Experiencing Divinity From Close Quarters…

Former English Professor and Warden of Anantapur Campus of ‘Sri Sathya Sai University’, Prof. (Mrs.)  Jayalakshmi Gopinath, known as “Jai Amma” as Bhagawan would fondly call her, had the rarest heavenly boon of being in the Divine fold of Bhagawan from a very early age. …And right from the beginning of her stint with the Divinity Personified, the Professor has been learning invaluable lessons, most of them learnt at close quarters with Divinity, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai. Addressing the International Convention of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas Gurus, in the year 2001, the veteran professor spoke of some of the invaluable lessons she was fortunate to learn from her Beloved Lord. Given below is the transcription of her speech delivered during the International Convention of Sri Sathya Sai Bal Vikas Gurus, held in the year 2001 in the immediate Divine Presence in Prasanthi Nilayam.

My humble, prayerful, loving, and grateful pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagawan Baba, the greatest Guru of gurus, the World Teacher, the Divine One. I am not using bombastic terms, when I say this string of adjectives as pranams, but I mean every word I say. Loving, yes. Who cannot love Bhagawan? Reverential and prayerful we definitely ought to be. We have got to understand, though we donot understand that He is Divinity Incarnate. Grateful, yes. We definitely have to be grateful for His Love, for His guidance, and for all that He has done and is doing for the whole of humanity. We are blessed, blessed indeed, all of us.

Honorable members, Bal Vikas gurus, fellow pilgrims on this Divine Path – the Sai Path, I cannot do anything but say “I bow down to this whole spectacular gathering”. It is a tradition, especially in India, that a speaker pays his or her pranams to the gathering, to the assembly and so do I.

What is it that I have to say today, in the presence of Divinity,Who is all-knowing? We have witnessed, as the previous speaker has said, the three days, when Bhagawan did not spare Himself; He did not spare any efforts to be with the delegates, to guide them, to teach them lovingly, and then tell us what it is that we have to do. Tirelessly, moment to moment, that is what He is trying to do to all of us, trying to teach us at the moment, in the context of what has to be taught to us teachers. I am a very simple teacher, I am not a guru of any sort, but I have understood one aspect of this great, great Guru – His love, His patience,and His wisdom. These are beyond human comprehension.

I have witnessed many a time and experienced how Bhagawan synthesizes. There is absolutely no difference for Bhagawan between what is old and what is new, such as exists in our minds, because we have our preconceived notions. Our perceptions are limited and many a time, we do not want to change, unless the Divine One wills us to build up the samskaras and realize that it is this great Divine Teacher to Whom we have to submit.

He synthesises ancient and modern learning, which seem diverse. The link between the two is not a subject we can study, not the manner in which we study, nor the books we read, but it is the way we interact – the guru and the students. And that, Bhagawan stressed, is love and love alone. He told us yesterday, when He was speaking: “All I require is your signature of love on the cheque of your heart. Well, that signature, if it is passed on to the bank where I am the Chief Manager, everything will be done, everything will be alright with you, and there you would have succeeded and that would have been an achievement, because you would have realized that love is the underlying principle in everything.”

How far we teachers have practised what Swami has advised with so much concern and love, is what hurts me today. When Bhagawan said the other day; “I am talking less, because somebody remarked that I was talking too much.” Who is that person who had the heart to say it, leave alone the wisdom.We don’t know many things, though we think we know a lot. But where was your heart, when you said this? Well, if you think that you are much better than Bhagawan, why don’t you do the things that He has accomplished? Why don’t you build Super Specialty Hospitals and other projects that cater to the solace and the comfort, physical and mental, of people? Why don’t you install institutions of Education and teach all the students free of cost? Why don’t you give away gifts of love that He has been making, from the moment He proclaimed that He is Sathya Sai Baba? Why don’t you have the patience and love to carry on whatever you have to do? It went like a shaft into my heart, because I have known and experienced Bhagawan’s immense and unconditional love towards all of us.

I have always wondered, when I have been alone with myself in my room; “God, what have I done to deserve this? Am I accomplishing what You wanted me to accomplish?” And my heart tells me, “No, the expectations, perhaps He had of you, you have not yet fulfilled.” Well, those are our limitations. That is all I can say.

On this holy occasion, (Bhagawan says that every day is holy, every day is a festival) so many of us have gathered here at the Lotus Feet, in the Divine Presence of our beloved Bhagawan, (forgive me, if I repeat it again and again), the greatest of Gurus, the World Teacher, the Beloved One. If you have gathered here today, definitely, it is an auspicious day. May I, in this context, just relate to you how He has taught me many things?

