The setting to tickle your thoughts...
Here is the setting for all to imagine. It should not be a hard task for everyone would have been in such a spot one time or the other. In the extremely rare possibility of not having ever been in such a spot, either a warning or congratulations is in order. This is because, either you are about to face such a situation with no previous experience or you have already realized the most powerful secret of life! Okay, so here is the setting.
You are in a situation in which you feel you need the Lord’s help. You are desperately wanting His blessings and bounty to shower on you because you seek nothing else but His love and grace. You know that everything that of this world is transient. But, even as you seek the Lord to come to you, He seems to become deaf to your pleas! You wonder as to why God is not responding. Why is it that when you seek only Him, He seems to become more inaccessible? Why does He delay? Why does He not respond even though He knows the innermost recesses of your heart?
“God always responds”, thunders Swami in His divine discourse.
“Sure, You do respond (maybe). But, why are you not there when we need you the most? Is your clock running a bit late? Why does your timing not match with our timing?”
A birthday special - 24th June 2008 - Will He; Wont He?
It was a very special day for me. And so, I expected it to be a special day for everyone who loved me too! It was my birthday and early in the morning I had phone calls from my parents, sister and dear ones. Nobody let me down; everyone wished me with all love and I was happy. However, I was in eager anticipation to receive the love and blessings of the most important person in my life - my Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba).
I decided to get ready in the morning and rush to the mandir (Prasanthi Nilayam) to seek Swami’s blessings on this special day. I was hoping that He too would give the same importance for the day which was so important for me. I did not want to even imagine how it would be if He did not bless me. Till date, He had always blessed me on my birthday and I hoped that the trend would continue without any hiccups.
A week-long Ramayana Saptaham was in progress in the mandir. And today, a Sahasranama Pooja had been scheduled. (A worship in which every person in the mandir, and there would be at least about 8,000 of them, offers Akshatha grains to a picture of Lord Rama. Akshatha grains are rice grains colored with either kumkum or turmeric which are considered holy).
I completed my bath and even as I was stepping out of my room, I heard the music begin in the darshan hall. That meant Swami had arrived. So I hurried to the mandir and went straight into the bhajan hall. Swami would invariably come into the bhajan hall at about 9am and sit for bhajans till 9:30am. My secret hope was that, like many instances before, He would come into the bhajan hall about 5-10 minutes earlier than 9am. And at that time, even as He interacted with the singers, He would bless me. Fondling this hope in my heart with my faith and eagerness, I sat in the second line behind the tabla player.
The bhajans began and Swami had not yet come into the bhajan hall. One bhajan got over and soon, the second one too was complete. I was hoping that it should not turn out to be an extra-ordinary day where Swami does not come into the bhajan hall at all! As the third bhajan was on, the beautiful form covered in that lovable orange arrived into the hall. Even as He came in, He looked at me and the bowl of akshatha grains in my hand and smiled. My heart rejoiced. He had not forgotten! He would bless me!
He sat for the bhajans and I stretched out the bowl in front expecting Him to call me to Him. But that call never came! One bhajan later, a new fear enveloped me - what if he does not bless me and wants me to consider His smile itself as a birthday blessing? That made me stretch out my hand even more - as if He could not see! But that is the way the mind works. It wants to make a show of being desperate and devoted even though the heart knows that the Lord knows everything!
As time passed, my hand also began to ache along with my heart. I thought that this would be the first birthday where the most important person of my life would not be blessing me. I kept my hand outstretched as though His decision to bless me or not depended on it! This went on for a while. The bhajan that was on gained tempo and gusto as it entered its second speed. My heart began to race faster.
Suddenly, He beckoned to me with His eyes. It was just a slight movement of the eyelids but was more than enough for me to understand that He was calling me to Him. I almost jumped up with all the coiled, anticipative energy and went to Him. As I knelt before Him, He said something. I could not hear what He was saying and He repeated for me - not once but twice. The bhajan was loud in the air and the pacy rhythm meant that the clapping too was hard and rapid. I went close to Him but still I could not make out a thing even though His lips were almost on my ears.
And then, I told Him aloud,
“Swami, I just want to love you with all my heart and be with you all my life. That is all I seek.”
He heard me. He smiled and gently put His right hand on my head in blessing. I continued,
“Swami, I did not hear at all, whatever you told me!”
Again, He smiled and asked by motioning to the ear,
“Are your ears spoiled?”
“Yes Swami! they are!”
