Volume 6 - Issue 06
JUNE - 2008
CONVERSATIONS WITH SAI
Satyopanishad - part 5:
Anil Kumar (AK): Swami! When we say, 'men and women are equal', why then do we find differences and discrimination between the two sexes?
Bhagavan: Physically, men and women are different. But spiritually, i.e., from the atmic point of view, both are equal. In fact, God is the only male while all others are females. The deham, body, is also called puram, dwelling place. It is the principle of atma that works from top to bottom. You know, colleges for women celebrate anniversary functions during which they present cultural items like a play. Here, girls play all the different roles like those of a soldier, a minister, a king, and so on.
Similarly, all but God are women in this world. A similar thing happened in the life of Mira, the great devotee of Lord Krishna. She was stopped at the main entrance of a Krishna temple at Brindavan, and was told that women were not permitted to enter a temple of God . Then Mira replied, "Oh! Is that so! Where are men here? I find only women. God is the only male person. "
However, from the worldly point of view, for the division of work, men and women are different from each other. Everything and everyone is Divine. Even though it is your own body, you don't put slippers or footwear on the head or hands. Functionally, all the parts of the body are different from each other, though they may belong to the same person. So also physically and functionally, men and women are separate entities, though spiritually they are one and the same.
AK: Swami! We hear many funny statements in present day society. People speak about the Women's Liberation Movement. Some say that women have not been given their due place since times immemorial. They complain that there has always been discrimination on grounds of gender, and women have never been given a fair deal. Women now fight for equal rights with men. We pray to you to describe to us the role of women in our society?
Bhagavan: This is not true, spiritually speaking. There is a physical difference, but Atma or the spirit is one. However, each one has to discharge the duties expected of him or her. In a social order, man and woman are like the two hands, the two eyes, and the two feet. One is the positive, while the other is the negative for the current to flow and operate.
Lord Siva is called ardhanaris'vara, androgynous God (half of His body being that of a woman) to explain this unity. Man and woman are like matter and energy. A woman is described as adis'akti, paras'akti Supreme Power, Infinite Power.
You also notice in the history of Bharat ( India ) the place given to women. Many of them are known today for their sacrifice, wisdom, devotion, and many of them could give better and sane advice to their husbands. Characters like Savitri, Mandodari, Sita, Anasuya, Tara, Damayanti, Madalasa, and Draupadi are very well known.
Draupadi served her five husbands most faithfully, never said 'no' to whatever work was assigned to her, and led a life of contentment. When there was a debate between Adi Sankara and Mandanamisra, it was the wife of Mandanamisra, Ubhaya Bharati, who played the role of a judge and pronounced Adi Sankara winner at the end.
In ancient times, Gargi and Maitreyi were known for their outstanding scholarship and spiritual excellence. In recent times, have you not heard of the role played by the mother of Emperor Sivaji and of Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, in moulding their character and personality? They learnt lessons of life in the lap of their mothers! It was due to the love and inspiration of Kausalya and Sita towards their respective sons, Lord Rama and the twins Lava and Kusa, that the latter could earn undying reputation and stand till today as ideals to the entire world.
In our daily prayers we say matr devo bhava, ‘Mother is God’. Don't you see the names of women come first and those of men next, in compounds like SitaRama, GauriSankar, LakshmiNarayanaand and so on? In the past, there never was an instance of women being humiliated, neglected or treated with disrespect. Don't you hear words like 'motherland', 'mother tongue' that speak highly of women?
The Bhagavad Gita refers to seven types of power enjoyed by women as a matter of right. She has quite a few titles that underscore her contribution to the family and her special role. A housewife is called illalu, the one who takes care of the house or illu. She is described as sahadharma carini, the one who guides her husband along the path of Dharma or righteousness. She is praised as grhalaksmi, the very embodiment of the wealth, peace and prosperity of the family. She is called ardhangi, representing a half of man, the better half.
Woman stands for patience, sacrifice, forbearance, respect, humility and obedience, the qualities, which are usually missing among men. A woman is prepared to die for her child or husband. She slogs and struggles for the progress and the well being of the family. She is the backbone of the country. She is the light and the delight of the family.
AK: Swami! A change is very much needed in every field of our activity. Almost all walks of public life are nowadays polluted, disgusting and disappointing. How is change to be brought about?
Bhagavan: Truly speaking, villagers who are unlettered, innocent and rustic are living in greater peace and cooperation, in more intimate relationships, and mutual love than the so called urban, sophisticated, educated, and seemingly cultured people. The latter are full of ego and jealousy.
