Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Journey- with Sai because of Sai

Dr. M Ananth

It was June 2012 and I had to come from Australia for my beloved father’s first year Shraadha ceremony. But there was one another agenda of that trip, which was admission of our daughter Saishweta in year 2 at Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, Prashanthi Nilayam.  This agenda was as important as the earlier. My father had merged into his cosmic formless being one with his SAI just 9 days after the eternal SAI willed to assume his Nirakara (formless) roopam (form). I would reserve an article on this for a later date. The current episode is about a trip in May 2013 that was being planned during our trip to Puttaparthi (Parthi) in June 2012.
We came to Parthi in June 2012 and met with the headmistress aunty as my nephew was being admitted to standard 1 in the Sri Sathya Sai (SSS) Primary school. We approached her with a request for our daughter’s admission. She maintained that there were no vacancies and that we should come in May 2013. More so, a letter written by Saishweta (our daughter) with the only request for admission in SSS Primary school kept in a sealed envelope in front of Swami was blessed with profuse vibhuti inside the envelope.
This exactly was how our trip in May 2013 started taking form. But, wait, there is another twist to this as how this trip of ours to Parthi exactly manifested. For this I will have to take you with me through the Journey from Wollongong to Puttaparthi. Since November 2012 we had been searching for flight tickets to Bangalore, India for various dates in May so that we get a reasonable price. But, we were not sure when in May we should exactly need to travel. All that we were told “come in May”. So this planning went all the way till April 20, 2013.  We were observing the flying costs over the web (on Malaysian airlines website) and thought that the prices are not changing much and hence we have more time. If you are wondering why we were waiting till this moment, I will have to write another episode of happenings which again I will reserve for later articles.  But on April 20 we realized that the cost that Malaysian airlines website was projecting was not accurate till we get on to the checkout page from where we actually make the payment. The difference was easily 1000 Australian Dollars per passenger. This literally means for four us I would be paying around A$ 4000 extra. So we started scanning for the prices for all available dates in May and found that only May 3, 2013 had reasonable prices. That is how we arrived at this date. Well, you would be wondering what I am trying to tell. Just bear with me a little further to know.
Since we had booked our tickets for May 3 out of our desperateness I was wondering if it was Swami who is taking us through this process. Though the heart knows, the analytical mind tries to work on the cause and effect principle (which we call reasoning). So it kept my analytical mind wondering.
Now that the tickets are booked, I will take you straight to the check-in process. I always had a habit of processing my check-in through internet as I get to choose the seats. Needless to say I always choose seats with numbers that are multiples of 9 (like 9, 18, 27….). I am sure all sadhakas[*] in Sai fold would appreciate this number 9 and do know by now that it is considered God’s number.  That is because if you single out the multiples of 9 it still comes to 9 (like 18 singles out to be 1+8=9, similarly 27 singles out to 2+7=9). As God is implicitly present in all beings and eventually the only being – 9 is implicitly present in all its creation which are its multiples unlike any other number.  Well, so I have been trying to get this number 9 during my check-in process. But till about 5 hours before the departure of my flight the website did not allow me to check-in online. It gave an error message saying I should go to the check-in counter. Hence I yielded to this message without a choice. We are now in Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. Our flight MH 0140 is at 21:40 pm. We have reached the airport exactly three hours before departure as is the requirement for International travel. After about 30 minutes of standing in the check-in queue we end up at a counter where Ms. Irene, a kind lady, is serving the passengers. Irene takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get our baggage tagged and she was trying to get us checked-in through from Sydney to Bangalore via Kuala Lumpur. She was also trying to find us an appropriate seat so that four of us which include me, my wife, my daughter and my mother have seats in the same row. After a bit of struggle and after approaching a few of her colleagues, she came back with a sigh and told me “Sorry sir this is all the seats we have, I hope you do not mind”. I responded saying “that is fine” mentally still thinking “Do I have a choice, you have decided it all (talking to Swami)”.  Once I get the boarding card I look for the seat numbers which were allotted viz. 27 (D,E,F,G) for four passengers. My wife tells me D-E-F-G stands for Don’t Ever Forget God.  So our beautiful Lord has reminded us of His presence through the number 27.  So after a while we proceed to the boarding gate. About 20 to 30 minutes after having seated at the boarding gate we hear an announcement “We now invite all passengers with infants and children to board the aircraft”. We decide to go leisurely in that first lot of the invited passengers which consisted of about 20 to 30 passengers. As we slowly walk from the gate to the aircraft via the aerobridge Saishweta stops and tells “Papa, someone has dropped their boarding card” and I respond saying “Pick it up and we shall hand it to the passenger”.  She picks the boarding card up and reads thus “SAI”, before handing it to me. 
I read out the passenger’s name from the boarding card as “SAIPUMP” (see photograph). Though my eyes were reading this as SAIPUMP, my heart was reading it as SAI PUMPISTHUNARU, still wondering about the meaning of this word that is echoing in me.  So, Sai is already inside the aircraft. I then voice this to my wife Dr Pallavi who gets back to me saying “PUMPISTHUNARU” means sending. Now the meaning becomes all the more clear “Sai is Sending us to Parthi”. Dump founded I was that this Sai Krushna of ours also shows such gross clues in this game of hide-and-seek. Among the 30 passengers who have already entered the aircraft, someone with Sai in their name had to drop their boarding card and among all passengers who had passed through the aero-bridge Saishweta had to pick it up. Do we not know who is behind this game of hide-and-seek?  Puppets that we are that the puppeteer pulls the strings and makes the show happen. How sweet is His game that with every effort we put to talk to Him, grosser are His revelations!  Just like a child in a game of Hide-and-Seek when called out to ask where the child is hiding – shouts back saying I am here. Is it not how this sweet Lord of ours answers to every seeking soul, from His hiding place our heart? This is but a small journey from one continent to another which was taken care of by the Lord and made us feel comfortable throughout the Journey till we reached Prashanthi Nilayam. What of the journey that He is taking us through and across for so many lives about which He and He alone can comment about. Let us just bask in His glory with thankfulness and gratitude for He chose to restrict himself (and get embodied) to this limited form and scale down for our sake, just to remind us all that we are sparks of the same Divine being indeed.

Ananth is currently the Chairperson of Sathya Sai Center of Wollongong Australia. He is currently the Managing Director of aSSSent Conference & IT Solutions. He has served in academic, research and corporate world since 2002 after graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy from University of Cambridge, UK.  He also happens to be an alumnus of IIT Chennai.

[*] Sai devotee is a very sacred word.  A devotee of the Lord is always in communion with the Lord. So I had reserved this word and would prefer to use the word Sadhaka (aspirant) instead.

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