Monday, June 4th, 2012
Bhagawan’s ways are inscrutable and beyond human comprehension. That is why, He said, “Love My uncertainty.” His entire life was a saga of love – love for the humanity and His other creations. One should have unflinching faith in Him and love Him for love’s sake. Our permutations and combinations to gauge the enormity of His life, His mission, His actions… are like an ignoramus trying to count the stars in the sky.
In the climactic part of His glorious Sai Saga, Bhagawan punctuated a few of His Discourses with indications of His ‘departure’. However, Divine Intend is undoubtedly beyond ordinary human understanding. This article, English adaptation of the Telugu Editorial appeared in April issue of Sanathana Sarathi, is a compilation of the hints thrown by Bhagawan from time to time about the April 2011 ‘Divine Drama’ in His Discourses.
The cameo appearance of the cosmic creator in His own drama of the creation, in the delectable divine-human form of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, had delighted us all for over 85 springs, spreading love and joy through song and sport, and showing us a new meaning of human life. His merciful hand holding had spurred us on as we walked the path to the ultimate goal of life. Sojourning in the world with divine incarnate was a rare blessing. Journeying in life with His companionship was an ethereal dream. For a moment we had the glimpse of a grand vision in which kingdom of heaven descended on earth and men lived like angels, nay, gods. No wonder that we wanted this dream to last forever!
Ensconced in our faith in His divine powers, we failed to pay attention to Bhagawan’s forewarnings that His divine role would not transgress the limits set for man and will abide by the laws of nature. Finally, on April 24, 2012, we were rudely awakened to reality from our wishful reveries. It was curtains down for the cameo act of the creator. “Oh, why should the light have gone out of sight so soon?” cried the devotees as His memories flooded their minds and flowed down their cheeks as tears. In place of the tender Lotus Feet, now we only have His footprints to show us the way. We can see them clearly all around in the form of “Love” and “Service.” That, when we follow in His footsteps, the blissful indweller of our beings will guide us and lead us from within, is a truth validated through experiences of all of us who walked a few steps with Him ever in life.
How can we gauge the inscrutable Will of the Supreme Lord? Even the Vedas and scriptures have given up the attempts to define Him, declaring that He is beyond the reach of thought and word: Yathovaachonivarthanthe, apraapyamanasasaha! We too must stop rationalising and speculating, and cultivate acceptance and surrender: O Lord, Thy will be done! What else can we do? For, He once mused poetically thus:
“Even as you are rejoicing that He took you into His fold, He instantly inflicts pangs of separation;
Even as you accuse Sai of having fun at your cost, He makes your sides split with laughter now and again;
Even as you are feeling jubilant that He has commended you, He pulls the rug under your feet, for sure;
Even as you rest assured of His protection, there is no end to the troubles you face;
Neither will He let you retreat nor will He allow you to progress ahead;
He holds you by your mind and puts you through a grind;
Such is the transcendent nature of this diminutive form of Sai;
How can you ever hope to comprehend it at all?”
That is why, perhaps, His constant advice to us was, “Love my uncertainty.” Having had known His unpredictable ways, how could we have been so naive as to take his word about 96 years of life-span for granted? In our complacency we ignored what He declared publicly on more than one occasion: “I can stay as long I wish to, and I can also leave whenever I want to.”
Self-determinism apart, there is a divine design that pre-determines the life events of an Avatar, as Bhagawan Himself clarified. To give an instance, He had once revealed that His birth is an inception and not a conception, and that His parents were chosen by Him before the birth! So, we must realise that, in the lifetime of an Avatar, nothing happens by chance: everything happens by His choice.
Going by the analogy of “Ashwatthamahathah, …kunjarah”, some feel that the Lord had wisely distracted us from the unpleasant truth by stating the lunar calendar time in Gregorian terms as 96 years. But then, it is said that upholding Truth tactfully is itself a Yoga. Anyhow, Swami’s commitment to Truth, though intriguing, is beyond our logical considerations and analytical deliberations. After all, ours is the narrow corporal outlook and His is the expansive spiritual outlook. Just as we identify ourselves with our bodies, we confine Him also to His physical form, while, in an all-encompassing spirit, He sees Himself in you, me and all beings. It is recorded in Sai Satcharitra that once, in the Shirdi Avatar, the Lord did not honour the invitation for lunch at a devotee’s place after having said yes to it. But when the devotee accused Him of not keeping the promise, He disclosed that the hungry dog which the host had driven away from the doorstep was indeed Himself come for the lunch.
“Only another Sathya Sai Baba can truly know who this Sathya Sai Baba is,” said Bhagawan rhetorically. We can know Him as much as He reveals Himself to us. As a matter of fact, Bhagawan had been dropping hints about His imminent departure for the preceding four years, discreetly as well as directly. On the 7th of June, 2007, while addressing the staff and students at the auditorium of Sri Sathya Sai University, Bhagawan startled them with an indication that the time had come for Him to conclude this incarnation. Sai Gita, the pet elephant that He brought up since it was a baby, had died a few days ago. He narrated how He found the elephant calf at Mudumalai sanctuary, orphaned by her mother and abandoned by the herd, and adopted her with the consent of forest officials. He fondly remembered her love for Him and praised her for leading a holy and blessed life at the Ashram. He, then, added:
“…Sai Gita had an inner connection with Me. She never missed her mother after coming to Swami. She always held on to Me. She spent 30 years with Me, thus. The other day she passed away. The night before that, she spoke to Peddi Reddy, the caretaker. “Swami will not stay too long. I want to leave before He does. I cannot live a moment without Him. I cannot stay where Swami is not there,” she seemed to have said.”
