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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Teachings


 (Indweller of Hearts)
By Bombai Srinivasan

Chapter 25
Srinivasa, Sai Venkatesa

Thirumala Hills in Tirupathi is a very well known, renowned pilgrim center, perhaps the biggest in our country attracting millions of devotees all through the year, from all parts of India  and even  from overseas   countries. Our Lord, Sai had revealed that He is the embodiment of all forms and names. As such, the divinity of Lord Venkateswara in Tirupathi temple is our Swami  Himself. I was made to realize this aspect following an experience forced on me.  Until this experience, I had  never been to Tirupathi, till I was about 55 years old.

When I moved over from Bombay to Madras to set up a business, I had taken an youngster, with me  who had contributed his mite towards a part of capital investment and became a partner in the company. He was very energetic and intelligent and had the capacity to run the factory with utmost skill.

Our main clients were M/s. Brakes India Limited, one of the TVS group of companies. They had their foundry at a place called Sholingar about 120 kilometers away from Madras.  This place is a famous pilgrim center particularly for the vaishnavaites.  Atop the  big  hill,  there is  a small beautiful temple. The presiding Deity is Lord Narasimha one of the ten Avatars of  Vishnu   According to the scriptures. Narasimha is dreadful in lion headed form, having killed the invincible Asura Hiranya  Kasibu. Even the Gods from the heavens did not dare to go near the Lord; only the child devotee, Prahlad could go to Him.  But the Deity in the  Sholingar, called the Sholmgeswar, is seen sitting calmly in Yoga  posture  and hence called as Yoga Narasimha.

We had to make daily supplies of shell cores to Brakes India Ltd., and we found the transportation of the materials everyday from Madras to be too expensive and resulting in damages also. Our clients had problems of quality control on our products, and hence insisted that we should establish a small unit at Sholinghur. Ultimately we took a small place on rental there and commenced production.

Everything went on well during the early periods. The trouble started when we had built up assets like factory shed and had developed an excellent goodwill in the industrial circles. One day my partner informed me that he wanted to go back to Bombay and wanted immediate settlement of his accounts.  We were drawing minimum amounts for our maintenance and the entire earnings from four years of running the industry, had been ploughed back into the business. I did not have any reserve funds. I told him that I would need some time to think over the matter. He agreed, but made it clear that till the settlement was over we would not be eligible for any monthly withdrawals for personal expenses. He took away the chequebook with him Without my knowledge, he had already started some other minor business and he had no financial problems. The stalemate continued for more than 3 months. I found it very difficult to maintain my family; We had no relatives in Madras to help us out.

My partner claimed a huge cash compensation in settlement, and I could go nowhere to raise such  a sum  During those difficult days I had stopped visiting the factory and stayed in the house.  The only activity of mine was, attending the programmes of the  Samithi and  reading Sai literature.   The developments   that followed, proved   that Swami was doing what was best for me and at the Same time imparting certain spiritual knowledge to me in His own subtle way.

We used to conduct Bhajans in our house every  Friday. On a particular Friday during the period of the crisis, when the Bhajan was  going on as usual, I had to go to bathroom several times. I had developed diarrhea and by the time the Arati was over, the problem had become very acute. I did not have any money left with me. I had in fact only a small amount with me, which I gave to the harmonist who used to assist us in the Bhajan. It was about 8 PM and a doctor was available just below our flat, but I did not have any money to pay either for consultation or for purchasing any tablets.  By around 9 P.M. the condition became too severe and I collapsed on the bed. I became unconscious. Even at this stage Swami appeared as if in dream. He was consoling me not to worry.  He was advising "When you are reduced to a helpless situation, the Lord takes over your care under His control. Now you have no penny left with you and are a ZERO. Don 't be ashamed of being a zero. When you become zero, I come and give you my hand and Lift you up. Yes. I am lifting you up, and up".

As Swami was sounding into me the above words, I was slowly regaining consciousness. I felt somebody was calling and actually lifting me up holding my hands.  A lady, who had adopted me as her dear elder brother, was calling me and lifting me. Mrs. Parvathi Ram was then working as a senior nurse in the Apollo Hospitals, Madras.  In fact she was with us during the Bhajan that evening.  Looking at my condition, my son had rushed to her house, and had brought her.  As Swami was telling that "I am lifting you up". Mrs. Parvathi was trying to lift me from the bed. In no time she arranged to take me to the Apollo Hospital and admitted me in an emergency ward. The doctor on duty diagnosed that it was a case of dehydration  and that my  pulse was very week. They put me under glucose drip treatment, and this process continued till morning.  Parvathi was sitting in a chair by the side of the bed and was reading some book on Swami. She was keeping vigil on me and did not have any wink during the entire night though she was to resume duty the next morning.  I was helpless and allowed her to look after me. The next morning I felt better and I was discharged and brought back home. It took another couple of days for complete recovery.

