Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 12
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! It is often said and felt that none escapes maya or illusion. Everyone falls a victim to the influence of maya. So, man is prone to delusion. Then Swami, a person who has known what maya is and has been out of maya, how is it that he gets into the trap again?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Think of this situation. When it is dark what happens to light? Where does it go? Similarly, when there is light, where does the darkness that was present till the light came, go? Absence of light is darkness. Darkness does not flow or run away. Because of the light, it is not noticed. Once the light is put off, it will be dark as before. Here light is wisdom, darkness is ignorance or maya or delusion or avidya. To dispel the darkness the only thing to do is light a candle.
Your question is, how the darkness of ignorance comes back again having been dispelled once already by the light of wisdom. A simple example. Many travel by bus. As the bus speeds forward along the rugged roads, we find the dust rising behind the bus so long as it is on a continuous run. But, the moment the bus stops the whole lot of dust collects inside. All of it just blows into the bus. Similarly, human life is a bus. So long as it is on the move of sadhana, the dust of illusion stays behind. But, if the bus of life stops or halts sadhana, the dust of delusion will get into life. So, it is sadhana that keeps you unaffected by delusion. If you stop sadhana you will again become a victim of maya. Therefore, you can never take it for granted that you are rid of maya in your lifetime. It is your constant sadhana that helps you.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Illusion is a nonatmic feeling or worldly approach. To identify myself with that which I am not is illusion. Truly speaking, the “I” we often speak of is in reality only atma. Nothing else. How is one to know this truth, to recognise and experience this truth? Kindly tell us about this Swami!
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Actually, ‘I’ is only atma or brahman. A sincere attempt to know this truth is called ‘enquiry’. Self-enquiry is most essential in the spiritual path. Puja, namasmarana , dhyana, tapas, yajna, yaga, and such rituals are not truly spiritual. They are good activities to attain purity of heart. True spirituality indeed is self-enquiry. I do not mean that you should give up all rituals and sacred actions. Self-enquiry is the most important in my view. Since you do not have people properly experienced in this field of knowledge to teach you, you find it tough and difficult to move in the right direction.
If this question, “Who are you?” is put to a group of people you get different answers. One says in reply, “I am an Indian”. This is not correct, because you may shift to America and then you become an American. If you go to Russia, you are a Russian and so on. India is the country where you are born. But you are not the country. So to say, “I am an Indian” is wrong. To the same question “Who or you”? Another would say, “I am an engineer”. This is not correct, because you are an engineer by virtue of your profession. You are not the profession you are in. Some answer in a different way, saying, “I am so and so …I am Ram, I am Syam.” It is a name given to you by your parents. You are not born with that name nor did you come to this world with a signboard on your forehead. You are not the name as you may change it according to your taste at any time.
One may prefer to answer the question “Who are you?” in another way saying, “I am a young man”, “I am an aged person”, “I am a boy” and so on. This is also wrong. Why? Boyhood, youth, and old age are the different stages that you pass through in your life. But you remain one and the same person all along. At one time, you were a boy. Then, a man. Later a father and finally a grandfather. But you have been the same person throughout. Then, how can you identify yourself with your age which does not remain the same? Another person may feel like saying, “I am a tall person”, “I am a handsome man”, “I am a lean man”. These are again the replies related to the nature of the body. This is not correct, you are not the body, which is merely an instrument, because while you are in deep sleep your body is passive and static, and you are not aware of its existence. You are not the mind also.
If you think you are the mind you lead the life of ego and pride. Even the mind does not exist in susupti, deep sleep. You are not the intellect either. You may be intelligent but you are not the intellect. Intellect is God’s gift for you to discriminate, judge, decide and thus to be discreet. But, when it turns selfish, it is called “individual discrimination”. But, what is expected is “fundamental discrimination”, which is universal, and is good to everybody. You will also know that buddhi, intellect, does not exist in deep sleep. So, definitely you are not the intellect which is only an instrument like the body and the mind.
