No act of service is low: Analogies from Lord Krishna life
Bangalore, Brindavan (Summer Course )
When people think of service, they seem to equate it with menial work, usually done by a servant. This kind of association of idea of service with something lowly, is not correct. In this context of ideas regarding service, people should realise that God Himself, in order to serve the world takes the form of human, to re-establish dharma and put back humanity in its high place. The citizens of Bharath are familiar with this concept of an Avatar—when God takes birth in human form. The omnipresent, omnipotent Lord, in Krishna avatar, served Arjuna as a charioteer. Not only this, He used to take the tired and wounded horses to the river and wash and tend to their wounds at the end of the day after doing his duty as a charioteer. In that manner he was prepared to work even as a cleaner. Vyasa, who happened to visit the Lord at that time, shed tears of ecstasy thinking about the good fortune of the horses that had the Lord of the Cosmos tending to them when great sages like Sanathkumara, and Sanaka await such opportunity. When the Rajasuya Yaga (sacrifice) was being performed, Krishna approached Dharmaja and asked, “Dharmaja, allot me some form of seva in this big sacrifice.” Dharmaja turned to Krishna and implored, “Swamy, there is no work appropriate to you. If you can indicate the type work suitable to you I will surely allot it.” Krishna went closer to Dharmaja, patted him on the back and said, “O brother-in-law, don’t you know, I have a degree and qualification of “MA”! I would like to do work appropriate to my qualification.” Dharmaraja could not make anything out of this for in those days there were no colleges as today and no degrees. So he asked Krishna, “Swami, can you tell me the significance of your special qualification so that I can find suitable work for you.” Then Krishna said, “‘M’ stands for the unclean leaves with leftover food and “A” stands for removing the leaves and cleaning them. My degree “MA” means cleaning the leaves that are eaten in. The leaves become unclean after being eaten from and cause a feeling of disgust when left lying in the place creating a sense of discouragement and dislike in the minds of the on lookers. Hence I want to take up this work so that I can give pleasure and good feeling to people around.”
Youth should develop human values and be in good company; With an analogy00:05:45
You should acquire the qualities of truth, prema and forbearance, as also the quality of sacrifice. This period of your life is like the morning time of the day. If you, as you commence your life, turn your mind towards good and towards God, you will be starting your life in a manner where bad qualities do not haunt you, ego does not haunt you, jealousy and other undesirable qualities do not haunt you. There is a small example for this. In the morning time, the sun rises. If at that time you face the sun and look at it, you will notice that you have a long shadow but it is behind you. If, on the other hand, you do not direct your sight towards the sun but turn towards your shadow, you will notice that your own shadow, a long one at that, is leading you and it will appear as if this long shadow is showing you the path. In this example, you are the Jiva Tattwa and your shadow is the Maya (illusion). If it is your desire to overcome Maya and leave it behind you, however fast you may walk, you will never get rid of Maya if it is in front of you. On the other hand, you turn your sight towards the sun, you can overcome Maya even as the shadow is behind you. In the same manner, your mind, thoughts, organs and the body constitute the Maya or the shadow. If you want to get away from them, you will have to turn your vision inwards and towards your Atma. When you do this, you will be able to shake off the Maya. Therefore, you should make an attempt to join the Satsang and derive all the benefits that accrue from joining good company. Good company leads you to detachment and by detachment you will achieve self-realization. Shankara has given many verses and each verse is to be regarded as a shining lamp of knowledge. You should put the contents thereof into practice and rectify your life.
Good people wouldn't get hurt; With analogy of an Goldsmith and gold00:03:40
Here is a story of a goldsmith who during the practice of his profession was once melting gold. In this process, he was addressing the gold thus, “Oh gold! you are a very valuable thing and people respect you but now you are in my clutches. I will have the great opportunity of heating you, melting you, beating you and doing all kinds of things that will hurt you. This is now my privilege and pleasure”. In response, the gold tells him that the result of all his effort to cause hurt to the gold is only to further purify the gold, increase its value by removing impurities and make it shine better and more attractively. But in the process, the heat, the smoke, the pain of having to beat hard are all irksome only to the goldsmith. In this way all the trouble goes to the goldsmith and all the improvement goes to the gold. If you take good people, saints, men of great character and men who have steady minds, it does not matter whether you abuse them or hurt them or praise them. The hurt, the abuse and even the praise never reaches them. They are returned to the persons from whom they emanate. You young people are now at the appropriate age when you should make contact with men of great character and good men and choose the path along which you wish to move. I do hope that all of you assembled here will seek such good company and will choose such a path.
