Monday, June 6, 2016

My personal experiences & views about Sathya Sai preparing devotees for post-Mahasamadhi phase

I have given below a comment of mine (slightly edited) made in the Facebook post of brother Rajen Rajen, [Readers interested in this topic may find the Facebook post and other comments there to be interesting]:

I would like to add my personal experiences & views in regard to the last few years of Swami's physical sojourn on earth. I don't clearly recall the year this happened but it surely was after 2003, and perhaps sometime between 2005 and 2009.

In a discourse in Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam, when I was seated in Sai Kulwant Hall, I heard Swami say that from that day onwards nobody should take Padanamaskar of his. If I recall correctly, he said something on the lines of all of us being God and so it is not right for God to take Padanamaskar of God!

Now from an Advaita THEORY point of view, I got his message all right. But what a vast gulf there was between most/all of us devotees (including me, surely) and Swami, in terms of our real spiritual experience and wisdom!!! It seemed so fitting, due to the vast gulf between most/all of us devotees and Swami, that we devotees reverentially pay our obeisance to him by touching his feet (Padanamaskar) and thereby get blessing from physical contact with his holy body. Swami granting Padanamaskar to a devotee was viewed as a great blessing. Some would be very happy for that lucky devotee and even congratulate him/her, and, I have to say, some would be very envious of that devotee too. Such was life with physical form Swami and devotees around him! Envy or jealousy (Asuya in Telugu which Swami would refer to, at times, in his discourses) was always lurking in the background in PN ashram system life, and could suddenly pop up into the foreground from even completely unexpected quarters. Truly blessed were those in PN who were somehow free of this human flaw of jealousy.

And now Swami was INSTRUCTING us not to take his Padanamaskar from then on!!! For me, this was a very big matter. Later I realized that some other devotees seemed to have heard such instructions from Swami in earlier years and so perhaps it was not so big a deal for them. As I viewed myself as a spiritual aspirant (with many flaws) and Swami as my Gurudev, I decided that I should try hard to follow this instruction from Swami which was very clearly and very unambiguously delivered in a public discourse in Sai Kulwant Hall. From that day onwards I tried to dismiss the thought of taking Padanamaskar of Swami. [In the 1990s I came as Seva Dal from Maharashtra for Prasanthi Seva. Swami would bless us after our Seva Dal stint by walking between lines of Seva Dal. I have had the blessing of reverentially touching his feet (taking Padanamaskar) then.]

But most people continued to take Padanamaskar of Swami even after those instructions were given by Swami! I got swayed a little by that but then I decided that I should try to follow Swami's instructions even if some others continued to take Padanamaskar.

Now in mid-2016, over five years after Swami's Mahasamadhi, as I look back on those instructions of Swami, I think Swami was trying to prepare devotees to become more self-reliant in matters of spirituality. Perhaps Swami knew that he was going to give up the body in a few years time and also knew that the immediate post-Mahasamadhi years would be traumatic for devotees. So he was trying to wean devotees away from dependence on Swami's physical form, and instead seek Swami within himself/herself.

I think Swami would have known that after Mahasamadhi there would be others who would claim to be so called chosen successors/mediums/communicators of his, and that devotees may get attracted to such claims (as some devotees were getting attracted to such claims even when Swami was in physical form). So he wanted to increase self-reliance in spiritual matters by weaning devotees away from his physical form a few years before he gave up his body.

If I recall correctly, during the last few years before Mahasamadhi, when old students (alumni of Sai educational institutions) would seek Swami's permission & blessings for some Seva projects of theirs, Swami would comment that good work does not require his permission. And that His blessings are always there for good work. At that time, these comments did not seem very significant to me. Now I think they were another sign of preparing the Sai devotee community including the old students/alumni community, for the post-Mahasamadhi phase.

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