Touched By Love – Sai Baba Memories

looking out over the darshan area, from the Mandir

 

‘At first, name and form are essential, that is the reason why Avatars come, so that God can be loved, adored, worshiped, listened to and followed, and finally realized as nameless and formless.’ – Baba

 


After the physical passing of Sai Baba during April 2011, darshan experiences are no different from those experienced when he was alive.  In other words, the vibrations can still be felt. One might say that Sai Baba has not gone anywhere. Long ago, I remember reading a particularly beautiful story about Sri Ramana Maharshi. Ramana told one distraught devotee not to worry about his imminent demise, for he (Ramana) was not going anywhere. He had no place to go to that He was not already there! Ramana would remain available to all who sought darshan and solace in his ashram. So it is, I now believe, the same with Sathya Sai Baba.  Here is a short story from Diana Baskin who tells us that Swami told her just before his demise these few words: I am not going anywhere.

 

 
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‘I am not going anywhere.’ –

Why would Swami tell Diana Baskin these few words, I believe without a doubt he was telling her that he would always be available to those who were dedicated to him. He also was giving a broader message, his vibration and his essence would always be there in Puttaparthi.

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Swami, the Heart Core of our Life

Swami became my Guru when I first came to India in 1969, taking on the task of teaching me the principles of a spiritual life by building a solid foundation rooted in Dharma. Later, He became my Mother, taking over the task of nurturing, acceptance and unconditional love. Finally in 1979, Swami took the role of Father by introducing me to my husband, Robert, performing our marriage ceremony and extending His strong hand of support and gentle loving guidance throughout our marriage.

Swami was the heart core of our life. For the past 40 years, our life centred solely upon Him, and the anticipation of our trips to India that brought us in His physical presence was our nourishment. My husband and I were devastated and heartbroken as we lost all at once our Guru, our Mother and our Father.

But Swami did not teach us to be weaklings and even in the midst of sorrow His teachings rushed to my side, giving me strength and support while gently reminding me that there was a limit to everything.

When the husband of our friend died, Swami said to her that she could mourn his death but only for a short time; after that, she needed to let go of her sorrow. Last Words of Swami

I understood intellectually that to honour Swami and His teachings, I needed to put them into practice, be a master of my emotions and keep my focus on positive and constructive thoughts. While this helped to some extent, it was not enough. I longed to re-establish the direct heart-to-heart link with Swami that gives joy to life.

Swami had not only foreseen the problem I would encounter but in His infinite compassion had given the solution, unbeknownst to me, shortly before leaving His physical body.

One morning, after Bhajans as Swami was returning to His residence, His car stopped in front of me and as the driver lowered the window, Swami motioned for me to come forward. His voice was very faint and I had to lean into the car and read His lips to grasp His words. At the end of our brief conversation, He said something so unusual and out of context that I had to ask Him to repeat it. These were the last words Swami ever spoke to me.

For the year that followed, I pondered His words and questioned their meaning but failed to find the reason why He voiced them at that time nor could I find any sort of veiled connotation they might imply. It was not until a few weeks after Swami passed, in the midst of great sorrow and mourning that like a thunderbolt from the heavens it hit me! Not only did I understand what He meant from the deeper perspective of Advaita but a mere remembrance had the power to re-establish the precious heart-to-heart link and fill my heart with love. The powerful words of truth, love and wisdom. “I am not going anywhere.”

source of Diana Baskin’s story -Sanathana Sarathi

Last Days On The Verandah

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For Sai Baba devotees and friends, here are two of the very last photos taken of Darshan on  the verandah. It’s sad to see Sai looking so unwell. Still, even in those last days, his  light and  peace, prevailed.

I see several Puttaparthi shop-keepers in the photo. Odd really,when so many overseas visitors were driven to the back like  “old forsaken donkeys.”  It looks like ‘a whole lot of shufflin’ was going on. But I’m sure the “Cosmic Play” was unfolding just as it should.

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Here’s  a less known quotation from  “Vihini,” you may enjoy.

“The age span 16-30 is crucial, for that is the period when life adds sweetness to itself, when talents, skills, and attitudes are accumulated, sublimated and sanctified. If the tonic of unselfish Seva is administered to the mind during this period, life’s mission is fulfilled – for the process of sublimation and sanctification will be hastened by this tonic. Do not serve for the sake of reward, attracting attention, or earning gratitude, or from a sense of pride at your own superiority in skill, wealth, status, or authority. Serve because you are urged by love. When you succeed, ascribe the success to the Grace of God, who urged you on, as Love within you. When you fail, ascribe the failure to your own inadequacy or ignorance.”   -Baba-

 

Observation:

Baba: “I will live until 96 years.”