Once again, while delivering His divine message on Shivarathri, 2008, He made our hearts miss a beat mentioning that His reincarnation as Prema Sai was going to happen “Soon!”
“… I have been observing for a month now. Even today, as I was coming here, both of them stood in My way. One was Easwaramma, and the other Pedda Venkama Raju! They both are in Vaikuntham, now. And they keep calling, “Swami, we are waiting for You. Oh, it’s been such a long time since we saw You!” Soon the third incarnation will take place. The first Shirdi Sai! The second Parthi Sai! The third Prema Sai! What is coming now is Prema Sai. That will unite everyone. That love will unite everything.”
That very year, during His Vijaya Dasami speech, He gently chided the devotees for taking Swami’s words lightly and thinking, “He is speaking in jest” and alerted that “The time is nearing.”
Likewise, speaking on the occasion of Shivarathri in 2009, He prophesied, “… In a short while, this body may not be visible to you. But, it is not really natural to mourn when that happens. When one returns to his own abode, you must be happy for him, and not grieve. Rama came; spent time in forest; and slayed the demons. But, at the end of it all, where is He? Not there! He merged with Sarayu waters. Indeed, at any point in time, bodies are impermanent and illusive.”
The benevolent Bhagawan, on one hand, had been indicating in many ways that time is running out. On the other hand, he also made Himself available and accessible to devotees in greater measure, showering abundant love on one and all. The events at Prasanthi Nilayam over the preceding three years would stand testimony to this fact.
By shifting the venue of Bhajan sessions from inside the Mandir to the open premises of Sai Kulwant Hall, He gave everyone the opportunity to watch His divine form to their hearts’ content all through the Bhajans.
Those who had been in His service at the Ashram, and the educational and medical institutions there, working selflessly and relentlessly over several years, were given an opportunity each to personally present themselves to Him at the end of Bhajan sessions in the evening, with a rose in the hand, so that they could touch his feet, hand a letter, speak a word and pose for a photograph with Him. Their bond of love and service with their Master was thus frozen in a frame to cherish forever.
Added to this were the special blessings showered on specific groups in separate gatherings organised inside Poornachandra Auditorium. ‘Sevaamrutham,’ a congregation of over 1,400 employees of various wings of the Central Trust was graced with His presence and each member was given a memento on the occasion of His 85th Birthday. The staff of Super Speciality Hospitals came in smaller groups for sessions of ‘Sai Saameepyam,’ getting closer to the Lord. The alumni of the educational institutions visited batch-wise, along with their families, aptly naming the events as ‘Prema Bandham,’ bond of Love. He gave His time readily to all of them.
‘Parthi Yatra,’ the pilgrimage to Puttaparthi by individual groups from various districts, States and countries became a round the year affair. He blessed their service activities and sat through their cultural programmes, unmindful of His bodily discomfort. Bal Vikas children and Sai youth came in hundreds and thousands to assure Him of their conviction in human values and commitment to serve humanity, and one felt that the future of the mankind is secure. He showered gifts on them and posed for group photographs with them. Even the Seva Dal volunteers were given a chance to seek His blessings at the conclusion of their duty period. Ah, every cup runneth over with the nectar of His divine love!
Then, it was time to prepare us all for the shape of things to come. By the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, He reduced the frequency of His darshans, initially to once a day, and later to once in two days. It seemed that He was playing hide and seek with the devotees who expectantly waited to have a glimpse of their Beloved.
Many instances went unpublicised, like those that happened on His 85th Birthday. When a few devotees and students presented Him the birthday cake for cutting, He looked at the figure of 85 on it and said, “Not 85, it is 95.” Planned so meticulously, well in advance, for 85 couples to mark the occasion of His 85th Birthday, the Mass Marriages event ended up having 95 couples tying the knot in His presence, in place of 85!
Darshans during the penultimate days were unusual with Bhagawan going round among devotees twice each time on March 23 and 25. He even distributed Vibhuti packets to as many people as He could on these two days. The grand finale of the divine drama also saw a never before act performed by Him. After the evening Bhajans on March 20, when He lifted His hands to bless the crowds of devotees, they were not in the usual form of assurance, Abhaya Hastha, but were folded hands doing Namaskar to all! Was it really a farewell gesture? Did He mean that He was devotee of His devotees? Or, was He just saluting Himself residing in all of us?
A month after His ultimate retreat, a few Ph.D. students from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning went on a trip to the Himalayas. They met with a Yogi on Neelkanth Peak, who was happy to know that they came from Puttaparthi. He told them, “Do not grieve that Bhagawan Baba shed His mortal coil. He is always present in a formless state. Here in my Ashram, I have had His darshan several times.” How astonishing! Where is Puttapathi and where are the Himalayas?! How could the Yogi have the blessed vision of the Lord of Parthi, so many times?! Indeed, Avatars cannot be confined corporally, temporally or geographically. Their identity is not the mortal form, but the immortal spirit. No wonder, they can appear anywhere, in any form and at any time. Evidences of this truth are galore in the life of Swami.
“I am not the body; I am the Self within,” was the constant refrain of His teachings.
“Love is My form,” He declared, and added, “No reason for love; no season for love; no birth; no death!”
Quoting from a song of His, “It is only for namesake that He resided at Shirdi or Parthi. He is actually present in the very eyes of those that visualise Him. Open your eyes and look around! This Lord Sai is indeed everywhere!”
II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II