Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Teachings


 (Indweller of Hearts)
By Bombai Srinivasan

Chapter 9
The significance of Seva

“Thana” which  had since been named “Thane” is suburban city some 30 kilometers away form Bombay. As I had already mentioned, this is the same suburb, in which, thanks to the Grace of Sai, I came to secure a residential accommodation.

On the eastern side of the Railway line, a holy spiritual center has come up by the name “ANANDA ASHRA”. Ms. Tara Devi, now reverently called ‘Mataji’ is the head of this Ashram. Earlier she was living in the same colony where we had our accommodation, i.e. at Vatak Nagar on the western side. We just knew her as Ms.Tara. She was living with her parents and brothers who were my very close friends. She was quite young and was in the marriageable age. However, her life style got totally transformed after her first visit to Prashanthi Nilayam. She developed extreme devotion and love towards Swami and lost all interest in the mundane world affairs. All the time ‘Sai’ filled her mind and spirit. Gradually, around her, a small sathsang began to emerge and she came to be known as ‘Mataji’ in the area. She organized a Sai Bhajan Group and encouraged those who came to her to participate in Nama Sankirtan.

Wit gathering and increasing visitors, she did not wish to disturb her family members, because of her sathsang activities. The inevitable happened. She left her home behind and totally dedicated herself to the devotees. Some Good Samaritan from Thane East provided her a small Ashram place, for accommodating her and facilitating the spiritual activities. This Ashram has become very popular. Sai Bhajans are conducted twice a day and various spiritual activities are also going on. The Ashram is also running a secondary school providing fee education.  

In the early years due to close proximity to Mataji, ample opportunities were available for us to engage in personal discussions with her on various spiritual matters, especially on the philosophy of Sai. My wife and myself had innumerable divine experiences with her.

As for 0ur own development of devotion to Swami, we had accepted Him as another deity and started worshipping Him reverently along with the other Gods. We were no doubt aware that a mere worship is a ritualistic fashion would not suffice and would not yield results. Mataji Tara Devi advised us that we should try to understand and adopt the teachings of Swami in the conduct of our life. The very day-to-day activities should conform to His spiritual teachings, and the worship should be a way of life itself.   In short worship should consist of continuous process of living as per His teachings rather than  ritualistic fixed time sitting before the deity in the Pooja Room. We cannot expect to gain the Grace of Swami simply by the usual Pooja rituals, like the ones, which we offer to the other Gods, Shri Rama, Shri Krishna, and others. We were reminded of Swami teachings, “The Hands that serve the needy is much holier than the lips that offer prayers daily”  We also tried to understand the principle of universality of divinity which dwells in all the creation and this divinity is nothing but the Atma, in each one of us. If we can appreciate this principle, then we would come to experience that divinity as enshrined in all even 9n the poor and needy and who are less fortunate than us. The supreme offer to God is the sparing and sharing of the time and resources for and with these less fortunate brethren, sisters, sons, and daughters. Had not swami propounded “Maanava seva is Madhava Seva”.

We were made wise by Mataji’s teachings of Swami during those days when we used to get much time for personal discussions. I started to attend the programmes of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations in our city. The organization offered excellent opportunities for the devotees to get together and engage in Seva activities as a group so that the time and the resources could be put to the best use. Our main aim had been to spread the message of Sai to the weaker sections of the society and try to instill in them a spiritually oriented thinking and living styles.  Without a spiritual base no Seva can result in bliss, says Swami. Bhagavan is also very keen that the beneficiaries should also be exposed and enthused to adopt spiritual practices, which is the ultimate aim of Seva. We enjoyed ourselves in the Seva activities and in the company of newfound sathsang of Sai devotees.

An important soul-awakening programme, related to the Seva to the jail inmates. The authorities of the Thane Central jail gave us permission to conduct Sai Bhajans inside the jail once a month. The convicts in the jail serving their terms were persuaded to attend the Bhajan sessions. Within a short period, many of them started enjoying the Bhajans. Later, They began to take so much interest that they started keeping Baba’s picture, providing garlands and making all other necessary arrangements. In course of time, some of them even learnt a few songs and took initiative to lead the Bhajans. A tremendous change of heart had come about in the jail inmates. Many of them developed devotion towards Swami. Some of them quietly asked us, whether it would be possible for them to have Baba’s Darshan. We could only respond telling them that they should pray to Him and He would definitely make it possible.

Those were the years when Swami used to visit Dharmakshethra in Bombay, almost very year. During one of His visits, Swami had planned a programme to a distant suburb in Bombay, which was beyond Thane. We put forward the request of the Jail inmates to the leaders of Sai Seva Organizations in Bombay and about their eagerness to have Swami’s Darshan. In fact, we were jot very much aware of the serious implications of our proposals. Anyway it was decided to submit the request to Swami on His arrival in Bombay.

Yes, Lord Shri Krishna was born I a “Kaaragraha”, a jail. But here, we, the devotees, had the audacity to think about inviting our dear Swami into the jail. We only thought that Swami, ever loving and willing to encourage us in our Seva activities, would accede to our prayers. Nothing could be truer than this.  

Baba while giving Darshan to the devotees in a programme far beyond Thane, gave an indication of His merciful decision to visit the jail and meet the inmates who had become His devotees. We had very little time at 0ur disposal. Lacking any instant telephone connectivity across suburban areas, we had to move physically to the area and make all the arrangements for the Divine visit. Invoking His Grace, the small organization in Thane swung into action and tried to do what best could be done within the shortest possible time. We had to formally obtain permission from the Jail authorities and then install necessary public address system and a stage. It was also needed to dress up the inmates and take them to the Darshan in an orderly manner. We received excellent support and encouragement from all the people within the jail premises. When the last lines of the inmates were taking their seats, Swami entered the jail.  

Oh, my dear, it was a sight to see! Our beloved Lord walked along the rows o the neatly dressed inmates, in their uniforms, blessing them and what not! The faces of the jail inmates were lit up with devotion. After spending considerable time with them, and giving them the fulfillment of a lifetime chance of a coveted Darshan, Swami was back on His vehicle, to get back to Dharmakshethra. And what jubilation for the Sai sevaks!

This mercy visit of Swami inspired us to get motivated for more and more service activities with devotion and humility. “If you take the first step towards Me, I will take ten steps towards you”, says Swami very often. We took a small, but a first step by initiating Bhajan activity in the jail and He came there in His physical form! What a Divine mercy and Divine Love~! One has to experience this Bliss personally to be able to understand even a fraction of divinity!

Author's statement in:

Many of you may be aware that I had authored a book with the title "Sri Sathya Sai Hrudaya Nivasi (Indweller of Hearts). This book had seen the third reprint, and is being sold in Bhagavan's Bookstall at Prashanthi Nilayam. Many of you would have purchased and many would not have got chance to go to Parthi and get the book. After the third edition, this may not go to print again. As such I wish to bring the contents of this book to each and every one of you.

Starting from today I shall post one chapter every week or if possible twice a week, depending upon the response I get from you all. I would request you to kindly read it and then re-circulate it to your other friends in the Sai Family.

The text could be transferred to your hard disk, and if possible print outs taken out.

Utilize the contents, as much as you like.

With Lots of Love and regards
Bombay Srinivasan


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