By The Editor, Sai Sandesh
Once, there was a long line of visitors in Shirdi. Despite the scorching heat and humidity, they were anxiously waiting to have a glimpse of Baba. The line had both rich and well-to-do individuals who wanted to shower expensive gifts on Baba. Many had brought with them expensive food items, but little did they know that Baba cares only for our love. He does not look at the price of our offerings.
In that line, all the way toward the end, was an elderly lady with worn-out rags. Her emaciated form gave the appearance that she had not eaten for a long time. She had no shoes on her and she was supporting herself with the help of a makeshift wooden cane. No one noticed the lady as the line extended far away from Dwarakamai.
Does anyone need to inform Baba, though? Everyone was bewildered as Baba suddenly got up from His seat and ran toward the end of the line. Everyone was wondering: What happened? Why did Baba rush like that, leaving all of us standing here?
He crossed the entire line and reached the last person who was waiting there. It was that old lady! Baba held her hands with much love and personally took her to His seat. He sat there and looked at this devotee with much grace.
The lady’s eyes were filled with tears. Baba had left all these great people and had sought out someone so poor and destitute. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Yet, she was overjoyed to have the opportunity to look at Baba’s beautiful form. Suddenly, Baba asked her, “Mother! I am starving. Didn’t you bring something for me to eat? Please, mother, give it to Me immediately.”
She was flabbergasted. How did Baba know she had brought something for Him to eat? At the same time, she was very nervous as she wasn’t expecting Baba to ask her this question. In her wrinkled hands, she was holding half a piece of bread and a stale onion. She burst into tears and said, “Lord, I had brought one piece of bread and an onion for you when I came, but I was unable to bear the heat and exhaustion and I did not want to pass out before seeing you, so I ate half of the bread and half onion, while I saved the other half for you. I did not tell you because so many devotees had come with the tastiest of dishes. I was embarrassed to offer you a stale piece of bread an onion — and that too one I had already eaten.”
Baba would not have it any other way. He said, “Mother, please feed Me as I am very hungry and I am anxious to eat that delicious bread you saved for Me. What harm is there if I eat from your hands, mother.”
Her joy knew no bounds as she fed the Lord with extreme devotion. As Baba was eating from her hands, the devotees were remembering the story of Lord Rama and Shabari.
Such is our Baba. He looks only at the depth of our feelings. Rich, poor; good, bad … none of that maters to Baba. He craves for our love, and nothing else.
By The Editor, Sai Sandesh, Om Sai Mandir, Sai Mandir in Queens, Flushing, NY
Baba is the Master of the Universe and whenever He does something, it is always very simple, loving, and inspirational. In His own unique way, He establishes conciliation between two individuals even if they were at war with one another just a few moments back. Basically, Baba’s message is very simple: He wants us to love and serve everyone without any form of discrimination. Love and serve everyone! That is all He wants us to do. The rest He will handle.
We are humans, though, and differences inevitably crop up between individuals and even an avatar has to handle such issues. Talk about conflict resolution. Baba resolves conflicts in a witty, gentle, and yet masterful manner. Doing so, He brings out beautiful moral lessons for all to follow. We are presenting four real-life examples wherein Baba tactfully diffused conflicts among His children.
Treat women with respect, love them as receptacles of the Divine Mother’s energy
Once, mavsibai, an elderly lady in Shirdi, and Anna, a senior male were both massaging Baba as a form of seva. The lady was on the right side of the Lord, while Anna was on the left. As it so happened while shampooing Baba’s hands, they were both in close proximity and mavsibai, being humorous by nature, made a casual remark: “Oh, this Anna is a lewd (bad) fellow, he wants to kiss me. Even being so old with grey hair he feels no shame in kissing me.” This remark enraged Anna and he started screaming at the elderly lady. Baba did not lose the opportunity to pacify both of them and said, “Oh Anna, why are you unnecessarily raising this hue and cry? I do not understand what harm or impropriety is there, when the mother is kissed?”
Not only did Baba pacify both parties, He also brought out a beautiful lesson. It is only right to treat women with respect and adoration. If men learn to view women as their own mothers and treat them with respect, many of the modern world’s problems will be eliminated.
