Monday, 3 August 2015

A Tryst with Omniscience

-Shivashanker Krishnan

It was in the year 2007. I was a shy 16 year old who had just left the comforts of his home to cherish the life of a Sai student. It didn't take more than a couple of days for me to realize that our school hostel was nothing less than a home away from home - a home where each lives for the other and all live for God. Little did I miss my home back in Chennai and my heart yearned for an interaction with Swami.
As I sat in the Sai Kulwanth Hall eagerly awaiting His darshan, I made a silent prayer to Him to speak something to me. But at the end of the day, nothing special fructified. All I could cherish for the day was His Darshan and His Paadanamaskar. As if that wasn’t a blessing enough, I stormed out of the mandir with disappointment written all over.
As I tread across the Ganesh courtyard, I was greeted by my father, who along with his friend, had accompanied me on this trip to leave me at the hostel. On my father’s asking, I realised that I wasn't very good at hiding a disheartened face. I explained how I was battling with the emotions that entail an unanswered prayer. Ignorant was I that God's delays are never His denials.
As I described the day's happenings, my father's friend, who I fondly call "uncle", stood a keen listener. He soon had an experience to share which turned out to be very relevant in that context. He went on to narrate how he was once blessed with a personal interaction many years ago. The blessing was a result of a humble letter which he had offered to Swami. He gladly revealed the contents of the letter when I expressed my curiosity. What were those blessed words which could move the very Lord of the universe to speak to him?
I was under the impression that the words would be something divinely exotic if it had to attract Swami's attention. But on the contrary, I was puzzled by the simplicity of the letter's contents. All he had put in the letter was a simple sketch of Swami's feet with a few sentences beneath – "Swami you are my mother."; "Swami you are my father"; "Swami you are my Guru"; "Swami you are my best friend"; "Swami you are the Divine Avatar"; "Accept me at your lotus feet Swami" – and a few more lines in those likes. I was deeply intrigued by those sentences. In my mundane, human understanding, it seemed to me that flattery was an easy ticket to Swami! I didn't have the slightest hint that Swami truly seeks the feeling and intent behind each word and never the word itself.
My uncle’s immediate suggestion needed no guessing. He prompted me to try and offer a similar letter to Swami on my own accord. This kind of a letter seemed the best prospect I had and I wanted to give it a sincere try although I wasn’t very convinced of this path of ‘flattery’. My only intention was to get Swami to speak to me and so the means were the last I cared about.
I wasted no time running back to the hostel to get to work. I skipped dinner that evening and spent the rest of the day putting all my enthusiasm into the letter for Swami. I put in exactly the same thing my uncle had put in his letter. A simple sketch of Swami’s feet and the same sentences beneath. All that differed in my letter was the name that signed it off. I managed to get it ready before we retired for the day.
The next evening in Sai Kulwanth Hall, I sat exactly on the same spot where I had sat the previous day. Secretly hoping that Swami would read my letter then and there, I didn't cover it with an envelope. Soon after, the Vedic chanting and the music started as Swami entered the Hall. When I saw Him from a distance, I could feel that He was in the mood for some divine mischief. He knew that there was His student here who had spent almost an entire day making something to attract His attention - a situation poised perfectly for Swami to pull off another divine play. My eyes closely followed Swami’s every movement. I noticed Swami doing something pleasantly unusual. Swami was accepting every letter within His reach! By the time Swami crossed the ladies side, He had accepted hundreds of letters! That’s when my human mind began to doubt Swami’s ways. Does Swami really read all these letters? If he says that he knows everything, then why take letters at all? Will not my letter, among those thousand others, become just another letter to Him? Will my letter be special enough to attract His attention? Will He even look at it?
As I witnessed this raging battle between doubt and faith, Swami reached the spot where I was sitting. By then He had collected at least a hundred more letters and I felt the letter in my hand becoming more and more insignificant. When Swami came to me, I stretched out my letter with such brimming hope that I almost toppled over. Swami gently pulled the letter from my grasp and simply stowed it among the hundred others on His lap. My heart sank an instant later as Swami began moving away. My inkling was proved right. My letter had become just another letter among so many others. I knew that the chances of Swami reading my letter had become very bleak as Swami continued accepting more and more letters along the way. I was sure my letter had got lost amidst the pile on His lap and it wasn't really going to be read.
