"With God on my side" - A primary schoolgirl's sweet experiences with her God - Part 1
The relationship that kids share with Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) is something very sweet and spontaneous. And those that have been lucky to witness the interactions between Swami and the childrenwill heartily vouch for me when I say that it is the one of the most educational things to observe. There is fun, sweetness and joy no doubt - but there is also the lesson that is imparted in a manner that only He can. Another lovely aspect of these interactions is that they retain their innate, pristine beauty even when narrated over and over again, in detail.
One evening, as we (me and my wife, Pooja) were going back home after a lovely bike ride in the evening drizzle, she suddenly tapped on my shoulder and said,
“Today, so many memories are flooding me - memories of some unforgettable experiences with Swami in Primary School.”
Unforgettable? And she had not made a mention of them to me till now?
“These episodes are buried deep within my heart and the programme put up by the alumni working as Sai Sannidhi (students working in various institutions started by Baba) triggered them. That is why I say they are unforgettable - they may go into the deepest backgrounds but they are never forgotten.”
I prodded her to relive her memories. The stories were touching and sweet to say the least. Even as she spoke, I wished that we too could record our memories in the Pensieve like they do in the magical world of Harry Potter.
“I may not have a pensieve but I do have a blog! And I shall store these there so that the world can know about how our dear Swami was a child among children”, I decided and so here it is.
The narrative is now over to Pooja.
With three pennies and God...
I was a little girl of five and a half years when I joined the Primary School in Puttaparthi for my 1st standard. Other than academics, we had a host of extra-curricular activities to choose from. Among the various extra-curricular activities, I decided to join in the music class. There were two forms of music classes that we could choose from - Hindustani (North Indian classical music) and Carnatic (South Indian classical music).
Having said that, I must say that there wasn't much of a choice for the kids when it came to choosing the kind of music we wanted. The teachers would themselves test if a child could sing and, depending on it’s native language, would decide on the type of music most suited for the child to learn. Since my parents were South Indians, I was logically placed in the Carnatic music group. However, since we had been residents of the erstwhile Bombay (Mumbai) for several years and spoke Marathi and Hindi at home, I wasn't familiar with the tongue-twisting lyrics of most southern-classical music songs.
The first day in music class was one that I can never forget! The teacher, “Sujata maam” as we called her, was singing one line of a song and asking us to repeat the same. We were six girls and four boys from the first-standard music class. It so happened that this music class was being conducted amidst nature, under the trees in the school compound. (Those early days, we didn’t have too many classrooms in Primary School and there was also the other children to consider would be disturbed by our singing loudly.)
This was 1990 and Swami was a frequent visitor to our school. He would walk into any class in the school at any time. We were, however, expected to continue with the class as per routine. This particular day, during the music class under the trees, I was struggling with the lyrics of the song. As the teacher was reprimanding me for not being able to say even a single line without stuttering, Swami's car entered the premises from the General Hospital gate into the Primary School!
We all saw Him just as He saw us sitting under the trees there. He stopped His car, quickly got down and walked towards us. None of us moved towards Him and acted as though we were ‘absorbed’ in our music class. The teacher started teaching the song again, from the beginning but again, I couldn't follow even a single line completely. I found it tough to pronounce the words. And Swami was watching! I was singly ‘spoiling’ the performance of the other children.
The teacher was now exasperated and she stopped the other children from singing. She asked me to repeat the words after her. I was very nervous and so, even though she sang the words slowly, couldn't manage more than two words. The teacher gave up, looked at Swami and said,
“Swami, we will move her from the Carnatic group to Hindustani group because she is unable to cope here.”
Hearing that I started crying. Partly it was because I wanted to remain in this group. Swami showed a lot of interest in Carnatic music and hence, I felt, I wanted to be part of this ‘popular’ group. Partly it was because I felt that though I was a good singer, I was being ‘punished’ for not being able to pronounce words. As I kept crying, the teacher was at her wits’ end as to what had to be done.
Swami came to me and patted me on my head. He very lovingly said,
"Give the child a few days. She will learn and sing nicely. "
My tears dried up immediately. I was so relieved and happy. In one moment, with one loving sentence, Swami had made me rise from a sad abyss to a joyful zenith. From feeling that I was at the bottom of the class, I felt on top of it because I had His backing. I began to put all my efforts in practicing to the difficult words. I cannot imagine to this day as to how a girl of 5 was motivated to practice hours on the end. In two days time, when we had the next music class, I doled out all the lines to perfection and the teacher’s satisfaction.
The Lord enters at the right minute. When the world gives up on you, God backs you for He knows you and your heart! With God on my side, there is nothing I cannot achieve.
As I heard Pooja’s story, I was reminded of another small girl, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, who wanted to start an orphanage. She had three pennies with her and the elders told her,
“You can’t build an orphanage with three pennies. With three pennies you can’t do anything.”
Agnes just smiled and replied,
“I know. With three pennies I can’t do anything. But with three pennies and God, there is nothing that I can’t do!”
Today, we know Agnes as Mother Theresa!
Pooja then went on with her narration...
“Your problem is my problem till it is solved.”
This happened when I was in the 3rd standard. Our Carnatic music teacher left the school as she was getting married and leaving Puttaparthi. We were all worried as we would not be able to continue learning music without our music teacher. I wrote a letter to Swami, saying everything that was going on in my mind and heart. As a conclusion, I had written that Swami should give us another music teacher soon.
It was a Sunday morning and we had gone to the mandir for darshan. I was seated in the first row in the mandir. As the darshan began, Swami walked straight to me and straightway took the letter. Even as I started to smile gratefully, He opened the letter and read the contents. Then He asked,
"You want another teacher now? How many more teachers do you want?"
As a child of eight years, I was completely lost! I had written that I wanted another music teacher and here was Swami asking me how many teachers I wanted! When I did not offer any reply, He asked,
"How many teachers are there in school?"
I didn't know and started to look back, pleadingly, at the teachers for help. Some of the teachers seated nearby mumbled a figure and I meekly repeated the number for Swami. He then smiled and patted my head saying that we should all join the Hindustani music group and that Keya Aunty would teach music to all of us from now on. Thus it was that both the groups were merged into one music group and we all started learning Hindustani music from then on.
This was a very small problem, but for our little minds at that age, it was burdensome. We just placed it in His hands and He ensured it was all set right in a matter of few seconds. That is His love for His children.
Many times, what we hold very dear in our heart and give great importance to, means nothing to the world. But for Swami, our great problems are His great problems. His empathy is so complete for He feels one with us. As I heard Pooja’s narration, I was reminded of many instances in my life where when I was cruelly ravaged by the world, Swami had stood by me. The third episode that she narrated made me laugh out loud. It was another episode related to her music and it showed that God indeed loves fun!
If you liked this article, you might also like:
1. The second part of this article - "With God on my side" - A primary schoolgirl's sweet experiences with her God - Part 2
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My other blog is at aravindb1982.blogspot.in.