Life is a game, play it – Sathya Sai Memories

 

 

Sathya Sai Baba in the early days. Under the old Banyan Tree in Whitefield

 

 

“Life is a challenge, meet it!

Life is a dream, realise it!

Life is a game, play it! Life is love, enjoy it!”

– Sri Sathya Sai Baba

 

 

A long-time-ago story about Sai Baba. I think the year was 1996. I arrived in Bangalore late one evening, and got a taxi to Whitefield. It had been a hell of a journey from London. The hot sun, after the cold and wet English weather, cheered me up but I was still not in a good mood. Actually, I wanted to go home! With some reluctance, I went to darshan the very next morning and found a row to sit in and reflect on why I was there. I sat there quietly pondering on why I would choose to put myself through endless lineups and cramped floor seats for endless weeks at a time. Was I stupid? What was making me torture myself like this? Sighed and sat with head down thinking: ‘this is not me, is it? It’s my heart. My heart wants to be here but my head is screaming ‘no, no, no!’  I dreaded more back row seats and those hot sweaty bodies and the sour bad breath that comes after long sits in the heat.

 

 


Then I spotted the seva dal with the bag full of seating numbers. I knew from countless visits before, this game of chance probably would not favour me! Too right! Our line was in the double digit category. I surrendered. When we eventually stood to be seated in the Sai Ramesh hall, I found a place as far away as possible from the central aisle. It was over by the chair ladies, in the last but one block. I could not be seen and I, myself, could not see anything but backs of heads !

Swami arrived that morning as usual. He did not enter the hall by the VIP entrance at the front but, unusually, by the second entrance in the middle of the ladies blocks. Instead of turning toward the VIPs and front as usual, he decided to go the other way, walking down the small narrow aisle, where sick and disabled ladies sat. He strolled all the way down to our block and stopped right in front of me !!!  


I sat there with mouth open, in-deed shock!  Of course, he never looked at me, but took letters from those nearby. He, later, strolled to the very back, walked along to the central aisle and up toward the front. “You can’t hide from Swami” – that’s the lesson here!

 

Beautiful Reflections Sathya Sai – More Sathya Sai Memories

Folks, I plan on being away for a couple of months in India. I am going back to visit Sai Baba’s Ashram. I  need a break and some release from the bitter cold, lack lustre days of winter. Also some time away from a computer and blogging. I hope to return with some new travel stories and, of course, photos. Here is one of my favourite memories from many years ago while on a visit to Whitefield, in Bangalore. I don’t visit Whitefield anymore because the Bangalore traffic is too congested nowadays to make the trip. I miss the enchantment of Whitefield, and of course the  darshans in Sai Ramesh Hall. Luckily, people have created beautiful you tubes, like the one above to savor our memories forever.

Sorry for mistakes in this post, I have had quite a few computer glitches this morning.


“Blessed Sweets” – I remember the day well, like yesterday!

It was during one summer in the early 1990’s at Brindavan that I noticed Swami was blessing more than the usual number of silver sweet platters.

One particularly happy afternoon I watched with interest two ladies seated on the aisle holding their bright silver platters high while waiting for his attention. Swami came to darshan walking from side to side in his usual fashion but eventually stopped in front of the ladies then blessed their platters, which contained not only toffees but also photos, vibuthi and lockets. I sat thinking to myself, I wish I too, had a silver platter to hold high for such a blessing.

Before darshan the following morning, I plucked up enough courage to buy a silver platter, a huge bag of sweets (Mango Melodies), and three packets of little golden lockets, each one with a small picture of Swami with his hand held in the ’Abhaya Mudra – ( the ‘WHY FEAR, I AM HERE’ blessing ) and one yellow rose. I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare my platter nor did I know where to place the lockets. After some thought I placed them under the toffees and then placed the rose on top. Ah, it looked pretty, I felt sure that Swami would bless my offering.

But Swami did not bless the dish on my first attempt and by the second day I lost confidence and gave the dish to an Australian colleague to offer but Swami would not bless the sweets. On the third attempt I was happy to be seated on the carpet’s edge of block two where Swami always walked. He stopped, looked, and blessed the sweets forcefully. I’d felt him taking a large swipe of the contents into his hand then he threw them, showering what seemed like a good portion of devotees. I could hear loud whoops of joy as the sweets were thrown. Puzzled, I wondered why.

After Swami had passed by, I glanced at my platter for the 3 packets of lockets but only one remained. Apparently Swami had thrown two packets of lockets with the toffees! No wonder there had been such loud whoops of joy from devotees in block two.

A few days later I learned that the lockets had been thrown without their clear wrappers. In fact they had been dispersed individually with no trace of the wrapper anywhere. One of the lockets had fallen to a lady with cancer and two others had gone to another lady with a serious illness! What I do know is the lockets made a lot of people very happy.

·**•.♥LOVE♥.•**·life·**•.♥LIFE♥.•*

Here’s a link to an interesting talk given in July last year in Puttaparthi Ashram.

http://media.radiosai.org/journals/vol_12/01JUL14/TO-FOLLOW-SWAMIS-WISH-OR-NOT-part-01.htm


Sathya Sai baba as I remember him

 Sathya Sai Baba – photo and  a few of my favourite quotes.

“Do not be misled by what you see around you, or be influenced by what you see. You live in a world which is a playground of illusion, full of false paths, false values and false ideals. But you are not part of that world.”

  ~ Sathya Sai Baba

When a person asserts that he is low and mean and that he knows but little, he becomes low and mean and his knowledge shrinks.We become what we believe we are. We are children of Almighty God, endowed with Supreme, Power, Glory and Wisdom.We are children of Immortality.When we dwell in this thought, how can we ever be low and ignorant?

– Sathya Sai Baba

Photos – Sathya Sai Memories

aasleepingswam9i99

Beautiful Reflection : A photo of Swami the way he used to look in Whitefield during Bhajans (1990-2001). This  photo sums up all my yesterdays with Him in India. The days of sunshine, the laughter, the joy, also to remember the many gifts of sweets that would fall into my lap, or on the ground under my shawl, or bounce off from my hair-band to fall often into my clothes during darshan, and of course,  kept forever or until I just had to eat one while remembering the moment.  Then the days of tears,  the learning, those tedious  days when he seemed so far away, and when life itself seemed so unforgiving.  

Keenly remembered are those days of magical mystery and the days that brought me moments to keep forever in my heart. … Gosh! would i do it all again? Those times of illness, bad  flu, the sitting in the sun for hours, the sweat, the burnt feet on hot concrete and  sharp sand and those sand flies, dirty toilets, the “sting” of the severest of all – the ” seva dals!” Would I do it all again? not sure – but I learned so much from my times spent there… I learned that we are not a body only, we are far greater than that piece of flesh we call ‘me’.. We are spiritual beings and our earthly clothes are mere garments of no real importance to that tiniest  spark of divinity within each one of us, which is eternal and forever… Sai Ram, eve

 …aaaprasadam-vibhuti9

‘Honesty Pays’ A Sai Experience From Brindavan, 1990’s – Sathya Sai Memories

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A Magical Time

During the early 1990’s Brindavan Ashram was a mystical place. The stage area where Swami sat for bhajans, use to be dripping with exotic flower arrangements. Even devotees offerings of rose and Jasmin garlands , were accepted and placed upon the Ganesha Statue, just beneath the stage area.

A beautiful statue of the Goddess Saraswathi stood  just outside the hall. People use to place garlands  at  her feet.  I, too, use to leave roses there as a token of  gratitude.  Although the old Darshan Tree had been cut down, the new Sai Ramesh Hall, held a certain charm. The placement of ‘blocks’ around the hall, provided us with  close darshan of Sai.  He often strolled around each block where everyone could see him.  In the early days of The Sai Ramesh Hall, Swami gave Darshan twice  a day. He sometimes entered the Sai Ramesh Hall from the third  entrance, towards the back,  much to the surprise and delight of those people seated in the back blocks. It was an amazing time to be with him. And greatly missed.

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´*

saraswati-whitefieldStatue of Saraswathi outside The Sai Ramesh Hall, Whitefield.

Taken from a memory written well over two decades ago

“Some years ago, while in Whitefield, I  joined a London  group for a very short time. When it was time for them to leave, the group decided to join the ‘leaving line’ fondly named the  ‘blessing line.’ I, too, joined although I had some weeks left before I had to leave for home.

A sudden prick of conscience made me reconsider my seating place. I decided to ask one of the Seva Dal volunteers if it was okay for me to sit there,  although I would not be leaving with my group. She answered that it was not and suggested I join the usual token number rows.  I left my plate of sweets with the group and found another line where there was just enough room to squeeze in the very back.

Fortunately for me,  the line drew a number one token.

