Volume 10 - Issue 06
June 2012
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Posted on : June 12, 2012



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Part 3

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The Sweet Fruit of Sadhana

KMG: Indeed. The subtle and right understanding of such concepts is very important even before we take the first step on the spiritual path.

Talking of the first step, it is said that the essence of all knowledge and right understanding of scriptural text is practice. Unless and until we have made a sincere and systematic attempt to put into practice what we have learnt, we will be like the people who enjoy the food in recipe books alone and not what is placed on the plate.

While on this subject, a classic example that comes to mind is an instance from Swami Rama’s life. When he was giving some spiritual lessons to a small group of very ardent followers who were sincerely taking notes, a very assuming man came and joined this group of students.

He seemed to have a carefree attitude and didn’t take any notes. As can be expected from any teacher, Swami Rama accosted him for not taking the lessons seriously. The man replied bluntly, “What you are teaching is sheer bookish knowledge. I possess knowledge born out of conviction, springing out of direct practice and experience.”

practice practice practice practice practice practice practice

Swami Rama was obviously taken aback and demanded this man to share his so-called practical knowledge. Just then the man saw an ant trying to scramble past. He took the ant in his hand, broke its body into three parts, kept them separately at a reasonable distance, and closed both his eyes.

Within a few moments, the three parts of the body joined back into one. The ant came back to life and scrambled away immediately. Needless to say, all were stunned by this feat and Swami Rama asked this man with all reverence as to where he had learned the art. Pat came the reply, “From your guru.”

Until then, Swami Rama had thought that he was his guru’s favourite disciple. The man’s reply made him wonder how his guru had taught a stranger the feat of mastering death. Furious, he ran straight to his guru and demanded an explanation for keeping such an art away from him. The guru calmly replied, “He practices whatever I have taught him. If you practice the same, all good things will be bestowed upon you too.”

At this juncture, I must immediately clarify that the purpose of narrating Swami Rama’s episode in our current discussion is not to glorify the power of occultism or the siddhis that a seeker may acquire during certain spiritual practices, which in fact can be a source of distraction on the ultimate goal of self-realisation. The point I want to drive through this episode is that one ounce of practice is worth more than tons of bookish knowledge.


SG: There is a beautiful narration by a great spiritual master called Nisargadatta Maharaj in his book ‘I Am That’. The book is a compilation of various conversations that devotees have had with him. I would like to quote verbatim from the book. It touches upon our conversation here today – as to what rewards can one expect to gain by putting into sincere practice the teachings of the Master.

In the book, the questioner asks Nisargadatta Maharaj, “How does one come to know of the Truth as you have done?’

Nisargadatta Maharaj says, “I can only tell you what I know from my own experience. When I met my guru, he told me you are not what you take yourself to be. Find out what you are, what’s the sense of 'I am', find your real self. I obeyed him because I trusted him. I did as he told me.

"During all my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence and what a difference it made and how soon! It took me only three years to realize my true nature. My Guru died soon after I met him but that made no difference, I remembered what he had told me and persevered. The fruit of it is here with me”.

BP: Wonderful Giridhar, this is really profound! I am reminded of another great personality from whom we can learn how to practice the teachings of the guru. It is King Janaka.

In a forest near Mithila, sage Suka was teaching the concept of Atma Tatwa to his disciples when King Janaka personally went to sage Sukha and prayed that he be accepted as one of the disciples.

Sage Suka readily agreed to this request. Every day, the session would start at a particular time and King Janaka would arrive promptly after attending to all his duties as a king. One day, the sage came early for the class and the other disciples were also present. However, King Janaka was yet to come. The sage waited for the king to arrive. This somehow irked the other disciples. They thought how could an enlightened sage be partial to someone just because he was a king and had wealth and power.


After a few minutes however, King Janaka arrived and sage Sukha started the class. The sage, of course, knew what was going on in the minds of the disciples. Through his mystic powers, he created a situation where all the disciples saw that the whole of the city of Mithila was on fire.

The moment they visualised this, all the disciples ran helter-skelter from the class as they wanted to protect their belongings, their house, clothes, whatever. The person who did not move from his place was King Janaka. He was motionless. Sage Sukha even told King Janaka that his palace was on fire, but that did not bother him.

Soon enough, all the disciples returned and reported that everything was fine in the city and nothing was burning. Then sage Sukha explained how each one of them ran to protect a small house of theirs while King Janaka who had a palace was totally unaffected. He went on to explain how King Janaka’s love for the guru was the maximum because his attention on his teachings was the maximum. And that was also the reason why he gained the guru‘s maximum love.

AD: With this, I am reminded of one of our brothers who was on duty to push Bhagawan’s chair a few years ago. It so happened that he had an opportunity to ask Swami, “Swami, amongst the various relationships that you talk about in your discourses, which is the best relationship that we can have with You?”

Apparently, at that moment, Swami did not answer, but later, as he was taking Bhagawan’s chair out, Swami turned back and said, “The best relationship that you can have with Me is that of Guru-Shishya (Master - disciple).”

And then Swami went on to say, “In every other kind of relationship that we can have, there is some amount of selfishness or there is some amount of conditionality. Whereas between that of a master and a disciple, there are absolutely no conditions attached. The master simply loves the disciple out of the feeling that his disciple must progress and the disciple in turn loves the master because he has to simply follow the master.”

GSS: I think now it is clear that when we say ‘Bhagawan we love you’, it means we must follow His teachings. However, from the examples of either Swami Rama or King Janaka or Nisargadatta Maharaj - the important thing we have learnt is that the practice of these teachings eventually led to their individual transformation.

Let us now move to the next level wherein we say ‘Yes, Bhagawan, we will follow Your teachings’ not just in letter but in spirit too if we are to bring about a change in us. By merely saying, ‘following Your teaching' again and again would be as meaningless as saying ‘I love you Swami. I love you Swami’ without actually living up to that love in all sincerity.

Here, I am reminded of one occasion when Mr. Indulal Shah who was heading the global Sathya Sai Seva Organisation met Bhagawan just before leaving for a Sathya Sai service meet overseas. He asked Swami, “Bhagawan, could you give me some message that I can communicate to all the devotees abroad?”

Swami gave a beautiful statement in reply, He said, “Tell them what service they do is not as important as what that service does to them.”

In other words one needs to question, “Is this service changing me? Is it transforming me? Am I becoming less short-tempered? Am I becoming more compassionate?” If all this is not happening to the individual, Bhagawan says there is no point in engaging oneself in any sort of service.

GSS: So, let us look into how these teachings can lead to personal transformation. Bishu, can you give some examples of devotees where following Bhagawan’s teachings has actually led to a personal transformation?

BP: What I am about to share has nothing to do with a devotee who has had this transformation. On the other hand, it is about how Swami emphasised this message to a very dear devotee.

It is an interaction that Mrs. Rani Subramanian who is lovingly called Rani Ma had with Swami sometime ago. Rani Ma, as most of us would know, went through a deep spiritual quest and Swami guided her and her family on the spiritual path. He also granted her and her family several interviews and opportunities for interaction.

One day, her daughter asked, “Swami, You have been so good to our family now. How do we retain this grace? Will you be granting us such chances continuously?”

She wanted to ensure that her family’s interactions with Swami do not stop. Then Swami said, “You are getting all these chances not because you are coming to Puttaparthi or you are having My darshan. The only way to ensure that you get complete grace and my poorna krupa (complete grace) is by holding on to My teachings.”

Swami continued, “I am not important, what is important are My teachings. If you get inspiration by coming to Puttaparthi, then you must come but if you come here and feel disturbed or if you are not able to progress on the spiritual path, then you need not come here. What is important is that you follow My teachings. Coming to Puttaparthi is not all that important.”

GSS: Coming from Bhagawan Himself, this is so amazing. Amey, do you have any such memories to share?

AD: I am reminded of one occasion when in 2005 we were in Kodaikanal and Swami asked us to go for bhajans in the evening. Typically after a round of tea in the afternoon, we would have a session with Bhagawan. At the end of it He would say, “All of you now go for bhajans.”

During that particular session as He was asking us to leave, He said, ‘”So, does everybody like bhajans?”

We all replied, “Yes Swami.” Then, in a humorous tone, Swami said, “So much devotion, oh, so much devotion you all have.”

And as He got up, Swami said, “I don’t want your devotion, I want transformation.” I think He meant that devotion does not come on a Thursday or a Sunday evening or only when you go to Sai Kulwant Hall every day at 6.00 pm.

It is not uncommon that when we step into Sai Kulwant Hall, we are in a supreme state of devotion. We shed a tear or two for God and all of that. But the moment we step out, we are back to our old selves. Swami has also said, “Devotion ostundi pothundi (devotion can come and go) but when transformation comes, it stays with you.” In short, the gift of devotion must be expressed in the transformation of the individual.


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