Develop good qualities and participate in Satsang; With analogies00:06:22
We fill a mud pot with water up to its brim. We keep this mud pot very carefully in a place to which even an ant cannot have access. The next day, we find that the surface level of water has been reduced by an inch or two. The reason is that the external environment around this pot is heating it to some extent and a small quality of water oozes out. If the same pot is filled to the brim and kept in a place where it is surrounded by water, we will find that the surface level of water is not reduced at all. As in this analogy, while you are staying for one month in this summer course, you will be filling your heart to the brim with the essence of spiritual learning. When you go back to your places, because the external environment is not the same as what exists here, there is a possibility of the level of spiritual learning in the vessel of your heart becoming lower and lower by oozing out slowly. So you must make an attempt to join sathsanga when you go back, and you must see that the external environment is as good as the internal feeling. Then, the good in your heart does not ooze out. Sometimes it may so happen that you will find yourself in a different company and some among them may be bad. They may even abuse you and treat you in a bad manner. In such cases, you should make an attempt to communicate the good spiritual essence in your heart to them as well. When a sharp axe is used to cut a sandalwood tree, the sandalwood tree does not feel hurt by the axe nor does it get angry with it. On the contrary, the sandalwood tree hands its fragrance to the axe. The sandalwood is such that even when it is cut to pieces, it gives fragrance. Even when it is rubbed against another stone, it gives fragrance. This is the quality of good people
Develop goodness both qualitatively and quantitatively; With analogies00:06:21
It is only when we are able to increase the good in us in a qualitative as well as a quantitative sense, that we will be able to change, to some extent, bad persons with bad qualities. There is a small example for this. If you take a cup of water and try to sell it for half a rupee, no one will purchase it. If in ten cups of milk, you mix this one cup of water, then they will readily give you the price for eleven cups of milk. This single cup of water has acquired that value only because it is in the company of milk which is good both in a qualitative and in a quantitative sense. On the contrary, if one cup of milk is mixed with one cup of water, there will be no value for the water, because there is no quantity in such a company. In this case, even the cup of milk which has joined the cup of water loses its value. Thus, when you have one cup of milk and one cup of water which is a mixture in equal proportions, the milk has lost its value. You can understand what will happen if ten cups of water are mixed with one cup of milk. Everything good that the milk had will be completely lost. In the same manner, if inside our heart and outside our body, we create an environment which is good in ideas and good in actions, the strength and faith in our heart will never diminish, waver or change in any manner. For illustrating this, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gave a striking example. An incense stick, when lighted has fire in it. If some one lights a cigarette, there is fire in it. If a forest is burning, there is fire in it. If a cooking stove is working, there is fire in it. These are all fires of different strengths. If you take a bundle of dry sticks and put it near the incense stick or the cigarette, the dry sticks may not catch fire. Not only will they not catch fire, they will even put out the fire in the incense stick or the cigarette. On the other hand, even if you take a bundle of raw and green plantain trees to the forest fire, they will not succeed in putting out the forest fire but will themselves become part of the fire. The reason for this is that the forest fire is rich in quality and in quantity. It is therefore able to burn everything that comes into contact with it. The fire on the incense stick and on the cigarette has neither the quality nor the quantity and therefore it itself is extinguished. So it is, that if the good qualities in yourself are feeble, they will be extinguished under the pressure of bad company. If they are strong, they will extinguish everything bad that comes into contact with them. There is another example for this. We fill a mud pot with water up to its brim. We keep this mud pot very carefully in a place to which even an ant cannot have access. The next day, we find that the surface level of water has been reduced by an inch or two. The reason is that the external environment around this pot is heating
Swami on the nature of good and bad people; With analogies00:07:42
