Yet another Lovely morning in Kodai, as we went to Swami to serve His special breakfast prepared by some of the ladies who cooked exclusively for Him. His favourite dosas and attus with chutneys of different kinds, Swami enquired about the ladies who were serving Him. No service goes unnoticed by Him.
Swami then came down to the hall around 9.05 am where all were seated. The hall was full and many had to sit outside due to lack of space. Swami went out to see those who were sitting there, then called Sri Sreenivas who had arrived the previous night, and showed him the lawns in the front of the building and told him about the need for a Bhajan hall. Mr.Sreenivas submitted that we will have the architect come and do a survey and make a plan keeping the future needs in mind.
Then Swami came inside and took His seat while the Bhajans were still on. After Bhajans, He spoke about the nine types of devotion , Sravanam (Listening), Keerthanam (Singing), Vishnu Smaranam (Chanting the Lord’s name), Vandanam (Adoring), Archanam (Worshipping), Pada Sevanam (Serving the lotus feet), Dasyam (Servitude), Saakhyam (Friendship) and Atma Nivedanam (Surrender, Of Oneness). He said that the journey begins from Listening to the name and glory of the Lord and ultimately ends in merger. Swami narrated a story of Lord Narayana and Narada highlighting the efficacy of chanting the Lord’s name. The Lord asks Narada to chant the name in the ears of a new born insect, however as soon as the name is chanted the insect dies, perplexed, Narada reports to Lord Narayana but receives another command to do the same to a new born fledgling, which dies too. The lord then sends Narada to a new born fawn, which also meets the same fate. Narada unable to understand this submits to the Lord, who then asks him to chant the name in the ears of a new born prince. Narada was really afraid of the consequences, as – so far it had involved insects, birds and beasts but now it was a human being and that too a prince! With trepidation he chanted the name of the Lord in the ears of the prince. Lo and behold! the prince too died!! Narada disappeared from the scene only to reappear in Vaikuntha questioning the effect of the name. Narayana then explained that every time he chanted the name the creature died only to be reborn as a higher species till the highest human birth was attained and even that was surpassed as the prince attained liberation even before the name could be chanted completely. Thus Swami said that name is very powerful, every time we chant lord’s name, we add another link to the chain of namasmarana which binds the lord to the devotees. Chant well and make the link strong. It is also like lighting a lamp at the doorstep which illuminates the outside as well as the inside. The name on the lips is like that. Swami said that we don’t feel shy about singing a film song that has meaningless lyrics set to mad tunes and yet we shy away from chanting the name of the Lord. During nagar sankeertan many sing in low voices feeling shy of others’ opinion, on being asked, they give lame excuses that they are practicing HURT NEVER by refraining from singing loudly and disturbing those who are asleep!
Swami then called Sri Sreenivas and the accompanying young cardiac surgeon Dr Ashish from the Raipur Hospital. Sri Sreenivas spoke next about the “Spiritual value of this place in Kodai which though momentarily was economically valued for a transaction of sale and repurchase under a great master plan, but finally it has regained its spiritual value far beyond what economics can ascertain, as now its back again in Swami’s lap to inspire many more like the erstwhile resident Ida Scudder ( the founder of Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore). He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Swami for this invaluable opportunity to be at His feet in a place which is a piece of earth with a precious past and is destined to re-write history. He urged all, especially the young students to savour every moment while here.
Swami then mentioned to all that in Raipur the doctors when asked, “What reward do you want for your service?”, simply say, “When a crying sick baby, that has been cured, goes back as a smiling child, the smile itself is our reward”. Doctors and staff are serving selflessly in Raipur, He declared. Then Swami mentioned about the upcoming Delhi Hospital which is scheduled to start operation in coming November with just 6 months to go. Swami said that Sreenivas requested Swami, “Even a baby needs nine months to develop and be born, 6 months is too less to make the hospital, I told him that I am OK with half a baby – meaning two wings out of four being ready by November. The clove shaped hospital with four wings of the four human goals of life – Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha will be ready in time”.
