Living with Baba

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A Garland and a Blessing

Sadhana, which is our intense, conscious effort to unite with the Supreme Consciousness, is not easy to sustain. There are many obstacles strewn along the thorny path - some big, others bigger. Many try to do sadhana, few can sustain it, and even fewer succeed at it. While sadhana is both an individual and collective effort, the grace of the Guru is paramount in succeeding at sadhana. His grace is dispensed freely through His blessings. The Guru's blessings take many forms - some are general in nature targeted at our success at sadhana, and some are specific, catering to special needs and circumstances.

Sometime in 1989, I received news of my new posting in South America. I was then a Central worker. I was thrilled at the opportunity of working in a new environment, but somewhat saddened that I would have to be physically away from Baba. I really could not imagine being separated from Him, as my whole life revolves around Him. How painful a separation it would be!

It was customary to seek Baba's blessings before leaving for our new posting. The procedure required us to do sastaunga pranam and then to garland Him. He then accepted the garland as a token of our love for Him. The system, however, required all other procedures to be completed before the General Secretary (GS) approaches Baba. This meant that GS should have checked with me whether I had handed over my administrative responsibilities to the new person replacing me, and if I had a garland ready. Possibly because of time constraints, the GS did not check with me and approached Baba informing Him that I was leaving for my new posting in South America.

The impact of such an uncoordinated arrangement immediately struck me. It meant that I had to approach Baba without a garland. It meant a breach of the established practice. It meant that I failed in my duty. I was desperate, but what could I do in that helpless moment? I mentally cried at my failure to get a garland for Baba, especially when I was going to leave Him for an unknown land. What else could I do?
Meanwhile, Baba must have understood my predicament. He casually chatted with me for a few minutes. I felt that He was giving me precious time to get a garland. This made me even more desperate and helpless, knowing that a garland was absolutely necessary and that Baba was waiting for it.

After a few agonizing moments, and to my utter surprise, Baba instructed His Personal Assistant, "PA, please give Me a garland." PA Dada immediately went into His room, got a garland and gave it to Him. Baba took the garland, empowered it with a blessing, and gave it to me saying, "Always keep this with you. I am sending you there for a particular purpose. But the system has been reversed."

I understood what He meant - that I should have given Him the garland, instead of Baba presenting me with a garland.

I realized that Baba's gesture of giving me the garland was unusual. Baba usually accepts a garland from a devotee. In this case, however, He had offered me a blessed garland on His own accord. Certainly, it was a specific blessing for a purpose only known to Him.

After this, I left hurriedly to catch my flight to a new land. I carefully dried the flowers and kept them with me. I have encountered so many difficulties and problems since then, some even dangerous, but I somehow managed to come out of them safely. I know that it is not the physical garland of flowers that protects me. It is His blessings and His grace.