THE EXPIRED THONGS

I embarked on a spiritual journey last spring and headed towards an ashram in search of self enquiry. My destination was India, a country known for its vast spiritual heritage. I carried in my luggage the minimal personal effects including a pair of old thongs. This search for the Truth of Oneself will, in my mind, be restrictive on personal wants and needs.

Two days after I had rambled around in my old thongs, I noticed that part of the right sole was coming off; I brought it closer to my eyes to have a microscopic view of the damage; I then perceived that there was another problem; the strap which run from between the big toe and the second toe to the right side of the sandal was threading off and thinning. I sadly told myself that the thongs had expired due to old age, wear and tear. It was essential for me to look for new thongs before the expired ones left me half-way. Opportunity knocked when the next morning I walked into a store to buy fruit juice. An array of attractive and colorful thongs was displayed on a self. I tried a few pairs until I fell on one which fitted perfectly.

I settled my bill, removed the new thongs from the box, glided my feet into them and placed the expired ones into the carton, to throw away. Strangely, I could not find a dustbin and the expired thongs slept in the box, under my bed, almost forgotten.

Time passed by. For the festival of Mahashivaratri, innumerable pilgrims arrived at the ashram from all over the world. One night, I misplaced my new thongs. I immediately run for the rescue of the expired ones. I had been advised by a physician to walk barefoot which was supposedly a good exercise for different types of inflammation and beneficial for my sore knees, but accustomed to the western way of life, I found it hard to hop around like a grasshopper without footwear.

Eventually, the expired thongs silently resumed their job of transporting me. Every time I came out of a hall or canteen where footwear was not allowed, my eyes fell on them, waiting for me, tattered yet so warm. They were serving submissively and devotedly like old wives. I left them here and there, under the nose of everyone but nobody touched them. They were too old to draw attention or to be stolen. Expired they were, in the eyes of all except in mine. What a startling spiritual lesson to learn! Respect and hold on to the old; in times of need, they are the most helpful.

Further, nothing ever happens accidently or mysteriously, spiritual life shows us. For every happening, there is a proper reason. Moreover we are taught that inanimate objects too have feelings and emotions. For instance, it is told in the sacred Hindu book ‘The Ramayana’ that when Lord Rama, The Avatar of the Treta Yuga went to rescue his wife Sita from the demon King Ravana, an army of monkeys came to his help. They built a bridge by plucking mountains from the Himalayas and throwing them into the seas to allow Rama to walk from his land to the realm of Ravana. When the bridge was done, one mountain cried because it was plucked from its original place but not used. Lord Rama then promised the mountain that in his next incarnation, it will receive his blessings. This very mountain was the Govardhana Peak which Rama as the Avatar Krishna in the Dwarpa Yuga lifted on his finger and held aloft for seven days in order to save the inhabitants of Gokul from the devastation of torrential rain.

Illustrating the words of wisdom of my Guru, ‘there is nothing in this world which has no heart, which is incapable of feeing of joy and grief; only, you must have the eye to see, the ear to listen and the heart to respond’, here is another example of emotion expressed by inanimate objects is the more recent case of ‘the weeping saris’.  At Anantapur, the Kaliyuga Avatar, Sri Sathya Sai Baba asked that a box of new saris be brought to his room; they were to be distributed to women workers who were helping in the construction of the Sathya Sai College. He chose 96 saris out of one hundred and disregarded four, which were returned to the box. After he distributed the saris, his attention was drawn to a trickle of water flowing from the bottom of the box. Baba later explained to a gathering at Dharmakshera that the saris had feelings just like humans and similar to the mountain that was set aside by him in the Treta Yuga, the saris were aggrieved; they were weeping because they had been set aside by him. He immediately removed the saddened saris from the box and distributed them.

To cut a long story short, I returned home with the expired thongs, having learnt that self enquiry leads one to detach from people, mundane life and worldly affairs by opening one’s eyes to the deficiencies in them.

Anita Bacha

 

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Ode to the Holy One

Ode to the Holy One

You are born again and again

Like a flame in my heart, O Holy One!

My eyes marvel and rejoice at your sight,

In the darkness you are my light!

In the void your voice is rapturous music,

When you are with me nothing is amiss;

Every droplet of rain is a cup of bliss;

Every thorn is a budding lotus flower;

Every woe is over and done forever!

Anita Bacha

(Excerpt from SOUL POETRY, 04 2015)

Krishna He who resides in your heart

Dharmakshetra – The Abode of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

dharmakshetra

KRISHNA IS YOU AND ME, AND FIRE AND WATER

In my search for God I visited India for the first time in 1982. I was accompanying my husband Anil on a business trip to Delhi. Deep inside I was cherishing the dream of meeting  Sri Sathya Sai Baba! But  Baba lived in the South of India, I was bluntly told. My dream was shattered. I was distraught and inconsolable. Our hosts then suggested that we visit the shrine and temple of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba, situate on the outskirts of Poona! –

‘The journey to Shirdi was infinitely long, tedious and lamentable, but my spirit changed completely when we reached our destination; we devoutly prayed to  Shirdi Sai Baba. Satisfied and pleased, we took the coach to return to Bombay. Soon after, overcome by the heat and by exhaustion and lulled by the roaring sound of the coach engine, I started to doze off. When lo! Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba appeared before me in a vision. His face only was visible; he was smiling. The image persisted under my closed eyelids. I opened my eyes and shook my head to brush aside the apparition, but I could see him everywhere. I thought I was going bonkers!’ – quote at p15, chapter two ‘A Holy Vision’ from the book ‘The Maker of Miracles’ 2006 by the author Anita Bacha.

‘Twenty –four hours later we were flying Indian Airlines to Bangalore, a travel agent having told us that Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba lived in Bangalore, in the south of India.’ Quote at p16 of the same tome.

On the 05 December 1982, I had my first and most touching ‘darshan’ of Our Beautiful Lord and He graced me with the much coveted ‘eye contact’.

To cut a long story short, last year, for no apparent reason, I planned to visit the Shirdi Baba Temple again. After a resourceful spiritual journey to Vrindavan, I returned to Mumbai to catch the International Flight to Mauritius. I was accompanied by a few friends and family members including Ankit Sharma, who had been enthusiastically ‘adopted’ by us.

 However, for an unforeseen and weird reason, I could not go to Shirdi. I went to bed with a heavy heart. In the night, I dreamt of Sri Baba in His Mumbai Ashram, the Dharmakshetra. The next day, more exactly, on the 05 December 2013, I precipitated to the Dharmakshetra, eager to unfold the mystery of the dream. Ankit Sharma alone was willing to follow me; the others were too weary to do so! We learnt that, as it was Thursday, there was a ‘bhajan satsang’ at 16.30 hours. There, in the bhajan hall of unparalleled beauty, expressive vibrations and magic spells, I learnt the profound concept of ‘dharma’ as expounded by Lord SRI KRISHNA, in the Bhagavath Gita, as from the darkness of ignorance I was led by a magnetic force to the realm of understanding!

 Extraordinarily enough, the Dharmakshetra symbolizes the core message of Bhagawan Baba to mankind to embark upon the path of Righteous Conduct, ‘Dharma’. It is the spiritual lighthouse of architectural breathtaking beauty established by Sri Sathya Sai Baba in May 1968, on the eve of the First World Conference of the Sri Sathya Sai Organization. Magnificently built on a hillock in exactly 108 days, it stands as a miracle of Baba’s Divine Sankalpa.

Poem – The Flute Player

 Soft and enchanting music

 

Opened the gates of heaven;

 

I tiptoed out of breath

 

In a garden of gorgeous flowers;

 

Intoxicated by the scent of the flora

 

Of all beauty

 

I tilted slightly

 

Almost lost myself;

 

Enthralled by the sweetest of the sweet fragrance

 

I fell under the charm of the flute player

 

Anita Bacha

Music

The Expired Thongs

Image

I embarked on a spiritual journey last spring and headed towards an ashram in search of self enquiry. My destination was India, a country known for its vast spiritual heritage. I carried in my luggage the minimal personal effects including a pair of old thongs. This search for the Truth of Oneself will, in my mind, be restrictive on personal wants and needs.

Two days after I had rambled around in my old thongs, I noticed that part of the right sole was coming off; I brought it closer to my eyes to have a microscopic view of the damage; I then perceived that there was another problem; the strap which run from between the big toe and the second toe to the right side of the sandal was threading off and thinning. I sadly told myself that the thongs had expired due to old age, wear and tear. It was essential for me to look for new thongs before the expired ones left me half-way. Opportunity knocked when the next morning I walked into a store to buy fruit juice. An array of attractive and colorful thongs was displayed on a self. I tried a few pairs until I fell on one which fitted perfectly.

