"How Much Do You Spend?" – By Jaishankar Sundaram

When we, a group of ex-students working in the HDFC Bank, had come to Prasanthi Nilayam in December 2004, Swami posed to us three pertinent questions:

a) What was our salary? 
b) Did our work commensurate with our salary?
c) Was our boss happy with our work?

Bhagawan went on to add that the simplest way to make Him happy was to bring a good name to the Institute by working hard in our respective organisations. Sincere diligence was all that He asked of us, to earn plaudit from our employers. Swami had clearly laid down the way for us to exemplify the maxim “Work is Worship, Duty is God”. 

There are three aspects of the Avatar that we should never forget. The 3 O’s: 
a) Omniscience – the all-knowing, 
b) Omnipresence – the all-pervasive and 
c) Omnipotence- the all-powerful. 
All it takes is a short stint as a Sai student in Parthi to experience the reality of these three O’s.

I was in my II year MBA when my mother fell sick. When I spoke over the telephone to her, it made me sad that she was not well. I decided to notify Bhagawan of this development. In the evening when I was sitting in the Bhajan Hall, Bhagawan was taking His post-Darshan rounds, when He looked at me and asked me my name. Then He enquired from me the class I was studying. When I replied “Swami, MBA”, He enquired with a surprised look on His face as to who had given me admission into the MBA programme, as I appeared too young for the course. I took this opportunity and told Him, “Swami, Mother is not well”.

Swami stopped on His way and asked “When?”  I replied in a hurry, “Swami today.” With a penetrative gaze directed at me, He replied, “No. Not today. That was three days back. She is fine now.” Then, after a pause He said, “She is normal”. These last words struck me like a thunderbolt because these were precisely the words that my mother had told me in the morning when I had spoken to her over the phone. It was a moment of revelation to me. At one moment, the Lord was asking me my name and joking over my gaining admission into the MBA, and at the very next moment He revealed to me that He was not merely  the physical form that we see every day but the Supreme All-knowing Consciousness.

There is one incident which revealed to me the Omnipotence of the Lord. When I was about 8 years old, I had gone to a devotee’s house where Vibhuti had manifested on Bhagawan’s photograph. In all ignorance and innocence, I asked my mother if Vibhuti would manifest from Swami’s photograph at our house. She explained to me that the manifestations were purely Swami’s Grace and that we had no control over that. After some days, to our amazement and surprise, Vibhuti had manifested in Bhagawan’s photograph at our home. The Lord had listened to the prayer of His little child and shown that He was Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient.

There is yet another incident that is edged indelibly in my memory. It was December 2002. We, the ex-students of the Institute working in the HDFC Bank, had gone to Prasanthi Nilayam along with the Senior Management of the bank. Bhagawan was gracious enough to call us onto the lower portico of the Mandir and talk to us. He was accepting our letters and as He came closer to us, He gave that deep penetrating look and called me, “Aay tabla boy, where are you now?” I replied, “Mumbai”. Then He enquired about my salary, specifically asking for the amount. I quoted the relevant figure. Bhagawan’s answers are unquestionable and His questions unanswerable. It was my turn to face an unanswerable question. He asked, “How much do you spend?” I remained silent. In His usual cheerful repartee, He told the Warden who stood next to Him, that we boys only revealed how much we earned but never spelt out how much we spent, because we invariably ended up spending the entire salary.

This incident was an eye-opener to me in more ways than one. Here was the Lord enquiring about our salaries and cautioning us on the perils of over-spending. But the coup-de-grace was Bhagawan addressing me in the same vein as He used to, in my student days at His Lotus Feet. Swami had remembered me and this was all I sought for. This is the experience of every student who passes out of the portals of this hallowed Institute. Every one of us who were and are a part of the Institute, share a unique and enviable bond with our beloved Swami. This is a bond that does not terminate when we graduate out of the Institute. It is an experience of a lifetime and something that is eternal cherishable. In fact this bond gets enhanced with distance and entrenched with time for it is embellished by His Love.

- Jaishankar Sundaram
Student (2000-2002), Department of Management Studies
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Currently, AVP, HDFC Bank, Mumbai

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