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3 poignant stories of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba full of insight


It is said that Maya (illusion or delusion) often covers up Divinity just like the clouds cover the sun. Everything seems dark then till the clouds are blown away and the sun is revealed in all glory. Nothing ever happens to the sun! But we humans on earth experience its absence. In fact, the concept of Maya itself is an illusion as Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, put it:

“There is no such thing as Maya; it is all one's imagination. To think that you are the body is Maya. You mistakenly believe that you are something [body] that you really are not; that is Maya. Truly speaking, there is no Maya; it is all one's imagination. Maya is like the shadow of a tree. What casts the shadow? The branches of the tree and not the rays of the Sun. If there are no branches, there is also no shadow. The shadow called Maya arises from the branches called human desires. If there are no desires, then there is no Maya as well!”

Well, as a student, I have seen this Maya on innumerable occasions. Before I go into some interesting episodes, let me define what I mean by Maya here. Maya is when we limit Swami to the 5’ 2” frame of His forgetting that He is what the scriptures call as Anoraneeyan Mahatomaheeyan. (Smaller than the smallest but larger than the largest!)

Each of these episodes show a beautiful aspect of His love and message. They occurred in different points in time to different classmates of mine.

Prayers should be free of selfishness and delusion

The first one happened on 24th of October,2006. Swami was speaking to some of us students who had planned to put up a programme in His presence for the occasion of Ramzan. The whole session was enlightening and fantastic. Towards the end, one of my classmates rose and told Swami,

“Swami there is one desire...”
“What is it?”
“Swami, till now you have made us walk. Now, you walk Swami!”
( Swami had been coming and moving about only in a wheelchair due to a fracture in the hips.)

Swami did not say anything. My classmate continued,
“Swami, we cannot see this pain... We want to see you healthy and happy.”
And with that he burst into tears. Seeing this sudden outburst, Swami too had tears and seeing them, all of us to felt hot streams down our cheeks. Then Swami said,
Naaku Emi Noppi Ledu Bangaru. (My dear one, I have no pain of any kind.) I am always happy.”

With that statement, He effectively countered the request that He should walk because He should not be in pain. But my classmate was in a stubborn devotion. He did not give up and he continued,

“Swami, you are not in pain. But we are sad and pained to see you like this.”
And to that, Swami gave a stunning reply,
“ If you want me to walk so that you are happy, that is selfishness!”
At that point in time, it did not strike hard. My classmate continued,
“Swami, it is our selfishness- not yours. So why should you suffer?”
“There is nothing like your or my selfishness. Selfishness is selfishness. Swami is always happy. He becomes sad when His children are sad!”

And then He declared,
“I will walk. Just wait and see.”
The episode ended there.

On later analysis, I realized that there was such a potent message hidden in there. Almost all of our prayers to God are due to ignorance/delusion (eg. Swami should walk because He should overcome pain) or due to selfishness (Swami should walk because we are in pain seeing Him so).

What and how should our prayers be?
Now that is a point to ponder...

Offer a fresh leaf of meals to God...

This is an episode that another classmate of mine in the interview room. Swami was speaking about some of his personal matters. In between all that, Swami narrated an analogy. And that analogy is poignant and heart-rending.

“You know, when you organize a marriage, there is an order in which food is served. First, the guests are served with all the delicacies. It is that the relatives have their food. After them, the close family and the couple have their food. If there is food remaining, the workers and helpers at the wedding hall are given food to take home for their kith and kin. If food still remains, the beggars and poor people nearby are called and given food. And then, if there is still food remaining, it is thrown. The dogs and crows come and eat them.”

At this point, Swami made a statement that wrenches the heart.

“My condition when I seek Love is like that of the crows and the dogs! People offer their love and devotions to everyone they find and only the discards are offered to God.”

At this point, the boy was in tears. But Swami only had a gentle smile. He also gave an assurance,
“If anyone offers their love to God in their youth, they earn the right to demand from the Lord anything, anytime. Youth is the most sacred time in life which should be offered to the Lord.”

Let not the Lord be made to scrape at remnants of discarded love...

