Satyopanishad – Upanishad Of Sri Sathya Sai – Part 15
Anil Kumar Kamaraju Questions Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! We are influenced by social, ethical, scientific, economic and political factors in life. I have one question to ask you. If I am wrong, kindly pardon me. We hear people speaking about equality and equanimity. How can we achieve them? Some groups in society claim to work towards these ideals. How are we to accomplish them?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: There is nothing wrong if one is a seeker of truth. You understand clearly that the two words you now mentioned ‘samanatva’ equality, and ‘samatva’ equanimity, are not synonymous. They have different meanings.
Samatva, equanimity, is to be achieved at the individual level, while samanatva, equality, applies to a society. It is impossible to realise and establish samatva anywhere and at any time. Your body is not equal to it. It has ups and downs. While your nose and stomach project outwards, your neck dips downwards. Are you like a pillar? Then, how about the earth? Is it level? No. It is full of ups and downs with mountains, valleys, hills, oceans etc. Isn’t it? Are all of you of the same height, weight and complexion? Are your ideas, aspirations, ambitions equal? No. Where is equality then?
A small illustration. One person has seven acres of land. Another person has five acres. Supposing you divide the land equally between them, the first person loses one acre and naturally feels sad while the other person gains one more acre and feels happy. The feelings of the two are not the same. Then, where is equality?
A small story to illustrate the same meaning. A certain king went round his kingdom in disguise and noticed the sufferings and difficulties of some of his people. He decided to alleviate their sufferings. He went to a forest and there he prayed to God. God manifested before him and granted him the life span of a hundred years to realise his dream of establishing equality in his kingdom, when all people would be happy and equal. On hearing this, the queen went and prayed to God. “Oh! God! May the people also be granted a hundred year span of life! What is the use if only the king lives for a hundred years?” God granted a hundred years to each one of the people also. Then a few elders did penance and pleased God who responded to their prayers by granting a hundred years to the queen, Rajyalajkshmi. After some time the king returned to his kingdom, and with great difficulty, he could find out his palace because God had made all equal and hence he noticed palaces all over.
The king asked the queen, “Why are the streets dirty?” She said, “Oh! We have no sweepers now, all being equal”. Then the king asked the queen to get some water ready for him to take his bath. The queen said, “Oh King! We have no servants as all are equal now”. The king realised his mistake, as he found the entire social order greatly disturbed. He immediately prayed to God for the return of the old order.
This is how the so-called equality operates. But, ‘equanimity’ is different. It has to be achieved by everyone. It is the state of mind unruffled by ‘bumps and jumps’ in life, not tossed about by defeats and failures. A state of mind that remains the same in the time of both fortune and misfortune is said to be equanimous. You should not be elated by praise or depressed by blame but maintain equanimity in both the times, Spiritually, ‘ekovasi sarvabhutantaratma,’ the same God is in everyone. Feelings of thirst and hunger are identical for all. Desires differ, views vary. As you know, ‘tastes differ’. Equality is impossible but equanimity is desirable and one has to work for it.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Excuse me for putting this question. We speak of ‘God’ and ‘demigod’. Are both the same? Please clarify.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: I often say, “You are God”. In the ancient days our population was much less, say about three cores. So people said there were three crores of ‘demigods’ devatas. Remember that the human body is the moving temple of God. But, it should be realised in your experience. This you don’t get out of worldly or secular knowledge. You don’t get it in the realm of your mind with ‘sujnana.’ But, it is experienced through atmajnana, knowledge of the Self. If God is the Prime Minister, Demigods, devatas are Cabinet Ministers, each one of them being in charge of a particular department, like Finance, Education, Home, etc.
During earlier times, they considered the five elements demigods, such as; agnideva, Fire God, vayudeva, Wind God, bhumata , Mother Earth, varunadeva, Rain God, Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, Sarasvati, Goddess of knowledge, Durga, Goddess of Energy; and so on. If you write a letter addressed to Prime Minister, it will go to him, so also your prayers to God. But, if you write to the Cabinet Ministers separately, the letters go to them respectively. Our yajnas and yagas are the sacred rituals that appease demigods.
