Volume 7 - Issue 11
November 2009
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CONVERSATIONS WITH SAI

Satyopanishad - Part 21:

Direct Directions from the Divine


Dear Reader,

In response to your positive feedback to this section where we have a conversation with the Divine, we continue with Prof. Anil Kumar’s ‘Satyopanishad’ following Dr. John Hislop’s series ‘Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’ that ended in January 2008.

This series is also in the question-answer format that many devotees prefer, and has answers from Bhagavan on topics as wide ranging as the origin of evil, the goals of human life, and aspects of God – embodied and formless, to price hikes, women’s liberation, vegetarianism, and the generation gap among people of the present times.

Published in two parts by the author, these volumes have 270 questions in all, which are neatly grouped under separate chapters. In this issue, we continue  chapter seven, “Sadhana, The Inner Door”.


CHAPTER VII: Sadhana, The Inner Door


Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! The Gayatri mantra is being chanted over many ages here in this holy land. But, we hear that women are prohibited from chanting Gayatri and so are non-brahmins. Should we chant that mantra at specific times and not at anytime of our choice and convenience? What is the importance and significance of the Gayatri mantra? We shall indeed be very fortunate to hear from Your divine lips about this subject.

Bhagavan: Everyone must chant the Gayatri. It transcends the barriers of caste, community, gender, nationality, time and space. It is the one mantra that all should repeatedly chant. There are three main things in the Gayatri mantra. First of all, you should know that Bhur Bhuvah Suvah in the Gayatri are not separate worlds. You think they are three different worlds. It is a mistake to think so. They are within you. Gayamulu means senses. Since Gayatri deals with sense control, it is called so. The body has senses of perception and action. This first aspect of Gayatri is called materialisation or Gayatri.

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The body can function only if there is life in it. The pulsatory activity is due to life. Therefore, the life principle vibrates in the body, which makes it functional or operational. This second aspect of Gayatri, which is the life force, is called vibration or Savitri.

The third aspect of Gayatri is the primal sound Omkar, which springs upwards from the navel. Om is a combination of three sounds, 'A', 'U' and 'M'. 'A' is uttered as it starts from the navel. 'U' starts from the throat. 'M' comes out of the lips. 'Soham ' is chanted in our breathing process though we are unaware of it. This is called 'Japa Gayatri'.

As we breathe in, we make the sound 'so' and as we breathe out the sound 'ham' is made. The ‘soham’ mantra is repeated everyday 21,600 times in our respiratory process. In the mantra, ‘soham’, the second sound in 'so', i.e., 'o' and the second sound in 'ham', 'm' together constitute 'om'. This soham is repeatedly chanted in all the three states; waking, dream and deep sleep. The entire alphabet is formed out of the mother of letters, the primal sound 'OM'.

To illustrate this, let me give you a small example. In the English alphabet, we have 26 letters from A to Z. All words and sentences are spoken and written using these letters only, aren't they? You notice that the harmonium has reeds. As you press the bellows the air gets in and as you press the reeds, you get musical notes like sa re ga ma pa dha ni. By means of these seven sounds only, different tunes or ragas are composed. Are they not? You know the violin. It has strings on which you can play any tune. So also, omkar is the primal, primordial sound out of which the rest of the sounds originated.

God desires from you only one thing, and that is love. This love is not your property either. It is not your ancestral property. This love is not gifted to you by anyone. It is not a commodity to be manufactured by any company. It is not to be acquired from a guru. You are born with love. It is the gift of God. Therefore, it must be given to Him. It is His and so you should return it to Him by loving Him incessantly.

When you close both your ears tight, you will listen to the Pranava, the Omkar within you. You go very close to an electric pole and listen with your ear touching it; you will hear that primal sound Omkar. This is the sound (internal) in silence (external). This is the divine sound heard in the depth of silence, (nissabdamu loni sabdabrahmam, in Telugu). You can hear the footsteps of God only in silence. This third aspect of Gayatri that pertains to this Omkar, the primordial sound, the speech faculty and the chief source is known as radiation or Saraswati.

