My Journey to Sathya Sai Baba Through Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Make haste towards the good and check the mind from evil.
Your virtues make you a God and your vices make you a Demon.
Sathya Sai Baba, 26 May 1993
Around 1980, during a brief meeting, a friend showed me a pendant that she was wearing. On one side of the pendant was the picture of Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara who is commonly called Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin in Chinese Buddhism. On the reverse side was a picture of Sathya Sai Baba. She mentioned that Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin, had descended to earth in the form of Sathya Sai Baba in India and that the compassionate Sathya Sai Baba often materialised with the wave of His hand, a kind of white powder to heal those who are sick. That brief conversation and the image of that pendant lingered in my mind and triggered a deep yearning to find out more about Sathya Sai Baba as I was born in a family where my mother was a staunch worshipper of Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin.
I subsequently asked my office colleagues whether they had heard about Sathya Sai Baba. A colleague then handed me a book titled “Journey to God” written by Bro. Jagadeesan. The book was very engaging. It provides a very interesting and fascinating account of the miracles of Swami. It also gives a broad perspective of His teachings which answered many questions that I had on religions. I remember the very first bhajan that I attended in the Sai centre behind Bro. Jagadeesan’s house. Although I did not understand the meaning of the songs, I was in tears throughout the bhajan session. There was a kind of vibration which seemed to have touched my very core.
About a year later, I made my first trip to Prasanthi Nilayam and stayed there for 21 days. At that time, Sai Kulwant Hall had not been built and devotees had to sit on the soft river sand outside the mandir whilst waiting for Swami’s darshan. I remember closer to my departure date from Prasanthi Nilayam, I wrote a letter requesting Swami for a number of mundane things including a ring. Well Swami did not pick the letter from me. A realisation dawned upon me that if Swami is an Avatar, I should ask Him for more important things in life. I put aside that letter and then wrote a fresh one with just the following lines, “Dear Swami, I want to do Your work. Please change me from a street dog to a street light”. That day Swami came during darshan and picked up this letter from me.
I returned back home and became very active in the Sai Organisation.
Fast forward 15 years later to the month of February in the year 1997. I was back then in Prasanthi Nilayam, helping to coordinate a drama in conjunction with the first ever Chinese New Year celebration. My wife and I were also acting in the key role in the drama as a husband and wife who pined for the return of their son who had migrated to the United States of America, had forgotten his roots and had not called back home for a long time.
On the eve of the Chinese New Year celebration, whilst I was busy rehearsing the lines in the drama script so as to correlate with my acting, I received a stunning instruction! I was told to deliver the welcome address for the occasion in front of Swami the next day, barely 24 hours away!
I remember standing at the podium in front of Swami and expressed the thoughts that I had jotted down on a piece of paper. Towards the end of my address, there was something heavy in my heart that I wanted to express to Swami. But to say it aloud in front of an audience of about 10,000 people seated in the Kulwant Hall was not easy. I had to summon my courage to say the following “Swami, you had said that when we come to Prasanthi Nilayam we should leave behind one vice and take back one virtue. Swami, I have the bad qualities of jealousy and envy which I would like to surrender at your Lotus Feet. I would like to develop the good quality of patience”. I finished my speech and then went forward to kneel down to offer my gratitude to Swami. Suddenly I saw Swami waving His hand. I thought He was going to materialise vibuthi for me. To my utter surprise, I saw a gold chain with an Om pendant coming out from His hand. Swami then hung it round my neck. I was really stunned, elated and felt really blessed.
I remember on the third day of the event, there was a special darshan for all the Chinese New Year participants in the Sai Kulwant Hall. We were requested to sit in special rows so that Swami would come around to collect letters and distribute vibuthi to all of us.
After going around, Swami came and stood in front of me. He waved His hand and materialised a gold ring. He gave it to my friend seated next to me. I suddenly felt envious! Why did Swami materialise a gold ring for my friend? It then dawned on me that envy and jealousy were still inside me although I said I surrendered them to Swami during my speech the previous day. I realised that to eliminate these bad qualities, I have to constantly watch my thoughts. Swami had said that jealousy is a vicious disease which must not be permitted to gain a foothold. You must feel that God will always bless you with His grace, even if you are in a lesser position than you deserve. You should enjoy the happiness of others, you should be glad to hear of their accomplishments and not feel sad just because others have things which you do not have.
I am indeed grateful to Swami for giving me the awareness to realise and helping me to overcome these bad qualities. Jealousy is pervasive in this Kali age. Jealousy is prevalent in all types of people, be they Yogis, Bhogis, Rogis, be they considered among the sacred, worldly or the sick and dissipated ones. It is mostly on account of jealousy that people lose their peace of mind and waste their lives… jealousy, for instance, can enter even into your relationship with Divinity itself.
As I look back at a photo taken of that event, there was a big picture of the Goddess of Mercy Kuan Yin which was part of the Chinese New Year decoration just behind Swami. Is it a coincidence or by Divine design that the Goddess of Mercy who guided me to Swami in 1980, was there now behind Swami to witness this most blessed and humbling moment of my life in answer to my plea to Swami to help overcome the negative qualities of jealousy and envy?
Billy Fong, Malaysia