Swami then asked Dr Ashish to speak in the evening to all. Swami called again for the cameras and shawls and gave to those who had arrived the previous evening and had not received the same. Thereafter Swami asked all to board the buses and go for sightseeing.
While going He looked at the Ooty Devotees who were waiting and told them also to go around and see if Kodai is better than Ooty.
Swami also left in His car but due to heavy traffic, which was mismanaged due to the absence of traffic police, owing to election duties, He decided to return back and make appropriate arrangements for a trip again later. On returning He saw the Ooty devotees again and said, ” Oh! you need not tell me whether Kodai is better or Ooty, after the experience of the traffic jam today, definitely Ooty is better. You make arrangements there and I will come soon”. The devotees from Ooty were overjoyed, probably even grateful to the Kodai traffic police!
Swami granted a group interview to all the devotees from Singapore who had planned a music program on Monday. Swami called them – around 30 ladies and gents – upstairs to His room and said, “See this room, its my bed room, also interview room, also dining room and drawing room, all in one. What is a room after all, its the same space separated by walls, remove walls and the space becomes one, Similarly we create these differences of cast, creed, gender, status, nationality etc. though the truth of our existence is one, Divine! A man of wisdom sees unity in diversity whereas an ignorant person sees many where there is only one”. “Be united and we can achieve anything. With eight arms the goddess is so powerful, then with all yours arms as mine, how much more powerful am I”. Be united, be selfless, was the message Swami gave them.
Swami gave specially ordered sarees to all the ladies so that they could wear them during the program and explained the logic behind it as well. He said that gents in India or Singapore wear the same kind of pants and shirt, where as sarees are unique to India. yet the ladies from Singapore have worn it to please Swami so they deserve the gift of the wonder of nine yards, the Kanchipuram sarees!
Truly lord does nothing without a reason, however casual it may seem.
When they asked Swami as to what was the relation between all of them and Swami, He replied, “It is the same as that of actors to a director. The same director casts his favourite actors in different roles in different dramas. So the monkeys of Rama, the Gopis of Krishna and the Singapore servants of Sai are all the same, but in different roles”.
After the interviews Swami came out gently swaying to the tunes of the bhajans. Looking at the closed door opposite His room, where students store their luggage and beddings He commented, “This door was open in the morning and revealed the shabbily kept room but now our warden has closed it and drawn the curtains to hide the mess, that’s not what a warden should do. He needs to correct the children and not hide their mistakes”. A lesson well taught.
As he entered the hall below He noticed through the window that some students were sitting in the corridor outside. He went up to them and said, ” Oh, so you all have found a nice place to sleep after a heavy lunch!”, all burst into laughter.
He came back gliding on the red carpet smiling at all, blessing a few, collecting letters, accepting prayers, granting wishes and permitting some to leave after the session.
He took his seat and indicated brother Sumeet Tappoo from Fiji to sing a few songs. Sumeet’s soulful singing especially the song ” Oh Ma..Sai Ma” transported all to a state of bliss. Swami joked, ” Hey, you are putting all to sleep, sing some other song”. Brother Sumeet sang a high octave quawaali that filled the hall with divine energy. Swami commented, “This (song) was good as all boys who were trying to sleep outside have woken up now”. Swami then asked Sumeet to share a few experiences and speak about the upcoming ashram in Fiji. Sumeet spoke his heart out when he revealed many incidents that had helped him connect to Swami in His subtle form and destroy all his doubts. He said that Swami had told him that He would take him to Kodai in 2007, but that never happened, while Swami was in Parthi. However, Swami kept His word and brought him to Kodai on this day. He told the students that he could trade all that he had, to be a student of Swami which he had always aspired for. He also connected many dots between the past and the present when he mentioned about the dream he had in 1996 during which Swami showed him the entire Muddenehalli Ashram and told him that this place, 100 kms from Puttaparthi will be the ashram from where He would begin the golden age. The place is blessed by Lord Rama’s visits – twice! Once to protect the yajna of sage Vishwamitra from Taataki and her demonic sons, and the second time when Lord Rama travelled with Sita and Lakshmana during their exile.
