none of my efforts were to any avail. After about 10-12 days of the car being used as a school bus, it broke down! There were problems in the engine and a part had to be replaced. Now, this part was not available even in the nearby cities of Bangalore or Hyderabad. It had to be imported. Instead of all those troubles, Swami told Mr.Antonio Craxi to take back his car. The events had apparently played out in the natural cycle and Swami returned the car which He had not wanted in the first place!
After that day, all the ‘hostel drops’ came to a close. I felt a bit disappointed but eventually just allowed the idea of riding alongside Swami in His car fade away from my mind.
The Lord never forgets
I might have forgotten, but my Swami didn’t! He might not have given me a chance to ride with Him when I wanted it, but He definitely showered the blessing of that chance when I needed it the most - when I was hurt and down. The chance came at a time when I felt I had been struck with a great misfortune. And it showed me that with God as a talisman, even misfortune becomes a blessing!
Today, am convinced beyond doubt that Swami’s word holds true always. People may ask,
“Today He has left His mortal coils and so, how can He deliver on the promises He has made?”
My answer is simple - He will deliver completely on each and every word He has given. But not when we WANT it. He will do so when we NEED it. Even at the cost of we getting disappointed with Him or giving up on Him, He will not give up on us or get disappointed with us. He does not care what we think of Him. He will always do what is the best for us. And He will do so at a timing that is the best! But, THE LORD NEVER FORGETS!
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya