Misfortune Becomes a Blessing in Disguise When God Is Your Good Luck Talisman
The Green Benz car story
Sri Sai Surendranath belongs to an elite club that does not boast of more than a few dozen members. Being a student from the first batch in the college under the auspices of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, he enjoyed days, weeks, months and years of wonderful proximity to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He arrived into Swami or Bhagawan Baba’s fold as a child, completed his intermediate (in Brindavan, Bangalore) and graduation from the free educational institutions Swami had set up and got, what according to him is, ‘the greatest privilege’ of being a teacher in the Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. To this day, he continues to be a commerce teacher there. But among all the students in Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi, he is known as someone who was (shall I say ‘is’) very special - a person to whom Swami regularly spoke to for 3 decades, a tabla regular in the bhajan group for nearly 3 decades and a very jovial and loving person at heart.
And so, when one gets a chance to talk to such a person after a bhajan session at his home, one grabs that opportunity with both hands.
“Sir, you must share some of your experiences.”
“Oh! Do not pull me into that. I really don’t know where to begin and how to proceed. Swami has been extremely loving and kind.”
“Sir, please narrate the story of the Green Mercedes Benz car!”, I told him. I had heard the brief skeletal version of this story from a friend and was eager to get the story from the proverbial horse’s mouth!
“Green Benz... Hmmm... That was an interesting episode”, Sai sir smiles.
“Please narrate it then...”
“Not today. It is a bit long and let me gather the details. I will call you some other day and tell it to you.”
“Sure sir. But you must! In these days of physical absence of Swami, His stories alone have the capability of quenching the thirst for Him in our hearts.”
“Yes, it is only the name of the Lord and His stories which can substitute for His beautiful form. But come what may, do not despair. Know that with God, even a misfortune turns out to be a great blessing, in disguise that’s all! There is a reason for which He does anything and His word is never in vain.”
I felt very happy hearing that. I also eagerly waited for his call to come and the narrative to unfold. It happened within a week and here is what he told. (The order of narration of events have been changed to build up some suspense! hehehehe! There is some relish and joy in suspense- being in it as well as keeping it!)
Over to Sri Sai Surendranath...
As soon as I completed my MCom, Swami gave me the opportunity and privilege of serving Him as a teacher for commerce in the school. Life with God is so beautiful and in His physical presence, beauty gained new meanings! I was so happy and every day would open up doors to new possibilities and experiences.
One day, noticing that a colleague was sick, I decided to get some milk and bread for him from the only bakery that existed in Puttaparthi in 1986. I borrowed another colleague’s bicycle and wended my way to the bakery. On the way back, at the sharp slope after the Vidyagiri arch, I lost control. The handlebar twisted and I was thrown onto the road. It was a disastrous fall for both me and the cycle. My leg was twisted badly and I felt a warm gush on my foot. I saw that it was a very deep wound and the white of my bone was staring back at me. And then, I simply blacked out in pain.
I woke up at the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital and the venerable Dr. Alreja (Swami’s personal physician) was there to enquire into my well-being. He told me,
“Your accident was very bad in terms of the injury you sustained. We have treated you and then, I informed Swami about it. He was very concerned.”
“Why did you tell Swami sir?”, I asked. I knew Swami would feel very bad and did not want to burden him with these trivial things.
“That is my duty. Swami has told me to inform him when anything happens to the students. He has also advised you to take rest. You needn’t attend the darshan and bhajan sessions.”
That statement was demoralizing. Not only was I physically handicapped, the greatest privilege of a student - darshan from close quarters - too had been denied for me by Swami Himself. But what could I do? It was my misfortune and I blamed it on some past karma of mine!
God becomes the good luck talisman and misfortune, a blessing in disguise
Swami was very concerned about my injury. And very soon, I realized the truth - when God is by your side, even a misfortune becomes a blessing. For, God is that Philosopher’s Stone which has alchemical properties of changing every moment into a golden one.
It was darshan time and I was in the hostel. To my pleasant surprise, Swami’s car arrived at the hostel. Swami had come to enquire about me. I went to the car with my crutches. Swami lowered the window and spoke to me. He did not want me to strain myself and I was overwhelmed by His concern. When I was feeling bad that I was unable to go to Him, He Himself was coming to me. And that, I feel, continues to happen - if we pine for Him and seek Him, even if we aren’t able to go to Him, He comes to us!
These visits became a regular feature and I was so happy. I felt special and blessed. Imagine Swami driving up to the hostel almost daily and stopping in front of it to speak a few words to me! A great blessing indeed! Even as I saw the glass on the car door being lowered, my spirits would rise and soar to the skies. I actually began to thank god for the accident that seemed to be blessing me with so many chances with my dear Swami. Definitely, the misfortune had become a blessing.
I realized that when I am with God, nothing is a misfortune. At worst, it is a blessing in disguise! That’s all.
It was the Krishna Janmashtami day - the birthday of Lord Krishna - in 1986. By then, though I had not completely recovered, I had been permitted to go to the mandir for darshans. Krishna Janmashtami in Prasanthi has a special and unique flavor. All the cows, deer, rabbits and, of course, Sai Gita, Swami’s pet elephant come to the mandir. Swami feeds them and then sends them back ‘home’. Later, He visits their home at the Gokulam (dairy farm) too!
This particular year, I sat on the sidelines, watching all that happened and missing being part of the action. I was happy that I was at least part of the festivities. Once the animal feeding and petting was completed, Swami sent them back to Gokulam. in a few minutes, He would be leaving too. So, all the other boys rushed to the dairy farm. I obviously could not. I had to wait for my transport, a cycle rickshaw’ and only then leave.
As Swami was about to set out from the mandir to the Gokulam, He saw me. He asked,
“How will you go to the hostel?”
“Swami, there is a cycle rickshaw which will arrive for me. I shall return to hostel in that.”
“No! Today, I shall drop you in the hostel.”
I was simply stunned. Swami walked a few steps ahead and summoned His car, the red Mercedes Benz. Opening the door, Swami entered the backseat and invited me to sit beside Him, at the window! Was I thrilled! He waited for me to be gently helped into the seat and then, the door closed. Radhakrishna was at the wheel. I could not believe my good fortune. Swami took me along to the Gokulam. There, He told me to wait in the car itself and also told Radhakrishna to give me company. However, as He went in to interact with the animals, I got out of the car. It felt very odd to be sitting in the Lord’s car when he wasn’t there!
Soon He returned and told me to get back into the car. We headed towards the hostel.
As we drove into the hostel, I saw the all the students and teachers were taken by surprise. They quickly gathered at the entrance seeing Swami’s red car drive in. The car came to a halt and Swami smiled at me saying that we ‘had arrived’. He told me to get off. I opened the door and as I stepped out, there were gasps of surprise followed by disappointment! This was not what everyone expected.
Immediately, they understood what had happened. Then, a few boys moved up to Swami’s window and began to request Him to visit the hostel. It was my good day today and so I chanced my voice,
“Swami please come to the hostel.”
“Ay Dunnapota! Keep quiet...” was His reply.
Then He turned to everyone and said,
“I did not come here to visit the hostel. I came here only to drop this boy. I am going back to the mandir now.”
Blessing everyone, Swami drove away. I was the cynosure of all eyes now. A dozen students came to help me into the hostel. Once the Lord helps you, the whole world also seems to jump in to help you! I was so happy. Maybe, I was even feeling thankful for having had an accident! Can you believe that? That is what happens when you are with God - there are no accidents. Even a misfortune is actually a "master"fortune!
As I sat in my room and closed my eyes to enjoy the episode that had just occurred, my memory suddenly was refreshed.
That was when I was hit by a recall that made my jaw drop open in awe.
And suddenly, scenes from years ago flashed before my mind’s eye. Excitement and gratitude welled within me and everything became so clear. It was as if I had been given a glimpse of the way His Masterplan works. Of course, He had taught me a lesson that God is the greatest good luck talisman and nothing can ever be a misfortune when one is with God. But, as always, He had ‘hit’ two birds with a single stroke. Ah! What a master-stroke it was!
Even as I sunk deeper into the revelation and the revelation sunk deeper into me, I was lost in bliss...
( Rush now to the concluding part of this experience )
© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya