Follow His Footprints…

Addressing devotees on the eve of Guru Purnima, Sri Ameya Deshpande, Research Scholar with Dept. Of Mgmt. Studies at SSSIHL gave an inspirational rhetoric sharing many an interesting anecdotes that the students were privileged to learn at His Divine Lotus Feet. Read on full transcription of the speech.

It is by Your Divine will that You have taken us under Your protective care. Swami, we pray to You that You never ever break this bond of loving relationship with us because we are You and You are us.

Most revered elders, dear brothers and sisters, SaiRam to all of you!

Let me take you briefly back to the surreal blue mountains of Kodaikanal. It was a wonderful cold afternoon, Swami was sitting with all His students and all of a sudden Swami popped out a question – What is the rarest phenomenon in this Universe?

A quite deep and profound question!

One of the students answered – Swami Self- realisation or ‘Mukti’ is the rarest phenomenon in this Universe. A pretty decent answer; but Swami’s reply to that was – Absolutely not! Self realisation is the ultimate destiny of every single life form and therefore it is the inevitable end of every single being. Therefore it cannot be the most rarest. ‘Mukti’ or Self-realisation is not the rarest.

And then Swami answered. When all the other boys were looking at Bhagawan’s Face, Swami answered: the rarest phenomenon in this Universe is to be a contemporary of the Living Avatar… And Swami went on to say that even rarer than living with the Avatar is to know the Living Avatar… And even rarer than knowing the Avatar is to love the Lord in human form and even rarer and probably the rarest of everything in this Universe is to get a chance to serve The Lord.

It is our Divine fortune, it is the ultimate compassion of our Divine Lord that He has given all of us , the few of us who are over here, that Divine opportunity to serve Him, to know Him, to love Him.

So the question now is – how do we serve the Lord?

It was in the clarion call that the Avatar made on 20th October 1940, when He said just four words in the beginning of His bhajan -’ Manasa Bhajre Guru Charanam’.

Here was the Lord asking all of us to come together, He was not saying all of you chant the name of the Guru. He was saying Manasa Bhajare – O Mind, chant the name of the Guru’s Feet.

The second word is ‘Bhajare’ which is contemplation. He is asking every mind seated over here to contemplate on the Guru’s Feet.

And what is a Guru?
Couple of years back when we had been to Kedarnath, we had the privilege of meeting a Self-realised soul and when some of us asked him this question when we said, we are all very pained that our Guru is not anymore with us in the physical form. How are we supposed to overcome this? When we asked him, his answer was – think about what you are all asking. Ask yourself, Who is the Guru? And then he went on to say – Does not Baba Himself say that Guru is the One Who is Gu – Gunatita and Ru – Roopvarjita. And so, therefore, what is it that is actually the Guru? And he went on to say that Guru is not the physical form, Guru truly is the word which comes out of the physical form. And imagine the potency of this particular statement. He is saying that the word is the actual Guru….and he went on to say that if you look at the word, it does not have any form and it is truly beyond the three attributes. It is truly Gunatita and Roopvarjita and therefore the true Guru is the message of the Guru. The message of the Lord is the true Guru.

And the fourth word – Charanam – what is this Feet of the Lord?
Let me again take you back to Paduka Poojas which often used to happen every year in Prasanthi Nilayam. Once, after the Paduka Pooja was over, Swami was sitting with some of His students in the interview room and all the boys had the great opportunity to press Swami’s Feet. And Swami asked this question, what is Paduka Pooja? And one of the boys seated next to Him said, Swami what we are doing is Paduka Pooja. Swami said, No, no… this is not Paduka Pooja. And then someone had a little higher understanding of telling Swami – in fact our tears of gratitude are like ‘Toyam’ and  ‘Patram’ and the Phalam are all our merits and demerits that we offer at Your Lotus Feet. You know He wanted to give a little better understanding of what is Paduka Pooja and Swami said no, no, no that is also not Paduka Pooja. And then Swami went on to say that true Paduka Pooja is when the Lord in human form leaves His Footprints – to walk in His Footprints is truly Paduka Pooja

To walk on the Footprints of the Lord, to make our lives His message is truly Paduka Pooja.

So now the next question is – How do we do it? Do we have the opportunity to serve the Lord? We have the rarest of the rare opportunities to serve the Lord. We also know what it is to serve the Lord? What is the true Paduka Pooja? What is the Guru Charanam that we are supposed to contemplate on?

So now the next question is – Are we really qualified? What is our qualification? And here Swami so beautifully says – The only qualification that you need is to need Me. If you need Me, you deserve Me. And I think each and every one of us seated over here have that qualification because we need Bhagawan, we need Swami in our lives.

But there are two qualities that even this need is required for – intensity and consistency. Most of the time our need is intense but not consistent. Some other times it is consistent but not intense. What we need is an intense and consistent need for the love of the Lord.

A lot of people say that you are all so lucky that you are all Bhagawan’s students. We never got the opportunity to be Bhagawan’s students. And there is a beautiful thought that one of our brother’s said – Yes, probably all of you will never be, will never have the good fortune of being Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning students, but we definitely have the good fortune of becoming Sri Sathya Sai students. We may never be able to become the institute students, but we can definitely become Swami’s students. As Swami Himself once said in Trayee that not all the institute students are My students. And what is more important for us is to become Sathya Sai students and not merely the institute students.

A lot of people have asked us, how have your last couple of years been? Swami was very much a part of our daily routine. How is it now? And my only answer to them is – Well everything has changed and nothing has changed. That is the magic of Prasanthi Nilayam. Everything has changed but at the same time nothing has changed.

