Sri Sathya Sai: My Divine Master - By Dr. Sanjay Mahalingam

Sanjay Mahalingam with Swami at Kodaikanal (2005)

Sri Adi Sankara, in his Viveka Chudamani attributes a human birth, the desire for liberation and the protective care of a perfected sage to God’s grace (Daivanugraha Hetukam). But when the Lord, the supreme transcendent principle in a human garb Himself assures protection and care, it is not just shower of grace, but a torrent of Divine compassion. Blessed are those who have been recipients of that Divine love, on contact with which all the flux of the heart is removed, all the wounds healed and all miseries dissolved, just like overnight mist before the rising sun. Not only does Swami love us like none has ever before and none will hereafter, but He also labours incessantly and resolutely to make us understand how much He loves us. The redemption of man lies in knowing the love of God and an Avatar comes to show Man how much God loves him.

One night, due to some reason, I could not get sleep till late at night. After long struggle the Goddess of sleep finally gave me her restful embrace. The next morning Swami called me for an interview. Before I could say anything, Swami said, "You know, yesterday night I could not sleep properly for a long time". I asked "Why Swami?" Swami almost casually remarked, "When you did not get proper sleep, how can you expect Me to sleep soundly". I was too choked with emotions to say anything, but I thought within myself that why should the Almighty Lord, the Cosmic person that Swami is, be bothered about such a trivial, issue as the soundness of my sleep. Swami, as if divining my thoughts, most tenderly said,"Bangaru! You are My property and I, yours. All your pain is My pain and all your joy is My joy." What is sleep, or the lack of it, for the One who is ever awake to the absolute reality of His glorious Self! But the point being driven home is that Swami never misses an opportunity to drench us in the shower of His unfathomable and unconditional love. Only the Divine Mother in the fullness of Her Divine love can make such a statement. It is said that fortunate are those who get to enjoy a mother's love in their earthly sojourn. How is it possible then to express in words the blessedness of those who bask in the love and grace of the Divine parent?

Swami once asked me what I planned to do after my MBA. I promptly replied that I wanted to serve Swami. Swami said, "Serve Me, but I do not need servants. I am everybody's servant. You are all Masters." I vehemently protested saying that Swami was the only Master and all of us are His servants. Swami was in no mood to give in and stuck to His point. I too was not prepared to buckle down before the 'Divine blasphemy'. Points and counterpoints were exchanged. Finally Swami came up with an irrefutably sound piece of logic. He said, "I always keep doing whatever you want. My only concern is to give you joy. But do you all always do what I want? No. Now tell Me, who is whose servant?" I was left speechless, struck by the profundity of Swami's statement. Here is love incarnate willing to do anything to ensure our peace and bliss. All that He asks is that one tiny step towards Him, which when taken, He assures that He will take a thousand towards us.

There is a fundamental question that all of us have to ask ourselves though. Who is Swami? Is He this ochre robe-clad 5 feet 3 inches frame that walks in our midst filling us with joy supreme? Swami's answer is a categorical "NO".

Sage Ashtavakra and King Janaka

Once upon a time the great king Janaka, an earnest spiritual seeker, gathered all the great scholars of his kingdom in his court and asked them to reveal the ultimate truth that will appease his spiritual hunger. As the discussions were going on, a man entered the court. His looks were repulsive and his body was deformed at eight places. The entire court burst into laughter at the sight of this terrible looking man. A smile escaped even the lips of king Janaka. Seeing everyone laugh, the man, a sage named Ashtavakra burst out into laughter himself. On being asked the reason for his behaviour, sage Ashtavakra said that he was laughing at the plight of the king who expected to find the ultimate truth in this assembly of cobblers. This was more than the king could take, for nobody could get away after calling the most esteemed scholars of his kingdom cobbler. He demanded an explanation from the sage. Ashtavakra thundered back, "Oh King! Cobblers cannot see beyond leather and these so called scholars cannot see beyond this body, a leather bag full of bones, fat, blood and filth. They cannot see my reality as the ever resplendent, effulgent, undecaying Atman." This struck a chord somewhere deep in the king's heart and he immediately recognised Ashtavakra as a man of intense realisation and fell at his feet. What followed next was a wonderful exposition of the highest Advaitic principles that we today call the Ashtavakra Gita.

The above story illustrates the folly of identifying oneself or others with the transient ephemeral body. Then, who is Swami? Swami says that He is the one Eternal Divine Principle, the real Self of all, the substratum of the entire universe, the one existence. Swami does not stop at that. He says again and again that the eternal Atman is not only His reality but ours too. In fact there is no 'His' or 'our'. Swami repeatedly demolishes by His nectarine words and, on close observation, by His actions too, any idea of a separate individual existence. All that ever existed, exists now or will ever exist is the one universal consciousness. Swami see Himself everywhere. In fact, He never recognises anything other than Himself. He sees any misery anywhere as a remnant of disharmony in His own self and rushes to alleviate it. Swami does not 'love' others. He is others. Once talking to boy Swami made a remarkable revelation. He said, "Boys! As I see you all, I can only see an ocean of light, the light of universal consciousness".

The story is told of a man, who used to make out his meager living by begging and used to beg standing at the same place, day after day, month after month. The man spent his entire life begging. When he finally passed away, it was thought wise to bury him on the same spot where he spent his life begging. When barely a few feet were dug, the clink of metal was heard, and to everybody's utter surprise a huge treasure was found. The treasure, when excavated was found to be great enough for seven generations to roll in wealth and luxury. How pitiable was the beggar's situation that standing on wealth immeasurable, he spent his life begging and in abject penury! How pitiable is our state that being the inheritors of Bliss Infinite we spend our life in misery begging from the world little sense pleasures! If only the beggar had stopped begging and dug a little, all his problems would have been solved forever. If only we stop running after the world and dig into our 'selves' all our suffering too shall cease and forever. Nobody pointed out to the beggar of our story his folly. We have our Swami, not only showing us the way all the time but also assuring all help and guidance, nay much more. "Take one step towards Me and I will take a thousand towards you, you do your best, I will do the rest", says He. If there ever was an opportune time to stop 'begging' and start' digging', it is now.

- Dr. Sanjay Mahalingam
Alumnus and Doctoral Research Scholar (2002-2008)
Department of Management Studies
Currently, Faculty, Department of Management & Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

Source: Sai Nandana 2005 (80th Birthday Issue)


  1. Sai Ram and thank you, Brother Sanjay, for reaffirming my feelings.

  2. I liked the statement who is whoes servant. it opend my eye saying swami wants us to fallow his principles more dearly and more consiously. thanks for sharing

  3. sairam
    yes,indeed,swamis beautiful way of showing to the world,how much of resources we
    have inside us,how much of energy lies outside us, has to be dug and made use of it,properly and brilliantly.

  4. Sairam Sanjay,

    So many thought-provoking and inspiring instances in one article... Loved the who is the servant episode.... Also was hit by the beggar on the treasure analogy.. Thank you for sharing...




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