Sri Sathya Sai: The Silent Doer and Witness - By D V Chandra Sekhar

Prior to the beginning of all beginnings, there existed nothing... Darkness filled this void and silence echoed through this nothingness - deep, deafening, eternal… Unbroken - till it was shattered by a Big Bang. God finally willed to play ‘The Game’ - a merry go around: The involution of God into matter and the evolution of matter to God. The game was simple; He would be present everywhere, but hide Himself beneath His creation. The player should seek him out and the game would be over when he finds out that he himself is the one who is actually hiding! - The seeker becomes the sought! 

His creation; the sun and the moon, the sky and the stars, hills and valleys, the flora and the fauna, the rivers and the oceans, reflected what He was - Glory, Power, Perfection, Beauty - silently and secretly. All things sacred must be secret, for, easy accessibility taints their sanctity. The most powerful forces in the cosmos are the most silent ones, for, out of silence comes the word POWER. 

Each day, the sun rises across the horizon, dispels darkness, awakens life, rekindles hope and yet takes no credit for its service; free light, free warmth, free vitamins - no charge, not even a ‘Sun’day to rest. It burns itself out so that others can live. Even when it recedes beneath the horizon at dusk so that we may rest, it does not, for, we know that the dusk here is a dawn on the other half of the globe... A silent worker indeed! 

A bud blooms into a flower, adding colour and beauty to nature and spreads fragrance for others till it withers and falls - a silent sacrifice indeed. The wind blows, river flows, fire glows, trees grow, mountains stand, not for themselves, but for others. Yet, He is the one who shines through the Sun, burns through fire, wets through water, cools through wind and smiles through a flower... An untiring worker rapturously silent. 

He sleeps in matter, breathes though plants, moves through animals and thinks through man. Why go so far? Even this very moment, He keeps your heart ticking and lungs palpitating, keeping you alive and kicking! God indeed is a silent worker... The Director behind the scene, the unseen behind the seen. The sages of yore ‘heard’ the voice of God in the depths of silence; for, silence is the perfect language to express reality, whereas words are inadequate representation of the same. 

Thus the Vedic dictum; “Yato vacho nivartante...” Silence is the hallmark of the wise, for they were totally soaked in Divine ecstasy. A man totally immersed in water cannot speak. It’s only the half - baked, unripe knowledge of ‘pundits’ that confuses and confounds simple folk with high - sounding Brahmanic jargon and complicated rituals. Transcendental wisdom has to dawn, it cannot be taught through shallow words... which make a futile attempt to express the inexpressible.  

Great spiritual masters like Dakshinamurti and Ramana Maharshi remained silent at questions of sceptic disciples. People flocked around them with an unending list of nagging questions. Their doubts melted away, questions sublimated and wisdom was transmitted through silence. They returned unspoken to but never unanswered. As I view the tapestry of my life at this point of time after living for seven years at Lotus Feet, by the grace of our eternal benefactor, Bhagavan, I cannot but rhapsodise on divinity. 

I know how to live with men. They are much like me - selfish, arrogant, sensitive and egoistic. I know the games they play, the tricks they contrive and the language they use. You know it as well, for we have mutually taught each other about ourselves - our prejudices, our demands, our likes and dislikes. 

But, to live with the God is a different proposition. He is human, yet so Divine; Divine, yet so human. Our scriptures have laid down paths for revealing Him; sages have given unto us prescriptions to attain Him. But, when you come face to face with HIM - almost unexpectedly, our scriptures and sages are silent as to what our next step should be. Thus, I met God - wise in the things I wanted from Him; ignorant of what He expected from me.

It was terrible. He would not compromise. He would not allow me, as I was, to be included among His loved ones. He would not budge. Hell! Neither would I. I wanted to be what I want to be. He talks of spirituality and wanted me to travel on the Adhyatmic road, the royal road to enlightened existence. God, I did not want that life - I was not prepared for it. I tried to resist every attempt to be spiritual. It didn’t suit my life style. It’s too complicated and tough. I complained. I protested. I grumbled. But I lost - and that has been my victory. I resigned - and that has been my achievement. I have retreated into a glorious defeat of my little self. By this time, Bhagavan makes it vividly clear that He stands for a way of life that is sacred. You follow what He says, patiently waiting for His recognition. And it does come.

A ‘rewarding’ eloquent silence

Bhagavan knows the ways of the young. They are easily led by perceptions. If convictions and beliefs have to be based on timeless principle, they too must be everlasting. They have to be imbibed and learnt - the hard way. Acknowledging them is only winning half the battle. Faith should be born deep inside of man. It cannot be bestowed on him, for it has to be his very own. All right! I am prepared to change. But what’s wrong with me?

