The Oasis of Love - By B. Satish Chandra

Satish Chandra with Sri Sathya Sai at the first anniversary of
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Bangalore (2002)

“This is where I want to be!” - This was my first reaction as I entered the Vidyagiri Arch in Prasanthi Nilayam. The bus, which carried me, passed grudgingly through the desolate plains of Rayalaseema before entering Prasanthi Nilayam, which seemed to me like an oasis in the middle of a desert. It was the middle of May 1998, the time of the year when the sun ‘shows off’ the most. Calling the heat ‘oppressive’ would be an understatement. But as the bus neared Parthi, the heat didn’t seem that oppressive or perhaps I was too engrossed in watching the scenario around me that I didn’t feel it. I was awe - struck at the palatial Super - Speciality Hospital, the large Hanuman statue watching over the people coming to Parthi, the sprawling University campus, educational Institutions and so on. I was surprised at the enormity of the undertakings of a single individual - Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
 
The environment was all very new to me. I hadn’t heard or read anything much about Sri Sathya Sai Baba before I had came to Parthi for the first time, to take my MBA entrance test. For how could I - without His willing? My only introduction to Bhagavan was Howard Murphet’s ‘Man of Miracles’, which had miraculously presented itself a couple of days before I started for Parthi. I had devoured the book in a single sitting. I was entranced by the phenomenon of an Avatar and I was now raring to go to Parthi.
 
The bus dropped me off in front of the Ashram, where friendly, good-natured Sevadals directed me to the accommodation office. Walking past the Sai Kulwant hall, I muttered with myself, “Will I ever be able to enter this magnificent, beautiful hall?” At that time, I didn’t even know that Bhagavan gives Darshan in that hall. If I had been tuned enough to Bhagavan at that time, I would probably have heard Him say, “Yes, yes, yes.”
 
I had done my graduation elsewhere before applying for an MBA degree in Bhagavan’s Institute. The contrast between the ‘outside’ world and the environment in Parthi was too glaring to miss my attention. I was really surprised that though I had been in the same state as He, and that too less than a day’s journey from Him, I hadn’t heard anything about Him or His wonderful temples of learning. It was only later, when I joined His Institute and learnt more about Him that I came to know that He has absolute control on who comes to Parthi and when. I heard that one could enter Parthi only when his/her time is ripe. I was happy my time had come - at last!
 
The admission went on quite smoothly. The message of Baba inscribed on the stone just outside the Institute, “Why fear when I am here?” kept ringing in my ears, as I took the test and it gave me great comfort. I found the teachers very different from the ones I had been previously exposed to. They showed genuine concern for the students. I took an immediate liking for the place, the teachers and everything else. I somehow felt that I belonged to this place and nowhere else.
 
As there were a couple of days after the entrance test before I would be personally interviewed, I decided to tour Parthi. So, with Murphet as my guide, I set off. I bowed reverence at Bhagavan’s parents’ Samadhi, walked wide - eyed and open - mouthed through the marvellous Eternal Heritage Museum, visited the Siva temple, the birthplace of the Avatar; trudged the sands of Chitravati; sandals in one hand and Murphet in another, reminiscing about those innumerable materialisations by Bhagavan in these holy sands. I had almost childishly hoped that I would ‘stumble’ on an idol created by Bhagavan in those yester years!
 
My treasure hunt ended fruitless, except, of course, for the treasures I had collected in my heart in the form of beautiful experiences. Having read that Bhagavan used to pluck out of season fruits for His devotees from a tamarind tree, aptly named Kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling tree), I fervently prayed that He pluck for me too, a fruit - a fruit of an ‘MBA seat’ in His Institute. That fateful evening, though I did not realise it then, Bhagavan did put the ‘fruit’ I had prayed for in one of my pockets.
 
My interview went off smoothly. I could feel His presence in the way answers flowed from me spontaneously. After the interview, I felt satisfied with my performance. Now I could only keep my fingers crossed and wait for the results. I came back home. The results were announced a few days later and I let out a yelp of joy when the person on the other end of the phone line confirmed that my name was on the selected candidates’ list.
 
For the second time in less than a fortnight, I was back in the bus, speeding towards Parthi. The bus seemed to be in good spirits, the way it overcame the hills and vales in between Parthi and me. “My good spirits seem to have rubbed off onto the bus,” I thought. 

I landed in Parthi - this time as a proud student of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. I enrolled myself in the hostel and was warmly welcomed by the ever - pleasant warden. 



Sri Sathya Sai Hostel for Senior Students, Prasanthi Nilayam

Hostel life is full of beautiful experiences. It is verily the breeding ground for virtues and character. It is a laboratory where we practise what we learn in the Institute and the Mandir. The hostel schedule, packed with times for prayer, play and periods (for study) teaches the inmates how to manage time effectively, build up relationships, work as a team, learn to respect others’ feelings and so on.
 
