Beauty And The Beast

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Beauty And The Beast

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

Sathya Sai Baba reminds us again and again that our true nature is Ananda or Bliss, but the sad fact is that in this wide world, wherever we turn, there is a lot of violence. Violence always causes pain, suffering agony and anguish. It is natural therefore to wonder why there is so much violence and conflict, if we all are the Sparks of the Divine and Embodiments of Love, as Swami invariably addresses us. That is the question we wish to explore this Sunday.

A wise man once said that the Mind has infinite capacity to trick itself. This is very true; the Mind of man is indeed enormously powerful. That should be no surprise because in the Gita, Krishna emphatically declares that among the senses, HE is the Mind, meaning that the Mind is packed with vast reserves of the Power of God. It is because of that Divine Power latent in the Mind that man has been able to accomplish so much, not only in art, music, and literature but in Science as well. In fact, it is in the areas of Science and Technology that the awesome power of the human Mind becomes most evident. All this means that man must undoubtedly be incredibly clever.

The question now arises: “If man is so very clever, how come he is not able to see the obvious?” The word obvious here refers to the dangers that Mind can create. This is precisely where the quote we offered becomes relevant, besides uncovering an immense tragedy. It all starts with the question as to what man thinks he is. This is not a trivial matter, which is why Swami often poses the question: “Who am I?” in His Discourses. Man has to constantly ask this question of himself, and look for the answer from inside. Broadly speaking, he can get two kinds of answers. Category 1 would be, “You are so and so, you are a terrific person because you achieved this and that,” and so on. This answer that man gets is from what might be called the lower-self or ego, as spiritual philosophers describe it. Basically, the ego is shorthand for a man who identifies himself with his body, his senses and his Mind. Such a man is all the time focussed on the external world, concerned about the success and fame he must achieve in the world, etc., etc. He is highly body-conscious. In other words, the lower-self is almost entirely preoccupied with the external world and the way the individual must respond to it.

We must mention that preoccupation with the external world need not always be in terms of achieving fame, wealth etc. For millions if not billions, it is sheer survival that is priority number one. There are millions without food, water, clothing and shelter, the primary needs of every human being, but which they do not have access to. Such people become worried, depressed and a good many of them even end up taking their lives.

One might at this point ask, and legitimately too: “Listen, it is God who created the world and it is God who put us there. It is also God who gave us the body, the senses and the Mind. And now you seem to imply that the body, the senses and the Mind form the ego, that they are dangerous, etc. There is something funny going on here and I am very confused. Can you be more clear about what you are trying to say?” A valid point and that is precisely what we wish to address today.

Let us get back to the category of answers that one would get, and consider what we would call Category 2. In response to the question “Who am I?”, the answer in Category 2 would be: “The human being is actually a composite of the body, the senses, the Mind and the Atma. This composite entity thinks it is the ego. This is a wrong choice or identification. The correct choice is for the human to say, ‘I identify myself with the Atma.’ So, the answer to the question who am I really is: ‘I AM THE ATMA.’ ”

So it all boils down to a matter of identification. The human can identify himself or herself with the ego/lower-self – that is choice one. Alternately, the human can identify herself/himself with the Atma/Higher-Self – that is choice number two. OK, there are these two choices for identification. What do they mean in practical terms? What has all this got to do with the enormous amount of violence that we see all around? That is the question we shall now turn to.

Trouble starts, sometimes in a big way, when a person identifies himself with the body. Such a person easily gets affected by the six deadly viruses lurking in the Mind – Lust/desire, anger, etc., which have been pointed out to us by Swami innumerable number of times. The senses then take over and get into the act and constantly take the person in the direction of worldly pleasures. The Mind gets corrupted, and soon the person is in the control of desires, jealousy, greed and so on. The Mind keeps on prompting: “Hey, you are born free. Why restrict yourself? Go out and have a ball!” When lust grips a person, there is trouble for sure. When greed and ambition rule a person, there is trouble for sure; and so on it goes. The problem is that the actions of an individual affect not only affect that person or those close to him but often also affect large segments of Society, if not the whole of it.

Take the case of a computer hacker, who creates a computer virus just “for kicks”. The virus may spread and affect millions of computers the world over. Thus, with Science and Technology in hand, the individual’s capacity to cause havoc on a large scale has now greatly increased. Let us now focus specifically on violence, physical violence that is. Here, one might perhaps distinguish two types: a) violence caused by the greed of some to make money, etc., and b) violence that is the result of poverty.

Let us start with the first category. We start with the gun. Everyone knows that guns kill people. Yet, there is a thriving gun industry that makes huge profits. It is simply not bothered that free availability of gun actively promotes a gun culture and thus violence. The gun industry is vigorously aided by lobbies that secures political patronage. And the movie industry aids the process for it does not bat an eyelid in the graphic portrayal of violence.

The most serious aspect of the gun industry is the huge export market it caters to. Take Africa for example. Everyone knows that there is widespread poverty in Africa , and that the continent has all kinds of problems , that need urgent solution. Yet, powerful commercial forces are busy marketing small arms, which in turn have promoted innumerable conflicts and even genocide. So Africa which ought to spend all the money it has for solving problems, ends up buying guns which add to the problem. The matter was taken up by a Committee of the UN. The Chairman of the Committee, an African, pleaded to the members from the rich countries: “Please for heaven’s sake, place an embargo on the sale of arms to Africa . These guns that you sell for profit are killing thousands and thousands of people.” His plea did not make any impact on the arms traders; all they were interested in was their market share.

