With Sri Sathya Sai in Trayee Sessions – By Dr. T. Ravi Kumar

The hallowed precincts of Trayee Brindavan - Sri Sathya Sai Mandir in Bangalore
When Bhagavan is in residence in Brindavan, after the evening darshan at Sai Ramesh Kishan Hall, the students wait anxiously to be called into the Mandir for what are famously called as the Trayee sessions. These are great opportunities that the Lord offers to the students to interact with Him at the personal level. The Trayee sessions offer the Sai student – Saameepyam, which means proximity, intimacy, closeness to the Divine. At a time when their own parents are busy in the work-a-day world, here is the Sovereign Lord assuming the role of a parent and spending quality time with the students. 

No two Trayee sessions are alike! One thing, though is certain. Every session makes the student richer in the positive Values that make life a celebration. As one watches the Lord during these sessions, one cannot but marvel at the wonderful Teacher that He is. His Love is so exhilarating that the Values embedded in these capsules are hardly noticed as they enter one‘s heart. Thus, these Values take root in one’s heart and they are bound to grow there into gigantic trees under the shade of which mankind in future is assured of shelter from the scorching sun of materialistic pursuits. Every act and gesture of the Lord is imbued with Sathya, Dharma and Prema and the students get to know at first-hand what is dear to Him. I have myself had wonderful opportunities to benefit from Swami’s technique of teaching.

It is the very first day of the academic session. Students who have been fortunate to secure admission have joined the hostel and the grateful parents, having placed their children in His protection, return home. There are many students who have never stayed away from their parents till now. Added to this are tight routines and tough disciplines like waking up before dawn. This combined with the new setting unsettles them. So home sickness over-powers them even though they are ashamed to admit it!
Sri Sathya Sai in Trayee Brindavan Jhula
The classes are over. Luckily for us, Swami is in Brindavan. After bhajan and darshan in the Sai Ramesh Kishan Hall, Swami sends word asking us to assemble in the mandir. The students assemble in the front veranda. There is a Jhoola at the northern end of the room. All of us sit as close as possible to the Jhoola. I notice that the front line keeps inching forward ever so unobtrusively. And then Swami arrives. On the faces of the freshers, one notices astonishment that it is possible to sit so close to Him. All of us are in awe! Swami Himself melts the ice with the warmth of His Love. As His eyes scan the students, He says with a pleasant smile, “New students”. The smile welcomes and embraces them in its sweetness. “How is Brindavan, boys?” Hesitantly, a few voices say, “Nice, Baba.” “How is the hostel?” is the next question. “Swami, it is nice.” (a few more voices now). He says, “Nice … but the food is not so nice. No?” There is now a broad smile on the faces of the new students. “What did you have for breakfast today?” The students are now keen to answer and a large number answer “Dosa, Swami” “Oh Dosa! (Swami makes a wry face) not enough oil!” (all burst into laughter)… “Big or small?”, and before they could answer, “ Small, I know,” indicates the size with a small circle of His fingers. (All smile). There is no longer a gulf, there is openness and camaraderie. “What was there for lunch?” this question is directed to the warden, who lists out the menu. Swami makes a comment about the sambar (tasteless) and the curd (watery) … and instructs the warden: “These children have come away from their homes. Make their stay comfortable. Supervise the cooking and serving personally. Make the food tasty and ensure boys eat well.” The warden bows reverentially and assures Swami that He and his fellow teachers will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to please Him in this regard.

Sri Sathya Sai with Students during a lively Trayee Session
Within a few minutes of their being in His Presence, the Chancellor of this wonderful University has conveyed to the freshers that He is there to protect and safeguard their interests and intercede on their behalf with the authorities. Having attended to the item of greatest priority on their minds, Mother Sai now calls one of the old students forward and makes enquires about his brothers and other members of his family - sending out the signal that he cares as much for the families of the students. After this informal talk, Swami introduces the old student to the freshers stressing on his academic as well as other accomplishments. It is a proud mother introducing her elder son. The thought in a freshers mind - as one fresher confided in me - is: ‘How do I make Swami proud of me?’ So straight away the heart is prepared to receive the lessons on Values dear to the Lord. Swami then commands the alumnus to speak and even as he is speaking, Swami intervenes and supplements it with finer and intimate details the boy himself has forgotten to mention! This brings tears of bliss to his eyes and touches the hearts of all the listeners. Swami’s love for the world is not an abstraction. On the contrary, His Love and concern stretch to include each individual in his entirety. As the old student ends his talk, there is applause led by Swami Himself “Good boy,” He says, as His hands caress the boy’s head. There is no dry eye in the entire room.

“Hmm... its time for your dinner,” says Swami, ever alert to our needs. He knows that assimilation will be optimum only when the food - physical or spiritual - is administered in calibrated doses.

