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Trusting God's Wisdom: When my mother sought a 'strange' boon from Sri Sathya Sai
The thrill of a special blessing...
It was with great anticipatory excitement that I woke up on the 12th of September, 2010. I was sure that it was going to be a special day for my parents and myself. And I was especially happy for my mother because it could probably turn out to be the day when she would get her closest-ever proximity to her Lord (our God, Guide and Master), Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. This wonderful opportunity had presented itself in a most unexpected manner and it is imperative that a brief history is presented here.
All the male alumni of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning working in the various institutions at Prasanthi Nilayam and Brindavan (after having been appointed by Swami Himself) had formed a group with the name Sai Sannidhi (meaning proximity to Sai). This group had decided that every year on the first or second Sunday of September, it would gather in Prasanthi Nilayam, at Swami’s lotus feet to rededicate itself to Him. Swami was very happy with this idea and He had blessed the members of Sai Sannidhi in their decision. And so, as September 2010 approached, mails began to be exchanged between the Sai Sannidhi members on what should be done for the Sai Sannidhi day. Swami had graciously agreed for the 12th of September for the meet.
As the brainstorming was about to begin in e form, via emails and chats, one of the members put forth a beautiful and touching idea which was immediately accepted by all. His mail was as follows:
“One of the main points that Swami always emphasizes in His Discourses is 'Gratitude towards parents'. There are many of us in this 'Sai Sannidhi' group who were fortunate to have spent some 'personal time' with Swami. Some of our parents would have had an opportunity of a 'Divine Interview' with Swami. But, There are many of us, whose parents have not even had a 'Close Darshan' of our Loving Lord. I feel from depths of my heart that if we can grant one such opportunity for our parents to have a close Darshan of Swami, their joy will have no bounds and am sure will keep them happy for the rest of their lives.”
When Swami was informed of this, He too was equally enthusiastic. He said that He would bless all the members of the Sai Sannidhi along with their parents. A great deal of planning and organization went on to bring all the parents (many of whom were very elderly) and have them comfortably accommodated with the different kinds of food that was necessitated by medical conditions and differences in the palate. The 12th of September 2010 dawned as the culmination of the brainstorming that had begun weeks before.
On the 11th of September, just as Swami was leaving after the evening darshan, He looked at me and said, “Repu Parents...” (Tomorrow, parents...). I felt very happy and nodded to Him. He said again,
“Repu Poornachandra” (Tomorrow, Poornachandra - the auditorium where we would be assembling.)
Now the reader can easily appreciate the reason for my excitement - I would be seated along with my parents in a session where Swami had promised to bless all of us.
What to ask Swami?
By 4pm, all the members of Sai Sannidhi (191 in all at that time. Today, it has expanded.) were seated in the Poornachandra auditorium along with their parents. Neat little blocks had been separated via markings on the floor and #127 was allotted to me and my parents. Gaps had been provided between rows of blocks to ensure that Swami can freely move and interact with whomever He wanted. As we sat there, my mother asked me a question,
“When Swami comes near, what should I ask Him?”
“Mom! That is something personal between you and Swami. Ask Him whatever your heart desires.”
She seemed satisfied with my answer and she nodded in agreement. She became silent after that, lost in prayers of her own. As I stated before, this would be the first time she would be getting the physical proximity of Swami. A thought formed in my head. I began to think about what my mother would ask Swami.
Surely, she would ask Him to keep her at His lotus feet forever... Or maybe for realization in life... Or maybe to bless her with intense love for Him...But wait. Those are the things that almost everyone assembled in the auditorium might ask. What would be so special about my mother?
“Mom”, I called her, “when you ask Swami, ask for something unique... something that nobody will ask for.”
Her face twisted into a question mark.
“You see, if you ask for something which is very unique, then, even after the session, that request will remain stuck in Swami’s mind right?”
She nodded again. My logic was based on a simple observation. Suppose there was a group of boys whom Swami was talking to and one of them happened to be on the ‘healthier’ side, Swami would invariably call him, “Ay Pakoda” (a savory made by deep frying flour in oil). Or if one of them happened to be very fair-skinned, Swami would invariably say, “Ay white boy.” I felt that being ‘different’ was a sure way to be noticed by Swami. So, I advised my mother also to be ‘different’ in her request.
“What will you ask Swami?”
I wanted to know my mother’s thoughts.
“That is personal between me and Swami right? I will ask Him.”
I was at the receiving end of my own statement!
