Friday the 13th with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - Anugraha vs Navagraha
Do you consider yourself to be a superstitious person?
Do you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia?
Irrespective of what your answer is to the question above, here is something very interesting to ponder about.
Almost once every year, on an average, we come across a Friday, the 13th. History has always been cruel to Friday the 13th.
Yes! I know I am saying that statement the other way round. People consider that Friday the 13th has been cruel to history. A few instances are given below:
1. 13 January, 1989 saw the release of one of the world’s first large scale viruses as all the computers at IBM got infected.
2. A chartered plane carrying 45 rugby team members and their friends and families crashed in the Andes Mountains on Friday 13 October, 1972.
3. On Friday the 13, November, 1970, a massive storm killed approximately 300,000 people in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and created floods that killed as many as one million in the Ganges Delta.
4. On Friday, 13 November, 1829, American stuntman Sam Patch scheduled his largest ever jump – a 125-foot jump into the Genesee River, USA. The Genesee River jump killed him.
5. Some $800 to $900 million is said to be lost each Friday the 13th, because of people who fear to transact business, or even get out of bed!
In fact, there is a term - friggatriskaidekaphobia or paraskavedekatriaphobia- which refers to the fear of “Friday the 13th”! And so, am sure that the world over there will be a percentage of people who would be extra careful on this day. However, even as I rose from bed today, my mind flashed back to several years ago, to July the 13th, 2007. It was also a Friday and at the Radiosai studios, we were in a precarious situation. Well, not ‘precarious’ exactly but we could do without the ‘ill-luck’ that the day was supposed to bring.
Today, I remember that Friday in a very fond manner. As I recollect that day, a wish for more such days forms in my heart. What was it that converted the unluckiest day in history into the most lucky one for us? No points for guessing. But the manner in which it happened was a suspense thriller again. Now, let us visit history.
A difficult day in prospect
It was in the summer of 2007 that I completed my MBA and sought a job from Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba). That episode is a story in itself - about how I was divinely guided into my career choice. But the day I joined studio, I came to know of a mammoth project - Prema Jyoti - that Prof.G.Venkatraman, the director of the studios, had taken up.
Prema Jyoti (literally meaning the light of love) was an exhibition which had been planned to be up and on display during the Guru Poornima festival in July 2007. It was an attempt to showcase the different facets of Swami’s avatarhood in seven separate sections and topics. Though the glories of the Lord can never be captured adequately, Prema Jyoti had such an exquisite collection of photographs which had been aptly titled that it would be enthralling for the devotees who viewed it.
A lot of effort went in the making of this exhibition. In fact, Prof.G.V had been planning for this exhibition from March 2007 itself and though Swami took him along with Him to Kodaikanal in the summer, he spent all the time planning the display of Swami’s love and glory. The venerable professor himself toiled day and night so that Prema Jyoti would see light. Backing him was the entire studio of Radiosai as every member also slogged for the exhibition. This was my first experience of professional working and I was learning a lot from the project.
All the while, as we worked, the idea was to put up the exhibition in the Poornachandra Auditorium. It was here that we suddenly faced a roadblock. Since we were working silently on the exhibition, nobody knew about what was brewing. In the meanwhile, the World Youth Conference was being planned by the International Sathya Sai Organisations. The planning was completed and the plans were approved by Swami. Thus it was that we came to know the venue for the Conference - the Poornachandra Auditorium! And it had been approved by Swami also!
This came in as a disappointment because the Conference in Poornachandra Auditorium during Guru Poornima meant that we would not be able to put up the exhibition there. And there were no other venues in Prasanthi Nilayam to host such a large exhibition. By this time, the 700 odd panels for the exhibition had already been designed and had been despatched for printing. The first set of 30 panels on the theme - Water - was due to arrive in a few hours.
This was the ‘precarious’ situation we woke up to on the 13th of July 2007 - another Friday the 13th!
A sliver of hope is all that we need
The first good news of the day came from our director. He told us,
“Today is a good day. I was praying to Swami for our exhibition in my room. The garland on His photograph shook and fell down. I am sure Swami is with us on this project that has taken 3 months of continuous effort. Let us pray to Him to see the few panels that will be arriving now.”
Some of us remembered that it was Friday the 13th! Was it a good idea to ‘inform’ and pray to Swami about the exhibition today? Why could we not do it the next day? But there was no changing our director’s mind. He was firm in his resolve and decision.
Even as we were arranging the different panels in the Poornachandra Auditorium, there were many sympathisers who advised on probable alternative venues for the exhibition.
“The impact of these panels is so grand that it would be a pity if the exhibition does not come up. Please start thinking of alternate venues”, was the general advice.
All of knew, however, that no other venue would be as central and perfect as the Poornachandra Auditorium.
Thus it was that on the unluckiest day in world history that we prepared a sample of exhibition and prayed in our hearts for Swami’s arrival. Prof.G.V said that if he got a chance, He would request Swami to visit the Poornachandra Auditorium for a few minutes.
Swami, in perfect accordance to the message conveyed by the swinging garland in the professor’s room, arrived to bless the first few panels of the exhibition. We were all so thrilled.
Swami slowly went about each of the panels as Sai Prakash from the studio went around ‘explaining’ each of the panels. Swami seemed so absorbed and engrossed. What happened there has been elaborately captured by a cover story in Radiosai. This much it will suffice to say that Swami spent about 40 minutes looking at the 30 panels! Swami was very happy and He later remarked,
"I never thought that everything could be done independently by my boys! They can do anything"
Needless to say, that meant a world for us!
And then, Swami said that the exhibition should go ahead as scheduled. He said that separate arrangements could be made for the youth conference and that all the youth MUST see this exhibition. He blessed the exhibition to be open for 10 days and promised to Himself come and inaugurate the same! The date for the inauguration was also fixed for the 20th of July.
This had been a complete reversal of fortunes! Accordingly, a new temporary roof was put up near the back-end of the ashram for the Youth Conference to be held. The whole ashram moved towards getting the exhibition ready for inauguration. The students from the Institute also came and rendered valuable service along with the Seva Dal volunteers. In a single stroke, Swami had set everything right.
Prema Jyoti turned out to be a big hit. It later toured to about a dozen cities and towns all over India - Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore etc.
All that aside, today morning, when I was thinking about the “Friday the 13th” thing, I felt that god’s love and grace change anything into a grand success. No wonder that Swami has said,
“When you have God’s Anugraha (Grace) the Navagraha (nine planets) can do no harm to you.”
God’s Grace and Love are beyond the reaches of ill luck and fate! Till that day in 2007, I had a slight fear about Friday the 13th. From that day onward, I know that every Friday the 13th is preceded by Thursday the 12th. 12 is considered as the ‘number of the whole’ in many cultures while Thursday is a very special day for those following Swami! I no longer suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. This experience with 'the light of love' was soon to be followed by another marvellous experience where Swami dispelled my fears about the 'evil eye' or 'buri nazar' as it is called in Hindi.
And so, God's Grace, a cure for all maladies, is also a cure for this phobia! Keep the faith.
“Why fear when He is near!”
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya