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Posted on: Dec 1, 2011
Radio Sai Study Circle – 6
Understanding Love in All Its Dimensions
Desha Bhakthi – The Manifestation of Love as Patriotism
GSS: I think it's time we move from Vyashti Prema (love between individuals) on to Samashti Prema, which is love for the society. I guess the first that comes to mind here is Desha Bhakti or love for one's nation.
KMG: I'm reminded of one inspiring patriot who comes from a foreign soil – Nelson Mandela. In his time leadership was not fashionable and had no celebratory social standing in the community. It was an era when there was no known price tag for a voting horse. But Nelson Mandela made supreme sacrifices for his country. His actions gave evidence to the fact that the relation between him and the motherland was sealed with blood.
Mandela was not recruited. He joined the struggle voluntarily as a soldier and suffered as a result of punishment, interrogation, and harassment from counter-revolutionaries. But none of this altered his centre of attention; he never neglected sacrifice, like quite a few others did. He cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. That was an ideal which he hoped to achieve, live for and if need be, even die for.
BP: Wonderful! Such an inspiring life! I'm reminded of another freedom fighter who was also a saint. She's from the 15th Century – Joan of Arc from France. She continues to inspire even today. Joan was an illiterate daughter of a farmer. Yet she understood the political and military situation in France much better than anyone else. When she was only 16, she left her home for good. She won great victories, crowned a king, and died as a martyr.
In fact she was directly responsible for the coronation of the French King Charles VI. She was captured by the tribes, sold to the English, tried by an ecclesiastical court, and finally burnt at the stake when she was only 19 years old.
24 years later, on the initiative of Charles the VI, the then Pope revoked the decision of the ecclesiastical court, found her innocent and then declared her as a martyr.
She was beatified in 1909 and canonised in 1920. Surprisingly even though she tried so much for her goal which was to relieve the people of France from the English rule, on the day Charles VI was crowned as the king, she refused to appear in public. She said her job was over. “Let the king have all the glory. I have done my part. I ask for nothing, except that my village should not be taxed, because the people in this village are poor.”
GSS: What a noble thought!
BP: So here is another amazing personality whose love for the country was at such an exalted state.
SG: In fact, Swami gives the example of Lord Sri Rama. Once Ravana was killed and the mission was accomplished in Lanka, Vibhishana was to be crowned as the king. At this point Vibhishana offered the kingdom to Lord Sri Rama. In fact Lakshmana also felt that it was such a beautiful offer. The whole kingdom was made of gold. So he said, “Brother, why cannot we stay back here itself?”
At that moment, Lord Sri Rama made a wonderful statement, which inspires patriots in our country and all over the world for all times. He said, “Ee swarnamayi Lanka kinchitapi name rochati Lakshmana. Janani Janma bhoomischa swargaadapi gariyasi”, which means, “Lakshmana, this golden Lanka does not interest Me even to the slightest extent. Mother and motherland are even greater than heaven.”
BP: Amazing! This is another example Swami Himself has narrated to show us the level our love for the country should reach.
GSS: That's really touching. Coming to contemporary times, those who have been following the news in India would have heard of Anna Hazare, who has been a social reformer, but not so much heard of.
A simple man, with not much of wealth, but today, he has become the beloved of the whole of India because he almost sacrificed his life trying to cleanse India from the evil of corruption. So there's no dearth of such people who really have gone beyond the limitations of individual objectives and individuals themselves, and expanding their love to encompass the society, the whole of the nation, and even the world.
Shrishti Prema – The Manifestation of Love towards Creation
Lets move on to Srishti Prema, that is, love for creation itself. There's so much of talk going on today about the need for being 'green' and environment-friendly. So can we also have some examples where people have really moved to this higher level of love, wherein they start expressing their love for other beings, not just human beings, but even for plants?
KMG: I'm reminded of a story which Mrs. Geeta Ram narrates. It seems when she was a small child, she was sitting in the lawns of Brindavan (Baba's ashram in Bangalore) and inadvertently pulling out grass. Suddenly she felt somebody standing behind her and it was none other than Swami Himself.
Baba immediately disapproved of her act saying, “You should not be plucking grass because they too have life in them. Come with Me, I'll show you that even an inanimate thing like flower or grass too responds to love.”
Swami took her to a place where there were many buds which had not yet blossomed. Baba then touched one of those buds and it immediately bloomed into a beautiful flower. Swami said, “Do you know why this bud blossomed? It is because of love. Even you can transform the bud into a beautiful flower if you share your love with it.”
Then she touched the bud but nothing happened. But when Swami held her hand and made her touch again, the bud now instantly blossomed into a beautiful flower. Swami said, “Even an inanimate thing like the flower responds to your love.”
BP: So love is the key and through this example, Swami was telling us how we should love even inanimate things. I think today's problems of environment, of global warming, and the climate issues of the post-industrial revolution era are due to the absence of love. We see today the exploitation of resources. This is because of this poverty of love; we have not been able to love Nature.
In fact that is the reason why Swami has been emphasising so much on ceiling on desires. The other day, I read an interesting fact. It seems the number of overweight people today has passed the number of people who are malnourished in the world! Currently there are an estimated 800 million undernourished people, but more than a billion are considered overweight the world over.
Unless we learn to control our mind and live within limits, it will not be possible to maintain this quality of life. And when can we really limit our wants? When can we learn not to exploit Nature? Only when we love Nature. And all His life Baba demonstrated this through so many examples.
Even when Swami used to write the articles for Sanathana Sarathi, the ashram monthly magazine, He would use every inch of space. Even now, we have those manuscripts and you can see how Baba has not wasted even a millimetre. Many people think that in this modern age, we can actually indulge as that is what consumerism is all about.
But Swami says that modernity is not exploitation but limitation. And that is the only way we can preserve the planet. Our love for Nature must reach that selfless and spiritual level.
AD: Just continuing on the same note, Bishu, there was one occasion when Swami came out one morning from the interview room. I was in Primary School then and was sitting there along with my classmates. Swami had a red eye. Prof. Anil Kumar was also there and he said, “Swami, what happened to Your eye?” Swami said, “Oh that... When I was washing My face, a little soap went into the eye.”
We were all quite surprised. Swami went on to say, “Usually when I apply soap to My face, I turn off the tap. And in order to turn it on again, I open My eyes. At that time, a little soap went in.” Then He continued, “Most of you whilst shaving or washing your face, keep the tap on.”
Here was Swami showing His love towards every drop of water. I remember whenever Swami stepped out of the interview room, He used to switch off the fan and lights, and only then step out. Here was the...
BP: ...the source of all resources!
AD: Yes, the source of all resources! The owner of all the wealth in the world was still showing so much respect and concern towards an inanimate thing like electricity.
GSS: I'm reminded of another touching episode of Bhagawan and His expression of love for beings. This was another occasion in Brindavan. All the students were invited by Bhagawan for a ‘brunch’ session. We were seated and Swami came down and started serving all the items to the various students.
We were very happy at being served by Bhagawan, but then, we felt a little uncomfortable because after doing all that, Swami was still standing. He did not sit down on the chair kept for Him. We ate a little and then said, “Swami, please sit down” because Swami wouldn't eat, of course.
But Swami refused. He moved amongst all of us, asking each one whether we had all the items. When we had almost finished, He had not yet sat down. Then, one of our professors took courage and said, “Swami, we are feeling very uncomfortable. Please, why don't You sit down?” Bhagawan then gave a beautiful smile and said to one of the students, “You see My chair? There is a cushion kept as a backrest. Just remove that.”
The student went and removed the cushion. Just behind the cushion on the chair, a wasp had built a nest and there were some eggs inside. Swami said, “Had I sat and rested against it, all these eggs would have got destroyed.” One important thing, of course, was Bhagawan's divine omnipresence; He knew about it. But the second remarkable thing was the sensitivity that Swami had even towards small eggs of a so-called insignificant wasp.
BP: And He shared this with us in His mercy so that we learn these things.
GSS: Exactly! Ganesh, you want to add something?
KMG: Yes. Talking of the sensitivity towards our tiny friends, I remember one of our teachers in Brindavan sharing that once they were walking in the Trayee lawns along with Swami and suddenly, Bhagawan stopped. They wondered what was wrong. Then they saw a straight stream of ants going from one side of the lawn to the other. What Swami did now is interesting. He immediately materialised candy, broke it into pieces, put it there and then said, “Lunchtime!”
KMG: That was a very touching episode!
GSS: I guess that is why we Indians and people in many other cultures too call Prakruthi as Mother Nature. This means our love for Nature and for the environment should be like that of children towards their mother.
Daiva Bhakti – The Manifestation of Love as Devotion to God
Now, let's move on to the last rung of the ladder. We have really gone through a long journey from Vyashti Prema, to Samashti Prema, to Srishti Prema, and now finally, we culminate in Parameshti Prema, that is, love for God.
Swami says that just as the love of a mother towards her children is Vatsalya, love between two individuals is Sakhyam, or love towards an object is Moha, the very same love when manifested towards God Himself is Bhakti or devotion.
Amey, can you start the discussion on this highest and the transcendental form of love, which we call devotion?
AD: This immediately brings me to the way Lord Krishna categorises the four types of devotees. He says there are Arthis, the Artharthis, the Jignasus, and the Jnanis.