Let not the Lord be made to scrape at remnants of discarded love...

Love is all that the Lord seeks...

I remember a speech that was delivered by a student in Sai Kulwant hall. He spoke about the concept of avatarhood in a very interesting manner.

He said that the Supreme taking on the limitations of the human frame could be understood to an extent with an analogy. Imagine, you had a dog. The dog loves you and you love it too. But how much ever you try to explain to the dog that there are wonders in life grander than just eating, sleeping and wagging its tail, it will not understand. Then, imagine if you had to become a dog yourself so that you could communicate the grand secret to it!

"Now, that is love", the speaker had said.

I stated the above instance because of its relevance to the third episode.

There is another classmate of mine who had chances to be physically close to Swami on many occasions. As it happens, physical proximity often puts us into Maya - which is confusing Swami to be the 5’ 2” physical frame. Seeing the ‘human’ way in which Swami did many things, he one day prayed to Swami.

“Swami please let me be steady in my faith...”
When Swami enquired as to why he prayed thus, he replied,
“Swami my faith in you trembles at times. I don’t want it to collapse.”

(This is a fairly common prayer of all devotees - not only Sai devotees! They pray that their faith should be steady.)

Swami’s answer just blew me away.

Bangaroo (My dear), do you love me?”
“Yes Swami. I love you.”
“That is enough. There is no need of faith. If you love me, you deserve me.”

With that, I realized how loving and compassionate our Lord us. He never seeks even ‘faith’ from us. He is hungry only for our love. Has He not said,
“If you need me, you deserve me.”

I would be grateful if you can share your insights in the comments below...


If you liked this article, you will also enjoy:

1. Three stories on God's Giving

2. A vibhuti explosion in remote Guyana - A miracle

3. A rose bud offered to God.

4. A memorable Christmas morning darshan of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

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© 2012 Aravind Balasubramanya


Siddharth chettri on March 22, 2016:

Iove u swami

B Shiv Kumar on July 12, 2015:

Thanks a lot for this wonderful article

Mangala on July 11, 2015:

"Om Sri Sai arogya pradaya namaha" - how can the giver of health be lacking Himself? He could have cured Himself in a trice, but as always He chose to demonstrate "My life is My message" for us to emulate Him. I feel the whole hip-fracturing incident and subsequent wheelchair days were a demonstration from Swami to humanity as to how to accept sudden reversals in life. How to have a surrendered state of consciousness and be equanimous in victory and defeat, joy and sorrow, sickness and health. How to accept the "Reality of What Is" without resistance, and thus without pain and suffering. This was a lesson at a very high level because it was the concretization of an ideal. Not that we can ever match up to it, but just having that ideal in view will show us how to handle our own disappointments and reversals and "be always Happy."

Padma Narayanaswamy on October 01, 2014:

Thanks for posting all articles . Maya is illusion . I am a middle aged lady . It is only now for the past one year I am in love with swami. I did not about bhagwan . I thought he was just another saint and India Today a magazine confirmed it. but now I have a sea change SAI is everything to me now.

Girish on June 18, 2014:

The third episode, for me, is a reaffirmation of what He has been long guiding me in. Faith, in common usage, has an undercurrent of expectation (that God will do this or that) and so gets questioned by the mind every time something does not happen as we will. Love is so much simpler for an ignorant person like me. It is an affectionate, warm, and lovely feeling that naturally arises in the heart. In my struggle, I have realized that faith belongs to the realm of mind, whereas love belongs to the realm of the heart. The fountain of love is within and no one can steal it from us, but very often, faith becomes extrinsic. If you don't have faith, it can be a blessing in some contexts; but if you don't have love within, then one is surely a living dead.

Aarthi on September 14, 2013:

This keeps coming back to me often -- “My condition when I seek Love is like that of the crows and the dogs! People offer their love and devotions to everyone they find and only the discards are offered to God.”

All I can say is "Swami, I am nobody great but please do not say such heart-wrenching words. I offer my love to you, though it is tinged with so many of my negative traits. Please accept the love from this little heart. It is you who has filled my heart with love for you and so I am offering it back to you."

Mark on September 02, 2013:

Well the middle story moved me very much and brought me back to that sacred day when I was 18, when God's Love first came into my life, in a most wonderful and life changing way.

“If anyone offers their love to God in their youth, they earn the right to demand from the Lord anything, anytime. Youth is the most sacred time in life which should be offered to the Lord.”

Shivakumar on September 02, 2013:

Dear Brother,

Very poignant stories. It was a like a hammer shot on the head when he says that we share LOVE with him in the last like crows & dogs. I really feel now that my youth should have been dedicated to him, nevertheless it is not too late now and have fully LOVED HIM ever since i realized that.

Keep it up brother and thanks to SWAMI for giving us this short stories.

Nupur Banerjee on May 24, 2013:

Dear brother Sairam,

Confessing first, I have to speak at a youth workshop coming Saturday and was searching for material on Devotion, which I thought of sharing with youth wing, your two write-ups , Way to God and this has made me to copy the content and translate it in Hindi and share with my young brothers and sisters. I shall be making it point clear that I read these at your site.

Hopefully you will forgive.

thanks for posting these stories, they help people like us who never got a chance to be in proximity with swami, so much like you students and always missed these moments of wonder, teachings and enlightenment.

Thanks again brother!

Jai Sai Ram! Nupur

Padma. on March 22, 2013:

Life changing Article..Thank you Swami for making me read this .

Priya No 2 on January 26, 2013:


Please can someone kindly translate what Swami said to Priya in English or Hindi...I really want to know what Swami answered.

Thank you and Sairam

Priya No 2

Usha Pillai on November 18, 2012:

Sai Ram Bro Aravind.

The part that pains me... when He compares Himself to the crows and dogs... how often have I paid attention to Him last, after everyone else gets it! Suppose that's why the morning prayer, and other little habits throughout the day are so crucial for us to not keep Him for our "leftover love" ...

Naresh on November 17, 2012:

I will walk - '' WAIT AND SEE!''

chandra banu on November 17, 2012:

what a heart melting words of assurance from Swami. "If u love Me u deserve Me". Thank u so much Swami and Aravind bro. for the x'lent article. Jai Sai Ram

shobha m. on July 14, 2012:

catching up with all your posts, was at Parthi and did not access the internet, as the effort were on to hook on to the inner net. The episode no 2 was most heart wrenching. The lord who showers love in torrents , waits eagerly for man to love Him with the same intensity , and how man fails lured by the world. God created man so that man would love Him and experience His love , but neither loves Him, nor experiences His love. I often wonder how pained Swami must have been to see man thus. I guess being God and more so an Avatar where He bonds with humanity would have caused Him so much of pain. But being the anandaswaroopa , all the pain would have melted in the bliss of His unfathomable love.

Devendran Nair on July 12, 2012:

Thank you Aravind. All your articles are like a lifeline.

The love one has for the Lord is his biggest asset.

It is only Swami's blessings that he allows us to Love HIM.

poornimasrinath from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA on July 12, 2012:

This post required understanding of Swami's words more deeply. If you loose faith in someone you stop loving them. So if we admit we love someone that indicates our faith in that person. Swami has spoken about this interconnection between faith and love in a discourse explaining how love doesnot blossom if there is no faith. This is explained in vedas too. "Manthra Pushpam" has clearly stated this inter relationship by stating "the one who understands the relationship between steady faith and love reaches highest abode". Everything narrows down to knowing what love is. We need to understand difference between whether we like swami or love swami. I think radiosai article brought out this very beautifully. If we can clear the liking and loving in our minds we will know if we have faith or not. Whether we had faith in Swami or not , He has faith in us. Hence He continues to love us!

Wonderful article!!! Thank you Aravind :) I heard bro chandu vijay referring to this statement y'day just when he started love to love. Since I did not read this article until y'day I wondered if I had missed reading something from what you have posted thus far. Be assured your writing has impact on many!

