Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 2
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We heard about King Dasaratha, the yoga called ‘putrakameshti’, and so on. Kindly tell us something about King Janaka.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Janaka was a Rajayogi, a man of great wisdom, utterly devoid of the sense of the body. Therefore, he came to be known as videha, one without attachment to the body. As the daughter of that King, Sita came to be known as Vaidehi. Janaka was an ideal king possessing immense devotion to the preceptor, extensive knowledge of the Sastras, and the spirit of renunciation. He performed Sita’s marriage as his duty. Later on, Rama left for the forest along with Sita and Lakshmana. Though their stay in the forest stretched into years, Janaka never set foot in the forest. Such was Janaka’s abounding wealth of jnana and vairagya.
Question) Swami. We hear that Adi Sankara died at a young age. What could be the reason?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: It is true that the founder of the doctrine of advaita, nondualism, died young. He wrote commentaries on three important sacred texts known as Prasthanatraya, viz. the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita. Besides, emphasising jnana, he composed a large number of hymns on bhakti. He travelled all over the country and established pithas centres of worship and spiritual learning. He symbolises Sanatana Dharma, the ancient, timeless spiritual culture of this land.
Adi Sankara went to the ancient pilgrim centre, Kasi where he prayed to the presiding deity, Visvanath to pardon him for the three mistakes he had committed. The first mistake happened to be his behavior contrary to what he had been stating all along. While saying, “Vasudevas sarvamiti”, God is everywhere, he had come to Kasi to see God. The second mistake was that even while knowing that God is beyond our comprehension and description, “yato vaco nivartante”, he tried to write books on divinity. The third mistake was that while knowing that one God manifested Himself as many, “ekoham bahu syam”, and that the same God is present in everyone, “atmavat sarva bhutani” and that awareness is in everyone, “prajnanam brahma he organised mathas”, centres of learning considering his disciples separate from him.
You may also have heard another episode connected with his life. He prayed to his mother for permission to become a Sannyasi, a lifelong celibate. She didn’t accept the proposal initially. One day Sankara went to a nearby river to have a bath. Suddenly a crocodile caught his feet. Then he started crying, “Mother! Mother! This crocodile is pulling me into the water. It is not going to leave me until you permit me to become a sannyasi”. His mother at last gave her permission and Sankara was released by the crocodile. The inner meaning of the episode is that the river is comparable to samsara, worldly life in general, and the crocodile to visaya, sensual pleasure. Man is dragged into the river of life by the crocodile of worldly pleasure. Release is renunciation or detachment.
Sankara shuffled off the mortal coil soon after completing the tasks he had set for himself, because he was sure that his mission would be carried further by his disciples, the torch-bearers of his philosophy and that his theory of advaita, nondualism would be widely spread and propagated. His disciples too were of the stature and eminence to carry on his mission successfully.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Tyagaraja, very well known as a devotee of Rama, composed kritis (hymns in praise of the Lord) which are sung even today. What is special about them?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There are many names of devotees who composed devotional songs all over the world. God also responded to them. Those songs make you ecstatic and sublime. But the hymns of Tyagaraja have a specialty about them. Every song of his is related to an incident in his life.
For example, when the King of Tanjore sent him jewels, provisions and costly presents, Tyagaraja mildly and politely rejected them and put to himself a question in the form of a krti, “nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama”, is it money that makes you happy or is it nearness to God? Once his brother threw all the idols worshipped by Tyagaraja into the Kaveri river. Tyagaraja cried and cried for this loss. One day when he was taking his bath in the Kaveri, by the grace of Rama he found those lost idols, and holding them in his palms he brought them home singing, “rara ma inti daka raghuvi ra sukumara”: “Lord Rama! Please come home.” In a music concert in the court of a king, he sang paying obeisance to all the distinguished people present in the assembly, endaro mahanubhavulu andariki vandanamulu, “there are many noble and great people here, my humble pranams to all of you.” Like this, every song composed by Tyagaraja is associated with some real life occasion or incident. The hymns of Tyagaraja reflect practical devotion and surrender.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Right now, we are in Kodaikanal. Tamil Nadu is known for its renowned devotees. We often hear about Manikya Vachakar and Tiruvalluvar. We want to hear from you about these two illustrious sons of Tamil Nadu.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Manikya Vachakar is the personification of forbearance, forgiveness, patience, and devotion. One day the son of a very rich man came to him. You know, Manikya Vachakar was selling saris and maintaining his family. This boy who came to him was a pampered spoilt child. Picking up a sari there, the boy asked, “What is the price of this sari?” Manikya Vachakar said, “Twenty rupees, sir”. The boy tore the sari into two halves and said, “What is the price of this half sari?” The sari seller said, “Rupees ten, sir”. The boy tore it further into two halves and asked, “Now what is the price of this quarter sari”? The former patiently replied, ” Rupees five sir”. The mischievous boy was very much taken aback by Manikya Vachakar’s patience. He then asked, “How is it that you are so patient in spite of my mischief?” Manikya Vachakar smiled and said, “I am a devotee of God and I have full faith in Him. He is responsible for my peace and calmness”.