That the arms industry can become excessively obsessed with sales and profits to the point of completely overlooking danger to humanity was foreseen by Gen. Eisenhower, when he retired as the President of USA. Now Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II. He was a much-decorated military officer. Yet, quite contrary to the hawks that military officers usually are, Eisenhower, in an address that he delivered when he stepped down from office, said that humanity had to protect itself from the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex or MIC as it was referred to in those days. It was a most perceptive warning with far-reaching implications. Unfortunately, what Eisenhower feared is precisely what happened later, with many countries making small arms an important item of export.

The point we are making is that the free availability of guns and various types of arms in the global market has made an enormous contribution to the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions every year. And this sale is promoted by the greed of the arms merchants. This is not to say that the rich alone are responsible for all the killing. Far from it. Poverty produces its own “reasons” for people to resort to violence, sometimes in the extreme. In the slums and the ghettos of the world, it is the poor who kill the poor; and yet, the asymmetry of wealth distribution is an important contributing factor to slum violence.

We do not wish to imply that violence and cruelty are a recent phenomenon. Far from it; they have come to man from the time he evolved from lower species. However, technology, communications, and extreme asymmetry of income now prevalent have vastly enhanced the scale of violence. It is time now to return to the starting point and link it all up.

A human being is Divine at the core but is shaped at the level of the senses and the Mind by the environment around him. If, for example, the external environment says a girl child is bad news, then people in that society try to get rid of the girl child before birth or immediately after birth. This makes two things clear. The first is that violence really starts in the Mind. The second is that it really starts with individuals, just as cancer starts with individual cells that start malfunctioning. Thus it is that violence has always been present in human society to varying extent. Having said that, we must also acknowledge that in today’s circumstances, violence has galloped and become a most horrifying phenomenon, largely due to the social climate prevailing.

Have things gone beyond the point of no return? Is there no hope for a return to sanity? There is, provided we take level 2 of individual identification seriously. Suppose each one of us says, seriously that is: “I am not the body, I am not the Mind; I am a Spark of Sathya Sai Baba at the core. Therefore, my actions should be similar to that of Swami, at least in spirit though not may be in quantity.” Suppose we make this identification seriously and start living our lives in this manner. It is not difficult to see that it would make a sea change in our individual lives. Equally important, this change would also have an impact in the environment immediately surrounding us, like our family, like our work place, etc. In other words, when individuals change their identification, there is definitely a multiplier effect.

Today, the population of the world is six billion plus. Just imagine if a mere one million people identify themselves in this manner and lead lives that are only 10 % Selfless as Swami is. What a change that can bring about in our society immediately! That really is the point we are trying to make.

Himsa and Ahimsa [non-violence] start really in individual Minds. One Hitler, for example, could eventually cause the death of over 20 millions in World War II. The Mind becomes prone to violence when in the grip of the internal enemies. One might be immensely clever but when it comes to selfishness, greed, anger, desire etc., logic almost invariably fails. As Krishna told Arjuna,

Dwelling with the Mind on sense objects develops attachment; attachment leads to desire, and desire breeds anger.

From anger arises delusion; delusion promotes confusion of the Mind; confusion generates loss of reason; and finally, loss of reason leads to complete ruin.

So you see, a person may be very clever in the worldly sense, but if he lacks discrimination, then he can become blinded to reason, cause havoc, and himself rush to ruin.

So the bottom line is, humans have two fundamental choices: 1) To submit to the senses and the Mind and identify themselves accordingly. 2) To submit to the Atma and identify themselves accordingly. If they prefer the former identification, then they would become a prey to the beast, if not become the beast themselves. On the other hand, if they make the second choice, they would emerge as the Beauty instead of as the Beast.

It is thus entirely within our power to be the Beauty or the Beast. Long ago Plato talked of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Those three words have also often been referred to by Swami, who uses the more ancient Sanskrit terms, Sathyam, Sivam, Sundaram. If we follow Sathya, we would transform into Sundaram or Beauty. If we follow Asathya and all its companions, then we are sure to become the Beast. If the world is full of beasts, then it becomes a jungle. If the world is full of Beautiful people, it becomes Heaven. It is not God who is going to make this world into Heaven. He merely gives the recipe. It is we who have to do that. And whether that happens or not depends on which of the two identification options we prefer to make.

Jai Sai Ram. H2H Team

Do We Understand What Freedom Really Means?

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Do We Understand What Freedom Really Means?

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.

This Sunday we wish to discuss the topic of freedom, especially personal freedom. There is no one who does not want freedom; indeed, history is replete with accounts of uprisings, revolutions, mutinies, etc., in quest of freedom. Countries held in thralldom have sought freedom, oppressed people and communities have sought freedom, slaves have sought freedom, women have sought freedom, and campaigns to free children held in bondage have also been mounted. With so many centuries of fight for freedom in so many societies and countries, surely we must by now know what freedom means. Moreover, there is no dearth of scholarly essays on the subject. So, you dear, reader might legitimately wonder what on earth can we say that is new. Well, we are not going to say anything that is new, but something that is hardly known; to that extent, what we shall be saying might come as something not only new but possibly also as a bit of jolt!