Therefore, at the body level it is Gayatri, materialisation. As the life principle, it is Savitri, vibration, and finally as the chief source of sound, it is Saraswati, radiation. These are the three aspects of Gayatri mantra. In other words the atmic power, divine source, is radiation (Saraswati) that enters the body as vibration or life principle (Savitri), so that this body made of material becomes functional which is called materialisation (Gayatri).

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! How should we adore You? How should we serve You? Kindly show us the way?

Bhagavan: God does not need your service. He does not require your worship. God desires from you only one thing, and that is love. This love is not your property either. It is not your ancestral property. This love is not gifted to you by anyone. It is not a commodity to be manufactured by any company. It is not to be acquired from a guru. You are born with love. It is the gift of God. Therefore, it must be given to Him. It is His and so you should return it to Him by loving Him incessantly.

Take a small example. On occasions like a wedding ceremony, many people are invited. So, in order to prepare food on a large scale you need very big utensils. You hire them for a day or two and return them after use. But they should be returned safe, cleaned and in perfect condition without any damage. Is it not so? Similarly, the human heart is a vessel filled with love, gifted by God, and has got to be returned intact to Him. This is the true form of worship.

Pluck the flowers of virtue, character, and love from the garden of your heart and worship God with flowers of value.

How to love God? The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. When everything is His, and He being the giver of all that you need, what is it that He wants from you other than love? A pure heart is the temple of God. Then, where is it? I always tell the students that there should be perfect harmony between thought, word, and deed. Today, we find selfishness at all levels. In whatever is said and done, there is an underlying selfishness. But true worship is a selfless act of service with love. Do your duty sincerely. Service to man is service to God. You don't need to worship God with flowers that fade and decay. Pluck the flowers of virtue, character, and love from the garden of your heart and worship God with flowers of value.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Kindly let us know how we can achieve anandaprapti, permanent happiness, and removal of suffering, dukhanivrutti.

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Bhagavan: These two levels of consciousness are not separate from each other, as you have stated. When suffering is removed, you derive happiness. Absence of happiness is the cause of misery. Both are interrelated. Absence of light is darkness: Where there is light there is no darkness. Absence of one of the two is the presence of the other. So, if you explore the methods of removing suffering, happiness naturally and automatically dawns. If you investigate the reason for misery, you will know that ignorance is the cause of all misery. What is responsible for ignorance? It is the ego. What is ego? It is attachment.

What is attachment? It is the body, consciousness. So, misery occurs due to attachment to the body. But, one can be happy physically as well as spiritually if one's senses are under one's control. In fact, sadness is not natural to man. Therefore, methods have to be found out to remove sadness, which is artificial. Misery can be removed only by prayer and by following the spiritual path. If idle horses are overfed, they will be still lazier. Similarly, if you act according to the whims and fancies of your senses, your senses will get strengthened day by day and ultimately you will cease to be a human being.

Man faces three types of miseries - adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika miseries are physical and mental. Physical suffering makes you mentally sick. Your mental irregularities add to your physical sickness. Therefore, physical and mental sufferings are branded as adhyatmika. The second one is the suffering called adhibhautika, which is caused due to a snakebite or a scorpion bite or injuries inflicted by animals and other creatures. The third type of misery called adhidaivika befalls due to cyclones, floods, earthquakes, fire accidents and various other natural calamities.

Primarily you should know that the mind is the cause of both pleasure and pain. If your mind is positive, it doesn't matter if you are either at your home or in a forest. You should fill your mind with love. With constant thought of God, developing more and more of faith in Him, and following the spiritual path, you can undoubtedly remove your suffering. Of course, control of senses is absolutely necessary.

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If you understand your true self, atma, you will have ananda, bliss. Bliss is the state, which is above pain and pleasure - bliss is non-dual. This is also called prajna. Since prajna is vast, the scripture says, Prajnanam Brahma. Prajna is divine. Prajna is uniformly present in the body, the mind and the intellect. Prajna is also known as antarvani, the inner voice. By exercising control over external and internal sense, you can listen to your antarvani. If you follow and act according to your Inner Voice, you will be blissful.

Janma or birth is responsible for all misery. Where there is no janma there is no chance for either pleasure or pain. However, janma is due to karma, the consequence of past actions. For karma, the causes are raga, attachment and dvesa, hatred. You take to an activity only if or when you like it, or prefer it to some other activity, otherwise not. Isn't it? So all actions are born of either of these two states of mind, raga and dvesa. They in turn arise out of ahamkara, ego and ajnana, ignorance. Ajnana is the main cause of misery. Ignorance goes away only if ego is given up. For ego to be dropped one must rise above attachment and hatred; for these two to vanish there should be akarma, inaction, because these actions and their consequences lead to punarjanma, rebirth.

As the Bhajagovindam of Adi Sankara states: Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam punarapijanani jathare sayanam, "one takes birth life after life, lying in the womb of the mother, again and again after death”. Birth and death are responsible for all the misery. In fact, one should follow the spiritual path in life not to be born again. Instead of consuming sugar, you can become sugar itself! This is the sugar of ananda, bliss. This is the sugar of liberation. This is the sugar of sayujya, merger with God. Therefore, mukti, liberation, is the only solution for the alleviation of suffering.

The happiness that you get from listening to a person whom you like, or hearing about an article that you wished to acquire is described as priyam, pleasure. When you actually get what you really want, that is called modam, joy. The experience of joy after acquiring what you want is called pramodam, supreme joy. If anybody starts talking to you about what is dear to you, you will be happy. So it is called priyam. If you see or meet those who are dear to you, you will be extremely happy. This is called modam. On receiving and possessing what is dearest to you, your experience is described as pramodam.

When you hear of the divine power from great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and of the leelas of God incarnate and devotion celebrated in Bhagavata, and other texts, you will be very happy. This is priyam. If you practice all that you have heard from these immortal books, you will derive a kind of joy described as modam. If you identify yourself with the divinity and merge in it, the supreme bliss you get out of it is called pramodam.

You do not have to sacrifice the world, You have to give up worldly thoughts and feelings.

You do not have to sacrifice your properties, but you must establish proper-ties with God.

So one has to hear about God, priyam in the first stage, practice all that is heard, modam in the second stage and finally experience the bliss thereafter, pramodam in the third stage. This is anandaprapti, the way to be blissful.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is it that we should renounce? What is that we should sacrifice?

Bhagavan: You do not need to renounce the world. Many people commit a mistake here. You do not have to sacrifice the world. You have to give up worldly thoughts and feelings. You must have heard of Ramananda Tirtha, a renunciant. He was married, and also had a son. He renounced his family. One day when his wife visited him, he refused to see her and turned his head away. Watching this, the wife said to him, "Swami! Since you have the feeling that I am your wife, you did not look at me and turned away your face. I do not have that feeling, not in the least". It was then she gave him the ochre robes. So, you need not renounce the world. You need to shed worldly thoughts. You do not have to sacrifice your properties, but you must establish proper-ties with God.

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Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is true happiness? How are we to acquire it?

Bhagavan: You should first of all know what happiness truly is! I want you to be blissful and not simply happy. Happiness, as you understand it, is not truly happiness. In fact, true happiness lies in union with God. This you can develop by establishing contact with the Divinity within you. In other words, being aware of the Divinity within you, you can also make yourself happy in the world. Happiness lies in liking what you should do and not doing what you like.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! We meet some people who are not happy, as if they are denied happiness once and for all. Why should it happen like that?

Bhagavan: For all this, understand that the mind is the main cause. If you turn your mind Godward, you will be happy. If you turn it towards the world, you cannot be happy for long. See, here you turn the fan towards you. Then you get the breeze. If you turn it the opposite way, you won't get any breeze. Your getting or not getting the breeze depends upon the direction in which you turn the fan.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! You want us to look for unity in diversity. You expect us to be aware of unity in diversity. How is it possible?

Bhagavan: It is certainly possible. Everything in this world has five aspects. Among them, three are changeless while the other two change. The three are asti, being, bhati, awareness, priyam, bliss - these are immortal. They may also be termed as sat, cit and ananda. Then there are two more aspects that change. They are rupa, form and nama, name. Name and form depend on the three changeless and permanent aspects mentioned above, viz., truth, awareness and bliss, sat, cit, ananda. For example: you observe the sea, its waves and its foam. They are interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. Waves come out of the sea. Waves are not independent. We find foam collecting on the surface of the waves. When there are no waves, there can be no chance for the foam to collect on the surface. However, apparently, we have three forms in different names - sea, wave, and foam. But essentially, all the three show the same water by different names. Don't they?

