|Sandeep Pattanaik with Sri Sathya Sai|
One glance at Thy bewitching form,
And even lasting agonies withered away in a trifle...
One word from Thee, in that soft husky voice,
And seraphic marvels were carved out in our hearts…
One pat on our cheek from those petals-like hands,
And our spirits were raised to heights sublime…
Thy ‘Omnipresence’, Dear Lord, is the most benevolent gift
That motivates us to live by Thee…
Thy “Physical Presence” was, definitely, far more charming and beautiful!
Swami had just retired after the evening Bhajans. As the students walked back from the Mandir, an unusually abominable uneasiness filled the air. The usual energy and serenity that accompanied every Darshan was somehow missing. Even the soft tunes of flute and the merriment of the Bhajans could hardly help change the dullness of the atmosphere. “Our Swami was never like this. We must do something to improve the situation”, remarked a student. We had always seen Swami walk gracefully, giving rhythm to the soft music of the flute or sitar, during the Darshan. And the way His little feet tossed the helm of His robe up and down like the waves of the ocean, had always been a feast to our eyes. And to watch Him being brought in by a car sent cold shivers down our spine. “Collective prayers are more powerful than individual prayers”, our teacher suggested, “Do something, together, as a class”. So immediately, a meeting was convened. Ideas began to pour in.
Meanwhile, the evening grew darker and the sun was slowly losing its way into the darkness of the night, leaving a lingering tinge of redness over the clouds. Amongst the hues of red, grey and black, the silhouette of the statue of Lord Hanuman, towering over the hillock at the Hill View Stadium, caught someone’s attention. “We could chant Hanuman Chalisa nine times every night. Hanuman is the symbol of strength”. This idea appealed to all of us. And for the next month or so, we chanted Hanuman Chalisa every night. We also took turns room-wise to make ‘Get Well Soon Cards’ crafted beautifully with all our love and prayers and showed it to Swami during the Darshans. Then, one Sunday, Swami suddenly called all the school boys to Poornachandra Hall for a special Darshan in the afternoon. We were overjoyed and immediately rushed to the hall. Even as we reached, Swami was already waiting for us. He was in His most benevolent of moods. We sang a few songs as He enjoyed and tapped His fingers in the beat. And then, with His own hands, He began to distribute watches to each and every student. And to the astonishment of all of us, guess what the dial on the watch contained? An embossed image of Lord Hanuman! Our omnipresent Lord had very beautifully responded to our prayers. We had, perhaps, underestimated His infinite selflessness and prayed for His physical health. He, instead of using our prayers for Himself, had used them as an excuse to bless us with a wonderful opportunity.
|Little Sandeep while at the Primary School offering Arati|
The unique relationship that Swami establishes with every student is something inexplicable by words. It is that of pure love. And the way He establishes that bond of love with every student of His is a Divine Love story by itself. I was studying in my first standard at Sri Sathya Sai Primary School. One morning, during the games hour, as I went to collect my shoes from the footwear racks, I found my socks missing from them. I reported this to my teacher. She, at first, chided me for my carelessness and asked me not to play till she procured new ones for me. A couple of days later we were seated in the Sai Kulwant Hall for Darshan. Swami came out of the Interview Room with a polythene bag and began distributing the contents of the bag randomly to the boys. And yes, the bag contained… socks! The story does not end there. As He came near me, He gave me the most mischievous of His smiles and very casually dropped two pairs of socks into my lap and walked away, in His peculiar inimitable style. Not a word was exchanged, yet a bond of love was established for eternity. I know since then, that my Swami would always be by my side and I could consider Him as my Divine mother and look up to Him for anything and everything.
Mother is the only relationship in this material world that comes closest to the unsullied Love that God is! Perhaps, that is why we often address our Swami as ‘Sai Maa’. Just like a mother, He holds our hands and allows us to take our baby steps. He patiently waits for us to learn to walk. Even if He lets go of His hands for a while, His benevolent gaze is constantly on us. And in case we falter, His hands reach out to us even before we can call out. In our sixth standard, our teacher used to read out the sweet stories of our Lord Sai’s childhood. And then one day, we were listening to the episode where Swami threw away His books and declared His Avatarhood. As I listened to this, I turned to my bench-mate and enquired, “Swami has studied only till His eighth class, that too in a small school. Does He know reading English?” Perhaps the astute droplets of reasoning and logic had already begun to create ripples in the clear stream of my innocent mind.
|Sri Sathya Sai with His Primary School Boys |
(Sandeep is standing second towards His right side in the last row)
A few days later we were seated in the Mandir. There was a boy next to me with a beautifully decorated single-lined open letter in his hands. As Swami approached us, the boy raised the piece of paper. Swami read out the letter slowly giving dramatic pauses between each word, “Swami, please come to our school”. Then He turned towards me and with a wink of His eye He remarked, “School… Eighth Class Me Chhod Diya” (I have left school in My eighth class itself) and walked away leaving me totally baffled. That day He did not just prove to me that He knew reading English, but also that He also knew every thought that flickered across my mind. As I ruminate over that experience today, I also realise that if He knows all the rubbish and gibberish things that we talk, think and do and yet He loves us with no prejudice. How loving, forgiving, compassionate and considerate He is!
We too must learn to love without reason. Selfless Love is lacking in the world today. And Swami has showered it on us, in plenty. It is our duty to spread that Love. The sun that shines forth in all its resplendence and splendour during the day chooses to hide itself in the dreary darkness of the night. It is then the duty of the timid moon to reflect the light of the sun to light up the otherwise dark and desolate world. Now, our Lord too has chosen to hide Himself. It is our duty to reflect His light, His love and light up the world. Till now, we were known to the world because of Him. From now on, let the world know Him because of us. It is time we made our life His message.
|Offering himself to the Master on his birthday|
As puerile and tender buds, we came to You
Nurtured by Your Love, we grew
And deep in our hearts, we knew
That at every time of despair,
You’d always be there to care…
Blossomed into flowers are we,
Fragrant with the love of Thee!
Bless us, Dear Lord, that we spread Your Love far and wide
So that our lives become worthy of being touched by Thee…
- Sandeep Pattanaik
Doctoral Research Scholar, Department of Physics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus