Saturday, 30 March 2013

4, When HE left . . . .

As has been famously said -- coming events cast their shadows -- and when the event is something earth-shaking, whether personal or otherwise or both, the Universe (GOD) sends many messages to forewarn us. But often we fail to heed these whispers from Divinity, caught up in the rigmarole of the mind. So too with the event of Bhagawan leaving the physical form. Some thoughts on this, some dreams and  memories:

The VATA-VRUKSHA at Prasanthi Nilayam, planted by Bhagawan more than 5 decades ago

When a banyan tree falls, the neighbouring bushes and shrubs under it stand exposed to the sun's scorching rays, unprotected from all that fierceness. Today we too stand vulnerable to the scorching heat of life, seemingly deprived of our Divine banyan tree under whose branches we frolicked in glee. In the past too, life happened, but there was always Swami to run to, even if it was the very last line beyond the last pillar in Sai Kulwant Hall. Or you just stood at the fringe of the crowd when He went out by car and felt, more than saw Him. Just a glimpse of the ORANGE was enough ! Many a time, I have sat right at the end of the Hall and watched Swami on the stage, marvelling at the effulgent beauty that He radiated. Time stood still in His presence. Sometimes, when you are near Him physically, you could miss this view and forget His grandeur, because we tend to get so caught-up in appearances  that disturb our peace. 


When Lord Krishna left His body, the city of Dwaraka sank under the ocean, after Arjuna emptied the city of its populace. The entire population of Ayodhya walked into the depths of the Sarayu river, following Lord Rama when it was time for Him to leave. In contrast, we  devotees of Bhagawan 'seem' to be going on with our lives after even HE left His body. Everything on schedule here; crowds still throng the darsan-ground, groups come with programmes and canteen lines are long during festivals.  
Pre-2011, the thought, 'how do we survive Swami's not-being-in Parthi' often crossed many minds, I am sure, but it seemed so far away.  Even when He used to leave for Brindavan or Kodai in the summers, life here would come to a stand-still. And now, it is as if an endless summer is at our door-step. One day a friend spoke her thoughts aloud on the same subject. Perhaps we did not have true devotion, after all. Shouldn't we have stopped breathing like Kunti did, when she heard the news of Lord Krishna leaving the earth? The fact is, 2011-2012 did witness many, many devotees and others leaving their bodies. Well what of the rest of of us then?  
When Bhagawan left His physical frame, I think something DIED within all of us too. Whatever kept us going had left; and so we move about today, going through the motions of life, but "life has fled away".
Whether we are truly 'alive' is eminently debatable. Swami provided us all with that 'extra-ordinary' element, one that in different ways, whispered and affirmed to us that life does have purpose beyond the mundane. His very Presence became the purpose of life for many ! His 'going away' has  accentuated the emptiness of ordinary living, however many activities one may fill it with. So, is this then the end ? NO ! NOT AT  ALL. And that is what I feel like sharing today, on the eve of EASTER Sunday, the day Christ was 'resurrected' and ironically the day two years back, when Bhagawan chose to finally leave His body. Obviously, to leave on the day of His Son's resurrection was by His Divine design and can be interpreted in many ways, one of them being, He will 'come back', as many hope. Or is it that The OMNIPRESENT ONE never really leaves, as a human being does after death ?

The resurrected Christ

Coming back to: how are we devotees 'carrying on' ?
It is my firm belief, that 'before HE left' Bhagawan gave many hints that He was indeed 'leaving', hints that we consciously or unconsciously chose to overlook. Through dreams, in conversations and by other means, He was gently indicating, but no, we did not listen; we could not, for the very thought was life-shattering. Only later did the import become clear. I dreamt of Swami talking to me from a raised 'platform', a year before the Samadhi was built. He even gave me a pada-namaskar, with me kneeling at His feet, as He stood above me on the raised platform! So all through that year I secretly looked for Him to get onto a platform from where He would speak to me -- classic example of a dream misinterpreted -- He did speak to me later that year, but NO from a platform.

Function in Sai Kulwant Hall : 17.07.2010

He also prepared us over many years, in fact, by REDUCING darshan. He gave us the first major shock in 2003, when He stopped walking.  But none of these things can actually assuage grief or stop us from losing our bearings. What keeps us sane (well, almost !) and kept us from going hay-wire, is a GIFT Bhagawan bestowed on ALL His devotees, a gift of His Love and mercy. It is my deep-rooted conviction that BEFORE HE LEFT, He infused into our hearts a SENSE of His PRESENCE, a bit-awareness of His OMNIPRESENCE and that is what keeps us going still. We may deny it, we may push away this awareness through excessive emotion and tears or a sinking depression, BUT, Bhagawan did bestow this gift and He keeps waiting for us to avail of it. Bhagawan never approved of exhibition of emotion -- joy or grief. He is the Master of the subtle and expects the same of His devotees. Old-timers will remember how Swami used to call those who were by 'nature' excessively emotional,  'hysteria" !