If you can understand the strength and the power of good company and use it in the best manner possible, there is every chance of your doing great things. All good people are such that their thoughts are very attractive. Their actions are soft and their ideas are good. The good people can be recognised by their gentle thought, word and deed. Here is a small example. If a piece of black charcoal is kept in the proximity of a bright red fire the area along which this black charcoal is in contact with the bright fire will also begin to glow. In this analogy, the black charcoal is your ignorance. The bright red fire is the good company. By the two coming together, only the portion of your ignorance that is exposed to the effects of good company will be dispelled. But, if you employ sadhana or practice as a fan to increase the area of contact, then the entire region of ignorance will become bright. It is, thus, not enough if you are merely in the company of good people. You should also develop the sadhana of prema or love, and become dear to the good people. It is necessary to be near and dear to the good people. The nature of the bad people is such that they enjoy and take pleasure in seeing the difficulties and troubles which come across the path of the good people. Looking at good people who are doing good things and getting some fame for the good actions which they are doing, bad people become jealous and spread bad stories about the good people and try to pull them down. These people will be making an effort to see only the bad qualities in others with a thousand eyes. The company of such bad people draws us also into bad ways; and therefore, Sankara taught that one should try and keep at a distance from the company of such people. It may be argued that if we keep ourselves at great distance from such bad people and exercise no influence on them, it is possible that these bad people will cause harm to the society and to the country. It may be suggested that under such circumstance, we should go near such people, give them good advice and change their ways. We should assess and find out how far away we should keep from bad people and under what circumstances. If there is strong faith in our own capacities and in our own good, and provided we have the strength to maintain the good that is in us, then there is a point in our going near bad people and trying to change them into our ways. On the contrary, if there is no strength in our own good qualities, there is no point in trying to change the bad people because you may lose even the feeble strength that you happen to have. It is only when we are able to increase the good in us in a qualitative as well as a quantitative sense, that we will be able to change, to some extent, bad persons with bad qualities.
Benefits of being in a good company; With analogies00:08:10
You may ask what benefit we may get out of such good company. Man’s good as well as bad features receive their final shape when he mixes with other members of the society. In this context, we can take the example of the dust that settles on the surface of the earth. Although such dust does not have wings and cannot fly away by itself, by acquiring the good company of wind, it can get off the earth. The same dust settles down and cannot move upwards if it acquires association with water. Iron, which is hard, black and dull becomes soft, red and shining when it makes friendship with fire. The same iron, acquires a lot of rust and loses all its strength when it makes friendship with dirt and moisture. All these modifications are coming because of association with others in the environment. It is generally not possible for anything to change or transform by itself without the help of external associations. Even a newly born baby learns to walk, talk, run, read and write only with the help of its mother and the love and affection the latter shows. Without the love and affection from the mother, the baby will grow like an animal and will not be able to talk, walk or do things which other human beings can do and are trained to do. Animals which are born in the forest, grow and move about in the forest and have certain features which are special to them. If the same animals are given appropriate training by a circus manager, we can make them do things which other animals cannot do. Even birds are able to utter good words in an understandable and clear manner if we give them good training and keep them in good company. Thus, the kind of sacred life which you wish to lead and the aspirations which you have in your mind about the type of life which you want to live can be achieved if you are in the company of good people. You have to make friendship with good people and follow their example in your daily routine. This is the appropriate age for you to lead such a life and put yourself in the company of elders. During this age, you will be able to develop good ideas and good conduct and you should make a firm determination to do so. At this important stage of your life, you should dedicate yourself to the service of your country and to the service of your parents. On the contrary, if you spend your time in bad company and wander about the streets like stray dogs, whistling like foxes, you will only be wasting your life. Time wasted is life wasted.