And once again, He smiled.
Today I realize the meaning of the profound statement,
“It is only in the depths of silence that the voice of the Lord is heard.”
Here was a practical demonstration. And though the silence in this case referred to the physical din that was on, Swami says that silence is the state of being thoughtless. Thoughts create noise within and the more thoughts one has, the more noise and the lesser chance of hearing Swami’s voice. It is not easy to become thought free. And that is where namasmarana (chanting the Lord’s name while contemplating on His form) comes handy. It reduces the mind to thinking only one thought. This is meditation - getting the inner silence where the voice of God/Spirit/Atma/Self can be heard.
Presently, Swami held my hand by the fingers. I felt so light and happy with that touch. He said, “I shall tell you later what I said now.” I could hear that so clearly. Once I was free of the anxiety of wanting to communicate with Him on my birthday, I had become calm and instantly, I was able to hear Him and understand Him. Does the concept of inner silence need any more proof?
And then came a sudden urgency in His voice. He told me to take padanamaskar (bending down and touching the feet). I asked in confirmation (and with the desire to speak to Him as much as possible),
“Shall I take padanamaskar?”
He almost pushed me down to do so.
Though surprised at His sense of urgency, I was happy and I bent down. In the meanwhile, the bhajan that was on concluded. The harmonium played the chord for the next bhajan. Even as the next bhajan began, I had goosebumps on my skin and tears in my eyes. I understood the reason for Swami’s urgency. I also understood a thing or two about God’s timing. The next bhajan was,
Sathya Sai Padambujam, Bhajare Manasa Nirantaram.
(Oh Mind! Sing and contemplate incessantly on the lotus feet of Sathya Sai.)
Even as that message was being given, my head was on His feet!
His timing is always right
I took padanamaskar and as I got up, I saw Swami and the bhajan singer exchange meaningful glances. The singer was conveying his appreciation at the perfection of Swami’s timing and Swami was acknowledging it with a smile.
When it is said that God's timing need not always coincide with our timing, we should accept that on faith. Whatever our situation, it does not contradict God's plan or purpose. He knows what we are going through in our season of preparation and, all things considered and accounted for, He's on schedule. Even when the only thing we seek is Him, He knows the perfect time to deliver Himself to us so that we benefit the most. He does not bless at the last minute - He does so at the right minute.
Let us simply enjoy our season of preparation. Let us not give up. Let us keep faith in Swami just as He keeps His faith in us! His timing has always been, always is and always will be - Perfect!
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Aravind on May 23, 2014:
Thank you for this article. If we are helpless, Swami also comes through other people. So we should also accept or consider their support in our life. It is not correct to ask our Lord and says that he never responded. He do extend his help through other people also.
lrao on November 12, 2012:
That is one of my favorite bhajans :)..so beautiful and so meaningful. Smiled as I read the narration...He is a master of timing. That he is.. so what other option is there in life, other than to say, "Swami, you know best..."
Ramamani Velamuru,Hyderabad on November 11, 2012:
I started singing his glory in the form of ''SATYA SAI PADAMBUJAM''
FOLLOWED BY MANY NUMBERS. SPENT entire day in praising the divine glory., RECHARGING THE BATTERIES.
Manu on November 10, 2012:
Brother waiting for a divine Diwali experience!!
Ramamani Velamuru on November 10, 2012:
What a timing!!!
During AKHANDA BHAJANS I usually sing AKHANDA JYOTHI JALAVO as my 1st song.This yr I am in a dilemma whether to start with that bhajan or SATYA SAI PADAMBUJAM.My younger daughter ,who is 8yrs old suggested the latter one.And LO when i read this post just now, here comes the answer 4 my dilemma.
Thank u Brother,
saisarannaga from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India. on November 10, 2012:
Fine! your narration really bring Swami in our vision and it strikes a chord. You are specifically blessed by Swami to be a great story teller. Sairam.
Mark Aspa on November 10, 2012:
so nice...left me feeling warm all over with thoughts of Swami...
and to CV Rajan, let's not be too strict with ourselves - we are not bricks made of perfect temple stone...
Aarthi on November 09, 2012:
@Aravind, yes. I agree. It does not help to turn away from God. Actually, Swami has pulled me so close to Him now, slowly but surely, in a loving embrace that I cannot move away from Him. :) I may keep fighting with Him, crying to Him but I know I cannot go away from Him. He is my best friend for life.
