Scriptures explain the essence of Seva
Puttaparthi, Sai Kulwanth Hall (Sevadal Conference )
According to the culture of India and the traditions of Bharat, we have been told that mother, father, guests, and teacher stand in the position of God. Godly people and people who are saintly, we find such characters in our Puranas, the Bhagavatha and in our Bharath - such persons who have observed strict adherence to this saying and regarded mother, father, guests and teacher as God. In our tradition, Krishna was an incarnation and had all the powers, yet he served his teacher Sandipani and by serving his teacher, he has demonstrated to the world that the teacher stands in the position of God. Man is born with many debts. In order to discharge and liquidate such debts, man has to do service. He can thereby can liquidate his debts which he brings with him binds him. When the Rajasuya Yaga was being performed, Krishna came into the Yaga and asked Dharmaja who was the performer, "Can you give me a suitable service during this Yaga?" Dharmaja then replied, "Yes, if you can tell me what is the appropriate kind of service you can undertake, then I have no objection to give you that service." Krishna then replied, "You take cognizance of my abilities, power and training. I have a degree, an M.A. Taking cognizance of that, give me work which is appropriate to my capacity." Dharmaja did not understand these words. Dharmaja asked him in turn, "What is this M.A. degree? What is the qualification and what is it that you acquire from this M.A. degree?" Krishna explained, "'M' stands for used leaves, the leaves in which you have taken your food. 'A' stands for removing the leaves in which you have taken your food. This is the meaning of my M.A. degree." In this context, what we have to understand is in this Rajasuya Yaga, Krishna who is all-knowing, all-powerful and can do any work, yet, he undertook to do this little mean work of removing the leaves in which people have taken their food. What is the inner meaning of this? The inner meaning of this is, Krishna is demonstrating and proclaiming to the world that there is so much sacredness in the act of service. While being all-powerful and capable of doing anything, yet he has undertaken to be a mere charioteer to Arjuna. In the context of service for us to think that, some service or some kind of work is very simple, very small or very mean, that kind of attitude is wrong. Service of which we do not seek the fruit, that kind of service, Nishkama seva, service from which you do not want to get the fruit has been described as Yoga. Man's primary duty is to participate in such service and not seek the fruits thereof and go near God. This is his duty.
How to absorb good qualities; Analogy from Mahabharatha00:06:00
There is a small example from the epic Mahabharata to illustrate the aspect of ‘guna grahana’ the ability to absorb the good qualities. In order to test Duryodhana, Lord Krishna called him. This took place much before the war, (for after the war there was no Duryodhana) when they were on friendly terms with each other. Lord Krishna said, “Duryodhana, I intend to perform a great thing and I need a virtuous and good person for the occasion. Please search the world for such a person and bring him to me.” Duryodhana spent several days searching the world for such person and came back to Lord Krishna and said, “O Krishna! I could not find any person with good qualities. Everyone whom I looked at had some defect or the other and had such qualities that they could not be called a good man. The only person who meets your requirement is I and I am here for your service.” Krishna sent away Duryodhana to some place saying that he would use him later and sent for Dharmaja and said, “Dharmaja, you go and search the world for a person who is very bad and wicked and whose qualities are such that there is none who is worse than him. Bring me the worst of beings in terms of qualities.” Dharmaja too searched the world and in the end returned alone to Krishna and said, “O Krishna! I could not find any bad person. I saw only good qualities in whomever I met. If at all there be any bad qualities they lie in me. I am the only person who answers your requirement. I am here.” and saluted Krishna. For Duryodhana to say that good people do not exist in the world or for Dharmaja to say that bad people do not exist in the world, the basis is not the world, the fault is not with the world. It is the innate attributes and qualities of the respective persons that are responsible for their perception. It is the aspect of ‘guna grahana’, the ability to absorb the good qualities, that is the reason for the apparent perception of good or bad. One neither has the capacity to determine the good or the bad nor has the authority to decide. Hence one must sanctify and develop pure and noble thoughts and tread the path of spirituality with strong faith in God and improve on the qualities in oneself to merge with the divine. Swami ends his discourse wishing that devotees tread this path and benefit by it.
