When Baba arrived in Shirdi, many did not recognize Him as God. Young kids thought He was a queer person and would often pelt Him with stones. Do you know what Baba would do to those kids? Baba was strong as a wrestler but instead of getting angry with them, He would seek each child out and offer sugar candies. Such was Baba’s love.
In Puttaparthi, too, Bhagwan Shri Sathya Sai Baba taught the same message — the message of love. Once, one of His devotees was traveling by plane and the same was hijacked by terrorists. As bullets were flying across, the devotee nervously connected with Baba in her heart. She asked for Baba’s guidance. Surprisingly, none of the bullets were touching her or her husband. That is the shield of Baba’s protection.
Baba suggested a strange solution. He asked her to look at the terrorists with love. The devotee followed Baba’s instructions and as one of the hijackers came close to her, he pointed his gun toward her. She looked at him with intense love. No sooner did she do so, he became extremely nervous (overpowered with love) and the gun fell off his hand. Needless to say, both husband and wife were unharmed during the entire episode.
Baba says that all the treasures in the universe are at His disposal and that we can seek anything we like. What, then, should we ask? The Lord illustrated this with a beautiful story.
Once, a king held an exhibition and put all his treasures there. He then called his subjects and said, “My dear children, you can all come and take anything you like from my treasures. I have given everything to all of you.” No sooner did he make this announcement, all his subjects thronged to the exhibition. Some carried away gold coins, others took furniture, still others took away food and pleasures … each person took all that she/he desired. The king was watching his subjects with great astonishment when an elderly lady came there.
She stood at the entrance of the exhibition and did not appear to be interested in anything that was there. The king was surprised at her behavior and rushed to her. He said, “Why do you not take anything?” The lady replied, “I don’t want all those things.” The king was surprised further and started tempting her with money, lands, servants, elephants, horses, and the like. She refused all those things. Then the king begged her, “Please take something. I really want to give.”
The lady then said, “Do you promise to give me whatever I ask?” By now the king was completely in awe of her detachment and said, “I promise, I will give you whatever you ask.” The old lady then said, “I want you!”
The king was taken aback for a moment, but he had to keep his word and said, “Honorable Lady, I am all yours.” Then the old woman explained that the people who sought small petty treasures were missing out on an important thing — the king with a golden heart. Which king would be so generous and such a king must be a great human being and that is why the lady wanted him. Now that she had him, all the treasures in the kingdom — nay, the entire kingdom — was hers. The king applauded her wisdom and gave her a permanent place in his palace.
Baba says that we must be like the old lady. We must not worry about the trifles in the universe, but rather God (the greatest giver) Himself. Once we have Him, everything in the universe is ours.
Life is an amazing learning experience and Baba is the most magnificent sadguru one can have. Baba does not teach with words, but rather through real life experiences — ones that we can never forget. Often time, Baba will bring forth similar experiences in our life repeatedly until we learn to correct our inner weaknesses. A spiritual aspirant who is prone to anger, for example, may repeatedly find himself in situations that test his patience until the person learns to get control that particular weakness. Once that is done, Baba may choose to work on another aspect of spiritual development. Each one of us has our own journey, though, and only Sai is capable of leading us ALL to ultimate perfection. If we stick with Baba, He will accomplish that without fail.
Baba often says that He is like a jeweler who takes raw gold and molds it into perfect jewels worthy of being worn by God Himself (through life’s experiences). All that is needed on our part is patience and faith in His wisdom.
Once, the author was serving Baba and was marveling at all the transcendental spiritual qualities described by great saints. He was wondering how to gain control over one’s mind and achieve that super-transcendental stage when Baba called for him and asked “What is the most important quality a spiritual aspirant should have?” Baba knows how to prick the bubble at the right time and He does so in His own beautiful way. Along with the question, Baba sent two people to the author. These individuals behaved in a manner that would be enough to elicit an angry response from any reasonable person. With Baba’s grace, the author was able to maintain his composure and he did not respond to their behavior but at the same time, he was strained by the situation.
It was then that he was reminded of Mother Sai’s saying: “One cannot oblige always, but one can always speak obligingly.” As he pondered over this saying, it flashed on him that the most important quality a spiritual aspirant should have is “LOVE!” Isn’t that what Baba teaches us “Love ALL, Serve ALL!” As he conveyed his response to Baba’s question, Swami smiled and agreed. Love is indeed the most important quality a Sai devotee should have.
Why worry about complex spiritual concepts when the simple practice of “love” is enough to help us win Baba’s grace.