So, what is the correct answer to this question, “Who are you”? It is “I am atma”. This atma is the eternal witness and is the experiencer of all. This exists in all the three states of consciousness, jagrata waking state, svapna, dreaming state, and susupti, deep sleep. You may be named in any way, you may belong to any country, you may be of any age group or profession, etc., but as a matter of fact, you are the ‘Eternal Atma’ only. This is the correct answer you get in the path of self-enquiry. This is true spirituality.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! What is Vedanta?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The Veda is dualism. Vedanta is nondualism. There is nothing beyond Vedanta. Milk on curdling becomes curds. You get butter when you churn curds. When you heat butter, you get ghee. Ghee is the final stage of milk. Even if you heat further it remains the same. So, milk after passing through changes becomes ghee. Milk represents dualism and ghee represents nondualism.
Question) Swami, do you view that the three schools of Vedanta philosophy like dualism, dvaita, qualified nondualism visistadvaita and nondualism advaita as contradictory to one another? Does one school advocate just the opposite of what the other says?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: This is how it is usually understood and practiced by many. But, truly speaking it is not so. In fact; these three are integrated. You find one as being the continuation of the other. You will notice that one leads to the other.
Take for example, sugarcane. You find juice in the sugarcane. Here, there is pulp and juice. This is the state of dualism. Now, you can extract juice separating the pulp from the sugarcane. The juice, though very important and the very essence drawn out of the sugarcane, does not stay long or cannot be preserved for long. This state of obtaining the juice, separating the pulp from the sugarcane is the state of qualified nondualism. This juice is purified, refined and processed into sugar and sugar remains the same forever. This is the state of nondualism. You can make use of sugar in anyway you like.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! One cannot escape from the effects of fate or destiny. Things are preordained, and accordingly events happen in our life. This being inevitable, we suffer and face difficulties. Would you please tell us the way out of this?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Everything in life is nothing but a reflection of your own thought and deed of your earlier life or lives. You pretend happily to think that none can notice you. But God within you knows full well all your thoughts, feelings and deeds. God is everywhere. You cannot hide anything from Him. One day or other you must face the consequences of your actions. This is the supreme truth.
You think and blame someone else, holding him responsible for your troubles. You are thoroughly mistaken here. Your actions are responsible for both the good and the bad you experience in this life. God is an eternal witness of all human activities. He created this world and gave it to man for his enjoyment, but on one condition that he must face the consequences of his own actions. God is like a postman. He is least bothered about the contents of the letters that he hands over to people. It is all a matter of relationship that exists between you and the one who writes you a letter. God is not concerned in any other way about the matter. Well, you receive a wedding card, you don’t pay complements to the postman, do you? If you receive a threatening letter from someone, you don’t blame the postman either. The postman is merely an instrument in the process of delivering letters. But prayer does help you to withstand tensions and problems with courage. Intense prayer, deep devotion, strong faith, sincere repentance, constant yearning and supreme love for God can alter the sequence of events in life. They can make even God reverse His own will. Take for example, the life of Markandeya. Fate granted him only sixteen years of life. But his devotion to Lord Siva was so intense that He made him immortal. God had to review and revise His own master plan in response to the prayers of Markandeya.
Take another example. There is a prisoner punished according to the laws of the penal code. During the period of imprisonment, if the character and conduct of the prisoner are found to be good and if he follows all the rules, regulations, and code of discipline imposed by the jail authorities, there is scope for the reduction of his jail term. There is another point you should note. Suppose the appeal of a person in a criminal case is lost in all the courts from the district level to the High Court even the Supreme Court, and when punishment like death sentence or life imprisonment becomes imminent and inevitable, the President of India can still order his release from jail on grounds of mercy and for special reasons. Similarly, though you are bound to suffer and destined to face difficulties as a result of your past actions, God in response to your sincere prayer and repentance will change the course of your life and save you from your suffering. God confers special grace on you being pleased with your single-minded devotion to Him.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Bhagavadgita wants us to give up the fruits of our actions, karmaphalaparityaga, both good and bad. Since we do good rarely, there is very little or none to offer you as the fruits of our good actions. We feel that it is not proper to offer evil or bad to you. What is to be done?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You have to surrender both good and bad to God. Never get yourself attached to the results of your actions, be they good or bad. God is beyond these two opposites as He is nondual. Any water, pure or impure when mixed with Ganga, you will notice, does not affect the sanctity of Ganga. The sanctity never diminishes. Similarly, whatever you put into the fire gets burnt. The fire is in no way affected or polluted by those things that are put into it. Hence, if you offer both good and bad to God, ultimately you will be benefited.
