Sai Student: Experiences and Musings


 - We gratefully acknowledge the writer Aravind B


A shower of wisdom from Sri Sathya Sai during Ramadan.

This article is definitely a stand alone one in terms of its content. But it is actually a continuation of an interview that Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) granted to the students during the Ramadan of 2006. You can catch the first part at
An unforgettable Ramadan with Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

If you have already read the first part, you will surely enjoy this second part.

Non-vegetarian food

Presently, Swami got a twinkling shine in the eye. It was evident that He was going to pull someone’s legs. He looked at little Sathya, a Muslim boy from Iran, seated in the front and asked him,
“Do you eat meat? What meat do you prefer.... (the boy was nodding - No) Tell me....Mutton or fish?”
The boy did not say anything. But he was putting his head down.
“What about your parents? Do they eat meat?”
Now Sathya answered, “Swami, they gave up eating meat more than 4 years ago...”
“Only 4 years? What measure is four years in a lifetime? Good that you do not eat. You chant Vedas so well, how can you eat meat?”

At this point, I remembered the thousands of arguments for and against non-vegetarianism. Whatever be the dominant argument, Swami has made it clear on several occasions that meat-eating is an absolute no-no for any spiritual aspirant. One cannot progress spiritually if one consumes non-vegetarian food.


In fact, during the 69th Birthday, on November 1994, Swami delivered a discourse in which He exhorted every spiritual aspirant (devotee) to give up three things - meat eating, alcohol drinking and smoking. He said,

A shower of wisdom from Sri Sathya Sai during Ramadan.

Feeding His dear deer in Brindavan.

Today, let it be anyone, whether one deems himself a devotee or not, he should give up meat eating. Why? meat eating promotes only animal qualities. It has been well said that the food one consumes determines one's thoughts. By eating the flesh of various animals, the qualities of these animals are imbibed. How sinful is it to feed on animals, which are sustained by the same five elements as human beings! This leads to demonic tendencies, besides committing the sin of inflicting cruelty on animals. Hence, those who genuinely seek to become devotees of God have to give up non-vegetarian food. Calling themselves Sai devotees or devotees of Rama and Krishna, they fatten the chickens. How can they be deemed Sai devotees? How can God accept such a person as a devotee? Therefore, whether they are devotees in India or outside, they should give up from this instant meat eating. Therefore, those who aspire to become devotees of God must give up meat, liquor and smoking.

Swami continued to speak.
“Fish is Matsya (the first in the Dasha Avatar of Lord Vishnu). How can you eat God?”
From there, Swami took the conversation into a new dimension.

“See, when the child is in the womb as the embryo, it is like a fish swimming in the fluid. (Matsya). Then, the fluid slowly dries up and the embryo moves to the tortoise stage (Koorma). Slowly, it takes the shape of a boar which is Varaha. When the delivery takes place, the little human comes out. That is Vamana. Like Vamana, you too must grow such that you cover the entire three worlds. Then alone will human life find its meaning and purpose.”
Jagadish spoke up on behalf of all of us,
“Swami, we never knew this or even thought of it in this manner till you told us.”
My thoughts on the same have been recorded in a separate article entitled - Theory for evolution: The Dashavatar.

Practical wisdom


All of us seated there were simply lost in the beauty of what Swami was telling. Taking the conversation to a more personal level, Swami began to speak to different students. He asked Swaminathan Aiyer,
“What is your role in the drama?”
“Swami, I am a soldier.”
“Why are you having such a moustache and beard?”
“Muslim soldier Swami... That is why.”
It was clear that Swami did not like this kind of ‘stereotyping’. Immediately, He responded,
“Ay! Why such distinction? Is there anything like a Hindu soldier and a Muslim soldier? Whatever be the soldier, the soul is one. Soul is fixed and steady.”

Swami asked Gururaja,
“What is your role?”
“Swami, I am a minister...”
A small frown came on Swami’s face.
“Why is it that everyone today wants to be a minister? If not a minister, they want to be at least an MLA or an MP...”
(Even today, that is the case. I remembered the many occasions where Swami has stressed that a true leader does not clamour after power. He clamours after opportunities to serve.)

Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Omniscience

Lokesh was seated to one side wearing an emperor’s costume. Swami asked him,
“What is your name?”
“My name is Lokesh, Swami.”
“When did you grow a beard?”
“Swami, I have borrowed this beard from the costumes department of the hostel.”
As Swami was looking into Lokesh’s eyes, Syed Babjan volunteered to tell Swami,
“Swami this boy comes...”
Swami cut him and said,
“He comes from Dubai. I know.” All of us smiled.
(How many times it happens that while speaking with Swami, we forget who He is. We are so busy ‘informing’ Him and ‘seeking from’ Him that we forget who He is! Thankfully, He parts the veil now and then to reveal His majesty and we are in awe. But soon after that, He again draws back the veil.)

And perfectly drawing back the veil, Swami began to ask different students about where they came from. The various cities, towns and villages were named. I was also hoping to be asked. But Swami did not. Instead, He gave me a sort of ‘opening’. He said,
“Are there none from Puttaparthi here?”
Immediately, my hand shot up. I said,
“Swami, I am from Puttaparthi.” Swami smiled. He told everyone,
“This boy was born in Puttaparthi. He studied in Puttaparthi and he grew up in Puttaparthi.”
(On first look, that statement looks like it is filled with errors. But then, I can cross my heart and say that my ‘life’ truly began only after I came to know of Swami and came to Puttaparthi. What a difference He has made in my life! As for my ‘growth’ who can know better than Him?)
I was not satisfied with what Swami said. I added,
“Swami, I want to be in Puttaparthi always.”
Swami nodded to say yes.
“You will be in Puttaparthi always.”
That was 2006. This is 2013. I am in Puttaparthi and am grateful for that statement that Swami made.

The Master and His pupils.

Lessons in selflessness

Amey, a student from his childhood, told Swami,
“Swami, be like this always... Talking to us in this manner.”
“What about the others then?” Swami asked.
(He is very quick to pick on selfishness - even trace amounts of it!)
“Swami keep all of us near and dear to you.”
“Today, you are near. Tomorrow, you may be far. Nearness and distance are not important. What is the most important is your heart. God is always in your heart. Enshrine and treasure Him there.”
Amey did not give up, “Okay Swami. But keep us near and dear to you.”
Swami smiled, “Yes. Always... forever.”

The conversation had become quite ‘casual’ now. Rangantha Raju got up and said,
“Swami, one wish. Please fulfill that.”
Swami egged him on and he continued,
“Swami, till now, you have made us walk. We want you to also walk Swami! (in tears now) Swami, please walk. We cannot see you in pain. We want you happy.”
Many others began to cry. I felt a few hot tears stream down my left cheek. It had been almost 3 years since Swami had broken His hip bone and had not cured Himself.
Swami also almost broke down and replied.
“I am not in pain Bangaroo. I am always happy. It is only when His children are sad that He is sad.“
Raju continued, “Swami, but we are sad and pained to see you.”
“Is that not selfishness? You want me to do something for your happiness? I am not sad. I am happy.”
“Swami, that is our selfishness - not yours. No problem.”
“There is nothing like your or my selfishness. Selfishness is selfishness.”
Amey stepped in,
“Swami, please make us walk on Your path.”
Swami smiled and nodded. That was true Padasevanam as Swami had already taught on a previous occasion.


Unforgettable interview with Sri Sathya Sai - Beautiful insights on prayer, love and on seeking Him

The Lord speaking is a privilege that was enjoyed by Moses, Jesus and the Prophet. How lucky that we too
enjoyed that rare privilege!

A personal interview

From this point on, the interview took a very personal flavour in the sense that many boys asked Swami different things that were bothering them. Leaving out all the questions that are irrelevant here because of their very ‘personal’ nature, I shall present the ones that hold great relevance for all of us today and for all times to come as well.