The Arthis are those who pray to the Lord for removal of all their diseases. The Artharthis are those who plead with the Lord for granting them wealth. The Jijnasus are of curious and inquisitive nature. And finally the Jnanis are those who revel in the Self or who experience the Lord as the Self.
Lord Krishna says amongst these four types of devotees, the Jnanis are the most beloved to Him. It is up to us to figure out in which category we are.
GSS: I wouldn't even want to think about that.
AD: Very true! What comes to my mind is those long lines of people who flock to several temples around India – Shirdi, Vaishno Devi, Tirupathi or any other shrine for that matter.
GSS: With tons of prayers.
AD: Yes! And you feel that Bhakti is at its all-time high in our country. But then, Lord Krishna says, “To Me, the most beloved are the Jnanis, that is those who want to merge with Me.”
GSS: Giridhar, before I invite your thoughts on this, I'll mention the two approaches to devotion, just as Amey talked of the four categories of devotion. One is called the Markatamarga or the approach of a monkey and its child, and the other one is Marjalamarga or the approach of a cat and the kitten.
It's a very beautiful analogy. The first one, Bhagawan says, is like Prahlada. The young one of a monkey, if we observe, holds on to the mother and even as the mother jumps from tree to tree, the young one is literally glued to its mother. Here the responsibility is with the child, just as Prahlada always held on to Lord Narayana, be it any difficulty.
The other type of devotion is possibly a more beautiful one which is like the relationship between the cat and the kitten. If we observe, as the mother cat moves from place to place she holds the kitten in her mouth. Here, the responsibility is that of the mother, because the kitten has left itself completely in its mother's care.
Bhagawan says this is the example of Lakshmana who had completely surrendered to Lord Rama. In this scenario it becomes the responsibility of God to take care of the devotee.
So now Giridhar, let's have your thoughts on Bhakti or devotion.
KMG: Bhagawan says that the power of this surrender or love for God is incomprehensible. He often gives the example of Mother Meerabai, who was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. It was indeed her love for Lord Krishna that transformed even poison given to her into nectar.
Once, in Kodaikanal, when Swami had sent us out for shopping, we all decided to buy a small idol of Mother Meera and gift it to Swami.
Generally Swami would go through all the items that we bought. So we all took courage to take this beautiful idol of Mother Meera to Swami, because during those days Swami used to talk a lot about Mother Meera's devotion towards the Lord. We thought Swami will be very happy to see this idol.
When we presented it to Swami, He saw this statue and asked, “What is this?” We all said, “Swami, it is for You.” Swami just blessed it and said, “Idi bomma ra! Meerabai na hridayam lo undi”, that is, “This is merely an idol. Meerabai is in My heart.” Such love and surrender will fetch us a place right in the heart of the Lord Himself.
|In Kodaikanal, after the students return from shopping, they show
Swami the articles they have just bought.
BP: Yes Giridhar! Meerabhai is one of those really exceptional and exemplary devotees of the Lord, whom Swami is so fond of. He's the one who knows at which level each person's devotion is. If we see these 85 years of Swami's life, there are so many people who have sacrificed so much for His divine proximity, and to be instruments in His hands.
I mentioned earlier about Victor Kanu; he is one such example. I remember Mr. Seshagiri Rao; he was the first preist of the mandir. When he came to Swami in the 1950s, he was actually not so inclined to make the visit.
We all know how difficult it was to come to Prashanti Nilayam in those days. He came here only as a male escort for his daughters. But the moment he arrived, he had a very unique vision of Swami where he saw Swami as Lord Shiva Himself.
He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and that vision was enough for him. From that day, he never returned to Bangalore. In fact he never stepped out of Prashanti Nilayam for 50 years and continued to serve Swami in various ways. I think there are so many such people. Some, we know, and some we don't; so many have sacrificed so much.
We know of so many of our professors and people we work with, who have sacrificed so much to serve Swami in their own way and this is happening all the time. Therefore this whole process of devotion gets really accelerated when the Lord takes a human form. And I think we have been fortunate to see this in our lifetime.
GSS: That's very right, Bishu. So, apart from the various saints and sages whom we know about in all cultures and religions, we also have contemporaries.
We have people whom we have seen in the lifetime of Bhagawan, who have given away everything for the sake of God and have actually manifested this true devotion. In fact Bhagawan says, “God is like the tank who is filled with all grace. Devotees are like the taps, but unless there is the pipe of Bhakti, how can this grace flow into the devotee and then manifest as His love?”
So we have actually come to the final rung of the ladder – the ultimate manifestation of this divine love or the cosmic glue, when it manifests itself in an individual and is directed straight towards God.
- Radio Sai team