do attacks on swami have any message for us?
PART 5: WHY AVATARS HAVE OPPOSITION AND ENEMIES. A SPIRITUAL ENQUIRY.
In a recent discourse, Swami began with the remark that most people
while describing Him, confine themselves largely to the worldly aspect,
making little or no reference to the spiritual aspect of His teachings.
I have often erred in this regard, but this time, I do not wish to.
Therefore, before I wind up, I would like to offer some general remarks
about incarnations, as also about people who malign, defy or deny the
Avatar, in order that the comments made earlier are seen in a broader
perspective. Actually, Avatars having opponents or “enemies” is far
more common than we realise, and this is a phenomenon that needs to be
understood so that we get at least some inkling of the subtleties that
underlie Divine incarnation.
The Eternal Battle Between Good and Evil
Let us start with the basic fact that Avatars appear when forces of Adharma
(unrighteousness) gain the upper hand in the eternal conflict between
the good and the bad. This conflict is played out in the phenomenal
world in terms of a struggle between “the good and the bad guys”. If we
look deep, all such macro struggles originate really in the individual
mind, even as the mind is torn between two competing forces within. One
force pulls the individual towards the external world with all its
attractions [needless to say transient and bringing pain in tow], while
the other force pulls the individual towards God.
In simple pictorial
language, the head pulls one way [towards pleasure] while the heart
pulls the other way [towards Sathya, Dharma, etc.]. In the Gita, the force pulling towards attractions and worldly pleasure is described with the word Preyas, while the metaphor that characterises a thirst for spiritual upliftment is referred to as Sreyas. Swami has dealt with these two opposite pulls in many of His discourses, as also in the GitaVahini.
When God comes down as an Avatar, there clearly must be symbols of Adharma
so that via a suitable worldly drama, a message is transmitted
concerning the manner in which “the good” overcomes “the bad”. You
would notice that I have placed the two phrases good and bad within
quotations; this is deliberate because in the ultimate analysis,
there is nothing evil per se; what appears as “evil” is only
good gone “sour” shall I say? Frequently, alcohol is made from the
extract of some fruit; when the extract ferments, it becomes alcohol.
While the basic juice itself is harmless, alcohol when consumed leads
to all kinds of troubles. That is the point I am trying to make, namely
that in a larger sense, evil is a kind of “the other face of good”.
Further, and this is a very important point, good and bad are perceptions
of humans. For example, you and I may label a person as a terrorist
based on the actions of this person [as we perceive them], but a tree
under which the terrorist is resting or a rock on top of which this
alleged terrorist is standing would not regard this same person that
way. Even a tiger might not have such opinions! At best, it might
wonder whether the person would make a good meal! You might argue that
this is a stupid and silly argument; superficially, it might sound that
way but I made it just to catch your attention and to stress that this
issue of perception is very important in Vedanta. I am sorry I cannot discuss that aspect now but for the moment, would you please go along with me so that I can proceed?
Having Friendship Towards All
The essential point I have made above is that we should not
be judgemental and approach the world with preconceived notions or
opinions. This does not mean one abdicates one’s practical
responsibilities; far from it. In fact, one must be vigorously active
in full accord with Dharma, as Krishna explained to Arjuna, and as Swami has explained to us in so many discourses and also via books like the Dharma Vahini.
To understand all this better, let us go back to the Rama Avatar. According to the Puranas,
Rama came to annihilate the demons Ravana and Kumbhakarna. However, if
one reads the Ramayana carefully, the Avatar’s mission had a much
bigger sweep and purpose. The Lord came in human form mainly to teach
man by personal example how one should uphold dharma in
practically everything one does. Yes, Ravana had to be eliminated as a
part of the divine drama; but that was hardly the only objective of the
incarnation. That said, I would now like to focus on the final fight
between Rama and Ravana.
It was a somewhat protracted affair; one day, Ravana was very tired,
and he fell down from his chariot. He was almost helpless. If Rama
wanted, He could have finished Ravana then and there; to use the boxing
language, “He could have gone for the kill”. However, He did not;
instead, He said to Ravana, “You are tired; go home, rest and come back
fresh tomorrow; we shall resume the fight then.” An important message
Again, when Ravana was finally slain and Vibhishana [Ravana’s younger
brother, who broke away and joined Rama’s side] became the only
surviving male in the Ravana family, Rama told Vibhishana, “Well, it is
all over now. Soon, you have to take charge of Lanka and rule it. But
first things first; you must now take steps immediately to perform the
funeral rites for your departed brother.” Vibhishana was taken by
surprise; he told Rama that he had no respect for his dead brother, and
had no interest in performing the last rites.
then said in a stern and disapproving tone, “While your brother was
alive, it was alright to have differences; now that he is gone, all
that must be set aside. You cannot brush away the fact that Ravana was
your blood brother, and as a member of his family, you have duties to
perform that you cannot simply abandon. You Have to perform the cremation; if you remain stubborn and refuse to, then I shall do it!” Again a message.
I quote these two incidents to stress the point that one must never harbour hatred towards anyone. Indeed, this has been emphatically
reiterated by the Lord in His incarnation as Krishna. Incidentally, the
words “with friendship towards all and malice towards none…” used by
Lincoln in one of his famous speeches and with which most of us are
familiar, echoes this very same concept and principle.
In the Krishna Avatar too, one sees many instances of magnanimity.
After the Kurukshetra war, Krishna goes to meet Gandhari, the wife of
Dhritarashtra and the mother of the Kauravas, all of whom were slain in
the war. Gandhari is utterly devastated, and is wailing loudly when
Krishna calls on her. She blames Krishna and says, “ Krishna, You are
the One who is responsible for the total annihilation of all my hundred
sons. If You wanted, You could have easily prevented it!” Krishna did
not retort and argue; instead, in a very gentle tone He said, “Mother,
I fully understand how you feel.
you also know that I really tried My best to prevent the war. What
could I do if all your sons refused to accept My advice?” Gandhari was
in no mood to be pacified; her grief was too intense for that. In her
anguish, she cursed that the entire Yadava clan be wiped out and that
Krishna too perish as a part of the curse. She said her curse would
take effect thirty-six years later. And though He was the Avatar,
Krishna let that curse operate, in full measure as a part of the Divine
Drama; once again, that supreme magnanimity.
Love - the Nature of the Avatar
Moving next to the Avatar of the present Kali Age, not many may be
aware how much hostility there was to Swami in the early days, soon
after He formally left His family and dedicated Himself full time to
the upliftment of humanity in many different ways. I won’t go into all
that here except to mention that echoes of this hostility can be found
in various writings and recalls by devotees who go back to those
periods [such as Mrs. Vijayakumari, Mr. Chidambaram Krishnan, and the
son of the Rajah of Venkatagiri – some extracts from these recall have
been presented by in H2H articles, in radio broadcasts, and in video
clips]. What I would like to mention presently are:
- At no time, including in those days, did Swami ever have even a trace of animosity towards those who abused and maligned Him;
- On the contrary, He has done so much to improve the lot of villagers in the neighbourhood [as can be easily found by thumbing through the various issues of H2H].
I am mentioning all this just to stress that while humans can and do
bear animosity towards those whom they do not like, have feelings of
hate towards their adversaries, etc., Avatars do not; in fact, by definition, they cannot. That is because they are embodiments of Pure Love and therefore simply cannot
hate. This is something difficult for most of us to comprehend; that is
because we tend to see incarnations through a defective lens, namely
our own impure minds.
I have personally been a witness to many a conversation during which
someone would say, “Swami, so and so maligned You like this”. Swami
would simply remain silent and ignore what was being reported. At other
times, He would express sympathy for the person seeking to tarnish Him;
He would add that tarnishing would harm the one harbouring negative
thoughts rather than the Avatar. On occasions when an opportunity
presented itself, Swami has, even won over such adversaries, with Love
That word ‘Love’ is what I would now like to focus on. Where Love is
concerned, it would seem that a certain amount of “numbness” has crept
into the thinking of most of us devotees. We applaud when Swami talks
about Prema, and gush with enthusiasm while recalling Swami’s acts of Selfless Love. But beyond that, does Prema mean anything to most of us, substantially that is? One wonders.
Unlocking the Compassion Within Us All
Again and again, Swami calls us Premaswaroopalara
(Embodiments of Divine love); and He also tells us a) we are the Sparks
of the Divine and b) God is Love. If we put all these together, does it
not follow that Divine Love is latent within each one of us, in
infinite measure in fact? If we agree, then the question becomes: “What
are we doing to unlock and release that Love? It should rush out as a
torrent but we hardly see even a trickle. Why?”
Sai serving the poor- leading by example
Many object to such introspection, giving all sorts of arguments.
People say, “Be realistic, we are not God; we cannot be like that,” and
so on. I quite understand what these people are trying to say, but in
response, I would like to remind our readers of a few important points.
Firstly, Swami asserts we are God, at least
potentially. Swami follows this up by telling us that we must do all we
can to make this latent Divinity manifest. That is where we make every
effort possible to back out, pleading it cannot be done, etc. We need
to seriously ask: “Why this reluctance? Why this inhibition?”
If we think carefully, people go to all sorts of troubles in order to
get into record books, to immigrate into prosperous countries, to get
their children admitted in the best schools or colleges, and so on.
Where the realisation of worldly desires, ambitions and desires are
concerned, large numbers do exert themselves to an enormous and even
incredible extent. However, when it comes to doing God’s bidding,
suddenly things appear impossible!
Actually, Swami is not asking us to do extra-ordinary feats. Consider a
thing like ceiling on desires; how many of us devotees are really
serious about it? Or, take a thing like corruption, a great problem the
world over, including of course India, which unfortunately has a poor
reputation in this department. Recently, I was talking to a youth group
and invited questions. One young person said, “Sir, corruption is
inevitable; it is here to stay; we cannot do anything about it. How can
you ask us to follow dharma? Are you aware that it does not work in this day and age?” I admit those are not the exact words the
young man used, but the content of his remarks was more or less what I
Everyone was wondering what my reply would be. I started by asking the
questioner whether He was a devotee? Of course yes, he asserted, a bit
surprised perhaps that I dared to ask the question. Stating that I was
happy to hear his response, I then asked whether he had faith in Swami?
He said, yes he did. Did he believe Swami was God? Of course, he
replied, wondering perhaps whether I had gone bonkers! I then reminded
the questioner of the bhajan we often sing that starts with the words: “Sathyam, Jnanam, Anatham, Brahma!” This line is actually from one of the Upanishads, and it essentially means that “Truth is God”, “Knowledge is God”, etc.
I then said, “We sing Truth is God; fine; do we realise that dharma which is nothing but Truth in action is also God? How then can we dismiss dharma
saying that it would not work? Is God all that powerless? In that case,
what do we mean by praying to God to save us from all sorts of
difficulties and problems? Can He do so if He is powerless? Are we not
saying that God is powerless by dismissing dharma as something that would not succeed?” To declare that dharma
is powerless is absolutely wrong. By the way, I might mention that many
in public service who once used to accept bribes, have actually stopped
doing so once they became devotees of Swami!
You know something? The scriptures say that he who stands by dharma would himself be protected by that same dharma.
What it means is that if we have full faith in God and obey His
commands and injunctions, then God would surely come to our help in
times of difficulties. We seem to forget that when God incarnated as
Krishna, He gave strong personal assurance in this regard. It is
pertinent to mention that H2H regularly carries “d harma success stories” in the Features section under the title “Harnessing the Heart”; these are not fictional accounts but actual, real-life experiences narrated by some of our students and others.
Perhaps you are beginning to wonder if I have lost my way! No, I have not!
What I am trying to convey in this final section is that while there
would be people who now and then attack Swami in various ways, we
should neither get rattled or overly exercised, worried or angry. It is
in the nature of creation, especially during the occasional appearance
of the Supreme in human form, that forces of opposition manifest in
some manner or the other. And in all the various incarnations, the
Lord, through His confrontation with evil, educates us on the various
aspects associated with the vanquishing of the forces of Adharma.
