Follow the Master – Part 1
We have heard Sai Baba often saying “My Life is My Message”. And truly, he has demonstrated through action every single message he has given. Most of us are aware of the concept named “Ceiling on Desires” that Sai Baba has given us. Every SSE student is initiated in to this at some point during their studies, and members of the organisation are constantly encouraged to follow this principle. It’s a very simple principle that can be practised in our day-to-day life, and it has great bearing in our spiritual journey. It has 5 components: do not waste Water, Food, Energy, Money or Time. I will narrate here, how Sai Baba demonstrated this principle himself, so that we can follow him, as we tread in spiritual path.
All of us are aware of how precious water is, but often take very little care while using it. Once Baba had come to Boys Hostel at Brindavan, Bangalore to see the new altar that the boys had personally constructed in the dining hall. I was fortunate to be there at that moment. Sai Baba was happy with the new altar. Then he walked towards the washing area, which was just renovated and paved with tiles, and was also very happy with this. As we were all busy watching Sai Baba, none of us realised that one of taps was not properly closed and was dripping water. Sai Baba personally walked to the tap and closed it. As he turned back, he said “don’t waste water”. He could have pointed to the tap, and we would have rushed to close it. But, He chose to personally demonstrate, so that it would be etched in our minds and hearts.
Baba is very particular that we take only as much as is required, and that we do not waste food. One of the ways to make us not waste food is chanting the Food Prayer (“Brahmarpanam”). When we offer something to God, we tend to not waste it. Thus, if we are sincere about the Food Prayer, we automatically follow this principle. I was so moved by Baba’s words of encouragement when in one of his discourses he said, “… my students never waste food. Even when there is food left over in the night, they keep it and use it the next day. If there is rice left, they will make fried rice and eat…” No wonder I started loving fried rice! Baba has always encouraged us to respect food, and in turn we pay our gratitude to Mother Nature and the farmers who have produced the food for us.
All of us know that we should not waste money, but rarely realise that we are wasting it in unwanted fulfilment of desire. Students and young adults especially should be very careful about this. Once during darshan, a student gave a letter to Baba. To all of us sitting beside him, this appeared to be the usual ordinary letter of prayers which we often give to Baba. Baba graciously took the letter, took two stepped forward and stopped. To our surprise, he opened the envelope took out a 50 rupees note, stepped back to where the student was and flung it to back him, saying “ I don’t need money, I need your Love. Study well; do not waste your parent’s money”. With this one action, Baba, apart from giving a glimpse of His omniscience, also gave us a very loving message. As a student, this had great impact on me. It always helped me to make a decision when spending money.
We are still left with two more principles of not wasting – Energy and Time – which I shall take up in the next article.
The Divine Manifestations – Part 1
Several Divine manifestations of the Lord have taken place at our altar in Bahrain, which was also a Sai Centre while we were staying there. It was a continuous stream of divine manifestations; some were visible, while some were invisible to the naked eye. They were in different forms, like the white holy ash of Sathya Sai, the black coloured ash of Shirdi Sai, Kum Kum, garlands in turmeric, nectar, statues of deities for all family members and much more. Below are two examples of what our family has been blessed to witness.
- Udi (holy ash) on Shirdi Baba’s feet to remove a devotee’s doubt if Sathya Sai Baba is truly an incarnation of Shirdi Baba.
There was a young couple, the wife of which was (and is) a Sathya Sai Baba devotee. The husband was a Shirdi Sai devotee, and did not believe in Sathya Sai Baba. He did not want to attend any Sathya Sai centres because he doubted that Sathya Sai Baba was really Shirdi Baba incarnate. He used to drop and pick his wife up from Sai activities. It was at this point in time, during a group reading of Shirdi Sai Satcharitra (a usual occurrence as part of Sathya Sai Baba’s birthday celebrations at our house), that the white/grey-coloured holy ash of Sathya Sai manifested on the feet of Sathya Sai Baba, and Udi (the black coloured holy ash associated with Shirdi Baba) appeared on the feet of Shirdi Sai, as if an answer to the husband’s doubts. This cleared all his reservations, after which he became an ardent devotee of Sathya Sai Baba and a very active member of the Sai Organisation.
- Garland in Turmeric on Sai Baba’s Picture – acceptance of garland made by the Devotee
My wife Gowri used to make garlands for Sai Baba regularly; particularly, for the weekly centre programmes and other special Sai events wherever it took place.
Once the Tapovanam (Sathya Sai Baba’s story) reading was taking place at one of the three centres in Bahrain for a week or so and Gowri, as usual, made garlands almost every day. During this period, some other ladies were concerned about Gowri’s additional work of making garlands and suggested that she could better use this time in other domestic activities. But Gowri ignored these comments and continued to make the garlands.
For this group reading, some printouts of Tapovanam books were made, with some of Sai Baba’s quotes being inserted at the end of each chapter wherever there was any blank space. In the process, there was a quote regarding people offering garlands (Sathya Sai Baba says one should not make hefty, expensive garlands and load the idols and pictures of deities and parade about. Instead He says that devotion should be simple and sincere) which was inserted on the last page of the last chapter. Although this was not part of the story to be read, it got read aloud.
This caught the attention of the ladies who had earlier commented on Gowri making garlands, and they looked at her, indicating that the message was actually for her since it fitted with their earlier conversation regarding making garlands.
Gowri looked disturbed and I comforted her while driving back home from the reading saying that, if her making of garlands for Sai Baba was an actual show of devotion, it is up to Him, and therefore told her to ignore the comments of the ladies.
No doubt Sai Baba heard all the above, and probably to indicate His acceptance of Gowri’s devotion shown by making garlands, He Himself materialized a garland in turmeric first on a small picture of His (standing with Shirdi Baba), and later a bigger garland in turmeric with a pendant.