- Religion and Philosophy
The will of God never takes you someplace where the grace of God cannot keep you - Part 2
The story so far...
There is no fun in reading a story midway! My request would be to read this after the first part!
As I reached the car, a smile came on Swami’s face. That in itself was such a great relief. He in fact asked me,
“Are you here to tell me about your wife?”
Ah! That sentence comforted me so much. He was ‘joking’ with me and humour indeed was a wonderful medicine for my situation. I dropped down to my knees and, in the best Telugu that I could muster, told Him,
“Swami, I will be going to Orissa to shoot and film the housing project. I seek your blessings.”
Swami seemed puzzled and He told me,
“But they will all come now. After that....”
I could not understand what He was referring to. I thought that He was telling me that from the next day onwards more people would start walking up like how I did and it was not a good thing to be encouraged. So I slowly slunk back. But He was still looking at me and again I took courage to go to Him. I stretched out the letter I had in hand. He accepted the letter. The chair was now fully in the car and the door would be closing any moment.
I looked pleadingly at Him. I was still not clear as to what the message was. He picked three packets of vibhuti from a basket which was kept by His side in the car. He handed these packets to me as prasadam (blessing). The door slowly closed and Swami then drove away towards His residence. As the car was moving, I got up and returned to my place. My going-to-be-fellow-traveller (GTBFT) to Orissa was seated there.
I narrated to him in detail as to what had transpired at the car. Then, I gave him one of the packets saying,
“I guess this is for you too!”
“Wow! That is nice. So, did Swami bless the trip?”
“I don’t know exactly. He did not say anything in particular that either supported the trip. At the same time, He did not say anything against it also. But He gave me vibhuti. That, I guess, is the blessings to go ahead.”
That would have been the standard conclusion of anybody. But somewhere inside me, I felt that Swami had not ‘wholeheartedly’ blessed me. And I expressed the same to my GTBFT. He looked at me incredulously,
“Are you by any chance planning to ask again?”
“I do not know if I will get a chance for that. But yes, it would be great to get another confirmation.”
To understand Swami’s words, one needs to have deservedness and preparedness. Our need for Him and His love for us automatically confers deservedness. However, preparedness is something that has to be cultivated through sadhana (spiritual practices) and incessant contemplation. That is why it is said that there is a Desha (place), Kaala (time) and Paristithi(situation) for everything. And before that time or situation, one cannot make sense of it. The time for me to understand what Swami said ha not yet arrived.
Feeling the vibhuti packets in my hand, I decided to go ahead with the preparations.
The next day turned out to be quite hectic. I also began to already feel pangs of separation from Swami. I was already contemplating on the day when I would be returning to Puttaparthi! It was like that feeling in childhood when I had to go to my boarding school in Kerala! I would be thinking of when I would return home. It is a different case with the children in the Sathya Sai Primary School though! We shall not go into that here.
The D-Day dawned - the 28th of January 2009. As I completed my bath and was heading to my workplace, I got a phonecall. It was Vedanarayan sir. I got very thrilled.
Let me share a small secret here. These were days when Swami’s darshan in the morning was not a certainty. He would come out in the mornings only for about 2-3 times a week. And nobody knew which those days would be. Since Vedanarayan sir would be chanting Vedas in the morning and I would be in office, I had requested him to give me a ‘missed call’ if and when Swami arrived for darshan.
As expected, the phone buzzed for one ring and went off. I knew that Swami was coming in the mandir. I ran to the mandir and in a few minutes arrived there huffing and puffing. Swami was still at the beginning of the ladies’ side of the hall and I rushed in. Another little detour here.
There was a sevadal volunteer ( devotees who arrive periodically to Prasanthi Nilayam to offer their service) who had assumed that I have some deep inner connection with Swami and that is why am able to arrive perfectly in sync with Him on the mornings when He came. One day, he caught hold of me after the morning session and told me,
“Sairam sir! Blessed indeed are you, for, you share a great inner connection with Swami. I know that it is intuition that tells you when He is coming. It must be a great feeling right? How does it feel?”
“It feels like a vibration - a quivering. Sometimes it also rings in my ears”, I responded.
“Ah! Just what I thought so. Where do you feel the vibration? In your heart? Or in-between your eyebrows?”
“Right here”, I said, pointing at my right thigh!
And then, I almost laughed out. I told him that my 'now empty' pocket usually housed a cell phone that would buzz!.
Coming back to the story, I went and sat in the lines. Swami was coming closer. A thought occurred to me that this probably could be my last darshan before I left for Godavari and Orissa. Our train in the evening was at 5:05 - the Prasanthi Express. Since that was also thedarshan time, it would be very difficult to see Him in the evening. I was thus happy that He had come in the morning. I felt very blessed.
To my great delight, Swami came very close to me. As He was passing by me, He looked at me in the eye I felt. So, I got up on my knees and asked,
“Swami can I take padanamaskar (touching His feet)?”
His face seemed to ask me why.
“Today, I shall leave for Orissa and be back”, I replied.
“All of them are coming...(then why do you want to go?)... The chief-engineer and everyone else too...”
I was not getting what He was referring to again. I asked,
“Swami who is coming?”
I understood that ‘Srinivas’ was a reference to the All-India President of the Sathya Sai Organisations. I said,
“Swami I will be there with him only! And then I will go to Orissa.”
“If you are with him its fine. But after that, all of them are coming here.”
Now, I was thinking furiously. I remembered the chief engineer and Swami’s staff from the Central Trust who had gone to Orissa to oversee the project would be returning on the 5th of February. In fact, the chief engineer was GTBFT’s father and we were all had been booked on the same train for the return.
“I’ll be coming back with them Swami... Same train...” I muttered.
With that, Swami moved ahead.
This “Your wish” is not exactly a nice statement to hear from Swami. It is almost like you are not listening to Him and understanding Him. As a last resort, it is as if Swami is saying that since you cannot get me, go ahead and do what you like. As usual, I’ll cover you!
I felt very disappointed. I got a feeling that Swami did not want me to go. Not even once had He blessed me wholeheartedly to leave. He had always put in a ‘but’ in whatever He spoke I felt. Swami came on stage and sat for bhajans. I was hoping to get another chance to clarify. That never happened and Swami received Aarthi and left.
I returned to the studio and told my GTBFT all that had happened. He told me,
“You should be clear. we have to leave in a few hours from now. Have you finished your packing?”
“I don’t think I will need to pack”, I answered.
GTBFT’s jaw had dropped. I refused to get flustered and continued,
“I don’t know. Inside me, am just not feeling comfortable. Maybe it was a mistake to have asked in the first place. I should have listened to the director. He is an elder and Swami has entrusted him with so much. But now that I have got into this so deep, I guess I will have to run the last mile.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I will go to the director and tell him that I will not be leaving today evening.”
With that, I am sure the tornado had begun. I would be reversing so many steps. Nobody would be able to travel in my place because Indian Railways demand a photo-identity of all the travelers with reservations. And again, only one person would not be able to complete the project originally meant for two. But I was in a fix!
I went to the director. He had a smile on his face. He wanted to know whether we were all set for the project on hand. Everything had been so meticulously planned and supervised by him. He had no inkling of all that had been happening with me.
“Sir, I will not be going to Orissa. I asked Swami and I don’t think I have got the permission.”
The smile on his face faded away in a trice. It was replaced with great disappointment.
Yes! I had just got caught in a tornado of huge proportions.
Do not miss reading
The will of God never takes you where the grace of God cannot keep you - Part 3...
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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya