Bhagawan Baba has said,
”All who come embodied are Avatars, advents of the Divine. What then is the special feature of Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Christ? Why do you celebrate their Birthdays with much reverential enthusiasm? The speciality is this: they are AWARE; you are unaware of the Atma, which is the Truth. AWARENESS confers liberation from bonds, from time, space and causality and from sleep, dream and wakefulness. Avatars are ever alert, aware and alight.”
One of the most endearing qualities of Bhagawan IS how 'lightly' He carries the mantle of DIVINITY; there is no high-handed 'looking down' upon ignorant humanity; no ostentatious display of the supernatural in His demeanour. He always IS simple, natural, spontaneous, LOVING, humorous, witty, sincere, PLAYFUL, sensitive, COMPASSIONATE . . . . . endless list ! Glimpses of His Divine nature irresistibly peeped out of the 'human form', and when they did, it created joy and delight in everyone's hearts. The Lord is often described as RASO-VAI-SAHA, that is, the Embodiment/Essence of pure SWEETNESS/BLISS. Swami always created JOY in the hearts of His devotees. The stern task-Master bit is real too, (very real !) but that was always to mend our ways and put us on the right track. After the ego was successfully demolished by Him (the long, 'dark nights of the soul'), and the devotee managed to stay on and not run away from the hammering or even lose faith, one usually discovered that the heart has been transformed to experience DIVINE LOVE and rapture.
Sometimes though, during the process of ego-demolition or clearing of karmic backlog, He sends beams of GRACE to see us through -- glow-worms in the dark of night, to encourage and simultaneously fascinate !!
Wondering at the l-o-n-g introduction? When you are wonder-struck, you either become speechless or 'ramble on'. The experience I am about to narrate overwhelmed me then and now too fills me with awe and wonder. The Lord will do ANYTHING to let you know He's with you. OK then . . . . without much ado, here goes . . . .
The day: December 9, 2008. The place: the Abode of Peace
Evening bhajans were over and I was walking back home, after my usual stop-over near Ganesha, who I consider my guardian-angel + Swami's main assistant. Actually, I did not do my usual 'lingering' at Ganesha's door, because I was deeply upset about something. Strange, that right now those 'deeply-upsetting-issues' and 'troublesome, peace-disruptive elements' have faded from memory, but I remember thinking what a waste it was to stay near the Avatar and get caught up in silly, petty issues. I felt I was losing the bigger perspective of being in the Divine proximity and there seemed no way to get out of this mental turmoil. Where was my Omnipresent SAI, beyond this physical form that was so deluding ? Theoretical knowledge of equanimity and PRACTICAL demonstration of it amidst the contradictions of daily life are very different things.
The famous GANESHA temple inside Prasanthi Nilayam
Anyhow, as I walked back home, I on-the-spur-of-the-moment decided to call a friend over for a cup of tea to lighten my mood. Better than wallowing in a state of depression over an 'existential sorrow' that seemed endless and went along the lines of something like this -- WHY does Bhagawan remain silent and 'allow' troubling things to happen? WHY does He not reprimand or punish trouble-makers? WHY does he seem to 'encourage' egoistic people? Why, why, why . . . . Well, in the depths of my heart I knew this was what a spiritual journey meant: non-stop, EGO-demolition all around, at the Divine hands of the greatest Teacher on earth-school. Still,we all have our limits. . . .right?
Those days, Bhagawan was 'on time' and bhajans got over by 6.00 p.m. I reached home, called my friend and an elderly neighbour. We gathered, sipped tea, chatted a bit and dispersed by 7.00 p.m. My mood had lightened, but I was still feeling a bit sore.
The next day when I was going for breakfast at around 7.30 a.m. to the South Indian canteen, a colleague of mine wanted to join me. Gayathri said she wanted to tell me something important. As we were munching on idlis, she said how the lady whom I had given the photograph of Swami the previous evening, felt she got the answer to her dilemna and wanted to meet me and thank me for that and the 'message' from Swami. I blinked; I did not recall meeting anyone, especially not the previous evening, the mood that I was in. G. gave me a peculiar look (I get lots of those !) and said, anyhow, this lady was waiting to 'thank me' and I should meet her after the bhajan session. I was bemused; I patiently explained to G. that I positively did not meet or interact with anyone; I was at home sipping tea with two people and WHAT was she going on about? Now G. got angry and said, "But akka (elder sister), you came upto me near 'Ganesha', stopped me and insisted on narrating a dream-message for Latha aunty. And then you gave a tiny photo of Swami for her and we walked via East Prasanthi, after which you went out through the Canteen-side/vehicle gate." I once again 'patiently' explained to her that I never walked via East Prasanthi or exited the ashram the Canteen-gate way, because the 'Ganesha-gate' was more convenient for me to use. We just stared at each other; nothing was making any sense, or maybe it suddenly made too much sense. We were talking at cross-purposes, unless . . . . I abruptly told G. that I wanted to be alone; she reminded me once again that I should meet the devotee who wanted to thank 'me'. We returned to Sai Kulwant Hall. I mused on what I had just heard. I was at home the previous evening, there were two 'witnesses' to testify to this. My ALIBI was fool-proof. But my colleague -- was she fabricating this entire story ? (I sometimes feel, we devotees in our enthusiasm sometimes muddle facts when it comes to Swami's miracles. Swami can do anything, but we must be accurate too and speak the truth without embellishment. No need to act as publicity agents of the Beloved One.) But then there was this other lady (whose daughter was studying at Anantapur) and a photo. Was she also a part of this charade? I must take a look at the photograph and speak to this devotee. My mind was running haywire. I slowly chewed on the obvious explanation that my mind was hesitating to consider. DID BHAGAWAN REALLY ASSUME MY FORM and lead all of us on a merry dance ?
The morning bhajans were on and I prayed to Swami for help in resolving my doubt (regarding my friend) and accepting what had happened. The next bhajan melodiously wafted down the speakers :
O BABA, SAI BABA (O Lord, Sai Baba)
Deenon ke dukh har de BABA (Destroy the misery of those who suffer)
RAM bhi Baba, KRISHNA bhi BABA (Baba is both Lord Rama and Lord Krishna)
And then came this particular line:
Nara dehi NARAYANA BABA
(Baba, the One who is both Narayana (Lord Vishnu ) and who has also assumed the human body/bodies).
I stopped my doubting mind in its tracks. Has not Bhagawan said: "ALL forms are Mine, ALL names are Mine." He never says anything that is devoid of significance.
After the bhajan-session, I met the fortunate devotee and my friend who actually walked with Swami (Swami-as-me) down the East Prasanthi road ! The devotee narrated what Bhagawan ('impersonating' me ) told her. HE-as-me said that HE-as-me had had a dream (something very plausible and hence cannot be doubted, many people get authentic dreams about Swami), in which Swami (in the dream) spoke to her, gave her a namaskar and a photo that He blessed (all in the 'dream'!). Since the dream was so vivid, HE-as-me felt like actually giving her a photo! It was a tiny print of a popular photo of His:
|Photo given by Bhagawan in His 'assumed' form to a lady devotee|
She was given the photograph, after which HE-as-me walked with G. my friend (who had studied at Swami's College at Anantapur with this devotee's daughter) a little distance and then melted away.
NOTE: He ensured that while all this was happening, I was 'safely' at home with two people! What drama was this! A dream within a 'drama' within THE DRAMA that life is.
But then, as someone rightly said, ALL of CREATION is GOD's DREAM and we are all a part of it !!
OMNIPRESENT Divinity can assume any form, for there is nothing and no space in this Universe where He is not present. Truly, all forms are His. The story does not end here, however . . . .
