Aravind Balasubramanya has spent more than 2 decades with Sri Sathya Sai Baba. He has studied under Baba and been His photographer.
God loves fun - Sai humor
There is a section of people that believes in a serious and non-joking God. Frankly speaking, one of the big reasons why I began to love my God, my Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) is because of His simply awesome sense of humor and fun. There might be a network of religious or ‘spiritual’ people who consider laughter and fun as a sin and that faith equals no humor. But all said and done, God is funny. He loves fun! And I love fun too. For all those that love fun and Sri Sathya Sai, here are three episodes to make your day!
Two animals that made me feel that God definitely has a sense of humor!
When the student’s face turned red
This is one of the most hilarious episodes that I have heard involving Swami. The few years following the starting of the school and institute at Puttaparthi were lovely ones for the students because Swami would find the smallest of excuses to visit them, interact with them and fill them with great joy and satisfaction. This episode happened during one of Swami’s such visits to the institute boys’ hostel.
There are many ‘self-reliance’ departments in the hostel which are managed by the students themselves. To quote a few examples there is a ‘maintenance department’ which takes care of the electrical and plumbing works of the hostel, a ‘dietetics department’ which cooks food for the sick and ailing boys, a ‘tailoring department’ to make and maintain costumes to be used during cultural programmes, a ‘lighting department’, a ‘newspaper delivery’ service and so on. During this visit of Swami to the hostel, the boys hoped that Swami would bless a new service venture - the ‘hostel stores’ which would help the boys obtain daily needs at their doorstep.
And so, all was set. The idea was to invite Swami into the new ‘Stores’ room just before He left the hostel. There was a privileged set of boys who would be manning the stores. They were privileged because when Swami would walk into the stores room, only they would be allowed inside with Him. Since everybody knew that Swami would be coming to the stores after all the proceedings and it could be quite late, the stores boys were advised not to take up too much of Swami’s time. Thus, they were told,
“Take padanamaskar (touching of the feet in respect and devotion) only if Swami permits. And even if He permits, be quick about it else someone may miss out on that opportunity.”
Perfectly as they thought, Swami visited the stores just before leaving the hostel. He spent quite some minutes with the boys in the stores. They were happy beyond their expectations. In happiness, they asked Swami whether they could take padanamaskar. Swami agreed just as He was moving towards the door. The boys were delighted. They excitedly whispered to each other that the namaskars should be taken quick and snappy.
As per plan, the first boy bent down, touched Swami’s feet and was up in a trice. The second boys’ behavior however, took everyone by surprise, nay shock. He bent down at Swami’s feet and simply stayed put there. A few tense moments passed but the boy did not seem to have any plans of rising at all! The other boys looked at each other and Swami nervously. They felt that if that boy took so much time, they might miss out on that coveted chance. The boy however, continued his tryst with his Lord’s feet.
After what seemed like an eternity, the boy got up from Swami’s feet. He seemed to have an overwhelmed look on his face. His face was almost swollen and red. There were tears in his eyes. It was obvious that he had had some inexpressible experience. But was this the time for that??
The other students took their chances for the padanamaskar and then Swami left. Thankfully, the boy’s devotions and emotions did not deprive them of the chance to take namaskar.
After everything, the boys accosted the emotionally overwhelmed one and asked him what had happened.
“You think I got overwhelmed and shed emotional tears!”, the boy was shocked. “You do not have the slightest idea of what happened. When I bent down and kissed His feet, Swami held my nose tight between the big toes of His feet! Try as hard as I might, I could not free my nose. That is why my face was red and tears came from the eyes - because of the effort and not out of devotion!”
Now, the faces of all the other boys turned red as they laughed out at the prank that their Sai Krishna had played!
In this context, it is hard not to remember the ‘hot-water tap episode’ (click on that blue part to read that story) where Swami had gone to the primary school to inaugurate a new tap for hot water!
When Swami’s face turned red
Indeed rare are those instances when Swami has gone red in face. But there is one episode when a student put Swami in exactly that situation. It happened so casually and so fast. It was during the ‘walkie-talkie’ days. (Don’t know what days those are? Those were times when Swami would keep walking around the students’ seating area and talking to them. Thus the name, ‘walkie-talkie’ days as Swami Himself referred to!)
Swami was walking with His hands tied behind Him. He came across a student and stopped. The student was sitting straight upright with his palms folded in respect. Swami looked at him and asked how he was. The boy was happy that Swami had spoken to him. Next, Swami revealed something. He said,
“The mind is troubling you. Lots of bad thoughts... Right?”
The boy was no doubt amazed with Swami’s omnipresence and thrilled at this interaction. However, his response was something that Swami ‘did not expect’ (in the worldly sense of course - what is Swami not aware of?). The boy said,
“Yes Swami! But don’t worry. They are just passing clouds. They will be gone.”
