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do attacks on swami have any message for us?
An In-Depth Inquiry

This article has five parts:
Part 5


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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan

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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
Rama Avatar

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 there.

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.

Rama 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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
Krishna Avatar

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.

However, 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

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan

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:

  1. At no time, including in those days, did Swami ever have even a trace of animosity towards those who abused and maligned Him;
  2. 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 of course.

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 Seva Dr. Dewan
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 have stated.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan

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!”

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
spacer Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
Varaha Avatar
Narasimha Avatar

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!”

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
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 absolutely constant.

While 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 being threatened.

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.

Likewise, 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 takes over.

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?

We 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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
spacer Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
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

TV 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 young Muslims.

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.

This 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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
spacer Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
The world economic system is threatening our eco systems from melting ice caps... 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.

A 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?

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
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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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
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.

Sai Seva Dr. Dewan
This article has five parts:
Part 5

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Vol 6 Issue 10 - OCTOBER 2008
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