Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 3
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! What should we do to receive God’s grace?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is no way other than devotion. Your wealth, scholarship, authority and physical personality cannot please God. It is only your devotion that He looks into.
Don’t you know Guha in the Ramayana? What scholarship had he to please Rama? Nothing. He was not even educated. You also must have heard of Sabari, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. How rich was she to be close to Rama? She was in rags at that time, the poorest of the poor. What made that bird, Jatayu receive the special blessings of Rama so as to deserve performance of the last rites at the divine hands of Rama? Even Rama’s father, Dasaratha, was not as fortunate as Jatayu, because he died when Rama was in the forest, far away from Ayodhya. How about Hanuman, a monkey? By implicit faith in and total surrender to Rama he could be successful not only in the task assigned to him, but also came to be worshipped by the devotees of the Lord and his worship has been continuing since the days of the Ramavatara.
The Mahabharata clearly portrays Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas as Lord Krishna’s devotee of the highest order, always, in times of success or failure, pleasure or pain, calm or turmoil, anywhere, either on the throne in Hastinapura or in the forest. The Pandavas are known for their deep devotion and abounding love for Krishna. They are the best examples of equanimity and total surrender to God such that Krishna identified Himself completely with them by saying that Dharmaja was His head, Arjuna His heart, Bhima His shoulders, and the two youngest brothers Nakula and Sahadeva equal to His two feet. This is true devotion. This is the ideal stature of a devotee.
In the Bhagavata you come across the Gopis (the cowherd girls who were rustic, innocent, and unlettered) whose madhurabhakti, total attachment to God, was backed by unconditional love and surrender. Their devotion was noble, pure, nectarine, and exemplary. They saw Krishna in bushes, thorns, leaves, branches, and flowers. Is theirs not tadatmyabhava, total identification? Isn’t theirs the advaitabhava, nondualistic state? They could not bear the pangs of separation from Krishna even for a split second. This is the level of their devotion.
Have you not heard about Tyagaraja, the South Indian saint, singer and composer, who had put the question: ‘nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama’. Is it wealth that gives you happiness or proximity to God? Ramadas, Surdas, Kabir, Tulasidas, Jayadev, Tukaram, Mira, and others were the very personifications of devotion. They are remembered to this day. By reading about them, you will not only be the recipient of God’s grace but even have a claim on God’s grace. You know, the moment you marry, your wife will have a claim on your property. This is due to the mangalasutra, the sacred knot tied at the time of the wedding. Similarly, devotion is bhaktisutra the knot of devotion, which empowers the devotee to claim from God His grace. Therefore, for everything, devotion is most important. For most people, it is the proper and noble approach to Divinity.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Why are we not the recipients of Divine grace?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: It is not proper to feel so. You are wrong if you think so. God’s grace is equally available to all of you. He makes no distinctions of caste, creed, sex, nationality, and so on. You should know that the defect is in you. You have to cleanse the tumbler of your heart. For example, it is raining heavily now. If you want to collect water in a vessel, what you do is to keep it straight. However, if you turn it downwards or put it upside down, is it possible to collect water? The downpour of rain will be of no help at all. Therefore, we have to keep our hearts always pure and ready to receive the rain of grace. We have to turn it towards the rain of God’s Love in order to collect it. Is it not so?
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Our fortune is immeasurable, how many people get this opportunity! This is all your grace. But, how are we to preserve this?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Look! Out of the millions of devotees how many are able to be here? Is this proximity possible for everyone? Merit from several past lives had made you fortunate enough to be here. Out of a few thousand in our institutions, how many students are lucky enough to be here? Only a few of you could follow me to this place, Kodaikanal. This you will have to preserve and sustain carefully.
A small example. Here is a roll of thread, which is the product of much rotating and winding. A time consuming job, really! If they take up this process in haste, and drop it in the middle out of neglect or carelessness, all the thread will lie scattered on the ground. Similarly, your fortune is like this roll of thread carefully and laboriously wound like the merit of the good deeds you had done in your past lives. If you neglect this fortune and lose it by any mischance, you can’t get it back. All the effort you have put in will go waste. The thick pad at the centre of this roll is like your faith round which your meritorious deeds are wound. So, never neglect this good luck, nor take it for granted, nor view it as simple and ordinary. Negligence and carelessness are harmful to spiritual aspirants.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! How does your Grace affect our destiny and our prarabdha, past karma?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: God’s grace and God’s will can change anything. God is love. His infinite compassion makes Him change your, prarabdhakarma or the karmic effects of your past lives. A devotee can arrest God in the jail of his heart. In this world, there is nothing that you can’t achieve with devotion. God’s grace can cancel all your karmic effects or the evil effects of your past life. Nothing untoward can happen to you.
