Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 18
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How are services rendered today helpful in the future?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: I will give an example very well known to you. After your retirement, you are given a pension. Why? It is the payment for your long service in a profession? So also, God’s grace is bestowed on you for your service in the past.
Another example. If you fill the tank with water during the rainy season, you will have water supply in the summer. Is it not so? Therefore, service of today will help you receive God’s grace later, undoubtedly.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Is there death? Are there a heaven and a hell? What is life?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is no death. It is the body that dies. But atma, the indweller is immortal. Atma is the eternal truth. Your happiness is indeed heaven. Your misery is hell. Both are here in this life. They are not separate entities apart from you.
The whole universe is a tree with branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Man expects flowers and fruits and nurtures the tree by watering its roots. It is enough if you water the roots of a plant, in order to get the water circulated to different parts of the plant. Is it not so? Do you water the stem, branches and leaves separately? Do You? No, you do not. For this tree of the universe the branches are different countries and states; the leaves are desires; human beings are the flowers. The root is below and the fruit is on the top. The root is self-confidence while the fruit is self-realisation. The juice within the fruit is divinity. Today, there is no divinity but only community.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Man’s greatest fear is the fear of death. How is he to overcome this?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Man is not dying of diseases. In fact, it is fear that makes for his death. Ninety eight percent of all deaths are to be traced to fear of death. Diseases are, for the most part, psychological in origin and impact. Check your pulse rate and blood pressure when you are excited, worried, or afraid. These rise much above the normal level. Thus, diseases are, to a large extent, rooted in your mental state.
Once the deity of Cholera came to a village. Seeing her, the village elder said, “Mother! I am terrified at the thought of the devastation soon to overtake our villages. I wonder how many of our people are going to die!” The deity replied, “My son! Not all will be harmed by me. There will be five deaths a day, that’s all. You need not be that much alarmed.” But, many people were dying. The elder thought the deity might have lied to him. He turned to her and asked, “Mother, you are a deity. How is it, then, that; after saying one thing to me, contrary to that, you punish us?” The Cholera deity replied, “Son! I did not utter a falsehood. I took away only five each day. So, I am not responsible for the deaths of al the others. Those did not die of cholera. They died of fear, that’s all.”
You asked me how fear of death is to be overcome. The solution is only courage! You should understand that at some time or other, death is inevitable. Realise that there are no exemptions. When you have the courage to realise this fully, fear of death ceases.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How can we realise the divinity within us?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Look! In college, you have elective subjects like M.P.C (Mathematics. Physics and Chemistry), Bi.P.C (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and so on, haven’t you? Similarly, to realise the divinity within you, you have to take a group of three subjects. What are the subjects to realise divinity? They are ‘bhakti’ devotion, ‘jnana’, wisdom and ‘vairagya’, renunciation.
Without devotion, you can’t acquire wisdom. Bhakti leads to jnanam. Without jnanam you can never develop detachment or renunciation. Jnanam takes you to vairagya. A flower, after some time, turns into an unripe bitter fruit, which ultimately becomes a sweet ripened one, doesn’t it? It is a question of time that brings about the change. Devotion transforms itself into the wisdom that leads to detachment. This detachment helps you in visualising the divinity within yourself. The fruit drops down from the tree of life. Jnana contributes to sarapagan, saranagati, surrender.
You should remember one point here. Jnana, japa, yagna are not important as such. Your love for God is more important than any other such rituals for success in spiritual pursuit. Intense love for God is bhakti, devotion. Knowledge, broadly speaking, is of two types: one is physical, secular material and worldly knowledge, while the other is spiritual, metaphysical, transcendental and divine knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is nondual and helps the seeker to realise and experience his own divinity.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How are we to attain bliss?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: It is a pity to find many a confused and disturbed person even in the spiritual field. Though he is in an ashram or spiritual centre, he undergoes srama or suffering. It is a matter of shame if a person calls himself a devotee without following a single teaching or practicing it for his transformation. The life of a devotee should be pure, calm, peaceful, detached and he should pine for the knowledge and experience of the Self or spirit or atma. Infinite desires, meaningless worries and anxieties to get all that one doesn’t really deserve are obstacles in spiritual life. So many don’t enjoy divine bliss. Body attachment makes things much worse.
Four qualities are very essential for the attainment of divine bliss: samam-damam control of the outer and inner senses, ‘tr pti’, contentment, ‘vicarana, ‘enquiry, and ‘satsang’, good company. They confer divine bliss on the seeker. You have got to know how this most valuable divine bliss is contained within the human body, which is itself transient, and is of lesser value than the spirit.
