Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sri Bala Charanam; Om Sri Sai Baba Charanam.

Sri Bala Charanam.
December 8th, 2009.

At the request of Smt Renuka Karunakaran of Sydney, Australia, I shall reproduce in this post, a copy of the e-mail I received from her today.

In my previous post, published yesterday, I have written about the sequence of events that led me to draw this portrait of Sai Baba. The photo from which I based my drawing was pre-selected by none other than Baba himself.

Also, while I was initially going to do this drawing using only black charcoal pencils, an interesting incident happened at the art store that made me change my mind.

A young girl with an afro hairdo walked up to me as I stood undecided in the aisle displaying charcoal pencils. She said “ I’ll show you what pencils are good to use for portraits”. She took me by hand and selected a set of charcoal pencils in various colors. These were the shades of brown, ochre and yellow I have used in the painting. I thought this girl was an art student and asked whether art was her profession.

Her reply “ Oh no, I just draw from my heart. You don’t need expensive art lessons when God has given you the ability to draw”. She ran off and I didn’t see her in the store after that brief encounter.

Renuka has informed me in her letter today, that Swami wanted me to draw his robe in yellow color. He had also told her the exact pose he wanted to be portrayed. However, after our initial phone chat I didn’t communicate with Renuka for nearly a week, until the picture was finished and I published it on the website!!

Furthemore, like I have mentioned previously, even after Renuka’s initial request, I wasn’t too keen on drawing Swami and instead did a pencil sketch of Bala on that Thursday!

I hope people who come across this painting of Sai Baba and read this story, realize exactly the divine nature of this “ leela” played by both Sri Bala and Swami Sai Baba on two devotees living thousands of miles apart ; myself in New York and Renuka Karunakaran, in Australia.

Here is the letter from Renuka:

Dear Uma,
When I spoke to you last Thursday, you mentioned you’d purchased a card from the art shop but didn’t quite know what to draw. I told you to do a painting of Baba since this is exactly what he was telling me ( in my mind) at that very moment. “ Ask Uma to do a drawing of me and bring it with you when you visit me in Puttaparthi. I will bless it”.

So, I merely passed on his message to you that day. I remember you asked me in what pose you should draw Swami . I replied when I attended the Sai center for bhajans during the weekend, I might get this message and would indicate it to you. But I never did get back to you!

However, immediately after our phone conversation, I went to my puja room and looked at the picture of Sathya Sai Baba with his hand raised in blessing. I kept looking at it for a long time. Then, my attention was focused on another photo of Swami ( from which Vibhuthi often materializes). I got the mental message from Swami “ Ask Uma to go to my website. She’ll know which picture of mine to copy and base her drawing”.

Since I was busy that weekend, I did not call and relay these messages to you. So, it comes as a true surprise, indeed as a miracle, that Swami guided you to his website and “picked” a photo for you to copy!!

Also, on Sunday, Nov 22nd, we celebrated Swami’s birthday at our local center. There was a cake decorated with a picture of Swami dressed in his yellow robe. I was sitting in the front row looking at this picture and He kept telling me “ Ask Uma to draw my robe in yellow color, just like in this picture”. ( I’ll send you that cake-picture soon).
I didn’t pass on this information to you as well.

I checked out your blog yesterday and was overwhelmed to read about your experiences while doing this painting.
Om Sai, Sri Sai, Jaya Jaya Sai!

Your loving sister,
Renuka Karunakaran.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sri Bala Charanam; Om Sri Sai Charanam.

Sri Bala Charanam.

December 7th, 2009.

Om Sai ,Sri Sai , Jaya Jaya Sai!

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from my friend, Renuka, a Sathya Sai Baba devotee living in Australia. She requested me to draw a portrait of Swami Sri Sai Baba. She said “ You have depicted a lot of our Hindu deities in your art including Shirdi Sai Baba. Will you not attempt to portray Sathya Sai Baba? I am planning to visit Puttaparthi in December and would love to get your drawing blessed by this enlightened soul!”

I wasn’t too sure if I could undertake this task. After all, over the past few years, Sri Bala had made sure I depicted none but her in my many drawings. Furthermore, I have always maintained an indifferent attitude towards Swami, since he is a personality shrouded by much adverse publicity, especially outside India.

However, I did not wish to sound impolite to my dear friend and promised to do my best.

On November 19th, 2009 ( Thursday), I bought a small sheet of paper from the nearby art store. I placed it on the table in my apartment, closed my eyes and beseeched Bala silently.
“ What should I draw on this piece of paper?” I asked her. “ Almost immediately I got a strong directive “ You shall draw a portrait of me in my usual pose, seated on a lotus”. “ But why?” I enquired “ I’ve drawn you in that particular posture several times. I thought with your blessings I could attempt a portrait of Sai Baba”.

However, the mental suggestions or directives that came to me that day were exceedingly clear. I was to draw a portrait of Bala seated on a lotus!

This is exactly what I did without any further questions. I prayed sincerely that Bala should bless all her devotees by giving them her “darshan” in this art work, in the form of an enchanting and beautiful child.
“ Make this the best portrait I’ve done of you”, I wished really hard before starting the drawing. By the end of the day almost half the drawing was finished and I went to bed happy with my efforts thus far.