Boring though it might be for you, we would like to start with the fact that a human being is complex mixture of the gross body, the subtle Mind and the Causal Heart, the Spiritual Heart that is. When we talk of freedom, we must keep this important fact before us. Freedom implies no constraint, no bondage, and no subjugation. We all understand this. But the way we interpret these words is generally flawed. Yes, a slave has no freedom; freedom in relation to what? In relation to making decisions, in relation to education, travel, working hours, the type of work he or she wants to do, owning property, etc. The restrictions relate mainly to the body and to the Mind to some extent. When slaves in America got freedom, it was with respect to these parameters of life. Consider now an ex-slave who can literally do what he wants, provided of course it does not violate the law of the land. In this respect, he now is equal to others who earlier held him in slavery. Can we now say the ex-slave is completely free? Yes, free he is but only in a worldly sense. Does that mean there is another sense of the term that also we must consider? Indeed there is and that is what we shall be concerned with from now on.

To make sense of the last remark, we have to go beyond the body and the Mind to include also the Heart in our discussion of freedom. The Heart has something to do with freedom? Yes, and that is where what we say might appear as something new. However, Krishna pointed it out all long time ago, echoing the Vedas that had said it even much earlier. And of course, our beloved Sathya Sai Baba too has spoken about this matter, though it might not be well known; which is why this Sunday we are dealing with this important topic.

OK, what has the Heart got to do with freedom and all that? To answer that question, we must understand the subtle relationship between the Head and the Heart. Consider a person who says: “I am free to do what I want. I like to drink, and nobody is going to stop me. I enjoy smoking; who is going to stop me? There is no law against smoking, is there?” and so on. The person goes ahead and does all these things. Can we say this person is free and really exercising his or her freedom? That is the point we shall now explore.

The person who says I am free, is referring to constraints from outside. If say, the father of the person or the wife of the person says don’t drink, don’t smoke, and the person defies, the person does all that to show he is free from the constraints others try to impose on him. OK, the person asserts himself, defies his relatives and all that; does that make that person free? We submit, not at all. Why do we so assert? For a simple reason.

A person addicted to alcohol and smoking and who indulges in these habits in the name of freedom is actually a slave to these habits. How can a slave claim to be really free? This is where Vedanta comes into the picture. Vedanta declares – and this is also the very first thing that Krishna taught to Arjuna – that every human is Atma first, then only Mind and body. Symbolically speaking, the Mind is between the senses and the Atma. In God’s preferred scheme of things, the Mind should work harmoniously with the Atma. Why? Because that is when the person acts in accordance to his or her true nature. Whether the person knows it or not every human being is a Spark of the Divine. This fact becomes critical when we discuss the issue of whether a person is truly free or not.

Consider a king, who behaves mostly like a joker. The people of the kingdom would say, “This fellow is no king; he is a joker.” The person wears the robes of a king and yet his subjects describe him as a joker. Why? Because his behaviour is not consistent with what he is supposed to be, namely a king. Similarly, every person with human form being a Spark of the Divine is expected to exhibit Divine attributes and qualities in all his or her actions. If those qualities are missing, then the person is not acting according to the true nature of that person, and that true nature is the Divine Atma. In short, if a person acts in accordance with the dictates of the lower instincts that penetrate the Mind and capture it, then how can the person call himself or herself free?

Krishna has warned that the enemies of man hide in the dark crevices of the Mind, and Swami has told us time and again that we must fear Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Madha and Matsarya as six types of deadly snakes. These mortal enemies of man entice man through agents called senses. And once man is trapped by the senses and his Mind becomes a prey to these enemies, that man is no longer free, even if he deludes himself into thinking that he is. That is the point we are trying to make.

Let us put it all together and go over the arguments once more, slowly.

  • Humans are primarily the embodiments of the Divine Atma; the body has a human form that is perishable, but the core is Eternal and Divine. That is why Swami always used to begin His Discourses in the old days with the word: DIVYATMASWAROOPALARA, meaning, Embodiments of the Divine Atma.
  • Being Divine at the core, our true nature is also that of Divinity.
  • As such, our actions must reflect Divine attributes that is to say, virtues like Selfless Love, Compassion, Forbearance, Non-violence, etc., rather that the attributes of the lower self that include, anger, jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc.
  • A person whose actions are guided by the attributes of the lower self is not at all free; rather, the person is a slave to the senses, even though the person may delude himself or herself as being free.
  • In analysing issues relating to freedom, one should beware of the fact that the human Mind being extremely powerful, has infinite capacity to trick itself!

It is necessary at this point to make a reference to the viewpoint held in the “enlightened” world regarding freedom. If we look carefully, this viewpoint is all about what is usually referred to as “freedom of expression” and “freedom of choice”. Let us examine these matters a little bit. Freedom of expression is something that is widely valued and prized in the Western world, especially by the media and by artists. On the face of it, there can be no objection to it; however, when it comes to practical expression of this freedom one wonders whether the passionate advocates of this freedom have a good idea of the nuances. There is a saying that the media, for example, must be allowed “to tell it like it is”. That is the Western view. Vedanta, on the other hand, says that it is not in the spirit of Truth to state so-called facts, if they would cause hurt.