Way back in 1948, Bhagawan was residing in the house of Srimati Sakamma. Mother, father, and I, we used to go and attend the evening bhajans. Swami was at the tender age of hardly 22 years. What do we do at 22 years? We seek pleasures of the world, we are careless, we think of ourselves and ourselves alone, and our mind is muddled and confused. But there was Bhagawan, so beautiful! I’m not trying to praise Bhagawan; because Bhagawan doesn’t like it. Bhagawan said one day, it was a command: “Those who speak, don’t praise Me. I don’t want it, I don’t like it, but tell Me what is necessary.” Bhagawan forgive me, but many have not seen You at that tender age. I have had the fortune to see You.

He used to be so fragile, looked so tender and vulnerable! His hair would be parted and it would be like a bush all around the head. His eyes exuded such compassion that the moment you looked at Him, something happened within you, something cracked, and you felt that you were seeing Somebody,Whom you have to love, because the love was exuding.

Now, this was a bhajan day, when we had gathered. Bhagawan was sitting on His chair. Even at that tender age, tremendous discipline had to be maintained – on one side, the ladies and on the other side, the men. Well, we were rather new among the fold. Anyway, mother and I went and sat among the ladies, who used to sing very well. Bhagawan warned us that as soon as one bhajan was over, the next had to be taken up immediately. Why? Because we have to be always alert. The mind should function together. So, this bhajan group used to sing very well. They really inspired us with their songs and inculcated in us a mood of devotion.

They were singing bhajans. After one bhajan they stopped, I think, for a few seconds. Then, another lady in the group (I think she wanted to sing and pour her heart before Bhagawan) took up a song and we knew this was not discipline. All of us were on tender hooks. Well, she sang her song and Bhagawan listened to it with so much of care! So much of indulgence! The bhajan was over, the arathi was over, and now all of us had to disperse. Bhagawan, young as He was, looked so very fragile, as if He could not speak a loud word. He rose and drew Himself up to His majesty. The bhajan group was still lingering there. He said “Come here!” It was a command, a command issuing from that tender, young figure. So, all the bhajan group went up to Him. I happened to be lingering there. He looked at us sternly and said, “What do you think of yourselves? You think you are the best singers? That nobody can sing better than you? I saw some of you sniggering. Take care!” He said, “If you repeat this, I will not allow you to sing in the bhajan”. The message, the correction went home to me, who was a witness of this incident. Judge not lest others judge you.

Bhagawan always says that, if you point a finger at somebody, three fingers point at you. How wonderfully You taught us this lesson Swami! It is as if it has happened yesterday, though it happened back in 1948. Never laugh, never mock, never deride, never belittle anybody. Who are you to do it? Take care! That was the warning and I learned this wonderful message that day.

To relate another incident; I was again a witness and the message went home. It was in old Brindavan.The occasion was a kind of celebration organized by the ladies, which Bhagawan accepted. He said, “All right! Let it be done.” As He took a personal interest in everything, the purohits, five of them, were called and briefed that they should chant the mantras in a very, very nice way, in the manner they ought to be recited. Prior to this day of celebration, Bhagawan ordered many, many saris to be given to the people, who belonged to the family, and to the others, whom He felt He should give, because giving is just the nature of Bhagawan. When all the bales and bales of saris were brought, they were just thrown casually in the huge dining room of old Brindavan.

The family ladies gathered there. I felt out of place, but I entered and stood there, because Baba was like a magnet. I just couldn’t help but be drawn towards Him. So, I was standing a little afar from these people, when Baba came so sweetly. There was a chair for Him, but He did not sit on the chair. He sat on the ground. Then, He asked those ladies to open up the saris. The bales of saris were opened and what lovely saris! It seemed they all came down from heaven, because Baba had ordered them. I was looking wide-eyed at the ways of Swami. So childlike! He seemed so happy, so simple, no sophistication. Baba has no sophistication at all. It is His simplicity, His innocence that attracts one, like a little child. He sat among the bales and bales of saris. Each sari was so gorgeous and of a different variety and different texture. He called each lady, who was there, and threw the sari with a lovely, affectionate comment, “This will suit you”, like a mother. Everybody was so happy. They took the saris.

One of the important ladies of the family came forward and Baba threw a wonderful sari at her. She was a Sumungali and Baba usually warns Sumagalis to dress well on certain days of celebration, because God has given it to them. This is not to show off, nor to say that “My sari is better than yours”.Whatever best sari I have, I offer it to You, My Lord, on this day of celebration, because You have given it to me. That is the attitude. Now, what this lady said was, “Swami,” in a self-pitiful tone. Bhagawan could immediately discern this, “Swami, why is this sari for me? I do not want this costly sari, Swami. Why, Swami? I don’t want it.” The moment was electric. How could anybody refuse a sari that Swami was giving with so much love? Immediately Swami, the Guru, looked up at her. His eyes were stern. He said, “This is not vairagya. Why did you leave your home and come? And now, you want to behave as a vairagi. Go back to your home and do your duty. Vairagya is not this type of ‘fault renunciation’. It is a detachment that comes from within”. I learned the lesson. Behave for the moment as you ought to behave. Do the things that you have to do in the context of the circumstances, but be detached. If you have a lovely sari and you have to wear it for a grand occasion, wear it. But, if you do not have it, be detached.That is vairagya. We make the differences: “This is an ochre robe or a whitesari.” Perhaps, it denotes vairagya that is worldly. It is our dual perception. I learned this wonderful lesson, Swami. I know what is necessary for mental detachment, not outward show. Bless all of us with mental detachment.

