Walk towards ME and Leave maya behind!

The Hyderabad Youth, a bunch of dedicated youth from Hyderabad, has been famous in Sai circles for its absolute dedication and devotion to Bhagawan… When it comes to Seva, the group would often forget all personal issues, plunging wholeheartedly into action…  Over the years, especially in the late nineties and early twenties (1990-2000), the group had been immensely blessed with  many precious interviews, Face To Face With Divinity…wherein they learnt greater lessons, directly from The Lord… Sri Gopi Pidatala, one of the co-founders of the group, recounts some such precious lessons learnt at His Holy Feet…

Youth in India and across the world are getting carried away under the influence of certain culture which is not true and real to their own cultural heritage.  Values of the yesteryears which have been so closely safeguarded from generations are getting shattered with the new age technology… youngsters are getting entangled in actions which are not real but ‘Maya’ induced. India, known for its rich and ancient spiritual heritage, is also one of the countries which is facing this challenge despite its rich ancient cultural heritage!

It is at this point that our Divine Lord Sai has provided succor to all of us with His ‘Upadesa’ – Divine words for over 85 years and the Hyderabad Youth group in particular has been one of those large groups in the world which has had the unique and very great fortune of being under His guidance right from the early 1980’s.

In the following few paragraphs, I shall be sharing a few of such divine thoughts for the welfare of youth across the world. This thought is to share and care the Love of our Divine Mother Sai, especially for the young adults:

During one of the group interviews, one of the boys asked the Lord with a lot of concern, Swami, we are all in delusion (maya).  How do we come out of this delusion?

Swami, the all-knowing one smiled! With a surprised face He asked “Where?  Where is maya? There is no maya! He went on to explain with a lot of concern. Swami said For example; let us consider that you are walking in the opposite direction of the Sun, you see a shadow in front of you, Right? Consider yourself walking towards the Sun, the shadow is behind you and you don’t see the shadow. Correct?  We all nodded in agreement. In a similar manner, maya is seen when you walk towards worldly things.  Instead, walk towards Godly things. Dear Youths, walk towards God…then maya will be left behind you like the shadow you see. Understand?  This is a great example from the Almighty Lord to make us understand as to how we can stay away from maya (delusion) and lead a life of values and seva and get nearer to God.

On an another occasion, as we were all seated at the Divine Lotus Feet  of our Mother Sai in that small beautiful, most sought out room in Prasanthi Mandir– the interview room,  Swami said with a lot of concern and love , “My dear children, from today, all of you need to develop Love in your hearts.” With a twinkle in the Lord’s eye and a bewitching mischievous smile, Swami continued “This  Love, I Am talking about is not that Love which you have, think… all the time and see in the cinemas… that is mad love! All that love that is shown in the cinemas is contraction Love!  What I Am speaking is Expansion Love”. Immediately, one of the boys with audacity asked the Lord, “Swami, what is the difference between the two”?

Swami in all His love explained in this manner.  “When you talk of something of ‘mine’, it is selfish! The Love that comes with Selfishness is called Contraction Love! This Love does not expand and is limited and has a boundary. Whereas we talk of thine (third person) … the feeling that all that exists is of the Almighty, the love that emanates from such a Divine feeling is Expansion Love which has no limitation and no boundary!”

I am sure that you all now understand what Bhagawan was trying to hint to all of us … the love that He gives has no limitations, no boundaries, beyond caste , creed, region, religion and colour… Pure Love ! Does it not recall a bhajan that Swami so melodiously sings … Life is My form …Truth is My breath …bliss is My food …  These  thoughts give us an absolute clarity to each one of us to expand our Love in Thy Mission? Come, let’s do our bit in expanding this phenomenon of Love across boundaries!

Swami was once narrating us the story of Meera Bai, great devotee of Lord Sri Krishna. He mentioned that all devotees of His aspire to get close to him in terms of physical proximity. “All of you desire to be very close to Me in physical terms – you feel that a few centimeters away is also a great distance! Right?” He asked. We all nodded our heads.

He went on to say with that divine enchanting smile on His face, “Frankly, to tell you the truth, I do not know what physical distance means !
I Am beyond physical distance! God is beyond physical distances. One should learn to pray that God within their own hearts.”  Swami with great love went on to explain, “ Let Me tell you, my dear children,  God is not in a temple outside. Your body is His temple. He resides in your heart”.  To further substantiate His divine message, Swami said ,  “When the Rana of Chittoor   (Rajasthan) did not allow Meera Bai into the temple, Meera Bai immediately realised this concept and practised this form of devotion. She declared for her own self that her heart is a temple where Lord Krishna resides and it is at this point of time, she rendered the famous and popular bhajan:”

 “Chalo Re Man Ganga JamunaTeer…  Ganga Jamuna Nirmal PaaniSheetalhota Sameer,…Chalo re man…”

The Lord went to sing the entire bhajan for all of us … the Divine Lord in Divine ecstasy!  We were so fortunate! Things did not stop at that point … Lord Sathya Sai Krishna sitting in front of us in His divine throne continued to explain with gestures the meaning of the song.

He explained that Ganga Jamuna here means inhalation and exhalation; Teer here means the point where the eyebrows meet; the point of concentration where one can feel the presence of God! Nirmal PaaniSheetalhota Sameer:  when the Heart meets this point of concentration, it is only then a cool breeze of Bliss and Joy will pervade within, bringing Divinity! Brother and Sisters , Isn’t this explanation amazing?   I am sure that all of us should follow this divine thought of making our hearts the residence of our Lord and derive the bliss and joy of  the Almighty… more so when we do not see the Lord in His Physical form in Prasanthi Nilayam.

During another interaction, one of the members of the youth group said, Swami, we have a great passion to do service but money is something.  The Lord did not let him continue his sentence.  He quickly remarked by interrupting the interaction, if you talk about money, you will get a beating now! Tell Me when did you ever feel the pinch for money for service? Did I not give you all enough money whenever you wanted? Remember each one of you, whenever you have an inclination to do good work, money will automatically come. Remember, Good work is God’s work and God will take care of the money!  We as mortals still have that doubt despite seeing our own selves as to how the Lord has taken up huge service projects with his Vajra Sankalpam! Guess, it is time that as devotees of the Divine Lord we follow His message and His Divine steps to do good work which automatically becomes God’s (HIS) work and He takes care of it!  It has happened for us and we are sure it will happen for everyone who takes up Seva as God’s work.

This reminds me of yet another incident which actually proves and substantiates HIS words. This is not to prove His divinity but more so to reaffirm the faith we should have in Him.

We were all seated (about 15 of us) in the interview room.  Swami was talking about service.  I was one of the eldest in the group along with another brother called Uday Bhaskar Reddy who actually was leading the team of the Hyderabad Youth Group. At this point of time, in fact, I was the only earning member in the Hyderabad Youth group with a definite income every month.  As the interactions with the Divine Lord was going on the topic of Seva, suddenly the Lord looked at me with stern eyes and chided me “Pakoda, I do not like what you are doing! (Swami lovingly used to call me Pakoda which I  cherish till  date (it is a delicacy in India made of Bengal gram which bloats when fried in oil , he also used to call me Bonda which is another delicacy  in Southern India,  Double  size, Ghatotkacha, Son of Bheema)

The stern look sent a chill down my spine. Iimmediately said, I am sorry Swami!   The readers at this time may be wondering as to why did I immediately give in and apologize. Let me tell you dear Brothers and Sisters, I have learnt over the years that it is always the best approach to accept what the Divine Lord says! I am sure that you would all agree that the all-knowing Lord knows how many mistakes we commit every second knowingly or unknowingly!  If I had asked Him, what did I do Swami?  The most mischievous Lord would pull out a list of wrongs that I had done…so why to challenge? Meekly accept – this is the best way with the Divine Lord…so I apologized. When I did so, His stern eyes became a little softer and He said, “Why are you taking loans and doing Seva ? that too @  Rs. 2 interest ? I don’t like it at all “!  (Readers please note  that in India , interest rate at Rs.2 is 24 percent per month). I humbly said that, Swami, we started the project and we were stuck for funds so I took this loan to complete and not to get a bad name for Sai!

