It was a happy family get-together at our home one afternoon. When I say ‘family’ here, I am talking about the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God which Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) always refers to. He says,
“The world is one big family. Everyone is a brother or sister because all have the same parentage - God. Everyone is an embodiment of love.”
And so, in this family get-together was I, my wife, my parents, Prof. Nanjundiah and his wife. The venerable professor was the Controller of Examinations at the Sathya Sai University for decades. He was also Swami’s translator for long and has had years of intimate association with Swami. He was reliving his experiences with Swami and we were all sitting enthralled. Amidst his narrative, he made a statement which I somehow cannot forget at all. He said,
“When Swami tells you something seriously, pay attention to it. When He says something casually, enshrine it in your heart for it contains great words of wisdom and truth.”
I have heard many a casual remark from Swami - from telling a person that he would run away to a ‘foreign country’ (when he had decided to stay back physically in Puttaparthi to serve Swami in any capacity) to teasing a student in college about his wife (who would be non-existent at that time). Every time I heard such jokes, banter, teasing or casual remarks from Swami, I smiled or laughed and just left it at that. So, when Prof.Nanjundiah whom I revere so much, made that statement, it got me thinking.
Swami is a fantastic teacher. He follows up on the ‘theory lessons’ taught with ‘practicals’ as well so that the lessons are well learnt. And it was the ‘practicals’ that I received when I met my colleague and senior from college, Tarashankar Chakravarthy, whom everyone lovingly calls Tara. Tara is currently employed in the accounts section of the Sri Sathya Sai Bhakta Sahayak Sangh Stores at Prasanthi Nilayam, Puttaparthi. I have been his junior by 1 year from school till the end of college days. The experience that he narrated showed how every word that falls from Swami’s divine lips is indeed a Vedavakya, a profound Truth, in itself. No word of His is ever in jest!
The divine shower of gifts
It was during the year 2000. Tara had just entered passed his first year in the BCom course at the Brindavan Campus of the Sri Sathya Sai University. It was the time of the summer vacations and everyone knew that Swami was planning for a summer course in Indian Culture and Spirituality at Whitefield, Bangalore. A summer course would mean 15 days of talks by eminent speakers and divine discourses by Baba on a particular theme. Some years it was the Bhagawad Gita while it was the Ramayana or Mahabharatha for some other years. Almost every evening during the summer course, there would be music or some cultural programme. And Swami was personally involved in guiding Tara and another student, Sujith, in singing.
Swami would call these boys for many ‘interviews’, during which He would teach them music, inspire them and also shower them with love and grace. Tara recollects with nostalgia,
Those are unforgettable days. The things that Swami did! Oh my God! I can’t even believe that I was a recipient of such grace. On one occasion, we had entered the interview room but Swami was nowhere to be seen. We were wondering as to where He was. Had He gone to the inner chambers?
Even as I tried to steal a sneak peek, there was a loud “Boo” behind my back and I was startled. What followed next were peals of laughter from Swami who had hid behind the curtain to surprise us with this sweet prank.
It was during one such interviews in Trayee Brindavan that Swami decided to shower these two boys with gifts galore. First, he waved his hand and materialized a magnificent watch. He gifted this to Sujith. Immediately after that, He waved again, materialized another watch and gifted this to Tara. He noticed that the metal straps of both the watches were loose for the boys’ wrists. He told them that they should get the strap tightened from a watch-repair shop.
That is an amazing aspect of God. Though He reveals at one moment what He is capable of, the next moment He immediately is so ‘human’ that we forget the grandeur we had just witnessed. It is so difficult for science to create even an atom from energy and here, I had witnessed pure creation of a million atoms - a watch. And yet, when He told us to get the strap tightened, I began to think of the watchmakers in the vicinity of the ashram. Could not the creator Himself set such a tiny problem right? But that is His play.
And so, the next minute, Swami took two crisp Rs.500 notes, gave them to Sujith and told him to use the money for the necessary watch repairs. He then gave two more such Rs.500 notes to Tara for the same purpose. The interview came to a close soon after. The two boys, as advised, went in search of a watch repair shop.
Events take an unexpected turn
I knew that a simple repair like that would barely cost fifteen to twenty Rupees. And Swami had given one thousand! Since the two notes were the Divine gift, I did not want to use them. I thought of treasuring and cherishing them. So, I placed them safely in my pocket and never took them out at all. When I reached back to my room, I emptied my pockets. To my horror, the two notes were gone! I searched everywhere and even retraced my steps to the watch repair shop. But it was of no use. Immediately, I wrote a letter to Swami describing the whole ‘misfortune’ and prayed that I would get a chance to give the same to Him during darshan.
During the darshan, Swami did come towards me. I got up on my knees and giving Him the letter, quickly blurted out what had happened. He just smiled and said,
“That money has been given to your wife.”
