|Sohan Dutta with Sri Sathya Sai|
I had made my own plans of an escapade, but who at that juncture knew that the Master had a different plan, on which no one wielded any control. Though I spent just a few hours in the Hostel, I realised that it was not my cup of tea to stay in Hostel away from parents, friends and freedom. Without wasting much time, I sat and penned down a letter to give it to my parents, so that they would take me away with them to the City of Joy – Kolkata. 16th May, 2002 was a memorable day for the students and staff of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, as it was the first day of the last Summer Course in Indian Culture and Spirituality at Brindavan. I had planned to hand over the letter to my parents after morning Darshan and I was sure that they would take me with them on the same day back to Kolkata after reading about my plight.
After an early breakfast in the morning, all students gathered in the Dining Hall, to leave for Sai Ramesh Hall for Darshan and I thought that getting a first line was Swami’s way of blessing me before bidding me adieu. I was happy thinking about my meticulous plan of going back to Kolkata. The Darshan music started and we could see a glimpse of ochre robe walking from Trayee Brindavan to Sai Ramesh Hall, and in no time Swami was standing in front of me, looking straight into my eyes. Time froze for me till He moved to the dais. I had no clue about what had happened, and when I met my parents after Darshan, I gave them the letter and told them that I wanted to attend the Summer Course and after that I would return to Kolkata. Those few seconds of gaze ignited the fire of transformation without any inkling. A meticulous plan, an emotional letter, a determination to go back to the old life just vanished into thin air.
Summer Course went by, the semester ended, graduation got over, post-graduation got completed and I could realise one simple thing: He knows the best and His Masterplan is perfect and immaculate. And in those few years of stay I could discover talents in me which I never dreamt of having; faith got embedded; witnessed numerous miracles; the values sowed by parents bloomed; the outlook towards life changed and I was definitely a much better individual. I had to be; after all I was one of those blessed ones who can lovingly claim to be His Property.
Those years were the best years of my life. I was directly under the guidance of the Divine, who Himself charted out the daily routine for His students. The routine is a perfect blend, bringing out the integrated personality and embedding values in the hearts of the students even without their cognizance. It gets highlighted only when we reflect back and connect the dots much later in our life. But the best part always was the searching for the smallest of opportunities to please Swami, sometimes in the form of participations in dramas, sports or other events. The best used to be the way He used to pat us and make us feel happy after every such endeavour. As a student, I got many opportunities as part of the drama group, the costumes group and during our class Gratitude Programme. But above all, I have felt His unseen hand always guiding me through.
There are a few incidences which are very close to my heart. Let me start here with a humorous one. It was the year 2004; we students from Brindavan Campus had put up a drama in the Sai Kulwant Hall, in His Divine presence. Swami was very happy with our performance and lovingly granted us group photographs. During the photo session, He spoke to me and I did not understand what He said. Once the photo session was over, I asked a friend of mine about what had Bhagavan told about me. He said that Swami had remarked, “You look like a goat with the beard”. Swami used to crack jokes this way and these small acts used to fill our hearts with tremendous joy.
There was another heart touching incident that happened during our Gratitude Programme. I had made a small pillow in the shape of a heart to give it to Swami, as a token of gratitude. When I showed the heart to Swami, I observed the effervescence on Swami’s face. His happiness knew no bounds. I could have never imagined that a small ‘heartfelt effort’ could make Swami so happy. He took that heart and rested His arm on it throughout the programme, and even took it with Him to Yajur Mandir! This was more at the physical level, but the unseen hand of His is with us always.
It was during my final year of graduation that I was diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury in my left hand, and the doctor had restricted me from lifting anything with that hand for six months. As the house cricket match was nearing and I was feeling a little better, I went for the net practice. The pain soared immediately and it was unbearable. I was scared to confront the warden and the doctor, and kept praying to Swami. In my dreams, Swami came and gave me medicine to partake, which I did as per His instruction. On the next morning, 29th August, 2004, when I got up, the pain was gone and it never returned. I played the final match and we won! The fond memories and the strong faith that He is always with us, keeps us strong and steady amidst all the challenges thrown at us from different corners of life.
Life changed drastically with me stepping into the corporate arena. I suddenly felt as if I was in the wild with all predators around me. My beliefs battled with the harshness of reality; values found no existence and at times I felt out of the place. Series of personal and professional dilemmas left me confused and weakened my spiritual umbilical cord, but fortunately before it was too late, I could connect back to my roots. It was late, but not late enough to have an identity crisis. Trapped in a crossroad of social belongingness versus beliefs, I ran back to the abode of peace. But I was perturbed with numerous thoughts of ‘how will I face Swami, how do I justify my meandering into darkness, my mistakes?’ But as an ever loving and forgiving mother, He embraced the child, held his hand and started guiding without even saying a word of rebuke; maybe that is what pinches us the most and ensures that we strive our best to be His ideal instrument.
|Sohan Offering his heart to Sri Sathya Sai|
It was the evening of 1st of January, 2009, I came to the Sai Kulwant Hall after many months with mixed feelings and a perturbed mind. But our loving mother in a jiffy effaced all the dark thoughts and filled my heart with hope, positivity and joy; and to reassure His benediction, I received a photo as Prasadam in which it was highlighted, “Wherever you are, you are Mine – Baba”. What more could I have asked for, an assurance like this from the Divine Mother who gives the power to overcome all challenges that the materialistic world throws at us. His Master Plan continued and I was inducted into the 2010-12 batch of MBA and the saga of transformation continues day-in-and-day-out at times even today, with or without my understanding. On reflection, I can make sense of the apparent puzzle of life created as per His Will, for us to become better individuals or rather His flawless instruments.
- Sohan Dutta
Student (2005-07), Department of Physics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Manager – Business Strategy, HCL Technologies, Bangalore