Swami looked at Abhijeet and asked him,
“Boy, what is your name?”
Abhijit was simply overawed and overwhelmed that Swami spoke to him. No words seemed to be dropping out of his mouth! Somehow, he gathered his wits and replied,
“Er... Abhijeet...Sir... Abhijit Swami!”
Even as he said that, he took off the Muslim skull cap.
All of us smiled at how he had addressed Swami as if He was some military general and acted in that way too!
“Put back the cap on your head...put it on.” Swami said quite sternly. Abhijit wore the cap back on his head. Swami then asked him,
“What is the meaning of Abhijeet?”
“I don’t know Swami.”
I knelt up and Swami looked at me. “Swami, Abhi stands for Abhimaanam (body-attachment or ego). Jit is to win over. A person who has won over body attachment is Abhijit.”
As I completed saying this, Swami looked at me. He bore deep into my eyes and I was lost in His eyes. A smile played on HIs lips. I wished that moment could be frozen for eternity. The flow of love was so palpable that I placed my hands on His knees very gently. Then, I began to massage His calves and feet. He did not protest. I was so happy.

Jahpanah Akbar hopefully passed on to his son 
what hisfather had told him!
Akbar-Humayun conversation

Then, Swami looked at Karthik who was dressed as an emperor and pointing to the kingly robe he was wearing, asked,
“Where did you get that from?”
“Swami, this is from our costumes department...” said the warden.
“Oh! You have all these in your costumes department?”
“Yes Swami! This is Akbar’s robe.” (That robe had been stitched specially for the role of Akbar in a drama staged for the Convocation 3 years before).

Swami then made some revelations,
“Akbar was a great king. His father once wrote a letter to him.”
“Humayun Swami?” I asked.
“Yes. He wrote to him telling him that it was indeed a great blessing and privilege that he had become the ruler of India. India is a land of Sheelam. Sheelam means character. To rule this SheelaBhoomi (land of character), you are indeed blessed.”
Even as Swami made this statement, His eyes became glassy, as if He was reliving something within.

Prayer and Love


Ramakrishnan asked a question that seemed very simple on the face of it. However, today when I think of it, it was a very pertinent question and holds great relevance in life. It was a question on prayer. Ramakrishnan asked,
“Swami, how should one pray?”
There was silence for a few moments. Swami then said,
“Whenever you pray, you must always do so with the feeling of ‘You and I are one’.”

Thinking about it, if prayer is done that way, none of us will ever ask for anything, complain about anything or even think about anything. Isn’t it?

Abhishek asked now,
“Swami what is pure love?”
“Pure love is possible only with God. It is possible only towards God.”
This statement immediately triggered my thoughts. I ventured to ask Him a question that had bothered me for a very long time.
“Swami, when I love anyone...”
Immediately He turned to me and was fully focused on me. encouraged, I continued,
“When I love anyone, I do good to them. But is it not basic goodness that they too do the same to me?”
“That is not love at all. That is selfishness.”
I had to agree. “Yes Swami... that is expectation.”
“It is bad”, said Swami.
“But Swami, it happens so automatically...”
“Only love happens automatically. Expectation is what you foster. One must have love and love is possible only with God, for God. Yes, to a certain extent, parents’ love is there. But ultimately, only God’s love is true.”

Power of Love rather than Love of Power

Suddenly, Swami began to cough. The cough was quite violent. A few boys offered HIm a glass of water and He declined it. Santosh told Swami,
“Swami, please take care. You are coughing a lot.”
“Ah! It is because of these regular visits to the indoor stadium. There is a lot of dust there.”
(The Sri Sathya Sai International Centre for Sports is a marvel which has hosted international basketball, volleyball and shuttle badminton matches. The surfaces there have been approved by the ITF, IBF, ITTF and IHF. Any visitor to Puttaparthi must make a visit to this stadium to understand what a magical monument it is.)
Swami continued,
“The Larsen & Toubro people asked for five years to build it. Not even three months have passed and so much of it has already come up.”

All the boys began to ‘praise’ Swami,
“Swami, this is possible only for God.”
“If not for you Swami, this would never have happened.”
“Swami’s love makes the workers toil so hard day and night.”