To bring about a change, they need to work for it. They must put in enough sincere effort to overcome qualities like egoism, pride, jealousy, and hatred. Butter is, no doubt, very soft; but in order to make ghee out of it, you must heat it. Similarly, for any change, you have to work for it.
You should, first of all, listen to all good things from good people. This listening, s'ravana is the first step. It is not enough if you simply listen. You should remember, recall, recollect, and recapitulate the good things you have listened to. This is called manana. The third thing is to practice what you have listened and learnt. This is called nidhidhyasa. Take a small example. First, your food must be cooked in the kitchen. Then it has to be brought and kept on the dining table and served.
It is then that you eat it. Further, the food that you eat must be digested, assimilated, and the nourishment supplied to different parts of your body. Is it not so? Similarly, s'rvana, listening is like cooking; manana, remembering is the same as food kept on the table; whereas nidhidhyasa, practicing what is heard is like eating and digesting.
AK: Swami! We are always in a hurry. We have to rush to so many places to catch up and to keep pace with time and work. In this type of fast life, is it possible to be spiritual? Can we hurry here in the spiritual field too?
Bhagavan: Today, many of the diseases are due to the three factors very common among you: hurry, worry, and curry. Haste makes waste, waste makes worry. So, don't be in a hurry. Patience is very important and essential. In my previous body as Shirdi, I laid emphasis on sraddha and saburi, sincerity and patience.
It is very common to find people running to catch a train or a bus to go to office, and so on. You wait for any length of time standing in long queues in front of cinema theatres. But here, you begin to look at your wrist watches wondering why Swami has not yet come out for darshan! So, you must be patient enough to enjoy real bliss. For anything to happen, there is a proper time, preordained, predetermined, and designed by God. You know Arjuna had to wait till his 74th year in order to listen to the Bhagavad Gita, the Song Celestial, from Krishna, although both of them were moving together for years very intimately. Similarly, you too should wait.
You should not feel, "What is this! Why is Swami not talking to me?" At the right time, I will do the appropriate thing for you. See, how a fruit falls down on the ground soon after it is ripe detaching itself from the tree! You will have to wait till the time is ripe for you. You can't and shouldn't be in a hurry in the spiritual field.
AK: Swami! The growing trend today is to earn more and more money. Ego and pride are growing beyond control. Would you kindly give us the solution for this trend?
Bhagavan: The earth revolves round the sun. So also, man today is revolving round money. In fact, money provides only comfort and conveniences. There are many things that money cannot do.
With money you can have delicious food in a five star hotel - but how about your appetite? You can buy a beautiful bed - but can you buy sleep? You can have the latest, costliest medicines - but can you with your money extend the life of a dying man?
You think money makes many things, but it is not so; it leads you on to vices. People have two important resources: 'Head' and 'Heart'. Head carries with it responsibility. It has all the knowledge of pravrtti, the external world, but heart stands for nivrtti, right internal awakening. Values like sacrifice, truth, charity, love, compassion, come out of the heart. All that you find outside is only 'art', but 'heart' is inside. Don't be carried away by the outer 'art'.
The breeze you get from a number of electric fans is nothing compared to natural breeze. Tank water, river water, and lake water can never equal rain water. God is infinite. Where does man stand in front of Him? Why are you egoistic and proud? What for? Mountains may be of high altitude. But, water from the mountain top flows only downward. Similarly, you may be a great scholar or occupy a good position. If you are proud and egoistic, your fall is near. Light travels upward. So also, the fire of knowledge takes you to the heights. In fact, modern man is much worse than cats and dogs. When they are sick they do not eat anything, they fast or starve. However, man is for a feast even in times of sickness. He never 'fasts'; He only likes 'feasts'. Therefore he falls sick frequently.
The cycle of creation goes by the three attributes or Gunas: tamas, inertia, rajas, passion, and sattva, piety represented by the triune, Brahma, Creator; Vishnu, Sustainer; and Siva, Annihilator. Among the eighty-four lakhs of species, the human being is very special. He is blessed by God, his Creator, with mind and intellect. But man has become so egoistic and proud that he even doubts, questions, and denies God, his Creator. This is the significance of the episode of Mohini Bhasmasura in our epics.
There was one demon king by name Bhasmasura. He did penance and pleased Lord Siva. He prayed to Siva to grant him a boon that would give him the power to turn anybody into ashes the moment he lays his hands on his head. Siva granted the boon. Thus, intoxicated with this new found power, Bhasmasura began laying his hand indiscriminately on the heads of all those persons he found near him. Naturally, according to the boon he got from God, they died and were burnt to ashes.
