TRUE SPIRITUALITY - THE SPIRIT TO LOVE AND SERVE
Speech by Prof. G. Venkataraman
on May 6, 2011 (Easwaramma Day) in Sai Kulwant Hall
The 6th of May every year is a day when Sai devotees across the globe pay their homage to the Divine Mother Easwaramma – the Blessed Soul who was chosen by the Divine to play the role of Mother of His physical form. Bhagawan Baba once declared, "I resolved on My birth. I decided who should be My Mother!"
Often in His discourses Swami has mentioned how the Divine Mother was in fact the inspiration behind all the mammoth Sai service projects be it the Super Specialty Hospitals, the Drinking Water Projects or the University. In the memory of this Exalted Soul who merged with Swami on this day almost four decades ago every year Sai devotees mark May 6 with several service and spiritual initiatives.
On the morning of this day Bhagawan Baba always visited the sacred Samadhi of the Mother and adorned her Samadhi with flowers and new clothes. And inevitably there was always a huge Narayana Seva (offering of food and clothes to thousands of our brothers and sisters) organized that day whether Swami was in Puttaparthi, Brindavan or Kodai Kanal.
This year too the day was observed in the same spirit. On the morning of May 6, 2011 distinguished elders of Sai family paid their homage at the Samadhi of the Divine Mother, and later there was a massive Narayana Seva organized in the spacious Sri Sathya Sai Hill View Stadium. Students and staff of Swami’s University served the needy the whole morning of May 6.
In the evening there was a special meeting in the Sai Kulwant Hall and three eminent speakers addressed the gathering. The first was Prof. G. Venkataraman who was introduced to the audience by Prof. Anil Kumar. We present below the introduction followed by the transcript of Prof. Venkataraman’s talk.
An eminent Physicist by profession, Prof. Venkataraman served first at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai [1955-1973], and then at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam [1973-1987]. Later, he set up and became the first Director of ANURAG [a unit of Defence Research and Development Organisation - DRDO], which was established for chip design and the design of parallel super computers.
A Jawarharlal Nehru Fellow and a Fellow of several science academies, he has written many books on Physics, including a major scientific biography of Sir C.V. Raman.
Attracted by the Spiritual teachings of Bhagawan Baba, he came in 1992 [after retirement] to Puttaparthi, where he has been ever since, teaching at the Sri Sathya Sai University. For one term, he also served as the Vice Chancellor of that University [1996-1998].
For almost two decades now, he has been actively engaged in producing valuable Spiritual books (the most recent one being “Journey into Valmiki’s Ramayana”), delivering thought-provoking talks over Radio Sai and creating enriching video documentaries on Swami’s Life and Mission besides directing many other activities connected with documenting and disseminating Bhagawan Baba’s Spiritual Message and Mission.
Most Beloved Bhagawan, on behalf of all the people here and millions elsewhere and on my own behalf, I would, as always, first like to offer my humble Pranaams at Your Divine lotus feet.
Swami, as I stand here, I am inevitably reminded of the numerous earlier occasions when I have stood here, just like this, waiting for Your nod before I could begin my talk.
Today Swami, I have to look elsewhere for that signal, namely, in my Heart. In a way Swami, that seems to be the Message You are now giving us, namely, that henceforth You would guide us via the Formless or Niraakara aspect, rather than the Saakara aspect (the One with Form) that we got so used to and loved so dearly.
Seeking Your blessings, Swami, I pray that I be permitted to proceed further.
Prof. Venkataraman addressing the congregation of devotees in Sai Kulwant Hall on the evening of May 6, 2011.
Esteemed elders, dear sisters and brothers, and my dear students, Sai Ram to all of you.
I do not know how you feel at the moment but I personally feel as if we are all like students sitting in an examination hall.
Imagine a class of students that has been lovingly taught for long time by their dear teacher.
Finally comes a day when all students in the class have to appear for a public examination. And so there they are, all seated in the examination hall and waiting. The bell rings and the question papers are handed out. The students stare at the questions, but their revered teacher is not there to help them with the answers. They now have to recall what their teacher taught them earlier, and answer the questions as best as they can.
Today, all of us, both young and old, are placed in a somewhat similar situation. The only difference is that this mother of all examinations has come most unexpectedly and suddenly.
Nevertheless, that is life and we have to not only face the test but come out with flying colours. Obviously, Swami would want nothing less than that.
Like everyone else here, I too was a student of Swami. Allow me therefore, to recall now an important teaching that Bhagawan once gave us, which would help us go forward at this critical juncture.
What is True Spirituality?
I offer that piece of teaching as a quote. For the record, I should mention that this quote is taken from one of the ‘Sai Inspires’ Messages that many of you must be receiving every day. In this quote, Swami says:
People often say that Spirituality is a personal quest. In a sense it is, especially if you see it from the traditional point of view, namely the path of the Purushaarthas.
Through this discipline, the Jivatma becomes liberated from bondage, earning thereby the eligibility to merge eternally with the Paramatma (the Supreme Soul).
Swami has explained this four-fold code of life any number of times, especially to the students. And yet, I vividly recall that one afternoon when He was delivering a Discourse right here, Swami suddenly said with enormous force and power [this is a paraphrase]:
"What is this business about seeking Moksha (liberation)? You want Moksha for yourself when millions of your fellow beings are suffering? Nothing can be more selfish than this. God would never grant liberation to such a selfish and self-centred person. Forget Moksha, go out and serve. Serve, serve and serve non-stop, with selfless love and compassion. God would then come looking for you saying, 'Bangaru, where are you, where are you? I want to give you Moksha!'"
Those are extremely powerful words, and if you think about it, that powerful remark has everything to do with the Sai quote I offered earlier.
All this together boil down to the fact that the individual cannot and must not regard Society as having little to do with him or her, as the case may be. In turn, this means that Service to humanity is actually Service to God.
In the Gita, Krishna emphatically declares that while He has absolutely no duties to perform or discharge, yet He constantly serves humanity by way of setting norms and ideals. It was the same with Swami, who gave of Himself, selflessly and lovingly, throughout the time He was with us in the Saakara aspect.
The ‘Impossible’ Hospital Becomes ‘Him’possible
From among the innumerable examples of the monumental service rendered by Bhagawan to humanity, I would, on this occasion, like to single out the Super Speciality Hospital established by Bhagawan, right here in Puttaparthi, which He often referred to as a mere kukkgraamam, back in the old days. There is a reason for choosing this example; that would become clear shortly.
First, let me take you back to the morning of November 23, 1990, when Swami, on the occasion of His 65th Birthday made an electrifying announcement.
Swami was declaring that this Hospital would start functioning exactly one year later. Just to remind you again, these declarations were made on November 23, 1990.
Birthday over, the world was split into two camps. First there were the devout believers who were sure that the Hospital would start functioning exactly as Swami had announced. Then there were the non-believers, many of whom were men of vast experience who just shook their heads and said, “Come on, this is a village. No one can set up a Super Speciality Hospital in a year, much less in such a place. This has never been done and never would be.” They were cock sure this would not happen.
Let me fast forward and take you now to the morning of November 23, 1991, the day of the 66th Birthday. This is what Swami said that morning.
I offered that audio clip just so that we remember that Sai Sankalpa (The Will of Sai) was always Vajra Sankalpa (An Indomitable Will). If Swami made a promise, He always kept it.
|Swami stepping into the central dome area of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Prasanthi Nilayam, after it was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. P. V. Narasimha Rao on the morning of November 22, 1991.|
Dear sisters and brothers and my dear students, the story does not end there. Some years later, when I was doing a program for Radio Sai, I talked to one of the Hospital boys who was a member of the special team handpicked by Swami and sent to AIIMS for special training there. In the course our conversation, the former student, now a hospital boy, said:
Sir, the doctors in AIIMS were very kind and cooperative and taught us all they could. However, most of them were quite sceptical about the Hospital. Some said that the Hospital simply cannot be built in a village, much less within one year.
Others were more charitable. They said, “Maybe, your Sai Baba can manage to build something like a hospital. It may even run for a while. But I don’t give it more than six months.”
That was the recall of one of the first batch of Hospital boys. You all know the rest of the story.
In a few months from now, this very same hospital would be crossing its 20th year of operation in the service of humanity, especially the poor and the destitute who have no other place to go.
For hundreds and thousands of poor and disadvantaged, this Hospital is their sole refuge. Here we can see patients waiting at the reception area during a typical day awaiting their turn to consult their respective doctors
even as they are helped by the sevadals.
A view of the state-of-the-art operation theatre in this Hospital which has many specialities like Cardiology, Urology, Ortho-paedics, Opthalmology, Gastro-entrology and Plastic Surgery.
"Treat the patient as God" - This is the message of Bhagawan that the doctors always strive to live up to in this Hospital.
The nurses in this Hospital are sisters in the true sense as for them the patient's joy is as important as theirs.
The Beacon of Hope, the Temple of Healing, the House of God... different people give varied titles but this is what it really is:
It is a Mansion of Love created by God for God where God resides, heals and smiles through His chosen children.
And remember, during all these years, the Hospital has not remained static or stagnant. It has steadily improved, added more specialities and kept up with modernity, not only in terms of the equipment used but also with respect to intranet and internet connectivity.
I still remember what Mr. Ratan Tata said when he was taken around the Hospital for the first time – this happened in early December 2009, I believe. Swami had deputed Mr. Chakravarthy and me to receive Mr. Tata and, after landing in the airport, we headed straight for the Hospital. An exceptionally keen and shrewd observer, Mr. Tata took in all details, asking sharp questions along the line. He clearly knew a thing or two about hospitals and hospital management as well. Finally he said, and I heard this personally, “I am very impressed by the state-of-the-art connectivity you have here. Frankly, I have never seen anything like this anywhere, except maybe in the Mayo Clinic in New York.”
Mr. Ratan Tata, the Chairman of Tata Sons, during his visit to the various departments of the Hospital in December 2009.
This is what Mr. Ratan Tata wrote in the Visitors' Diary:
"One of the most impressive and unique hospital facilities I have ever seen.
It performs patient care and treatment as it should be, and in a form that
unfortunately is not, by and large, practised today."
Students, there are many so-called charity hospitals in the world. For Swami, however, this was NOT a hospital but a Temple of Healing set up by God in human form for Jivatmas, who were embodiments of the Divine. Clearly, the facilities could not be anything but the best. And to prove it, Swami taught us His last lesson as Saakara Brahman by allowing the body He had donned, to be treated in that very same Hospital that He had built for the needy.
As I bring this talk to a close, I wish to go back to a few of the things I said earlier. The first relates to the intimate connection between Spirituality and Society, which arises from the fact that God is immanent in the individual as well as society.
The second concerns the problems that humanity faces today. These problems are huge, complex and strongly interconnected. Many believe, and this includes several leading thinkers in the West like Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia, who is a famous academic and economist, Martin Rees, who is currently the President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal in Britain, and Thomas Friedman who writes in the New York Times and whose columns are reproduced in The Hindu. All these people believe that it is Science and Technology alone that can solve these problems.
To solve the manifold problems facing manking today, what each person needs to do is to
first fill the vase of his heart with compassion.
Sorry, but this is a totally misplaced hope. Science belongs to the realm of the Head. The Head is very good at solving many problems. But alas, it is equally good at creating problems also, which it is then unable to solve, like problems due to swaartham (selfishness) and swaprayojanam (self-interest) as Swami would put it. Again and again Bhagawan has shown that it is only when the Head and the Heart come together with of course the Heart leading, that man-made problems can be solved.
As Swami once put it nicely, “A jutka is not just the carriage; it consists of the carriage as well as the horse. Further, if the carriage has to work it is the horse that must be in the front.”
For decades, Swami personally showed us the way. The onus of problem solving now falls squarely on our shoulders. Clearly, the only option we have is to recall His teachings and follow faithfully in His Footsteps. The question we need to ask ourselves is:
ARE WE FULLY PREPARED AND READY?
I leave you to ponder over that question. As for me, I have said all I wish to for now and thank you for your patience. JAI SAI RAM.
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