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on July 12, 2012:

@ Aarthi - Your response oozes with so much love for Him and feeling for Him... I must thank sister Darshi for her comment on yours...You have offered your youth to Him... Don't worry... He knows all.. That's all I can say

@ Priya - That is a beautiful dialogue with the Lord that you have shared... Thank you...Our faith is known to us best!

@ Panduranga Rao Sadhu - Treasure and cherish those moments... They will make great meaning to you when you need them the most...

Thank you Pumalay and Sai Saraswuthi

@ Archana - You sure do!

@ Madhavi - Your understanding is perfect... And do not worry... Swmai the teacher will teach us according to our grade or class... Whatever inspires you the most is in fact Swami communicating to you...

Madhavi Alapaty on July 12, 2012:

Aravind, Thank you for sharing this article with us. All this time I was thinking how to love SWAMI and at the same time keep faith in HIM. So naturally that is what I was praying to HIM that never let me loose faith in you and please hold my hand all the time. Today after reading your article, it suddenly dawned on me ‘how to love SWAMI’ without any attachments. I need to love HIM as I love my own kids and husband and other family members. If they do something or if something happened to me, I wont loose faith in them or stop loving them..right ? So I will make SWAMI part of my family and start loving HIM unconditionally without any attachments and expectations from HIM..just show HIM my unconditional love towards HIM and make HIM part of my daily routine in everything. Does it make sense at all..or am I still ignorant ?

Archana on July 12, 2012:

I deserve you Swami...!!

V.SAI SARASWUTHI on July 12, 2012:

Good brother ...we are able to get more and more into Swamy's insights by these kind of articles. You students are so blessed to get first hand interviews from swamy. Thank you for sharing ,it's a privilege to know about all those intimate interviews which students have with none other than the "Cosmic Creator".


Panduranga rao Sadhu on July 11, 2012:

thanks aravind brother for reminding us of that evening. I was there in bhajan hall at that time. Indeed that was the most happiest day of my life. Almost one and half hour listening to Swami. I couldn't sleep that day for long i was afraid i might lose that joy in the morning. Thanks a lot.

Pumalay Mudliar on July 11, 2012:

And then He declared,

“I will walk. Just wait and see.”

The episode ended there.

from the above declaration it is quite clear that Swami will return and we will once again see him moving amongst us

priya on July 11, 2012:

Sairam Aravind,

Due to my ignorance, exactly 6 months ago, i was praying to swami that "swami...my faith in you always trembles..it should be always steady and my love to you should go on increasing day by day swami"..this was my prayer for more than a month.. every day..every moment....one fine day when i was chanting the sai gayathri mantra@ home.. i heard a voice in my head saying very very clearly "hey picchi...mee meedha nammakam kavaali swami ..kaavaali swami.. ani nanne kadha aduguthunnavu eevaraku.???...nee nammakam inka nee theliyaledhaa????...!!...ha ha ha.."....i was stunned ..!..!...

darshi on July 11, 2012:

This is for Aarthi :)

I have never met you, but you've written down words that have just lifted a huge burden off my chest.

"You may be going through disappointments for an irritatingly and unbearably long time but take it from me, at one point, Swami will just pour His grace on you such that you get submerged in it. You will then just forget all your past disappointments."

His timing will always be the right timing.

Thanks a lot for sharing this...I will need this for the next few (days,months, years, I don't know - and there is no such thing as time anyway!)..but these words are enough. I think everyone agrees that our spiritual journeys are very individual, and very unique to each of us. Although at times we may wish that we could trade places with others, in the end it's what we learn (the hard way or not) that makes us exactly who He wants us to be.

I think I'd liken it to a work of art, a painting, a masterpiece. It takes a painstakingly long time to paint or sculpt it to perfection. This I suppose, is what He's doing.


And yea Aravind anna...thank you too. Lol.

Aarthi on July 11, 2012:

Yet another gem from you brother! Thanks ever so much!

“If anyone offers their love to God in their youth, they earn the right to demand from the Lord anything, anytime. Youth is the most sacred time in life which should be offered to the Lord.”

