From Expectation To Acceptance – By Parikshit Menon

The Eternal, with neither entrance nor exit;
The One who neither Was nor Is nor Will be;
The Immortal Person free from birth and death
That Ever-effulgent Atman is Sai for ever.
- Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, 
November 23, 1979, Prasanthi Nilayam

Swami beautifully describes Himself in the above statement. But can we (human beings) comprehend the Reality of the One who cannot be described, who is inscrutable and beyond one’s stretch of imagination? He has said, “I cannot be explained but only experienced”. The experiences He has graciously blessed me with are a testimony to His omnipresence and love. These may seem to be fairy tales or stories beyond the scope of our understanding, but in retrospect, the person who has experienced His Grace feels overwhelmed and can only be grateful to Him for all He has done.

This is the case with everyone associated with Swami and the same applies to me and my family. We should not stop with His Leelas but take one step to understand the subtle lessons and significance of the events in order to allow Him to take a thousand steps to guide and enlighten our mind in this sojourn called life. The Chinna Katha narrated below is a step in this direction.

It was the year 1988, when my mother was visiting the gynaecologist for her regular check-ups. She was in for some terrible news. The doctor told my parents that, the foetus in her womb was in a condition which required immediate abortion; lest her life should be in danger. Hearing this, my mother became inconsolable and she did not know what to do. My maternal grandmother, a courageous woman, did not trust the doctor’s words and told my mother that, faith in Swami is more important than believing in science. My mother prayed to Swami with unflinching faith and perseverance. Who else do we have other than Him? After a month or so, when my mother went in for a second opinion, the doctor, to her utter amazement, told her that the baby was growing and was in a good condition. 

This instilled hope and confidence in her. Subsequently, my mother got reassurances from Swami which only confirmed His presence and strengthened her faith. Swami did this by coming in her dreams every Thursday (till the baby was born) and pushing a baby boy to her side, saying, “Boy Ma, Boy”. In every dream, the babies kept changing (toddlers, infants) but Swami, my mother and His words were constant. 

On November 25, the baby was born without any difficulty and as ordained by the Lord, it was a boy. This is the story of my birth and if not for His timely intervention, I would not have written this story which is His Leela. Like any other child, I went through the same pattern of learning, falling, playing, etc. I forgot the above incidents and got mesmerized in the mundane world of Maya. I felt my inner voice telling me that I was not in the ‘right company’ (friends). During those years, I was passionate about several things, ranging from football and car racing to rock music. I strongly felt that I should quit all these and do something better in life. 

I do not endorse that doing all this is not right but I was carried away by all these. This happened when I started reading Swami’s literature and made an attempt to understand His teachings. Slowly I started listening to Bhajans and enjoyed doing so. Life changed for me as I wanted Swami as my friend, guide and teacher and did not seek any external friends as I had done before. My journey of transformation had just begun! Time fleeted and I was now attending interviews after passing the CA course. I was not clear about my future ambitions and there was an air of uncertainty. I got placed in an MNC firm and took up the job, thinking that Swami wanted me to apply my knowledge and gain experience. 

I had read this quote in ‘Man Management’, where Swami says, “You may not get what you like, but you should like what you get”. Following this principle, I took my first leap into the corporate world, where I learnt the priceless value of connecting to Swami and the benefits of sticking to the values and principles enunciated by Him. During this time, I developed a deep yearning to get admission into Swami’s College, fuelled by experiences heard from my mother (an alumna of Anantapur campus) and several other alumni brothers (on Radio Sai and other platforms). I wanted to quit my job and my only aim was to join the MBA course at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. 
The Prasanthi Nilayam Campus of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
To give you a background, my mother (not I) had tried to get me admitted to Swami’s educational institutions after my 10th and 12th classes, even though I was not keen to join. The first time she tried, I did not even receive the call letter and the following attempt went in vain, as I did not clear the written tests. But now the situation was different. I was earnestly praying to Swami to help me in coming out of the organization on time so that I could write the entrance examinations.