I would just like to recollect one dream that I had – It happened couple of years ago on the occasion of Ashadi – it was immediately after Bhagawan’s ‘Mahasamadhi’ and this whole area was covered as it was not still open – the opening of the ‘Samadhi’ was scheduled on Guru Poornima and to me it was extremely important to know how the Samadhi is going to look? Is it going to pull me the same way that Bhagawan pulled me everyday to Mandir? And so every night I used to pray – Bhagawan, I wish to know – this is so important for me. Every night I used to pray and cry away to sleep.

On AshadiEkadashi in 2011, I had a dream – in the dream I am seated on the upper portico in Prasanthi Nilayam and the whole scene is as follows -

The entire Kulwant Hall is jam packed, is packed to capacity – you know why? Because all of us know that Bhagawan Has Returned. And every heart seated in Kulwant Hall is palpitating with that excitement. We are all waiting for Bhagawan to walk out of the interview room. Because we are all waiting for that moment when Swami is going to step out and so even my heart is equally palpitating with that excitement. I am seated in the upper portico and there and then the doors of the interview room open and Bhagawan walks out… and Swami is like a thousand watt bulb, His face is shining like a bright lily as He walks out with a beautiful smile adorning His face… and He walks up to me and He recognizes me – He says, Hey you are sitting over here. I said, Yes Swami, thank You so much Swami, thank you so much. And then Swami looks up at me and says – You knew… You knew isn’t it that I Am going to come back – for your sake I have come back.

And I simply took Swami’s Hand in my hand and I kissed it and I said – Thank You Swami, thank You so much for coming back. And He says – No… but I did not go anywhere, I Am here only, I am very much here only. Some of these people think that I have gone. I have not gone anywhere. And as I sat behind, behind in this upper portico, I watched – I actually saw the Samadhi from behind. And I was wondering Oh My God! What have we done? Bhagawan is back here and we have the Samadhi over here. Where is Bhagawan going to sit? And what will Bhagawan be thinking? That the Samadhi has been built? And so saying, my alarm clock rang, something fell in my room and I was woken up. And I came to Mandir and I had a beautiful Ashadi. And then on Guru Poornima, when I sat over here, I saw the exact, same Samadhi that we see over here that I had seen in my dream.

I knew that my Swami was there every second with me. In fact, He is very much over here.

I have been talking to lots of students asking them what is it that actually brings them back to the University? Now those were the days when we used to dream, run in the evening and come to occupy vantage positions in Prasanthi Nilayam for darshan. What is it that makes the boys run even today? I was asking them.

And the kind of experiences that I was hearing from each one of them were simply awe-inspiring.

Every student says – it is the legacy that Swami has left with that particular student. When I see that particular student, when I was outside, when I had not joined the institute and when I have come in contact with a particular Sai student, I know that it is Swami who is working through him. And I wanted to be like that student. I wanted to be like that boy. And that is what has pulled me over here.

Swami continues to live through each and everyone of our lives. And while that is a privilege, that is also a big responsibility.

On one of the occasions, one of the students asked Swami a very beautiful question – He said, Swami, what is the best relationship that we can have with You? It was one of the questions that even I had been wanting to ask for a very long time. But this student asked this question. Swami, what is the kind of relationship that we must have with You.

And Swami’s answer to it was – The best relationship to have with Me is that of a Guru and ‘Sishya’. A Master and a disciple’s relationship is the best. And Swami went on to explain – He said, in every other relationship, whether it be between a mother and a child, father and a son, two brothers or even husband and a wife, there is some element of conditionality. Whereas in this one relationship, one between the Master and a disciple – there is absolutely no condition. It is purely unconditional. The student accepts the Guru, the Guru accepts the student for whatever they are. “And then Swami said once having had this kind of relationship, the one between a Master and a disciple, then the disciple can look at the Master as a mother, as a friend and in fact it is this friendship or this kind of closeness – that Sneham which actually ultimately leads to Atma Nivedanam – which (Sneham) is the last but one in the ‘Nava Vidha Bhakti’.”

And that is the power of this relationship between us and Swami – as a Master and a disciple.

In conclusion, I would just like to narrate a beautiful story from the Bhagavatam.

It seems when Lord Krishna as little Gopala used to break the pots of butter, He used to wait for the Gopikas to come and capture Him. And it so happened that He was such an agile boy, that He used to hide somewhere and Gopikas would keep trying to search Him out but they wouldn’t be able to. And Krishna also used to wonder that why is it that these Gopikas are not able to find Me? And so what He did was a very beautiful thing.

From next time onwards, whenever He used to break the pot, He used to use His Feet to crumple the curds, to crumple the butter and then walk away, and as He walked away, there were these little footprints of butter you know which were left behind. And the Gopikas would see those footprints of butter and would go and fetch out Krishna.

Why I narrate this is because even today when our Bhagawan has gone to a place where we are not able to seek Him out, when we are not able to see Him, but He has still given us these footprints which we can seek and if we just follow these footprints, we will be able to seek out and we will be able to find our Bhagawan. And those footprints are all His discourses that He has given to us. All the messages that He has given to us are footprints that we need to walk upon. And needless to say, if we do walk upon those footprints, we will be able to seek, we will be able to find our living Divinity.

With that prayer in our hearts, that we may we be able to put our feet on to His footprints and ultimately seek Him, we pray and  make our obeisance at His Divine Lotus Feet!

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II