My mother's desire
It was at 5:30pm that Swami arrived into the auditorium. He immediately said that He would move in between the rows. All of us were thrilled. This was true Sai Sannidhi - proximity to Sai! Swami was moving towards each and every block and spending quality time with each boy and his parents! Everyone waited patiently for their turn and a ‘mass interview session’ happened silently. After about 45 minutes, when Swami neared block #127, my heart began to beat rapidly and I am sure that was the case with my dad and mom too. He stopped at our block and began speaking to us. What He spoke to my dad and me are parts for another story and I shall reserve it for the appropriate space and time. All the while He was speaking to my father and me, my mother was gently massaging His feet.
Then came her opportunity. I looked at her wondering what she would ask. She asked,
“Swami, I would love to cook food for you. Will you partake it and give me that blessed opportunity?”
NOOOO! What was she asking? I felt that in trying to ask for something unique, she had asked for something paltry.
“Surely! But not now. Later...” was Swami’s answer as He placed His hand on her head, blessing her. My mother was filled with bliss divine and looked like she needed nothing else in life. Her joy was evident later, at home too as she relived those precious few moments. Being the first opportunity to speak with Swami, she kept saying that Swami spent a whole minute with her. That was not the case but she vividly remembered each millisecond that He had spent with us. That kind of recollection combined with her emotions and feelings of love seemed to have dilated time for her!
After blessing us, Swami moved ahead. The session lasted another 45 minutes and all the Sai Sannidhi members with their parents had a most memorable session. Each had a story to remember, a tale to tell. A mini Sai Bhagavatham had been scripted that day alone!
The beautiful blessings...Click thumbnail to view full-size
Waiting for the Lord
After the 12th of September, my mother eagerly waited for the day when Swami would give her an opportunity to offer the food she had cooked to Him. Knowing the hundreds of practical difficulties involved in her dream reaching fruition, I wondered how that would ever happen. Days, weeks and months passed this way. My mother’s desire did not seem to diminish one bit. I tried to ‘drive sense’ into her,
“Mom! Swami said that He would give a chance to feed Him later. But He did not tell in which form right?”
“So...” she asked.
“Whatever Swami says is true but we do not understand all the dimensions of what He said. See, everyday He is eating what you cook through us, your family.”
“Say what you want. My Swami will not let me down. He will taste what I cook. And not in this indirect manner - through you and others! Did not Sabari wait for years to feed her Lord? I shall also wait.”
I gave up trying to convince her. 2011 arrived. Swami was growing weak physically. Even darshans were becoming rare. Then came the 24th of April, 2011 when Swami shed the physical frame. After almost a month of physical mourning, one of the first things that struck me was:
“Swami! Now, you will never be able to taste what my mother cooks. You promised but you went away!”
I don’t know whether my mom remembered His promise. She never made a mention of it till one day, when I complimented her for the tomato rasam she had made, she said,
“You know, when you tell me that the food is tasty, I feel that Swami is enjoying it in you.”
That day, I felt that she had given up. She too had accepted the ‘logic’ I had offered months before. Little did I realize then that Swami had not accepted this ‘logic’!
We had by now adopted the practice of placing breakfast, lunch and dinner in a silver plate for Swami in the altar. In fact, He had come in my wife’s dream and told her that He wanted food! One day, when my mother went to clear Swami’s food plate after it had been in the altar for a few hours, she was pleasantly shocked! She let out a shriek - In the plate, there was vibhuti!
Till then, I had witnessed vibhuti coming from photographs at home. This was something unique. It did not stop with that one occurrence. Multiple times fragrant vibhuti appeared in the breakfast, lunch and dinner placed for Swami.
“What you told me is absolutely true my son”, my mother addressed me, “Whatever Swami says is true but we do not understand all the dimensions of what He said ”.
I simply sat dumbfounded. It was the second time my mother had used my statement on me.
A sample of the Vibhuti on various dishes - a Divine promise upheld.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Don't ask, Oh mind!
On many occasions Swami has sung in His sweet voice,
Adugakuve O manasa (Oh mind! Do not ask!)
The import of that poem is so straight in the face -
Why do you seek from God? What do you know of your needs? What is an absolute essential today becomes useless tomorrow. So, why not trust the Divine wisdom? God will give you all that you need and more at the perfect time. Why ask and make things difficult for God? It is best to shut up and accept all that He gives us in life with gratitude because it is the best possible thing that could ever happen to us from among a million other things!
In this case, I feel that Swami accepted my mother’s cooking when she ( and in turn us, the whole family) needed it the most. In retrospect, am so grateful to Him for using that prayer of my mother to give us the blessing of His presence when we thought that we would never have it again!
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