A small example. You see many medicines kept for sale in a medical shop. On each of the medicines you find the date of manufacture and of expiry. The medicine will not act with efficiency beyond the date of expiry. It becomes just useless. What God does is exactly the same thing. He simply stamps on the medicine bottle the date of expiry cancelling your prarabdhakarma the suffering you are going through in this life. Right then your suffering ends. This is how Swami, out of His sheer grace and compassion, gives you relief.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Can we be sure of God’s grace if we do sadhana regularly?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Certainly! As sure as anything! Why do you doubt? For example, you have a pet dog. You feed it every day and you will notice that it will get habituated to come to you exactly at the same time every day to be fed. Is this not true? When regularity makes a dog respond, why not God? You will definitely receive His grace.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We are here in your presence because of your infinite grace and mercy. Your blessings have brought us all here. We bask in the sunshine of bliss bestowed on us by your Divine darshan , sparshan and sambhasan. Do we still need merit from past lives and the samskaras?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The present state of bliss and the merit from past lives are both essential and they should go together. They are closely interrelated. Take this example. Here the soil is sandy. When there are heavy rains, water sinks into the soil or gets absorbed in the soil. The same is the situation with you at present. Therefore, devotion doesn’t remain steady. But, suppose there is a flow of river water, what happens when it rains? Water will flow with greater vigour than before. Similarly, your present blessed opportunity of being with me is like rainwater. If you have good samska ras from your past life like the water flow of a river, the blissful state you are experiencing now will continue with more vigour.
God’s grace is like a shower of rain. Your merit from the past will enable you to contain it. So, I tell you often to retain the good luck, the opportunity, and the privilege given to you. You draw water out of the well in a bucket. But you have to pick up the bucket full of water yourself. On the other hand, if you drop it in the middle, what happens? You can’t collect water, can you? However, there is one important thing. If you love God intensely, you can achieve anything. As human effort increases, God’s grace also lends strength and intensity to the effort, which ultimately leads man to success.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Man is not behaving in the way expected of him. He is losing his very human nature. How should he transform himself at this juncture? How about society, if he remains like this, Swami?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You do not know that you are using certain words without knowing their meaning. If you understand the words that you utter, you will notice that they are self explanatory and convey their meaning in unambiguous terms. What is the meaning of this word manava? ‘Ma’ means maya or illusion, ‘na’, ‘dati’ (Telugu), ‘va’, vartincu (Telugu). In other words, ‘manava’ means ‘the one who crosses maya and conducts himself accordingly’ and definitely not one who is enslaved by maya. It can also be interpreted in another way. The word ‘manava’ means, ‘ma ‘, not, ‘nava’, new. Thus ‘manava’ means ‘not new’. Man had many births earlier and the present one is not new.
Man is also called narah (Sanskrit). Na means ‘not’, and rah means ‘perishable’. Thus, narah, means ‘not perishable’. Obviously, the one, which is imperishable, is eternal that is, immortal, or atma, Truth. There is another word vanara (Sanskrit) denoting a ‘monkey’. Va denotes vala or tail. So nara should be viewed as man without vala or tail. Man is saksara : sa, divine and aksara, undiminishable or permanent. Thus, saksara is one who is undiminishable, permanent or eternal, Atma. He who has the awareness of such Atma is saksara. But alas! Man today is behaving as raksasa, demon. Man is expected to have dama, control of senses, but he is full of mada, pride and conceit. So, when we understand the meaning of these words, we shall know that man or vyakti, the individual, should exhibit and express the quality of atma, which he truly is.
A community or a group of individuals makes a society. A single vrksa, tree , cannot make avana, forest. A single grha, house cannot make a grama, village. What is the meaning of samaja, society? Sama, equality or equanimity, ja, born out of. Thus samaja, is that which maintains equality and equanimity. What are needed for ideal society? They are samaikyata, unity; samagrata, coordination; samarasa, integration; saubhratrata, fraternity; and samanata, equality. These are the features of an ideal society.
