It was time for evening darshan. All the students, rushed to take strategic locations to get a look, a smile, a pat, padanamaskar or if lucky enough few words of exchange from our beloved Lord. I was lucky enough to sit in first line without going through all this hassle as I got a special opportunity to get the sacred threads blessed by Him.
It was the year 2000, Swami performed our Upanayanam ceremony, in February. All the vatus as they are addressed came in a procession accompanied by their parents, to the Sai Kulwant Hall clad in yellow dhoti and angavastram and carrying a small piece of yellow cloth tied to a staff known as the deeksha danda, the staff of determination. We all were provided a copper vessel and spoon, a beautiful photo of Swami were made to go through the ceremony very scrupulously. Bhagawan went around the hall blessed all, posed for photographs with a lucky few and spoke to few students. In one such conversations, he made a profound declaration that if all the students who are getting initiation into the sacred Gayatri mantra sincerely do Sandhya worship, there won't be any problems in the world. The students decided to perform Sandhya regularly.
In the month of August on the occasion of Poornima (full moon day) there is a custom of changing of threads. I got the good fortune of getting the thread blessed by Bhagwan during evening darshan time. The heavenly darshan music, instrumental version of Anuradha Paudawal's Sai Darshan, started and Swami came gliding from Poornachandra Auditorium. After his usual round he came near the boys sitting with trays for His special blessings.
Looking in my direction from far, with a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous smile playing on his lips, he started making a gesture with his hands as if he is trying to catch something. I was not able to understand the meaning of his gestures but knelt to show the tray with the sacred threads for his blessings to be worn by the students. He touched all the threads with a sweep of his hand and asked me rather amusingly, “Is it for catching fish?" Unable to make out the meaning of his statement, I gave a blank expression, and all boys around burst into peals of laughter.
"Swami never says anything without a meaning", a statement of one of our professors flashed in my mind as I saw the beautiful orange form disappearing into the interview room. The darshan music ended, the pin drop silence starting giving way to a slight noise of hushed talk of people who started dispersing. This statement of Swami sent me into a reflective mood. I was trying to ascertain the purport of this puzzling statement.
I was thrown out of my reverie by a pat on my shoulder from someone sitting behind me, "What did Swami say, brother?" enquired my classmate Hari Om. I recounted to him the whole experience which he heard very intently and exclaimed," Wow! What a wonderful message to drive home the importance of patience and perseverance in one's sadhana."
I felt overjoyed that some one was able to understand the statement of Swami. I asked the boy to elaborate and explain the meaning clearly to me.
He said, "I recently read the gospel of Ramakrishna, where I came across a narration by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa regarding spiritual sadhana. He compares sadhana to catchin fish. When one goes to catch a fish, he keeps the fishing rod with a bait in water and waits, for a fish to get trapped. One has to wait very patiently till a fish is trapped, without getting agitated. Spiritual practice is very similar to this. One has to continue his or her spiritual practices assiduously with lot of patience and perseverence till he reaches the pinnacle of god realisation."
I immediately understood the significance of the enigmatic statement of Swami. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to Swami for this wonderful message. There was a commotion near the interview room and Swami came out. He came near me and gave a beatific smile, satisfied that I got his message.
In the light of this experience I understood the meaning of the famous quote of Shirdi Sai Baba, of Sraddha and Saburi, meaning Faith and Patience.