Take, for example, the Varaha Avatar, an early incarnation of Vishnu [according to Indian mythology]
in which the Lord assumes the form of a mighty boar to eliminate the
demon Hiranyakhsha. I have read that the battle between the Avatar and
the demon took a long time. I used to wonder: “Why did the battle take
so long? If the Lord was all that powerful as we are often told, why
did He not dispose off the bad guy in a flash?” It took me years to
realise that the message was not about the power of God or His getting
rid of the bad guys but something totally different. The message is
that when man fights the forces of evil, it would be a long-drawn fight and that he should not quit in the middle; he must, as Swami tells us, “face the devil, fight to the end, and finish the game!”
Again, in the Narasimha Avatar, when the Avatar makes a very brief
appearance as a half-man, half-lion, the real message is contained in
two events that happen right at the end. First is the breaking of the
pillar and then the destruction of Hiranyakshyapu. As Swami has pointed
out, the breaking of the pillar symbolises ignorance being smashed.
Similarly, the enthronement of Prahalada after the demon is annihilated
tells us that wisdom gets crowned when ignorance is wiped out. All this
would happen only if there is faith in the Lord and one holds on firmly
until the very end.
In the Rama Avatar, there is one point in the story, when Rama’s forces
were preparing to cross the ocean and invade Lanka. That is when
Vibhishana crosses over from Lanka, rejecting the evil program his
elder brother Ravana advocated. Arriving in Rama’s camp, he seeks
refuge. Many in Rama’s party want Vibhishana eliminated right away
because he is from the enemy’s side. Rama gives a patient hearing to
all points of view and in the end says: “I am conscious of the fact
that all of you are concerned about My safety.
However, I cannot accept the suggestion that Vibhishana be put to death. Vibhishana has surrendered to Me, and it is not in My code of conduct to ever push away one who surrenders, even
if the person is only pretending to.” Rama then adds, “If it is only a
question of annihilating Ravana, I really do not require any help. I
can destroy him from right here, without having to cross the ocean. In
fact, I could have done it from Ayodhya itself. However, I have not
used those options because I have many other duties to perform,
including that of giving an opportunity to all of you to be with Me!”
Shirdi Sai Baba
Two powerful signals come from that little known discourse; the first
is that once one surrenders, the Lord takes over [a message reiterated
even more powerfully in the Gita in many slokas, especially (18.66)]. Next, the Lord comes in human form to give us an important message [as Krishna declares in the Gita]
and to help us in various ways, including uplifting ourselves, rather
than to perform this or that specific mission. This aspect of the
Krishna has been described extensively by Swami during the Ooty Summer
Course in 1976, now available in book form as Summer Roses in the Blue Mountain, 1976.
As Shirdi Sai, the main message from the Avatar was that Hindus and
Muslims should live in unity; how important that message was and still
is, can be appreciated if one looks through the history of India in the
last two centuries.
Seen from this broader perspective, it should not be difficult to
appreciate that the current incarnation of the Divine in the form of
Sri Sathya Sai is to stress the importance of the Message of Love. We
all have heard Swami discourse on Love so many times, but for most
people, God’s Love simply means the personal attention and affection
that Swami shows to that particular person. Divine Love, as Swami has
stressed so many times, is far more profound.
We as humans see mostly only tiny aspects of the Divine Love, which is
truly infinite. Besides, God’s Love is totally selfless and pure. The
love that children have for their mother is actually a reflection of
Divine love; however, while its origin is no doubt Divine, its
practical manifestation is very limited. When a baby is born and the
mother showers love on the baby, we say it is “natural”. It is natural
because it is God who has built in that love; however, we hardly
appreciate this fact.
When a calf is born, it can stand up within a
minute and start drinking milk from its mother; human babies on the
other hand, can never do that. Invariably, the mother has to pick up
the baby and feed milk. Right there, God is sending the important
message: “O man, I am like your Mother, the Universal Mother in fact. I
will take care of you; don’t worry.” And as if to confirm that, how
many times have we heard Swami say: “Why Fear When I Am Here?”
The Perils of the Poverty of Love
Getting back to the issue of love between a mother and her son, many a
time as the years go by, this love often changes complexion. Thus it is
that we often see sons forgetting elderly mothers. As Swami says,
so-called love between humans is susceptible to change, sometimes
changing from love to disappointment, to bitterness and even to hatred.