Analogy from Mahabharatha explaining the importance of aim and concentration00:04:43
The tree born out of mud is mud and cannot be anything different from mud. Likewise prakruthi, nature that one sees around, and which is born of Brahman is essentially Brahman and it cannot be anything else. It is an apparent illusory vision, which makes one think that, the nature is different from Brahman. This is the teaching of Vedanta. In order to recognise and realise this truth one must have the ability to comprehend and an aim. A small example to illustrate the aspect of ‘lakshyamu’ or aim: In the epic Mahabharata, Guru Dronacharya while teaching archery to the Pandavas, tied a bird to a tree and asked the Pandavas to shoot the bird one by one. When the Pandavas came forward one by one to aim and shoot the bird, Guru Dronacharya asked them a few questions. When Bheema, the strong man, came to try his hand at aiming and shooting, guru asked him, “Bheema, what do you see?” Bheema, fully aware of his enormous strength, answered, “I see a tree, I see a bird, I see the rope with which the bird is tied to the tree and I also see the sky behind the bird.” Guru replied,” You see so many things; your concentration is not up to the mark, sit aside.” Likewise all the four brothers were called and three of them answered similarly as they saw many more objects around than Bheema. When it was Arjuna’s turn, he answered, “Guruji, I see only the bird and nothing else.” A person with an intense desire to learn a particular thing must concentrate and devote his mind to the task; that is the proof of dedication. But today man aspires to learn one thing but concentrates on many unrelated things. This is the reason why one fails to reach the aimed destination or learn what one wishes to learn. One must develop the one pointed vision like Arjuna to achieve one’s goals.
Why should we do salutations to elders: Chinnakatha from Mahabharatha00:01:49
What is the head? The head resembles the comprehensive intelligence. It is also said as ‘pragnyanam brahma” meaning awareness is brahma. The head is one of spiritual awareness as long as there is life in the body. Pragnyana ceases to exist the moment the body becomes lifeless. War broke out between Pandavas and the Kauravas. Duryodhana fell in the battle field. Bhima was coming angrily towards Duryodhana to settle the past accounts of his heinous acts. Duryodhana was not yet dead for there was still life left in him. Bhima approached Duryodhana and started kicking with his legs the head of Duryodhana. Then Duryodhana said, “O Bhima, had you kicked when I had life in me, then I would have retaliated. Is it greatness to kick me when I lie on the battle field? It’s not only you but the vultures and crows too, would kick me with their legs after a while.” Therefore, one must protect one’s head so long as there if life. One must create value to one’s head while alive. Hence, one must add value and sanctify one’s head by putting it at the feet of noble souls. This called as “sa ashta angam”. Therefore, one must develop good thoughts, sanctify the heart and lead a life filled with divine love.
Rukmini weighing Krishna00:03:38
You all know this. Sathyabhama, wanted to possess Krishna, keep him all to herself. Sathyabhama has a gem called the Shamantaka which could increase her gold possession and she could have gold to any extent possible and so she thought that she can balance, she can weigh lord and buy him. When she wanted to buy Krishna in spite of all gold, she could not balance him. In fact, she has put all gold. You cannot buy God with either gold or money. You can buy him with your "Guna"- the quality. Then Sathyabhama ran to Rukmini. She was worshippping Tulasi. She collected tulasi leaves and followed Sathyabhama. All this story is narrated by Narada. Rukmini said, Sister, it is not good for you to proceed in this wrong path. You cannot buy god with money and in fact you can have him with your character and devotion. Sathyabhama then requested Rukmini to help her. Rukmini said, 'Sathya, in fact the name and form would make perfect balance. She said, "Krishna, for your form your name equals". There is Narada in between and he said, 'I am offering Krishna in his form. I want something that has a form because he is under my control now. If you give me something with form then I can offer Krishna here and she had nothing else. She has only tulasi leaf. She kept it on the balance. If it is true that you submit yourself to your devotee who offers either a leaf, a flower, fruit or water with with devotion, you will certainly balance equal to this tulasi leaf and one tulasi leaf was kept there, Krishna outweighed because she offered with love. What is a leaf? Human body is the leaf, a flower ,human heart, water, tears of joy. Fruit, what is the fruit? The fruit of the mind. There lies the difference between Sathyabhama-the one of desire and Rukmini the one with devotion. Since that time even Satyabhama started worshiping god with love.