Above everything, what makes a Sai Student’s life extra special is Bhagavan and the love that He showers on His students. He spends a major chunk of His ‘prime time’ with the students; always teaching them and exhorting them to become good and not great. 

Being Bhagavan’s student ensures that one will have experiences galore. My maiden experience proved to me that Bhagavan is Omniscient and knows all about us.
 
It was just another day. Bhagavan had just then completed the interviews and was walking towards the students. Sitting in one extreme of the students’ block, I was wishing that Bhagavan would come that side. Without much seriousness, I told my neighbour, “I think Bhagavan will come this side.” After a couple of minutes, Bhagavan cut through the block in such a way that my neighbour and I had to move away from each other to make way for Bhagavan. He came in my direction, looked deeply at me, smiled, and carried on! I was dumbstruck. As this was my first experience, it took a while for me to come back to my senses. In the quieter moments of that day, I masticated the lesson I had learnt - Bhagavan is Omniscient and He does listen to each and every prayer of ours.
 
Horse riding by Sai Students during
the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet
Being Bhagavan’s student also ensures that one would get opportunities to do things which would be highly improbable in Institutes outside: riding a horse or flying a para plane, for example. I was fortunate enough to be one of the group of boys sent to Bangalore to learn horse riding. We were to perform on the 11th of January 2000, the day of the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet. When we returned Bhagavan graciously granted us an interview. Many times during the course of the interview Bhagavan said, “I know, I know, I know” to whatever answers we gave to His questions. He had ‘seen’ the horses before they had even come to Parthi (!) and said that only two horses were good looking and well behaved but riding them along with the other horses would spoil the symmetry of the formation. True enough, two, out of the ten horses, which were to pull Bhagavan’s chariot, were stout and well built whereas the other horses were lean and tall. The trainers too had initially made a comment that the stout buggy horses would be used only for Bhagavan’s chariot, as they would not match well with the other horses.
 
Bhagavan arriving in a horse buggy during the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet at the Hill View Stadium
How Bhagavan answers our prayers is also interesting to behold. When the interview drew to a close, I mustered enough courage to pray to Bhagavan to come and see us practise on the horses. Bhagavan said, “Mundhu Gurralu Raani.” (“Let the horses come first.”) The horses arrived from Bangalore after a couple of days and within thirty minutes of our first practice session in Parthi, Bhagavan came to the Hill - View Stadium, where we were trotting on the horses. As Bhagavan’s car passed by, we riders left the reins (!) and folded our hands in salutation to Bhagavan. The equine creatures too stood obediently without murmur as Bhagavan showed His Abhaya Hasta. It looked as if they were lost in a reverie remembering Krishna, who used to tend them so lovingly in the capacity of a charioteer to Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War! 

Bhagavan came to our practice sessions quite a few times and even rode on the chariot, which was supposed to carry Him on the final day.
 
Signs that Bhagavan’s grace was present on us fledgling horse-riders and on our equine brothers were all too evident. On one occasion, my mount threw me down rather unceremoniously and galloped into the stable. I was dazed, but I strangely didn’t feel any pain, though I fell on hard ground. It was almost as if Bhagavan held me in His protective hands as I fell, cushioning my fall. I escaped without as much as a scratch. On another occasion, a horse had developed a boil, due to which it couldn’t be ridden on till the day before the Sports Meet. All sorts of medicines were tried, but in vain. Finally, the horse was administered the most potent medicine of all - Vibhuti. Needless to say, the boil healed and the horse was in the pink of health on the D-Day.
 
As Bhagavan’s students who have been exposed to His love and have received His grace, we owe a lot to society and to humanity in general. We need to broaden the pitchers of our hearts and carry the waters of love that we have collected from this Oasis of Love and distribute these waters to the parched hearts of the love-thirsty millions. Only then would our lives gain meaning; only then would our Lord be happy.


- B. Satish Chandra
Student (1998-2000), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Senior Manager, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences
Bangalore

Source: Sai Nandana 2000 (75th Birthday Issue)

5 comments:

  1. I love this last paragraph! So true the responsibility of a Sai student.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Satish where are you now if you happen to read this message please do send me an email to uveeraju@gmail.com

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  3. Unbelievable!! Satish, remember disc throws in school days then you might recall me. Never thought I can see you again in my lifetime.

    Friend from US.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Unbelievable!! Satish, remember disc throws in school days then you might recall me. Never thought I can see you again in my lifetime.

    Friend from US.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also Satish, how is mother and sister (Atkinson). I can see you so happy , this makes me feel so happy. Man, Iam too excited to see you after so many years. We haven't met after our school days .Why don't you post your contact number also here for me pls. May be, it's time for us to patch up again.

    ReplyDelete

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