24th April 2011
My memories of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Last evening Lata made an unusual request to go to a Bhajan being organized by one of Sri Sathya Sai centres in Muscat. I was quite tired and had wanted to take a small nap and suggested to her that she could contact a friend and attend the Bhajan on her own. Today morning although I got up at around my usual time of just before 5am, I felt strongly disinclined to go for my morning walk and preferred to lie down on the bed. I did not know as to whether it was a dream or whether I was visualizing, but I could clearly see Sri Sathya Sai Baba who had been ill for the last month, getting up and announcing another miracle. Coincidentally, around the same time, his body was freed from earthly bondage.
I know how much this news would have created a brief period of sorrow amongst his millions of devotees, but I know of one person whose sorrow could be a little more intense. That person, my wife had lost her father in 1979 and her grief at that event had subsided only after Sri Sathya Sai Baba conveyed to her that he would be both father and mother from then on (Lata had lost her mother when she was quite young). Now when she has lost her parent all over again, how can one console her?
I first came face to face with Sri Sathya Sai Baba soon after our marriage and although I was fairly incongruous in the large gathering in his Whitefield Ashram and he had not met me before, he pointed out to me and beckoned me to his interview hall. I was taken aback as to how he picked on me amongst several others who were there at that time. Could it be a mere chance? Possibly, but not probably. During the interview which I had with him, with Lata at that time, I, exhibited my youthful and perhaps brashful behavior by virtually talking to him as a friend and not as somebody who was overawed by his divine manifestation. He charmed me by his down to earth answers to my questions and blessed us. Although we have been to his Whitefield and Puttaparthi Ashrams quite a few times since then, I haven’t had the chance to have a long duration meeting like the one I had soon after marriage. My interactions were limited to fleeting glances by him which were always punctuated by his child like smile and demeanor. We therefore felt that it was only on account of his divine nudging that the three of us (Lata, Aditya and myself) were drawn to Puttaparthi last month and had a blissful three hour Darshan of Sai Baba.
Over the past several years, a few aspects of his have firmly been imprinted on me. The most important aspect is how a single person like him has been able to get millions of people from various corners of the world into his fold without any missionary effort. The second is the aspect pertaining to his selfless seva and that of the members of Sri Sathya Sai Organisation throughout the world. Be it offering medical care or the much lauded water supply project or other such humanitarian gestures, these organizations have always gone about doing their job efficiently and without any glamorous publicity. The third area pertains to substantial investments (and not merely monetary) in the field of value based education.
To facilitate the above he has created an institutional structure to facilitate efficient functioning in all these areas and reached out to humanity cutting across caste and creed, nationalities and economic strata. To all his devotees he provided continuous succour to the needy, guidance and blessings to all and spread the message of Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness), Shanti (Universal Peace) and Prema (Universal Love). Some of his devotees will remember him for the miracle he created in their lives, but virtually everybody will remember him for the great institution he has created and the values of this institution.
Sri Sai Baba maybe no more in his physical form but the values he has taught us are immortal. Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh and Whitefield near Bangalore will continue to attract hordes of people, just to feel the vibration of his divine presence.
Om Sai Ram!