The PUSH of the Lord - My first speech in His presence - 1
Oh! How I wish I came to HIM earlier...
How many times does it happen that when we are going through something in life, we wonder why that is happening to us. We are convinced that life would be much better if things would proceed in the manner of our thinking. Hours, days, weeks, months or even years may pass and suddenly, looking back on those very same episodes in life, we are grateful that for them because they have made us what we are today.
When it comes to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my Lord, I feel that I wasted 10 years of my life before having come to know Him. I wonder how better life would be if only I had known earlier and for longer.
Well, in retrospect, when I look at the many things that have happened in life, I am so happy at His perfect timing. For the events that I still do not understand, I have faith that they have happened in the best way possible - only that I am not yet aware of the significance and beauty of the Lord’s action. That is the secret of surrender as Swami so beautifully explained!
Getting on to the time-machine, we move back 16 years to 1995. I had wanted to study in Swami’s school but was not getting admission at Puttaparthi. Desperate to be in His school, I had got myself admitted at Sri Sathya Sai Vidyapeeth in Calicut, Kerala. I was in VIII grade in 1995 when I was presented with an irresistible offer. Would I like to deliver a speech for Onam in Sai Kulwant hall, in Swami’s divine presence? I had just won the Hindi elocution competition then. And so, when I excitedly jumped at the offer, I was told to deliver a speech in Hindi!
This was a big challenge. My Hindi was (and is) at best average. The elocution competition victory was simply an ode to my memorizing skills and definitely was not a confirmation of my mastery over Hindi speaking! I decided to use the same method for this speech also. I had two months to prepare. I requested my Hindi teacher to write down my entire speech for me and then began the act of ‘mugging’, as memorization was called in the school. Weeks of labour and hundreds of rehearsals later, I had become adept in my speech. In fact, if someone woke me up in my sleep and uttered “Aum Sri Sai Ram” - the first line of my speech - I could simply rattle out in the next 7.5 minutes my entire speech with the different voice modulations and pitch changes!
In order to justify some of the feelings I went through later, I must give a brief background of the atmosphere in my school which was also called Sri Sailam. The school had been performing well academically and so many sought admission there. However, not everyone who came there were “Sai devotees”. The strict spiritual regimen of morning prayers, food prayers, evening prayers and night prayers, therefore, boiled the angry teenage blood which was present in abundance. This anger and irritation found vent on some of us who were devoted to Swami. Thus, for no fault of His, Swami was blamed as the root for many problems. A constant battle waged between us and the ‘non-devotees’.
In fact, even the slightest blemish on our part was instantly attributed to Swami. For instance, if I got involved in a fist fight, the boys would say, “He says he is Baba devotee. Look at him! This is what Baba teaches him!” And that would anger me more. If someone spoke a harsh word about Swami I would speak harsh words about their parents! That would throw them into fits of fury but how was I to make them understand that Swami was as dear as a parent for me? Today, by Swami’s grace, I have learnt to deal with critics of all kinds. But back then, I was a novice. I must say that each of those episodes have had a bearing in my changed response to the ‘critics’.
The prelude to the story...
Now we get back to the story. I was completely ready for my speech and as the Onam vacations were declared, I rushed to Puttaparthi. The school would be arriving to Puttaparthi in a few days. In the few days that I had darshan before the school arrived, I remember one episode.
I wanted to get my speech blessed. I was also reading a book on Lord Krishna called, “The Babe of Brindavan.” As Swami came near me in the darshan lines, I stretched out both, the book and my speech copy, for Him to bless. He nonchalantly took both in His hand and walked away! I was surprised. What was I to do for that was my only speech copy.
(Typing and printing were not common those days.)
Swami suddenly stopped. He turned and took the few steps back to me. With a broad smile, He handed back the book. Then He turned back and walked away. It was only after the darshan session was complete did I realize that Swami had only returned the book and not my speech copy. I went back to my room and wrote down the whole speech again, from my memory.
In a couple of days, the contingent from the school arrived. We were given a special place to sit in Kulwant hall for darshan. I was eagerly awaiting Onam and my chance to speak in His presence. I wanted to ask Swami for one thing that I desperately wanted - admission into His school at Puttaparthi.
The D-day arrived and I was seated on the stage along with another kid who was also supposed to speak. Swami arrived for darshan and sat on the dais. He seemed to be waiting for someone or something. Every delayed second made my heart palpitate with anticipation and excitement. I was not rehearsing my speech any more. That I knew too well. I was rehearsing how I would ask Him for admission in His school.
And then, the unforgettable happened. An elder was called to deliver a speech. After that, Swami asked for the Vedam group to chant in the mikes. Then, He rose to deliver His divine discourse! Our speeches had simply been cancelled! I did not realize it then and was waiting till the end for Swami to call. That never happened and Swami received Aarthi and left! The realization of what had happened came along with tears streaming down my cheek. I was simply shattered.
Later on, a lot of consolation was offered. And an explanation too. Apparently, Sri Karunakaran, the former chief minister of Kerala was to arrive for Onam. He cancelled the visit in the last moment by when it was too late for any other programme. So Swami had gone ahead with the discourse. That was no consolation for me who thought, “Why should it be my 7.5 minute speech that had to suffer because of somebody else’s fault?” I was inconsolable.
Matters got worse after we returned to school. The bullies had a new way of taunting and teasing me.
“This stupid fool calls Swami his father and mother. If Swami really considered him that way, He would have given him a chance to speak! Hahahaha”
“Look at him! How he fights and quarrels! No wonder he was not given the chance to speak. He simply does not deserve it!”
“If your Baba loves you, why did He reject you?”
I had no answers then. I would run away from the taunts into the bhajan hall where I would sit and cry in front of His picture.
“Swami why did it have to happen this way? If only you had let me speak, nothing of this sort would have happened. I also missed my chance of seeking admission in your school. This is all wrong.”
The PUSH of the Lord...
It is at such times that we must remember the PUSH story. For those that do not know this, here it is:
A man was sleeping at night suddenly God appeared in his cabin. The Lord told the man he had some work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his door. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
The man agreed and did this, day after day. For many years he toiled; his shoulders set squarely against the cold and massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.
One day, the devil decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind:
"You have been foolishly pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't moved."
Satan said, "Why kill yourself over this?Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough. The rock is not going to move anyway"
The man was in dilemma and decided to consult the Lord.
"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to simply push.”
“And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. You haven't moved the rock. You were never meant to. I wanted you to do this only so that you grow strong. This you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock."
Though I was not aware, through all the trials and tribulations of teasing and being taunted, I was growing. Yet, at that time, all my concentration was on the ‘rock’ that I felt Swami’s heart was which was not being moved at all!
(If you enjoyed the story thus far and are eager to know how it concluded on a lovely note, you should go on to Part 2 of the PUSH of the Lord - First speech in His presence.
About the Lord's PUSH
Have you experienced the PUSH of the Lord where you are made to do something with an ultimate objective that you are totally unaware of?
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