Sumeet also narrated how in a dream in the mid 2000s, Swami showed him that He would be visiting Fiji along with a group of 5 men and a lady, out of which he could recognise, Sri Narasimhamurthy, Sri Sreenivas and Sri Isaac then. He narrated his first interaction in Muddenehalli during which Swami gave him a navarathna ring which He had promised Sumeet in 2008, this incident helped him cast away all doubts, as this was a conversation between him and Swami in a private interview. Many other such incidents since had lead him to believe in Swami completely and undertake the Ashram project, as commanded by Swami, during the Lord’s last visit to Fiji in September 2015. Miraculously they found the land exactly as Swami had indicated and the Sai Prema Fiji foundation was registered within two weeks as opposed to 6 months that it usually takes.
Swami blessed Sumeet with a ring and said, “I am the one who identified the land, told you where it was and how to go about it then I wonder what have you done in Fiji?” Swami then said jovially, “God knows everything but behaves as if He knows nothing, whereas Man knows nothing but acts as if he knows everythinh”.
Then Swami asked Dr Ashish to speak, who narrated how he had yearned to work in a place where there would not be a price tag to patients and the poor would not be denied life. He recollected as to how in a hospital where he worked earlier, an auto rickshaw driver had to finally sell his rickshaw to clear the hospital bills for his child’s heart surgery. “We saved the child but killed the family without the means of livelihood”, lamented Dr Ashish. But in Swami’s hospital which he had not known earlier about nor had he seen Swami, he had found great fulfillment, where love is far above the laws of economics, he felt blessed and grateful to Swami for this opportunity. Thanking thus, he concluded his talk.
Swami conveyed his blessings to all the doctors and staff of the hospital in Raipur and revealed that in the future this would be the largest chain of hospitals in the world where pediatric cardiac surgeries would be done absolutely free. Swami also mentioned that soon Dr Ashish and team would travel to Fiji to operate upon the children there. Even the Prime minister of Fiji, delighted by this grace of Swami, would be there for the opening of the foundation. Swami told Dr Ashish that all work must lead to purification of the inner being (Chitta Shuddhi). In this world which is Karma Bhoomi, land of action, no one can escape the consequences of ones actions but in a place like our hospital all work becomes worship and purifies oneself, thus serving the very purpose for which it had been undertaken. Swami continued, “Don’t worry if you don’t know much of the scriptures and cannot quote from them, like many great people here, if you do what you have got to, it is good enough. Sadhana of actions was greater than words. Try, try , try is all dry, to do, alone is true!”. Swami told Dr Ashish that he should to be only an instrument, like Arjuna, and Swami, like Krishna, would do everything. The only difference being, in earlier times people were killed in the war but now people will be saved!
Swami then asked Sri B N Narasimhamurthy to speak, who shyly submitted that he was of the habit of quoting from books and on one such occasion when Swami asked him to speak for just 5 min, he decided to quote from Kathopanishad, explaining the Sloka to finish his brief talk. After the talk as he went to take Swami’s blessings, Swami said, ” By merely quoting the Sloka (Verse), Shoka (Sorrow) would not go”. Thus, doing is more important than mere learning and quoting. Murthy Anna, as he is lovingly called, narrated the story often told by Swami of how an MBA student after finishing his education wrote a letter to Swami in which he asked for a high paying job with limited working hours, relief from the pimples to attain a handsome face in order to attract a beautiful woman to be his wife, who would be obedient to him as well as to his parents, good well behaved children, a big house to live with comforts. And finally, he prayed that he should also be given liberation! Explaining that desires bind us, which are impossible to give up but can be replaced with higher ones and ultimately the highest desire for God alone, he concluded his talk.
