|Raghavanand with Sri Sathya Sai|
Swami is the greatest Avatar ever to walk on the earth. His words, “Wherever you are, how ever you are, you are Mine. I would never forsake you” are so true. I can never stop wondering about His Boundless Grace. I had the great opportunity of being His student when I got into the MBA programme in 1986 in the first batch.
Grant Me Last Seat At Least…
When I heard that Swami was starting an MBA course in May 1986, I knew I had to enrol myself in it. I decided not to let go of this opportunity. So, I started praying hard besides preparing for the course.
I needed Him and only He could give me a seat. Both the written test and interview went on smoothly, raising my hopes of admission. But admission eluded me in the first list of selects. I raised the pitch of my prayer and began praying to the Lord to ‘please give me the last seat at least’.
As the days passed by, tension mounted and nothing happened. My father asked me to move ahead with other plans. I didn't let go. I kept my focus and finally on August 25th, 1986, my prayers were answered. A telegram from the Registrar asked me to join the course on the 28th !
On Krishnashtami day, I reached Puttaparthi and reported to the Dean. That evening, I had the great privilege of having Darshan from the verandah. I was sitting in the fourth row from the front. Swami came out and walked straight towards the students. He came to me and asked me “MBA?” I said, “Yes Swami!”
“Where are you from?” “Vijayawada, Swami”. “Good.” And He left. When He asked me where I was from, I smiled wryly inside my heart. After all the tension I went through He couldn't have been more ‘mischievous’. And it turned out that I had been the last to be admitted to the course. No one else was admitted, even though two more seats were vacant.
It was the most beautiful period of my life. Everyday was a joyous holy day, with Swami spending most of his Darshan and Bhajan time with the students. And every minute we spent with Him was truly ‘Yoga’ (Union with God) and no other Sadhana could ever match it. His love, playfulness, jokes, knowledge, care, Divinity, miracles …were all there on display.
One of the lessons I learnt is about the food prayer, Brahmaarpanam. Ever since my Upanayanam a few years ago, I had been following a prescribed ritual before and after food. This ritual is about offering food to God and the five Pranas (life forces) in our body.
One day, while Swami was with His students, He informed a fellow student beside me that he should chant only Brahmaarpanam before food. I wondered whether the message was intended for me also. I gave it a good thought and found that by chanting Brahmaarpanam we offer food to only 3 Pranas and the other ritual offered the food to five Pranas. So, I concluded that the current ritual was better. The following day, the same student was sitting beside me. Swami came straight to us and told him that for digesting and converting the food into energy, only 3 Pranas were required and not all five. This was a jolt for me and I knew that the message was meant for me. From that day onwards, I chant only Brahmaarpanam and even encourage others to do so.
Evening Darshan was mandatory for all the students. As soon as the college was over, after a brief break, all the students used to rush to the Mandir for Darshan and return only after Bhajans. This was little taxing as there was not much time for relaxation after college and for almost 2 1/2 hours we were expected to sit cross-legged in the Mandir. Darshan would be for a very brief period and thereafter we would sit idle for almost 2 hours waiting for Bhajans to start. Moreover, being a youngster, I always thought that evening time was for games and going out. I was not used to sitting quietly for two hours. This was really difficult during the first few months. I used to shudder at the passing of ungodly thoughts in my mind and that too at God’s place. But since nothing could be done about it, I resigned myself to fate. Slowly, as the time progressed, I started enjoying the silent hours and my mind became sharper and more controlled .I got so addicted to it that I still yearn for a chance to spend time like that during the evenings. What happened to me to cause such a transition?
Well, for once, the period helped to purge out all negative thoughts from my mind and I became more controlled. It helped me to unwind and plan for the next few days .So, I became more sharp. It was a wonderful thing to happen. Here I must remind all of Swami’s saying, “Do not underestimate the power of Darshan.”
An Elixir Called Student’s Way of Life……
Life at Puttaparthi for a student is completely a new experience. There is personal care, yet there is discipline too. It is hectic and yet enjoyable. Result wise, it was the best period for me. I played my best cricket, studied my best and was my best self during those days. Well, how was that possible?
Maybe it was because of leading a Satwic life or because of all the restrictions. Maybe it was entirely because of Swami’s Grace. What ever it was, it made me my best. This realisation came to me only a few years back. From then on I made it a point to think like a student, do the things I did and follow the discipline, like getting up early, chanting Suprabhatam, eating moderately and seeing, hearing, speaking and doing only good. You won’t believe it! I am getting exactly the same results out of my life even now. I am able to perform better at my job, look younger than my age, be a good father, feel healthier and contribute my best. So, Swami makes us our best. I wish every citizen had an opportunity to be Swami’s student.
Swami, the Saviour
A few years back, my life took a turn for the worse and it coincided with a career change. Nothing went right at all. I became weak, inefficient and worst of all; I was unable to keep up with my job. At that time I felt that nothing could save me and so I came back into Swami’s fold, mentally. I started doing what He desired, behaved the way He appreciated and did regular prayers. I had to summon all my courage to stick to Swami’s path. Swami pulled me out of those deep dark pits and put me back on the road. He saved me from a health ailment before it became serious, saved my daughter from a bad accident, helped my son at a very critical stage and guided our family through financial and mental trauma. Swami did all this and much more out of His limitless Compassion to show that He cares.
Today, when I look back, I can say for sure that it was Swami’s Grace alone that pulled me out of that dark period and made me stronger in every way. He is the most Compassionate God who walks with us, listens to what we say, shares our troubles and lifts us with His hands just when we need Him – unfailingly at every point in our life.
Almost all organisations are built on long years of continuous drive for excellence. Some organisations erupt on to the corporate scene with one big product or idea but need a mountainous effort to keep their leadership tag intact. Some others see gradual progress over many years and reach the leadership position. Whatever may be the industry, success is not a flash in the pan or something that can be obtained by any short cut method. It is a disciplined effort of many individuals towards the common goal. All the long term efforts by a group of individuals have to be according to prescribed rules and regulations. Ethics form an integral part of every company’s guidelines. But more important than the ethics are the morals. This is where a Sai Student’s upbringing would keep him in good stead – be it in the sincere effort towards the duty or in accepting the results and going beyond the limitations. The trick for success of any job is to feel that it is one’s own and do what it takes to make it glorious. This comes naturally to the Sai Student.
As the responsibilities increase, there is a tremendous amount of trust placed on the employee. For some people it goes to their head and they behave erratically resulting in individual and organisational downfall, whereas as Sai Students we are trained to think of it as a group effort that leads us to success.
This is my experience, and my humble suggestion to all my brothers is:
Believe and behave as if Swami is with you physically, as He was when you were a student and carry on your duty accordingly and no harm can ever come to you.
- Raghavanand D V
Student (1986-88), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Head-Marketing, Lactalis Tirumala, Hyderabad