Pondering on the meaning, I remember during my visit last year  in the Darshan area there was the very same vibration, although more subdued to that of the days preceding Baba’s demise.  My belief is that most likely the present vibration, will remain until the anniversary of his 96th birthday. Then will dissipate gradually.  

One Last Darshan – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

Sri Sanjay Sahani, a former Sai student, was earlier the warden of Sri Sathya Sai Boys’ Hostel in Prasanthi Nilayam, and is currently the Principal of the Brindavan Campus of Sri Sathya Sai University in Bangalore. His story follows:

“You must have not only freedom from fear, but freedom from hope and expectation. Trust in My Wisdom. I do not make mistakes. Love My uncertainty, for it is not a mistake. It is My intent and Will. Remember nothing happens without My Will. Be still. Do not ask to understand. Do not want to understand. Relinquish the imperative that demands understanding.”

– Bhagavan Baba, Sanathana Sarathi, August, 1984

One Last Darshan – The Predicament…

“When are your examinations ending?” enquired Bhagavan, not once, twice, but thrice over a span of a couple of weeks. Each time I replied, “Thirtieth May, Swami.”

It was the summer of 1983. We were at that time completing our first year of the five-year integrated programme, launched by the newly born Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (which was renamed recently to Sri Sathya Sai University ).

The mind refused to explore the purport of the repeated questioning as the heart was immersed in the bliss of sambhasanam (divine conversation).

Swami left Puttaparthi for Brindavan on May 8, and we got busy with the University examinations, which commenced the next day. As the days passed, I felt that it would be highly inappropriate to leave for my native town without seeking Bhagavan’s permission and blessings, especially after He had so lovingly enquired about the date of the last examination. Thus, it happened that on May 30 with a few of my classmates and the grandmother of one of the students, we boarded the bus for Bangalore and checked into a hotel late in the evening.

The next day we reached Brindavan and waited for our beloved Lord in the Kalyan Mandapam. Bhagavan’s residential bungalow had been demolished and ‘Trayee Brindavan’ was under construction. Bhagavan had made Devi Nivas, the house of the Rajmata of Nawanagar (which lies between the ashram and the college), His temporary residence. He would come every day in a car from there; give Darshan to devotees in the Sai Ram shed and then sit with the students and the teachers in the Kalyan Mandapam. As it was vacation time, we appeared to be the only students around and were dreaming of the golden opportunity that awaited us. However, after Darshan Bhagavan moved over to inspect the construction site and thereafter got into the car and returned to Devi Nivas. The disappointment in our group of eight students was palpable for we had railway bookings for that day’s departure and our purpose of visiting Brindavan seemed to have been defeated with this turn of events.

A drowning man is willing to clutch even a straw. One of our teachers suggested that we go to Devi Nivas and try our luck. We rushed there but the gates were closed. Bhagavan was inside and we were outside.

Suddenly, a familiar face appeared on the scene. He was one of Bhagavan’s car drivers. We recognized each other and he offered to take inside our letters, if there were any. We handed him all the letters for Bhagavan except one, which was with me. Just before leaving Puttaparthi, a senior brother had come to me and cautioning me that it was an important letter, requested that it be handed over to Bhagavan personally. I enquired with him whether I could deliver it through somebody else, in case I did not get the chance to do so myself. The boy was reluctant and said that in such a case I could return his letter after the vacations.

Some time later the warden of Brindavan boys’ hostel came out in his car and we met him at the gate. We explained to him our predicament and he suggested that we write to Bhagavan a letter, which he would then take inside after a few minutes on his return. Thus, we sat and wrote this joint letter to our Lord:

Dearest Lord,

We are your children from Puttaparthi, enroute to our native towns. We pray for your Darshan and blessings before our departure.

Yours,

All eight of us signed the above letter. Within a few minutes the warden returned and took the letter inside. A few anxious moments passed. Then we saw someone waving to us from the portico of the building. The gates of heaven opened. We threw our chappals nearby and rushed in. As we were climbing the steps of the portico, the door opened and out walked Bhagavan with His charming smile.

“If you need Me, you deserve Me!”  He said.

Oh, the bliss of that moment! From the depths of despair we were transported to the heights of ecstasy. Bhagavan had already retired and for the sake of just a handful of students had come out once again. Even at that moment we did not fail to recognize the fortune that was ours. My hands were trembling when I held out my senior brother’s letter. “Haath me dene ko bola naa. Haath me dene ko bola” (He asked you to give this to Me in My hands only, isn’t it?), observed Bhagavan knowingly. My hair stood on end and a delightful current of thrill passed through my entire frame hearing His words. We were face to face with our God, the Omniscient Lord, the Eternal witness of the entire Cosmic play, but the very next moment we got deluded again. Bhagavan lovingly enquired about our native towns and we foolishly began to inform the All Knowing One. His awesome Omniscience was subsumed in the sweetness of His intimacy.