This one word of Swami is enough to seal my faith in Him, Aravind. Thanks a ton for sharing this today! Thanks a million! It reiterated the thought I have been having in my mind over the past 2 days.

Really, when we love Swami with all our heart and soul, He showers His grace on us like anything, but in His time. He makes us yearn for Him only to remove our Karma. Of course, for us to go through the pain is very tough. But we have to just hold on to Him.

I remember hearing this from Prof. Anil Kumar and also one aunty here, whom I respect and admire a lot -- "You may be going through disappointments for an irritatingly and unbearably long time but take it from me, at one point, Swami will just pour His grace on you such that you get submerged in it. You will then just forget all your past disappointments." -- I am positive and I am waiting for that day!! :)

I was also touched by "There is no need of faith. If you love me, you deserve me.”

Thanks a lot for sharing this post today!

And yes as other readers have pointed out, our spiritual transformation is planned to the last detail by Swami. I can personally see how I have changed over the past 5 years even though I have never once had the blessing of interacting with Swami at the physical level.

Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on July 11, 2012:

@ Darshi - Really a beautiful thought! - That Maya is is a teacher and friend... Your writing adds so much to this article...Thank you so much for this heartfelt sharing...

@ Aditya - Of course...that should be the reason for that statement from the Ashtotharam

@ An impressed reader - I almost felt that I was reading my own story as I read your comment... Cannot agree more with you on the statement that spiritual growth happens even without our knowledge...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful and wonderful thoughts here... It definitely would be a wonderful read for anyone...

An Impressed Reader on July 11, 2012:

Very nice post brother ..

We all mature in our own ways with time .. The pattern of change in our prayers is a very good indicator of the growing maturity in our relationship with God ..

I still remember the desire filled letters that I took to Swami as a school kid - wanting to score well in exams and specifics of which college I wanted to go to :)

With time and continued exposure to Swami, his teachings and sathsang, it slowly grew into wanting to be in his physical precense as much as possible .. I would shed profuse tears and be filled with pangs of separation very time I came back home after a trip to Parthi/Brindavan/Kodai ..

Then it matured into wanting to think,speak and act in accordance with what He expects out of me, wanting to do his work..

The day I saw Swami after Mahasamdhi is one I will never forget .. A tight knot formed in my stomach as I neared the

glass case .. I wasn't sure if I could take that sight .. But as I saw Him, the first thing that struck me was that Swami is defenitely not limited to the 5’ 2” physical frame that lay within .. I din't shed even a single tear for his leaving his physical frame ..

But that step by step maturity isi'nt complete either .. Even today, when I read/hear other people's experiences, I sometimes ask Swami why he never gave me any such experience in the physical realm .. So complete growth and transition through stages seems to be tough.. But that too will come when it has to ..

Ultimately, I feel our spiritaul growth from one stage to another happens even without our knowledge .. It is meticulously planned and overseen by Swami himself .. And like Darshi rightly said, Maya is a superb tool he wields for this purpose ..

AdityaA on July 11, 2012:

He never seeks even ‘faith’ from us. He is hungry only for our love. Has He not said, “If you need me, you deserve me.”

Om Sri Sai Sulabha Prasannaya Namah

darshi on July 10, 2012:

"If you love me, you deserve me."

Is that it? Is it that simple? :) I guess it is.

It's good that you shared these experiences Anne. It's so relevant to many (well, to me it is!) - for someone who has not ever experienced any close proximity to the physical Sai, to read insights and learnings from those who have been blessed to be so close to the Lord, gives a whole new perspective and understanding to things.

Maya, actually, should be embraced as a friend who's here to teach us how to realise who we really are. A hard teacher, for she will test and try to push you to limits beyond any human intellect can understand. But, when you surpass that - realisation will come in pockets and sudden waves before it stands steady.

From all the three narratives - I can pick out some clear messages that Swami wants me to know, personally.

1. Your Faith is strong enough, don't spend too much time thinking about it...just Love. That's enough.

2. God is not limited by anything. And so, so are you.

3. Love, with all your heart and soul. For when you Love - His Presence is automatic.


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