In Tamil Nadu there was one devotee by name Tiruvalluvar. He was highly reputed and is known even today for his devotional composition, Tirukkural. In those days, the Pandya king had youngsters serving him as ministers. Tiruvalluvar was one of them. The Pandya king had a great liking for horses. He liked to have a number of horses of different breeds from all parts of the country. He called Tiruvalluvar, gave him some money, and sent him to get new breeds of horses from all places. The latter agreed and proceeded.
On his way, Tiruvalluvar found a temple in a dilapidated condition. He decided to renovate it. In so doing, he had spent all the money he had with him. Having come to know what he had done, the king became very furious and wild. He kept Tiruvalluvar in prison as a punishment. There in the prison Tiruvalluvar composed his famous Tirukkural. The king repented later for his hasty and wrong decision. He requested Tiruvalluvar to come back and resume his duties as a minister. However, Tiruvalluvar politely refused to take up any responsibilities in the kingdom. He spent the remaining part of his life wholly in spiritual pursuits.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! God is attributeless. He is above sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika qualities. But, we are bound by these three attributes. How can we realise God, then?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Divine has two aspects. He can be experienced as the one with attributes and also as beyond them. You should know one thing chiefly. God is in the attributes. But, the attributes are not in Him. Attributes or traits cannot function and operate without divinity in them. Gold is in the jewellery. But, jewels are not in gold. Pots are made of clay, but not vice versa. Silverware, like a glass or a plate, is made of silver. But, the glass and plate are not in silver.
Another example: You know, an electric bulb illumines, and a fan revolves. Radios, TVs work by electricity only. They are electrical gadgets. Electricity is the main cause of their functioning. But, none of these gadgets are there in electricity. Likewise, God is present in the attributes. They are not present in God. So in a way we can say that He has attributes and at the same time He is attributeless, saguna and nirguna.
Every man has three qualities sattva, rajas, and tamas. But, the one that dominates the other two decides his thinking, feeling and action. But, unless we transcend these three qualities, we cannot experience divinity in the true sense. Here is an example. If you want to see your own chest, what should you do? You should first of all remove your coat, then your shirt, and finally even your banian, to look at your chest, isn’t it so? So also, to see the chest of divinity you should first remove the coat of tamasika quality, the shirt of rajasika quality and the banian of sattvika quality.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We pray to you to tell us about the two aspects of God, with form and without it?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: It is here that many are confused. Without a form, from where do you get the formless? How is it possible for you to visualise the formless? Since you have a form, you can only think of God with a form. For example, if a fish is to think of God, it can visualise God only in the form of a bigger fish. So also, if at all a buffalo thinks of God, it can think of God only as a bigger buffalo. In the same way, man can think of God only as existing in human form, the form of an ideal man.
Even the formless aspect of God can be meditated upon basing on the aspect of God with form. You cannot derive the formless without a form. Here is a small example. You are all here seated in this hall in front of Swami today in Kodaikanal. You are listening to Swami’s words. This is an experience with a form. Later, you go home and after a few days you begin to reflect on what had happened here. You recall the entire scenario. In fact, has Swami come to your place physically? Would you find this room at your place? Have all of you gone there? No. But this direct experience is pictured mentally, which gives you the indirect experience of being here. What you see here is the sakara and what you experience there is the nirakara. So, the formless is based on the aspect with form. One cannot exist without the other.
Another example. Here is milk. You want to drink it. How do you drink? Don’t you need a cup or a glass? Similarly to worship God (milk) you need a form (cup).