He distributed vibhuti prasadam to all of us. A student prayed for prasadam for parents and we had a second round of prasadam distribution. Another boy informed Swami that his grandmother was also accompanying us. “Take her in a helicopter.” Bhagavan’s response again revealed His Omniscience for she had been grumbling the previous evening about all the difficulties we had in securing hotel accommodation for the night.

As Bhagavan turned to go inside, one of the boys, (who had to leave by 1.00 p.m. that afternoon) shouted, unable to contain his joy, “Sairam, Swami.” “Sairam”, responded Bhagavan and blessed us with His ‘abhaya hasta’. We were in raptures over His unexpected greeting and with it He sealed for all of us a cherished memory of a lifetime.

The poet William Blake once said,

To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

The Vedas describe the Lord as ‘Kalateetaya namah’ (The one who transcends time – the timeless being). Truly, in the presence of Bhagavan time stood still and what in reality must have been just a few minutes seemed like eternity.

We had no qualification whatsoever to recommend our case – neither wealth nor social status. We were literally nobody. All that we knew was that we were hungry for Him, hungry for His love. “If you need Me, you deserve Me”, declares Bhagavan. “Love My uncertainty.” We were being initiated into the ABC of His spiritual vocabulary.

Unpredictable, But Sure, is His Grace!

Years rolled by and I was nearing completion of my final year M. Com. The door of our classroom at the Institute in Puttaparthi opened into the corridor of the first floor and was always locked. Thus, entry to our classroom was possible only through the adjacent classroom. One morning as our class was going on, suddenly the door opened and there stood Bhagavan. It was very unusual and it had never happened before. Even when He had come earlier to the college, He would visit only the science labs, but not the commerce classrooms. That day He had brought several sadhus (saints), who were organizing the Sadhu Sammelan at Puttaparthi. They happened to have a commerce background and so the Lord decided to show them the commerce department.

We all stood up in awe and delight as Swami greeted our professor. The Vice-Chancellor, Mr. S. N. Saraf, who followed Bhagavan into the class noticed one of my classmates and told Bhagavan – “Swami, this boy spoke in the prayer hall today on Swami Vivekananda.”

“How did he speak?” queried Bhagavan. “Very well”, replied the Vice-chancellor.

Bhagavan beckoned the student and asked him to take padanamaskar. Then, blessing all of us, He left. Later my classmate told me, “You have spoken many times in the presence of Bhagavan, and I never got that opportunity. The only time I gave a speech, was in the college. But Swami came all the way to our classroom to give me padanamaskar.” When, where, how and on whom the Lord showers His grace nobody can predict. We have to love His uncertainty and be ever ready to receive His Grace.

A Divine Lesson

It was 30 December, 1997, the day of the Sri Sathya Sai Unity Cup match, the first-ever international cricket match at Puttaparthi between India XI and International XI. The students and the staff of the university had their task cut out as our Institute was hosting the match with the Prime Minister of India, Mr. I. K. Gujral, as the chief guest. There was excitement in the air, but we were busy with the background preparations. I was allotted the duty of transporting food preparations to different destinations from the three canteens in the ashram.

Nothing seemed to go right for me that day. From the disappearance of vehicle drivers, to the advancing of the lunch break by one hour, to the traffic jam on the road and the resulting confusion – many things went awry that day, upsetting all my plans. After a bizarre sequence of events, when all the guests had left, I was seated in the mandir portico that evening, dejected and utterly disappointed with myself that I had failed the trust Bhagavan had reposed on us with regard to the day’s arrangements. I had done my best against all odds, at times even beyond my known capacities and against my own temperament. Yet it was not enough.

Bhagavan came amidst us and told the warden, “I am very happy with the work of the boys and the teachers.” Then He walked upto the place where the teachers were seated and pointing to a couple of teachers enquired, “Who all worked today?” “We all worked together Swami,” chorused all the teachers and Swami was pleased with our answer. Instantly, my spirits were lifted and the dejection and disappointment that clouded my mind vanished as if in a dream. On deeper reflection I realized that Sai had willed the day’s events to be so. What He appreciated and applauded was the sincere, determined and devoted effort put in by each one of us. While the world enjoyed a cricket match, we were learning our own spiritual lessons of devotion and surrender.