Sathya Sai Baba has often made a reference to the Sanskrit original, while speaking on Truth [nah bruhiyat sathyam apriyam]. In this perspective, avoiding unnecessary hurt to another person is far more important that trying to assert one’s so-called rights. Right now, there is one such issue that is causing concern to many people in India . An artist of high repute, almost an icon, has produced many paintings, showing Hindu Goddesses topless and even without any clothes whatsoever. This is supposed to be all about creativity, giving full expression to artistic freedom and all that. Understandably, this has hurt the sentiments of millions and caused a public furore. The art crowd, of course, is furious that there are objections, that artists are being denied their legitimate freedom, and that protests amount to stifling creativity, freedom of expression, etc. What the artist has done appears perfectly reasonable to the “enlightened” crowd who regard the protestors as bigots, etc.

This is one side of the story. Let us for a minute look at the other side. On this side are ordinary people who worship these Goddesses, Parvathi, for example. They are shocked by these paintings, pained, hurt, and of course angry. The art crowd screams that these illiterates cannot be allowed to curb basic freedom and that if they [these “bigots”] have their say, then we would slide into a totalitarian regime, etc.

Let us now look at both sides together. Suppose for a moment the people who want to harp on their rights focus instead on their responsibility, would they exercise their so-called right, especially when it can cause pain and even lead to conflict? By the way, the Danish cartoons and remarks by the Pontiff did lead to vigorous protests and even violence. So the question arises: “Why cannot people who are supposed to be enlightened, exercise some self-restraint in the interest of peace, and give expression to their artistic ‘rights’ when people have become ‘enlightened’ due to better education, etc?” Soon after India gained independence, Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country, often used to say: “Freedom beings responsibility.” That observation is very relevant in the present context also, though, of course, Nehru meant it in a different sense. How can one call people “enlightened”, when they insist on their rights even if it causes hurt, when they can easily forego that privilege in order to avoid causing unnecessary hurt? It is difficult to believe that the artist in question has run out of topics to paint; did he really have to do these paintings as an expression of his creativity?

“Rights” – that is the buzzword of the “enlightened” crowd. Right now, the Government in the State of Karnataka wants to ban the sale of soft drinks and fast food in schools on the ground that they contribute to child obesity. The soft drink lobby and the media are up in arms. Their slogan is: “There must be freedom of choice. If certain parents don’t want their children to eat or drink these items, then they could advise accordingly.” This is the same argument used by the peddlers of porn in the Internet.

There are any number of such issues but we shall not go into them. However, there is one general observation we must make, before we wind up. And that is – the so-called freedom to do what one likes does not amount to freedom, just because Society allows them all. Freedom means that one does not pay for one’s actions. Payment may not always be extracted by Society; yet, there might still be a stiff price to pay. Drinking and smoking are permitted in all countries, but that does not mean the drinker and smoker do not in the end pay a price. As the famous physicist George Gamow, a heavy drinker, said shortly before he died, “Finally, my liver is presenting the bill!”

Freedom granted by Society does not amount to true freedom. True freedom of action is that dictated by a mind that is not a slave to the senses and the eternal enemies, Kama, Krodha, etc. Such a mind is a companion of the Heart, and follows the dictates of the Atma. Actions are then in perfect harmony with the true nature of the individual. As indicated earlier, these ideas are not by any means new. They are as old as Vedanta, and in fact the word in Sanskrit for freedom is Swarajya, meaning self-rule; rule not by the lower self but “rule” by the Higher Self or the Atma.

So the bottom line is: Freedom to act and choose based on options is not true freedom. True state of freedom is that state where there is no price to pay; and that is the state of the Atma. When the Mind is united with the Atma, that is the true state of freedom. In all other states, there is, as the saying goes, “no free lunch!” Not only is there no price to pay in the true state of freedom but, equally important, one is in Bliss and in a state of total peace.

Jai Sai Ram. H2H Team.

God, Man And Society

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

God, Man And Society

Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilyam. This Sunday and in the one that follows, we wish to dwell on two important and strongly related topics. Together, they highlight how pertinent, important and vital are Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings to today’s world and the innumerable problems it faces. Swami’s Divine Discourses invariably dazzle us with their overpowering torrent of Divine Love and we become so dazed at the end of it all that we seldom sit back to reflect on the subtler nuances of the Message that Bhagavan Baba’s Discourses always carry. If we were to do that, we would discover any number of crucial lessons that humanity must take seriously if it is to survive. Today, we shall explore some of them.

As we are all aware, on many occasions, Swami has called attention to the quartet – Vyashti, Samashti, Srishti and Parameshti and their inter-relationship. We too have commented on that many times. Not withstanding that, we wish to examine once more the connection between the Individual, Society and God.

If we go back to ancient times, the scriptures did mention Society, Nature, and God and their inter-relationships. However, by and large, the emphasis usually was on the individual, his or her duties and responsibilities, how the individual must relate to God, how the individual must strive to purify himself or herself and become one with God. The relationship of the individual to Society was no doubt mentioned but not heavily stressed. Instead, the focus was primarily on the individual and his/her salvation.

Times have changed. But does that mean that the individual does not have to bother about the goal of salvation? By no means. However, certain new parameters enter into the picture, making the goal of salvation acquire a totally new perspective. Why all this change? That is what we shall now explore.

Let us start by listing the types of security that people normally expect and even demand. The list would include: life security, water security, food security, accommodation security, education security, job security, property security, family security and so on. While in some countries people take all these for granted, in many parts of the world, they hardly exist.

