We are fortunate to be born in this Golden Age of Lord Sai. In case we were born a little before or after the Avatar, we would have missed the golden opportunity of witnessing the Leelas of our Beloved Sai. I believe we are not just fortunate, but extremely fortunate because of 3 reasons:
1) We are contemporaries of our Lord Sai.
2) We are born as human beings. Only human beings can witness the Leelas of Swami and imbibe the teachings of Swami.
3) We have faith in our Lord Sai. There are billions of humans on this earth; only very few among them have been able to develop faith in Swami as God.
I got admission at the SSSIHL, Prasanthi Nilayam in 1995 for the MBA programme. This implied easier access to Swami’s guidance regarding the spiritual path. We as human beings firmly believe that the existence of happiness stems from material objects like money, physical comfort, house, family, education, fame and the like. We devote all our time, energy and other resources in acquiring these objects. When this belief of happiness proves to be a myth, we realise that we have spent our valuable time towards goals that were futile. Bhagawan Baba has been extremely kind in giving the correct guidance to us at the earliest possible stage; thus saving us from pursuing trivial endeavours.
|Inner Quadrangle, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, |
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
When I got admission into the Institute, I had the belief that Swami’s physical proximity would resolve all my queries and straighten the path of my spiritual progress. But I think Swami wanted to rectify this thinking of mine. Swami did this through an interesting experience. Just before the 10th MBA Anniversary celebrations, all the Management students were fervently praying to Swami to come to the College to attend a function on this occasion. We had been doing this for a couple of days.
During those days construction was going on in the Sai Kulwant Hall and the central portion of the Hall was not covered by the retractable roof. As this central portion was exposed to direct sun-rays it used to be extremely hot and it was difficult for anyone to sit at that place for Darshan. We therefore used to sit in the adjacent blocks. Once, when we were praying to Swami to bless the MBA Day celebrations, Swami looked at me and said, “Why are you sitting here? You should be sitting in the central block”. Before I could understand what Swami was conveying, Swami had already moved away. While moving away Swami again turned back, smiled, and told me, “Sit there without a mat”.
Hearing this, I was confused, as Swami’s instruction was an unusual one. When I checked with the seniors regarding the possibility of sitting at that place, they mentioned that none was authorised to sit in that place. My perplexity increased, as following their instruction would mean disobeying Swami’s word, and not following them would mean violating the discipline in vogue. Being confused, I shared this dilemma with one of my senior teachers. The teacher explained that one must not ignore any of Swami’s instructions. Swami never utters even a single word unnecessarily, and every word that He uses is potent with meaning. In case we see any conflict in His Message at the physical level, we must realise that Swami is giving us a message at a deeper inner level.
In this case, Swami’s instructions to sit under the hot sun meant that I should reduce the aspirations for comfort and perform more Sadhana. This was according to my understanding and was also in line with a recent dream that Swami had given me a few days back. I had been praying to Swami to grant me some of my aspirations in the spiritual arena. During the dream, I vividly remember, Swami stared at me and asked me to perform Sadhana instead of merely asking Him to grant something.
But I was not satisfied with the answer as the term ‘Sadhana’ was a very vast term open to many interpretations. I had been praying to Swami to further clarify the meaning of Sadhana. But then Swami indicated that His instructions were the same for me whether I was a student or otherwise. The basic task of discovering the right path was a matter of my own discovery. I remembered the beautiful analogy that was given by Prof. N. Kasturi regarding Swami’s proximity. He mentioned that when you are sitting below a tree and you are gazing at the moon, it appears as if the leaves are talking to the moon. But when you reach closer to the leaves, you will find that the moon is equally far away for the leaves as well. Talking to the moon is a challenge for the leaves as it is for you. Similarly even after gaining physical proximity to Swami, the challenges remain equally difficult unless we establish inner proximity.
We MBA students had been praying to Swami to grant us an interview. After a few days of prayers, Swami did grant us an interview. In the Darshan subsequent to the interview, Swami asked all of us whether we were happy with the interview. All of us unanimously expressed our grateful joy. Swami replied, ‘But this happiness is momentary and extremely short lived. As time passes, you will be forgetting this and will again have phases of happiness and unhappiness.’ Swami was again trying to tell us that just the external physical interaction with Swami will not confer true happiness, unless we develop inner proximity.
