|Dr. Deepak Anand with Sri Sathya Sai at Kodaikanal (2003)|
The tender feet that Lakshmi Devi presses with utmost love, the all-pervading feet that measured the entire sky in one go, the sacred feet that released Ahalya Devi from the awful curse, the hallowed feet that are the destination for merger of all the saints and sages, the revered feet that are forever installed on the lotus of our hearts and those that we students of His always want to serve – to those Lotus Feet of our Sai Mata, our Mother Sai, I offer my most loving salutations.
Talking about the glory of those sacred feet, I am reminded of a small incident. The Paada Pooja festival was going on in the Divine presence in Prasanthi Nilayam. Bhagavan called a few of us to the interview room and spoke to us, immersing us in the Bliss that nothing but His proximity alone can grant. I need not elaborate, as at one point or another, we have all experienced this. Bhagavan prodded us to ask any question and we could not immediately think of one. The merciful Lord Himself asked us, “What is the meaning of Paada Pooja”? One of us said, “Swami, it is serving the Lotus Feet of the Lord and dedicating our lives to it”. It seemed like a reasonably good answer and Swami smiled too. We felt that Bhagavan was happy, but when the Lotus lips parted, to our surprise, the answer was judged wrong! But thanks to the question, a message to humanity for all times to come, was delivered in those sacred moments. Bhagavan said, “When the Avatar comes in human form, He keeps His steps on the sands of time. These steps are the steps of ever-expanding Love expressed as selfless service. Keep your footsteps on these footprints and become one with God – that is true Paada Pooja.” We were bowled over completely with this revelation. We need to delve deep into the significance of these words if we wish to be His students and instruments.
|Sri Sathya Sai during the Paduka Pooja Festival with |
Sri Subramanian Chettiar, the Head of the Paduka Pooja Trust
I use this metaphor, as we should not have any misconceptions or wrong notions about who is a student of Bhagavan? Those are not His students who have merely studied in Sri Sathya Sai Schools or Colleges, though they can claim to be the students of these Institutions. To become His students, we have to possess the qualifications that He expects and in the words of Bhagavan Himself, “A true student should be humble and loyal to high ideals - ‘Sreyaasthe Viswasreyah’. It is only when the individual succeeds in being good that the world too can become good. One who is eager to be a real student must place before him¬self the ideal of world peace and prosper¬ity. He has to be unpretentious. He must vow to be of service to others. This is the essence of true education or Vidya. He should have humility and devotion.”
Thus we see that all of us have a chance to be His students by earning the above qualifications. But just being His students is, according to me, not the end of the road. We have to qualify ourselves as His instruments of change, to usher in a new era of love and peace upon earth. Taking the above as the base, I would now like to dwell upon some aspects and qualifications that Bhagavan has spelt out in addressing those who aspire to be His instruments in the Divine Mission. Bhagavan is waiting for us to shed the little coils of self-interest and make our lives His messages, in the spirit of self-sacrifice. Are we ready?
Though the message implies that it is not possible while living in the world to be fully detached from it, it adds that it is not even necessary to be so detached. Thus, we have to be good doctors, engineers, lawyers, employees and businessmen and work as instruments of Bhagavan in discharging our duties with diligence. Hence what and where of the actions we are engaged in, Bhagavan says, is not as important as the spirit in which we carry out our designated roles. We can certainly be good cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tenduklar, but do our duty in the true spirit as service to the Lord, and reach Him. Thus, Bhagavan never asks His students to renounce the world and run away to the Himalayas, but prods us to live in the world and bring about a transformation by putting His ideals into practice. And as a rule, sooner or later, knowingly or unknowingly, those who have put these ideals into practice have found success, fame and fulfilment in life. This will become more than evident in the following passages. Now, let’s go into the brass tacks of the Divine Message, which I am not revealing at the moment, but it should become discernible progressively.
The first aspect is the recognition that each one of us has to play a unique and valuable role in Bhagavan’s Mission in this lifetime. In this regard, let me tell you the story of Dr. M. S. Swaminathan. He is an agricultural scientist who was the first to recognise the value and the potential of Mexican Draft genes for Indian conditions. Acclaimed as the father of ‘Green Revolution’ in India, he now aims for an evergreen revolution through eco-technology that would give the maximum produce to the farmers from their land and help them alleviate themselves from hunger and utter poverty, directly benefiting more than 70% of our population dependent on agriculture and especially the 400 million people living below the poverty line. It was primarily due to his dedicated efforts that during the Bihar famine of 1966, against the predicted starvation deaths in millions, there were none as India’s wheat production jumped to 12 million tonnes in 1967 and to 20 million tonnes in the next two years reaching 72 million tonnes by 1994-95 due to the use of the new seeds! What made him and his team achieve which was herewith termed ‘impossible’? It was his non-believing in this word, something his father taught him in a tender age. Fighting politics, bureaucrats, lack of funds and above all the passive frame of mind, he attributed his success to principles of self-reliance, love towards all and community effort.
|Dr. M. S. Swaminathan|
The students of SSSIHL have many such success stories to tell, because these are the very principles that Bhagavan inculcates in us. Ours should be a spirit of never say die, the spirit to succeed against all odds. The gigantic projects of Bhagavan, executed in record time, are living examples for the entire humanity, for all times to come. We, in our ordained area of operation, have to discover the gems of opportunities that lie beneath the hay of daily routine to carve out an image of Sai in the hearts of all those who see us work and achieve.
|Mother Teresa (1910-1997)|
|Sri Ramakrishna |
An incident in the life of Mr. Hal Honig exhibits this clearly. We have all heard of this incident, when, while travelling by a subway train he encounters a man brandishing a knife and making everybody part with their belongings. Mr. Honig determines to see only Bhagavan and His love behind that brutal face. Behold! The man accepts an offering of sandwiches offered with love and munching them peacefully besides Mr. Honig says, ‘thank you’ with a smile before leaving! This love, not only can make the most ferocious of animals to bleat like sheep, but can make others even ready to sacrifice their lives for our sakes. Sounds incredible? But was it not the case when the army of Rama captures two of Ravana’s spies and demands their immediate execution. But instead, Lord Rama treats them with honour, orders that they be ‘helped’ in their duty of spying by showing them around and then be deported to Lanka with respect. On being asked by Ravana to reveal the military strength of Lord Rama, the spies did not open their mouths even at the cost of their lives, for how can someone betray or be ungrateful to true Love?
|JRD Tata (1904-1993)|
|Vinoba Bhave (1895-1982)|
In the end, I would conclude by stating only one thing. Our country needs us and true happiness lies in being a little instrument in the Hands of Bhagavan in making our country regain Her past glory as the leader of this world in all respects. Playing this part well will alone give us the fulfilment that we have been seeking for lifetimes, and break asunder the vicious cycle of births and deaths.
- Dr. Deepak Anand
Student and Doctoral Research Scholar (1997 – 2004)
Department of Management Studies
Currently, Assistant Professor, Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus