Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Some people felt more connected to Shirdi Sai than Sathya Sai; Impact on followers is a big legacy of a spiritual master

Some more short & quick thoughts/views of mine.

Even when Sathya Sai Baba was in physical form, some people felt more connected to Shirdi Sai Baba than Sathya Sai Baba. Mumbai/Bombay has huge number of Shirdi Sai devotees with only some of them being comfortable with Sathya Sai. I think a past saint is easier for us to handle than a living one. History and legend, especially in a devotion-crazy country like India, are very kind to past saints. Living saints seem to have always faced fair level of criticism from contemporaries. Sathya Sai attracted heavy criticism due to some claims he made, and when he passed away without some of the really big claims coming true, the critics really had their day, even in mainstream Indian media. It was very tough for us Sathya Sai devotees to stomach that criticism while we were plunged in despair and trauma due to his passing away. But that was a devotional experience, none the less.

Later when I carefully studied some passages of the gospel about how the followers of Jesus were traumatized by his crucifixion, with Peter denying Jesus thrice (or twice, according to some gospel accounts, if I recall correctly), I was able to relate to what the apostles/followers would have gone through then due to what we at Puttaparthi went through on Sathya Sai's (body) passing away. Of course, our trauma was only emotional (as compared to physical and emotional persecution that followers of Jesus Christ then had to face) and we had great support from the Indian union/federal and state governments, which was instrumental in the activities of the ashram including free education and free medical service, continuing without any break.

Sathya Sai, in later years of his career, perhaps was too busy with all the mission activities he had initiated, and the large number of people who would gather for his daily darshan. So people staying only for a few days would typically not get a chance to even have eye contact kind of interaction with him, let alone exchanging words with him. I think these were the human kind of limitations that he had. However, if people persisted and he kept seeing them regularly in his darshan round, usually he would form some sort of human level connect, even if meant just a facial gesture on eye contact.

I should also add that it was my personal experience, in late 2002 or early 2003, when I was not staff and having darshan of Swami along with the general public (in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam/Puttaparthi), that intense prayer to Swami, resulted in Swami taking special notice of me by looking at me for some time and accepting my letter even though I was seated two or three rows behind the front row. Whereas, in the earlier weeks when I was regularly attending Darshan, sometimes with a front row seat and clearly holding my letter in my folded palms for him to see, he would not only avoid taking the letter but either not look at me or just cast a passing glance at me.

My view of this experience was that earlier I was not praying hard or praying intensely to him and so, even if I was seated in the front row, he did not show much interest in me. But when I prayed intensely, Swami's heart melted and he responded to me. It was almost as if Swami was teaching me that if I wanted God to respond to my prayer, the prayer MUST BE intense and from the bottom of one's heart/being, and not casual.
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Perhaps one of the biggest legacies of a spiritual master (besides his/her teachings) is the impact he/she had on the people who followed him or just came across him. What sort of spiritually transformed people does he leave behind? Do they continue his legacy and inspire others about the values that the master taught?

Christ left behind an awesome legacy even though he seems to have actively preached only for around three years. Even though Christ and his followers were humiliated by making Christ wear a crown of thorns as the 'king of the Jews' and then crucified, many of his followers eventually overcame the trauma of the crucifixion and were so inspired (with the resurrection/resuscitation playing a major role) that they spread his teachings even under the threat of persecution, with some getting crucified themselves! That is a clear reflection of the awesome spiritual power of the life, miracles & preaching of Jesus Christ.

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