It was one of the most traumatic periods in human history. Millions of innocent lives were brutally obliterated from the face of the earth. The year was 1941. The Second World War was on, and the German armies had now invaded Poland and were plundering it. Thousands of simple people went through agonizing pain. Among them was a pious Polish, Saint Maximilian Kolbe. The way he reacted to this utter human insensitivity was simply unimaginable. When the SS guard arrested him for selflessly serving the Polish refugees, most of whom were Jews, and tersely questioned him, “Do you believe in Christ?” Without losing a second, he replied “I do”. And the guard struck him, mercilessly. He was asked again, and another brutal blow fell on him. But his answer never varied. This repeated many times, and then his rosary was snatched and he was locked away with little to wear and eat.
He was later deported to the infamous Auschwitz death camp. In spite of having one lung (having lost the other to tuberculosis), Fr Maximilian carried blocks of stone and the pain of the vicious blows without even a slightest murmur of complaint; he was always calm. Unbelievably, whenever the SS guards came to him, he was cheerful. The same smile shone on his lips even when the heartless men sent him away forever from this earth with a lethal injection. What was the power behind his graceful disposition?
Guru Teg Bahadur Sahibji was the ninth Guru of the Sikhs. This Master, endowed with a golden heart, traversed the breadth of colonial India from Punjab in the North to Kolkotta in the east, uplifting the lives of thousands through selfless service and the message of brotherhood. It was the time when Muslim fundamentalists had a sinister free play of their ideas; they had completely clouded the mind of the emperor of Delhi, Aurangzeb. Non-Muslims were tortured wretchedly, taxed heavily and discriminated callously to force them into accepting Islam. Utterly helpless, they came to the refuge of Guru Teg Bahadur, and the Guru pledged them all support even at the cost of his life. Emboldened, the Hindus now petitioned the Emperor, and the Guru was summoned to the Imperial Court. The Emperor gave three alternatives to the Guru. 1) to show miracles, 2) embrace Islam or 3) be ready for death. The holy one chose the last. Before his very own eyes, his beloved Sikhs were put through unmentionable tortures (they were boiled alive, wrapped in wool and set alight, etc.). Still, the only sound that emanated from his lips were the sacred lyrics from the Sikh Bible, Guru Granth Sahib. Finally, in a most dastardly manner, his head was severed from his body as he stood still, stoic and fearless as ever. Now, what was it in him that enabled him to undergo this highest sacrifice so serenely?
What is it that the propelled Lord Jesus Christ to open his heart out completely at the biggest trial of his life by saying absolutely nothing in his defence, and at the height of human cruelty, to announce to the world, “O Father! Please forgive them, for they know not what they do”?
How could Lord Rama at the end of the great battle in Ramayana, grant the highest attainment, Liberation, to the very demon King who was at the root of all His ‘sorrows’ in His earthly drama? And to cut to the present, why is it that Bhagavan Baba, even at the age of 83, works tirelessly and incessantly to alleviate the suffering of the poor and ignorant, announcing one mammoth service project after another? Why has He been granting darshan and discourse relentlessly, decade after decade, whether individuals realise its value or not? Like with all other incarnations of the Divine, now too there are those who try to systematically malign His name and challenge His Divinity. But to all of them, Bhagavan says, “People may speak ill of Me, but I have no enemies. I look after all as My children… There is nothing credible in doing good to those who love us, we must love those who harm us. Therein lies our true greatness… My only Power is Love. You are unable to fathom its depth.” This is what Bhagavan said in His most recent discourse delivered on His 83rd Birthday, November 23, 2008.
The only way God can be defined, is as - Pure Love. And when portions of this crest jewel of all human emotions saturates an individual, it creates Masters out of men and saints out of simple folk.
Two millenia ago, during that beautiful Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven; Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…” There were eight such spirited salvos of Love. "These beatitudes of Jesus are beautiful and powerful, no doubt," many concur, but add, “We are not sure if they are practical; the world now is so different.”
True, society has changed. We are disturbed practically everyday with the societal turbulence that confronts and confounds us. The recent terrorist attacks on Mumbai landmarks have once again shaken India and the world to the horrors of hate. The mindless have struck again. As a nation grieves, and the international community condemns such dastardly acts of violence, we are appalled at the depth of vacuity of human values in our own brethren with whom we live and work. But, contrary to what we think, Bhagavan Baba beautifully says in Dharma Vahini, “Dharma (righteousness) never declines; it is only the practice of dharma that diminishes.” And what is dharma?
Again, Bhagavan enlightens. “Love in action is Righteousness.” Therefore, Love is alive. In fact, it is ever effervescent; and works too, irrespective of which age we live in. To demonstrate and elucidate this emphatic message, which is so very vital in the present times, we have the cover story “The 'Be-Attitudes' of Jesus.” Truly, if we want to live in a world where dharma dazzles, the Beatitudes can and must become our attitudes. And how do we do it? There are plenty of illustrations, spanning from the 21st century to the times before Christ in the current cover story.
Every article in this issue has this as the underlying theme. When the state of Bihar faced its worst disaster in half a century with the completely unexpected and unprecedented flooding of River Kosi, millions of lives were marooned. The night of August 18, 2008 in this most populous and least developed state of India was the darkest. But there was a light shining. The inspired Sai volunteers, unmindful of the grave risk to their lives, undertook the most perilous of adventures in chaotic waters to reach out to the trapped, isolated and devastated. When you read this moving story in the Window to Sai Seva section, you will know why the Golden Age, after all, is not a utopia. All you need for a huge conflagration is a bunch of small fires at various strategic places. And many of those fires are already burning and many more are being lit.
How else can we explain the gargantuan selfless Sai service that goes on in every corner of the world? What motivates thousands from every continent of this world to flock to His Lotus feet in Prasanthi Nilayam? In a recent discourse on Convocation Day, November 22, 2008, Swami Himself explained, “Swami has not sent any invitation to anyone, but thousands have gathered here. It is only your love for Bhagavan that has drawn you here…We belong to only one party – the party of Love. Wherever you may go, you will be respected and honoured if you belong to this party of Love. Love is selfless. A true man is one without an iota of selfishness… there is no greater quality than Love.”
As India’s financial capital Mumbai comes to grips with the pain of 195 precious lives that were lost and thousands other wounded and scared for life, the pain and suffering are unbearable. In this mind numbing scenario, the only balm that is holding Mumbai together is selfless love in the form of a united front from Mumbai residents, regardless of their caste, religion or language. Bhagavan Baba tells us that Love as action is Nonviolence. Strange but true, the only emotion that can salvage the world and heal Mumbai and all other trouble spots in the world is selfless love.
When you read the story of Robert A. Bozzani in the Swami and Me section, you will get a real glimpse of how we can transform our lives and our immediate surroundings, if only we fill ourselves with this powerful element – Love. Another compelling real-life story of Love doing wonders is in the Get Inspired section. Don’t miss “The Love Alchemy”.
The great Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore said, "He who wants to do good, knocks at the gate. He who loves, finds the gates open." There is no problem that Love cannot solve, if we only care to ponder over it deeply.
Let us dive into this sublime virtue, make it the raison d'être of our existence, just as it was with Jesus and now is with Sai. For, truly, if we have Love, our life is never dull, it is always meaningful!