Happiness Lies in Trusting His Wisdom!

Bhagavan’s birthday festival in 1989 was fast approaching. Bhagavan had permitted me to leave for Delhi after the birthday celebrations to attend to some personal work and return in fifteen days. On November 24, I sought His guidance regarding my departure. He instructed me to leave the next day. After the bhajans, I went to a devotee who had reserved my ticket for that day as requested by me earlier. I apologized to Him and explained the new development. The devotee said that there was nothing to worry and that He would cancel the ticket. It did seem odd to abandon a confirmed railway ticket from Puttaparthi after the birthday and to travel unreserved. But if it was the Lord’s plan, then that was it.

I reached Dharmavaram railway station on November 25 night to board the Karnataka Express to Delhi. As the train steamed into the station, I found the train strangely half empty. It was the time Mr. V. P. Singh got elected as the Prime Minister of India. Being election day, most people were in their respective native places and very few were traveling. I boarded one of the compartments and sat on an empty seat. No ticket collector came that night. Perhaps, they were also relaxing with the train being almost empty. I had a blissful sleep that night and the next day I got my ticket reserved. Literally, I could choose my seat as it were. I was mentally thanking Bhagavan for the comfortable journey in spite of traveling on an unreserved ticket.

As I reached Delhi another revelation occurred. My sister, who was an artist, was putting up a painting exhibition. For some reason the date of the exhibition was postponed to the very day of my return journey. Had Bhagavan not delayed my departure from Puttaparthi, I would have left one day earlier as per Bhagavan’s direction to return in fifteen days and missed my sister’s exhibition. This would have disappointed her immensely. As it happened, due to lack of time I left our residence for the exhibition and from there proceeded straight to the railway station to embark on the return journey. When we live with Bhagavan, the frightening levels of uncertainty that surrounds Him may at times unnerve us, but if we learn to trust His Wisdom and love His uncertainty, He takes meticulous care of everything.

As we look at our chaotic world today, we may believe that God has a plan but it has gone hopelessly awry. The Divine mystery is revealed little by little, step by step. It is like an action packed thriller movie where the suspense is dispelled only after you sit through the entire movie.

We are fortunate to be contemporaries of the living and loving Swami. It is our duty to rally around Him and join hands with Him in His glorious mission.

The play is His; the role is His gift; the lines are written by Him; He directs; He decides the dress and the decor, the gesture and the tone, the entrance and the exit.

We have to act the role well and receive His applause when the curtain falls. We have to earn by our efficiency and enthusiasm to play higher and higher roles – that is the meaning and purpose of life.

– Courtesy: “Hridaya Brindavan 2005

– By Sri Sanjay Sahani

Baba’s Last Blessing To His Devotees – Sathya Sai Memories

from a friend:

“Baba’s ‘death’ is beginning to hit me now. Today on indian tv they showed a photo of Baba putting up both His palms in “Namaste”, on March 25, His last day of darshan in SK Hall.  I remember Him putting his hands together like that, when I was there that last March Week.  I was shocked at seeing Him offer namaste  to us all. I forgot about it for the weeks He was in the hospital. Today, when i remembered it, i realised it was the magnificently casual Baba saying ‘Goodbye’. I didn’t understand it then, but I  do today. It brings tears to my eyes. My only friend in the Cosmos had tried to tell me that He was going away for good and that was it !!!!”

Sai ram

for all the devotees who are feeling the loss of Baba, here is a last blessing photo for you to keep close to your heart

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

“My Lesson” – by Rick Jarrow – Sathya Sai Memories Cont.

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“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness to all and also the creatures, large and small.”

Dalai Lama


On my last day at Sai Baba’s Ashram, Baba appeared, and came towards the side where I was sitting. There were a few of us lined up in a row with packets of vibhuti We held them up for Baba to bless as he walked by. He lightly touched the first person’s packet, the second person’s, and hovering just above my own, he passed right over me and proceeded to bless the next one. His face, during all of this, was totally serene, impersonal, and filled with bliss. I gazed at his form as he walked away.

Walking with my bags to the check out office. I thought about my yogi friend who had been chided me a few days earlier. ‘What, you don’t believe in yourself?’ I paused by the window to return my key, and as I was about to exit I ran into a message from Baba. It was written on a blackboard in chalk. They were waiting to hang it up outside the bookstall as the lesson of the day;

Have firm faith that you are the atman. (the eternal soul), that the divine spark is in you. Move out into the world like heroes whom success does not spoil and defeat does not discourage. There is no need to call on Him to come from somewhere else. Become aware of Him as your inner self.

Courtesy Rick Jarow – ‘In Search of the Sacred’

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