Tara did not know how to respond. He knew that Swami was capable of making a joke out of the most serious subject matters too. Swami had walked away after accepting his letter and making that statement. He did not know what to do. The matter rested there and Tara never got back his lost 500 Rs. notes. Tara completed his graduation and also did a course in Swami’s Mirpuri College of Music. So many things happened in the first decade of the 21st century for Tara. The most significant and poignant one, however, occurred on the 24th of April, 2011, when Swami shed His mortal coil and took Mahasamadhi. For Tara, it was a shattering blow and even today, he refuses to accept that Swami has left. He says emphatically,
“Swami has not left. And for those that think He has left, let me say that He is coming!”
“That is great faith Tara. And even as you say it, it makes my heart rejoice”, I told him and embraced him. I then asked him the basis of such confidence.
A faith that has been enriched by experience
So many times Swami has shown me His presence even after Mahasamadhi. He is beyond space and time. When I got engaged to Archana on the 23rd of October, 2010, I missed Swami. I felt that it was through His divine ways that He had brought me and Archana together. But I wished that He was there physically. However, His physical health had been failing and He was barely coming out to give darshan. It was not proper on my part to expect Him to bless me physically as well. I had barely entertained these thoughts when something wonderful and amazing happened.
After the engagement, I sat with Archana, sharing my different experiences with Swami. And I happened to narrate this episode where He had materialized a watch and two 500 Rs. notes for me. I also told her about the reference to my ‘wife’ that He had made then.
“Swami sometimes makes such casual jokes you know”, I said, trying to laugh that part away.
But Archana’s face was almost rigid! Her eyes were open wide and goosebumps erupted on her flesh. I had no idea what was happening. She took a few minutes to regain composure and then said,
“Tara! My beloved gift from Swami! Let me share something with you. The day you mention in April 2000 was a day of a complete bank and postal strike in Bangalore. It was precisely on this day that I had decided to make a short visit to Hyderabad since I had a few holidays in between my BDS (Bachelors in Dental Surgery) course. When I wanted to purchase my ticket, I saw that I had almost no money in my purse. I realized then that I was out of money and the banks were closed. In a desperate attempt, I made a prayer to Swami and thought of trying at the bank again. But what could one do - it was a strike! And then, before giving up, I just searched my purse for one last time. There were two neatly folded, crisp 500 Rs. notes! I could easily book my ticket and make the journey to Hyderabad.”
Tara realized how foolish he had been in thinking that his parents found a match for him. Swami had already done it, at least a decade before! His engagement took place just about 6 months before Swami’s Mahasamadhi and so, there was no way in which Swami could have "physically" known about him and Archana in 2000. And yet, He knew it all the while.
Fondling his newborn daughter, Sai Mayi, Tara reiterates,
Why should I worry about anything. He has planned and chalked out everything in my life. I just have to keep reminding myself of His glory, power and majesty. And whenever I get any doubt, I look back on this episode and tell myself that my Swami is beyond space and time. He always was, is and shall be.
The casual remark
I used to often wonder as to why Swami makes use of the casual statement when a straightforward statement would pass on the message in a more clear manner. I received my answer from Swami through Prof.H.J.Bhagya, a teacher in the MBA department of the Sri Sathya Sai University. He told me what Swami had told him once,
“The sin man accrues by disobedience to God’s direct words is very huge. And so, He tells directly only to those who will accept what He says completely without a doubt and do whatever is necessary. For the others, He tells the same in a casual manner, as a joke or a passing statement. Then, if the person catches the hint and has faith in the words he is benefited. If he does not, then Swami will not allow any sin to accrue to him because He takes the blame upon Himself for not communicating properly! Isn’t His love so amazing? The minute He has faith of our faith in Him, He will simply communicate directly. For that matter, when we say that every word of Swami is a Vedavakya, why should we consider some as ‘serious’ and some as ‘casual’? Tell me? “
Warning and Disclaimer
In an unfortunate turn of events, Tarashankar and his wife, today have become followers and proponents of a group that proclaims the existence of a fictitious "Sukshma Sai" or "the Subtle Body of Sai" - which nobody can perceive with the five senses. Tara propagates the existence of chanelers and a 'medium' for Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai baba which goes completely against the tenets of Baba (as declared by Him in several discourses) and against the principles of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization established by Baba.
That just serves as a warning to the reader that each and every one of these stories should serve to highlight only Swami's love and grace. We should not start hero-worshipping the recipient of the Grace instead. The only Hero was, is and will be Swami.
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Sairam on December 11, 2018:
You are right so far when you say Swami is the only One God who transcends all other forms of God....
But for all those, who takes every being as Lord Himself, there is nothing like they become followers of other groups..Tara is and will be the same loving student of Our one beloved Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
He may be elsewhere but His whole being recognise only His form in everyone....That is Beloved Swami's eternal grace for sweet Tara Bhaiyya...
Very few only are gifted with divine vision like Tara Bhaiyya....He continues to walk His sayings in His ways spreading love n kindness in every heart...Tara is as pure n innocent as Bhagawan Himself, undoubtedly....
Tara's whole being is Swami Himself..
You and I are One Swami says so...I separated Myself to become you...You separate yourself to become Me..