Swami made a very important point here which any employer or business owner should note.
“What is important is not that they are doing hard work, but they are happy doing that hard work! If you give them love, they too will give love. You know how they express their love? When I go there, they spend 2 minutes having my darshan. But then, they work for an extra four minutes to make up for it.”

As Swami explained this, I was lost wondering about the great power inherent in love. Today, instead of a craze for the power of love, there seems to be a craze for the love of power! If only we could take a few lines from the pages of His-Story, we can make the world a much better place to live in.

Since the topic was about the indoor stadium, I told Swami,
“Swami, when you come to the indoor stadium, please come to our hostel also. It stands just opposite to the stadium being constructed.”
Swami’s face seemed a little disappointed. The next statement He made was a great assurance and one filled with Divine love,
“Che Che! Why do you say, ‘just nearby’ is the hostel? Will I not come if it is far? If you call, that is enough. Distance does not matter.”
Immediately all of us chorused,
“Swami, please come to the hostel.”
“In the hostel you Padutavu (sing). In the stadium you will Aadutavu (play). What is the difference where I come? All these are being built for you children. Everything belongs to you.”

Jimi Hendrix - sathya sai baba
Of Course! I do not agree with him smoking... 
but the quote is awesome! :)
I feel so touched when I think of this statement today. Really, no university in the world will have such facilities offered free to every student who wishes to use it! No skill needed, no fees needed. Only a ‘need’ needed. If the student wishes to pick up any of the sports - cricket, football, volleyball, basketball, shuttle badminton, table tennis, lawn tennis or squash - there are world class facilities that Swami has set up ONLY for the students. These facilities are not let out for any commercial events. They earn nothing for the Trust but the gratitude and joy of the students. For Swami, that is the greatest earning!



All good things come to an end

Swami looked at the little Iranian boy and asked,
“What is your name?”
“Swami, Sathya.”
“If everyone lives up to his/her name, it is enough. Living up to one’s name and keeping up one’s word are very important. If a promise is made, it should be held dearer than one’s life. Also, treat everyone equally.”
Elaborating, Swami said,
“Ornaments are of different kinds - ring, earring and bangle- depending on where it is worn. So too, though there are many sweets - laddoo, gulab jamun, mysorepak - the sugar is the same in them. All are one, be alike to everyone.”

All good things in life come to an end. That is the inevitable Truth. The corollary of that Truth is that all ‘bad’ things in life also come to an end. We just have to hold on to the Lord. Sensing that the interview was drawing to a close, many boys began to offer letters to Swami. Swami collected lovingly from everyone. He opened and read a few of them. Then, He commented,
“Dear Swami... dear brother... dear sister... All are dear. What should Swami be?”
Karthik answered, “Dearest Swami.”
“Why rest? People write anything that comes to the mind. Before writing letters boys must contemplate and dive within. When festivals come, one must understand what the ancients have said and written about them. People today, simply say and write what they wish. They should write and talk only what they have experienced.”

Karthik again told Swami,
“Swami I want to surrender totally to you...”
“Surrender... surrender! Easy words to say.”

That was a take-home lesson for all of us. Understand what you seek from God. Let prayers and words not be mere lip-service.

In conclusion, Swami said,
“Treasure and cherish all that you have received now. Keep contemplating on these moments and derive joy from them always. Be happy. Now, c’mon, sing a Hindi song.”

Treasure and cherish every moment with the Lord - Be blissful always. 
Spontaneously, we began to sing the eternal classic, “Humko Tumse Pyar Kitna.” There were no accompanying instruments or clapping. Yet, it was so harmonic and wonderful. We were all in tears of joy. As the song was completed, Swami blessed all of us with His Abhayahasta. Many boys fell at His feet and took Padanamaskar.

“Now go! The bhajan singers will be coming.”

We saw the time. There were just minutes left for bhajans to start. When we prepared for a Ramadan programme, we had no idea that it would become this! But we were not complaining.

The longest and most beautiful interview of my life with my master and best-friend had just concluded.


Back <<<< Part 1



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