God is present in everything00:05:39
At one time when Krishna was a child, he came to his mother Yashoda in great hurry. Yashoda looked at him and said, "What is the matter? What do you want? Why are you in such a hurry? "Krishna replied that along with the cowherd boys, he would also like to go out and look after the cows. Mother called Krishna and said, "Yes, the cows and the animals in the cattle generally go into the forest. The forest is full of thorns, stones and difficult paths. You cannot go into such a path. Tomorrow I will get you good shoes so that, you may wear them and go into the forest with the cowherd boys." Krishna asked his mother, "Are the cattle wearing shoes? If the cattle are not wearing shoes, why should I wear shoes?" Mother replied, "Cattle are animals. They have the strength to bear the thorns and stones but you are a human being. Your legs are not made to bear the thorns and stones." Krishna then replied, "The cattle whom I am going to tend are the masters and I am the servant who has to look after these masters. When the masters are not wearing shoes, is it right for a servant who has to serve them to wear the shoes?" In that context, Krishna demonstrated and meant that we should not look upon cattle as animals but as mothers. In our tradition, every cow is to be regarded as a mother and earth is to be regarded as mother. These are our traditions and Krishna is demonstrating that we should look upon the cow as mother. Not only this, Krishna wanted to prove and demonstrate the oneness of all living things. It is wrong for us to think that to pray to God and to serve God is the only right kind of service. We should recognize the oneness and the presence of God in all living things. Service to all living things should be recognized as equivalent as service to God.
Bheeshma and Vaikunta Ekadashi00:04:33
Today is the festival of Mukkoti Ekadashi, also called Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Bheeshma was resting on the bed of arrows for 66 days. The body was full of arrows that were pierced into it. The body was on the bed of arrows but the head was reclining. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva followed by Draupadi went to see their great grandfather. "O grandfather, how is it that you are suffering now?" Arjuna asked. Bheeshma replied, "That has to be so. The body has been gifted to be sacrificed for the country, for service and for truth. What for is the body? The body has to be put to use for good things. Arjuna, all the arrows that you shot at me are in my body but they have not reached my head. Therefore the head is bent downwards. In fact you laid the bed but I have no pillow. Therefore the head is bent. Having done so much, give me a pillow." The heart of Arjuna melted and he asked, "Grandfather, what should I do?" Two arrows were shot in the opposite direction to each other. In between the space of two arrows shot against each other, the head rested. "Not only this. Arjuna, I lost my mother long back. In fact I lost her at the time of my birth. I am the son of Ganga. So I have the name 'Gaangeya'. As I leave my body I want to have Ganga water. Make every attempt so that I merge in my mother." Arjuna being almighty with all his expertise in archery shot an arrow towards the ground. A fountain of water sprung up from there and filled his gullet. "There are many people who will help you but in this world you won't find anyone who will show your mother towards the end of your life. Arjuna you have shown me my mother." Thus Arjuna could have so many titles namely, Arjuna, Phalguna, Parthiva, Kiriti, Sethuvahana, Jaya krishna, Sabyasachi, Dhananjayaha. He gave all these titles to Arjuna. "Because of this mighty deed you made me happy." Saying so, he blessed them with victory and success. In order to get the blessings of elders, we should please them and satisfy them.
God can do anything; Arjuna-Pramila Story00:03:12
These things have happened even in the Mahabharata. Pramila tried very hard to make Arjuna marry her. She made a lot of effort. Pramila was a queen and Arjuna was a King, so how could you fix an alliance with these two. Arjuna said, "I do not like this". Pramila's Commander in Chief was Malayawati. She told her, Conquer Arjuna and bring his body. She is a very strong woman. You think women are weak but she was very strong. She fought a battle and she brought Arjuna. Arjuna said, "You cannot do anything which I do not like. Even if you cut my body to pieces, I will not consent to marrying you". Arjuna was devoted to Krishna. So was Pramila. Both of them got together, she said, "Krishna, please fulfill my desire". Arjuna also prayed to Krishna, "Krishna please fulfill my wish". Krishna is a great actor and a cosmic director so he wanted to choose an alternate plan. God always has a master plan. It is not a plan just then and there. He called both of them. He took her left hand and he took Arjuna's right hand, he brought both their hands together and started reciting marriage mantras. They had to listen to Krishna. They both obeyed him but they do not have close relationship. God will do everything. There is nothing that God cannot do. He can change the Earth to the sky and sky to the earth but human beings do not understand this truth, so they think they can depend on their own strength.