Let us now go back say a hundred thousand years or so to the time of the caveman. Whatever security the caveman wanted, he had to provide it himself. If his life was threatened, he had to protect himself. If he wanted water, he had to go in search of it himself. If he wanted food, he had to provide it himself. As for accommodation, he had to find his own cave or put together stones and create his own dwelling place. May be all this is obvious, but we do have to mention them to make our point.

Cut now to modern times. Today, everyone wants “Society” to guarantee various securities. We want to walk safely on the street? Then Society must guarantee safety. We want job security? Then “Society” must do something about it. We want healthcare? That is the job of “Society”. We want social security in old age? What’s “Society” there for? Does it not have duties and obligations? So on it goes.

So you see, somewhere between the era of the caveman and modern times, an entity called “Society” has emerged which has great relevance to the individual. This emergence is the result of civilisation, and is the direct result of co-operation between individuals. Co-operation is vital for progress and peace, which is why the Vedas stress co-operation.

Society is a kind of a macro representation of the individual. If the individual is the microcosm, then Society is the macrocosm – that is an important lesson that Swami has been giving lately, particularly because the population of the world has swelled and the world has become very inter-connected. To put it differently, the individual and Society are two sides of the same coin. By the way, if God resides in the individual, does it not imply that He is also present in Society? Can we then afford to ignore Society?

In the modern world, the individual has come to expect Society to provide all kinds of security to him or her. In this highly-interconnected world, Society must care for ALL its citizens in EQUAL measure. If some segments of Society become very powerful , then there can be all kinds of trouble – in brief, the collective power of Society can be hijacked to serve narrow interests.

Just consider this. There is a lot of clamour these days for giving market forces a free hand, cutting down Government and all that. But let a huge earthquake happen or huge tsunami strike or a huge hurricane strike . Then will the companies and corporations come to the aid of people? So, whether we like it or not, in today’s highly connected world and a world dominated by technology, we DO need an agency that would care for the common good of ALL people, especially those in the weaker sections. That agency is what we call Society. Please note we are not trying to equate Society with Government. Rather, we are taking Society to be the collective will of all people, aiming at the common good of all in equal measure.

And this is where Swami’s teachings relating to the individual on the one hand and Society on the other, enter the picture. This connection must be fully understood. Some readers may wonder why on earth are we digging up all kinds of “social issues”, when we really ought to be talking about “Spirituality”.

There is a reason for such doubts, which arise from the traditional perception of “Spirituality”. For many, Spirituality simply means rituals, scriptures, Bhagavad Gita, Discourses, Bhajans etc. This is an age-old view, and when that is adhered to, many feel comfortable; this is perfectly understandable. On the other hand, when Swami talks to students, He often dwells on what people would call “practical” matters. Why? For a very good reason.

Consider, for example, Sathya Sai Baba’s Mission in the area of education. When Swami established His University, there were already 108 Universities in the country; why then one more? If we examine carefully, we would realise that Swami has done this to highlight one of the many responsibilities that Society has to bear. Through His University, Swami is giving Society three important messages. They are: 1) Character development must always be at the core of all educational programs. 2) It is not enough to stuff the brain; the body and the Soul also need balanced development. 3) Education must be available free, and students should not be made to pay to pay through their nose, as is increasingly becoming the case. In other word, education must become the responsibility of Society and not be abandoned to market forces.

Similarly, through His amazing Hospitals, Swami is sending the same message in regard to healthcare. Society must assume responsibility for the healthcare of its citizens, and not let citizens fend for themselves.

Space limitations prevent us from going into many important details concerning all this but we would like to point out that when Swami talks of practical knowledge being more important than bookish knowledge, what He implies is that practical Spirituality is far more pertinent and important than textbook Spirituality; which is why He often says that hands that serve are holier than lips that pray.

As Swami repeatedly tells His students, we are what we are because of Society; and therefore we owe a deep debt to Society, all the time. When He went to Delhi in March 1999, Swami delivered a powerful Discourse wherein He gave a new and very practical meaning to KarmaYoga. In ringing tones He said, “People think Seva means taking a broom and sweeping the village roads. That is NOT necessarily the only way to do Seva. In fact, the best Seva you can do is to do your job properly, earning every penny you are paid. Do honest work, do hard work and work such that people are not swindled or cheated but benefited. It does not matter whether you work for a company or in a Government Department. All Karma [action/duty] must be performed reverentially, in the belief that duty is God; work would then automatically get elevated to worship.” Similarly, in Bombay when leading industrialists complained about the growth of crime, He severely reprimanded them for living in skyscrapers and not doing anything for the slum dwellers who lived right below. In fact, so fiery was His speech that next day, the Times of India reported the speech with the headline: Sai Baba Thunders!

Sathya , Dharma, Shanti, Prema, and Ahimsa acquire full meaning only when they prevail in Society, and that would happen only when individuals relate to Society in an intensive way. This is the way individual’s purity would lead to RamaRajya or Utopia. It is because individuals tend to be in their own private shells today that corruption, violence, child labour etc., are rampant in Society.

If Society chokes with Adharma, then the individuals cannot survive for long unless they counter it by making Dharma prevail. That is what our students are taught and that is how when they go out they slowly but invariably make a difference to the work place they are in. Innumerable are the examples of our students standing firm on corruption, whether they are in a company or in the Income Tax Department. In due course, H2H would carry those inspiring stories.

