Oh! The Beauty Of Devotion!!!

How often we take Him for real… plunging into the Divine Persona of Sri Sathya Sai, our “Swami”, sans inhibition, reservation of any kind, flowing unto Him in a stream of unending, unsullied devotion? A beautiful story of that beauty of devotion, Bhakti, a story dates back to a decade and more from ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala.  (Original Malayalam story by Smt Vasanthi Velayudhan from Calicut, translation by Ms Vidya Samanyu, Abu Dhabi.)

During the 72-hour-long Akhanda Bhajans held by the Kottakkal Samithi, in Kerala, I, very surprisingly happened to meet Thirualamma again at the ‘Bhajan Mandali’ held at the Calicut University Samithi. A pleasant surprise it was. She came running towards me with, “Child, Gayathri Devi, Goodness”, and I, as usual, hugged her. Then, amidst mingled emotions of joy and sorrow, we conversed.

I had never known much about Thirualamma but I had always felt a resemblance with Sabari (of Ramayana fame). For the past 14 years I had been meeting her at Puttaparthi during the Kerala duty time, that is, from the time I started from going to Parthi attending duty.

From acquaintances, though, especially from the ones from Nilambur (Thirualamma’s native place), she is known as a stubborn, quarrelsome person. But, for me, from the day I saw her, she was Sabari!

Thirualamma’s little income comes from working in fields and well-to-do households. Yet, for all festivals at Parthi she makes it a point to be there. Like the squirrel in the Ramayana who wets its body, rolls on the sand and contributes that sand to the making of the bridge across the sea by dipping itself in it, Thiralamma also saves out of the little that she gets to contribute to Sai seva – a seva done for the welfare of the world.

Thirualamma had often asked me to show her my home. So, I told her to accompany me after the bhajans to ‘Ambadi’. She said she was here without any prior planning. On hearing that there was a Sadhana Camp in Kottakkal she had started immediately. Yet she agreed to come but under one condition – that she would be dropped back in Kottakkal after two hours.

On reaching ‘Ambadi’ I took her straight to the bhajan hall. As soon as she stepped in she started clapping, singing and dancing like a child. At that moment, for the first time, the decorations in the bhajan hall seemed to get a meaning. Her excitement, innocent communion with Bhagawan plunged me too into deep devotion.

After a while, I took her to the sitting room on the top floor, put a video featuring Bhagawan in Prasanthi during one of the festive occasions, and left for the kitchen to get something for her to drink. Thirualamma continued her uncontrollable bursts of joy and sorrow with Bhagawan. She very devoutly touched Bhagawan’s ‘form’ on the screen and experienced bliss. And then, with “dear child, you showed me by Bhagawan,” she ran towards the screen and danced… and touched… and heard Bhagawan!! I was in tears. For her it was not merely a screen image but the real Darshan of Bhagawan HimSelf!!!

My presence itself went unnoticed by her. And then, after around 10…15 minutes, in a genuinely affected tone, she told me, “Child, Bhagawan must have been tired. For how long has He been sitting like this. Now, let Him go and take rest.” And she kept saying ‘hurry, hurry…” till I switched off the CD player.

How many of us devotees have such concern about Bhagawan? At this juncture, another picture comes to my mind. It was during the time when Bhagawan had an operation after a ‘fall’. On seeing a frail Bhagawan sitting on the throne Thirualamma cried out: “Dear fellow beings, if only a little broken rice soup with coconut milk is served to Swami…He will get up and walk around.”

Thirualamma is definitely Bhagawan’s miracle. But Bhagawan, how is it that You have not yet seen Thirualamma?
I do not know…
Or, we do not know…
Our naked eyes might be fooling us…
But, to distance Thirualamma from Bhagawan,
None can do that…
Not even death.

Acquaintances say Thirualamma is 75. She is a person who goes to all the temples to offer flowers and do seva. “It is our Swami Itself child” she repeats about all the Idols. True. Salutations to all Gods shall attain one the blessings of Lord Keshava…Lord Sai…and Thirualamma exemplifies this.

II Samastha Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II