Pining for God is more important than
experiences with God - a lesson from my Master
- by Aravin b
- We gratefully acknowledge the writer Aravind B
A beautiful solution which Sri Sathya Sai demonstrated in an interview to give up a bad habit
God’s grace - Is it impartial and equal?
It is an extremely rare opportunity that one gets to be a contemporary of an Avatar or a living God. In the Treta Yuga, very few people got the chance to be contemporaries of Lord Rama and interact with Him. A few more got such privileged chances when the Lord descended to the earth as Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga. In the Kali Yuga, the current age, however, thousands, nay millions, got the opportunity to interact with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Therefore, there are millions of stories of His grace and glory and the more one seeks, the more one seems to find.
I have been one such seeker digging through people’s lives to enjoy the unique and beautiful ways in which Swami, (as Baba is affectionately called), has touched them. It has been a wonderful journey to date and it promises to grow more wondrous with each passing narrative. However, I must confess, that I have often been plagued by one doubt. And that is this -
What is it that makes one person more special than the other for God? In other words, what was special about a few people that they received so many chances - interactions, interviews, darshans, padanamaskars - from Swami which others did not enjoy to that extent?
There are many explanations which range from just being lucky to being destined because of the good deeds and merits of several previous births. Some even state that the chances received from Swami are because of the cumulative good done not only by the individual in different lifetimes but also of the good done in several lifetimes by all the forefathers of that individual. Theories are fine for the intellect but which one is true?
It was at this point that I received a considerably consoling answer from Sri. Gopal Indreshwar, the grandson of the erstwhile Rajamata of Jamnagar. He narrated an incident wherein Swami asked all the students the very same question(s) that had been plaguing me. And the students had rattled out the standard variety of answers which Swami had simply pooh-poohed away. Then, He answered, (the gist is given here)
“You think that it is the good of your forefathers and your own deed that has earned you these chances with Swami? The cumulative good of all your forefathers will not measure up even to an infinitesimally small amount of the Love you are receiving from me. Everything that you are getting is simply because of My Grace.”
That answered me completely. I was happy too because I had been uncomfortable with the “karmic goodness” and “forefather-goodness-repayment” theories. I mean the c
hild Dhruva did such intense penance for years, sacrificing eating, drinking, sleeping and, finally, even breathing to just win a single glimpse of the Lord. Wasn’t it being preposterous to assume that I had done so much good ( at least a million times more than Dhruva) that I received at least about 1000 hours of His darshan?!? This “Swami’s-Grace-Alone” theory was much more comfortable and logical. However, that explanation gave rise to a few doubts and questions of its own.
If all chances and interactions with Swami were sheerly due to His Grace, why doesn't everyone receive it equally? God is impartial right?
I feel that God never gives the right answers for everything because then the value of the answers are not appreciated. He just prods us to ask the right questions which prepare us to receive answers that are omnipresent, all around us. And I did receive an answer to these questions. It was a thumping answer. It arrived as I read through the first part of the biography of Sri Sathya Sai - Satyam Shivam Sundaram.
The pining of Krishnamurthy
Swami was a lad of 17 or 18 when this episode recorded by the revered Sri.N.Kasturi happened. Within a of year after the declaration itself, Swami had begun to move out from Puttaparthi to various villages, towns and cities in South India. During such visits, He gave many devotees the coveted opportunity to host Him at their homes. The darshan and bhajan sessions would then be conducted at that devotee’s home itself.
Once when He was at a devotee’s home in Bangalore, a Civil Service clerk at the then Mysore Secretariat (the state of Karnataka was then called the state of Mysore and it included parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu), Krishnamurthy, came to have darshan. Being a singer, he was a very enthusiastic participant in the bhajans and other chants. Within a few days itself, he realized that Swami was someone out of the ordinary. His heart was thrilled with the possibility of Swami being the highest divinity that it had sought all throughout life.
One day, at about 8 in the morning, he accosted Swami and said
The greatest of blessings is not given that easily. Ask God for money, power, influence and standing - they will be given. But ask Him for the highest and it is not granted immediately because one’s worthiness has to be evaluated before it is gifted.
