|When God calls, one has to respond|
without a choice!
Monday, 9 December 2013
God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called - Part 1
The voice of God
Many times, the question often is asked,
“How does one distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of the mind?”
This is difficult to explain precisely because an experience can only be experienced and not explained. However, as long as we live with a mind, we shall never cease to seek explanations. And so, based on Swami’s guidance and teachings, there are some practical ways to distinguish between the mind and the heart. I still maintain that the best way is to seek that experience of hearing the Divine Voice from within, for, once the voice of God is heard, there will be no doubt as to how one can distinguish between it and the mind’s prattle.
There is no single way by which the voice of God comes to us. If there are as many ways to God, as there are many people on earth, there are at least those many ways by which God can speak to us! The Voice can come to us as an inspiration, as a dream, as some text in a book, an idea or even as a direct command which our ears perceive. Though it can come in myriad ways, when it actually comes, one just can not miss the Voice. Having ‘heard’ that voice, a sense of calm descends and a happy anticipation arises within oneself. That was exactly what happened on the 7th of December, 2013, as I woke up in the city of Chennai.
I had a dream of my Lord, my best friend, my Swami, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That put me in a state of great peace. As I got ready to meet the day, one Christian quote kept bobbing within me. I had not thought about it or read about it in the near past. I had heard it years before during a Trayee session when the speaker mentioned it in Swami’s presence. There was no reason why that quote should have surfaced in me (at least, at that time it felt so). Little did I realize that Swami was actually gifting me the title for a new blog-post!
Yes! That quote was:
“God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called.”
Whenever one reads an article, one sees the heading before delving into the actual body of the article. Swami, in His infinite love, seemed to be doing the same for me too. Even as I was pondering over the meaning and profundity of the above quote, I met Mr.Nitin Kanade, an alumnus of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL), currently residing in Chennai with his wife and two sweet little daughters. He narrated the ‘story of his life’ and the quote attained greater meaning for me. And so, instead of delving into the quote, I shall dive into his unique and thrilling story.
When the call comes...
Right from his birth in Nagpur in 1973, Nitin grew up with Swami. His father was serving in the Indian Air Force and so was regularly transferred to different parts of the country. Wherever Nitin went, he always was ‘in touch’ with Swami. A regular in Bal Vikas classes, he took Swami as his God just like his parents before him. However, the amazing thing is that till 1989, 16 long years after his birth, he never had even one darshan of Bhagawan Baba! Little did he know that the first darshan would be the turning point in his life (just as it has been in several others’ lives as well).
How his first darshan happened in May 1989 is an interesting prelude to his story. Having completed high-school education, Nitin was bent upon pursuing a career as a doctor. He applied to many prestigious colleges and was having a tough time in deciding where he would actually study. In the meanwhile, his father who was keen that Nitin be under Swami’s love and care, applied to the SSSIHL for the Bachelors of Science course. Nitin was surprised when the application form for the Institute arrived home. This was definitely not a place he wanted to be in because he felt that a BSc degree would not fetch him any career worth its name.
And so he protested. He did not fill out the application form. Instead, he just let it be in a corner of his study table. It was weeks later that his father found it, dusted it and filled it himself. The last date for the submission of application forms was already round the corner. He played an emotional card with Nitin,
“Son! I have allowed you to do whatever you like so far. Can’t you fulfill one wish of your father? I am not asking you to join this Institute; I just want you to apply and write the entrance test. Will you lose anything by just doing that much for your father?”
Nitin felt bad. He immediately took the filled application form and posted it to Puttaparthi. His father was happy and so was he because he knew in the inner recesses of his heart that he would never get a call letter - how could he if the last date for submission of application forms would elapse in the next couple of days? There was no way that the posted application could travel all the way to Puttaparthi from his current residence in Chandigarh in just 2 days. Nitin did not know then that when the Lord decides to enter one’s life, no force on earth can stop Him!
Within a week, he received a call letter. He had been selected to write the entrance examinations for BSc at the SSSIHL!
I came, I saw, I was conquered
Nitin and his father set out together for Puttaparthi. The bookings that they had got ensured that they would be arriving at Puttaparthi on the evening before the entrance examinations. However, a 10-hour delay (which was common in long-distance trains in India in those days) caused them to reach Dharmavaram on the day of the exams. Nitin had a bath on a platform at the Dharmavaram railway station itself before starting off for Puttaparthi in a rickety bus.
The duo landed right in front of the main entrance of Prasanthi Nilayam, at the temple of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Praying to him and placing their luggage in the large accommodation shed (that existed next to the Ganesha temple those days), they rushed to the Institute campus. Nitin was just in time for the entrance exam! He wrote the exams and also attended the interview and group discussion. It would take nearly a week before the results would be announced.
NItin’s father had bookings to leave for Chandigarh. He was in for a pleasant surprise though. Nitin told him,
“Dad! You please go ahead, I shall stay on here, in this shed, till the results are announced.” Surprised but glad at this change of heart in Nitin, his father left. Nitin had no idea what made him speak thus .Today he knows that it was the case of Swami at work!