My personal experience of the message of Omnipresence occurred in February 2011. Darshans had greatly reduced and I was gripped by a feeling of unease that something was wrong somewhere. But I had literally no time to reflect on this or brood due to my father's 'sudden' ill-health, because of which, I was literally in and out of hospital and very preoccupied. One afternoon however, I had a breakdown and I just wept; nothing made sense and I was very upset with Swami. I felt suddenly frightened. Instead of Him comforting me, however, I sensed His disapproval at this 'tantrum'. After this I calmed down, though the unease remained. That night and the next few days, out of the blue, one particular stanza of the Vishnu-Sahasra-Nama (A Stotra-chant consisting of the Thousand Names of Lord Vishnu) kept coming to my mind. I had not chanted this Stotra for ages, though I loved applying the various epithets to Swami and used to feel very pleased how perfectly each name suited Him! The particular stanza was:

Vishwa -moorthi, Maha-moorthi, Deeptha-moorthi, AMOORTHImaan;

Aneka-moorthir Avyaktham,  Shata-Moorthir , Shataanana

The meaning of MOORTHI is FORM. It also means idol. The meaning of the stanza in brief is:
The ONE (Lord VISHNU) who is of the form of the Universe (Vishwa), the  Great One (Maha), whose form is Effulgent (Deeptha), and the One who is essentially FORMLESS , (A-moorthiman), because He pervades everywhere.

The One who, inspite of having MANY  (Aneka) forms, remains Unmanifest (Avyaktham) or, cannot be perceived by the ordinary senses , and yet has innumerable forms and faces (Shata-moorthir, Shataanana), since He is in ALL.

A couple of days later,  I was rushing out of the house one morning and glancing at a video that  was playing on the TV monitor found it to be a discourse of Bhagawan, during the Sivaratri of 2002. I stopped, arrested by Swami's voice which said clearly, "MOORTHI", and so I sat down to listen. This is what I heard Him say (in a rough paraphrase):



 "Everything that is born has a form, that is 'moorthi'. Bharateeyas (Indians) progressed from worshipping the Unmanifest Divine Principle in Nature to worship of it in IDOLS (moorthis).  For this, they have been criticised. Yet, don't you adore the photograph of your father or mother or teacher? The photo has no life, but it 'represents' the quality of the person you love. . . . . There is no one in this world who does not love money. Money is just paper. But with the seal of the government upon it, it becomes currency, the symbol for something valuable. So too the flag is the symbol of a nation. All idols are symbols of the Divine, including the LINGAM."

". . . This is a flower, this is a tumbler. It is the finger that points out what something is. The finger is merely a POINTER to something else. Similarly, idols or MOORTHIS are pointers to Omnipresent Divinity. Once you are able to visualise/connect with Divinity, the pointer (form/idol)  is not necessary anymore . . ."

I understood where all this was leading to. The idol or the form is a Pointer to Formless Divinity. Once that knowledge dawns (in the hearts of devotees), then the 'form', however dear and precious, has served its purpose and can leave. I listened to all this without really wanting to hear or believe. We do that with uncomfortable truths.
After a few days it was Sivaratri. Swami did not come in the morning that day, but I woke up to a dream. I know dreams are very subjective and personal; I generally hesitate to speak of them. But this particular one, I thought is relevant to the topic at hand. This is what I saw:

Bhagawan is sitting on the stage, on His chair, looking very weak and pale as He was those days in early 2011. I then see many school children come near Him with their festival cards, and Bhagawan leans forward to look at them. While doing so, He suddenly stands up and there are gasps from everyone ! He then shrugs off some heavy weight from His shoulders, and the next moment looked radiant and beautiful, with no trace of any illness. After this He profusely blessed everyone in all directions.

Baba with school children, blessing their cards

I woke up and I was SURE Swami was going to heal Himself. After all I saw Him 'shrugging away' His illness, something He had assumed for the sake of the world. (Bhagawan's pain was the result of absorbing our karmic bondages and debts; Avatars do not have any back-log to deal with, but they help humanity of its burdens by taking on themselves the 'collective karma' generated by our mistakes and misdeeds). I particularly remembered how radiant He looked and after very long, I felt peaceful.
However, as you might have guessed, the true meaning of the dream (that dawned on me much later on) is that He was shrugging away the body, after which He looked radiant and blissful. Later on, I also realised that Swami had revealed Himself in His 'LIGHT body'. 
However much I miss Him, this dream let me know that Swami IS free of pain, pain that He assumed for our sakes and refused to cure Himself of. (I am aware that the above statement will raise questions on whether He actually 'felt 'pain for His body is Divine, etc. As He Himself clarified , "There is pain, but there is no suffering.")
What of us left behind ? Will we see Him again? And what do we fill this emptiness with? Nothing is impossible for Him; but I think what is important right now for US, is to discover for ourselves, a task that we are meant to do while still here. We all have enjoyed the benefit of being contemporaries of the Avatar and 'to whom much is given, much is demanded'. We have basked in His Love and now perhaps it is 'pay-back' time. We have received and now we must give and give freely, without the thought of self. Then, someday, that part of us that has died, with His 'leaving' will be resurrected with His Grace, when He chooses to reveal Himself to the world again.
 

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. But both the experience and the expression come from Him !

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