Being aware of the Divinity within you, you can also make yourself happy in the world.

The sea represents paramarthika satya, Spiritual Truth; the waves stand for pratibhasika satya, superimposed or mistaken identity, while the foam is the vyavaharika satya, worldly or physical truth.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Is sadhana a must in everyday life? Is it compulsory?

Bhagavan: Yes, it is very necessary that you should do it everyday. Don't you wash and scrub utensils everyday to keep them clean? Until you become steady, develop unwavering faith and total surrender, it is most necessary to do sadhana everyday.

You see that the paddy fields are watered everyday. Otherwise, the crops dry up and die. But tall trees like eucalyptus, banyan, neem and so on, do not need to be watered everyday. Why? The reason is simple. Their roots go very deep, up to the groundwater level; and draw nourishment for the entire tree. It appears surprising that small tender plants need water everyday while huge trees do not. Roots of small plants go a few inches deep and cannot draw water, from the depths. But trees have roots that spread and go deep to draw, ground water. Similarly, until the roots of your faith go deep into the ground of your heart, you have to do sadhana everyday. Your faith today is like the root of a small plant that has not yet gone deep into your heart and so you should do sadhana everyday.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Much emphasis is laid on sadhana, spiritual practice. But we find it tough to do any sadhana. What is the solution?

Bhagavan: For achieving or attaining anything in life one needs to do sadhana or practice. Walking, talking, reading, eating, writing, everything in life you learn by practice. How does a child walk? It is clearly by practice only. Singers practice a lot! Driving a motorcar for that matter has to be practised. You have the steering at one place, the brake at one point, the clutch elsewhere and so on. Yet, you will be able to drive a car by practice only. So also, one has to do sadhana in the spiritual field.

 


Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! What is the role of a Guru on the spiritual path?

Bhagavan: One should have total faith in the Guru. Suppose you wish to go to a city on a picnic. You do not know anything about that city, as you have never been there before. What you do is to take the help of a guide to go round the city. You do not question the guide at any point since you are totally new to the place. So also, a Guru who has vast knowledge and experience has to be scrupulously followed. He should not be questioned, doubted, or disobeyed on any grounds.

You also find signboards at crossroads indicating directions to different places. This is your common experience. To reach the place of your choice, you must follow the directions in the signboard and reach the destination. You don't expect the signboard to carry you or lift you to that place. You have to go along the way as directed in the signboard. A Guru similarly shows the spiritual path, teaches you the techniques to be followed, and explains in detail all that you need on the spiritual path. You have to work for it and achieve it all by yourself. No one can do that on your behalf.

'Guru', is a two letter word in Telugu 'Gu' and 'ru'. The word has two meanings. 'Gu' is darkness (ignorance), 'ru' is the light (wisdom) that dispels this darkness. The second meaning is 'gu' stands for gunatita, one beyond attributes and 'ru' for rupavarjita formless. So, Guru is one who teaches you about divinity which is both attributeless and formless.

A true Guru wishes the best for his disciples. He tells them what is hita, good and not ista, that which is liked. A true disciple follows the master implicitly.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! We feel that results are delayed in sadhana. We do not get quick results, at least according to our expectations. What do you say, Swami?

Bhagavan: You do not have proper, understanding of sadhana. See, in this world, you begin your studies from childhood. After the primary school, you go to the secondary school, college and then to the university. After fifteen years of intense study and hard work you get a degree. This is your experience. How much have you worked to get a degree? Have you not taken a long time to get a degree? For this education and a degree, and to earn your livelihood you strive so much. Then how long should you take, how much of effort should you put in to earn God's grace which is the eternal spiritual truth? Just think for yourself. It is a big mistake to expect quick results in sadhana.

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Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! Are you pleased with our dhyana, meditation?

Bhagavan: Do you call what you do every day meditation? No, you are not doing it properly. It may be anything but certainly not meditation. It is all right that you sit down to meditate. But your mind is in the market, you will be thinking of what you are going to eat for lunch. Or you will be thinking of your dhobi, when he would bring your ironed clothes. Is that meditation? Certainly not.