Swami was then at His Bangalore ashram, Brindavan in Whitefield, where He would stay till the end of summer in June. Nitin thought of seeing Him after the results were announced. Since he was free during the whole day, he volunteered to help in the ashram. He met and enlisted under a certain Mr. Wadegaonkar. Mr.Wadegaonkar was the unofficial head of the toughest service group of the ashram - the sanitation group. Inspired by him, Nitin eagerly and enthusiastically got involved in cleaning several septic tanks in Prasanthi Nilayam.
“Just a minute”, I interrupted his narrative, “you who did not want to even come to Puttaparthi, was now staying there and cleaning drains and septic tanks? How did you get this change of heart?”
“I don’t know what happened. But I just fell in love with the place and everything around. I loved sweating it out. I never felt that I was amidst excrement. I felt that I was surrounded by great love and divine peace! In fact, I was now sincerely hoping to get a seat at the SSSIHL.”
That is definitely some statement on the power of selfless service - it inspires, is self-sustaining and it transforms.
As was the practice those days, Nitin too accompanied all the volunteers of the sanitation group to Brindavan, Whitefield for blessings.
“We were told that Swami would give us padanamaskar. That did not happen. Something grander took place. As Swami walked out of His residence, I was entranced. I did not know what was happening to me but a surge of great joy and supreme peace welled within me. What I felt is simply indescribable. It was maddeningly beautiful and overwhelming. People say that when you see Swami, it is wonderful, when He sees you it is magical and if you get an interview it is absolute fulfillment. But that day, I felt fulfilled and complete in just seeing Him. I felt that I needed nothing else in life.”
Thus was Nitin conquered. It was love at first sight. And so, when Prof. Nanjundiah announced the names of the selected candidates in Swami’s presence, Nitin waited with bated breath. Sure enough, his name was called out too and he felt exulted. This, he felt, was the greatest achievement of his life - a blessing from the heavens above. He immediately dispatched a telegram to his father announcing the good news.
An unexpected death blow
On the 4th of June 1989, Nitin Kanade became a ‘Sai-student’. His happiness knew no bounds. He felt that he had never been happier in his life and looked forward to years of love with his Sai. But destiny had other plans.
It landed its first blow when the results of the XII grade Board Exams were announced. He had failed in Chemistry! This meant that he was ineligible to embark on any University course in India. He kept quiet about it but these things do not tend to remain quiet.
One day, in the middle of the class, he was summoned by the principal of the College, ‘Mahajan sir’. Mahajan sir told him that he could not be a student of the SSSIHL because he was not academically qualified to be one! The next day, Sri. K. Chakravarthi, the registrar of the Institute summoned him. Returning all the submitted certificates he told him to leave the institute and the hostel campus. There was nothing that could be done about it because those were the rules. The rules remain the same even to this day.
As a teary-eyed Nitin was wending his way out of the college building, the shutters of the exit door suddenly were closed. Nitin wondered what was happening and was told that Swami was driving on the road towards the hostel. He did not like any students loitering on the streets.
“The students must either be in college, in hostel or in the mandir. Why should they be loitering on streets?” He would often ask.
So, as a preventive measure, the college shutters would be pulled down especially when Swami went out for a drive.
As Nitin had been kicked out of college, Swami had come out and the shutters of the exit had been closed. Just like any of us, Nitin missed the symbolism in all these signs. He stood crying at the door, not realizing that Swami does not call based on qualifications. His call, in fact, is the greatest qualification in itself!
A lecturer of the college, Sai Giridhar, who knew this Truth about Swami and also knew Nitin’s plight, called him to a side. He told him,
“Don’t think all is lost. Swami is always there as the greatest refuge. He is going to the hostel to see the students’ music practice for Guru Poornima. You too go there. Things will change. You may not need to leave tomorrow...”
“But how do I go to the hostel when these doors are closed?” cried Nitin.
“Follow me”, said Giridhar sir, holding the ‘key’ to his problem.
Nitin sneaked out of the college as Giridhar sir took the risk to let him out. He ran to his hostel and scaled the wall since that gate was also locked. From there he went to the entrance of the hostel where he came face to face with the warden, Sri. Narayan Rao. And Sri.Narayan Rao’s face swelled in anger when he saw him. What was this student doing in the hostel when Swami had come there for witnessing the music practice? The fact that Nitin would be leaving and he could upset Swami with his ‘indiscipline’ (which could later affect the entire student community) only angered the warden even more.
“Stop there”, he commanded.
... to be continued in Part 2 located in the link below:
For all readers:
(If you enjoyed this and wish to subscribe to this blog, please go to the right hand side and choose the last 'box' which says subscribe. Another blog which I maintain with more than 200 articles on it is at http://aravindb1982.hubpages.com You may visit that at your leisure. If you wish to be added to my mailing list, please email me via this page with the subject "ADD ME TO MAILING LIST".
Also, use the Tweet and FB buttons below here liberally to share with your friends and family! Thank you)