Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 2, Issue 6, June 2023)
Divine Vision, Divine Mission, Divine Assurance
God, who is beyond name, form, and attributes, and transcends time, space, and causation, incarnates in His infinite love and compassion when there is a decline in the adherence to right conduct (Dharma). In today’s world, people run after wealth and material pleasures from dawn to dusk and are caught in grief and bondage. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba incarnated to redeem humanity and show the way to live in peace and happiness and attain ultimate freedom by the practice of the five fundamental human values, Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Right Conduct), Shanti (Peace), Prema (Love), and Ahimsa (Nonviolence)–which are universal to people of all nations, religions, faiths, cultures, languages, and ages.
When He was barely 14, He declared that He was Sai Baba with no traditional family ties. He then discarded His schoolbooks and made history with His first bhajan with an indelible and universal message to awaken humanity–Worship the feet of the Divine Master in the mind (Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam…), and you will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. Reinforcing the efficacy and supremacy of that message, in the historic discourse given on May 17, 1968, during the First World Conference, Swami said, “Following my instructions is enough. That will give you the summum bonum of life. It will give you more benefit than any austerities and penance undertaken.”
As Prophet Isaiah has said (Isaiah 40:8), “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Therefore, we must take His message to heart and follow His command implicitly, immediately, and completely. This is the duty and obligation of all Sai devotees. In this connection, let us remember Swami’s profound declarations in the epochal letter He wrote to His brother, Seshama Raju. The message in that letter applies to all humanity, and I will touch upon the nine important divine proclamations in it. These proclamations show the clear path of Swami’s divine vision, His divine mission, and His divine assurance for all those who tread that path.
- “No one can understand me either today or in the distant future, whoever that may be, whatever the method of inquiry and however long it takes.”
We should not try to understand Swami because He is beyond the comprehension of the mind and the intellect, as the Taittiriya Upanishad proclaims. (Yatho Vacho Nivarthanthe Aprapya Manas Saha, which means God is beyond the scope of speech and mind)
My father, a faculty member at Sathya Sai University, once traveled with Swami to the villages for rural upliftment work. When they came to a fork in the road, Swami asked them which road they should take to reach the village. My father was puzzled because he knew that Swami is omniscient. Wondering why He was asking such a question, my father responded, “You know everything. Why do you ask which way to go?” “Never try to understand Me. Experience My love, enjoy My love, live in My love”, was the reply!
This is an important message for all spiritual seekers–God is beyond the mind and the intellect.
- “I do not belong to any place, and I am not attached to any name.” In Telugu, He said beautifully, “Naku Ooru Ledu, Peru Ledu.”
It means that He does not belong to any place, and He is not attached to any name. He said, “Call Me by any name. I will respond because all names and forms are Mine.” That is why Swami says his name is Baba. Though He never formally completed high school, Swami says He is a double graduate–B.A., B.A. (Baba)! The real meaning of B-A-B-A is that Swami is Being-Awareness-Bliss-Atma. Swami also says that there is only one God, and He is Omnipresent. So, we should not confine Swami to any particular name, form, place or attribute because He is beyond all. Swami said, “Call upon me, and I will come to you, wherever you are.”
Swami tells the story of how Draupadi called for Lord Krishna to save her when she was being disrobed in an open assembly of the Kauravas' Royal Court. Lord Krishna came to her rescue, providing her with an endless stream of saree draping her, thus preserving her honor. Later, she expressed her gratitude to Lord Krishna and asked, “Lord, you saved me from humiliation. But why did you take so much time? You could have come right away.”
Lord Krishna replied, “But, you called me O! Dwarakavasi (the Resident of Dwaraka). So, I had to come all the way from Dwaraka, true to your call. Similarly, you said O! Mathuranivasi (the Resident of Mathura). But the moment you called me as O! Hridayavasi, the indweller of the heart, I came to your rescue right away.” So, when we have the conviction that He is our Hridayavasi–the indweller of our hearts, He will manifest instantly. That is His assurance.
- “If you worship me with faith and love Me with steadfastness, I will protect you, guard you, and guide you.” This is the reassuring promise He gave us.