That night my sleep was disturbed by the sound of raindrops splattering against the window pane. I looked at my bedside clock. It was exactly 4 a.m. Smiling , that it was Bala’s number, I turned over to go back to sleep. However, what happened next was simply amazing!

A powerful, white light seemed to be slowly filtering into the room. I tried to close my eyes but the light kept bothering me. I looked out of the window. It seemed like a million small stars were rushing in through the window, each tiny star gleaming like a frosted snowflake. The light was white in color and my bedroom was soon bathed in this warm glow. I glanced at the photo of Sri Bala on my window sill. To my utter surprise, I noticed that the frame was empty and in the place of the tiny image of Bala, I could see the “live” image of a young child dressed in a white frock moving inside the photo frame.

Involuntarily, I cried out “ Bala is this you? Are you here with me in this room?”

Very close to my ear I heard the reply of a small child “ Mmmmm, I’m right here”

Then, the most extraordinary thing happened. I felt a huge bolt of electricity surging through my body right from the tips of my toes up to the head and following this the bed started to move!
Very soon, I seemed to be spinning in circles around my bedroom. However, there was no sensation of fear. I cried out “ Bala are you having some fun at my expense?”
I sensed the presence of someone else on the bed beside me but received no response.

I felt I was on a ride in a huge roundabout in a theme park for what seemed like a few minutes. After this, I found myself sliding off the bed and falling on the wooden floor at the exact same spot I had placed my half-finished portrait of Bala the previous night.
By now, the room was getting hot from the powerful lights and I remember thinking to myself
“ I’ve got to turn off these lights now”.

The next minute, I found my head resting on a soft pillow, the electric current coursing through my body subsided and the bedside clock revealed it was 7.30 a.m. on Friday morning.
What seemed like a few minutes had actually lasted for over 3 hours!

I looked at the photo of Bala on the window sill. Sri Bala’s tiny image remained hidden in the vast folds of her blue skirt. Yet, a mischievous smile hovered on her lips!

I completed the pencil sketch of Bala very quickly that Friday morning and put it aside. It is my intention to take it to India during my next visit and finish this painting there.

A couple of days later, on the morning of November 22nd, I sat down at my computer , cup of tea at hand, to check my e-mail. Almost without my volition, my hands typed out Sai Baba’s web address and within a second I was looking at some gallery of pictures of this enigmatic Swamiji!

I was flipping through these photos of Sai Baba randomly when all of a sudden a single image flashed by and enlarged itself magically to fit the whole screen. It was a photo of Sri Swami with his right hand raised in blessing, squinting his eyes in a lovely smile. I tried to move the arrow forward to view some other pictures in the gallery, but somehow the cursor would not move and for a long time this image was frozen on the computer screen . I got a very clear mental message to draw this picture .

However, I needed to print this picture so I could copy it. I closed my eyes , thought of Baba and prayed “ If you really want me to draw your image, you must help me print out this picture”. Within a few seconds the photo was printed out. I was surprised since many of these websites contain copy-righted material one cannot print easily. Nevertheless, the size of this copy was very tiny and I prayed again to Baba “ You should help me to enlarge this picture. I can’t seem to do it on my computer”. Shortly afterwards, I went out to buy some supplies at the nearby grocery store. Just in front of the grocery store was a tiny shop I’d never noticed before. Yet, on that particular day, this tiny shop tucked in between two larger stores simply caught my eye! This was a photo shop. I walked inside and within a few minutes walked out with an enlarged print of Swami!

I felt clearly and distinctly that I was meant to draw this picture!

Without hesitating, I went out to the art shop one more time and bought another sheet of white card. Returning home, I placed it on the table, picked up my pencil and was just going to start when I heard a peal of bells. The melodious ringing of bells came from a church nearby and I looked at the clock. It was exactly 4 p.m. It was as though, Sri Bala was giving me her blessings to proceed with BABA’S portrait.

However, I could not work on the painting on November 22nd as I had to visit my daughter that afternoon. Eventually, I started Sai Baba’s drawing on November 23rd. I visited his website that morning before commencing my art work and an interesting fact “leapt” out at me. It was Sri Bhagawan’s birthday on November 23rd!!
I had simply not been aware of this at all!

There was no doubt anymore in my mind that I had to work on his painting on that auspicious day.
Although I finished most of this drawing on that day, I had to cease work on it during the rest of the week as it was Thanksgiving holidays and I had social commitments. I resumed work and finally finished Baba’s painting on Pournami day, December 1st, 2009.

Although I have published images of various deities on my website, I don’t regard them as works of art for the simple reason I’m not a professional artist. Every single drawing is a result of clear directives given to me in my mind by Sri Bala. So too it seems is the case with this portrait of Sri Sai Baba.

I sincerely hope that with SRI Bala’s blessings and boundless grace, I can publish this auspicious image on my website so devotees of both Baba and Sri Bala can find happiness, peace and fulfillment of all their desires!

Sri Bala Charanam.
December 7th, 2009.