I settled my bill, removed the new thongs from the box, glided my feet into them and placed the expired ones into the carton to throw away. Strangely, I could not find a dustbin and the expired thongs slept in the box under my bed almost forgotten.

 Time passed by. For the festival of Mahashivratri, innumerable pilgrims arrived in the ashram from all over the world. One night, I misplaced my new thongs. I immediately run for the rescue of the expired ones. I had been advised by a physician to walk barefoot which was supposedly a good exercise for different types of inflammation and beneficial for my sore knees, but accustomed to the western way of life, I found it hard to hop around like a grasshopper without footwear.

 Eventually, the expired thongs silently resumed their job of transporting me. Every time I came out of a hall or canteen where footwear was not allowed, my eyes fell on them waiting for me, tattered yet so warm. They were serving submissively and devotedly like old wives. I left them here and there, under the nose of everyone but nobody touched them. They were too old to draw attention or to be stolen. Expired they were, in the eyes of all except in mine. What a startling spiritual lesson to learn! Respect and hold on to the old; in times of need, they are the most helpful.

 Further, nothing ever happens accidently or mysteriously, spiritual life shows us. For every happening, there is a proper reason. Moreover we are taught that inanimate objects too have feelings and emotions. For instance, it is told in the sacred Hindu book ‘The Ramayana’ that when Lord Rama went to rescue his wife Sita from the demon King Ravana, an army of monkeys came to his help. They built a bridge by plucking mountains from the Himalayas and throwing them into the seas to allow Rama to walk from his land to the realm of Ravana. When the bridge was done, one mountain cried because it was plucked from its original place but not used. Lord Rama then promised the mountain that in his next Avatara, it will receive his blessings. This very mountain was the Govardhana Peak which Rama as the Avatar Krishna lifted on his finger and held aloft for seven days in order to save the inhabitants of Gokul from the devastation of torrential rain.

To cut a long story short, I returned home with the expired thongs, having learnt that self enquiry leads one to detach from people, mundane life and affairs by opening one’s eyes to the deficiencies in them.

 

– Anita Bacha –

Illustrative/ photo/ Bhagavat Gita

bhagavad-gita

 

 

A Story of Faith and Belief

 Harry and Krishna

 

Once there was a little boy who lived with his poor, widowed mother in a far away village.

His name was Harry. During school holidays he had no friend with whom to play. His mother was a loving woman and played with him when she was not busy with her household chores. One day, however, she fell ill and Harry became very lonely. His mother consoled him and told him to go out and play with Krishna.

‘Who is Krishna?’ Harry asked his mother.

‘Krishna is the friend of all!’

Harry rushed out eagerly calling ‘Krishna! Krishna!’

‘Hello!’ said a cow herd boy coming from behind a tree ‘why are you calling my name?’

“Let’s play!’ Harry uttered with joy.

They played together during the school holidays.

Back to school, Harry told the school master about his new friend, Krishna. The school master listened to his story but did not believe a word of it.

Soon it was the birthday of the school master. Harry became very sad; he had no money to buy him a birthday present. His mother then reminded him of his friend Krishna.

‘Go and talk to your friend Krishna’ she told Harry, ‘he will surely help you!’

Harry did as he was told and Krishna gave him a pot of butter milk.

‘Here! This is a birthday present for your school master!’

Unfortunately, the school master was not happy with the present. He scorned at it and asked his servant to throw the milk curd away. The servant complied but amazingly, the pot was filled with milk curd again. After several attempts to empty the pot, he ran to the school master to tell him about the incredible happening.

‘What!’ the school master exclaimed ‘it must be a magic pot!’ He immediately summoned Harry and asked him about the source of the pot.

When Harry replied that his friend Krishna gave it to him, the school master asked him to take him to Krishna immediately.

‘I want to see your friend!’ he exclaimed.

 The school master followed Harry to the place where he met Krishna. At the top of his voice, Harry called for his friend but Krishna did not appear. Then from behind a tree, they heard another voice:

‘Why are you calling me Harry?’

Harry recognized the voice of his friend Krishna. He replied:

‘My school master wants to see you.’

‘The school master cannot see me, Harry, because no one can see me unless he believes in me!’ said the voice gently but firmly.

The school master was bowled over. He returned to the school with his tail between his legs.

 

Anita Bacha

Harry and Krishna