During my travels around the world, I hear innumerable stories about how Swami is guiding, guarding, and protecting people. There are many personal experiences of Swami’s protection, but one incident stands out, which I would like to share. In 2006, when my mother went into a coma and was admitted to the ICU (Intensive care unit), we were very sad and sent a fax message to Swami for His protection. Swami then sent word that He would take care of her. Within two days, my mother completely recovered, much to the surprise of the doctors! She came home and lived for many years after that. So, wherever we are, in Los Angeles or any other part of the world, He responds to our prayers. He was with us, He is with us, and He will be with us always. He is our eternal companion–we should have firm faith and conviction in this Truth.
- “I have a ‘vow’: to lead all who stray away from the straight path again into goodness and save them.” There are many examples of how Swami has transformed people. Swami said, “I do not want your devotion; I want transformation of your heart.”
The sight of Swami (darshan), the touch of Swami (sparshan), and the words of Swami (sambashan) have transformed millions of people worldwide. A taxi driver who used to take us from Prasanthi Nilayam to Bangalore was a chain smoker who could not quit the habit. When he came to Prasanthi Nilayam for the first time, he saw Swami from a distance. Even without Swami talking or interacting with him, he instantly lost the urge to smoke and gave up his bad habit of many years! That is the power of darshan in transforming people.
There is a story related by the late Professor Kasturi regarding how Swami transformed a man who used to abuse his wife. There was a devotee of Swami (Ananthappa) whose son-in-law was an alcoholic and used to abuse his wife, Ananthappa's daughter, both verbally and physically. Ananthappa and his wife prayed to Swami earnestly to help their daughter. Swami answered their prayers and called the entire family in for an interview in Puttaparthi. Despite the loving advice from Swami, the son-in-law refused to mend his ways. He even decided to harass his wife and in-laws further.
He worked as a railway official and boarded a first-class compartment while his wife and in-laws were placed in a third-class compartment. He was all alone when suddenly, the place became deep red and Swami appeared, filling the entire compartment. Blows rained on him from all sides. Swami told him that his wife was innocent and to give up his bad habits and treat his wife properly. The son-in-law could not take this punishment anymore. As the train reached the next station, Thondebhavi, he ran out of the compartment, yelling that he was being beaten. The guard on that train came to his aid but could not find anyone. Interestingly, this guard was a student of Prof. Kasturi and a critic of Swami! Needless to say, the son-in-law changed for the good immediately–and the son-in-law’s experience also transformed the guard! The lesson of the story is that if we do not transform ourselves and do not give up our bad habits, Swami will intervene directly to change us for the better.
Another way Swami can transform us is through the love of His devotees. Swami performed my daughter’s wedding. After the wedding, my daughter and son-in-law (who wasn’t a ‘Sai devotee’ at that time) went to Italy, where they were inundated with the loving hospitality of the Italian Sai devotees. This was a new experience for my son-in-law. He was intrigued, and the process of the transformation of his heart began. Thus, my son-in-law was transformed because of Swami’s devotees who radiated His love. Swami says, “My life is my message.” Then He said” Your life is My Message.” So, it behooves us that we live His message as per His directive and spread His Love always and everywhere.
- “I am attached to a ‘work’ that I love: to remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack.”
We know about the free food, water, shelter, education, and healthcare services He has provided to millions of people in need worldwide. He provided free education from kindergarten to the doctoral level, where the emphasis is not only on academic excellence but equally on character development. He also provided primary to tertiary healthcare through His medical institutions, which provide free, state-of-the-art healthcare with love and compassion. Thousands of such service projects are ongoing around the world.
- “I treat the honour and dishonour, the praise and blame that may be the consequence, with equanimity. Internally, I am unconcerned.”
In the same letter, Swami defines devotion, saying, “I expect those devoted to me treat joy and grief, gain and loss, with equal fortitude. This means that I will never give up those who attach themselves to me.” This is the true definition of devotion.
Swami says it is good to do spiritual practices like Japa, meditation, and service, but the real proof of devotion is to have equanimity. We should always be steady with a peaceful and blissful attitude, accepting everything as God’s will. That is true equanimity. Swami’s life is an example of equanimity. Whether it was sorcery and torture that He was subjected to as a young lad or the rumors and criticism He received throughout His life, He was always in bliss and continued His divine work unceasingly with determination.