When the Divine Director takes over the play and uses you as His instrument, it is simply wonderful to witness it. I was told by several people about the risk of quitting a good job, writing an examination which might end up in failure and the consequent ramifications. But I was not perturbed and held on to my faith since I knew that He would take care. Further, Swami sent many of His boys and devotees, who helped me in gaining clarity and clearing my doubts and apprehensions regarding the actions I had taken, which only strengthened my faith in Him.

My dream of becoming a student of Swami became a reality in 2013 when I got admission into the MBA (Finance) programme in Swami’s University. Life changed completely and I found myself in a world very different from where I had come from. Here I would like to pause and reflect on the lessons I learnt. 

During the interview for MBA, the Warden of the Hostel asked me whether I would be able to adjust to the Hostel environment and the rigorous schedule thereof. A day before the interview, the Warden had given a talk in the Institute Auditorium, wherein he stated that students need to only ‘accept’ this place in order to lead a comfortable life here. I was reminded of his talk during the interview and replied that as I had ’accepted’ this place, there would not be any difficulty.

Today as I complete my education and go back to the world outside, I realise that accepting what Swami gives us and where Swami takes us is a pre-requisite for achieving peace of mind and spiritual growth. My stay at the Institute has been a remarkable one, where I developed self-confidence, discovered my hidden talents (dramatics, magazine editing etc.) and understood the meaning of the word ‘service’. This hallowed place has broadened my perspective of life, giving me clarity which I lacked before, both from a professional and spiritual plane, coupled with a paradigm shift in my thought process.

There have been several occasions when Swami guided and taught me invaluable skills and unearthed my hidden potentials in diverse areas such academics, public speaking and extra-curricular activities. I cannot imagine a world without my Swami not being there with me. He always said that, we should not have an eye on the fruits of our actions and concentrate on our work. It was Robert H. Shuller, a televangelist who advised, “Don’t let success get into your head and failure to your heart”. I sincerely believe that being equanimous and maintaining one’s equilibrium, irrespective of the situation (happiness or sorrow) is one of the greatest qualities for any individual, and this place is a perfect training ground for the same.

I would like to sign off with a recent experience which demonstrates that if our intentions and motives are pure and sans ‘expectations’, Swami will surely respond it. As part of our MBA course, we are required to pursue a project on a topic of our interest. After submission of the project, students can publish their work in academic conferences and journal. Hence, I prayed to Swami to bless me one such publication. 

One day my classmate informed me about an international conference which was directly related to the subject of my project. But only one day was left for the submission of the abstract. After consulting a teacher, I went ahead and submitted the abstract. Surprisingly it was accepted and I was now told to submit the complete paper. Since this was the first time I was writing a paper, there were a few hiccups here and there. 

This is where Swami smartly plays His role. I was looking for an independent reviewer who could vet my paper and give critical feedback. The deadline for the paper submission was fast approaching and time was running out, but I was not able to find a person whom I needed. Swami is the embodiment of time and His timing is perfect. Swami sent His instrument in the form of a reputed and experienced visiting faculty, who is an expert in research methodologies. 

This erudite academician guided me and gave his valuable feedback which helped me in submitting the paper in time. I did not have any expectations of the paper’s acceptance, though deep within, I felt that it would be nice if my paper was accepted since it brings a good name to our institution and will help me in future.

Just a few days back, I received an e-mail from the authorities that my paper has been selected for presentation at the conference. This incident showed me that acceptance of His Will alone can grant us satisfaction and positive outlook in life. We need to plant within us, the seed inscribed with the words, ‘Whatever happens to us is for our own good’.
Parikshit praying in the Divine Presence
My only prayer to Swami is that He should always bless us and shower His Grace so that we always bring a good name to Him, His institutions, our family and the society. The only goal is to develop and grow our connection with Him and have a deep conviction that, He is the One who is always there by our side. 

- Parikshit Menon
Student (2013-2015), Department of Management and Commerce
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus
Manager (Finance), Office of the Group Executive Director (Finance & Corporate) 
Tata Steel Limited, Mumbai.

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