He became so horrible, and highly egoistic that he decided to place his hand even on the head of Siva, the very giver of the boon. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of a beautiful dancer Mohini, and started dancing in front of Bhasmasura who, excited by her enchanting beauty, also started dancing along with her. In the course of gestures and postures, Mohini suddenly put Her hand on Her head and Bhasmasura did the same thing. The moment he placed his hand on his head, he died. So, by denying God, man is ruining himself.
Modern man is like Bhasmasura. He harms the person who helps him. Whatever is said, thought, and done by him is full of selfishness. He has lost the value of fundamental discrimination, which is applicable to all and beneficial to everyone. He lacks divine qualities like truth, peace and love. This is the flaw. He lacks divine qualities and possesses demonic qualities like jealousy, pride, and hatred. He ‘kills’ knowledge; he has to 'skill' his knowledge to maintain balance.
This is the reason for all his troubles. He removes the letter 'S' that stands for 'Sai' from the word 'skill' and loses balance. Ego, avarice, jealousy, and such bad qualities are due to our ahara, vihara, and samparka: food, company, and interaction. When you control and discipline yourself, you will find the solution.
AK: Swami! In an organisation where we have to interact with people, most often we come across people criticizing and blaming each other. This is very frustrating, and divides people into groups. Sincere persons become frustrated because of uncharitable criticism. It looks like character assassination and mud slinging. How are we to take this evil prevalent everywhere?
Bhagavan: It is a sin to criticize others. It is a sign of weakness and inferiority complex. You shouldn't criticize or hate anyone. In fact, no one has any authority to criticize others. To tackle this, first of all, one should put a question to oneself: "Who is being criticized?" Then, you don't feel upset any longer. Why? If the criticism applies to your body, you don't need to feel bad because the body is temporary and ephemeral. You should be indifferent to your own body, which lands you in many difficulties and problems.
The other man is doing service to you by criticizing your body. You should be thankful to him for doing so on your behalf. Is it then, the spirit or atma that is criticized? This is not possible because the same soul or atma is present in the critic also. Atma is Self, the same in all. Then, who is the critic and who is criticized? It all amounts to the criticism of one's own self. Ego and jealousy are the root causes that provoke a person to criticize others.
You have put another question. You want to know how you should react to criticism against you. A small example: Suppose you receive a registered letter. If you don't want to accept it, you can refuse to take delivery. The registered letter will then go back to the sender. Will it not? Similarly, criticism against you is a registered letter.
Don't acknowledge and receive it. Refuse it, so that the same registered letter of criticism will go back to the sender, the critic himself. If anyone speaks loudly and belligerently against you in public, it is all lost in the air or in your vicinity. If anybody accuses you secretly, it goes to the accuser himself.
What I feel is that one has to be judged by one's merits and not by one's faults. I ask you repeatedly to seek out your own faults and others' merits. If you enquire deeply, you will notice that personal criticism is nothing but the ‘reflection of the inner being’. You spot the bad in the outside world, because of the bad in you. There is nothing that you can find outside yourself. Duryodhana was asked to go in search of a good man. He returned saying that he had found none.
If you want to know any good person existing in this world, it is yourself only. Dharmaja was asked to go round and bring a bad person. He returned saying that there was none who was bad other than himself. This is the difference in the attitude of two persons with different views of life. As is your vision, so appears the creation. As is the colour of the glasses you wear, so is the colour of the world you see. If you are aware of this truth, you will never criticize anybody.
Sarva jiva namaskarah kes'avam prati gacchati, ‘whomsoever you respect and revere, it amounts to reverence unto God’. Since God is in everyone, if you respect anyone, it means, you respect God. Similarly, sarva jiva tiraskarah kes'avam prati gacchati, ‘whomsoever you hate, it amounts to hatred of the Divine Himself’. If you deeply look into the eyes of the man standing in front of you, you see your own reflection. Therefore, he is not a separate person but your own reflection.
There is only one without the second, i.e., God who is present in all. When you point out your forefinger at the mistakes of another man, three fingers of yours are turned towards you, reminding you of your own mistakes. If you understand this, you won't criticize anybody or blame anybody. God gives and forgives. I often tell you, past is past and it is beyond recovery. Hence, be careful hereafter.
(To be continued...)
– Heart2Heart Team
Vol 6 Issue 06 - JUNE 2008
Best viewed in Internet Explorer - 1024 x 768 resolution.
Story from Heart to Heart E-Magazine:
© H2H 2007