Seek Divine Grace for Success
Students' experiences with Swami
Posted by Aarti Jayaraman on
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.
What 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 over adharma.
While this 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 lives.
After 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.
The normal 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
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.
A 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 verandah.
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
Coming 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
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 not.
Some were humorous. Some were poignant. Some were heartrending.
But all were uplifting, for the speaker as well as everyone
blessed to be there.
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
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
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
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.
This is just another testimony of His Benevolent Grace and Immense
Love for all.
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
This "ceremony" 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 ex-pression 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.