SEQUEL One: When I returned home, I rang up my mother in Kerala to tell her this amazing story. I had to tell someone, immediately ! She listened and there was a short silence. I couldn't imagine her not believing me, so now what was the matter? My mother has translated a few books on Swami from English to Malayalam, subsequently published by the Book Trust in Prasanthi Nilayam. At that time, she was translating a book by French author-devotee Jenny Socrate, (in the SAI-world news recently) entitled "The Divine Master" into Malayalam, titling it as 'DIVYAGURU'. (This translation was subsequently blessed by Bhagawan along with the Telugu translation.) She told me now, that for the past three days, she had been translating Chapter 20 from Jenny's book called, 'Some Apparitions of Sai Baba and Shirdi Baba' !!! Needless to say, the whole chapter is devoted to Swami manifesting as different people to the author.
|DARSHAN 2010, Swami with Sri Lankan devotees(Photo not connected to article)|
SEQUEL Two: A fortnight after this incident, around Dec. 19th, there was an episode in the darshan lines. Swami had come for evening darshan in His chair and as was His wont, He was accepting letters, speaking a word or two and dropping vibhuti packets to certain fortunate devotees in the front rows. We, the alumni group with lemon yellow scarves, (Security Girls' -- whatever our ages, Swami called us 'GIRLS' !) volunteering on the darshan ground had strict codes while sitting amongst devotees. We could not give letters to Swami, take a namaskar, ask Him personal questions (unless He spoke to us ) or even fold our hands as He came near. Our job was to facilitate darshan for devotees and not look for 'personal gain'. But then, the Omniscient One has His own ways to bestow His blessings !
My friend, G. was sitting that day in front. Swami's chair stopped in front of her for an infinitesimal moment. He looked at her, gave her a subtle nod, dropped something and went His way. The action was so swift that His stopping was barely noticed. G. picked up what He had dropped, expecting it to be a vibhuti packet. It wasn't. It was the exact replica of the tiny photograph that Swami-as-me had given the lady devotee a fortnight ago! Sitting opposite her, I saw all this but got the whole story after darshan was over !
There is nothing more to say. Swami was just giving a confirmation that all that had happened was His LEELA/Divine play !
To conclude, OMNIPRESENCE of Bhagawan is a reality.
When vibhuti or kum-kum or amrit manifests in photos and statues, worldwide, it is OMNIPRESENCE. Swami is IN every object and In every place;
When HE appears in dreams or visions and gives clear directions, it is OMNIPRESENCE. Swami is PRESENT in all DIMENSIONS, within and beyond the human experience.
When other people come upto you and give you answers to your silent dilemnas, or you turn a page and the answer opens up or even when you find a beautiful quote via FACEBOOK !! once again, it is OMNIPRESENCE. Finite human minds cannot stipulate to God anything, or put limits as to HOW GOD must manifest.
I feel the one and only thing we can do is to LIVE in the PRESENT moment with integrity and love and experience of OMNIPRESENCE will be granted.
ADDENDUM: To those who are wondering what happened AFTER this episode, here are some thoughts.
Did the situation that initially disturb me change? Did the 'troublemakers' miraculously transform?
Well, no and YES. The situation worsened in a sense; and the disturbing elements grew in power. BUT, after this episode which was a gift of Grace by Bhagawan to strengthen my faltering faith and patience, something DID happen.
My mind-set changed. I gained in clarity and I moved away, Swami created the opportunity and resolve in me to do so; I moved on to a different environment, a better perspective and 'peace of mind'. My lesson was to detach myself from the situation and mentally LET GO. Externals changed for me after that.
As for as those who indulge in lies, deception, ego-power games, and other such adharmic behaviour are concerned, God has His unique ways to deal with them. Very often Swami props them up very high and then suddenly they fall on their own into the pits/graves that they have dug for others.
Call it Divine timing/justice/life. Our task is finally to do what we can, the best we can and then move on for, GOD STILL RULES THE UNIVERSE.