A surprise spread over Swami’s face which almost turned red. He told him,
“Ay! Adi Na Cheppali!” (meaning: Ay! That is my line to say!)
In his spontaneity and innocence, the boy had straight used Swami’s line on Him! Swami smiled and walked away.
And then, my face turned red
I just cannot help including one tiny occasion where I found my face turning red. It happened in 2009 when I thought that Swami was upset with me over something. I did not know what had upset Him because I had been my ‘best-behaved’ self in His presence. So, when Swami, on the chair, was passing by me, I took courage to rise on my knees and say,
“Swami, please forgive me.”
“For what?”, Swami asked.
I had no idea what my mistake was. I actually was feeling a bit wronged. So I said,
“Swami, forgive me my mistake.”
His answer turned me red in the face.
“That is what am asking, which mistake. There are so many mistakes that you are making, which one do you want me to forgive?”
In a flash I realized that I was speaking to my God here! Not only do the thoughts, words and deeds in His ‘physical presence’ count but every thought, word and deed counts. It hit me. I turned red. Thankfully, Swami smiled at me. That gave me courage and I said,
“Please forgive that mistake which has made you upset with me now!”
He smiled and moved on. Things changed for the better after that. :)
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya
sai on November 09, 2014:
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on August 06, 2013:
@Sudha Narayan - That is typical Swami's style - subtle yet direct! :)
What a way to communicate... Awesome... Loved both your lil stories of tryst with divinity... :)
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on August 06, 2013:
@Gayathri Sharma - Thank you for sharing and expressing your heart. The feelings and thoughts are so beautiful. Happy that I got a chance to be Swami's instrument to fulfill your desire and wish.
Sudha Narayanan on August 06, 2013:
Sairam. Yes Swami's sense of humor is amazing. I shall relate two incidents very vivid in my memory. One day I was on the road and in such a bad mood and no matter what, I wanted Swami to Love me always(!!). I was telling him "Swami however sulky, grumpy, despicable, abominable,#@$ I am, you should accept me" My eyes always fall on the message He wants to convey. Next moment, I saw Kurkure ad which says "Teda Hai, Par Mera Hai". Yet another day, I was so sad and telling HIm, "Swami, pls don't forsake me, Be with me always" Next moment, my eyes fell on the LIC ad "Zindagi ki saath bhi, Zindagi ki baad bhi" When you are on the road & alone, you can't laugh also. Hes so mischievous, wonderful & cute, Our Swami.
Gayathri Sharma on July 16, 2013:
Too good brother! But you are so thought full to ask like that! That too is Swamy's gift! Without His blessing your mind would go blank and cannot talk anything in such situation!!! Brother you are truly a blessed soul!!! You know something? I am able to visualise each and everything that you are writing!! I feel I am sitting in the darshan line and enjoying all these episodes. Each and every episode takes me to Prashanti nilayam
And where did Swamy go? He is very much with us granting Darshans through each and every episode of yours, continues to teach me so many things through these episodes! One more important thing brother! When I used to sit in the darshan lines before, I used to see Swamy spending so much of time spending with students!! Talking so freely with them! I always used to feel why Swamy is so partial to His students only! I am so unlucky, he never spoke to me, nor can I listen to what He is talking! I use to wonder even after darshan for a long time! What He must be
talking to those boys! I used to imagine this and that! But today after so many years, Swamy fulfilled my wish. Now I understand what He was
talking to those lucky ones. I feel all these things are happening in front of my eyes!! How can I thank you for what you are doing! Though I know it's all Swamy's leela, I can only say one thing! I always pray Swamy to continuously BLESS YOU like this to fill our hearts with this happiness,
which we used to get only in His divine presence!! Let's all thank Swamy for His continuous presence in our midst.
Padma on May 13, 2013:
It really made our day.Thanks Aravind..very nice..
V.Sai Saraswuthi on May 13, 2013:
Iam beeming .....smiling east to west. very humorous indeed. Thankyou brother Aravind for sharing. And you too are quiet smart indeed.
Kokila Vaidyanathan on May 13, 2013:
Sairam....love Swami's humour....had a hearty laugh....aye adi naa chappli....sooooo cute...just imagining Swami's naughty smile....Sairam
Ganesh on May 13, 2013:
Only Sai can give such Humour as well.
Mark on May 12, 2013:
yes, humour is truly divine.
who can forget the many peels and roars of laughter that would come from the interview room, as Swami delighted His students with jokes and pranks!
Aarthi on May 12, 2013:
Had a good laugh! Thanks for sharing bro. :) :) Our Lord is indeed Sai Krishna.