During the final year of my MBA, Swami mentioned that He would take classes for the MBA students to clear the doubts that were plaguing their minds. Swami took a few sessions and in all these sessions invited questions from the students. In one of the sessions, Swami stressed a lot on the importance of following ‘Sathya’ and ‘Dharma’. He mentioned that these were akin to our life breaths. During one of these sessions, a teacher stood up and prayed to Swami for a boon. He prayed to Bhagawan to Bless His students such that Truth and Righteousness should become spontaneous in all their actions. At this, Swami mentioned that the prayer was good, but the students too should have aspirations in this direction. If the students had such aspirations, this prayer could be taken as fulfilled for them. This promise from Swami was a bit puzzling for all of us, as this was too great a boon to be granted in just a question and answer session. This is a boon that even sages might not have received after ages of penance and here Swami had granted this boon to the students in a moment!
Though I was delighted by this boon, I still wanted to resolve the doubt as to how such a boon could be granted so easily. I realise that we cannot raise How’s and Why’s over the Leelas of a Supreme Master like Swami. When even Lord Brahma was confused with the Leelas of Lord Krishna, I would surely disclaim my ability to explain Swami’s Leelas. Just thinking of Swami’s Leelas gives Ananda to all.
As I contemplated further on the boon from Swami, it appeared that Swami had been showering precious boons on all His devotees in the form of His teachings and sayings. When I tried to interpret Swami’s saying regarding the 4 Fs, I realised that this saying was similar to the boon. The 4 Fs from Swami are:
1) Follow the Master
2) Face the Devil
3) Fight till the End
4) Finish the Game
Here Swami says our conscience is the Master. Our books, Shastras and their interpretations might not always stay in our memory. But God in the form of our conscience is always with us. If we are successful in following this Master, our conscience, then all our actions will automatically be righteous and all our words will become truthful. But then the question arises – Conscience is present within us always and at all places. Still, it becomes difficult to follow it because of the conflicting messages received by us due to our own weaknesses, inclinations/disinclinations. To resolve this, the second F enters the picture. The strength of the inner voice keeps on reducing if we do not listen to this conscience. However, if we follow it, it keeps growing stronger and we get a clearer indication. In this process, even when we are listening to the voice of the conscience we may face dilemmas and the options may not be as clearly differentiated as black and white. We always have some shades of grey and it becomes difficult to choose the right option from all the available ones. To be able to pick up the right options amongst these, we need to look at the 2nd F – Face the Devil.
2) Face the Devil
Apart from the conscience, we also have six enemies within us, namely – Desire, Anger, Greed, False Attachment, Pride and Jealousy. If any of these enemies are active within us, they drown the voice of the conscience and lead us astray from the right path. The main sources of these six enemies are two evils – Raag and Dwesh. Raag – Unnecessary attachment towards an object blinds us to the inherent faults present in it. The scenario is similar to a mother who habitually overlooks the faults of her child. Similarly, Dwesha towards a particular object makes us ignore the latent goodness in the object. As long as these two factors continue haunting us, it is difficult for us to balance the pros and cons of any factor and arrive at a balanced decision. These devils inside us automatically subside when we try to identify them. So whenever we have a dilemma or confusion due to the multiple options available to us, just identifying the enemies will make them subside and we will be able to make a better choice. Even at the time of making this choice we need considerable amount of will power to overcome these enemies. To overcome them, Swami has given us the next F – Fight till the end.
3) Fight till the End
This implies that once we identify any internal enemy preventing us from taking the right step, we need to steel our resolves in overcoming it against all odds. To accomplish this, Swami has given a very good and easy technique. Swami asks us to compare the identified evil quality to an animal with the prominence of that quality. For e.g., if we find that we are not able to overcome anger, realise that the anger is the quality of a dog, and repeat 10 times – ‘I am a man, I am not a dog’. By doing this, the intensity of this beastly impulse will subside and we will have sufficient strength to overcome the negativity and act in accordance with our conscience. Once we are able to follow the 3 Fs, the fourth F, Finish the Game will automatically be achieved by us.
This process of 4 Fs is a cyclic process. Every time we follow this, it strengthens the voice of the conscience. This leads us to the ideal path paved on either sides with the quintessential virtues of Sathya and Dharma. All it takes is a bit of understanding and effort. Similarly, I feel that each and every saying from Swami is like a boon that can transform our lives. Many of us aspire for His physical proximity with simple goals of witnessing His miracles. Following His teachings however, will truly sanctify our lives. As humans, we are indeed fortunate to get the physical proximity of Swami. However, let us take a vow to follow at least one of His teachings and capitalise on this good fortune!
- Vikas Gupta
Students (1995-1997), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Senior Program Manager at NetApp, Bangalore