This happens between members of a family, between neighbours, between
communities and so on. It is in that sense Divine Love is in a class
above all others. Like in the case of all attributes of the Divine,
there is no change where God’s Love is concerned; it is ever steady and
the Love that God has for us never changes with time, our love for each
other and even for God can and indeed often does change with time. Such
changes occur because of attachment, which always colours love, making
it into a vehicle for expectation. For example, the father may
definitely love his son but when, the son abandons the old, aged and
infirm father, that love the father had earlier changes. Why? Because
in a sense that love was conditioned by an unstated expectation the
father had, namely, support and help in old age.
What I am driving at is that a very large number of problems, right
from the standard mother-in-law v/s daughter-in-law problem to
terrorism and climate change can be traced to Poverty of Love! That
might surprise and even shock you. You might say, I understand the
mother-in-law v/s daughter-in-law problem being traced to poverty of
Love; but terrorism? I thought that was built on hate!” Sure, but then
what is hate but an absence of Love? As Baba Amte, a well-known social
worker in India, once said, “Where there is fear, there is no Love; and
where there is no Love, there is no God!” How true! Deep down,
terrorism is born out of an extreme desperation, which in turn, is
rooted in insecurity.
Not many people realise how much fear and insecurity are
interconnected. In the case of the mother-in-law, for example, she
perhaps starts feeling insecure once her son gets married. After the
marriage, she begins to worry whether her son would stop paying
attention to her; and that worry soon breeds fear as well as
insecurity. Equally, the daughter-in-law develops her own sense of
insecurity, wondering whether her husband is a “mama’s boy”. Thus, fear
born of insecurity triggers doubts, which cascades soon into poverty of
Love, in turn, launching a host of larger problems.
So it is with terrorism. A accuses B of terrorism; at the superficial
level, it might be true that B does use violent methods that goes
against all accepted canons of civilised society. But if we look deep
behind, which unfortunately most people fail to do, or even stubbornly
refuse to do, then we would find that in some manner or the other, it
all started with B feeling marginalized in some way or the other.
Sometimes this feeling is triggered by the aggrieved party [namely B]
feeling that the prestige, privilege, etc., he was used to enjoying, is
For people in the West, the word terrorism usually means Islamic
fundamentalism. In truth, however, there are all kinds of terrorisms;
in India itself, we have the Maoist or Naxalite variety and the
Jehadist brand, of course. Just a few years ago, we had Sikh terrorism,
which mercifully has now disappeared. Overseas, there was the terrorism
in Northern Ireland rooted in a long-standing distrust between
Catholics and Protestants. Even now, there is the Basque separatist
group in Spain that is accused of terrorism, and the Kurdist separatist
group in Turkey, which also is being regarded as terrorist by many.
Nepal has its Maoists while Sri Lanka has its LTTE. And look at
Pakistan, where, as in Iraq, Muslims are killing Muslims in the name of
Jehad! In almost all cases, if we analyse deeply and carefully, we
could track the starting point of the trouble to fear, born possibly
out of a sense of denial of identity, frustration at being
marginalized, and so on. As mentioned earlier, poverty of Love
generates fear, hate and anger; all the rest follow, when desperation
What about climate change? Well, even that is due to the absence of
Love, in this case for Mother Earth. When Earth is regarded simply as a
“bank” with infinite resources from which one can draw endlessly
without any concern for our eco-system, then there is trouble for sure!
Planet Earth is not a bank from which one makes withdrawals; rather, it
is a symbol of our Universal Mother, and it is only through reverence
for this Mother that we can rescue the bio-sphere.
It’s Time for Positive Action
It is time to wind up. I have, on many occasions, commented extensively
on the allegations made against Swami by many sources. This time too I
started off on that same note because I was concerned that the negative
propaganda was being directed towards a volatile constituency, with
possible Jehadist tendencies.
Having done whatever I could to set the record straight on many matters
concerning which wrong and misinformation has been planted, I have gone
farther than I usually do by looking at the larger issue of the role
played by adversaries during incarnations. I have sought to point out
that this “confrontation” is a part of the Divine Drama, teaching man
how he must deal with and overcome Adharma.