Another example. There are two types of telephone calls. One is the number call and the other the personal call. When I dial your number to find out if you are at home, anyone at home can respond. But, if I make a personal call only you will reply. Similarly, all prayers to demigods are like number calls. But, a prayer to God is the personal call.
During namasankirtan, congregational singing, all can sing mentioning various names, attributes and qualities of God. However, in meditation you have to concentrate on a name and form of your choice.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Good company is very essential for everybody. Is it as significant as it is said to be?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Undoubtedly, good company is very important for every one of you. In fact, you should also seek the company of good people. You should run away from bad company. It is the company you join that, decides your life. So, it is said, “Tell me your company! I shall tell you what you are!” Dust when it is in association with the wind goes up, but the same dust in association with water sinks down. Another example for you. In ten cups of milk if you mix one cup of water, the value of water also will go up. But, on the other hand, in ten cups of water, if you pour one cup of milk, the milk will lose its value. See, this explains clearly the importance of the association or the company you keep.
You also hear in the Mahabharata about Kama, who, in spite of all his excellence in archery, intelligence, and physical prowess, because of his bad company, has come to be known as one among the ‘dustacatustaya’, the four wicked ones. Kama lost all his name and fame, because of bad company.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! What is your advice to employees, who struggle to make both ends meet and wish to follow Swami?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: I have advised you a great many times to keep hands in society and head in the forest. You work well with both your hands. Be very sincere in your work and serve whole heartedly. At the same time, keep God as your aim and objective. You should keep Him in your mind at all times.
Consider a mother. She may be very busy with her household work, but she never forgets her child. She knows when her child will feel hungry and needs to be fed.
You must have watched the dance programme in our auditorium. The dancer keeps two or three pots one above the other on the head, and moves her head and limbs precisely to the rhythm and the drum beat. To the surprise of the audience all the while the pots remain exactly one above the other on her head as they were kept just before the dance performance began. How? The answer is simple. As she dances, she constantly concentrates on the pots over her head so that the balance is neverlost. Similarly, in your life you may be doing several things. Yet, you should ever remember God and keep him as your sole aim. Always look up inwardly.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! You are unique in explaining both the components of our life, the spiritual and the physical. You alone can do it in this world. It is most necessary that we mix with people, and sometimes even intimately. We have to interact with one another in our daily life. How are we to speak, and what is good for us to speak? Kindly tell us about this, Swami!
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You think that worldly life and spiritual life are separate entities. They are not. Spirituality is awareness. It is total knowledge and not pieces or bits of information. You should always talk sweetly and softly. You can please everyone with your fine talk. See, when a crow sits on the wall repeating kav, kav we chase it away, but when a cuckoo repeats kuhu, kuhu, you too start imitating its sweet sound. Both are birds, but where does the difference lie? It is only the sound, you see! Similarly your talk makes all the difference. The crow has not harmed you in the least, nor has the cuckoo rendered any help to you. It is only the sound that pleases or displeases you. You should speak the truth, you should talk pleasingly. You cannot always oblige, but you can speak obligingly. Is it not? Your words should never hurt or harm anyone.
One day, a hunter was chasing a deer in the forest. A sage who was sitting there saw the deer running fast to escape the hunter. The hunter in his search for the deer, saw the sage and asked him if he had seen a deer passing by. In reply, the sage said, “Oh hunter! The eye that saw the deer passing cannot speak and the tongue that speaks cannot see. What can I say?” So nothing false was spoken.
You must have heard of the great king Harischandra. By just telling one lie, he could have easily got back the kingdom that he had lost. By adhering to truth, his son was brought back to life, and his family reunited. He did not utter a single lie. He stuck to truth only. So, till this day his name is remembered and it has come to stay so long as the sun, the moon and this galaxy remain. He is the very embodiment of truth. So he is called “Satya Harischandra” mat aku pran amu satyamu.
You should not talk too much or excessively. If you do so, society will call you a chatterbox, a loose tongued man. Ati bhasa mati hani, too much talk turns you mad. Mitabhasa atihayi, limited talk makes you very happy as you are not likely to tell a lie, criticise, gossip, or talk vainly.
