The lives of all the devotees we have seen so far appear to be simply blissful! Their time in Puttaparthi was filled with joyous laughter, beautiful Bhajans, magical miracles and most of all, Swami’s love. But, the truth is that it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
It may appear that way to us because we only know the good parts. And perhaps, this is because they only remembered and highlighted the good parts too! The thought of Swami was enough to push even the greatest of tragedies and suffering to the background. That is the power of Naamasmarana (recollecting the name of the Lord)!
We look at some incidents that illustrate the importance Swami gave to Naamasmarana in today’s issue of His Story.
In the previous issue of His Story, we saw how Swami showered His grace on Kasturi’s daughter, Padma, arranging every detail of her wedding. Swami’s hand in the marriage did not, however, mean that everything was perfect. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the couple and they were surrounded by troubles all around: her father-in-law’s health problems, her husband losing his job, having three children and not enough money, to just list a few. The Lord that brought them together did not forsake them at all throughout these ordeals. Swami granted the couple personal interviews and gave them marriage advice. He wrote letter after letter to Padmamma asking her to seek refuge in the name of Sai and to have courage (See Issue 55).
Balapattabi’s miracle filled life (See Issue 46) was actually also filled with much sorrow and tragedy. Through a series of unfortunate events, Balapattabi (who was born into a rich family) suffered terribly business losses and was left with heavy debts. His extended family abandoned him and blamed everything including, all his medical issues and his childless marriage, on Swami. Unable to take the torture, Balapattabi attempted to commit suicide multiple times.
I wrote a letter to Baba in pencil requesting Him to accept my soul at His feet… It was midnight. I went around the Mandir thrice, repeating ‘Sai Ram’ all the while. I walked towards a dilapidated well, on the way to the river. Standing on its edge and shouting loudly the Lord’s name, I jumped into the dark water. The next thing I vaguely remembered was that someone was carrying me on his shoulders…I recovered in Swami’s room.
Swami spoke to Balapattabi with so much love, explaining that nobody is free from troubles; not even Avatars such as Lord Rama. He reassured him that He was always looking after him, that He will protect him throughout his life and that all he needed to do was to abide by His words.
Observing that I had no watch on my wrist, He said, “Have this knowledge as your ‘watch’ from this point on: Just as the wristwatch has three hands for showing seconds, minutes and hours, there are three sheaths for man – the coarse, the subtle and the causative. The last one is the repository of many Vasanas* which tend to express and fulfil themselves. These become the cause of various births and experiences. Hence, the last sheath is called causative body. To change the contents and orientations of this causative body, one must change the subtle body. For this to happen, one must change the habits and tendencies of the physical body. This can be done only be repeated and persistent efforts. For this, the mind must be turned inward and prevented from involving itself too much in the external world. This spiritual effort can be greatly aided by Naamasmarana – the constant remembrance of the Divine Name and its implications.
Karunamba Ramamurthy recalls Swami categorically saying, Naamasmarana is supreme! This statement was in response to a long answer that Swami gave Ramachandra Iyer when he asked Swami if there is any way to eliminate our Karma (in this context, Karma refers to what is destined to happen in our lives). And if so, what is the point of performing rituals, Bhajans, Naamasmarana, etc?
If one comes to know that performing all the rites, rituals, pilgrimages, Bhajans, Darshan of holy men, and so on do not reduce Karma, why should one perform them? They surely help in reducing the Karma. If one can totally change one’s destiny (God’s Sankalpa) by contemplating on God, is it difficult to wipe off Karma?
I ordain you to contemplate on God with confidence and devotion while undergoing your Karma. I will see to it that you do not feel the pain and you would not even know that you are undergoing Karma.
The song Sai Naama Smaranam which the Malladi brothers used to sing often in Swami’s divine presence embodies this very message. The Padyam** that is sometimes sung before this adds even more beauty and meaning to this song; it sets the scene, elucidating the yearning with which Naamasmarana should be done!
Karunimpa Nee Kante Ghanudu-evadani Kada
Knowing your unparalleled compassion, Lord
Aashrayinchiti Nee Padambhujamulu
I came seeking refuge at your lotus feet
Morabettu Konaga Vammu Cheyavani Kada
When I pour my worries out to you, I know you will not cheat me
Yelugethi Pilichiti Ippuudu Ninnu
I called out loudly to You
Yedi Vochinanu Neeve Yuntivani Kada
Trusting that no matter what comes, You are always there to protect me
Namithi Ninnu Na Manambhulona
This I completely trust with my mind, my heart
Ardhinchinapudu Ledana Neravani Kada
When I plead, I know you cannot say no to me
Cheytuloggithi Needu Chithamunaku
I fold my hands in surrender to Your will
Emi Talchukunti Nannu Ippudu Inka
So now, tell me, what is your stance?
Uddharaimpagayunta Nee Yuha Yemi
In rescuing and uplifting me?
Entha Kalambu Ninnu Nenu Itlu Goluthu
How much longer do I need to plead?
Eppudu Nee Velugaaka Nenetle Niluthu
Without your grace, how can I even survive?
Sai Naama Smaranam Sai Roopa Dhyaanam
Repetition of Sai’s name and contemplation of His form
Sadaa Maaku Iha Paraala Nosagu Saadanam
Is the Sadhana that grants spiritual and worldly prosperity
Aalochanalanni Sai Mayame Aithe
When all our thoughts are filled with and about Sai
Then we will not be afflicted with worries and tensions
Manasu Thanuvu Sarvam Gurumoorthe Aithe
If our mind, our body, our everything is filled with our Guru
Mahaanandamanta Mana Sampadale
Then eternal happiness and bliss will be our bounty
Jeevakoti Ananthamee Prapancha Valayamlo
There are countless life forms in this wheel of creation
Maanava Janmam Entho Viluvainadi Kaada
Then isn’t human birth so precious
Bhagavanthuni Grahiyinche Gnyaanamane Shakthi
The wisdom and power to realise God
Pondagalugu Janma Ide Ani Chaatina Sai
Can be attained only in this birth – Declared Sai
The word Naamasmarana translates to recollecting the name of the Lord and interestingly, it is listed third in the nine paths of devotion.
It is only after Shravanam (listening to the stories of the Lord), and Keertanam (being so steeped in those stories that you can’t help but sing about Him) that we reach the stage of Vishnu Smaranam (recollecting the name of the Lord). For if we don’t know anything about Him, what exactly are we recollecting?
* Vasana - Tendencies developed during past births.
** Padyam - Telugu poems that consist of verses.
- Radio Sai (2007) He is My Swami: Conversation with Mrs Padma Kasturi - Part 5. Available at http://media.radiosai.org/journals/Vol_05/01SEP07/14-h2h_special.htm. (Accessed 14 November 2019)
- Nectarine Leelas of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (2004), R. Ballapattabi, Sai Towers Publishing.
- Sri Sathya Sai Anandadayi: Journey With Sai (2013), Karunamba Ramamurthy (Kannamma), Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust, Publications Division.