May I, if time permits, relate another experience of mine? It was about that time, when I was also in Brindavan. There were very rich people around, inside Brindavan. I was rich with Baba’s love, I was there also. This is what happened one day. It was a huge sort of area and I was coming that way. One of the very rich devotees was sweeping around the area. I was young and also had false notions. I thought to myself, “How great this lady is! How simple! She is so rich, she is taking the broom and cleaning the premises herself. What am I doing?” and I thought that I should take a broom myself and help her to clean the area. Baba came out at that time, immediately. He looked at her and said, “Throw away the broom!” I was aghast. What was wrong with sweeping the premises? He said “There are many people to do this task; do your task, play the role, for which you have come”. What a message! There is no work that is hard. It is our own perception. We have to play our role to the hilt, a role which God has given us with such mercy. Today, if the Director, as Bhagawan has said many times, asks you to play the role as a king, wear your royal robes, adorn yourself, keep the diadem on your head, be majestic, have the graceful, benevolence of a king, look with love and perhaps, a little condescension at your subjects. A king is charitable, he is magnanimous, and he is royal. When you play the part of a king, don’t disappoint your Director on the stage. Play it. Tomorrow, he may ask you to put on the robes of a beggar. Forget that you have taken the part of a king and enacted. Wear your tattered clothes. Be humble and act your part as a beggar and that is what it is all about. Do not let your mind intervene and spoil the perceptions that God wants you to perceive. If you have to play a role of whosoever you are, play it.

Yesterday and all these days, we as teachers play a role. We have to play it. We have to play the role Bhagawan wants us to play. We have to emulate, at least to some extent, what the Divine model is. How the students have to be moulded and how much they can take in and all this has to be done with love.

May I confess, Swami, my inadequacy in the presence of the Guru of gurus? It happens as I am growing with years. I become a little tired at the end of the day. Children are children and I am always conscious that, if He has placed these young children in our care, Baba trusts us. He wants us to love them. He wants us to mould them and above all to be patient with them. They are still immature, they are still young. We elders are wallowing in delusion, tremendous illusions of ourselves and of our work. What about their young minds? So, at the end of the day, I am tired and a string of students come to me with their problems. Why am I there? To listen to them. To listen to them with love and if I can, to some extent, help them to get over their own imagination, when the problem might disappear. So, when the last girl comes and it is nearly 10.30 pm, well, I do not know what happens to me. Swami should forgive me. When the last child comes, I am a little irritated and I say, “Is this the time, child, that you should come to me?” That little girl doesn’t know that I am tired and that I have been talking to so many other children. Bless me Bhagawan, that at all times I do not get irritated or lose my patience with those children of Yours, whom You have left in my custody. Let me play my role to the hilt as much as I can, with Your blessings.

If I have a little time, I shall also relate one wonderful message that He gave as the Guru of gurus. He had gone on a South Indian tour. My father was with Him and my mother was staying with me, loving and gracious. He asked my father to wire that He would come and stay at our residence for a day and a half, on the way. Bhagawan’s word is Bhagawan’s word! That is all. He did grace our residence and that day, when we were giving Bhagawan breakfast, Bhagawan was talking on spiritual matters. Father was there, mother was there, my husband was there, and I was there and all of a sudden, He looked at me and said, “Look here, Jai Amma.” So, my attention was drawn to the Divine fingers, which drew a figure or something on the dining table. He said, “Look here, this is the true coconut palm. It is here; it is laden with wonderful coconuts.You only have to climb, crack them, reach out to them, enjoy the tender, sweet juice, and partake of the pulp.” Well, that I could understand, definitely. Then again, He said, “Look here,” and He drew another palm tree, which was the shadow of the real one. The shadow was alongside the real palm tree. Then, He said, “Do you know what you all do? You try to climb the shadow, you try to reach out to the shadow fruits. How can you get them? How can you get them? You are living in an illusion; this is maya. Climb the actual tree. When you climb the actual tree, your shadow will automatically fall on this shadowy tree. When you try to reach out and pluck the coconuts, that same act of yours will also be there in the shadow tree. So, you must always be able to distinguish between what is true and what is false”. So, may I stop here with the command of Bhagawan?

Bhagawan, may all of us give a cheque with a signature of love and obtain immense grace and blessings.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II