Tara did just that & trying to bring out His loving Swami wholeheartedly for others realisation of awakening Beloved Swami in all....
Shenbagavijayalakshmi on April 15, 2016:
Thank you Sairam, So happy to read this......
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on January 22, 2015:
@Sai giridhar - Beautiful. Definitely come to Parthi.... It is His call to you from within you. :)
Sai Giridhar on January 21, 2015:
Aravind, It was through a co incident that i happened to check your interview in youtube today. In the past 33 years i never listen to any bhajan in youtube. I was busy in the materialistic life in Dubai. Today i wanted some peace of mind and i thought let me see swami and listen to his bhajans in youtube. When i started to hear one of his bhajans, tears started to flow from my eyes....i feel i am really blessed now....i feel like coming to puttaparthi to see him along with my family...
t p udayasankar on December 31, 2014:
He is universal avathar beyond space and time. Sairam
sandya rajagopal on December 30, 2014:
Thank you and amazing to read articles like these. Blessed are those..
SNIGDHA DAS on January 13, 2014:
Tara ........ my dearest friend, my brother...... I miss u. You have stated rightly that SWAMI has not gone anywhere. He is within us....... in our heart. What I'm today is just because of my LIVING GOD. Whatever I achieved in life is due to the grace of my god. He always has guided me to the right path.
About TARA....what can I say. I still can recall those days we spend together in SAILAM. In the rocks at night after dinner with the gaiter singing songs facing the beautiful sea, going to the bhajan hall together and singing songs, playing table tennis together,etc. We both were in SAILAM for more than 06 (Six) years approximately but never had an argument between us.......... Some of you might find that how is this possible. But this is the reality. All my classmate knows this.
Dheera Sharma on June 13, 2013:
Beautiful narration, please add me on to your mailing list. email@example.com
P.R.Nagamanian on May 15, 2013:
So happy...no words!
Anyatha charanam nasthi thvameva charanam ma ma. Thasmaath kharunya bhaaveth ratcha...ratcha..sayeeshwara!
Aruna on February 14, 2013:
What a great explanation by Bhagya sir. God's words are vedavakyas. Also as Swami says "Maata okkate jagattuna nilichi undunu." As every sound has Resound. And as Every Thought , Word( Sound) and Action do not disapper. Great explanation. Thank you for sharing this brother.
V.sai saraswuthi on January 29, 2013:
I had tears .....no words to say ...swamy does not allow any sin to accrue on his children. Hey ! Jaganmatha..hey Sai matha! we are drenched in your boundless limitless unconditional love. LOVE YOU SWAMY.
Madhurabharati on January 29, 2013:
How wonderful. Particularly the Lord's mercy in not allowing the ignorant devotee to accrue sin, and taking the blame on Himself! It brought tears to my eyes. The episode reveals a tiny facet of the mighty conundrum that Bhagawan is.
sai narda on January 25, 2013:
very inspiring ....... thanks for sharing with us in trinidad, west indies and others all over the world :)
Jahnavi on January 25, 2013:
I am left speechless.
Such a beautiful article, after all it is Swami's glory that we even get to read these lovely experiences and miracles.. So divinely divine and so divinely human. Of course our Swami has gone nowhere, He is with us and will forever remain with us, the only point is we must remain with Him in thought, word and deed.
Thank you very much for sharing all these experiences. You have a special flair in writing, enjoyed reading your article on radiosai about Sai Geetha as well..
Prashanth on January 24, 2013:
Wonderful! This story has got wonderful lessons for all. How much we worry about small things. If only we realise he has planned out our lives in advance!
May Swami continue to shower his blessings on the beautiful couple.
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on January 24, 2013:
@ Sairam -
Thank you for that beautiful poem and outpouring of love...
It is a blessing to be able to read it and feel the same within...
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on January 24, 2013:
@ Maria - Am very glad and happy for you Granny! :)
May you feel His love and presence always with you....
Archana on January 24, 2013:
Sairam...Feeling such glee that my name is there in this wonderful leela of our Swami! Childish though it may seem, I feel some unexplained joy! Thanks:)
Aarthi on January 24, 2013:
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing with us and thanks to bro. Tara too. :)
SaiRam..... on January 24, 2013:
How do I love thee? Let my soul counteh ways many,
I love thee to the depth and breadth that My mind can stretch
To the ends of Being and edges of the self.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and choose O Beloved,
To Raise and walk,to smile and stoke our brows,
To guide and to be with us.......
Nay say the soothsayers,in the grin mock the wise jestors,
Beyond proof is this faith deep in the heart,
Moaning a painful whimp as they stab it and pass,
Jewels like this are many to say......
Yet I want Thee to Raise and light the way....
Maria on January 24, 2013:
Thank you I am grateful for this blog Aravind! A wonderfully timed confirmation for me to really get it as I suddenly got my special mala back. I discovered it was lost the day after the Seva Dal you reported on got her Tala back , that day I searched and cried for hours - This makes me know that every one of these divine incidence are connected because Truth is and all are One and Swami is here now!