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami, of these two ways of worship, the aspect with form and the other, the formless, which is greater?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: In my opinion, both are equal. One is not in any way greater than the other. Now you are in Coimbatore. Here the land is plain, without any ups and downs. The level of the land is the same throughout. Nobody levelled it. Nobody prepared the ground like this. The form of Coimbatore is like this. Its design is like this. But Kodaikanal is located on the hills. Nobody assembled hills there. Its form is of that sort. Coimbatore and Kodaikanal are different from one other. Each one is full, but in its own way.
So also, the two methods of worship one with form and the other formless are equally beneficial to the seekers of truth and aspirants of spiritual enlightenment.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Scriptures declare that God is omnipresent; God is everywhere. Kindly explain this aspect of Divinity? How are we to understand this?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Bhagavad Gita says, “bijam mam sarvabh utanam, God is the seed of this entire creation. God is the seed of all beings.” For example, you see here a mango seed. You sow it in the ground. The seed, as days pass, germinates. In the process, the seed produces a root, then a stem, a leaf, branches, and flowers gradually. The seed is latent in every part of the plant, as all parts directly or indirectly emerge from it. Finally, in the hard seed of the fruit also the initial or the original seed is present. So, God is present in the entire universe. The whole world is a tree, God is the seed, and fruits are the beings or creatures born of the tree of the world.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! When the same divinity is present in everyone, why should differences exist? Divinity being the same, why are we so different from each other?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Ekamevadvitiyam brahma, “God is one without a second”, says the scripture. Then, how do we account for the variety, diversity, differences, and so on? A small example to understand this. Power supply being the same, don’t you find the difference in the voltage of the bulbs that illumine? A bulb with a low voltage gives you light of low intensity and a bulb with a high voltage illumines more brightly. Don’t they? But, at the same time, electricity is one and the same. Bulbs are different in their voltage and this determines the intensity of light. Similarly, our bodies are like those bulbs with the inner current of the same Divinity.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! You said that divinity is in everyone. Then, before we were born where had it been? Does divinity exist even after our death?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Divine exists. Divinity is imperishable, pure and unsullied. It has neither birth nor death. It is eternal and stable. It is beyond time and space. Divinity transcends all physical laws.
Now, your question is: where did divinity exist prior to your birth and where will it be after your death while it is in you during this lifetime? You see, there is an electrical wire on the wall, and also holders here and there to which bulbs are fixed. You get light only if a bulb is fixed to a holder and not otherwise. Why? The current passes through the wire that enters the bulb fixed to the holder. If you hold the bulb in your hand, it does not illumine, as there is no power supply. What you have to understand is this. The current has not been newly produced to get into the bulb. It was already there in the wire. If you remove the bulb, what will happen to the current? It will be there in the wire only. The only difference is that you will not experience its presence as illumination. Similarly, the bulb is the body, the current of divinity flows into it as the illumination of life. When this bulb of the body is removed, even then, the current of divinity persists hidden or latent, so much so divinity has all along been there before you were born, during your lifetime and will even be there after your death like the current of electricity.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! It is said that God is hrdayavasi, dweller in our heart. Is it the same heart, which is on the left side in on our chest?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: No, no. That is the physical heart. But the seat of God is the spiritual heart, which is also called hrdaya. It means hr + daya = hrdaya. The one filled with compassion is hrdaya, heart. Today compassion is a matter of fashion. People put on kasayavastra, ochre robes but they have kasayihrdaya, hearts of butchery.
The physical heart is on the left side while the spiritual heart is on the right side. The spiritual heart is the temple of God. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says, isvarah hrddese arjuna tisthati which means God resides in the altar of your heart. Knowledge, be it physical, secular, scientific or technological, relates to the head and not to the heart. But love, compassion, truth, sacrifice and forbearance concern the heart.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Can divinity be probed into? Is it possible to know it by reasoning?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: All worldly experiences are bound by time and space. Your senses help you to experience all that is in the outer world. Science and Technology investigate the five elements, make certain combinations and permutations, and provide certain additional conveniences and comforts for mankind to lead a better life. These include electronic gadgets, computers, and so on. A scientist conducts an experiment, but a spiritual aspirant’s experiences of divinity cannot be conducted in a laboratory. How do you expect to convey anything about divinity, which is beyond expression? How do you imagine divinity, which is beyond comprehension? How do you investigate and experiment upon divinity which transcends all your reasoning and senses? Science is based on experiments and religion on experience. In science, you analyse, but in religion, you realise.
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, Kausitaki, 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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