Man's ignorance towards death; With analogy00:04:16
These feelings are all wrong. Even though death is staring in the face of an individual every moment, we see him celebrating his birth anniversary, unmindful of the fact that he may meet his death any moment. How are we to interpret the minds and attitudes of such people who do not seem to bother about what happens to them the next moment? The frog that has been swallowed by the snake and is shortly to die will itself try to swallow some worms, not realising that death is ready at hand to snatch it. The snake in its turn does not know when it will be swallowed by the peacock. Unmindful of the fact that the peacock can swallow it any moment, the snake feels proud that it is swallowing the frog. In the same context, the peacock does not know what is going to happen to its own life, the next moment. A hunter may be chasing it and the peacock does not know what the hunter will do, but in its turn is very proud that it is swallowing a snake. In this world, one person is swallowing another and the other person is swallowing yet another. Each person thinks that he is swallowing another and does not know that yet another person is ready to swallow him. Further, man thinks that he is swallowing time, while time is there to swallow man at any moment. This is great ignorance on man’s part. Because you are so much entangled with the aspects of the body, mind and intellect, you feel that you are subordinate to time and that time will swallow you. However, if you can develop an aspect by which you can feel above the aspects of body, mind and intellect, it will be possible for you to get control over death and regard it as part and parcel of the evolution of the immortal element in you.
Swami on Pancha Koshas with analogies00:08:29
Without food, the body cannot live. If there is no body, we cannot really picture the mind. If there is no mind, we cannot recognise life in the body. The aspects of knowledge and bliss are dependent upon the aspects of food, of mind and of life. Therefore, we are after these three aspects. It is true that these aspects are transient and not permanent and that they have no value. But since the aspects of knowledge and bliss are dependant on these, we attach some importance to them. To be able to experience the aspects of knowledge and bliss, we should protect our body, mind and life. There is a small example for this. If in our house, we have some valuable jewels and gems to be protected, we put them in a comparatively cheap iron safe. This steel almirah or an iron safe has no value compared to the jewels, but we are putting valuable jewels in it. Our body is like the valueless iron safe. In this valueless body, God has kept for protection, very valuable things like knowledge and bliss. But sometimes, according to our convenience, we think that God has not done the right thing in keeping such valuable things in a valueless and impermanent body. God is the embodiment of intelligence and wisdom and looks at things in a total and complete manner. In His creation, there cannot be anything which has no specific purpose. He creates everything with a specific purpose. If we keep the valuable jewels in a valuable gold box, nobody will wait till he has a look at the jewels inside. They will take away the box itself as soon as they see it. It is natural to protect valuable things in a valueless box which will not attract attention. Therefore, in order that we may reach the realm of knowledge, bliss and happiness it becomes necessary to look after the well-being of the outer casing namely, body, mind and life. There is another small matter to which we have to pay some attention. When we keep valuable things in a box, we have to lock the box and keep the key safely with us. If you do not have the key, it will not be possible for you to take out of this box the knowledge and bliss when you really need them. This key has been referred to by Sankara as the key of bhakthi or devotion. When you use the key of devotion and turn it on the side of detachment, you will be able to open the box and utilise the knowledge and bliss that are contained in this box. But, if the key of devotion is turned in the wrong direction, away from detachment and towards attachment, you will not be able to open the box and use the knowledge and bliss for your benefit. Therefore, either for detachment or for attachment, this key of devotion which is between attachment and detachment is important, and you should protect it. It will be possible for you to have this devotion when you have faith in God.
Scientists are not creators; With analogies00:04:15
Scientists can only study and describe the qualities of existing materials. They can divide them into components, reconstitute them into new compounds, and reshape them according to processes which they can explain. No scientist can create things which do not exist. Is man able to produce all the water he needs by mixing elemental substances like hydrogen and oxygen? Is he able to produce natural rain where it does not exist? Is he able to produce oxygen when he finds the need to carry it all the way with him to keep his life process going? Are the scientists able to create the sun and the stars which are the sources that give the necessary light and energy for the existence of man? Occasionally, the scientists may put together a few elemental substances and create artificially small quantities of new materials, but are they able to create the life-giving substances like oxygen, air and water for sustaining the created life on earth? It is not possible for anyone to do so. They can be created only at God’s will and pleasure. The person who realises this truth that all creation is at God’s will and pleasure can be said to be one who is not a Mudamathi. In some cities, there is a shortage of drinking water and scientists are trying to convert the saltish ocean water into drinking water. In this attempt, they may be partially successful; but where from will they get the drinking water if ocean water itself, which is the source, is not available. Thus in all cases, the original substance or the source, if we make a careful analysis and enquiry, is God given and no scientist can create it.
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