Do not have attachment to things; attach yourself only to God
Ramadasi was a follower of the saint Ramadas and Baba. During his visit to Shirdi, he would often sit in one place and read holy books. Despite his practices, his mind was constantly agitated and he was very attached to his earthly possessions. Baba wanted to set him right and benefit both him and others and so once Baba devised a strange play. As the Ramadasi sat to read his scriptures in Baba’s presence, Baba said that He was having intense stomach pain and therefore the Ramadasi should go to the market and fetch a certain herb (Senna Pods). The Ramadasi rushed to get the medicine. As he left, Baba took one of the books on Vishnu Sahasranam and granted them to Shama, another devotee of Baba. When Ramadasi returned, he learnt about what had transpired and flew into a rage. He took Shama to task and blamed him for using Baba as an instrument to acquire one of his favorite books. Nothing appeared to pacify him when Baba spoke calmly: “Oh Ramadasi, what is the matter with you? Why are you so turbulent? Is not Shama our boy? Why do you scold him unnecessarily. How is it that you are so quarrelsome? Can you not speak soft and sweet words? You read daily these sacred books and still your mind is impure and your passions uncontrolled. What sort of a Ramadasi you are! You ought to be indifferent to all things. Is it not strange that you should covet this book so strongly? A true Ramadasi should have no ‘mamata’ (attachment) but have ‘samata’ (equality) towards all. You are now quarreling with the boy Shama for a mere book. Go, take your seat, books can be had in plenty for money, but not men; think well and be considerate. What worth is your book? Shama had no concern with it. I took it up Myself and gave it to him. You know it by heart. I thought Shama might read it and profit thereby, and so I gave to it him.”
Baba’s words had a magical effect and the Ramadasi calmed down instantly.
Not only did Baba benefit Shama by granting him a very precious scripture, He also taught the Ramadasi to be detached, calm, and devoted. How remarkable were Baba’s methods of correcting His beloved children.
Learn to get along
When we go to a holy place, we often forget the very reason why we went there. Our purpose should be to focus on God, but inevitably we get entangled in human follies. The same happened to a lady in Puttaparthi. As she was seated in the darshan line, she was treated rudely by one of the volunteers at the ashram. The volunteer was simply trying to manage the large crowd but this devotee was sensitive and took the admonishment to heart. She wanted to react but didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, she was called for an interview that day and as soon as she was in Baba’s presence, she wanted to complain about that rude volunteer’s behavior.
Voila! What an opportunity! She decided to let it all out, forgetting completely that she was in God’s presence. What a precious chance to seek liberation, but instead she decided to express how she was treated rudely. So, when she got the opportunity, she rushed to Baba and told Him everything about the volunteer. Baba was very calm. On one hand was a daughter who was visiting Him and on the other hand was a volunteer who was residing in the ashram. Could the Lord take sides? Nay! So, what could He do to pacify both His daughters. Baba handled the situation in His own unique way and whispered in the lady’s ears, “I too am afraid of her.” What could the complainant do? She burst into laughter and realized her folly.
We are all different as human beings. Each has their own personality. When possible, we must learn to get along with each other. If not possible, then simply avoid the other person’s presence. Why quarrel and upset ourselves?
Don’t speak bad about others
We often forget that there is God in everyone. As it so happened, two brothers developed differences between each other and their dislike turned into intense hatred toward each other. On one occasion, one of the brothers spoke the most horrible things about his brethren. Baba, who was passing that way, pointed to a pig and said, “Behold how, with what relish it is gorging dung. Your conduct is similar. You go on reviling your own brethren to your heart’s content. After performing many deeds of merit, you are born a man, and if you act like this, will Shirdi help you in any way?”
It is true. Whenever someone speaks ill about us, they eat away our karmas with their own tongue. Why should we get the same bad karma by talking ill about others. Leave others to their own means and let us focus on the Lord Himself. He will surely liberate us.
By The Editor, Sai Sandesh, Om Sai Mandir – Sai Mandir in Queens, Flushing, NY
It is said that a caterpillar constantly meditates on its own beautiful butterfly form and through incessant meditation it soon metamorphosis into a mind-bewitching butterfly. The Guru Charita says that when a disciple constantly serves his guru with one-pointed concentration with no thought but that of the guru, the disciple soon transforms into a divine guru himself. He develops the guru’s noble qualities, devotion, and powers through such incessant meditation. One may not realize but our future is determined by what we think constantly. Ever seen two people who love each other dearly. It could be a parent-child relationship or a sibling or a friend … if these individuals love each other dearly, they will behave in almost like fashion. It is a fact that if we constantly think about something, we become that very object.
This is exactly what Lord Krishna has declared in the Bhagvad Gita. The Lord said that whatever one meditates on at the last hour of his life, one goes to that object (and therefore becomes that). For this reason, it is important to constantly meditate on God and chant His name ceaselessly.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the guru or Swami Vivekananda, demonstrated this truth through his own life. The sage was so perfect in his meditation and his thoughts were so powerful, they would bear instant fruit. Once, he meditated constantly on Lord Rama and considered himself to be Hanuman, the eternal slave of Lord Rama. Through constant meditation on the relationship — he being Hanuman and God being Rama, the sage soon grew a physical tail and resembled the mighty Hanuman. Not only his mind, his body, too, became the very being he was meditating on. Our thoughts are that powerful even though we may be oblivious to their inherent energy and potency.
On another occasion, a disciple came to the Paramahamsa to learn meditation. The guru asked him, “What do you like the most in this world?” The disciple said, “My buffalo.” Ramakrishna then said, “Fine, go and meditate on your buffalo constantly.” The surrender of the disciple was so great, he did not question the guru at all and went to his room and meditated on the buffalo day and night. After a year, the Paramahamsa wanted to see how far his disciple had progressed and went to his room. As it was locked, he asked from outside. “Is somebody inside?” asked the guru. “Yes,” came the response. The guru then asked, “Who are you?” Pat came the response, “I am the buffalo!”
It is said that if you leave a lion cub with sheep, it will soon start behaving like a sheep. It is a guru who removes this ignorance and takes the lion to the water to show its own reflection in the water. It is then that the lion realizes that he is indeed the king of the jungle and not a sheep. Our nature is like that. We constantly think that we are weak, powerless beings who are destined to perish. It is only a divine guru like Baba who can shows us our true self and make us realize that we are the immortal, all-powerful atma (soul) and not the weak physical beings that we consider ourselves to be.
Constantly contemplate on God and his noble qualities and you will soon transform into your own divine nature. Consider the example of Mother Radha. She constantly meditated on Krishna day and night. Her meditation was so deep that if one were to ask her “Who are you?” She would say, “I am Lord Krishna!” Indeed, the Mother had completely merged her mind with Krishna and had become His Divine self.
By The Editor, Sai Sandesh, Om Sai Mandir – Sai Baba’s Temple in Flushing, NY
Once, a student of Swami was seated at His feet. Although fortunate to be a student in the Lord’s educational institution, he was young and had been influenced by the ways and claims of modern education. He had heard that without God’s will even a leaf will not move. This is an ancient adage, but he wanted concrete proof of the same and so he put forward a question to Swami. The essence of his conversation was as follows:
“Swami, you say that not even a leaf will move without God’s permission. Here, I place a pen on the floor. Move it and prove this Supreme Will to me.” Baba has His own ways of teaching all of us, His children, and could He lose the opportunity to give a real life experience to one of His beloved students. Nay. Swami responded in His own way and told the child to lift the pen. He did so effortlessly. Swami then said “Ok, place it back.” The student obeyed and put the pen back on the floor.
Baba then looked at him and said, “Now lift the pen.” Much to the student’s astonishment, his arm simply did not move. He could not move his arm at all, let alone lift the pen. He had tears in his eyes as he feared that he would remain in the frozen state for a long time. With tear-filled eyes, he looked at the Lord, who was all compassion and love. The Lord said, “Ok, now lift the pen again!” Much to the young man’s delight, he could effortlessly move his arm and lift the pen.
It was then that he understood that the Lord does indeed control the entire universe and everything is His will. We may not understand His ways, but they are always beneficial for us.
A similar incidence occurred in the 90′s. A great saint-devotee of Baba, Late Dr. Rao, used to reside in Hyderabad, India. Due to a stroke, one of his hands had become paralyzed and it was very difficult for him to manage his daily chores with just one hand. Yet, with implicit surrender in Baba, he used to carry on with his routine duties without complaining. Even with that ailment, he would pray for all the Sai devotees who would rush to him for guidance and succor. Whenever he would pray to Baba for someone’s benefit, that person would definitely receive divine grace. Such was his relationship with Baba. Whenever he would sit in his meditation room, the Lord would appear in His physical form and converse with this saint-child of His. Despite his close proximity to the Lord, Raoji never requested Baba to heal him and instead continued praying for the benefit of all mankind.
One day, his family asked Raoji to pray to Baba to heal his hand and cure the paralysis. He was reluctant but upon repeated entreaties by his family, he finally conceded. That day, when he sat for prayers, the Lord appeared as usual. After the prayers, Raoji reluctantly told Sai about his paralyzed hand and conveyed the prayers of his family members. Did the Lord not know? Of course, He knew. Baba looked in the other direction as if He had not heard anything and continued conversing like the mischievous baby Krishna of yore. Raoji thought that Baba did not want to grant his request and so he kept quiet out of much respect toward Baba. Baba then suddenly said, “Look at my picture there. It is covered with dust. Go and clean it first and then continue your prayers.”