We hear people saying that society should change. However, in my opinion, it is wrong. If the individual changes, society will automatically change. A small example. A father presented a map of India to his young son. The boy, by mistake, tore it to pieces and was reprimanded by his father. After some time, the son brought the map intact. When asked by the father how he could do it, the boy replied that on the reverse side of the map there was the picture of a man. He said the only thing he did was to correctly assemble the torn pieces of the man to makeit into the original picture. Then the original map formed itself automatically.
Thus, when individuals reform, society will automatically get reformed. Every person should know that the happiness of the individual depends on that of society. Man’s welfare, progress and prosperity depend on society. This truth must be fully understood by everyone. For example, when there is a fire in the neighbourhood you make an attempt to extinguish it. Why? If you do not, your house will not be safe. When all the other houses in the neighbourhood are burnt down by the fire, your house too will be burnt. When there are epidemics like cholera, you will be extra careful; otherwise, you will also become one of the victims. Similarly there is a relationship between an individual and the society he lives in.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! May be due to the impact of the Age of Kali, we don’t find in these days, any understanding among the members of a family. Instead, we find differences in many families, even conflicts, complexes, competitions; and sometimes matters become so bad as to drag a family tothe courts. Please suggest a way out of this sad plight, Swami!
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: In this world though diversity is apparent, there is an inherent unity. Multiplicity may be patent. But the underlying unity is latent. The whole of nature shows both these aspects.
Take the earth; it is not the same throughout. There are hills, mountains, and valleys. However, in our experience we clearly visualise unity. Are the five fingers of the same hand identical? No. Similarly, the members of one and the same family are not alike or uniform. They are not stereotypes. All the same, there cannot be any valid reason for the absence of fraternity, unity, and love among the members of the family.
A good example from our epics maybe cited in this context. You analyse Siva samsaram ‘the family of our Lord Siva’. Siva has Ganga, water, over his head, and fire on his foreheadbetween the two eyes. He is, therefore, Trinetra or ‘the three eyed ‘God’. ‘Water’ and ‘Fire’ are also opposed to each other in their nature and don’t coexist. Siva is pannagadhara, nagabhusana for He has round his neck venomous serpents. The vehicle of his elder son Lord Subrahmanya is a peacock. Snakes and peacocks are enemies. The vehicle of Goddess Parvati, consort of Siva is a lion. She is simhavahini. The very face of Siva’s second son is that of an elephant. Ganesh is called Gajanana for this reason. An elephant can’t even dream of the sight of a lion. Parvati has all the jewels, but her Lord, Siva is digambara, naked, bhasmabhusitanga with vibhuti smeared all over the body, and surrounded by bhutas or devils. Though Siva’s family is full of opposites and contradictions, there is integration, coordination, harmony and unity.
Similarly, in your families, the members may differ from each other, yet you should be able to live in perfectharmony like Siva’s family. This is the lesson that over the ages Lord Siva has been teaching the world.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Today the whole world is strife torn. We hear of racial discrimination, class conflict, bloodshed, war, and so on. Kindly give some message to the present day world.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Today we have many intellectuals who find diversity in unity. There are only afew who notice unity in diversity. This is the reason for the present day troubles, turmoil, conflicts, wars, and so on in the world. Manava, manis behaving like a danava, demon. So we find violent, demonic, bestial, and inhuman tendencies among people. The moment man recognises and experiences unity in diversity, peace, comfort, safety, security, and happiness are ensured.
The composition of human blood is the same all over the world. All breathe oxygen only. All tread the same ground. Hunger is one, be that of a rich man who may dine in a five star hotel or of a beggar who appeases his hunger with mere starch. Thirst is one and the same, be that of a rich man who will have a cool drink or of a poor man who drinks tap water in the street. Both feel happy in moments of joy and both grieve in times of difficulties.
