Swami is the greatest Avatar ever to walk on the earth. His words, “Where ever 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.
|The Evening Darshans at Prasanthi Nilayam|
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.”
|Sri Sathya Sai with the first batch of students in Kodaikanal - April 1987|
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.
- Raghavananda D.V.
Student (1986-88), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, GM-Marketing, FMCG Co., Hyderabad