The road ahead for Sai devotees - Inspiration from the Mahabharata
It has been almost 2 years now since the day when tears welled up in me like never before. I cannot think of any other time when I have cried the way I did then nor do I think I will ever cry like that again. Seeing Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) in His physical state on the 24th of April 2011 made my heart experience something that it never has before.
Love without attachment is a beautifully fantastic concept but I think that all the memories we savour arise from the attachment that love brings with it. Swami has been such an influence in my life. He has filled it like nothing else ever can and at the same time left such a gaping void. How can someone be so fulfilling and so ‘vacuuming’ at the same time?
I have been reading the Mahabharatha comics from Amar Chitra Katha for some time now.
(A small detour here. I must recommend these awesome comics for and and all! Hats off to Amar Chitra Katha for immortalizing these glorious stories for all times to come. I feel so happy to have grown up, reading them. Today, the comics are all about Transformers, Spiderman, Chota Bheem, Bey Blades and the likes popularized on cartoon network. I have nothing against them but feel saddened that not many children know our glorious culture. The Amar Chitra Katha comics, I must say, are equally exciting and also full of virtue, character, nobility, righteousness and education for life. I recommend them for all ages!)
Inspiration from Baba's Chinna Katha
I have been devouring through the pages of the Mahabharatha for the last few days and as I was reading it, I was repeatedly reminded of a story that Swami narrates. And that story transformed into an intense inspiration. Swami speaks about the plight of the eldest Pandava brother, Dharmaja, at the end of the great Mahabharatha war. Let us relive those times briefly so that we appreciate his situation.
After years of toil and pain in forests and temporary dwellings, the great Mahabharatha war begins for the Pandava brothers. They have faced the grind of mortal life but have always relied on their Lord Krishna who has always been by their side, guiding and guarding them. In 18 days of terrible war, the unrighteous Kaurava brothers are vanquished and Dharma is back on track. Celebrations are about to begin after a very long time of misery for the Pandavas, when they hear a most dreadful news - their Lord Krishna - friend, philosopher and guide - has left His mortal coils.
On hearing this, Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas drops dead instantly and the Pandavas are plunged into grief. What was to be a moment of celebration becomes a moment of great renunciation. They decide immediately to renounce everything and go into the Himalayas to spend the last leg of their lives. And now, as Swami says, Dharmaja faces a very difficult situation which he handles with great equanimity.
He calls his four brothers and entrusts them with one task each :
1) To make preparations for the celebrations of the victory of Dharma over Adharma.
2) To make preparations for the mother’s funeral.
3) To make preparations for the renouncing journey to the Himalayas.
4) To make preparations for the coronation of their youthful grandson - Parikshith.
Swami always praises the equanimity which this eldest Pandava brother exhibited and the diligence with which he carried out his Dharma or duty.
I have heard this story many times. But of late, I have viewed the story from a different perspective - that of the going-to-be-ruler, Parikshith. I was wondering how it must have been for him.
The way he got his name is an interesting story in itself. A missile had been directed to him when he was in the womb. It was Lord Krishna who had divinely intervened and had saved the foetus. And so, when the baby was born, it was constantly checking faces to identify its saviour. It smiled only after it had the darshan of Krishna. So, the baby was named, “Parikshith” - one who examines. That was his only experience with the Lord.
And as Dharmaja took the major decisions in equanimity, Parikshith was facing the test of his life. His Lord Krishna was gone. His doting great-grandmother had dropped dead. His great uncles, the ambassadors of Dharma - the Pandavas - were giving up everything, including him, and leaving for Sanyasa. Amidst all this, he was not to grieve but take over the responsibility of a vast empire and rule justly. He was to be the pillar of strength to his subjects.
A similar situation today...
Today, even as I still feel the void in my heart, I feel the situation is so similar. There have been some wonderful devotees like Dr.Savitriamma (who superbly manned the general hospital in Whitefield) and Mrs.Prabha Sridharan (who was the foremost among the ladies bhajan group at Brindavan whom Swami personally trained) who gave up their mortal coils soon after the Mahasamadhi.
(Please note that the term 'Mahasamadhi' is being used here only in an indicative manner. Please do not go into the semantics of it.)
And then there are some like the Pandavas - grand people in the Sai Family who have been Swami’s instruments always. They are in great grief for their entire lives have been spent at His Feet. And yet, with great equanimity, they are carrying out their duties, preparing for fresh blood and the youth to step in. They have fought many battles and have been guided by the Lord to do everything. But soon, they will be marching off to Himalayan heights to seek their salvation.
Finally, the majority of us are like the lad Parikshith! An empire has been entrusted to us - an empire of Values and Love. Physically, our Lord has left and the venerable elders are encouraging us to take up the reins. And we have to be pillars of strength and take up our responsibilities. We have not stayed always with the Lord physically but we have experienced Him in our own ways.
When Parikshith was in his mother's womb, the deadly Brahmastra, a divine missile, was discharged on him by Ashwatthama. Lord Krishna, in His form, entered the womb and protected the fetus from the missile. Thus, Parikshith knew that even though he had not physically experienced Krishna much, He was the reason/cause of his life. That is another similarity - we know that just like for Parikshith, for us too, God is the reason for our lives.(
Parikshith did rule wisely and well. He always looked up the glorious deeds of his great uncles for inspiration and always had his God Krishna guiding him from within. And when the time came for him to leave his physical frame, he knew it. He listened only to the glories and stories of Lord Krishna for one complete week before dying. Those stories narrated by sage Suka to king Parikshith have been collected into the wonderful Bhagawatham, veritably the Hindu Bible!He died a wonderful death and in death too, he ensured that the Bhagawatham - stories of Lord Krishna - sprouted in every heart.
And that, should be an inspiration for all of us. Like king Parikshith, we should be able to shoulder the responsibilities in spite of missing the physical presence of our Lord. And we can do that by living His teachings in our day to day life.
As we live, let our lives be part of the Sai Bhagawatham that has no beginning or an end. May our love for Swami grow stronger every passing moment. Let us remember what He once told a student,
“Bangaroo, I don’t want you to die for me. I want you to live for me!”
Dying for something is easy - it is a one-time affair. Living for something is a lifetime commitment. And once we live for something, we automatically die for the same too - just as Parikshith did!
If you enjoyed reading this, you must read these too:
1. God-bashing : The Mahabharata solution for devotees - on how to deal with those who criticize God.
2. 24th April 2012 - The Day to mark His Arrival - from yajur Mandir to Hrudaya Mandir.
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya