Seek Divine Grace for Success
It was the battle of Kurukshetra.
The two mighty armies of the Kauravas and the Pandavas were facing
each other. A deathly stillness was in the air. It was the eerie
silence that precedes the mayhem and gore to follow. The silence
and tension was so palpable, it could be cut with a knife.
Just before the
signal for the attack could be given, there was a little stir in
the ranks of the Pandavas. Yudhistira, the eldest of the Pandava
brothers and commander-in-chief of the Pandava army, got off his
chariot and slowly but deliberately, walked across the no-man’s
land separating the two armies.
was going on? Did Yudhistira lose his nerve? Is he going to
surrender, before a single arrow could be fired? No. Even in the
tension filled last moment, even in spite of the war setting,
Yudhistira, the very embodiment of dharma,
was holding fast to tradition, and respecting
Bharatiya culture. He was crossing
over to get the blessings for victory in the war from the very
elders who were now arrayed against him. From his grand-father
Bhishma, now the commander in chief of the Kaurava army, from his
gurus Dronacharya and Kripacharya, and other elders who had joined
forces with Duryodhana, his arch enemy. And history records, how
that one single act of asking for the blessings from the elders
enabled the Pandavas to conquer all odds and ensure victory in the
battle that followed, a battle enshrined in the history books as a
victory of good over evil, of dharma
scene represents an extreme, which perhaps almost all of us will
never face, the philosophy behind the act gets repeated often in
myriad different ways.
The setting was Sai
Kulwant Hall, February 2004. It was the Study Holidays, the calm
before the start of the mayhem to follow in the guise of the CBSE
(Central Board for Secondary Education) examination. (Note: The
CBSE is a common All-India Public Exam conducted for the students
of the 10th and 12th Grades of all the High Schools affiliated to
this Board. This year about 900,000 students from all over India
took this exam.) While students all over the country were busy
studying and preparing hard, the students of the Sri Sathya Sai
Higher Secondary School were literally singing, singing a bouquet
of songs to please and earn the blessings of their Lord before
this all important examination, the first real test in their young
getting permission from Swami, the young men had prepared and come
ready to Sai Kulwant Hall. They brought not only their musical
instruments but also a collection of writing pens (that will be
used by them in the examination) to be blessed by Swami. These
young boys also wrote poems expressing their love and gratitude to
Swami for the countless gifts and intense love that He had
showered on them during their sojourn at His Lotus Feet during
their entire schooling. They wrote this in beautiful calligraphy
and tied a red ribbon around it, to make it presentable to Swami.
Another young boy had handcrafted a violin that could be opened
out to reveal his feeling for his Lord.
time for Swami’s arrival had come. Expectations were heightened.
Last minute instructions were whispered. Throats were cleared. The
tension was reminiscent of the start of the Kurukshetra war.
But no Swami yet.
More time passed. Swami still had not come. But there, His car has
just been spotted. He had gone to inspect the Sai Sreenivas Guest
House, to ensure it was okay to receive the Prime Minister of the
country who was due to visit the Ashram in a couple of days. The
Veda Chanting started, a sure sign of
His imminent arrival into Sai Kulwant Hall. But lo and behold. His
car is not turning into Sai Kulwant Hall but going away - back to
His residence, back to Poornachandra. The
Veda chanting also stopped seeing the car turn away.
deep silence pervaded the atmosphere. The disappointment was deep.
Was Swami angry with us? Did we offend Him? Eyes were closed in
deep heart felt prayer, expressing the intense longing of their
young hearts to have Swami come and receive the bouquet of songs
that they had composed and practiced for Him. The paper on which
they wrote their poems of love to Him was unfurled. Hearts drawn
in red ink were added to the text and perhaps a teardrop or two.
But Swami, as only He knows, did not respond immediately. That
evening, He came and went straight into the
mandir hall and sat for bhajan
ignoring completely these young men waiting outside for Him on the
It was a long night
of introspection. And intense prayer. And hard practice to perfect
their rendition. And more prayer. For the only thing that can win
the Lord’s heart and secure His Grace is intense heartfelt prayer
from deep within. As Ramakrishna once explained, “When you gasp
for God with the same desperation as a drowning man gasps for air,
only then will God reveal Himself”.
The following day, a
sacred silence hung easily on Sai Kulwant Hall. The hearts and
minds were now one-pointed in their yearning for the Lord. Will He
come and bless? Swami’s car was approaching and the Lord was all
smiles. He was happy in His success; that He was able to foster
devotion and get these young boys to think so intensely about Him.
And now He was here to reward them for their efforts.
to the verandah, He stood for a moment and looked very
benevolently around at each and everyone of the High School
graduating class. He swayed for a moment, hands upturned in His
characteristic manner listening to the resonant
Vedic chants. He then gestured for
the boys holding the tray of pens to come forward and blessed it -
thus ensuring their success in the public examination!!
Now that this
temporal business was taken care of, the real business could
start. And what followed was a real love feast, a divine romance,
indescribable through mere words, but something that could only be
experienced and tasted through being there.
The boys sang
a song first expressing their love for Him. While the song was
going on, another boy got up and gave Him a sheet of paper that
had the lyrics written on it in beautiful calligraphy (red hearts
included) so He could follow easily. Another boy then got up,
while the song was still being sung and presented Him a red rose.
At the conclusion of the song, yet another boy got up and
recounted a stirring experience during his sojourn in the Sri
Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. And so it went. Song followed
by experience, followed by song and so on.
The tales were
different, spoken in a babel of tongues (English, Hindi, Telugu,
Kannada etc), but the language of love was the same. All spoke of
their love for Him and His Love for them. All expressed that
though they were away from home they were never homesick, for He
took care of them with the love of a thousand mothers. They spoke
of how He encouraged them, ceaselessly looked after their welfare,
and nourished them when they were sick or unhappy, understood
their needs and really cared for them, as even their mothers could
Some were humorous.
Some were poignant. Some were heartrending. But all were
uplifting, for the speaker as well as everyone blessed to be
One boy spoke of his
first grade class. Every day at darshan,
Swami would ask the kids, “How many idlis
did you eat today?”. The answers were invariably one or two, for
that is what these 6 year olds could manage. Swami’s answer would
be, “Why so less?” So one day this young boy decided that he would
please Swami by eating four idlis. As
you might imagine it was quite a feat. After the second one he was
feeling full. The third one was all that he could muster and he
was ready to be sick. He could not however bear to break his
resolution as well as waste the fourth idli
on his plate, so with great effort he managed to finish the fourth
one and dragged himself and his bloated stomach to Sai Kulwant
Hall for morning darshan. He was sure
Swami would ask him how many idlis he ate and knowing that he had
eaten four would make Swami happy. But Swami just went past him
without even a glance. He was disappointed. What a waste of my
hard work, he thought! After sometime Swami came near the boys and
called for a few primary school kids to speak. As always, the boys
came one after the another and astounded the audience with their
oratory skills. Suddenly, the boy saw Swami beckoning to him to
speak. The boy started speaking in a feeble voice. Swami
immediately said, “Boy! speak up, loud. Did you not eat four
idlis today !”. Yes, mother knows
Another boy spoke in
Telugu about how Swami cured him of an acute attack of eczema. He
tried a number of medicines and treatments – all in vain. Often,
he would get up at night crying with pain. At times it was so
severe that even sitting and standing was very painful and
unbearable. The boy suffered thus for almost a month.
One day this boy
celebrated his birthday by bringing a tray of goodies to Sai
Kulwant Hall. Swami normally blesses these “birthday boys” and
accepts their letters. Swami beckoned to all the birthday boys to
come forward. This boy availed this opportunity to tell Swami
about his ailment. In all concern Swami asked him, “Since when
have you been suffering?” “Who has been treating you?” “What
After giving a
patient hearing to the boy’s woes, Swami asked him full of
motherly love and care, “Why didn’t you tell me all these days?”
And then it
happened. The Lord’s Hands began to move in a circle and out
poured the mother of all medicines, the Holy
Vibhuti Ash. He gave it to the boy and assured him that
everything would be all right.
The boy began to
take the Vibhuti regularly. And the
disease that had plagued the boy for 30 days just vanished within
3 days of taking the vibhuti.
is just another testimony of His Benevolent Grace and Immense Love
Another boy spoke
about the saga of White (students) and Orange (Bhagavan), a saga
of Divine Love. He narrated the experience of a boy who once told
Swami, “Swami, I am willing to do anything for You. I am even
ready to die for You!”
Bhagavan looked deep into the boy’s eyes and said something that
will linger in the hearts of all forever. He said, “ I don’t want
you to die for me. I want you to live for Me”. Such is the love
the Lord has for His students - His children and His property.
Swami was very happy
with the students. Benevolently, He posed for group pictures with
all the students. And then He stood and gazed lovingly at all of
them for a long time.
And this love story
went on and on. The following day it was the turn of the
graduating undergraduate class of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning. And then the postgraduate class. Soon it was the
turn also of the graduating girls from the High School.
marks the rite of passage for a Sai student. While students in
“advanced countries” celebrate their school leaving in what is
called the High School prom, an expensive and rather licentious
practice, the Sai student feels privileged if he could just sing
for Him. Their expression of love and recounting of warm memories
stirs devotional feelings not only in the students but also in all
the staff and devotees present.
And so passed
another day at the Lord’s feet. It was another reminder that the
true rite of passage is when you remember the Lord incessantly.
When you remember that the only real purpose of life is to reach
Him. And you can achieve everything if you just win His Grace. For
He is all that matters.
E-Magazine, 1st April 2004