Posted at 11:23:35 Hrs. IST on 17 Jan 2010
While at a time when the youth belonging to the “Sai Fraternity” are awakened in body, mind and spirit to engage in relentless service activities around the world taking inspiration from Bhagawan’s Teachings, here comes a role-model story from the illustrious “Hyderabad Youth” group. Hyderabad Youth had its initiation into Sai Youth activities way back in the late eighties when the Sai Youth activities were in its infancy. Gopi Krishna Pidatala, an active member of the “Hyderabad Youth” and a serving Member of the Sri Sathya Sai Grama Seva Trust, Andhra Pradesh writes about the inception of the youth group while sharing glimpses of valuable inputs received inside the interview room, directly from The Divine!
"Swami, give me strength and energy to render more service at Your lotus feet," was a Hyderabad youth’s prayer to Bhagawan a few days after the Second World Youth Conference. Swami looked at him, gave a deep thought, smiled, and said, "You do My work, I will do your work," in chaste Telugu. He readily agreed. Man, today, needs to realize that Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba is born on earth out of His mercy, to shower His choicest blessings on all mankind. After a little over three decades of association with Lord Sai, I can realize that I have wasted a lot of my years, my prime youth, in running for material gains while Swami has been exemplifying, a role model for all of us till date, and, HE is 84 years young!
"My life is My message", Swami often says. What have we learned from His life? Swami says that the shortest path to reach God (Him) is by practising the saying, "Love all, Serve all". Is it possible to practise this aspect in this mundane world? The answer is an absolute yes. Because, there is at least one personality… a phenomenon, a guide, a dearest friend on this Earth who practices this aspect and is also teaching other beings to learn and practise it in their own lives, and that is our Beloved Lord Sri Sathya Sai.
A few years ago, I asked Swami, "Swami, today life is full of turbulence, ego… and this often leads me to bad thoughts. How do I ward off these thoughts?” Swami explained to me with love and care: "My dear, whenever you feel hungry, what do you do?” "I eat immediately," I replied. Swami then asked, "How do you eat?" He went on to explain, "First you take a plate, serve yourself some food, and then, voluntarily, your hands move to pick up the food to be placed in your mouth. Once in your mouth, it is then masticated by the teeth and involuntarily digested, isn't it?” I nodded. Swami then went on, “Similarly, whenever you get bad thoughts, think of God, think of Sai, involve yourself in good thoughts and good work." Swami says that as we develop this, bad thoughts are automatically left behind. “Make this your daily habit and you shall never have scope for bad thoughts,” Swami answered. He immediately pointed at our team leader, Uday, and said, "This is how he developed into a good boy. It took me several years to scrub him off his bad habits and see how he shines today."
Swami is our friend, our well-wisher, our God Mother… ever ready to help us, pacify us and lead us to peace. This is the absolute truth. Swami tells us, "Just do it. Do not try to analyze the pros and cons. There are innumerable devotees of Sai who are still trying to gauge Sai and in this process they do not know what they are missing." Often Swami directs us. He is like the traffic signal that shows us the path. We need to understand that Swami, out of His mercy and grace, gives us a number of chances even while we err. But, at one point of time, in order to make us realize the value of His word, He stops directing us. From then on, it is misery. He ignores us, does not smile and looks away when we plead. This is when we realize how foolish we have been! Then, we start practising Swami's directions with total surrender and, Presto! Swami is back with us: all smiles, love and compassion bundled together.
Swami often talks of service to motherland: "Janani Janma Bhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi"—the mother, who has given birth to you and the motherland you are born in, is greater than heaven. Serve your motherland, serve your society. It is this society that has brought you up. Pay back the debts you owe to society for bringing you up. Render service to society is what Swami says. Similarly, serving parents is the most important ideal we need to do. PAY - RENT! Swami often says that our very existence in this world is because of our parents, as our head, food and blood truly belong to our parents. Hence, it is our primary duty to ‘pay-rent’ to our parents and that is by providing loving care to them with devotion.
Swami loves youth. I can vouch for this! This is not an understatement. It’s an absolute truth, as absolute as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai.
I am 47-years-old now. It was in the year 1981… when two youth, a friend by name Uday Bhaskar Reddy and I, met in Sivam during a winter course in Indian Culture and Spirituality for intermediate students. We were 17-years-old then. We had started going to Sivam and was doing seva in whichever manner we could: Chappal duty, washing utensils, clearing garbage… just name the seva a fresher is given and we were at it.