Swami spoke next and said that spirituality has been misconstrued by many as very difficult and hard, thanks to the half-baked preachers. Leaving home and family and running away to the forest is not spirituality, giving up selfishness and self interest alone can make a person, a man of Tyaga (Sacrifice) and Yoga (Union with God). He said that neither the self styled teachers know what they speak nor the devotees and listeners understand much. But each is afraid of asking the other their doubts, lest they should reveal their ignorance in front of the other, who too is equally ignorant. Like in a class when students don’t understand, they do not ask questions, afraid of being called ignorant. Swami said, “But in My class all can ask questions and clear their doubts.”
Swami said that, Spirituality can be summarised in two phrases, Sarva Karma Bhagawad Preethyartham and Sarva Karma Phala Tyagam – Doing everything for the love of God and Giving up the fruits of actions.
Many teachers who claim to be spiritual masters, tell the disciples to take up strict and very hard austerities and make their lives miserable as if there were not enough miseries already in the lives of men and women.
Swami narrated a story of a disciple who was guided by his guru to take up such a sadhana by abandoning everything except a piece of loin cloth and go atop a hill to meditate. Soon the cloth when left to dry was nibbled away by rats, so the disciple decided to bring a cat to control the rats, but the cat finished the rats soon and grew hungry and noisy, so the disciple got a cow to feed the cat milk, in some time there was need for fodder and food other than milk so he found a servant to help, but the servant and he himself grew weary of their tasteless cooking and so he married a young women who would cook for them, soon the wife got children and the disciple grew hail and hearty with a large family, farm, cattle and servants. One day when the guru returned, he found the change in his disciple to his utter shock and could not even recognise him. Swami said that this is the plight of those who take up such sadhana when they aren’t prepared from within. Swami shows a simple path of Love and Service which can lead oneself to God much easily.
Thereafter Swami answered many questions from the children in is own inimitable way. Life’s lessons were doled out to young and old alike with such clarity and profundity that Swami alone is capable of. A good teacher makes complicated subjects look simple, Swami once again demonstrated it today.
A child who asked how did the world come in to existence, Swami replied, “In schools they teach that a big bang occurred and the universe was formed. But is there a logic behind that? A piece of furniture is a proof of the work of a carpenter, a shirt that you wear, means a tailor has made it. The food that you eat is prepared by a cook. Like wise there has to be a creator for this universe. Once two scientists were travelling in a train, looking at the younger one reading the Bible, the old scientist ridiculed him for subscribing to such irrational books though being a scientist. The young scientist did not retaliate but kept to himself. Later when they exchanged cards, the old scientist was shocked to learn that the young man was Thomas Alva Edison, who had achieved much in the field of scientific discovery. So the old one paid a visit to the lab of Edison and was impressed by a model of the solar system. Curiously he enquired as to who made it? Edison replied, ” No one, it just appeared on its own, one fine day”. The senior scientist was puzzled and said, ” That is not possible, someone should have made it”. To this Edison replied, “When you believe that no one created the universe, just a big bang happened and the universe appeared, when a live universe can happen on its own then why cant a dead solar system model just appear?”. Thus Swami explained why GOD created the world. The girl who had asked this question had also presented Swami with a sketch, so drawing from that, Swami said, “Just as you created a sketch for your joy and would be happy admiring it, I too have created this world for my Joy and I admire it so much. And just like you would not like some one tampering with your sketch, so do I not like man interfering with nature, I like it the way it was created, so I like to be in Kodai, in the pristine lap of nature, my creation!”.
After answering a few more questions, Swami took Arathi and distributed the hand made chocolates brought by Malaysian devotees for all. While distributing Swami revealed that each chocolate was made, wrapped and packed with the chanting of Swami’s name and Sai Gayathri. “If we put it close to our ears we can hear the chants. But if someone is deaf spiritually then he may not hear!”, Swami said.
Swami then went up to His room, granted interview to a group of Alumni volunteers from all campuses including Ananthapur who were leaving tonight, a few interviews to devotees and then had his dinner. Thus another Joyful day came to a close leaving us with precious moments that will ever remain green in our memory just like the evergreen Kodai Hills!