Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Physically close missionary staff of Sathya Sai and non-missionary sadhaka-devotees/sincere devotees of Sathya Sai

This post was triggered by a recent mail conversation. I have given below a significantly modifed version of one part of my mail.

About the "sort of" close to Baba thing: Even I was not physically that close. In fact, I CHOSE to keep some distance as being physically very close to him entailed huge challenges, in my view, in terms of being a completely dedicated missionary focused only on the mission and not even bothering about any other spiritual sadhana. [Serving him as a dedicated missionary was the sadhana that Swami greatly approved and encouraged, with an assurance that he will take care of both the material and spiritual well being of such a dedicated missionary.] Prior to Mahasamadhi I was part of the mission as Sai university staff (Jan. 2003 to March 2012 with Mahasamadhi being in April 2011), but maintained a balance between my free Seva activity and my spiritual reading and sadhana interests. I was very clear that my key goal was spiritual progress, and not any academic position or academic career or even a Sai missionary (organization) position or career.

But I was part of the community of missionaries around Swami (even if I was at a slight physical distance) having regular darshan of Swami, from fairly close quarters (due to reserved staff seating). So I too was in Swami's "Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) boarding school", if I may put it that way, with Swami being the headmaster observing us mission-students, and letting us know that he knew everything that we were doing, and providing gestures of approval or disapproval to keep us "boarding school" mission-students of his, in line. BTW Swami is the only human form that I have experienced so far, who simply would know in the instant (seconds and sometimes it seemed even split-second) he looked at me, what I have done outside his physical presence. This is NOT my imagination. I have had too many good and "bad" (disciplinary) gesture personal experiences of Swami at darshan time (over slightly less than a decade, Oct. 2002 to Mar. 2011) for it to be my imagination. Further, very importantly, that has been the COMMON EXPERIENCE of many people who have served for long in His physical presence. [A skeptic may dismiss my individual experience of Swami's paranormal knowledge of knowing what I have done away from his physical form, in the instant he looked at me, as my imagination. But the reasonable skeptic will find it hard to dismiss this being the COMMON EXPERIENCE of many people, as imagination of many people.]

However, what I & at least some full time mission-staff at the ashram realized over time, was that we were playing the missionary role and so not having the time to focus on spiritual experiences gained though spiritual practices like meditation and intense & long prayer. But non-mission-staff devotees who would be intense spiritual practitioners or perhaps born spiritual adepts, and who would visit Swami once in a while, would have different spiritual experiences of him.

These devotees would typically have to sit in the devotee lines for darshan, while the mission-staff would have their physically closer reserved areas for darshan. Swami, many times, would remind the physically close mission staff (including me then) that the devotees who come from far for a short time and who sit in devotee lines are, many times, more devoted to him than us! Really! Swami would not allow us to become complacent just because we were mission-staff who could sit somewhat physically close to him at Darshan.

Here is an extract of a Q&A from http://media.radiosai.org/journals/Vol_07/01JAN09/02-conversations.htm:

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Today, Sai glory brought almost everybody from all parts of the world to Your feet. People from many countries, whose names we had never heard before, are coming to You. People of almost all linguistic groups of the world are here. We have representation from all walks of life. It is unfortunate that we, who have been here with You, find ourselves less devoted to You than Your overseas devotees. We see them practice Your teachings with much more sincerity of heart than us! Why is this happening?

Bhagavan: The experiences of the devotees depend on their sincerity, steadfastness, devotion and faith. Nearness, in one way, is responsible for not realising the actual value of Divinity. Don't you find a shadow under a lamp? Similar is the case here. As the light of the Avatar spreads everywhere, there is shadow underneath the light.

You also know that honeybees come from a distance to suck the honey out of the lotus flower, while frogs, snails and fishes so near the lotus flower do not know the taste of honey. The same thing happens when God incarnates in human form. People who are very near Him will not to be able to realise His divine splendour.
--- end extract ---

Ravi: I think many of us mission-staff at Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi) were respectful and actually eager to learn from non-mission-staff sincere devotees and spiritual sadhakas about their spiritual experiences related to Swami. I mean, in my view which I think was the view of many mission-staff, we mission-staff were getting one view of the MAJESTIC ELEPHANT of spiritual wisdom and grandeur that Sathya Sai was, and non-mission-staff devotees & spiritual sadhakas/adepts were getting a different view. All played their different roles in the GREAT SPIRITUAL REVOLUTION/MOVEMENT that is the MAIN OBJECTIVE of the advent of any Avatar including, very much, the Sathya Sai Avatar.

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