The body is composed of two bucketfuls of water, one bucketful of lime, iron of four two inch nails, lead of six pencils, phosphorous of nine hundred and twenty matchsticks, and fat of four Lux soaps. Herein lies the atma, divine spirit. Divine bliss can be attained by investigating, realising and experiencing the inner core of this body, viz. atma.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Many spiritual practices are suggested, such as, namasmarana singing the glory of God, dhyana, meditation, puja, etc. But, still total satisfaction is not derived out of any of them. We are not able to practise and follow continuously even one of them. Dissatisfaction over not being able to succeed and frustration about not getting the rewards for the little we do, are overpowering us. Why is it happening like this? Kindly show us the way.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You have to plough the land, remove the weeds, manure and water it. Isn’t it so? Without tilling the land, removing the weeds and watering, even if you sow the best of seeds, will it be of any help? Similarly, if you want to achieve the four purusarthas, objectives of life, you should follow any one of the nine paths of devotion, adopt any one of the eightfold path of yogic practices, follow any one of the nine types of devotion, worship properly and follow the spiritual path scrupulously.
You should cultivate four main qualities; which are the prerequisites of a devotee of God. The first one is maitri, friendship, second, karuna, compassion, the third mudita, feeling happy at others’ progress and the fourth quality is upeksa, detachment. These are necessary for spiritual advancement. Maitri is the first one. If you are friendly to the higher ups, there is every possibility that those people put you under their control. If you are a friend to those who are inferior to you, there is every scope for you to dominate them. In either case, friendship will not continue long. Therefore, friendship must be among equals.
Karuna is the second one. You can’t be compassionate towards all. Be compassionate towards the poor, needy, less fortunate, handicapped and sick as well as those who are less educated than you and are inferior to you in rank, position and property. If you do so, your compassion will be valued most and it will deepen increasingly. Mudita is the third one. You should not feel jealous of those who are better off than you. You should not have any bad feelings towards those who are more fortunate than you. You should, on the other hand, feel even happier at their progress and advancement. This is mudita. The fourth one is upeksa. The opposite of upeksa is apeksa. Apeksa means attachment. Upeksa means detachment.
You should never be positively disposed towards bad people. You should not support designers of evil or those who indulge in bad deeds. You should never develop friendship with an evil-minded person or a person with bad behaviour. With these four qualities you can achieve the objectives of life, the purusarthas. Hence, be friendly with your equals, compassionate towards the poor and needy, be happy at others’ progress and keep away from bad people. In fact these four qualities may be said to be the objectives of life, the purusarthas. To cultivate them, purity of heart is necessary. To feel that the very same one God is present in all living creatures and living beings is the way to develop purity of heart. You have to purify your tamasika, bestial qualities and rajasika, emotional or passionate nature. You have to develop that kind of steadiness and purity of mind and heart.
You will not be able to see clearly the reflection of the sun or of the moon alike in containers filled with different kinds of water. One container may have very dirty water where you can’t see the reflection of the sun or the moon clearly. This is how the tamasika quality acts, cutting you off from reality. In another container, water may be found shaking and not still. Then also the reflection of the sun will not be clear. This is the rajasika quality. But, a container filled with pure water, which is also steady, helps you to see the object reflected clearly in it. This is the effect of sattvika quality. Similarly, though the same atma is present in all, you are not able to recognise and experience it due to the differences in your body, mind and intellect.
Then, the question is how to achieve the pious quality or sattvika nature and the purity of heart or cittashuddhi to recognise and experience awareness of atma? He who can find out his own faults and others’ merits can keep his heart steady and pure. If you can identify your own mistakes and rectify them, it doesn’t matter wherever you are.
Take a simple example. Your room may be full of mosquitoes. But if you have a mosquito net you will not be affected by their presence and you can sleep well. On the other hand, if there are mosquitoes inside in the net, how can you sleep? Whose mistake is it? Similarly, see that there are no mistakes in you. Always remember that sadhana is intended for devotion and steadfastness. Sadhana done for selfish gains will be of no use and it can never give you bliss, peace and satisfaction. You can’t do sadhana in such a case intensely and fervently.
The Ramayana explains this very clearly. After his return from his uncle Kekaya’s kingdom and on coming to know of the death of his father, King Dasaratha, Bharata approached his mother Kaikeyi and asked her about the reason for his death. Kaikeyi said, “My dear son, I am responsible for the king’s death. For your benefit and to make you the king of Ayodhya, I asked your father to grant me the two boons he had promised to give me a long time ago. As the first boon, I asked that you be crowned and as the second, Rama be sent to the forest. Your father couldn’t bear the separation from Rama and so he died”.