In this sense, the people whom we refer to as “bad guys” who malign Swami are really giving us a wake up call.
Since they appear so focussed on spreading negative information about
Swami, we feel angry, agitated and all that. People write to us in
droves asking us what we are doing about it, etc. But not many seem to
be asking a more important question: “What are we as devotees of Swami
doing to spread His Message?” Has He not told us times without number
that our lives should become His message?
simply seem to have very little time for that. The fact of the matter
is that the answer to a foul odour is fragrance; this is an old truth and
it is time we begin to appreciate it. In other words, the best
response to the increased barrage of negativity, including such
specifically directed against Swami, is for us to make Swami’s message, the message of a positive and harmonious humanity,
come alive. This can happen only when all of us, we devotees, are truly
earnest about our own transformation, so that our lives radiate the
Peace and Love that His Life is.
Every day, thousands of people are serving the poor and sick through the Sai service organisations
And every day thousands around the world receive help from Sai seva dals, irrespective of colour or position
channels try to pour ridicule on Swami by saying, “This Sai Baba says
He is God! How can any man be God?” Has not Swami discussed this
question in detail in so many of His discourses? Has He not told us
again and again that humans are nothing short of the embodiment of the Atma,
and all that man has to do is live up to that fact! In fact, He has
even spelt out in detail the steps we should follow. How many of us
take all that seriously? How many read His discourses in depth,
analysing how one’s life fits into the larger aspect of Bhakti (devotion)? Do we really understand what Bhakti means? How much time have we spent pondering in depth on the contents of Chapter 12 of the Gita, devoted entirely to the topic of how to become dear to God?
Two things must be done if there is an outbreak of a malaria epidemic.
The first is to treat patients who have been infected with malaria; the
other and the equally if not more important thing is to locate where
the mosquitoes are breeding and try to clean up that place. In the same
way, all problems ranging from conflict to corruption would no doubt
demand some crack down, very much needed for purposes of containment.
However, if one is serious about problem solving, then one has to go much farther to tackle the fundamental problem, namely, the POVERTY OF LOVE which really is the root cause. That precisely is where Swami’s teaching stands unmatched.
The sooner we realise that and do all that we can, the better it would
be for mankind. In truth, the problems humanity now faces are really an
opportunity to serve Swami. Let us remember that Swami does not want us
to reduce God into stone; instead, we should see God in stone. This is
where seeing God in Society assumes crucial importance.
Here is what Swami has said about how to spread peace on earth.
Pointing out that peace cannot co-exist with selfishness, Bhagavan says:
It is only when the individual is prepared to sacrifice his selfish desires and toil for the welfare of society - that the nation will prosper. Then only would the world have peace. That is why the Vedas proclaim that man can have peace only when he renounces selfish desires. The Vedas express disapproval of persons who accumulate wealth and who are ever immersed in activities that can add to their physical comfort. The man who gives, receives even while he gives, more than what he gives.
- Divine Discourse, March 29, 1979.
Swami also reminds us that we cannot expect to enjoy peace when the
rest of the world is smothered with misery and unhappiness. Reminding
us that individual peace is linked with world peace, He says:
Your peace and happiness are linked with the world's peace and happiness. Any act of hatred or violence committed by you will pollute the atmosphere of the world. Adore any living being, and the adoration reaches God, for He is in every being. Insult any living being, and the insult too reaches God. So, expand love towards all, everywhere.
- Divine Discourse, August 15, 1985.
And finally,as is only to be expected, peace and Love are intimately
connected; one cannot have one without the other. Commenting on this,
Swami explains why we chant “Om Shanthi” three times. He says:
The word Shanthi is pronounced three times at the end of every prayer, ritual or offering. What is the meaning behind this? The first Shanthi means: "May we enjoy peace for the body." It means that the body should not get heated by feelings of jealousy, hatred, attachments and the like. Whatever news you receive about any event, you should receive it with calmness and serenity...The second Shanthi pertains to the mind. You should not get worked up when someone says something about you which is not true.... and the third Shanthi refers to peace of the soul. This peace has to be realized through love. This world has to be brought back on to the rails and it is love and peace alone which can achieve this. Fill your thoughts, actions, emotions with love, truth and peace. There may be people who may hate us but love them too.
- Divine Discourse, December 9, 1985.
Finding the Cause of Hatred
Since this article revolves around the subject of Muslims, I must,
before I conclude, make a reference once again to Jihadism and the only
way this problem can be solved. Experts and scholars have written
volumes and made hundreds of speeches analysing this subject; but
reduced to brass tacks it all boils down to Poverty of Love. Recently,
the police in India have arrested dozens of young Muslim men, all quite
well educated but all actively involved in or linked in some manner to
Jihadist activities. Naturally, there has been a spate of analysis why
and how this has happened. Most of this discourse has been limited at
best and strongly biased at worst. However, there have been a few
objective analyses of this situation, which has revealed that
developments such as we have witnessed recently were actually predicted
by sociologists as long as twenty years ago.
Basically it is all due to neglect, disenfranchisement and
marginalisation. Young Muslims, like all other young people, have all
along yearned to become a part of the mainstream. However, the
circumstances were such that it was not all that easy for them to do
so. One might argue that so it was for many in other communities as
well; indeed, but in this case, political forces that had a vested
interest in sustaining Muslim separateness; that, together with age-old
religious prejudice, made joining the mainstream difficult for most
This phenomenon of social exclusion is not peculiar to India. Denial of
legitimate aspirations and deliberate exclusion leading to
marginalisation has happened all over the world all the time, on
racial, religious, ethnic, and sectarian and such other grounds.
Indeed, this happening right now in many places all over the world.
Getting back to India, there came a time when the frustration amongst
young Muslims born of the feeling of being excluded and marginalised
crossed the threshold and that was when things began to slide badly. As
one newspaper wrote, these disenchanted Muslims youth came to
mistakenly believe that “preserving Muslim separateness rather than ending Muslim backwardness”
should be the priority. In other words, once the threshold is crossed,
those who feel cheated lose all faith in promises and totally reject
offers of solutions.
is a general phenomenon. In passing I might mention that Prof. David
Sloan Wilson of Binghamton University in New York has discovered
through his analysis that there is a strong relationship between social
insecurity and religious fervour. He says that regardless of the
religion in question, it is the least secure societies that tend to be the most fundamentalist.
And that sense of insecurity, I claim, arises when there is Poverty of
Love; and that precisely is where Swami’s teachings become profoundly
relevant and utterly indispensable.
If one examines the many conflicts currently dominating the global
scene, be it in Africa, or Latin America or the Middle East or South
Asia, one would find that in almost all cases, the situation seems
almost hopeless. And yet, the world cannot afford to
throw up its hand, saying there is no solution. Having allowed the
situation to harden over the years, humanity now has to face the music
and be prepared to pay the price. Bitter it may be but alas, there
really is no choice.
There is, however, a very positive way of looking at what might seem to be a rather gloomy picture. One could say, “This
is an opportunity God has given to us to unleash the Power of Divine
Love latent within each one of us, and thereafter witness, how like an
incomparable Divinely mighty tsunami, this torrent sweeps away all
problems, creating a bright future.” This is where
absolute, unconditional faith enters the picture, bringing with it Pure
Love and its Infinite Power. Commenting on this, Swami says:
Faith is essential for devotion. Without faith man can never realize his true nature. Faith, however, has to be suffused with Love. The nation is plunged in myriad troubles because it has forgotten the supreme principle of Love.
- Divine Discourse, July 28, 1992.
I don’t know how many of you are aware that Swami is swept even more by Kshama [forbearance] than Prema, a word better known to us. In all these years, I have heard Bhagavan Baba speak on Kshama only occasionally but every one of these occasions have been absolutely memorable. I am bringing Kshama
into the picture, because today, there is a greater need for this
virtue than ever before. In practical terms, it simply means that those
who are well off must bend down a lot to reach out to the unfortunate,
making concessions and showing tolerance far beyond the normal. That is
what Kshama is all about, that is what true compassion is all
about, and that is what reaching out is all about, that is what
sacrifice and selfless are all about, and finally, that is what Divine
Love is really all about.
Today, wherever we look, there is not only a strong polarisation [based
on some factor or the other], but more importantly, the people who have
the material, military or monetary advantage [sometimes all of it] are
not only inflexible but blatantly unreasonable as well. When that
happens, one is laying the foundations for conflict that could at some
stage become rather violent.
The world economic system is threatening our eco systems from melting ice caps...
...to unprecedented increases in natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and droughts
Take climate change where there is a lot of name-calling. Few realise
that this is not going to take anyone anywhere. The debate in the world
forums are between the educated people of the First World countries
[who want to hold on to their current standard of living even though it
poses huge burdens on planet Earth] and the educated people of the
so-called Third World who vigorously champion the case for countries
like India to advance and therefore plead for exemptions from the
strict application of environmental standards, at least for a while.
lot of hard bargaining is going on in the back rooms; something may
come out it; and, equally likely, nothing may come out except a lot of
hot air. But you know what? In the meantime, hundreds of millions of
poor people about whose existence hardly anyone is bothered, might,
while struggling to survive, unconsciously cause a staggering amount of
pollution simply by continuing to lead their wretched lives. So where
does that leave us finally?
The world's poor still live in
pitiable and pathetic conditions
Will the light shining in this family's eyes see a life of gainful opportunities
While the writing on the wall may be unacceptable, as I see it, there
is no option but for those who are more fortunate to show more
forbearance towards those who feel aggrieved, even if they are not
right about all they feel injured about. That is the true manifestation
of latent Divinity; once that conciliatory step is taken, then those
who feel ignored, humiliated, and exploited would also soften a bit and
from then on, the layers of accumulated bitterness, prejudice and
hatred can be peeled off. This is not a pipe dream. It has happened in
South Africa, it has happened [though in a very limited way] between
the ordinary people of Palestine and many sensitive Israelis, and so
on. In the final analysis, it is Divine Love alone that can unite.
President De Klerk of South Africa and Nelson Mandela after their historic end to apartheid, showed the world the joy of breaking man-made barriers to peace
I think I have said enough. Once again, it has been a rather long reply
to unfounded allegations, and I do apologize for the length. But this
time, I have gone much farther to look at another side of the issue,
which is that this smear campaign that disturbs all of us so much is
actually a wake-up call to us.
It is also a reminder that as long as
there is Poverty of Love, problems would arise for sure. Indeed, right
now, the world is full of problems but most of us seem hardly
concerned. So, maybe the Divine has ordained that He personally be
attacked, slandered, tarnished etc., so that we become agitated!
Becoming Sensitive to Humanity’s Cruelty
Becoming agitated when Swami is maligned is of course to be expected
and a perfectly justified reaction. At the same time, Swami is quietly
telling us [effectively],
“Dear one, I understand why you get upset
when I am attacked. But you seem to forget that I am in all; and so
many people the world over are being physically attacked and also
mentally abused. Whenever any one is hurt by anyone, it means that
person is actually hurting Me. Do you realise that and appreciate that?”
It is not enough to express concern about attacks on Swami’s form
alone. Yes, such feelings of agony are understandable; however, we must
rise above that and feel deep anguish whenever there is injustice done
to anybody, because God is in all. Do we feel that way, at least once
in a while?
Injustice anywhere disturbs justice everywhere. Adharma anywhere is an attack on dharma everywhere. Adharma is like poison; as you know one drop of poison is enough to ruin a whole jug of milk. Let us all keep that in mind!’
I shall sign off narrating a small incident. Once a devotee was blessed
with an interview with Swami. Towards the end, Swami asked the devotee,
“What does ‘Love All’ mean?” The devotee replied, “Swami, it means one
should love all humans, irrespective of caste, creed etc.” Swami shook
His head and responded, “Not enough! ‘Love AIl’ means you should love
all beings.” The devotees asked, “Swami, does that mean I should love
all living beings including birds and animals?” Swami smiled and said,
“Yes, and also fish and insects! No species should be left out!”
That says a lot, does it not? Thanks for being with me. God bless. Jai Sai Ram.