A small example. You are seated here waiting eagerly and anxiously for the arrival of Swami. Any sound of a door or a car will draw your attention as Swami might come any time. Your mind is fully concentrated on Swami and you begin to view everything in terms of Swami's arrival. Do you not? On the other hand, if you are mentally engaged otherwise and not alert, even if Swami comes and stands in front of you, you will not notice Him.

So, in meditation the most important thing is to have a full cent percent concentration on God. You should be fully alert, without any diversion of attention. So, what we need is an unwavering steadiness of mind.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami, how many things should we study and learn in order to take to sadhana? How many details should we know from the sacred texts to start our sadhana?


Bhagavan: Many things or details are not necessary. We see most people reading books. They listen to discourses for a number of years. But, what is the use? They remain where they have been in the spiritual path. What is the reason? It is lack of practice that has detained them, retarded their progress. In fact, you don't have to read so many books. You don't need to learn many things. If you clearly and thoroughly understand one thing, it is enough. If you practice one thing, that is enough. Why learn many things and don't practice even one? To commit suicide a small pin or a needle is enough. But to kill others you require a pistol or a revolver or a knife. Similarly, to teach others you need to learn and know many things for which you have to read a lot. But to work for one's own liberation, redemption and emancipation it is enough if one thing is practiced sincerely. So, practising is more important than knowing and learning in life.

To feel God in you is upavasa and not mere fasting as the literal meaning goes: Upa, near, vasa, living: In other words, upavasa means living close to or near God.

Prof. Anil Kumar: Swami! We are indeed very fortunate to have been listening to You. We are in a blissful state. You alone can answer our questions like this, out of Your infinite compassion for us. None can do that. Swami, pardon me for this question. It is now very clear to us what enquiry is. But why am I unable to do so? Why is my mind not steady? Is it the nature of the mind to waver? Is it the natural quality of the mind to remain unstable and unsteady that prevents me from concentration on enquiry?

Bhagavan: You complain that your mind is unsteady and that you are not able to concentrate. This is not true. In fact, there is no mind as such. It is nothing but a bundle of desires. It is a bundle of thoughts. It is like a piece of cloth with yarn closely interwoven. When you separate the yarn or threads one after another, the cloth does not exist any more. So also, when the desires are gone and the thoughts withdrawn, the mind does not exist anymore. This is called amanaska, withdrawal of the mind, or manolaya annihilation of the mind.

You say that your mind wavers. This is also not quite true. You see a tree here. The leaves flutter. Why? It is the wind that makes the leaves of the tree flutter. But when there is no wind they do not move. So, the movement is due to the wind and not due to the quality of the leaves or the tree. The tree of life like leaves of the human mind flutters as the wind of desires blows.

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You also say that you are not able to concentrate your mind. This is not true again. How are you riding your bicycle or driving your car without concentration? Is it not dangerous? Will it not lead to accidents? How could you concentrate in order to drive your car or ride your bicycle? As you read a book, a paper, or a draft, how are you able to concentrate? Without concentration, how could you grasp all that is mentioned in a book? In your profession are you not doing your job with full attention and concentration? Are you doing this with your mind engaged elsewhere or absentminded? If you do so, don't you spoil the work assigned to you? You would have been summarily dismissed from your service had you been doing your job without concentration. Are you not concentrating your mind on every activity of your daily life? Yes, you do it beyond doubt. But, concentration of mind becomes a very difficult task only in respect of God. Is it not a misfortune?

The mind is stable and it concentrates easily and naturally. The loss of concentration with respect to God implies that you do not have as much love for and interest in Him as you have in worldly matters. Concentration, hence, depends on the degree of your interest. You can't blame the mind. It is like a mirror. It only reflects what is kept in front of it. So I often lay stress on good and pure thoughts. As is the thought so is the mind. You know one who has manas (mind) is manisi, a human being. The most valuable thing in this world in your estimate is a diamond. But 'diamond' means 'diemind' or withdrawal of mind.



(To be continued...)

Dear Reader, did this article inspire you in any way? Would you like more of such conversations with the Divine? Please share with us your reflections by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

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