On listening to this, Bharata became very furious. He said, “Oh! Wicked woman! Do you know what you did? Are you foolish? Do you think that you can cut off a tree and plant its branches to grow? Don’t you know that Rama is a tree?” In her view Kaikeyi was right in doing like that, but to Bharata it was very cruel. Today, what you are doing is exactly like that. You are cutting off the tree of divinity and planting the branches of prakrti, nature. This is not proper. So, any sadhana is useless if there is no devotion supported by steadfastness. Without these basic qualities of maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksa you can’t achieve anything. You can’t have peace; bliss and self-satisfaction. Therefore, for a spiritual life you should acquire these four qualities.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Many spiritual paths are mentioned by diverse traditions and religions. How far can these paths lead to experiencing divinity? To what extent are their spiritual exercises to be adopted? From the description of some of these, success in one lifetime appears impossible. On the other hand, worry that no spiritual practice is undertaken plagues us. Is there no way out for us? Kindly grant us peace.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Listening to your accounts of sadhana, it appears you do not know what sadhana is. The practices you call ‘spiritual’ are undertaken by the mind. They give you only temporary happiness and satisfaction. On the other hand, they cannot be dismissed as altogether useless. Sadhanas must help you in spending your time in a pious way. What, then, is sadhana? “Sa” means salokyam, dwelling in heaven with the vision of God; therefore sadhana gives us the dhana, treasure, of salokyam. Every act of the mind is dualistic, artificial, and transient. Suppose you are on a journey. Suppose also that there is a thief by your side. How can you feel secure? The person beside you is a thief, isn’t he? In the same way, all practices involving the mind can never give you unbroken bliss, the experience of Brahman. What you achieve in sadhana is the removal of the veil blocking the vision of the Self, the veil of anatmatabhava. With the removal of this veil, the experience of the atma, the real, stands revealed. This is not something that has to come from somewhere, nor is it something that can be lost.
The next question is how long sadhana needs to be practiced. Consider a wound. When healing starts, a scab appears covering the wound, and this drops off by itself. Suppose you peel it off by force. The wound grows bigger. In the same way, once you have the experience of the Self, the question of sadhana does not arise.
Another example. When you cook food, you adjust the flame. When you ask how long the flame is to be turned on, it is only till the food is cooked. Sadhana too is necessary only till one acquires jnana, supreme wisdom.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! When we get wisdom based on our practical knowledge, discrimination and determination, will it stay with us permanently or is there any possibility of our losing it by chance leading us back to ignorance again?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: That is impossible. Actually, you can’t call it wisdom at all, if it is lost. You can’t consider a person a man of wisdom if he returns to the same old state of ajnana, ignorance.
In fact, jnana, wisdom, neither comes nor goes. You are the embodiment of Divyajnana, divine wisdom. Your own worldly attachments, sensual pleasures, and bodily identification obscure this awareness or wisdom. Once you realise it; you will never lose the state of awareness.
A simple example, you curdle milk and churn it to get butter. The butter, a product of milk, will never get mixed in the milk once again, will it? So also, the butter of wisdom cannot mix in the milk of ignorance, once it is realised. Similarly, a jnana, though he lives in the midst of ignorant people, will never lose his jnana. Ajnana, Ignorance will never come again. Wisdom, once it dawns on you, will never depart from you.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Is bodily feeling an obstacle to spiritual progress? The bodily feeling doesn’t seem to leave us anyway. Kindly tell us what we should do about it?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: I have never told you to neglect your body. Always remember that the body is an instrument. A temple may be very beautiful, clean and highly attractive. However, you will not be satisfied by merely looking at it from outside, unless you go in and see the idol installed at the sanctum sanctorum. It is the idol or Mulavirat that makes you feel happy and ecstatic, doesn’t it? Similarly, your body is the moving temple of God. You should never neglect it. Your desires will not make your body polluted. The only thing is that the desires need to be good and never bad.
We have on one side, arisadvarga six foes, such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, avarice, and hatred, which ruin man. But you can channelise them in the right direction. For example, take anger, krodha. Anger does you no good at any time. But if you are angry with your bad behaviour, wicked thoughts and evil tendencies, you will improve yourself. So, don’t be angry with anyone, be angry with your own anger. Then, consider kama, desire. If you are after limitless desires, you will be leading a discontented life. On the other hand, if you desire God, desire to serve him, the very desire, kama, becomes sublime.
Therefore, so long as one is selfish, self-centered, sensual and worldly, the body definitely is an obstacle to spiritual progress. But if you take it as an instrument for the realisation of the divinity within yourself then definitely it is not an obstacle. Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksha, Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Sisupala, Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, etc., ruined themselves because of their bad thoughts, wicked actions, cruel and harmful nature. In fact, the body is the gift of God for man to realise and experience Him.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How are we to grasp easily the purpose and aim of life?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: This is very simple. A small example. A patient takes medicines for an ailment and gets cured. Why? He has to take medicines regularly for a certain period of time so that he may not have to take medicines once again by falling sick. It means he should not be a patient a second time.
Similarly, your birth in this life is given to you not to be born again. In other words, you should not enter the cycle of birth and rebirth once again. One has to work for it spiritually by intense sadhana during this lifetime itself. This is the aim and the purpose of life.
Upanishad means the “inner” or “mystic teaching”. The term Upanishad is derived from “upa” (near), “ni” (down) and “shad” (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him/her the secret doctrine. In the quietude of the forest hermitages the Upanishadic thinkers pondered on the problems of deepest concerns and communicated their knowledge to fit pupils near them. The most well known Upanishads are: Aitareya, Brihadaranyaka, Taittiriya, Chandogya, Kena, Isa, Svetasvatara, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya, Prasna, Kausitaki, Maitrayani, Muktika and Shakta. The Satyopanishad is the Upanishad of Truth (Sathya) but more specifically the Truth as revealed by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Anil Kumar questions the illustrious Guru and provides us with Sathya Sai Baba’s answers to ponder, ruminate and derive ananda.
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