The God in a child and the child in God
It had been a long time since I attended a Sunday morning bhajan in the Prashanti Nilayam mandir. Actually, after the Mahasamadhi of Baba, I had not attended the mandir sessions for a very long time.
Memories play a funny role - you smile thinking of all the times that you had shed tears and cry thinking of all the times you had smiled! Strange but very true. And the Sai Kulwant hall for me holds beautiful memories of so many of His smiles that every time I had gone there, I ended up crying. It was with great courage that I again started attending daily bhajans - but only in the mornings for the evenings’ memories were so strong that I was sure about how I would take them.
The first Sunday morning bhajan I attended after a long time turned out to be an amazing experience!
The magical experience was brought on by the tiny tots of the Primary school. The first bhajan began, “Vande Uma Nandanam” and in response, there was almost an explosion. Hundreds of tiny but loud and shrill throats joined in following and I could simply not resist a smile.
I looked behind and saw a hundred full moons in the day! Each kid was so full of energy and vitality and everyone had a bright, round vibhuti dot on the forehead! It was as if I was looking at a field of sunflowers that were smiling at the sun. Their energy, enthusiasm and devotion were so infectious and I was having so much joy within.
The second bhajan, “Sanathana Sarathi Sayeesha” was one that was not so familiar to them. The volume of the singing immediately went down. Though the lines in that bhajan are a little complex, there is one simple line which goes as ,"Ram, Sai Ram, Sai Ram Ram”. It was as if the kids were holding back and damming all their energies for the familiar line. And so, when that line came up, there was a burst of energy. What a lesson it was for me - wherever possible, just give your best and do not hold back.
The clapping was so nice and I felt that it would be so wonderful if we could loan these kids for everyday morning bhajans. I thought that I would be lost in mourning but these kids made it for me a Sunny morning! And I closed my eyes reminiscing on how Swami would play with these kids on Sunday mornings before giving them sweets and savouries.
Swami calls one of these kids and asks him, “Where is your brother?” He turns around and points to another kid. Swami then tells him, “Ay! All are brothers!”
The kid has a sheepish smile.
Then Swami continues, “Where is sister?” The kid nods his head and says in a squeaky voice, “Swami! No sisters!”
“Ay! All are sisters” and Swami gives him a gentle pat on his cheek. The kid nods and is returning to his place when Swami calls out to him again.
This time the question is, “Where is wife?”
And the kid, in all innocence, narrows his eyes and asks, “All are wife?”
There is such a burst of laughter......
Am reliving so many such memories and another bhajan begin. It is “Shirdi Sai Shankara”. The bhajan is going on smoothly till the line, “Paramatma Shiva Shankara, Pavana Purusha Shankara” comes. It is a high pitched line and in all enthusiasm, two kids behind me start singing once the first half is over. Soon they realize their mistake and all the kids around them, including me, are looking at them. Their faces are red in embarrassment and they bend down and bury their faces in their own laps. It is such a sweet and cute sight.
And then, my mind races to the mail that I had received from a girl who had studied all her life in Swami's Primary school. It has been so beautifully worded that I reproduce it below:
Over to her....
When we were in school, He would come everyday to class, to the dining hall, to the ground while games were on, to watch sports practice or PT practice! Those memories bring tears of gratitude and joy even now! Once when we were down with mumps He had come to see us. I think I was in 4th standard then. Every kid was complaining of trouble while eating. I got a chance and so I very eagerly went and told Him, "Swami I can't even talk! It pains a lot!"
And then I started crying while everyone around seemed to be laughing. Swami was amused at what I said, but He very lovingly asked me what I ate for breakfast.
Then I said that I drank milk but I didn't eat because of throat pain. He then smiled and told us all, "If you don't eat, how will you have strength to talk and play. How will you get well?"
I said, "Swami the medicines are bitter, please give us vibhuti instead."
Then He created vibhuti and gave it to all of us. He also told us to take medicines properly and told the teachers that He will send chocolates for us everyday.
One more point here - to help ease the pains, we would be given ice packs to place on the swollen area at our necks.The teachers complained to Him that some of us would remove the ice from the packet and, instead of holding against our swollen cheek, we'd put it into water and drink the chilled water when they weren't around.
I was scared because I had started that practice!
He very lovingly told the teacher that we were good children and we would listen to Him. He looked at us and asked if we wanted to go for darshan to mandir. We said we wanted to! Then He told us that if we took the ice on our cheek as the teachers said, we'd be taken for darshan thursday and sunday. We did just that from that day on! And as promised, He sent Chiranjeevi Rao sir with chocolates for us everyday!
Am also reminded of the innumerable times when He'd ask, "Did you have breakfast", and I'd have missed but I would still just nod and then further He would ask me as to what was for breakfast?
I would simply be blank!
Swami was not just God to us, He was a loving parent, a teacher who knew how to get us to listen to Him, a friend who'd always be there when we needed to confide in Him, and most importantly He was there for each of us - 100 kids in every class! Right from our school uniform, shirt collars, to our eating and our color pencils, He was involved with all of that. Swami is Swami - that's it. No other description is possible......
It is a very wonderful and cheerful bhajan session for me. And a famous saying rings in my heart, “You can see God in a child’s smile.”
I just look up at the beautiful picture of Swami smiling in front.
“You can also see a child in God’s smile”, my heart completes.
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya