Skip to main content

When Your Guru Banishes You, What Should You Do?

I dedicate this post with all humility to my Guru, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba who taught me an important lesson - there are no shortcuts on the spiritual path. You have to work harder and more sincerely on your path than anyone else or be banished altogether. 

The month of November is most sacred for devotees of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba because it is the month of the Avatar's birthday. The 'akhand bhajans' - spanning two whole days - are conducted world wide two weeks before His birthday which is on November 23rd. In every nook and corner of the world, the 'akhand bhajans' are held. It is sheer spiritual bliss, if I may say so. And for as long as I can remember, even as a child, I used to stay awake and pray during the 'akhand bhajans.' By the time I was in my teen years, the 'akhand bhajans' used to be conducted in my parents' home. Therefore, it goes without explaining how special the occasion is for me and my family.

After moving to Delhi, I usually attend the 'akhand bhajans' without fail at the International Sai Center, in Delhi. This happens without fail.

This November 2013, it didn't. From October itself, I had seriously begun slipping in my sadhana routine. The discipline and the commitment had dived into a real deficit. While I have many excuses for it, the truth is that one who is committed to the Lord cannot ever offer any excuse for slipping in sadhana. That is the truth. 

So, after a serious sadhana deficit, I went to the Sai Center in Delhi in the first week of November. It was a half-hearted attempt to show that I am back on track. Whom was I fooling? Me or Swami? Maybe both. Due to many traffic related issues, I reached just 10 mins before the bhajans were to end. And then the funniest thing happened.

I could not enter the Bhajan Hall. The doors were closed to me. Shock, anger and outrage is what I felt at that time.

In my entire life, I have always taken pride in being able to reach Swami anytime I wanted. In fact, one of Swami's promises to me just after He left His mortal body is this "I am pleased with your sadhana. Therefore, I grant you this boon: Whenever you want to see me or speak to me, I shall appear before  you in this Form and give you darshan." 

Yes, I took that for granted and perhaps I became arrogant that I have access to Swami anytime I wanted. Thus, I forgot the most important point he said  'I am pleased with your Sadhana' which means - it is not the devotee who is important or makes a difference to God. It is the quality of devotion - it is the depth, intensity and purity of Sadhana.  And I had slipped up big time.

The confirmation of Swami's displeasure came when I was stopped from entering the Sai Bhajan hall. A first in my whole life. Then, I knew, with certainty, that Swami is angry and displeased with me. I understood instantly why. But I will not elaborate on it here.

Standing outside the closed door, with tears flowing out of my eyes, with my hands in 'namaste' greeting, I cried "Swami, I am sorry. I have been arrogant and egoistic. But I can't stand it if you banish me. I can't bear it if you ignore me. Please let me in this time. I promise to improve and work hard on Sadhana and I will never ever take your presence in my life for granted."

I was in such a state, seriously.

And then just like that out of the blue, the male Seva Dals who never ever enter the section where women pray, came and opened the door for  me in person. They let me in into the Bhajan Hall.

The Bhajans had ended. The aarti was going on.

I was grateful. As I was about to proceed to sit with the others, one of the senior lady Seva Dals stopped me from going to join the devotees and beckoned me to sit  next to her.

By rule, Seva Dals cannot directly pray to or spend moments in worshipping Swami while the bhajans are going on. Their role is to serve the devotees and look after their welfare. It is believed that to be Swami's Seva Dal is to the greatest honor conferred by Swami on a person because a Seva Dal is one who serves the Lord's loved ones and thereby binds the Lord to himself/herself forever. He who serves the loved ones of the Lord is seen as greater than a devotee of the Lord. 

I thought to myself. Swami wants me to work to serve His devotees. And at this moment, with the sadhana deficit, He doesn't feel that I deserve to sit with His devotees whose sadhana is more sincere.

My Guru hadn't banished me completely. He is giving me a chance. And yet the long route ahead to reclaim His approval seemed to be way too long and hard for me then.

I just wanted to give up efforts because I felt that my Guru is punishing me for a small thing. And in a petty way, I wanted to rebel and show him that I have a mind of my own and a will of my own. My ego took over my head.

Instead of attending the akhand bhajans that I never miss, I decided to go for a weekend 'adventure' trip. I was like "Why should I sit for akhand bhajans for two whole days when my Guru has banished me like this? I won't bother."

The weekend 'adventure' trip was fun but at every instance, I saw that I had let my ego rule over my Bhakti and that by doing so, I was defeating myself, not my Guru. Towards the end of the adventure trip, the bus nearly overturned. None of us were hurt but we were stranded in the middle of nowhere for quite sometime. In those moments where reaching back safely was beyond control, I contemplated all my actions and I prayed steadfastly to Swami: 

" I know that I have been letting my ego rule my Bhakti. I have become arrogant. Please forgive me. Please help me reach home safely."

I reached home safely and thanked Swami for it. But Swami had completely withdrawn and stopped responding to me. I know the signs very well. He had, in effect, banished me.

My Guru banished me for an entire week. I couldn't bear it that I wasn't able to get through or have access to Him though I knew very well that I am to blame or rather my ego was to blame.

On 16th November at about 4 pm, I stood before His photograph in my home and cried. From the outpouring, I said a lot of things about the harsh and somewhat unfair tests and sufferings that He has put me through for no fault of mine. I said "You have made me suffer more than I deserve. You have let X,Y and Z happen to me in my life but I never complained or lost my faith. But don't banish me like this because despite all the flaws that I have, my love and dedication to you is sincere and true.  Do not punish me by throwing my Bhakti back on to me like this as if it means nothing of value to you. I want your grace, your presence and I have some questions for you and I want you to tell me exactly how to redeem my sadhana to regain your love and trust." I also asked some specific questions that were very personal. To be honest, I expected no reply because whatever I had said was in anger and I didn't expect Swami to reply to my anger.

At 9 pm, I received a message from Brother Arvind B from Prashanti Nilayam. This is the first time Brother Arvind has ever sent me a message . His message and its timing was simple yet profound - an indication of Swami playing the Divine Director of the Play that He is directing. Brother Arvind sent URLs of his written works on Swami and suggested that I read it as I am writing a book on Swami and the information may be helpful.

Here's the icing on the cake: Right from the first blogpost onward, every question I had asked Swami to resolve for me on November 16th afternoon - there were clear answers to it in Swami's own words.

Tears flowed down as I read Brother Aravind's posts. Every post answered my angry, bitter sweet queries  in Swami's own words. It also explained difficult situations undergone by other devotees like me and how they have progressed on the spiritual path and in their steadfast devotion to Swami through the testing times. I understood then that I am not alone or being punished or being judged. I am being given an opportunity to change for the better and to fuel my own spiritual growth through these transitions.

Swami's love, compassion and grace are always openly streaming in to those who open their hearts to him and even to those who, like me, rebel way too often because the ego steps in and takes charge.

Never before have I felt so utterly humbled by my Guru's love and compassion towards me.

I want to complete this blogpost with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's divine words:

"Karma which pleases the Lord is superior to the Karma which fulfills the yearning of the devotee. Whatever the devotee does or thinks or plans or observes, they should be draw down the grace of God. The devotee must test every thought, feeling and action on the Lord's declared preferences."

When the Guru banishes you, simply welcome it and learn from it. He is your most loved one, the one whom you would trust with your life and more. If He has chosen to banish you, it is because He has understood that His words have not been shown the respect it deserves, that you have not been as sincere as you claim to be and perhaps it is your only true chance to reflect on how to win back that trust, friendship and grace again. Because a Guru banishes you to save you from yourself and the pitfalls you create in your life out of ignorance, ego or sheer materialism.

Thank you SWAMI for banishing me. I am going to work doubly harder to return to your circle of grace.

Comments

Asha said…
I am wordless after reading this post, Swapna. Many things that i read here are so similar to my thoughts and deeds at many times. My family and I are huge devotees of Ramana maharishi and shirdi sai. My eyes well with water even as i am writing this. Genuine people like you will always be blessed. Be assured!
KParthasarathi said…
A true Guru never banishes as he is love and compassion incarnate.The imperfections still clinging in us make it seem so.Once the dross is removed by fear of rejection,one would feel the grace of guru.It does not lie in us to doubt but simply to have total trust and faith.
I liked the way you had written.
Ajith Kannan said…
I am amazed with the kind of relationship you hv with your Guru.being Amma devotee ,i heard people telling stories of Amma scolding them and that itself is a blessing because that means Guru is really "working" on you and the relationship is already established.So please treat as a grace from Him and keep going ..Your blog is like a mecca of spiritual postins which is quite unique.Any time i get tired of wandering in the internet jungle and get lost , i came back here as if its a pilgrimage.May your posting be a beacon for the millions around this globe..
harimohan said…
I understand your feelings Swapna but to me A Guru or God himself is an abstract pwoer and i feel all knowing Iam quite flexible and continue to do what my conscience agrees somehow i cant imagine that pwoer to be one with certain rules or being an inflexible person after all he created the whole business illusion or whatever so we just play it as it comes
@KP Parthasarathy - Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I try not to write negative posts because it makes me feel negative about myself. But sometimes one needs a different perspective to bring clarity and perspective to some of these phases that we tend to go through. Hence, this post:)

@Asha - Humbled by your confidence in people like me, who are forced to question their very reason for existence in a highly corporatized world, with even the closest of relationships and friendships turning artificial and superficial by the day. Spiritual seekers like me constantly wonder why one still has a reason to exist or justify it.

@Ajith - To be told that my spiritual posts are a 'mecca' feels absolutely great....i feel on top of the world that some one in this whole world thinks so. Trust me, even when people read my posts, very few people come right out and tell me. So your comment means a lot. Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts here.

@Harimohan: Thanks Hari uncle for sharing your thoughts. It's always a different, insightful perspective that you bring on board.

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

Many years ago, when I wrote this post on Kerala's caste system, I had not considered the possibility that my thoughts and my personal journey would receive such online abuse or that I would be seen as some one who was trying to insult other castes. The intention of writing is always to share an experience and not to insult others. My experience of motherhood and marriage would be different from yours. When I write about my experience, it is illogical to shout that as being insulting to your experience because our journeys are entirely different narratives. 

My question is - why do you ABUSE any caste or person here? You are free to disagree but why do you ABUSE? How does that reflect on YOU?

In my article, I shared what trials I went through, without any intention to insult any community.The intention of my article is to question - why are we even exchanging insults over an issue called caste? 

Should we not be aspiring to be above caste considerations instead of abusing each other …

A Dad's advice to the daughter he loves: Be yourself, remember you are special and treasure your strengths

Just a week ago, Dad gave me a very emotional pep talk at the Bangalore airport. The good thing is that whenever I feel emotionally vulnerable or stressed out, I replay Dad's conversation. It lifts me up and instantly brings a huge smile to my face. That's my Dad - yeah! 




As a teenager, Bangalore used to be one of my favorite cities though the garden city was not as ''global'' and ''vibrant'' as it is today. It was a pretty cool place to go shopping for stylish accessories, not that I could splurge and go crazy with shopping but I could do so on a limited budget. So, I used to look forward to our summer trips to Bangalore, from where we would head out to Whitefield. 

The busy, broad streets, the scent of street food and the vibrant atmosphere had always perked me up every time I reached Bangalore. Be it heading to Puttaparthi or Whitefield, my parents and I have traveled to Bangalore so many times that it became a kind of ''routine'…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

This Investment Banker from London left his high flying career to lead a simple life in Puttaparthi

''Hey, you are Swapna, right?''

For the first time in over 30 years during my frequent visits to Puttaparthi, I was asked this question by a stranger. I was taken aback because this is a very unusual occurrence for me in Puttaparthi. My parents and I were about to sit down for dinner when the stranger walked over to us. 

"I am Rakesh Menon, your husband's friend from Class 1,'' he said.




Phew! Of course, I have heard about Rakesh Menon from my husband though the two friends have not met each other for over two decades. 

''Heard so much about you and now I finally got to meet you....the year was 1997. Sanand couldn't stop talking about you and I have heard so much about your romance...,'' Rakesh was smiling as he said this.

I was literally squirming - it does feel a little odd to hear about my romance in front of my parents and my very curious 11-year-old son. But Rakesh Menon has this amazing way of making everyone feel at ease, especiall…

Happy Onam: Revisiting Memories of Onam Celebrations

Everyone’s watch is set to a different time and the earth revolves slowly or fast depending on the state of one’s heart. – Anjum Hassan (Difficult Pleasures)
The scent of Onam brings with it the secrecy of pain and the tumultuous, roller coaster sense of gradually heightening excitement. Looking back, memories flood back into my mind. Like firecrackers that light up the sky in a brilliant display and burn itself out into a shimmering incandescence, these memories stored safely in my mind turn alight. The memories push through the shadowy boundaries of nostalgia and make my heart flip over with a strange, inexplicable sliver of joy and pain.

So many Onams spring to life. Onam with my parents – where my mother would be busy in the kitchen preparing all the items for the sadhya without any one’s help in the kitchen. When she used to fry the banana chips, I would sneak in to steal some from the hot plate because I didn’t have the patience to wait till it cooled. I’d take some to my father w…

Top 10 Skincare tips for Summer

Come summer, and we women worry a lot about how the sun lashes out on our skin. True, skincare tips for the summer are plenty but what about the hushed secrets - yes, those tried and tested family secrets that are passed on from mother to daughters? [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]




Here are some that are totally easy to do. Best of all, these are effective and bring on a feel-good factor in the peak of summer.

1. Replace water with rosewater. It keeps your skin luminous and fragrant throughout the day. It's a good toner too.

2. Cleanse your skin by combining these ingredients - honey, milk, rosewater/rosepetals and turmeric. Add a dash of olive oil and yes, it feels wonderful.

3. Almond oil body baths are a must-have! You will smell delicious all day. This summer, skip all those body lotions & moisturizers! You will love the way almond oil pampers your skin all day!

4. Use a mixture of almond oil and olive oil for your feet. Your feet will sparkle an…