Dear Reader! The tone of these Sunday Specials is likely to make you wonder whether we have forgotten Spirituality and lost our way in social activism. Nothing of that sort. On the contrary, we are trying in our own little way to give you a sampling of the concerns that Swami often shares with His students these days, both present and past. Be assured that we are not making this up!

There is a lot that needs to be said on these topics. For the moment, we would like to take your leave by reminding you that each of us has to realise that we are a part of Society, we are a child of Nature and we are the Embodiment of Love that God is. Thus, all our actions must be such that we do not harm Society; rather it must help Society because Society is God! Similarly, our actions must not go against Nature and must always be filled with Selfless Love. This is the only way we can help mankind solve its problems.

We must be involved but at the same time detached. There is a lot of difference between non-involvement and detachment. Karma Yoga is all about intense and sincere action but without attachment. That is what Sathya Sai Baba’s life proclaims every single minute and if He can be actively involved with Society, why should we duck?

Think about it! Jai Sai Ram.

With Love and Regards,
“Heart2Heart” Team

Dr. Krishna Raman on Holistic Health and Fitness

Dr. Krishna Raman on Holistic Health and Fitness
Friday, April 17, 2009 at 12:19:54 PM

Dr. Krishna Raman has achieved great success in cost effective preventive and curative healthcare by integrating Yoga and Western Medicine in his clinical practice. He has seamlessly optimized patients’ overall health and wellness with the best of what both modern and ancient sciences can offer.

Medindia interviewed Dr. Krishna Raman MBBS, FCCP (Internal Medicine) and trained in Yoga by the legendary yoga expert B.K.S. Iyengar in Poona.

Dubbed by the Economic Times as the ‘Man with a mission’, and widely known as the ‘dancers’ doctor’ Dr. Krishna Raman does more than just scribble prescriptions—he guides the patients on the principles of good living and healthy lifestyle. Medical practice worldwide has only recently woken up to promote patients’ holistic health. Dr. Krishna Raman has tested and tried this method of complementing Yoga with western medicine for the last 25 years. True to the maxim, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” his patients are from all over the world—Germany, Mexico, UK, US, Singapore, Sri Lanka and many other far corners. Some patients recovered so well that they went on to become Yoga teachers themselves, and vouch for the success of this method of striving for holistic health. Dr. Krishna Raman spoke to Medindia from his clinic that has a tastefully designed Yoga room annex in a quiet neighborhood in Chennai, South India.

Question: You are a doctor with degrees in western medicine. Yet you have published many medical papers in various forums showing the benefits of complementing western medicine with Yoga. What prompted you to integrate Yoga with western medicine in your clinical practice?

Dr Krishna Raman: I have been practising Yoga since I was 14 years, even before I entered a medical college. My parents have taught me a disciplined life style that includes exercise in daily life and have also set an example of value based living.

Medical education helped to lend a perspective to the yogic postures in terms of health benefits. As a medical student I won awards for yoga demos in inter-collegiate cultural events. A German patient who was suffering from nocturnal cramps for nearly 25 years was referred to me by a patient of mine who knew of my interest in Yoga. I realized all she had was muscle cramps and taught her some asanas and in just three days she was fully cured. She was fully convinced of the benefits of practicing yoga and is now a yoga teacher herself. I was amazed at the therapeutic potential of yoga after that and delved deeper into the ancient science and there has been no looking back ever since.

I continue to research yoga with Ultrasound and other techniques to prove or disprove the effects of yoga. This scientific approach is very important. With humility I would like to mention that my perspective of yoga has undergone a total transformation after I was fortunate enough to be drawn into the fold of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Question: Do you administer yoga therapy to all your patients?

Dr Krishna Raman: No. Only if the clinical condition demands it and most importantly, only if I feel that the patient is able to do the asanas will I opt for yoga therapy. A patient who had almost lost total bladder and bowel function came to my clinic asking for yoga therapy. I advised immediate surgery.


Mystery Of The Missing Yogi

Sathya Sai Baba

Sathya Sai Baba

Mystery Of The Missing Yogi

Read up on Giri Naidu’s (12th standard student in Prashanthi Nilayam shcool) experience as published in Sanathana Sarathi, March 1985.

A few days remained for the Navaratri festival to begin at Prasanthi Nilayam. I was at Madras, having no hopes of witnessing the grand celebrations at Parthi.

One night Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba appeared in my dream. The next night too He appeared in my dream and repeated His order, “Leave for Parthi immediately.” I dreamt that I pleaded with Him, “Oh Baba! How to come to You when I am caught in the coils of never ending troubles.” Bhagawan replied, “Nonsense! Come immediately.” I was worried how I could leave for Parthi when my mother and sister were critically ill, and I not much better than they. The day passed while I was in a dilemma.

On the third night again my Lord appeared in my dream but not as Sai Baba, but as Sai Shiva, for He looked at poor me with angry eyes and lashed and thrashed me verbally for not obeying His divine command, and once again He summoned me to Parthi, without regard to my tearful pleadings.

I woke up in the morning dazed. I was unable to make up my mind. But the thought of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba again coming in my dream made me tremble. I dared not keep my head on the pillow, fearing I would fall asleep and He might again appear in my dream and give me another sound verbal thrashing. Somehow I decided to leave for Parthi that very night.