You lose your respect if you talk endlessly. You tend to lose your memory as well. You lose your energy. If you switch on a radio and keep it on high volume for a long time, many units of electricity are consumed, aren’t they? So also, your energy gets consumed if you keep talking for long.
Note that it is always in the depth of silence that the voice of God is heard. If anyone greets you with a ‘hello,’ respond with a ‘hello’; if anyone says ‘goodbye’, you also reply in the same way, ‘goodbye’. That’s all. You talk only when it is necessary and to the extent it is needed.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Is it not a help to a person if I point out his mistakes?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Thinking of the mistakes of someone else, you also become defective. To face and to resist a bad man you have to become even worse than him. So, it is a sin to point out the mistakes of others. If you point out the mistakes of others with one finger, three fingers point towards you. As the saying goes, a street dog is always in search of slippers. A pig spends its time in gutters. You would also look like a pig if you go on looking at the faults of others. In a way, a monkey is much better than a man who finds fault with others. When a monkey finds an orange fruit, what does it do? It will take away the outer rind and then eats the fruit. Will it not? This sort of separating the good from the bad is called vibhagayoga. You should give up the bad, the undesirable.
In Japan, there is a city by name Kyoto. A woman was passing through a particular street carrying with her a big bundle of clothes wrapped up in a neat pure piece of white cloth. These clothes were all dirty and were not neat. Someone asked, “What are those clothes?” She said, “I want to show you the good. I want you to see the good. Therefore, I have wrapped these dirty clothes in a white cloth”. Finding faults in others, making fun of others, criticising others, are mistakes that one should not commit.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Now we understand that we are mistaken with regard to our knowledge. You have explained clearly what awareness is by saying that it is complete knowledge but not the knowledge of a bit or a piece of anything. How are we to cultivate this awareness?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Spirituality is very essential for awareness. It is impossible to develop awareness by any other means. With a spiritual background, things will be very clear to you. You will then have total understanding, which is awareness. Otherwise, what you acquire is bookish knowledge, superficial knowledge, general knowledge but not practical knowledge, which is awareness. This is possible only in the spiritual path.
A small example. You sow a seed in the ground. It germinates into a plant. But do you expect the seed to germinate if it is kept in a tin? Impossible. Similarly, the plant ofawareness grows in the field of spirituality and not in a tin of worldly pleasures. The awareness then developed is, in fact, true awareness.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Now it is clear that this sort of “awareness” is not available in our educational institutions, that awareness is so very important for all of us. You are the incarnation of God in the present day world. Why don’t you, by your grace, grant us this boon of awareness?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: If everything is done by God Himself, what will be there for you to do? How will you make use of the God given mind and intellect? Don’t you realise that these divine instruments like the mind and the intellect that you are equipped with will be a waste if God does every thing for you? The mother cooks and serves food. She cannot eat it on behalf of the child! When the child sustains any injury the mother feels sad. But she cannot bandage herself on behalf of the child!
Though you sit in front of the plate filled with potato curry and chapatti, you must also pick them up with your own hands and eat. By simply repeating “potato, chapatti” will your hunger be appeased? The hand and the mouth should be put to work. Is it not? Similarly, you should make use of your mind and intellect.
Everything will be known to you. By your effort, you will win God’s grace. With krsi, effort, one can even become a rishi, a sage. Do your duty thinking at the same time of the Lord. Krishna too said the same thing to Arjuna, mamanusmara yudhya ca, “O Arjuna! Remember me and fight!” Chanting Rama’s name, Hanuman could cross the mighty ocean. So do your duty and you can achieve whatever you want to.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Spiritual aspirants observe austerities like upavasa, fasting, jagarana, vigil and consider them spiritual. We request you to let us know their importance and inner significance.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: The traditions, rituals, and the age old practices of Bharat have a meaning and significance. Aspirants undoubtedly get divine experiences. But today people are after external and pompous rituals without any understanding of their inner significance. So they have forgotten the very goals and purposes for which they were originally intended. Almost all the rituals have become mechanical, monotonous and routine. There is none to explain to them lucidly .Most people are not aware of the subtleties. So, you don’t find anybody practicing austerities or rituals sincerely. Man need not change. It is the mind that should change.
Suppose you are traveling to a distant place and you don’t have food to eat on the way: Can you consider this upavasa, fasting? Will this be of any spiritual use? A patient doesn’t take normal food. Is that fasting? What do you get out of it? To feel God in you is upavasa and not mere fasting as the literal meaning goes: Upa, near, vasa, living: In other words, upavasa means living close to or near God. It means one should turn inward, feel God and constantly think of Him. This is upavasa in its true sense. Today, we notice people who fast on the ekadasi day. But, they eat double the normal quantity of food the next day. The madhvas (followers of Madhvacharya) observe Bhisma ekadasi on which day they fast. They don’t swallow even their saliva.
In the state of Karnataka, they say in Kannada, “bida bedi bittu keda bedi” which means, do not give up and spoil yourself. When you give up anything, don’t pick it up again. It is a bad habit. Instead, what is happening? They get the flour ready well grinded and preserve the dough for three days. With this they make nice tasteful dosas, south Indian tiffin. So in Kannada it is said, indu adideekadasi ondu tindu nalavattu dosa, it means, in the name of ekadasi, on one fasting day in a month, preparations are made for as many as forty dosas. Is this upavasa? No, definitely not.
Why should you observe vigil, jagarana? Why is jagarana , keeping awake throughout the night, observed? It means that you should keep off from your worldly happiness, sensual pleasures and material comforts. You should be unmindful of all these mundane matters, but awake or vigilant to the inner core, the atma. You should be awake in respect of the inner divinity while neglecting worldly botherations. But what is done in the name of jagarana? They play cards throughout the night or watch three movies one after the other throughout the night in the name of jagarana. Watchmen, nurses in the hospital on duty, Railway station masters on duty don’t sleep in the night. Does it amount to jagarana? Certainly not! Merely skipping sleep is an external ritual. One should know the inner reality while observing these rituals. Since they are all done mechanically, they are made fun of and they look ridiculous in the eyes of others.
Question) Anil Kumar: Swami! Some want us to do puja, some suggest dhyana, meditation, a few prescribe parayana, reading of the scripture and some others assure us of good results from japa, repetition of God’s name. I am confused about what to do and which one to follow. Kindly tell me the best among these ways to be followed in my sadhana?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: You can follow any of them with total prema, love, nissvardha, selflessness, chittasuddhi, purity of your heart, ekagrata, onepointedness, and saranagati, surrender to realise and experience God.
You follow the path that suits your convenience. Any procedure that appeals to you and gives you shanti, and ananda can be followed. But never imitate. Never go by other people’s words and paths. You follow your chosen path. Otherwise, you lose your own way also. Imitation is human. But creation is divine.
A small example to illustrate that one becomes a loser by following others. There was a fruit market and it was the season when mangoes were available in plenty. A shopkeeper got a board specially painted with the words “Good mango fruits are sold here” and displayed it in front of his shop to promote sales. One stranger came and said, “Sir! What is it that is written there on the board? This is a fruitmarket. Why should you have the word on the board ‘here’? It looks silly andsuperfluous. I suggest you erase this word ‘here'”. Then the shopkeeper sentword to the painter and erased that word on the board ‘here’.
Now on the board, the words “Good mango fruits are sold” were left. Another man came to the shop and said “What, Sir? You don’t look smart and intelligent. Have you yourself cared to read what is written on the board? This is the mango season. All the shops are selling mangoes only. Why should you write ‘mangoes’ especially, as if they are here only? Better you remove the word ‘mango’ from the board!”
The shopkeeper got it erased with the help of the painter. Now on the board the words “Good Fruits are sold” were left. Another customer came and said, “What non-sense is this? Do you find any one selling ‘bad fruits’? How funny it looks when you say ‘good fruits’, very silly! Remove those words ‘good fruits’ from the board.”
The shopkeeper was convinced and got them erased with the result that only the word ‘Are sold’ were left on the board. A well wisher of the owner who happened to pass by looked at the board and was shocked. He said. “What? Are you mad? Did you read the board? What do you mean by ‘Are sold’? Are you going to sell the board or what?” Theshopkeeper called for the painter and got the words ‘Are sold’ removed. Now he was left with a blank board. Finally, the painter gave the bill with two entries, one for initially painting the letters and the other for erasing each word at intervals. What happened to the owner of the shop who paid heed to the words of everyone? He lost both the board and that money. This will happen to you too, if you adopt other people’s ways.
Your Guru also prescribes a method that suits you. He never wants all and sundry to follow the same pattern. The methods of sadhana are suggested depending on your capacity, skill, understanding and the level of your spiritual awareness.
I give you here a simple illustration from the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Once it so happened, that one disciple by name Brahmananda was crossing the river in aboat to buy and fetch the requirements for the residents of the asram. He overheard the conversation going on among others that boarded the same boat. One said that Ramakrishna was spoiling many youngsters who were wasting their time by being lazy in the name of devotion and that it was surprising to see them with shaven heads and wearing ochre robes. Brahmananda felt very sad and shed tears. He returned to the asram that evening. Ramakrishna asked him what had happened in the boat while crossing the river. Brahmananda recounted the whole episode feeling very bad about the remarks made against Ramakrishna and his disciples. Then Ramakrishna was furious and said, “What Brahmananda! How could you hear all these remarks! Can you bear when your Guru is criticised like that? How do you react when your parents are attacked? How could you hear all this?”
Next day, it was the turn of Vivekananda to go to the market. He boarded the boat and was on his way. Vivekananda had to hear once again the boatman speaking ill of Ramakrishna for making youngsters lazy and useless. He could not control his anger. He got upimmediately, held the neck of the boatman and was even ready to push him into the Ganges. Somehow, others calmed him down.
In the evening, as usual in the course of the conversation, Ramakrishna, surrounded by his young disciples, asked Vivekananda what had happened in the boat. He proudly reported his reaction to the words of the boatman. Then Ramakrishna said, “What Naren! Are you not ashamed of your behaviour? Couldn’t you control your anger? What is the use of your sadhana? Is this the way a brahmacari should behave?”
Vivekananda then asked, “It is very strange to hear you speak like this. The other day you were angry with Brahmananda for keeping quiet when we were criticised. Today when I reacted to the same words, you are blaming me. Why this difference, Swami?” Ramakrishna smiling said, “A bicycle has two tires. There is too much air in the front wheel. A little of it should be let out. The air is less than necessary in the back wheel. Some more air must bepumped into it. So also, Brahmananda should have more spirit, while your temper must be reduced.” That’s how the individual level is important in the spiritual path. You shouldn’t imitate and follow others blindly.
Question) Bhagawan! In our namavali, series of names of God, we address God by so many names. We havemore than a hundred names ‘astottara’ and a thousand names ‘asahasranama.’ Of these various names, which is the best and the exact name of God?
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba: All names and forms are His only. There is nothing in the universe, which is not His. You should consider God as the indweller of your heart hrdayavasi. Draupadi, when she was being disrobed and humiliated, prayed to Krishna for help, calling him ‘brndavanasancari ‘ and ‘mathuranatha’ which caused some delay in Krishna’s manifesting to save her. To prove the truth of her prayerful words, Krishna had to go to Brindavan and Mathura and then reach the open court to save her. Had she called Krishna ‘Hrdayavasi’, the indweller of her heart He would have appeared immediately before her and saved her straight away from disgrace. You sing ‘Brndavanasancari’ in your bhajans. Presently I am in Kodaikanal. Are you not wrong? You sing, prasantivasa, partivihara, ‘one who is in Prasanti Nilayam, moves about in Puttaparti’, in your bhajans. Is it right? No. I am in Kodaikanal, not in Parti or Prasanthi. But, if you say ‘Hrdayavasi’ the indweller of your heart, though I may be physically anywhere, you will get immediate response from me.
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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