April 25, 2011 1:35:55 am
In 1974,for the first time,I had Sathya Sai Babas darshan in Sahyadri,the official residence of the then chief minister of Maharashtra,Shankarrao Chavan. Dr Bhagavantam,who was scientific adviser to the defence minister before joining Baba as the interpreter and translator of his speeches from Telugu into English,was present at the meeting. Dr Bhagavantam was a respected scientist and administrator. Like him,there were other scientists and technologists who had joined Baba. They worked in space and other science departments and organisations,in the field of education and in the world of new ideas. That made us realise that Baba was a spiritual leader who understood the importance of science and technology,who did not distance himself from or disrespect modern knowledge and attitudes towards life.
The second time I met Baba was at 3 Janpath,New Delhi,where Justice Bhagwati resided. I was living just opposite to him. At that meeting,I stood near the entrance of the house and watched Baba give darshan. I did not move towards him. I stood at the back of the gathering. Baba moved slowly towards me,and said,You have come. Good,and patted on my back. I touched his feet. I felt like a child who was attracted towards his loving elder.
Since that time,I had his darshan many times,at various places. I was told that this was what happened to many of his followers. Anybody who saw him once felt like meeting him again. And they went to him,from different parts of the country and the world,travelling long distances,just to have a glimpse. That is how the number of his devotees multiplied and spread all over the world.
He always tried to make his visitors feel at ease. He asked some questions,replied to some questions and advised people in difficulties,as elders in the family do he did not ask them to perform great feats,but guided them along the right behaviour,compassion and boldness. His guidance appeared like suggestions given by a friend,who understood the difficulties of existing in this world full of complications,and who tried to see that things were done in a just and correct manner.
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Everybody who had his darshan returned fully satisfied,at peace with himself and the world. That was because of the compassionate way in which the devotee was treated. Baba had a tremendous capacity to shower his love on his followers. Baba could treat persons from all parts of the world,belonging to different religions,speaking different languages,with equal and identical love and affection. He used to say,God is love. Love is God. In his opinion,we should learn to love all human beings and creatures,and that would take us nearer to God. His capacity to love emerged from his broad-mindedness,inclusive nature,in his belief that all people are chips of the same block and children of one reality,the divinity.
He believed in Aham Brahamasmi I am God. But this principle was applicable to all human beings. They all could call themselves the essence of divinity. Each and every human being could call himself God. Once a young boy asked Baba,How could you be so arrogant as to call yourself God? To this,in essence,he replied,You are also God. Other human beings are also part of the divinity. But you do not know that you are that. That is why you object to others knowing that each one of them is that. I know what I am. If you know what in reality what you are,you would also call yourself God.
One who thinks that individuals,all kinds of creatures and plants,and non-living things are part of matter and energy and are sustained by time and space cannot refuse to recognise himself as part of the total reality and divinity,God.
He cannot fail to love and respect all that is alive,and all that exists. He is capable of seeing everything that exists in Him,and Himself in everything that exists. This way of thinking and living is divine,Godly. He who lives this way can be recognised as God,or the ultimate reality,or the ultimate truth. Baba was that.
Until April 24,2011,he was in body with us; afterwards,he will be with us in spirit.
On one of his birthdays,I was with him. He told me: They celebrate my birthday. But I am not born. I have been there. And I will be there. For soul,there is no birth or death. For body,they are there. So,this celebration is for them,not for me; for my body,not for my soul.
Baba was not born. He is not dead. He was there. He is here. He will be here,there and everywhere,for all times to come,in his thoughts,ideas,and philosophy,which should guide us and the humanity. To try to follow his philosophy truly and to live according to its spirit is to pay real tribute to His divine memory.
The writer served as Union home minister from 2004 to 2008,and is currently the governor of Punjab and administrator of Chandigarh
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