This sudden set back in health was only a temporary phenomenon.  But   Swami turned it into a tremendous opportunity to infuse in me the wonderful concept and practice of saranagarhi (surrender). Mentally I gained strength and my faith in Sai. Even in the partnership crisis, I left everything unto Him since I was myself a zero without any capacity to tackle the issue by myself I  resorted to reading of Sai literature very vigorously. I had nothing else to do, and waited for Swami to take control of the situation. There had been several  such instances of His mercy in my life Because of my intense faith, I had ceased to worry.

And Swami made the next move!

My aged mother was still living at that time, with one of my brothers in Bombay.  She had recalled to me  several times that  she had gone to Tirupathi  walking all the way and climbing the hills when she was  carrying me in  her pregnancy. She had  been told by somebody, that at that point of time, if a girl were to be born, it would not be good for the family. So she was praying for a boy child this time.

And her prayers were answered and I was born, a boy. She wanted to call me by the name of Lord of Tirupathi, but my father was already bearing that name,

Venkateswara. Hence she named me Srinivasan, which is one of the many names of Lord Venkateswra. She had further taken a vow in the name of the same Lord that she would bring me to the temple and offer my hair. Though I was aged 55, I had never visited Tirupathi and could not fulfill the prayer of my mother. After becoming a devotee of Sai, I had no interest left in me to visit other temples and go on pilgrimages to sacred places.   Only Sai was my God, and Prashanthi Nilayam was the only place of pilgrimage. I was fanatically so strong in my devotion to Sai, that I did not recognize any other form of God  as worthy  of worshipping, since I believed that  Swami is the embodiment of all names and forms. It was at that time, I started having visions of my old mother in my dream very regularly. She used to plead with me to go to Tirupathi and offer my hair to the Lord and fulfill her prayers before she left the body.

But I was trying to be ?rationalistic?!   Is Lord Balaji (Venkateswara)  going  to be benefited in any way  by the offer  of my  Hair? Then why is this sentiment about all the foolish sentimental prayers? God is not going to punish if the hair is not offered. He always forgives and protects His devotees.  This is what we learn from Sai. Nevertheless the frequent dreams of my mother continued.

I happened to be reading a book of Swami as usual It was 'Sri Sathya Sai Speaks' but I do not remember which volume it was. There it was! In one His Divine discourses, l accidentally stumbled upon a paragraph. It begins with a question from Swami. "Does Lord Balaji need your hair?" Swarm answers that the Lord does not want you hair. But then why such prayers are made? Swami further explains that whether the Lord require your hair or not, it is the duty of the devotee to keep his words. " If you do not keep up the word to Lord how can any one expect that you will keep your promise to human beings? As such, without debating whether Lord Balaji is interested in your hair or not, it is your duty to fulfill the vow taken in the name of God." Instantly I knew that Swami was teaching me another lesson on the importance of adhering to Sathya (the truth).

 I started pondering over the importance of that teaching. But egoistic human beings, as we are, the so-called intelligence tried to interpret that I had never made such a prayer. I tried to wriggle out of my conscious obligation towards keeping up the promise made to the divinity.  I was wrong again Swami did not allow me to escape.  The very next day, I took   another book at random for my daily reading. It happened to be "Rama Katha Rasa Vahini? Again   on casually opening a page these were the words staring at me. "Did Lord Sri Rama make any promise any time to go to forest?  And yet He made up his mind to relinquish the throne and joyfully proceeded to forest. Though he had not given any word. Lord Sri Rama was very eager to fulfill the promises made by His Father King Dasaralha ".

I felt as if somebody had slapped me. I understood the implications of those lines.  It is better to obey the command of the Lord implicitly than using our own half-baked intelligence to analyze the pros and cons. At once, I got up from the chair, and proceeded to the   place where Bhagavan?s photos were kept for daily pooja and prayers. I knelt before the Bhagavan?s picture and prayed that I should be for given.  I promised that I would proceed to Tirupathi very soon   and fulfill the vow of my   mother to shave off my head.

