|Hemant receiving his gold medal for standing first in the MBA programme from the Revered Founder Chancellor on the 29th Convocation of the Institute - |
November 22, 2010
The era of the advent of an Avatar is no ordinary time. We are lucky to be chosen by Him to be His contemporaries. No doubt it is partly by the merit we have acquired in previous lives, but it is His Grace alone that keeps us close to Him.
Let me narrate a few incidents from my life that He has scripted, a few thoughts I've mused over, and a few lessons He has taught me.
It all started in the 1970’s when Swami in His graciousness, performed the marriage of my parents. Both sides of the family had been and continue to be ardent devotees of Bhagavan. Then because of Swami’s grace I was born in the early 80’s. Swami named me, performed my 'Anna Prasanam,' ceremonially cut my hair and also did my 'Akshara Abhyasam.' No doubt I have been fortunate but I always regret a little at not remembering any of those priceless moments.
Anyway, then began a drift (no doubt scripted by Him). We hadn't visited Puttaparthi for close to a decade. I was far away in the plains of the Assam valley experiencing the turbulence the teenage years bring. I was lost; all out of place; searching desperately for answers which seemed quite philosophical for that age. I asked myself, “Who am I?," “Why am I here?" “What am I supposed to do?" “Where am I going?", and a lot more questions which none could answer. No doubt students studying in Swami’s schools have ready answers to many of these questions, but there I was, in a 'modern' residential school, which believed in practicing equality of religions, by not practicing anything at all!
In the hindsight, all those questions cropping up in my mind were caused by Swami, tugging at my heart-strings. Towards the end of my twelfth standard, Swami began giving me messages through books which I happened to open at random (seemingly), and began answering my questions.
In the summer of 2001, Swami finally called my family to Prashanti Nilayam once again. It was a time of great joy. Swami elevated all of us. My family then had to go back to Assam while I continued to stay in Bangalore to write a few entrance exams for engineering and medicine. Swami luckily came to Brindavan to spend the summer. I would awake in the wee hours and travel one and a half hours each morning to have His Darshan. Swami really uplifted me during those days and taught me many lessons. He taught me to love others equally without any distinction, help even strangers in need and to be totally tuned to the Divine voice which is within all of us. One incident of more selfish hues I narrate below.
My birthday falls in the month of April and I was alone in Bangalore attending coaching classes for the entrance exams. Like all other mornings, that morning too, I went to Brindavan for Darshan. I told Swami internally, that here I was all alone, without the company of my family or friends on my birthday and that at least that day, He better give me something! And to make the demand even more audacious, I told Him that I would stop coming for Darshans, if He didn't oblige! What a fool I was to challenge Him thus!
Darshan got over and Swami hadn't even come towards me. I was hurt and disappointed and determined not to come for any more Darshans. Just as I got up, a foreign devotee came right up to me, gave me a beautiful smile and saying "Sairam," presented me with a beautiful picture calendar of Swami. I had got my present, a physical gift and another person had become an instrument in His hands. How can God not listen and respond to a sincere prayer, for that as they say, is His only weakness and our only strength. Then again came a period of separation. I went away to do my engineering and then onto work at one of India’s software giants. But all the while there was this void in me. “What am I doing?" I repeatedly asked myself. “Is this really what I’m meant to do?" Swami again in all graciousness pulled me towards Him.
It was the 19th of July 2007. I had, had another frustrating day at office. No, it was not the people or the work. The people were extremely caring and supportive. The work was as good as any engineer could expect. In fact due to Swami’s grace, in one’s year’s time I was replacing people with seven to eight years of experience and getting a lot of appreciation. But there was this lack of purpose which was gnawing at my heart. Anyway on this particular day, I thought I would go and meet somebody from another team. This person was from the consultancy part of the business while I was from the technical domain. I had met him earlier when he had conducted training for our group. I thought that may be technical work is just not my cup of tea, and that may be I would be more interested in the business domain. So I mailed him and fixed an appointment for that afternoon.
Later in the afternoon we greeted each other in western style, formalities and then sat down to talk. I asked him a few doubts about the business (that was the pretext for the meeting), but I could hold back no longer. I told him that I didn't find any meaning in my work and that maybe it was not for me. I asked him if there were any openings in his team! He was very understanding and took my ‘frankness’ in stride. He explained to me how it was more beneficial to get an MBA degree before I ventured to the business side. He told me how an MBA helped not only at work but how it was important for all round development. I asked if he was an MBA graduate. He answered in the affirmative. And when I finally asked him where he had done his MBA, he replied at the Sri Sathya Sai University. You can imagine the rest of the conversation but it finally ended with loving "Sairams," in stark contrast to the opening “hai’s”.
Then came 20th July 2007. I was travelling back home in one of the company provided cabs. There was another person in the cab and we started talking about work. The conversation veered to what my future plans were. I told him that I was planning on an MBA, but didn't have a clue from where. He said that an MBA was a good option and that his younger brother had just finished his MBA. When I asked him from where, he replied from Sri Sathya Sai University! Wonder of wonders! Was Swami trying to tell me something? I spent the rest of the day and night thinking about it. Then on the night of 21st July 2007, Swami directly came in my dream and said just one word “Come”. When I got up from the dream I knew what I had to do.
Now, as it draws towards the end of my two year stay at His University, I took a few moments to ponder. Time has just flown, as we all had been fore-warned. So what has Swami wanted me to learn and what have I learnt and how have I changed? Well, surely I have not achieved perfection nor have I come anywhere close. At the same time I have picked up a few good things and tried to get rid of a few bad ones. I see myself as more patient, understanding and selfless. Swami has planted quite a few seeds in my heart which will surely sprout at the right time. The one thing I’m truly grateful to Swami for is the self-confidence He has gifted me and that means that I truly believe He will respond to my call. I see my stay here as a faith building exercise if nothing else. We pick up a lot of good things from our stay here, both external and internal, but if I was asked to name the most important, it would definitely be our faith in Him growing.
He is truly our closest friend, who is there even in our darkest hours. He is the only friend whom we can call upon anytime and one who will never ever forsake us. He listens to our silliest prayers if it is good for us (as many a time I have experienced) and responds instantaneously to a pure thought. He holds our hand in this treacherous terrain of desires and guides us patiently towards our goal whenever and only when we ourselves are ready to walk.
If He were to grant me just one wish, my only wish would be “Please give me the strength to Love You with all my heart, for I know the rest will follow."
- Hemant Changkakoty
Student (2008-2010), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Head, User Experience and Product Management
Jigsaw Academy, Bangalore
Currently, Head, User Experience and Product Management
Jigsaw Academy, Bangalore