Swami's delays are not His denials
This is a famous quote that I have heard a million times. Well, not a million times, but it feels like that! It is one of the all-time favorite phrases to be used while consoling someone who is in despair. Even I have made use of it on many occasions -
“Hey! Don’t worry. Things will sort out. God is there to help. Remember... his delays are not his denials.”
When things are sunny and fine, it is easy to state the quote. When things go bad however, we desperately grab on to the same quote and secretly hope in our hearts that this is only a delay and not a denial. Traveling down memory lane, I come across a singular episode that has convinced me beyond doubt that God’s delays are definitely not His denials.
Just like a single story of the charming Lord Krishna gets linked to so many other stories which reveal His divine facets, ( in fact, deviating from the main story into relevant sub stories has been termed as ‘Hari-Katha’ in India which literally translates as ‘Story of Krishna’!), this story too shall have its sub-stories. But as always, the sub-stories add flavour and spice to the main story. Without any more ado, let us launch into the story.
It was the Marchof the year 2000. I was in my 12th standard and was one among a hundred or so preparing furiously for the countrywide Board Examinations. The 12th standard is a transition from high school to University in India and the examinations conducted by the CBSE (Central Board for Secondary Examination) are given paramount importance. For a student in Swami’s school, it was a time of a probable, terrible transition. Since Swami had not started any medical or engineering colleges and courses for chartered accountancy, those wishing to pursue these lucrative and attractive careers had to leave Swami’s physical proximity. And having experienced moments of intense omniscience, one does not want to leave His physical proximity.
Further studies available in the University involved the pursuit of pure sciences and a Bachelors degree in commerce which are considered pretty ‘mediocre’ in India. ( This is fast changing and the impressive record of the Sathya Sai University has also contributed to it.) Thus it was that a talk given to us by the ‘class’ teacher, Mr. Sailesh Srivastava became very important and enlightening for all of us students. The talk lasted two hours and was delivered to all of us in the hill-view stadium, one fine evening. It was on the eve of our departure to Brindavan ( Whitefield in Bangalore), where Swami had gone to. We wanted to seek His blessings as the outgoing batch.
The talk that Sailesh sir gave us was inspirational and full of the divine stories of Swami. One point that he made struck me and it remains enshrined in my heart to this day.
He said, “Whether we stay with Swami or not is not in our hands. If we are supposed to be away from Swami, even if we complete somersaults to stay on here, it will not be possible. If we are supposed to be here, however hard you try to get away from this place, it will not be possible. So, that is not in our hands. But we can decide what we feel and desire. We can have the intense longing to be with Swami always, irrespective of where life takes us. Take care of your feelings and desires, life will take care of itself. “
At the end of that talk, everyone was wanting to be with Swami, irrespective of what they had originally desired or what their parents had planned. If fate/destiny would take them away, so be it.
Thus it was, that a bunch of highly motivated and charged up students made their way to Brindavan. In the morning, as we all sat for darshan, Swami came and made enquiries into how many of us had come and for what reason we had come. The darshan got over and we had managed to hand over the bundle of letters that we had all written to Swami. Within a few minutes, we received word that Swami had called us all into Trayee Brindavan, His residence at Whitefield, for a Trayee session.
With great joy, anticipation and excitement we wended our way into the Trayee compound and entered the hallowed precincts of the building. The Jhoola or swing welcomed us and we sat around it. In a few moments, Swami arrived. As soon as He came into the room, He asked
“How many doctors here?”
Nobody raised their hands. The speech on the previous evening was obviously showing its effects. Everyone in their hearts was saying, “Swami, we want to be with you.”
“How many engineers here?”, was the next question.
Again, nobody raised their hands. Swami put on a surprised expression. Then He broke into a smile and said, “Antha Gas” ( All gas - meaning lying).
All of us shouted loud in unison,
“No Swami! We want to stay with you!”
He seemed pleased by that and then He sat on the Jhoola. The session began by us singing songs for Him and He listened to three of them. Swami then began to speak to us. The warden of the Brindavan campus, Sri. B.N.Narasimhamoorthy, came in to translate. Swami told him that he would not be needed and we were all surprised. We wondered who would be translating then? Swami then told Sailesh sir to translate what He was saying. It was the most amazing 40 minutes as Sailesh sir, a Delhiite by birth, translated Swami’s discourse into English for all of us!
Sailesh sir translating the discourse made us realize the meaning of being an ‘instrument’ of the Lord. When God’s work is being done, capability, ability and deservedness do not come into picture at all. The Lord achieves all that He wants effortlessly through the instrument. We also began to look up to sir in a more glorious light and that made us give even more value to the speech he had given us the day before. It was as if Swami was reinforcing it.
I remember two episodes that happened distinctly - one that is relevant to the story and the other, which is not but is nice to narrate nevertheless. Another advantage of relating apparently 'irrelevant' stories in between the main story is that they can trigger insights and wisdom in the reader which the writer never even felt!
The first was that we noticed two small coconut shavings lodged in Swami’s hair.One of my classmates, E.Vijay Kumar, got up and told Swami,
“Swami, there is something lodged in your hair.”
“Is it? Will you remove it then?”
The boy moved further up and tenderly took those two small shavings from Swami’s hair. There were smiles all around and the boy treasured them in his pocket. Swami looked into his eyes and smiled.
My immediate thought was, “Oh! How I wish I too get a chance to take something out of His hair like that.”
The second episode was (the less relevant one) when, in the end, Swami completed the discourse and sat on the Jhoola expecting us to make the next move. I asked
“Swami, how should one control anger?”
Swami replied, “Ah! Anger. Whenever you get angry, go to the bathroom and open the tap. Try to sing a bhajan in the pitch of the running water. You will cool down. Another option is to immediately see your face in a mirror. It will be distorted and you will see yourself as a primitive monkey. That will bring a smile on your face and dissolve your anger. If nothing works, go and run fast for a furlong. You will be too tired to be angry then!”
The whole session concluded with a group photo with Swami on the Trayee Brindavan stairs. I was not in the picture because I was taking the pictures! It was a very memorable hour and we slowly filed out of the Trayee compound. The Brindavan campus warden told us later that Swami had been mighty impressed with our batch saying that all wanted to stay with Him. In fact, He had even said that all should be taken into the Institute. All of us were thrilled.
After the Board exams and completion of school, a few boys from our batch did go out for pursuing careers in medicine, engineering and other areas. But the majority applied for Bachelor courses in the Sathya Sai University itself. The entrance exams, group discussions and interviews concluded early in May 2000 itself. They had been completed soon because Swami had announced that there would be a Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality for all the students.
When the results were announced, we found out that about 7-8 students had not made it and thus had been denied seats. So, while most of us reported to and joined the hostel at Brindavan, these unfortunate boys felt horribly left out. They went at once to Sailesh sir and said.
“Sir! We wanted to be with Swami but we have not got seats. Should we take this as our destiny and go home and try for further education elsewhere?”
Sir’s reply was, “In normal circumstances, you could have done so. But Swami was happy and He said that all must be taken in. So, hold on. Remember, God’s delays are not His denials.”
Ah! There appeared the famous phrase!
Taking heart from what Sailesh sir had said, the boys waited on. They were no longer recognised as students - they were alumni now. Hence, their preferential seating was also gone and they were sitting with the alumni for daily darshan. In the meanwhile, all of us began to attend the auditorium sessions, dining sessions and discourse sessions with Swami daily. When we would meet these ‘rejected’ and ‘dejected’ boys, we would not know what to say. Somehow, your fortune appears very mean and bad when presented in front of those from whom that very fortune has been snatched away.
After about 4 days, 2-3 members from the ‘unfortunate’ group lost heart and said that they were leaving. If they waited any longer, then their chances of getting a seat into any other university too would be lowered. The others however, held on to the ‘ Delays are not denials’ tagline and prayed. The group, reduced from 8 members to 5, arrived for morning darshan on day 6. That day, as Swami was moving around during darshan, He ‘saw’ these boys and asked
“How come young students are sitting in the alumni block?”
The boys hurriedly told their predicament to Him. Swami turned around and called the vice chancellor. He told him
“These boys must study. They are young to be wasting away like this in the alumni block."
The vice chancellor just nodded his head. Swami continued,
“Interview them and give them seats in our college. Young boys must study!”
Two hours later, the group was with us in the hostel shedding tears of joy. They told all of us, “God’s delays are not His denials”.
How many times has Swami said that His word, once given, will always be upheld? In fact, when the Super Speciality Hospital was being constructed at Bangalore, there was a shortage of funds. Swami was apparently very ‘tensed’ and ‘apprehensive’. He asked a senior,
“What should we do? There are no funds.”
In an attempt to comfort Swami, the elder said,
“Swami! You have promised the world this hospital in one year. The last time you promised, you made the hospital at Puttaparthi and it has been running fine for 10 years now. Just announce that the opening of this hospital will be postponed by a year. People will understand...”
Swami looked at Him with compassion and said,
“Is this all that you have understood of Swami? I have already said that the hospital will come up. So, now I am helpless. It has no choice but to come up.”
The hospital was inaugurated as per schedule.
God always steps in, not at the last moment but at the right moment.
Fast forward to 2003 summer. Swami got down from the ‘golf-cart’ vehicle that He often used for darshan. I was given the duty of placing the footstool for Him to use as support. As Swami got down, I noticed a mango flower in His hair. I said, “ Swami there is something in your hair.”
He bent down, smiled and said, “Will you take it out for me?”
My heart flashed back to the simple prayer that had arisen in my heart, three years ago. As I gently and tenderly plucked the flower from His hair, I realized, once again, that God’s delays are not His denials.
Those students who were admitted into the undergraduate courses, completed even their Masters course from the same Sri Sathya Sai Institute with flying colors! They did not let Him down...
Enjoy a sample Trayee session video...
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My other blog is at aravindb1982.blogspot.in.