In those days the students used to sit for darshan along the walkway in front of Trayee Mandir and when Swami returned from darshan they would be very alert and vigilant for the slightest nod from Swami to rush into Trayee. One day seeing the students rush to secure vantage position close to His chair, Swami told the then Vice Chancellor, Prof. S Sampath, who was present there, “This scene makes Me nostalgic and reminds Me of the Dwapara Yuga when the gopikas and gopabalas used to rush to Me without caring for their life and limb.”

Trayee sessions are life-transforming and character-building congregations where Saimaa interacts with Her children and shares Her precious Time. These are great moments when Swami channelizes the turbulent flow of youthful energy and charges the spiritual batteries, making it available for nation building and such other purposeful activities.

These are sessions where the littered hearts of wayward youth are converted into shrines - pure and serene, where Swami blesses them with the coveted chance to install His form. Their lives will no longer be the same again. They will now examine every thought and deed on the touchstone of this maxim: ‘Will this thought or deed of mine light up His form in my heart to reveal a smile or a frown?’ There are sessions when the Divine Gardener waters the tender sapling of talents in His students and encourages them to sing, play on instruments or give talks. As a student sings, He stops and corrects his rendering of the song. He asks bhajan-singers to repeat the songs they sang in public and points out deficiencies. “In bhajan singing there is no place for vocal gymnastics. Sing simple and sweet tunes. The song should bring alive the Ishta Devatha of the devotee. Honour all names and forms of God. Each Name is a gateway to the Haven of Bliss. When one is leading community bhajans one must cater to the aspirations of every section of the devotees.” Often Swami reminds the singers that the demands of rhythm and the detours of raga should not decapitate the word and make its meaning fall by the way side.

Dr Ravi Kumar speaks in the Divine Presence
in Trayee Brindavan
In many sessions, Swami encourages students to speak. “You are going to be the future leaders and pleaders. You must hone your ability to articulate.” Often Swami would start a Trayee session with “Who is going to speak today?” A number of hands go up and Swami calls them one by one to come forward and speak. As the students speak, Swami corrects the posture, the gesture, the diction and insists on the correct choice of words. He is particular about the pronunciation of Sanskrit or Telugu quotations. He advises that the talent of public speaking should be utilized to uplift and enthuse the listeners. He would say, “It should never be misused to disparage others or settle scores. Humour is indeed welcome provided it does not trivialize the import. A speaker should have a message to convey and public speaking is the subtle art of transferring noble thoughts, feelings and ideas from one heart to another. One can even transform the mind by the power of the word.”
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks in Trayee Brindavan
In Trayee sessions just before examinations, Swami counsels students on how to prepare for the examinations. “Many students study very hard and go to the examination hall. When they see the question paper, their memory draws a blank. The reason for this is that your technique of studying is wrong. In the examination you are writing but in the hostel you are reading. To write in the exam, practise writing earlier. Do not study late nights. Your health will be spoilt and you will not benefit either. Get up in the Brahma Muhurtam, have a bath and sit for study. Your mind will be fresh and grasp whatever you read. Do not read the same subject continuously. The mind likes change. After everyone or one and half hours change the subject. Give proper attention to food intake too. Eat lightly but adequately. After a concentrated hour of study, take a walk or sing a song. This way the mind will be kept cheerful and willing to cooperate. When you receive the question paper in the examination close your eyes and pray. Remember, it is only till the railway platform that you need to carry the luggage. There is no need to sit in the train with the luggage on your head. The train will carry you and your luggage to your destination. So too, having prepared the best you can for the examinations leave the rest in the safe hands of God. When you are given the question paper, read it thoroughly and start by answering the easy questions first. This will increase your confidence and you will be able to answer the more challenging ones too later.” When the results are out, Swami identifies boys who have secured distinction and blesses them with Padanamaskar while gently reminding them that marks alone do not suffice, they should not earn any remarks. He asks the Principal why some boys are weak in some subjects. Are remedial classes being taken? Do the teachers initiate follow up action to their lectures?

Sri Sathya Sai listening to a talk
during a Trayee session
Some days, there are private concerts by legends like Smt M S Subbulakshmi, Begum Parveen Sultana, Sri T M Soundarrajan, Smt P Susheela and others or talks by leaders in industry, prominent men of affairs of state, statesmen, learned Vedic Scholars, army generals, justices of the Supreme Court, academicians, members of the medical profession, senior members in the organization besides veteran devotees and faculty members at the Institute. These are people who have their fingers on the pulse of the nation. So these talks offer the students a glimpse into contemporary issues that confront the Nation. They also afford an opportunity to study what has made these men/women successful. Invariably such people attribute their success to their faith in God. Thus the message is driven home that Faith in the Divine is the sine qua non for success in any walk of life.

Continued in Part 2...


- Dr. T. Ravi Kumar
Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai College, Whitefield
Currently, Warden, Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Brindavan Campus


Source: Vidyagiri: Divine Vision (2006)

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