Raoji was in his late sixties and so he slowly got up and went toward the picture. He picked a piece of cloth and swiped the picture clean. It was then that he realized that he had cleaned the picture with his paralyzed hand. Baba had healed him instantly and the order to clean the picture was just a naughty play of the Lord.
Sometimes, we understand what God’s will is and yet like a naughty child, we want to have it our own way. If it is not to our benefit, the Lord will not allow us to do it. The story of Upasani Baba is a case in point. Upasani came to Lord Sai when he was forty one years old. He was in awe of Baba, but did not desire to live in Shirdi. Baba, on the other hand, wanted him to stay in Shirdi and progress spiritually under Baba’s direct guidance. Upasani wouldn’t listen, though, and left Shirdi. Baba then said, “Okay, go. I will do what needs to be done. You will be back in eight days.”
Upasani, however, had no intention to come back. He started walking away from Shirdi and continued walking for eight days. On the eighth day, he met some individuals who asked him to join them on their visit to Shirdi. By then, Upasani, had forgotten about his intention to stay away from Shirdi and he joined them. When he touched Baba’s feet, the latter joked “See, he came back in eight days.” Upasani was surprised because despite walking for eight days, he was still within the vicinity of Shirdi. How could that be possible. He thought he had walked so many miles. How did he not reach farther? It was then that he realized that it was Baba’s will that did not let him go far.
Such is the power of Baba. With His will, even the impossible becomes possible. One may ask, “What is the role of free will in our lives? What about God’s will? Are they both separate?”
These are difficult questions that only the Lord can answer best. We surmise, however, with our own understanding. It is very true that the Supreme Will moves the universe and the overall direction of our lives, but at the same time there is free will too. Let us explain our understanding further. When the owner of a pet ties a leash around the neck of the dog and takes it for a walk, the owner constantly controls the direction the dog has to walk in, yet, the dog has free will to play around within the length of the leash. He can step on the grass, tease other dogs on the road, play in the dust a little, and have some fun. But, despite this freedom, it is the owner who decides the overall direction in which the pet has to walk (in our case, toward God). This is analogous to the Supreme Will.
Finally, we do have complete free will with our reactions. If an event occurs in our life, we are hundred percent free to react to the event with happiness or sorrow. This reaction is of our own making and determines our future karma. If we accept the Lord’s will in every event in our lives, we transform our reaction into unconditional surrender and no further karma accrues. We are then completely free and on the road to unlimited, eternal bliss.
Sometimes, life throws unexpected tribulations at us. It is very easy to question our faith during these trying times, but we seldom reflect on the fact that our earthly journey is but a small sojourn during our vast eternal life. While God’s plan is to get us to the shores of eternity, we are comfortable with our physical form and temporary stay on this earth and remain oblivious to our real nature.
The editor is reminded of a story. A man had been through intense suffering during a certain phase in his life. At the end of his life, he was given a review of the events that had transpired during his earthly journey and the blueprint of his life appeared on sand. He was surprised to see that during most of his life, there were two sets of foot prints but during hist most difficult times, he had just one. Being a devotee of Lord Jesus, he wondered why the Lord had abandoned him during these difficult times, especially when He had promised to never abandon us. Pat came the answer, “My child, the reason you see just one set of footprints during your difficult times is because it was then that I carried you on my shoulders.” How beautiful! So much love!
It is said that if we were to lose our hand, God’s grace would change that so that we would just lose a small piece of our nail instead.
A guru-disciple pair, too, experienced this love from Baba. Both guru and the disciple are followers of Baba. The guru was suffering from a chronic (but manageable) ailment and was patiently bearing all the associated suffering that came with the disease. The disciple was young, though, and was chiding Baba for not curing his guru in a trice, as Baba normally does. The disciple had personally experienced Baba’s powers and had witnessed Baba heal so many people. Why then was the guru not healing? he thought. Baba immediately appeared to the guru and told the saint to explain to the disciple that if He (Baba) willed, He could reverse the disease in a small fraction of a second, but that wouldn’t be good for the guru because it would cause rebirth and other karmic effects that would be harmful in the long run. Despite that, Baba had kept the disease under check and it was not progressing beyond the initial stages. It was in complete control and that, too, was a medical miracle.
The disciple then understood the message and realized that Baba always does what is good for us. Even during our periods of suffering, he eases them immensely and makes our journey as smooth as possible. He does eventually cure all our suffering, but He waits for the right time to do so and does it in a manner that benefits us. During our challenging times, it would be good to assure ourselves with the following affirmation: “It may be good for me!”