A rhetoric silence!

Why is He so unresponsive, so mute to my queries? He has emphasised and expounded on ‘character’, ‘pure thinking’ and ‘determined will’. Now what? Realization dawned on me that if I cannot understand His silence, I can never understand His words. The Voice of God was heard within me in the depths of His silence. Like the flower that grows under the delicate care of the gardener, I grow every moment towards a new horizon, patiently waiting for a new touch; the touch of class - the touch of God. They came in abundance - the touch of LOVE, the touch of silence. But, each one for a purpose - growth towards HIM.

It took me five full long years to know that I wasn’t actually here to study in Bhagavan’s college. What! It was in my third year of Under-graduation in the Brindavan campus. We had come down to Parthi for the most unique cricketing event in sports history - the Sathya Sai Unity Cup. A few of us were seated in the portico and Bhagavan came to enquire about the arrangements for the players’ reception. The warden introduced a boy and told Bhagavan that he was very good at studies and also does a lot of service in the hostel. He remarked, “Bhagavan, he is a good boy.” Bhagavan, who was listening with His usual child-like curiosity interrupted him and asked, “How do you know?” The warden was caught unawares and remained silent. Bhagavan repeated the question. The warden had no answer. The remarks that followed from the Divine lips set me thinking and evaluating myself of my stay till then at His feet. Bhagavan said, “Boys think that it is they who study in Bhagavan’s college. No, No. It is Me who am actually studying in them.” 

My God! He has been studying my progress from the moment I stepped in and I, like a fool, was under the illusion that He was unaware of my existence! How many tests did He conduct? Was I aware or not? Did I fare well or fail miserably? I wondered. Beware! Each one of us is under the ever-watchful eye of the eternal silent Witness. Sometimes, the Divine physician uses high doses of long spells of silence as a panacea to cure us of a breach in discipline or a lapse in Sadhana. The treatment is given individually or to a group.

Bhagavan likens His method of healing to the repairing of a road. Whenever our mind wavers and faith flickers, whenever our vision blurs and our hold slips, and we slip down the spiritual ladder, He avoids us, ignoring us deliberately and showing evident displeasure. It appears as if He has patented His silence. When a road, which is used frequently, needs repair, a detour is taken and the road is not used for some time. This is only to hasten the process of repair so that the road is ready as soon as possible to handle heavier traffic with greater ease. When He is assured that the inner damage has been repaired and will never recur, He condescends to break His vow and the floodgates shatter with Love gushing forth in abundance once again. Bhagavan uses His silence for a variety of tasks: to teach, to instruct, to correct, to reprimand and to cure - Sarva Roga Nivarini - Silence, a magic formula for all the ills of the here and the hereafter. 

Bhagavan’s standards are very high. His yardstick is stringent and uncompromising. He wants us to leap to the highest; of course, with his encouraging push from beneath. He wants us to quantum leap to the last of the four stages of prayer. 

I talk…… He listens: Prayer is a petition

He talks...... I listen: Prayer is listening to the inner voice of God.

Both talk…... Both listen: Prayer is a conversation with God.

Neither talk…... Both listen: Prayer is a communion with Divine - Silence.

Silence is the source and consummation of all the noble virtues: tolerance, patience, fortitude, equanimity, forgiveness and compassion. Thanks to the vow of silence of the omniscient ones, for, if they decide to reveal hidden secrets, the aspirants would flee for the fear of exposing their petty mindedness, weaknesses and shortcomings, ignoble thoughts, pretensions and prejudices. Their omniscience, by default, deletes the word ‘secret’ from their dictionaries.

Jesus was well-nigh aware in advance who the traitor was, but His forgiveness was so great that it overlooked this historic treachery. He had to fulfill the prophecy of the scriptures. Jesus had the power to save Himself; a mere glance could have burnt His tormentors to ashes but... He did not. His compassion would not allow Him. But, some people suffer in silence louder than others. In recent times, various techniques of self-deprivation like fast until death, hunger strike etc. are exploited by political leaders and social workers more as tricks for self-aggrandisement and propaganda rather than a means of peaceful protest, as they profess.

Fortunately, we have Bhagavan who is ever so willing to take upon Himself the problems and sufferings of His devotees. Whenever He has taken upon His physical frame a severe ailment like paralysis or hip-fracture of His devotees, He never reveals the identity of the beneficiary of His sacrifice, lest the recipient of His grace incur the wrath of His devotees. 

At times, we, in our over-enthusiasm, cause an avoidable inconvenience to Bhagavan, though He bears all and says nothing. Once, when Bhagavan was getting into His car, a few devotees were jostling with each other to grab the chance of closing its door. In the confusion that ensued, someone slammed the door shut, even before Bhagavan could put His right leg completely in. The car drove away and after a mile or so, Bhagavan asked the car to be stopped. Bhagavan opened the door and removed His leg; the little finger was jammed in between the door and the car frame and was bleeding. The driver was pained and protested that Bhagavan should have told him about this before he started. The reply, which Bhagavan gave, is a lesson in forgiveness for all. He said, “If I had showed this there itself people would have blamed and cursed the man responsible for this, I did not want to hurt him.” Himalayan fortitude - a Divine insignia. 

Bhagavan has demonstrated time and again, from the innumerable projects, which He has undertaken, that He does all the spadework and takes no credit for it whatsoever. The idea is His; He wills it, He is the inspiration and motivation, the designer and architect, the manager and the worker... yet gives that credit to someone else who is a mere instrument in His hands. Why that far; even when He cures someone of an incurable malady or saves a life, an act, which we call a ‘miracle’, He attributes it to the faith of the devotee, not His power. Modesty should be envious of Bhagavan. 

Once, in Kakinada, Bhagavan rose to address a gathering. The meeting was held at the confluence of three streets, all packed with people; every rooftop loaded with thick shoals of humans. But, before He began His discourse, He gazed with intent at every section of the assembly, spending five minutes in all. Later, when conversing with Prof. Kasturi, Bhagavan said, “Shall I tell you why I did so? I was bolstering the roofs of those houses. When they were built, no one anticipated that one day hundreds would be perched on top.” No wonder Bhagavan anticipated and prevented the collapse of the overwrought listeners by casting His guarding glance at them. None of those who assembled there would have had even a clue that Bhagavan had brought them back from the jaws of death. 

Silence is the first step in Sadhana. It is the means, as well as the end; the path and goal.

Bhagavan always advises His students to talk less and work more.

In one of the Trayee sessions in Brindavan, where Bhagavan speaks to students, preparing them for a higher life, He was discoursing on what their duty was as students, and in particular, on how they should control their speech, on the ill-effects of excess talk, serenity in silence, and so on for an hour or so. One of the boys had a passing thought that Bhagavan is advocating silence to us all the while Himself speaking!

The all-knowing Antaryami sensed the honest opinion of the boy and continued in His talk, “Some boys are feeling that Bhagavan has been talking for a long time and how to talk less. See, you are like a radio. The more you talk, the more the battery runs down and energy drains out. But, I am different. I am like a generator, the source of energy. I can talk and yet remain silent within.” True indeed, He can talk and yet remain silent; He can remain silent and yet talk!

To do all the work and yet remain silent is natural to Nature, but we, who have become accustomed to the din and cacophony of everyday life; of factories, of vehicles and of gadgets, become restless even for a moment’s silence. Silence ‘sounds’ ghostly and unearthly. Even when all the ‘external’ noises are completely eliminated, unending ‘internal’ noise prevails. These are the thoughts that race in our mind ceaselessly like the waves in the ocean. Most of us are unconscious of the power of these thoughts, which when acted upon thoughtlessly can change the course of our destiny. External noise can ruin only your eardrums; Internal noise can ruin you. Absolute silence is thoughtlessness. Silence in speech is an ideal springboard to that exalted state. Some people speak because they have something to say, most others speak because they have to say something, but speak not until you can improve upon your silence. Silence is golden and no wonder it costs us more even to possess a little.

Actions, though inaudible, speak louder than words. For acts performed with a motive for recognition, publicity and fame are in themselves their reward. Acts performed secretly with a motive to serve are recognised and rewarded by God. Bhagavan, in his mellifluous Telugu, narrates a Chinna Katha of an old woman who used to cover the poor people on the streets, shivering in the cold, with blankets secretly in the night and yet walk with her head down on the streets. When questioned, she said that she was ashamed before God because while He was giving her with a thousand hands, she was able to give with only two! Bhagavan exhorts us to be like her.
Its time we take a silent pledge to serve, love, give, meditate and realise – without any fanfare. Be like a rose that speaks silently in the language of fragrance. Be like the little squirrel and become a part of the Avataric mission of repairing the ancient highway to the Promised Land.

But who is capable of such a silent revolution? Will the ‘boys’, with whom and for whom Bhagavan spends 90% of His time and energy, click?

Time alone shall reply to such queries, but let it be humbly put on record that the ‘boys’ shall prove to the world that they are not mere prattlers. The graduates coming out of the portals of Bhagavan’s colleges shall become the torch - bearers of this silent revolution. Bhagavan teaches His boys through silence and His boys become His Voice.

-      D.V. Chandra Sekhar

Alumnus, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning

Prasanthi Nilayam



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