That day Madras seemed to have incurred the wrath of Indra for it rained incessantly. With the help of our sympathetic neighbour, my ailing mother, sister and myself boarded the night bus for Anantapur. We were to reach Anantapur at dawn. We spent the night miserably but waiting for the glorious day to dawn. As the bus sped by, tearing through the dark night I pined to see the golden rays of the sun. My childish emotions overpowered me, for I accused the sun of being lazy and a late riser. It was not too long when my angry accusation turned into prayers too. I prayed to the sun to rise fast at least for my sake. But the sun took his own sweet time, and the day dawned.

The bus was nearing Anantapur when it came to a halt with a sudden jolt. There was a bridge which it had to cross. It was heavily flooded. All around was a scene of destruction. The bus took an hour to cross the flooded bridge, with great difficulty. After we had crossed the bridge, to our great delight we found a bus going to Puttaparthi trying to cross the bridge. Our bus conductor advised us three to quickly get down and board the bus leaving for Parthi, without our going to the Anantapur bus stand. We hurriedly brought our luggage down and boarded the Puttaparthi bus. The latter’s conductor was very hostile. He rudely said, “There is no place, so get off the bus.” When I tried to request him, he took our luggage and threw it out of the bus, and forced us to get down. To our great dismay we found that the Anantapur bus was nowhere in sight and the deserted look all around made me shiver in fright. To my great surprise, as soon as we got down from the bus bound for Parthi, the bus could not move as its engine refused to start. Half of its chassis was in the water and half on dry land. It could neither proceed forward nor go back. It refused to move an inch.

My mother and sister seated themselves on the luggage and were on the verge of collapse. I stood beside the raging river and viewed the angry waters, while mother sat lost in prayer or despair, I do not know. Broken logs of timber rolled and came dashing against the bridge. The corpse of a goat was caught in the swift current of the swirling waters. The dark sky above seemed to be determined on a downpour to drench us, The grim situation cast a gloomy spell on me. I cursed myself for being responsible for the watery grave I had chosen, as I felt our end not far.

Something said within me that the Lord is my host and why should I give myself away to despair and frustration. No sooner had this thought occurred in my mind than I felt the pressure of a hand on my back. I whirled round and saw, “a white long robed yogi with a white beard and matted hair” smiling at me. He had a tender voice and spoke softly. His eyes twinkled and his face shone with splendour. I stood bewitched while he spoke, “Son! You seem to be troubled. Tell me, it may be that I could help you.” Hearing him speak such kind words, I was very much delighted. I told him of the soup that we were in. He gave me a reassuring smile and said, “Is that all! O. K. How many persons are you?” I replied, “There are three of us.” Then I saw him dig his hand into the side pocket of his robe and take out three pink tickets. The smiling yogi said, “I don’t need them, you can take them.” Now with tickets in our hands we boarded the bus that still stood there. As I was boarding the bus, I again felt a pat on my back. I looked behind and saw. It was the smiling yogi. He then uttered these mysterious words, “You go to Puttaparthi and `I’ shall meet you there.” And he hurriedly walked away.

We climbed the bus. The bus conductor gave us a threatening look before he could speak out a word, I showed him the tickets that the yogi gave me, The conductor was shocked and he questioned me, “From where did you get them.” I told him about the yogi. He got down from the bus to look for the yogi. The yogi could be found nowhere. He seemed to have melted into the thin air of the deserted region. The conductor climbed into the bus. He looked shaken. He timidly got three seats vacated and offered them to us. As soon as we took our seats, the engine that had refused to start for two hours miraculously started all of a sudden, and the bus moved towards its destination.

The happy passengers shouted with joy and the air was rent with shouts of JAI SAI RAM!


Millions Flock From Around the World to India’s Hugging Guru



Millions Flock From Around the World to India’s Hugging Guru
Saturday, March 07, 2009

AMRITAPURI, India — The droves who come here leave with no souvenirs, no memories of posh hotels, nothing more than they brought.

All they came for was a hug.

The woman offering the soft embrace is considered a guru, and her tender approach and simple message have galvanized followers to amass in crowds thousands deep at stops around the globe. Part of the appeal of Mata Amritanandamayi, or Amma, as she is universally known, are teachings she says transcend any single faith, let alone simply her Hindu upbringing.

“My message is not unique,” she says through an interpreter. “There will ever only be one message capable of purifying man, nature, the atmosphere, the earth we live on and life itself. That message is: Act with compassion and love for all our fellow beings.”

The masses aren’t coming for Amma’s eloquence, though. Far more than any oratory, any dogma, any writings, people are drawn here by her touch, and so they line up and wait in marathon hugging sessions that can stretch 20 hours and more. The guru’s aides say she sleeps little, sometimes just an hour a night, but is as eager to hug her first visitor as her last.

Here, on these lush banks of the Arabian Sea near India’s southern tip, along backwaters dotted with coconut and cashew trees, Amma has built the capital of hugs. Her ashram, or spiritual center, is a maze of buildings reached by boat or a footbridge over a river.

Eventually, visitors find a large open-air auditorium with a group of men playing music and chanting, and lines of plastic chairs full of people awaiting their turn to walk up the ramp at stage right. When they finally make it, they enter a space so full of people it is hard to move.

Amma is finally in sight.

She is wrapped in a sheer white sari. Her dark hair is tinged with gray and pulled back, her face round, her features soft. Her ears and nose are pierced, and a red and gold dot is worn between her eyebrows. Her smile is beaming but imperfect. She looks older than her 55 years.