In fact, He is the only constant factor in my life, no matter who comes or goes. And yes, I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that WHATEVER happens is definitely for my own good. It is painful to go thro some experiences but now, I have become mature to accept them.
I'm sure Swami, the sculptor, is chipping off unnecessary blocks from me to make the perfect sculpture that He alone is able to visualize.
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on November 09, 2012:
@ Aarthi - When it comes to spirituality, it is really the case of each person being there for himself/herself. Nobody can help because one's relationship with God is so personal that anybody else's experience stands only as an example, an inspiration, an idea or maybe a reminder. Other's experiences are akin to the horse being led to the water. Drinking the water happens only by the horse.
There are no fixed rules in the search for God for there is no fixed path. There are as many paths to God as there are seekers! That is the freedom of choice.
This much I know that whatever is happening in life is for good. Only that, by stating this truth at this point in time, I may seem very mean and insensitive. But whatever it is that is troubling you, let me assure you that turning away from God will not help in any way. Hold on and know that it is darkest before dawn.
Aarthi on November 08, 2012:
Well, I feel I have been going thro this for a really long time. :) But one thing is for sure. When I look back now at various events in my past, even though they made no sense at that time, now they do, as far as my spiritual evolution is concerned.
The foll. lines perfectly echo what I am going thro at present... And I mean it from the depths of my heart. They really struck me as profound when I read this blog post today.
"You are desperately wanting His blessings and bounty to shower on you because you seek nothing else but His love and grace. You know that everything of this world is transient. But, even as you seek the Lord to come to you, He seems to become deaf to your pleas!
You wonder as to why God is not responding. Why is it that when you seek only Him, He seems to become more inaccessible? Why does He delay? Why does He not respond even though He knows the innermost recesses of your heart?"
I esp loved the line "Why is it that when you seek only Him, He seems to become more inaccessible?" Exactly! I keep wondering "Swami, when will you talk to me? How can you be so cold towards me?"
Sometimes, I feel I have become emotionally and spiritually dry, if I may say so. I feel completely exhausted. I wonder whether Swami does care for me. If yes, why does He not respond? He says He knows every tear we shed and He is aware of every moment when we yearn and pine for Him. And it's not even like He cares for intense tapas or sees the quantity. He only sees sincere yearning.
I keep wondering when all this will end. But I have no other option but to hold on. I have faith in Him, though I am slowly feeling as though I am losing hope. But His timing is always perfect! I continue to live with that conviction.
And I continue to love Him! I can't stop loving Him even if He chooses to give me the cold treatment! :) That is something even I myself can't explain. That is the sweetness, I suppose, of loving Him. And that can again come only from Him, 'coz He is the infinite reservoir of love. I only pray that He soon makes me realize how perfect His timing is.
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on November 08, 2012:
@ Maria - Partaking of other's accounts can never substitute to having your own experience. But, I have observed that when I hear about others stories of grace and divine love, it helps me focus on the same and remember that it is my top priority. That it why we pine to keep reading more.
Swami always emphasizes on keeping good company - Satsangam. Keeping the company of articles which you find inspiring and influencing you towards your chosen Lord is good in that way! :)
Maria on November 08, 2012:
This account certainly is a profound lesson underscoring the much needed inner silence to better hear our Lord's voice- .My question is- how much more fervent effort in building then maintaining a similar strong unwavering faith for devotees unable to ever have actual physical contact or attention from Swami's form. Lacking personal opportunities you were amply blessed with over time by Swami so you may now share them with us .Can articles by others serve as a gold standard substitute to beget this grace in equal deep measure by simply reading such accounts and partaking of your reality second hand? It's a question we must each answer-is this why we always want to read more?
Aravind Balasubramanya (author) from Puttaparthi, India on November 08, 2012:
Till Swami was there physically, it mattered to me that He bless me physically! Now also, I pine for some kind of sign or blessing from Him on that day - such has been my relationship. And He has not disappointed me!
As far as the others are concerned - parents, relatives friends - I do not feel bad if they miss out. I also do not feel elated if they wish me. But i cannot deny the fact that ever since my expectations of them have come down, they seem to do more and more for me on my birthday! :)
Disillusioned from Kerala, India on November 08, 2012:
I am just curious. Many years have passed since this happened. By any chance, is your sentimental feeling of importance of your birthday still remaining in you or have you been able to come out of it and grow to a level where you feel it to be yet another day in life that need not carry too much of significance?