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Sometimes, years of penance does not move the Lord even slightly, but the slightest selfless gesture moves Him, the ocean of bliss, into tears. At Om Sai Mandir, we have experienced numerous leelas of Baba and His constant presence and guidance. We are sharing a wonderful experience that left us completely in awe of Baba’s magnificent powers and His boundless love for all of us.
About five years back, Om Sai Mandir received a call from a South Indian school dedicated to blind, orphan children. They were visiting the US for a performance and wanted our assistance with transportation, food, accommodation, and the like. Since the group consisted of small children who had none except Sai, we decided to do our part and serve them in accordance with Baba’s teachings (“Love All, Serve All”). The volunteers at the mandir are ever-eager to render selfless service and so everyone started preparing for the kids’ arrival. We picked them from the airport and arranged for their overnight stay at the local YMCA. In the morning, our volunteers picked them up and brought them to the mandir. During the day, they were served in all possible ways. Some volunteers helped them put on their shoes, others carried their bags around, still others arranged for their food and other comforts. During their stay, we did everything in compliance with Swami’s teachings. We continued serving the children during their stay and finally helped them back to the airport.
The children were treated as we treat our own family members and we could tell they were very happy. Everyone’s eyes were filled with tears because these children were so beautiful and so talented. Their physical challenge did not deter their spirit in the least.
Little did we know (or expect) the big surprise Baba had in store for us. Seva is never rendered with the expectation of any reward or recognition (even by God) and all this was done silently without any public display.
The Thursday immediately after the event is when we discovered the impact of our small seva. That day, we heard literally hundreds of stories of Baba’s intervention, grace, and help to the devotees who come regularly to the mandir. In addition to miracles that happened at the mandir, some recovered from long-term (otherwise incurable) health issues, others told of Baba’s dreams and visions, still others had their legal problems solved … these were not isolated occurrences … every single person who came to the mandir that day — every single person — came with good news. Most talked about “obstacles” that had been nagging them for years and felt that they were miraculously resolved on that particular day.
It is very normal to witness Baba’s leelas at Om Sai Mandir, but what was significant about that day was the collective wave of leelas that every single person had to share. A wise elder then explained that Baba was indeed pleased to see the visiting children happy. These differently-abled children had none except God and since they were served, God, too, was happy and He was displaying His happiness in this manner — by providing grace to His devotees.
We have witnessed many similar incidences when Baba has expressed His happiness with acts of selfless service. His presence is also felt very strongly during group bhajans and devotional gatherings.
During both Sai avatars, Baba has taught us the importance of selfless service. One afternoon, Mrs. Tarkhad, a devotee of Baba saw a hungry dog and felt great mercy for him. She immediately fed him with a piece of bread. When she met Baba that day, He said:
“Mother, you have fed Me sumptuously up to my throat, My afflicted pranas (life-forces) have been satisfied. Always act like this, and this will stand you in good stead. Sitting in this Masjid I shall never, never speak untruth. Take pity on Me like this. First give bread to the hungry, and then eat yourself. Note this well.” She could not at first understand the meaning of what Baba said. So she replied, “Baba, how could I feed You? I am myself dependent on others and take my food from them on payment.” Then Baba replied, “Eating that lovely bread I am heartily contended and I am still belching. The dog which you saw before meals and to which you gave the piece of bread is one with Me, so also other creatures (cats, pigs, flies, cows, etc.) are one with Me. I am roaming in their forms. He, who sees Me in all these creatures is My beloved. So abandon the sense of duality and distinction, and serve Me, as you did today.”
God is like a child. He does not need complicated rituals and expensive gifts. What really pleases Him are heartfelt prayers and selfless service. Selfless service is the royal expressway to God!
Baba has strange ways to make His presence known. Devotees of Baba know very well that He can do ANYTHING in this universe and that nothing is impossible for Him. As such, Baba’s children do not crave for miracles but when Baba does an act that shows He is with us and that He is everywhere, it is certainly a moment of joy and excitement for all who hear these stories.
As announced earlier, intense prayers are being offered to Baba during this Navratri. Nine days of homam is being performed along with 24,000 chants of Gayatri Mantra. Many devotees are participating in these prayers. Individuals who cannot physically come to the mandir, are posting their prayer counts on Om Sai Mandir’s Facebook Page.
This morning, right after homam, we were preparing for the daily pujas when Baba did a small leela for the joy of devotees. Honey miraculously started emanating from Baba’s padukas at Om Sai Mandir. It was sheer joy to witness this miracle and all who were present were simply overjoyed and grateful.
We are posting some pictures for the benefit of devotees. Please continue your prayers.