- Religion and Philosophy
The will of God never takes you someplace where the grace of God cannot keep you - Part 1
Imagine a situation wherein everything seems to be going right for you when suddenly, one moment changes it all. Then, everything seems to go absolutely against you till suddenly, another single moment sets it all right! It is akin to a huge tornado ripping and tearing apart a home only to reassemble it perfectly as it passes by. The happenings in the last week of January 2009 remind me of such examples. In a span of few days, I feared that my perfect life was falling apart only to realize that it had been put together in a more beautiful manner.
Now that I have raised a few eyebrows in curiosity, I think it is the perfect time to launch into the story. I invite all of you to become part of this roller-coaster journey. At the end of it, you might not have gone higher or lower than where you originally were. But, I promise you, you’ll have had one hell of a ride!
Sometime in the middle of January 2009, I was summoned by my director at the studios and he told me,
“Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) has announced last year that He will be constructing homes for the people in Orissa ravaged by floods. The work has begun there and it is our duty to document all that is happening there. In a few months time, the homes will be given away to those poor people. This is an amazing service project and we should do our best to document the same for posterity.”
I could not agree more with him. He continued,
“I want you to be one of the two passengers bound for Orissa this month end. Go there and cover all that you see extensively. Also interview the affected people, the engineers, the workers, the volunteers and everyone else being benefited by the project. The media never covers these glorious works that bring joy to people. It is interested in only sensational stories. But it is our job to spread hope, joy and goodness in the world.”
I was very excited. This would be the first time that I would be going out-station on ‘media coverage’ work. My excitement would only receive a booster dose as another plan also revealed itself,
“And also, on your way to Orissa, you will be passing through the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The devotees there have taken up the SSSVIP (Sri Sathya Sai Village Integrated Programme) on a large scale. 25 villages which did not even have proper access roads are on the verge of becoming self-sustaining, ideal villages with their own primary medical care, primary school and improved agriculture. Make a halt there for about 2 days. The All-India President of the Sathya Sai Seva Organisation has called for a youth meet in the same place at the same time. The Sathya Sai Youth leaders from all over India will be coming there to study the SSSVIP model. Thus, it would also be an ideal time to document this magnificent project.”
This was an amazing assignment which, I was sure, would be uplifting also. The tickets had been booked and arrangements had been made for our stay at various places. Everything seemed perfect till one question popped up in my mind. When this question arose, I could have simply silenced it and gone ahead with the preparations. But that was not to be so. I sought clarification from my director.
That was the first breeze before the brewing of the storm!
At that point in time, I had no idea about the role this question would be playing in a drama that was about to unfold over the next few days. Blissfully ignorant, I asked the question,
“Sir. Have you told Swami about us going to Godavari and Orissa for a week?”
“No! I haven’t. But I guess that is not necessary. Whenever we plan to do good, Swami is always with us. See, when we started a new studio too, we just went ahead with our good intentions. And today, when Swami sees and hears the videos we have made there, He expresses so much joy. The purity of our intention and the determination that we possess are in themselves permission from Swami to go ahead.”
That question had been well answered and I remembered the statement Swami had made when I was to join Radiosai,
“If you want to make Swami happy, make Venkatraman happy.”
Prof.G.Venkatraman or Prof. G.V as he is popularly called was my director now.
A few days passed. I was making mental preparations for the journey. I just sat back recollecting the wonderful moments I had with Swami and the wonderful job Swami had given me. I was living through many beautiful moments. Topmost in my mind were the beautiful smiles that He had given me in the last few days. I recollected His nectarine words to me - asking me about what were the programmes scheduled, about my camera and so on. The Lord of the Universe made me feel as though He had come for me alone! I had tears of joy in my eyes.
It was at this time that the breeze which had begun a few days ago had started to become a wind!
I felt so close to Swami. And then there was a voice in me,
“Whenever you leave from home, you tell your parents about it. How can you leave without Swami being told?”
This question grew stronger and stronger in me till it was screaming from within me. It would have been so easy had my director answered my question with an affirmative. Easier still if I had not paid attention to that question. But that was not to be so. The drama plot had demanded a tornado and things everything in the universe seemed to be conspiring to build the wind up to that!
I decided that if my director had not told Swami about my ‘leave’ I would personally do it. With that, I continued my journey down memory lane with Swami. They brought smiles in my heart no doubt, but they also made my resolve to tell Swami about the planned trip stronger.
The wind-speed had just increased.
Days passed and I never got that ‘chance’ to tell Swami about the trip. As I nervously waited for an opportunity, I realized that it was already the Republic Day - 26th January 2009. And my train bookings were for the 28th. With barely 24 hours left to tell Swami, I decided that today had to be the day. At any cost, I would tell Swami about the trip I was to undertake and seek His blessings.
I left for the mandir with a letter in my hand and a prayer in my heart at 4:00pm. There was a planned distribution of implements and tools for the identified needy. Swami arrived for the programme at about 5:30pm. He took a detour towards the mandir after He crossed the ladies side area of the Kulwant hall. He moved to the stage and sat there presiding over the evening function.
I thrust out my letter about informing Swami that I would be going to Orissa. I hoped that He would call me and accept the same.But there was not much luck. The programme concluded and Swami asked for bhajans.
After the bhajans, Swami seemed to be in a very light and happy mood. He blessed everyone and moved towards His car. I remembered my resolve to tell Swami about the trip at any cost. But here I was, sitting and watching Him being wheeled away to the car. The contraption which would automatically take His chair into the car slowly descended. Swami’s chair was slowly moving into the car.
At this time, I felt a sudden surge of courage and energy. I got up and simply walked up to the car. Nobody seemed to see me as everyone was looking at Swami.
“Fool! What on earth are you doing?” - a voice screamed out from within me.
I continued to walk to the car till someone finally saw me. That ‘someone’ was Swami! On previous occasions, Swami had told me to join the mental hospital. I thought that what I was doing aptly made me look like a patient of a mental asylum!
The wind had started to resemble a whirlwind and was surely developing into a tornado...
continued in Part 2.
Do not miss the other parts of this thrilling story...
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