“You sweep very nicely…” – By Y. Ranganath Raju

Sri Sathya Sai blessing Ranganath Raju
That was an insult that was an irrational expectation, and an unforgettable obligation. He said that it was a tacit agreement but I prayed that I shall not be bound by it. As the sweet memories rolled by, my glory stood grand and great. I was a prince, I was a master. Aromatic lunches, languishing comforts were at my behest. Mother and maids sought sanctification in obeying my orders. Father and brothers strained and strived to appease my demands. I was a hero of my grandfather’s past time stories and my grandmother’s unstoppable chattering about my mischief widened my eyes and even drew shocked gasps from her old friends. I was a cynosure in my school, a celebrated hero. 

But that day everything seemed to have doomed, for I had been insulted. He indeed was ignorant of my old life, for He ordered me to do that unimaginable task. But...ah! Helplessness shackled my self-respect and cowardice veiled my ego. His eyes were fierce, he was fuming and I knew it would be an added insult to be slapped for my persistence. 

Meekly as ordered by my wing teacher, I picked up the broom and swept the whole room. It scarred my image and pounded my dignity. As I finished sweeping my heart silently mourned for the just buried respect and honour. I was shocked, for a school run by the Divine Himself sought to insult and educated individuals imposed the mean job of sweeping rooms on their students. In those early days of hostel stay in class XI, I knew only a handful of boys and as I narrated this insolent injustice to them, I was laughed at and my wound was still deepened. In a gloomy corner I then sat and cried for not merely being insulted but also for being misunderstood. Then, like a lightning it struck me that the only entity Who can heal my wound, restore my self-respect was Swami and that I should write to Him a letter narrating the entire situation. But I was not sure whether the letter would be accepted and whether I would be given the justice I wanted. 

With a prayer in my heart, with His name on my lips I sat for Darshan expectantly. The music started and the entity garbed in striking orange and enveloped by a beautiful mortal mantle glided silently and gently.  As He approached me I stretched out my hand to pass on the letter. Those few minutes were filled with intense prayer. He neared me and but to my delight, He started circling His hand and there appeared the much talked about Vibhuti. My joy knew no bounds, for all these fifteen years I merely heard about it and sometimes dreamt of having a closer glance. But there it was dropping slowly into my palm from the fingers of God. Then softly He said, “This is My gift for your hard work. You sweep very nicely.” His look conveyed that He understood it all and His each word consoled my troubled soul, tendered my mind, and definitely resurrected my self-respect. Slowly He walked away but in an instant His head swung back and a piercing look passed through my soul. I knew not what His look carried but at that very instant my bloated, egoistic-self, shuddered agonisingly, floundered pitifully and then crashed, revealing the glory and purpose of a seemingly mean act. Today, as this sweet experience passes through my memory, tears swell up in my eyes, for the mightiest Lord had the time to answer an ignorant appeal. 

My seven years of stay in His hostels strongly engraved in me the necessity of self-dependence. This stay taught me that self-respect does not arise through dependence but through independence. Attending to your own needs is not stooping down but rather it is an elevation to an existence endowed with freedom. This apparently insignificant incident had made a deep impact on my way of thinking and changed my perception of self-reliance in its unique way. 

- Y. Ranganath Raju
Student (2003-2005), Department of Economics
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Currently, Head of Economic Research, TVS Motor Company Ltd., Hosur 

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