SWAMI'S DIVINE GRACE IS INDEED VERY PRECIOUS because when we receive His grace, two very important things happen:
- Our spiritual journey accelerates, and
- Swami protects us from severe challenges in our lives.
Swami's Divine Protection: An Accident
In 2021, I was driving my car alone to the bank when the vehicle ahead slowed down to make a right turn. Naturally, I also slowed down. But the driver behind me did not, and I could feel the car colliding at the rear end of mine. I experienced a mild jerk and turned around to see that the driver of the colliding vehicle was visibly shaken. I got out of the car and told the driver who rear-ended me not to worry as I was perfectly fine. Fortunately, he too was not hurt. But I saw that the front of his car was smashed completely, and the airbags had been deployed. I felt for him because while my car was towed away for repairs, he was told that his car needed to be junked.
A woman from the body shop called the next day. She said that the damages to the car would cost $10,000 to repair. She also asked me if I had been hurt in the accident. I mentioned that I was not hurt at all. The following day another woman from the body shop called me asking if I was hurt in the accident. She mentioned that upon further inspection they noted a big hole at the bottom of the car. The new estimate to fix the damages was $20,000, which was more than the car’s worth! Therefore, they decided to write off the vehicle and reimburse the total amount. The damage to the car was so extensive that nobody at the body shop was ready to believe that I was not hurt at all.
If we have a casual attitude toward practicing His teachings and adopt selected practices that are convenient for us and not for the higher good, then we are part-time devotees
This is one way in which Swami lightens the load of our karma, as He Himself puts it:
“You might say that the karma of the previous birth has to be consumed in this birth and that no amount of grace can save man from that. Evidently, someone has taught you to believe so. But I assure you, you need not suffer from karma like that. When severe pain torments you, the doctor gives you a morphine injection and you do not feel the pain, though it is there in the body. Grace is like morphine; the pain is not felt, though you go through it! Grace takes away the malignity of the karma which you have to undergo."
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, November 23, 1964
In 2014, three years after Baba left His physical form, He came in my dream and with immense love and concern said, "You have bubbles in your heart. May I energize your heart?"
I was overwhelmed seeing the humility of the Avatar of the Age in seeking my permission to do good for me! With folded hands, I said, "Yes, Swami."
Swami then placed His hands on my chest and energized my heart in a circular motion. It was surprising that in all my previous annual medical examinations, there had been absolutely no problem with my heart. I am convinced Baba anticipated a future crisis and cured it before it even manifested!
This is the second way by which Swami eliminates our karma without us having to even experience it, as He says in His discourse.
“You know there are dated drugs, which are declared ineffective after a certain date; well, the effect of karma is rendered null, though the account is there and has to be rendered! Or the Lord can save man completely from the consequences, as was done by Me to the bhakta whose paralytic stroke and heart attacks I took over some months ago, in the Gurupoornima week!"
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, November 23, 1964
Wipes Out Karmic Burden
A student at Swami's University suffered severely from chronic asthma and always wheezed even while breathing. One day, Swami called him into the interview room and mentioned that this breathing difficulty resulted from a karmic burden.
“However,” Baba said, “if I take over the karma for only a few minutes, the karmic burden will be wiped out.”
The next minute, Swami started breathing just like the student; in fact, one could hear Him wheezing. This continued for several minutes, after which Swami began breathing normally. That very instant, the student was forever cured of his asthma! The karma had been rendered null despite the account being there! This is the third way.
As is clearly evidenced by these episodes, Swami’s grace flows on us, and our karma gets cleared both in the physical presence and omnipresence of Bhagawan.
Law of Karma and Baba's Divine Grace
Here is an extract from the book “Conversations with Sathya Sai Baba,” authored by Dr. John Hislop, where Baba speaks about practicing His teachings, the law of karma, and His Divine grace.
Hislop: Swami can cure even terminal cases of cancer?
SAI: Oh yes, a certain person whom you know is a good example of that. She was filled with cancer. The doctors gave up, removed tubes, sewed up incisions, and left her only a few days to live. Now she is strong and healthy and works all day.
Hislop: Swami does that only when the karma is appropriate?
SAI: If Swami is pleased with the person, He heals that person at once. Karma can have no effect on that.
Hislop: This is extremely important information. Because when people fail to get cured by Swami, they put it down to the fact that their karma is not ready.
SAI: If the person has a pure heart, and is living Swami’s teachings, Swami’s grace is automatic. No karma can prevent that.
And Swami continues to protect His devotees even after Mahasamadhi.
Omnipresence of Swami
Our son was married in 2016 in the beautiful natural setting of an outdoor wedding in a very remote town in Northern California. That town only had a 'mom-and-pop' gas station with a tiny convenience store. The night before the wedding, I drove to the gas station to fill up the car. When I went inside the store to prepay $30 for the fuel, the store attendant was taking care of another customer. So, I stood there waiting for my turn and looked around at the usual items sold there - candies, chocolates, and cookies. When it was my turn, I approached the counter and paid the attendant $30. While he was ringing up the transaction, I noted that the counter had nothing out of the ordinary. I walked back to the car to fill it with gasoline. Since the tank was filled with $27 worth of gasoline, I returned to the store to take the change.
That was when my jaw dropped to the ground!
On the counter, I saw a box of incense sticks with two pictures of Swami in the Abhayahasta (blessing hand) pose! How did a box of incense sticks with Swami's pictures appear on the counter in a small store at such a remote location? Needless to say, I bought that box and used the incense sticks at the wedding the following day and was grateful for His grace and blessings.
How Do We Secure Swami's Divine Grace?
When we receive Swami's Divine grace, we will be guided and guarded no matter what challenges we face – a severe health problem, a financial crisis, or challenges in our daily lives. That is Swami's Divine assurance to all His devotees. But how do we secure that grace?
It is straightforward. We can secure His grace by becoming full-time devotees. Swami says that full-time devotees receive full-time grace and part-time devotees only receive part-time grace from Him. Swami gives the example of a part-time employee who receives part-time wages while full-time employees receive full-time wages. A part-time employee cannot receive full-time wages for part-time work.
Baba said not to let go of this chance to be close to Him as we do not know when we will have another opportunity to be contemporaries of a Paripoorna Avatar
How Do We Become Full-Time Devotees?
If we earnestly attempt to practice all of Baba's teachings, we can become full-time devotees of Baba. On the other hand, if we have a casual attitude toward practicing His teachings and adopt selected practices that are convenient for us and not for the higher good, then we are part-time devotees.
A yardstick to measure whether we are full-time devotees or not is our response to the ups and downs of life. Are we equanimous to the pleasures and pains that we face in life? Or do we positively or negatively get affected and go on an emotional roller-coaster? The more equanimous we are, the closer we are to being full-time devotees.
Our Good Fortune to Be Baba's Devotees
To recognize Baba as an Avatar, a person needs two things: (1) good karmas accumulated over many, many lives, and (2) His Divine grace. In that regard, we are very fortunate to be Sai devotees, and we should utilize this great good fortune to accelerate our spiritual journey.
Baba said not to let go of this chance to be close to Him as we do not know when we will have another opportunity to be contemporaries of a Paripoorna Avatar.
Let us become full-time devotees of Baba so that we receive His grace and attain liberation.
About the Author:
Mr. Vijay Desai has been a Sai devotee since 1980. He has served the SSSIO in many capacities and is the author of series of books on Swami’s Divine teachings. The books are available on sathyasai.org, which can be located under “Divine Teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba”.
First published in Eternal Companion Vol. 1, Iss. 9