Many a time we feel that our prayers have not been answered. In my understanding there are two ways of looking at it. First, the prayer might not have been intense as it ought to be i.e. they are half-hearted. Second, the thing we have asked God may not be suitable or right for us. We do not know it, but God knows it and thus he denies it. But I have always believed that, if you have sincere a longing to be in good company and a desire to do good for others, God always listens. You have to have faith and take your steps. I will narrate a small incident from my life to demonstrate this.
The Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning holds its annual Convocation on 22nd November every year. As a student of the Institute, this day has always been very dear to me for two special reasons. One, I always loved to take oath (usually taken by the outgoing students) in front of Baba, who is not only the Chancellor of the University but also of the Universe, with the belief that He will grant me the strength to always abide by it. Two, the drama presented in the evening by the students of the university – these dramas are always of highest quality both in content and presentation, as they are directed by Baba himself. And they always have strong message to take home.
Even after coming out of the portal of the hallowed Institute, I always made an effort to be at Prashanthi to be part of this great event every year. In 2002, I was working in Bangalore. It’s November and time to go home (Parthi) for Convocation and Baba’s birthday celebration. As usual, I had planned to attend Convocation ceremony, which in those days used to start at 3pm. Due to my work which required me to stay back until late in the evening, I could only catch the bus to Parthi from Bangalore on the morning of the 22nd. I used to stay near Baba’s ashram at Whitefield, which is a fair distance from the Central Bus Terminal at Majestic. I was praying and hoping that I could at least catch the bus at 11am , so that I would be on time for the afternoon program. Even though I started early, by the time I reached the station it was late and the 11am bus had left.
The first thought in my mind was, “Lord, why did you do this? You know very well how dear convocation is to me and I haven’t missed it for many years.” The next bus would be around 1:30pm, that would reach Parthi too late for the convocation and possibly just in time for the drama. I felt sad and helpless. But I kept on praying that I should somehow make it to Convocation. With prayers in my heart, I went and sat on a corner bench of the waiting lounge. After 15minutes, I heard someone shouting “Parthi”. I ran to that person, not knowing what he was up to. He again shouted in the local language (Kannada), “Is anyone going to Puttaparthi?” In all excitement I screamed , “ Yes, Yes I am going!”
As he showed me the bus, I ran towards it thinking I might at least get the last seat. As I boarded the bus, to my surprise, there was not even a single passenger in the bus and all the seats were unoccupied. As the driver was following me, I asked him why it was empty. He said, “This is not a scheduled trip. I am going to Puttaparthi to pick up a group of devotees who have chartered the bus to come to Bangalore.” I thanked him and with tears of joy in my eyes, walked inside and took seat number nine.
This driver was neither dutybound nor obliged to come to the terminal to pick up any passenger. But God knows when and whom to make an instrument. And the bus was here, just to pick me up. It was the driver, myself and of course Baba in the big bus (a 50 seater). The bus did not even stop for a break and we reached Parthi well ahead of time for the Convocation program.
Mysterious are his ways, uncertain at times, but always filled with unconditional and boundless Love. If we have unflinching trust and faith in Him, we will certainly be the recipient of his unconditional love.
I recall a very fond memory related to Sai Baba and Dr. CJM, illustrated through a beautiful incident that has a great lesson embedded in it.
One evening, Sai Baba was going out from darshan when He suddenly stopped and asked if Dr. CJM had brought any letter for Him. There was no letter given by Dr. CJM, hence my response to Sathya Sai Baba was negative.
After the devotional singing was complete, Sai Baba returned to Poornachandra Auditorium (His residence). Through the evening, Sai Baba kept asking me nearly 5 to 7 times if there was any letter from Dr. CJM and my response was negative. Even prior to retiring to His room, Sathya Sai Baba asked one final time, if Dr. CJM had sent any letter to Him. When I said “No”, I could see an expression on Sathya Sai Baba’s face I could not quite understand or fathom the meaning of. Sai Baba retired to Hsi room saying, “Manchidi…” (Good).
The next day, I met Dr. CJM and asked if he wanted to send any letter to Sathya Sai Baba (without letting him know that Sathya Sai Baba was waiting/asking for his letter). Dr. CJM then narrated to me without any remorse the events that had taken place the previous day, and that’s when all the puzzle pieces fell into perfect place.
At that time, Dr. CJM was appointed as warden of the Sri Sathya Sai Senior Boy’s hostel. The previous day, there was an uncomfortable situation of disagreement between him and the the senior office bearer of the university, which resulted in Dr. CJM’s stepping down from the wardenship (including his teaching assignment) from the college.
When I asked Dr. CJM why did he not inform Sai Baba about this, Dr. CJM told me “What can I tell or write to the all-knowing Lord? He knows it all and does whatever is best for me. His will Be Done.”
I was hearing these great words coming from a devotee of the Lord who practiced Sai’s teachings to the letter. Dr. CJM spoke very few words, but his actions were louder.
Apparently, as informed to me by a few others the previous evening, while giving darshan Sai Baba went multiple number of times where Dr. CJM was sitting and stood in front of him, giving him enough opportunity to get up and talk to Sai Baba. But Dr. CJM neither stood up to say anything to Sai Baba nor did he give any letter explaining the incident.
It was then that I realized the expression on Sathya Sai Baba’s face. It was of great pride and satisfaction as Dr. CJM had accepted His decision without defending, seeking clarification or questioning it. He had accepted what came his way as Sai Baba’s will. Many a time in our lives we are faced with decisions that are delivered to us that go beyond comprehension of logical understanding. Sai Baba was teaching me the great lesson to accept it all as His will with a complete sense of surrender.
I am grateful to our Lord for giving us such great teachers who set an example of following our Lord’s teachings to the letter, always both in the happier and most demanding of times.
May Dr. CJM’s soul Rest in Sai.
Amitabh Das Gupta