After Swami retired for the day, I was so heartbroken that I avoided my father who was waiting for me outside the mandir. I walked straight back to the hostel filled with lament and found myself a corner to sulk. Eventually with time, the turbulence within subsided and I regained my composure. It was only then that I began hearing a voice deep inside me which was persuading me to try again. Although very disappointed, I relented to this voice within me and I convinced myself to write the same letter to Swami once again.
I skipped dinner – this time more out of frustration – and started out on making the same letter again. At the end of the day, an exact replica of that letter lay before me – an identical sketch of Swami’s feet and the same sentences beneath. I silently prayed to Swami to make this effort worthwhile.
The next day after school, I refreshed myself quickly and rushed to mandir to ensure that I occupy the same place in Sai Kulwanth Hall. The replica letter was folded in my hands - once again without an envelope. Shortly afterward, Swami arrived. This time I had something different in mind. I prayed to Swami to ask for the letter since I decided I wouldn't stretch it out to Him if He wasn't intent on reading it. Soon I realized that the situation was perfectly poised for another divine play. And so He started on another spree of collecting every letter within His physical reach. I could feel my spirits plunging lower and lower with each letter He accepted along the way.
And finally He arrived to where I was seated. I reluctantly held my letter back remembering my agreement with Him. The moment the thought crossed my mind, Swami lovingly gazed at me and held out His hand asking for my letter. I excitedly stretched out my letter filled with joy and contentment. As He took the letter I realized that it hardly mattered whether He really was going to read it.
Little did I realize to what extent our Lord goes to shower his love and compassion. To my amazement, He stopped short and unfolded my letter right there. He intently looked into it for a while before He lovingly asked me in Telugu, "Ninna idhi icchevu kada?" ("Didn't you give this yesterday?"). A whole gamut of emotions came crashing down as a beautiful lesson was revealed through those words. I was completely choked of any reply. All I could see was His loving gaze and a playful smile curling up His lips. It was a simple question which itself was a lifetime's worth of answers.
He then placed my letter on His lap and glided away leaving behind a moment of pure elation. In His limitless benevolence, my heart was graced with more than what it craved for. It later dawned on me that Swami not only put my doubts to rest, but also answered a prayer I had myself forgotten about - a prayer asking Him to speak something to me!
The walk back to the hostel after darshan was like a waking dream. But to top it all, the episode did not end here. Once I reached the hostel, I walked into one of our senior teachers who was seeking a favour. Preordained as it was, I was the one called upon to run the errand. I was asked to pass on a book to another teacher in our hostel who resided on the upper floor.
As I was carrying out the request, I couldn't keep myself from looking at the book in my hand. It was one of the many volumes from "Sathya Sai Speaks". Out of innate curiosity, I randomly opened a page to have a glance and what caught my attention is something which I refuse to call a mere co-incidence. I was looking at a discourse in which Swami spoke about the significance behind Him taking letters. The excerpt read thus:

                "... I am active and busy all the twenty-four hours of the day. Every day, the mail brings me  thousands of letters, and you hand over to me personally hundreds more. Yet, I do not take the  help of anyone else, even to open the envelopes. For, you write to Me intimate details of your  personal problems, believing that I alone will read them and having implicit confidence in me.  You write each one only a single letter; that makes for Me a huge bundle a day; and I have to go  through all of them. You may ask, how I manage it? Well, I do not waste a single moment.  And, all this I do, not for personal gain, but only because I have come for your sake. I never seek  another's help; I offer help, never receive it. My hand always gives; it never takes. Conclude  from this that this must be Divine, not human power..."
Dussehra Discourse, Prashaanthi Nilayam, October 11th, 1970

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