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Tuesday, Nov 13 2018  

THE U.S. EXPERIENCE - 1 SEPTEMBER 2003


“Why fear when I am here. So says Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Baba, my Lord.” This bhajan is automatically played in my head whenever I feel nervous or fearful about something.

I have been studying in the U.S, Rutgers University, New Jersey for the past two years. There have been many situations that I felt very fearful and lonely. It is very natural to feel this way when you are in a new environment and away from home. However, the fearful feeling would go away whenever I sang this bhajan and contemplated on Swami. Through this practical experience I have realized that our Lord’s name is so powerful that we should not let such feelings of fear come at all.

Swami has always said that we should develop courage and fortitude to overcome fear. We can get courage only from God. For this, we have to develop faith in and devotion to God. Constant contemplation in God is very necessary for all of us. Swami has said, “You have to face the world with courage. In the present situation of the world, our true strength is in courage and fortitude. When you cultivate devotion to God, you can face the challenges of the world with confidence and courage. Life is a Challenge, Meet it. Life is a Game, Play it.” There were times when I felt discouraged and really stressed out while I was in U.S. But by keeping Swami in my thoughts, he constantly assured me that everything would go fine. If we search within ourselves through contemplation in God, we can even get the solution to any problems we have.

In U.S, I couldn’t go to the Sai centre very often because it was really far and the bhajan timings clashed with my schedule. I was upset about this. I felt that I couldn’t serve Swami as I used to in the Sai Centre Katong. By Swami’s grace, I was introduced to another organization, Hindu Students’ Council (HSC) which is in my university. At the university, weekly sessions are held to discus topics in spirituality including the teachings of the Bhagwad Gita. This way I was able to still continue with what I was doing here.

Apart from the ‘worldly’ education, I have always been interested in Spiritual Education that Swami wants us to receive. What does Swami mean by ‘Spiritual Education’? He means that firstly we should learn to pray to God and sing His glory. “Learn to live with God and earn His Grace. This is the essence of true education. What is the use of all your education if you cannot know yourself? You have to know your own truth before knowing everything else.”

Speaking about singing His glory, let me tell you an experience I had in the U.S. As some of you may know that I love singing bhajans and I used to be a regular singer here. When I went to U.S, I thought that this would stop as I was not attending bhajans in a Sai centre. By Swami’s grace, I was able to do so in the weekly pujas that Hindu Students Council had on Sundays. The purpose of this puja was to allow students living on campus to pray together as there was no temple on campus for us to do puja together. So we would do puja together and I would sing bhajans.

Last year we had Diwali puja, which is held every year on our campus. We usually have 15 to 20 youths coming for the puja. Most of the other youths will come after puja when the puja is about to end. This time the president of the council told me that I should sing bhajans as some of them enjoy the bhajans that I sing during the weekly puja. So I started singing our Sai bhajans, more youths started coming into the hall. I realized this when I heard the chorus getting louder. Even some Americans who were outside came into the hall as they were enjoying the sound of the bhajans. When the bhajans ended, I looked behind and saw that the number of people had increased from 20 to about 80. Many youths got interested in bhajans as they felt really good vibrations. In my heart I knew that this was all Swami’s doings. He wanted me to realize that although I was not very active in a Sai center in the U.S, he still acknowledges the activities and my bhajan singing in Hindu Students Council. I felt good that I had introduced the sadhana of bhajan singing to these youths. I looked at it as a form of seva. They never knew that bhajans could be easy to follow and so spiritually elevating. Now, singing bhajans is a regular activity that the organization has. Furthermore, the number of people coming to the puja has increased because of the bhajans.

I have learnt how to gain self-confidence while studying in U.S. When we have self-confidence, we can overcome challenges. By taking God’s name and having full faith in Him will give you all the confidence you need to face the challenge. We just have to remember Him with pure love and we will feel Him in our heart. We should become aware of this. By reminding myself that “I am never alone as Swami is with me” made me a more confident person.

There was another incident that made me realize that Swami is watching what I am doing. We just had a Dharma Conference in July, before I came to Singapore. We had been preparing for this conference for one year. This was big task for us youths of Hindu Students Council. An event like this has not been organized by the youths in U.S before. The main purpose of this conference was to highlight the values of Dharma. We had distinguished speakers from all faiths that believed in Dharma. We had Dalai Lama and the president of India to address us via video conferencing. We had distinguished Swamijis from Chinmaya mission and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. It was a big challenge to gather all of them for one event. However, the biggest challenge that we had was to attract the youths to come for this 3-day conference. It is really difficult to get the youths interested in spirituality. Our target was one thousand youths should attend the event. During the preparation, we heard many negative remarks about this conference. People would tell us that this is impossible for the youths to do. We lacked the power and money. We heard people saying that this will be a failure. It was very discouraging to hear such negative remarks. But I would not stop working. In my heart I would remember Swami. I would say, “Swami it is all up to You, to make this conference a success. I am working hard but the result I have left it up to You.” By Swami’s grace, the conference was a very big success; we had more than a thousand participants for the conference. This showed that if we do our work with dedication and have confidence in Him, He will take care of the result.

We are very fortunate that we have our Swami in this world to guide us. He is the best living example to follow. As a student I remind myself, by acquiring material wealth we will not be the happiest person in the world. I should adhere to the sacred path of life and put my effort in realizing the truth. When we remember God, He will guard and guide us in whatever we do. Swami has said, “Install God in your heart. The vibrations that emanate from the heart will elevate you spiritually and confer divine wisdom on you.” Swami has defined this wisdom as ‘Prajnana’ (Constant Integrated Awareness).

We should always remember that God is the ultimate friend in our lives. In my personal experience, I have learnt that if we have total faith and confidence in Him, He will take care of us. I urge all students and the adults to always remember that God is the only one thing that is constant in our lives. We should develop such faith in Him to overcome fear in our lives. He is with us no matter how far we are.


Jai Sai Ram

Sis Falguni
Young Adult


 

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