When once, I prayed for forgiveness, and affirmed my words of promise, things started moving very fast. Early next morning after my pooja was over, I decided that I would go to the factory. Why should I not? I was still one of the partners of the company and I had equal rights in the company.  I became emboldened knowing fully well that Swami was with me. I decided that I would assert my authority in the company affairs, I could by then think very clearly and come to certain conclusions.  In the evening when the establishment was closed for the day, I asked my partner to give me a lift in his scooter up to the nearest bus stand from where I could take a bus to my house. Half way through, an idea developed in my mind. I asked him as to why we should not part as friends in the policy of live and let live. I told him that I was willing to offer the workshop at Sholingar with the available assets there, including the raw materials and the machinery as compensation, and all the liabilities would be absorbed by me.  I further promised him that the business with M/s. Brakes India Ltd., would also be diverted to him.  I did not know what transpired in his mind and how he took it. He stopped the vehicle and looking back at me asked whether I was serious about that offer. On my assurance, he fixed up the next day to draw up the deed of retirement and settlement. The very next day he signed the documents, shook hands with me and walked out of the factory, leaving me behind as the sole proprietor of firm There was still a small balance amount of cash compensation to be paid to another minor partner. I did not have liquid cash. And my adopted sister Parvathi came to my rescue She offered a sizable amount as a temporary loan so that I could meet the commitment and come out of the crisis.

Left alone in the factory, I was in dazed condition. The things had moved very fast, and an impossible solution had been found instantly and I could be of my own in the business.   I tried to recall all the events that went past during the last ten days or so.  Only a day before I had promised to Swami that I would gladly fulfill the vow of my mother and within 24 hours I had been rescued miraculously from a knotty situation for which I could not think of any solution. He had found the solution in His own way. In the end, the net result of the long period of agony proved to be beneficial. I knew that it was all the Grace of Bhagavan Baba. While He had willed to do something for my own good, He had also taught me a few lessons on saranagathi principle.   When once I had  surrendered, identifying myself as a big ZERO, he took   control of the situation and did what was best for me.

 I did not forget the promise I made to Bhagavan the day earlier. From the factory I telephoned to a travel agency and organized a tourist taxi so that we could proceed to Tirupathi the same day.  I also informed my wife about the developments and asked her to be ready so that we could leave for Tirupathi as soon I reached home.  My partner had signed the deed and left the premises by 4.00 PM and within an hour, say by 5.OOPM, we were on our way to Tirupathi.

Somehow I could feel an overwhelming enthusiasm within me in going on this special pilgrimage to Tirupathi, equal to that of my   visit to Prashanthi Nilayam.    As mentioned earlier, I had never gone to this hill temple.  But I had heard from several friends that we would have to wait several hours in the large queue boxes, even if we opt for special Darshan for which a charge is levied. When we arrived atop the hill, it was almost night and we decided to have our night food in one of the nearby hotels.  The taxi driver later took us to the place where we had to purchase the entrance tickets for the special Darshan. We got our tickets and were shown the entrance point of the queue.

We did not find anybody in the queue. As we passed through the barricaded line, there were none to be seen.  At last we reached the main Gopuram and then the Dwajasthamba, the metallic gold covered flag post. Still nobody was seen. As we were entering the sacred sanctum we could clearly have the darshan of the beautiful    Deity, Lord Venkateswara standing there majestically. I felt that I heard him calling me "Come my son, come, I am waiting for you". I felt as if our Swami was actually calling me. I was full of tears as I heard this, and dashed into the sanctum. There were a few priests in the passage. I ran in and fell down prostrating. I was weeping. My wife followed suit.

The priests became alert and directed us to get up. There is a rule that nobody could offer Namaskar inside the sanctum. We did not know the rule, nor did we care for any such rules at that time. I was in a state of bliss, enjoying every moment of it. We were persuaded to leave the sanctum, after receiving sacred theertham. While we were coming out of the sanctum, scores of devotees were streaming in chanting 'Govinda, Govinda'. Later on I was told that, the Darshan had been temporarily suspended for a few hours, since there were some celebrations in the Pushkarini (temple tank).  It was just a coincidence that we were first to go in, after resumption of Darshan. Or was it a coincidence at all?  Lord Himself had developed the situation with perfect timing!  We felt grateful to Swami for making our first visit to Tirupathi so blissful.

We left the temple and checked into a lodge.  Early next morning, I called for a barber and got my head shaved neatly. After taking bath, we went to the temple and had one more Darshan.

This Leela of our Swami taught me taught a lesson that we should not be fanatic in our devotion, and we should accept all forms of various gods, as the form and name are Sai Himself.

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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