In our inner hearts we wanted to do something different! Thinking about this, several years passed! And then, another enterprising youth joined us in 1988. We formed a group—the Hyderabad Youth Group, with a rare passion to be involved in Swami’s divine mission. This passion, to be a part of Swami’s mission, moulded us from being worthless beings to worthy citizens. Do you know how? Let me put it in Swami’s words: while introducing us to a very high dignitary in Prasanthi Nilayam, Swami said, “These are my Hyderabad boys! Look at the way they shine! It took me ten years to rub and scrub them to shine!” That’s the kind of love Bhagawan has for his youth: moulding them to be better human beings! He performed the greatest miracle on us by transforming us into worthy beings!
In this article, I would like to share a few wonderful Sai upadesa. These have been drawn out from conversations of Bhagawan with the Hyderabad youth during innumerable interviews and opportunities that we have had with Him.
Swami once asked the group, “What is the difference between God and man?” All of us answered many different things. Finally, Swami said, “Though God knows everything, He remains silent as if He knows nothing. But man, though he does not know anything, he behaves as if he knows everything. This is the difference between God and man!” In this manner, Swami enlightened us as to how ignorant we were on thinking that we knew something, though what we thought we knew was not even the tip of the iceberg.
On another occasion, one of the young brothers of the group asked: “Swami, while we are here in Prasanthi Nilayam we behave well with sacred thoughts but as soon as we get home to Hyderabad, we are back to square one with negative thoughts and bad company. We don’t understand why it is so? Please guide us in this issue?”
Swami replied, “My dear, you are all like earthen pots. In these pots, I fill prema (love) which is like water. When you get back to Hyderabad, you expose these earthen pots to bad company which is the bright sunshine. In this process, due to the exposure to bright sunshine (bad company), the water that has been filled in the earthen pot (love) gets evaporated. What you need to do is to take this earthen pot to a tank filled with water (satsang–good company). Here the water will always be full and flowing and will never dry out. So, whenever you get back to Hyderabad, you should recall and reflect the good words of Swami that have been told to you and spend your time in good company. This is what you need to learn from Sai.” This was how we understood the value of sharing each other’s experiences of Swami and the importance of meeting often to talk about Him and His activities. A clear example of this is the summer courses where one can share good thoughts and thereby become good citizens of one’s country.
Swami usually ends an interview by distributing vibhuti packets to all those present. I am sure most of us are aware of this. On one occasion, at the end of one such group interview, Swami got up and took the basket of vibhuti packets. One of the brothers, who was very enthusiastic, rushed towards Swami, to help him hold the basket. Swami looked at him and with a mischievous smile said, “I am looking after you very closely and bearing the burden of it. I think this basket of vibhuti is much lighter than that burden. It’s okay, I can handle this basket myself, don’t worry….” What a profound statement that was! Bhagawan is looking after us, day in and day out, carrying the burden of all our lives.
Here is another interesting one: Swami once asked us during a group interview, “What is the difference between a good man and a bad man?” Many tried to give different answers but Swami was not happy. Finally, He said, “Simple answer. A good man feels bad at the suffering of a person in front of him, feels happy when the person in front of him is happy, whereas, a bad man feels happy at the suffering of a person in front of him and feels bad when the person in front of him is happy. This is the difference.” What a simple and divine way of putting across a message!
On another occasion, one of our brothers asked Swami, “Swami, please educate us as to how we should control our mind!” Swami, without taking a second, replied, “Mind control for youth is next to impossible. I have never asked youth to control the mind. I have asked the youth to divert the monkey mind. This has to be done with good thoughts and good acts of service. If you do this, it is more than sufficient.” Let’s start practising this divine command!
Now, I would like to end with this great teaching from Bhagawan. Once, our team had the unique opportunity of serving in Prasanthi Nilayam for the Grama Seva. The group was involved in cooking. At the time of leaving, Swami blessed the group with photographs and after some time He came out again, just to give prasadam to each of us. He then spoke to the boys for some time. One of the brothers said, “Swami, We need your blessings.” Immediately Swami responded saying, “Continue to render seva… blessings keep coming automatically.” Now, isn’t that an important statement? I would like to state that we, the members of the Hyderabad Youth, have realised this in every moment of our lives, for we have seen and felt His blessings in abundance, from the day we entered into His divine mission by rendering seva at His Divine Lotus Feet.
So, Dear Brothers and Sisters, opportunities are abundant… it is for us to make use of the opportunity and obtain the benign blessings of the Divine Master Sai.