Swami tried to avoid Krishnamurthy but it was not an easy task at a time when there were just a dozen or so devotees. So, He gave Krishnamurthy a picture of Shirdi Baba and told him to keep looking at the picture, meditating on it. Saying so, Swami left to visit the homes of some other devotees. By the time He was back at noon, Krishnamurthy had spent hours looking at the picture. Swami passed by the room in which he was concentrating on the picture and he cried out aloud!
Everyone was surprised as to what was happening. Krishnamurthy had fainted! When he revived, he seemed to be quivering and quaking; shivering and shaking with joy and excitement. He simply got up without opening his eyes and said,
“Let me touch Baba’s feet... Let me touch Baba’s feet.”
He was seeking Swami’s feet with a kind of possessed madness. He refused to even open his eyes because he wanted to see Swami’s feet and nothing else. In fact, he was locating Swami by smelling Him out like a dog! But Swami also seemed to behave strangely. He just did not allow the clerk the opportunity to see His feet! This continued for hours which turned into days. Swami’s heart did not seem to melt but the devotees felt for Krishnamurthy. They pleaded to Swami on his behalf. Swami silenced them with a statement,
“He will pass away with the joy if he sees and touches my feet.”
So saying, he made the devotees take away Krishnamurthy to his home. He promised to grant him what he desired at his home itself. It was nearly a week now since Krishnamurthy had opened his eyes. Though he was taken away, he did not give up. He slipped out of the house and summoned a horse-cart. He directed the cart to where Swami was staying by simply ‘smelling out’! He reached the building where Baba was and besieged the place. He kept going around the building, knocking on all the windows, seeking Swami. Again, the hearts of the people assembled there melted. But Swami did not relent. He said that Krishnamurthy’s life was still in danger due to overwhelming joy.
Now, the clerk began to fast, giving up food and water. When a day passed this way, the devotees took him to a hospital. But he still did not open his eyes. When Swami was informed of this, He had His feet bathed in scented water and sent a bit of that water to Krishnamurthy in the hospital. The minute he drank this, he regained all his energy and vigor. He asked to be taken home. Reaching home, with his eyes still closed, he started to sing bhajans. The others too joined him. Even as he kept singing, tears of joy kept coursing down his cheeks. At the end of the session, he lay down with a beatific smile playing on his face. He did not rise after that.
The power of pining
As I read this story, so many things suddenly became clear. Swami’s statement to a devotee years ago flashed across my heart,
“More important than the chances that you get from Swami is the pining for those chances. Even without the chances, pining is sufficient to get you the ultimate. However, getting chances without the pining is of no use.”
“If you need me, you deserve me.” That is all. No terms or conditions. The question now is whether I ‘need’ Him and pine for Him?
Getting God through pining
When a disciple complained to his Master that how much ever he sought and pined for God, he was not finding Him, the Master took him to a river. He told him that he would see God if he stood praying in the river. As the excited disciple stood in the river in excited prayer, the Master came from behind and simply submerged him under the water. The disciple was shocked. When he said that he wanted to meet God, he meant that God should come to him - not the other way round!
He began flailing his hands and legs to escape the vice-like grip of his master but to no avail. After a few minutes of battling, when it seemed like he would die without breath, he felt a strange strength within. When death stares in the face, one seems to get superhuman courage and strength. With that surge of strength, he lashed out. The Master fell away and the disciple torpedoed out of the water. With a huge suction, he gulped gallons of air into his starved lungs. Then, he looked accusingly at his Master.
The Master simply asked,
“When I tried to drown you, what did you want?”
“When you seek the Lord with the same intensity with which you sought air, you will get Him the same way you got strength to get the air.”
Pining for God is more important than the experiences with God because it is pining that completes the experience. Otherwise, the “experience” becomes tasteless and empty. Pining and Grace are like the the two polarities of an electrical circuit. When both are present alone is there a current and, thus, en’light’enment!
More by Sai student Arvind
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