A small example. Suppose you have a five hundred rupee currency note in your pocket, and you need to go out on some business and return later. You will be very careful to see that you do not lose it. You keep your hand on the pocket if you go to a cafeteria for a cup of coffee so that no one will pick your pocket. Even in a theatre, you will be vigilant. But on the other hand, if you deposit that money in the bank, it will be credited to your account and it will be safe. Then, you don’t need to bother about it further. So also, if you surrender all the good you have done to God without attaching any value to the results, what happens is that you will be humble and simple. Here you do not take the credit. You thank God. You are full of thankfulness and gratitude to God. But if you own and claim the results of all your good and meritorious deeds, you will feel that you are the doer, so much so you will become proud and egoistic. Hence, you should surrender the reward of your good actions to God.
Then how about the evil or bad to be offered to God? You may feel that it is not proper to do so. Yet, you will notice that it will help you finally. A small example for you in this matter. Suppose you have with you a spoiled, dirty and halftorn five hundred rupee note. You don’t throw it away as it is a valuable currency note. But you have not been able to use it. No one will accept that note. You are not in a position to buy anything. So, you can neither throw it away nor use it. But, if you deposit the very same currency note in the Reserve Bank, they accept it and give you a brand new note. One thing is very necessary. The number on the currency note should be very clear for them to accept and give you a good note. Similarly, the currency note of your deeds and consequences of your bad action, if offered to God, He will see the ‘number’ of ‘devotion’ on the note and give you in turn the good note or transform you. God is the Reserve Bank. Only God can receive your evil tendencies and misdeeds and transform them into good ones and give them back to you. Hence, both good and bad must be offered to God for your own ultimate benefit.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! All the experiences, which are dual, are obtained due to our mind. Swami says ‘Mind is a mad monkey.’ Pleasure and pain are both due to our mind. How are we to kill the mind (manonasanam), annihilate it?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The mind never makes you suffer; it all depends upon the way you use it. It is everywhere. It takes the form of that into which it gets. It is deathless. So, it is said that the mind is the world, manomulamidam jagat. Therefore, annihilation of the mind, manonasanam is not correct. What you should desire is the merger of the mind with the divine, manolaya .
Just as the river merges in the mighty ocean, the mind should also merge in the Self. The mind surrendered to God becomes Ramadas, servant of Rama. But the mind full of desires is a slave to the organs, kamadas.
The mind should not be allowed to be lured by what we call in Telugu balimi, strength, kalimi, wealth and celimi, friendship. It should be filled with divine thoughts so that it may become one with God.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Are there any who attained tadatmya with God? We hear that total identification with God is the highest step in spirituality.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Yes. There are many who experienced that state of total identification with God. In fact, a devotee should aim at it. There was a Westerner by name, Hen, who was very intelligent. The famous scientist, Darwin, was his guru. He started seeing his guru by contemplating on him continuously. Darwin concentrated his vision on a star and experienced certain vibrations. His student also reached that state.
You also must have heard of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. At one time, while worshipping Lord Sri Rama, he considered himself Hanuman. It is reported that he developed a short tail during that time.
You also find another illustration in the great epic Ramayana. Bharata wanted Rama to come back to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. He pleaded with him repeatedly. But, Rama refused to return, since he had decided and vowed to follow the command of his father and follow dharma in toto. Bharata left the place, after Rama promised that he would return immediately after the period of exile. The period was almost over and Bharata was expecting Rama to return at the appointed hour. Unable to bear the anguish at seeing no sign of Rama’s arrival, Bharata got ready a funeral pyre and was prepared to jump into it ready for self-immolation. In the meantime, Rama had sent Hanuman in advance with a message to Bharata in order to avert this situation and to inform Bharata of his arrival as he had promised before. Hanuman immediately dashed off to Nandigrama where Bharata was staying. As Hanuman was just landing, he noticed the scene there. Bharata was circumambulating the pyre into which he was about to jump and burn himself. Hanuman thought, “How is it that Rama is here? Why is Rama circumambulating the pyre?” Evidently, it means that Bharata looked exactly like Rama due to his constant meditation on him. This left even Hanuman confused. This is the meaning of what the Veda says, “Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati”: Constant awareness of Brahman makes you Brahman.