His immediate reaction was “Don’t do that! As a leader you are setting a bad example for others! You are doing good work! You should come and ask Me, I shall give you money! Never take a loan from outside! What will people think? They will think that this Sai Baba is asking children to raise money through loans, that too on high interest and do Seva … it will send a wrong message… your intention is good but the society out there will not understand! He assured us that for good work Swami would make money rain and see that there is no dearth of funds at any time. He further said money will rain and flow like a perennial river for good work. The best part of the interview was that the Lord calculated the entire amount and gave the money to me to repay the loan back.

That is the Divine Mother! It is from that day, we, as Hyderabad Youth, never looked back as we were all the time sure that the Lord is always there to support us in doing good things. If this has happened to us, why would it not happen for others, So brothers and sisters, move forward to do good work and He is there right behind you all the time !

In another instance, Swami had called us for an interview. One of the brothers said, “Swami, how would you describe spirituality in one sentence? ” Swami replied with a smile, “True spirituality is to Love All and Serve All”. It sounds so simple! Isn’t it? To be true, we were not very happy with the answer as it seemed to be a routine one. The Divine Lord gauged our minds, Swami said with a smile suddenly, “Dear children, but before you love someone, you need to love yourself ! In order to love your own self, you should ensure and have that firm conviction that you do not have any bad habits and evil thoughts. In order to get to such a state of mind, one should achieve perfection. This is what I call Sadhana. In normal terms, you all think of Sadhana, as doing Namasmarana, doing pujas, rituals etc., To Me it is not. Attaining a state of perfection in the state of mind is Sadhana for Me. It is only when you are in a state of mind where you are in love with your own self , only then would you be in a state of mind to love all . When you are in this state, you are ready to serve all. This is Sadhana to Me ! HE declared !

What an answer! Do we really love ourselves fully? Are we sure that there is no quality in us which we detest? Think about it! Let’s tread the path of Sai … the only Being who taught us this mantra for salvation… Love All – Serve all !

We all aspired to be called for an interview by Swami. Once Swami  called the  youth group.. During the interview, one of the brothers had the audacity to ask “Swami, these days you have not been calling us for an interview!  Immediately Swami said, “I have called you now.” The boy’s response was, “Swami, please call the entire group.” We were only a few of us in Prasanthi Nilayam and hence that plea. Swami smiled and said “You are all busy people! Dears! You never wait! you boys come, work  in the canteen and leave! You never come for darshan too!  “Your focus is  on Seva but you should also have Darshan. You should  come when I Am free, not during festival time…but also remember if butter has to melt, there is a need for heat ! Right? Similarly, if you want Me to call you, you should also practise what I have preached you ….then I shall definitely call you ! I shall be always with you, beside you, behind you, in front of you and all around you! So, start practising from this second!

Isn’t this true? We always seek the grace of the Lord without getting into perfection mode! There is an absolute assurance that the Lord will always be with us …  so why delay?  Let’s get into that perfection mode and seek His blessings! We also learnt that day, the importance of Divine Darshan!

Having said all these, Dear brothers and Sisters, let me assure the divine messages that Swami  gives us or  has given us is for a life time which we should pass it on from generation to generation.  The need of the hour is transform ourselves to be better human beings, follow our ancient cultural heritage and not get influenced by unwarranted influences of the society.

Today, we all read about Lord Krishna’s Divine Leelas and Upadeshas. Similarly, over the last century we have read the messages and leelas of the Divine Master Shirdi Sai! I recall a discourse that our Lord Mother Sai had given on the March 3, 1996 addressing the devotees in Sai Kulwant and in specific the Hyderabad Youth group that there will a day when HIS  messages, HIS leelas and the seva that HIS  devotees have undertaken will be spoken about by  our  great great grandchildren!! Are we not fortunate to be contemporaries of the Lord?  If we feel happy about it … let’s all together move forward to practise what He preached/s us and make oursleves worthy to be HIS contemporaries…

May Sai Bless us all to be worthy instruments in HIS Mission … which is His–Story to create HISTORY!

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II