The human body is composed of the five elements: earth, water, air, fire, and space. The body is inert. We breathe air into it. There is also fire within, keeping the body warm and helping us in digesting food. There is space within accommodating all parts of the human body. There is plenty of water in the body. So the five elements outside are also inside you. Everyone has them in the same proportion. Allthat you have is also present in everybody else. Then, why do you stretch your hand begging everyone? What for? What is it that you don’t have which the other man has? Basically nothing! This is the philosophy of unity in diversity. This unity is divinity.
The experience of this sort of spiritual unity is liberation, whereas the feeling of multiplicity, plurality and diversity is bondage, dualism, and attachment.
Flowers are many, but worship is one, Cows are many, but milk is one. Jewels are many, but gold is one, Paths are many, but the goal is one, Stars are many, but the sky is one, Beings are many, but breath is one, names and forms are many, but God is one.
This is oneness or unity. Yarn is multiple, but when interwoven, it becomes a piece of cloth. This is how you should find out and experience unity in order to realise divinity. People fight in the name of religion. What a shame it is! No religion tells you to speak lies, to harm or kill others or do any such things. All religions lay emphasis on love, brotherhood, sacrifice, peace, truth, and so on. So, it is ridiculous to fight in the name of religion. In fact, matulu mancivainamatamedi ceddadi, (Telugu) if your mind is good, which religion is bad?
There is only one religion, the religion of love. To have differences based on language or race is bad. It is a sign of narrow mindedness. There is only one language, the language of the heart. It is very mean to have differences on grounds of caste. You are not born with a sign board indicating your caste. What is the caste of the air? To which caste does water belong? What is the caste of fire and earth? Therefore, there is only one caste, the caste of humanity. Wars are fought in the name of God. Don’t you know that many Gods are not there; God is one without a second. You may call Him by any name. There is one God who is omnipresent.
Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti, Truth is one, but interpreted in many ways by scholars. There are no differences in divinity. With cittas’uddhi, purity of heart, you can experience the principle of unity or oneness, which is the path to divinity. First, develop purity. That helps you to achieve unity and attain Divinity.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! In reality, the entire human race is one and the same, its basic core being divinity. Why then do we not react in the same way? Why do we think and act differently?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Humanity may be one, but people act in different ways. No two are alike. This is the law of nature. Thought, words and actions depend on time and circumstances. Here is an example. A tender fruit is sour in its taste; an unripe fruit is astringent, while a ripe fruit is sweet. All the three are the stages of the same fruit, aren’t they! It is sour, then astringent and finally sweet. How does it happen? Why? The change of taste is due to the passage of time. No one has filled the ripe fruit with sugar. So, I say “yetti matiyo, atti gati. yetti sthitio, atti sampatti” (Telugu verse). As is the mati, mind, so is the gati, destiny; as is the position, so is the sampatti, affluence.
In human life there are three important aspects, ‘doing’, Body, ‘thinking’, Mind, ‘being’, Atma. Body desires, mind thinks and atma experiences. You should have broad-mindedness.You should never be narrow-minded. When examination results are published, why don’t you feel happy that so many have passed the examinations? If in the spirit of a large heart, you look for your result, you will definitely find your number in the newspaper along with those of other candidates. It is narrow-mindedness if you look only for your own number unmindful of others.
Another example. Suppose you feel happy that in a group photo everyone has figured nicely. If you then look at your own figure, you will be known to be broad-minded.
Human life is a combination of three attributes or trigunas. The three work in perfect union as thethree wings of a fan. Just as a chutney is made of tamarind, salt and chillies well ground, so also human life has ‘trigunas,’ well mixed. You also must have known pan, which Indians chew. It has three ingredients, betel leaf, betel nut and lime, of green, brown and white colours respectively. When the ingredients of three different colours are chewed you get the red colour.
Similarly, in human life all the three gunas are intermixed. But spiritually, basically and fundamentally, the core of the human being is sat, ‘being’, cit, ‘awareness’ and ananda, ‘bliss’. Sat and cit together confer ananda.
An example.Here are two separate things, water and sugar. When you mix the two it is neither sugar nor water, but syrup. So also water is sat, sugar is cit, forming the syrup ananda. The triune trigunas (three attributes) and the basic nature of sat, cit, and ananda mixed with deha, ‘body,’ manas ‘mind,’ and buddhi ‘intellect,’ interacting with pravrtti, ‘the external world’ lead to anekatva ‘diversity or multiplicity or plurality’.
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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