Towards the end of the Ramayana, after he had killed Ravana, Rama was returning to Ayodhya along with his consort Sita and Lakshmana in a chariot. Bharata himself was driving the chariot. As the chariot was approaching the outskirts of Ayodhya, the inhabitants were eager to receive Rama, Sita and Lakshmana with garlands. Here again, the people were confused since Bharata, holding the reins of the chariot, looked exactly like Rama. When the people were about to garland Bharata mistaking him for Lord Rama, Bharata had to silently and softly point out to Rama with his folded hands as to who should be garlanded. This is again an instance of total identification, tadatmya .
Here is another example. You must have heard of Swami Samartha Ramadas, the preceptor of emperor Sivaji. Like Bharata, Swami Samartha Ramadas also looked for some time exactly like Lord Rama in his form as well as in his manner of walking with the bow and arrow on his shoulders. People, watching this, were amazed, and one of them asked him, “If you are really Lord Rama, can you shoot the bird sitting over there on a branch located on the top of that distant tree?” Ramadas killed the bird with an arrow. It fell on the ground. Someone said then, “You have killed the bird for no reason. It did no harm to you. Rama, known for compassion, never kills anyone without a valid reason. Can you revive it now?” Then, the Swami collected the dead bird with both his hands and lifted it. He prayed for its life. Lo and behold! The wings started to flutter. The bird moved slowly and finally flew away. All present there joined in a chorus shouting in praise of the Swami, “Jai! Samartha Ramadas Ki Jai,” Our praises to Swami Samartha Ramadas! This is an instance of total identification with God.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! You are referring to anubhavajnanam, practical knowledge. We think we know many things. Is this not wisdom?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Certainly not! The pity is that you do not realise that you do not know. You know very little and what you know is at best negligible. But you think you know everything. What you study is very little and it is a big mistake if you think that you know everything. It is foolish too. There is a lot to be known. What you know is but a fragment, and it is not total knowledge.
Now, look! What is this? This, as you see, is a handkerchief. (At this point, Swami, kept the handkerchief in his grip and held it in such a way that only a bit could be seen outside his fist.) Now, what is this? This is only a piece of cloth. It is not the whole kerchief. (Then Swami spread the kerchief and held it in His hands). Now, what is this? You will say, “It is a kerchief”. Seeing only a bit, you cannot call it a handkerchief. So also, acquiring a little knowledge, you can hardly claim to have attained total knowledge. This is a mistake the educated commit in this modern age. They know a little and claim to know everything. Complete or total knowledge is awareness, and not knowledge of a bit or a fragment. This you should remember. Go in for the whole. Be aware!
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! When does a devotee get total experience?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Bhakti finds its fulfilment in mukti. Till then, we can’t say that a devotee has got total experience. Total experience is purnan ubhavam, advaitanandam, a state of nondual bliss, brahmanandam, Supreme bliss, and nityanandam, eternal bliss. A simple example, A river flows incessantly. There may be a number of obstacles in its way. Yet, the river flows on taking different turns. It overcomes the obstacles and proceeds forward. How long and how far? It must reach the ocean and merge in it. The ocean does not permit the merger so easily. It drives away the river or pushes it out. Still the river does not give up its attempt. Finally, as the ocean tides rise the river merges. When layam, sayujyam, merger of the two takes place, there the river finds visranti and prasanti, rest and peace.
Similar is the relationship between a devotee and God. The flow of devotion leading to merging in God is sadhana. The river merging in the ocean is the merger of the individual jiva with brahman, which is known as jiva brahmaikyata; a state of perfect merging or unison of jivatma and paramatma or jiva and brahman.
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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