Quickly, I retrieved my tray of sweets from the group members seated in the `leaving line,’  and followed the rest of the row one ladies into the Sai Ramesh Hall. Here we were placed towards the carpet’s edge and close to where Swami walked.

When Swami came out for darshan, he came over  stood and looked at the sweets, then blessed them.

On the following morning, I sat again in the token lines, while the remaining group members sat in the leaving line. Again, my line drew number one.  Amazed by this good fortune, I stood and waved to my group, telling them of my good fortune. One called over, “That’s what you get for being honest.”

*`•.¸(¯`•.•´¯)¸.•´*

Another interesting fact about token line numbers is that when devotees ask for front position to have their babies blessed, sometimes they are refused. Swami, aware of their disappointment, often  gives them line number one at the next darshan.

A young lady, who was refused a chance to sit in the front at a very busy time in the Ashram,  drew number one token the next day. The baby received a special blessing from Sai.

Darshan in the Sai Ramese Hall -1990s

Row Number One!

Unbashful row one is something I treasure. I rarely had a chance to sit near Sai Baba and thus, a one number had special meaning.

One of my fondest memories of line numbers is 6th May, 1996, when I drew  no. one token, both morning and afternoon.

This poignant anniversary of the passing of Sri Sai Baba’s mother was celebrated magnificently in the morning; children sang bhajans and chanted mantras. At the end of the ceremonies, Swami accepted a little girl’s bouquet of flowers.

The afternoon arrived  balmy, bright, and festive and while a promising ambience electrified the hall, Swami, in excellent spirits, gave an inspiring discourse about mothers.

Sri Sai Baba teaches in a variety of ways and often his silent teachings are more revealing than any given in an interview. In particular, the token numbers make us ponder on the `whys and wherefores’ of our seating positions.

Of course, front lines gladden our hearts and we see him as Sai Krishna,while the back lines seem to indicate we are being punished. This is when we often see Swami as the  Shiva principle who moves among us destroying our egos.  But through it all, whatever the number, it is a sincere gift of love from Swami to his visitors or followers, at least those brave enough to accept whatever he gives. Who would trade such valuable lessons to be a V.I.P.?

– SathyaSaiMemories

Swami’s Halo – 1994 – Sathya Sai Memories

“Dissolve the self in the supreme Self as the pot-space is dissolved in infinite space; then, as the Infinite be silent for ever, O sage!”

– Adhyatma Upanishad

 

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One summer’s afternoon in 1994, I was sitting in the front of block two in the Sai Ramash Hall in Whitefield, listening to one of Swami’s discourses. It was one of those days when everything had gone amiss and I felt a strong sense of being let down. In this negative state of mind, I sat with arms folded in an effect to prevent further pain.

At the end of the afternoon’s discourse, Swami began to sing his favourite Rama bhajan, then instantaneously He beckoned us to join in the singing. The cheerful crowd began to clap and sing with enthusiasm – in fact the entire hall seemed to come alive and move with the music. But I stubbornly remained motionless – still hugging myself.

Swami, who was not far away, looked down with concern as I sat there still and silent. Then all of a sudden, the hall turned a misty brilliant white. I gasped and looked around me but within a few seconds the assembled crowd, myself included, were engulfed in the gathering mist. I rubbed my eyes and blinked but the luminescence continued to gather. As I sat there watching, the mist seemed to take on a life of its own. It began to thicken and intensify in a manner that seemed to reflect the joyfulness of the singing. When the bhajan came to its climax, I could no longer see anything as the mist had completly enfolded me.

At the end of the bhajan, I glanced up at Swami. He, too, was encircled by the mist, but to add to my surprise, a powerful light shone around Him. Not entirely convinced I was seeing correctly I thought to myself, ‘someone must be shining a very strong spotlight on Him.’ I peered around the hall for signs of extra lighting but there were none. When Swami turned slowly around to preform Arathi, I clearly saw at the back of His head, and unattached, a milky white shiny disc. When He moved, so the disc moved with Him, never wavering from its position.  It quivered with some unearthly luminescence.

After the Arathi, Swami began to walk away and the disc became more apparent. I can only describe it as a halo, but unlike those seen on pictures of Christian saints. Swami’s halo had a radiance that I felt was somehow charged by His divine essence. When Swami reached the door, both the mist and the halo disappeared.

The memory of that long ago afternoon is as fresh today as it had been then. Swami had given me a wondrous insight to encourage me during a time when I felt like giving up and it was – ‘LIKE THAT HE TAUGHT ME’.