- “I will not give up my mission or my determination.” This is His determination (Sankalpa)! Swami’s Sankalpa is Vajra (strong as a diamond) Sankalpa. It is so strong that no one can stop His mission or His divine will.
There are many instances where His divine Sankalpa produced amazing results. One of the examples is when Swami announced in 1990 that a Super Specialty Hospital would be opened in Prasanthi Nilayam by His next Birthday, i.e., November 1991. Nobody believed that it would happen. In April 1991, construction began, and the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences was inaugurated during the birthday celebrations in 1991. Four cardiac surgeries were successfully performed in the hospital on the inauguration day itself! Only by divine will, Sankalpa, could such a massive and magnificent hospital project be completed in six months in a remote corner of rural India. Swami says that nothing can come in the way of His divine Sankalpa.
- “You can yourself see the full glory in the coming years. Devotees must have patience and forbearance.” Swami said this when He was barely 20 years old!
We have been seeing Swami’s glory continuing to grow, and we can only imagine the magnificence of His divinity to unfold in the future. I remember during Swami’s 60th Birthday, Mrs. Kamala Sarathi, the wife of the Defense Secretary of India, shared that when Swami was only 20 years old, He told them that in the future, many will come to see Me and you have to see Me from a distance like a small orange dot. In those days, only 50-100 people were at the Ashram, and they could not even imagine what Swami was talking about. On that day in the stadium, she remembered Swami’s prophetic words of how His glory would expand and grow in the future.
It is amazing that though Swami physically traveled to only three countries–Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania–His glory and His mission have spread to so many countries worldwide. It is indeed an irrefutable fact that never in the history of humanity, during the lifetime of the Avatar, His glory and mission have been experienced in more than 120 countries. Still, it continues to expand, and more and more countries are becoming aware of His name, form, and glory.
To have a glimpse of His glory and His mission, please visit the official international organization’s website (https:// sathyasai.org) to see how:
39 Sathya Sai Schools and 28 Sathya Sai Institutes of Education provide free, value-based education to many around the world.
Healthcare professionals provide free, state-of-the-art, loving, and compassionate medical services through medical camps, medical clinics, mobile clinics, and preventive health education.
Food, water, and humanitarian assistance are provided to the needy, particularly in many countries in Africa and Latin America where the need is extreme.
- “I have a ‘task’: to foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of bliss (Ananda).”
This is the most important divine proclamation. When we recite the 108 names of Swami, we chant ‘Om Sri Sai Anandaya Namaha,’ which means that Swami is the embodiment of bliss. We also chant ‘Om Sri Sai Anandadaaya Namaha,’ which means He grants us Ananda or Bliss. He has come to confer bliss on all of us.
On December 25, 1998, Swami said that whenever anyone asks you to talk about who is Sai Baba, sing this song. And then Swami sang the bhajan, “Love is My form, Truth is My breath, Bliss is My food.” So, Bliss is His food. If we want Swami to be happy, we should all be blissful because that is our true nature. For that, Swami has said the simplest thing is to hold on to Him; to remember that we are in the presence of the Kaliyuga Avatar, the greatest divine manifestation. In this context, it is important to remember that on May 17, 1968, during the First World Conference, Swami said, “This is the human form in which every divine entity and every divine principle, that is to say, all names and forms attributed by man to God, are manifest, and never let any doubt distract.”
So, if we have faith and follow His divine teachings with sincerity and love, we will live in bliss. Swami says that Love is the royal road to attain bliss wherein we experience oneness (Advaita) and divinity in everything, everywhere, and ever. As the Taittiriya Upanishad says, this divine bliss is quintillion times that of ordinary human happiness. When you consider human happiness as one unit, this bliss is 10 to the power of 18 (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) units–which we cannot express in words but can only experience. This is our good fortune, and we should make the best use of this unique, precious lifetime opportunity the loving avatar gifted us.
So let us all remember His nine divine proclamations, which reveal the divine vision, divine mission, divine glory, and divine assurance for our redemption. I pray to Swami that we will have the determination and devotion to practice His divine command in our daily lives and reach the supreme goal of Self-realization.
Jai Sai Ram!