She offers hugs as aides come to her with varied questions about her multimillion-dollar charity network of hospitals and orphanages; she gesticulates frequently as she talks.

When the time comes, the visitor is nudged to sink to his knees before Amma’s makeshift throne covered in gold fabric. And, in an instant, it happens.

She holds the visitor’s head tightly between her shoulder and face, uttering in Malayalam what is unintelligible to the non-speaker. Some, she simply holds, others she gently strokes or pats their backs. Some are brief encounters; others last several minutes.

Some sob. Others can’t help but to break into a gaping smile of their own. Some tremble, believing they have been given a divine touch. Nearly everyone seems moved.

When it is over, Amma offers her visitor a small gift — often a hard candy or piece of fruit — and the line moves on. All told, her aides claim she has done this more than 25 million times.

“Her hugs are really like a sermon,” said Vasudha Narayanan, the director of the Center for the Study of Hindu Traditions at the University of Florida. “In her touch, in her hugs are the greatest teachings.”

The experience so moves some that they give up their lives to follow the guru. Dante Sawyer was editing a jazz magazine in New York when he first met Amma in 1998. He had never felt anything like it.

“You really experience a love that’s given completely, selflessly — it’s just like sunlight pouring out,” said 35-year-old Sawyer, who is known at the ashram simply as Sachin. “It’s a love that doesn’t have demands of you.”

Two years after first meeting Amma — a name that means mother in Malayalam — he moved here to dedicate his life to her work. Countless others have similar stories to tell.

Amma was named Sudhamani when born to a relatively poor family here and from childhood was said to have spent a great deal of time meditating, singing and chanting, fixing her eyes on a picture of Krishna.

As her followers tell it, she felt compassion for others from an early age, even to untouchables, and was driven to tears by others’ suffering. Her own family viewed her with disdain, even wondering if she was mentally ill, those who tell her story say, and she was beaten and treated as a servant. She even pondered suicide.

All sorts of lore surrounds her story, including miraculous claims of turning water to milk and allowing a poisonous cobra to flick its tongue against her own. However it happened, though, as a young woman she attracted a following. Some ridiculed her and deemed her a fraud, but the number of devotees grew, and people began to journey to her in the 1970s.

She became regarded as a guru, but unlike other Hindu spiritual masters, she allowed herself to be more than just seen, offering her touch to anyone who wanted it. Amma’s touch is seen as having the potential to ignite one’s spiritual power.

Critics remain, charging Amma’s movement amounts to a personality cult. They question the finances of her organization or even claim it is linked to radical groups. Amma and her followers reject such accusations.

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, considered Amma’s most senior disciple, says the guru has attracted so many followers because she is accessible to anyone and allows people to feel the presence of God.

“She is humble but firm as the earth,” he writes. “She is simple yet beautiful like the full moon. She is love, she is truth, she is the embodiment of renunciation and self-sacrifice.”

Today, her spiritual star power drives not only her popularity, but the success of international humanitarian efforts fueled by millions in donations. A visitor to her ashram is not asked to give anything, but many around the world do, funding her many Indian charitable endeavors, as well as massive relief for those affected by events such as the Asian tsunami.

She has a sleek Web site. Her movements are tracked on Twitter. She even has a logo.

At the end of her exceptionally long days, Amma climbs the steps to a simple studio apartment in a small peach-colored walk-up at the ashram. She will go to bed alone, having refuted her parents’ numerous attempts to arrange a marriage.

Amma received no formal education beyond the age of 10, and on this day, like every other, she has steered away from scriptural specifics. But her message is clear.

It is about taking as little as possible and giving the maximum, about embracing the core of faith.

It is, in essence, about a hug.

Fox News Reference

How Sathya Sai Baba Came To Me

by James Sinclair

James Sinclair

James Sinclair

Mr. James D. Sinclair is a reputed businessman, who has made a very big mark for himself in the field of mineral prospecting. That apart, he is also a person who has been coming to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for spiritual guidance for several years for now. After having acquired his degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, Mr. Sinclair, in the year 1975, set up the Sinclair group of companies for which he became the President and the Chief Executive Officer. Thereafter, he established, in the year 1981, the James D. Sinclair Financial Research Institute, for which he became the Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer. Later on his interest increased in the field of television and telecommunications, wherein he became the founding partner of the company Cross Country Cable TV. Presently, he is the Chairman and the Executive Officer of the Tanzanian American Development Corporation. The manner in which James Sinclair of America became a devotee of Sai makes a thrilling story. Sinclair had never heard of Baba but he had a deep yearning for God in his heart; that was enough. For the rest of the story, we turn to Sinclair himself:

“How is it possible”, I used to wonder, “that I was born at this time and age?” As a Christian, it seemed so unfair that here I was in the 1950’s, and Jesus was on this planet two thousand years ago. I used to pray as I drove to New York City for business work: “I know you are out there, but I can’t find you, Dear Lord. Instead, You must find me!” Those prayers were not wasted. They were heard and answered in the positive.

I will tell you of an event that at that time seemed shocking but would take thirty years to become fully clear. It has to be kept in mind that neither I nor my wife at that time had any understanding or inclination towards Eastern tradition or philosophies. In 1964, just a short while after our marriage, my wife and I accepted an invitation to stay at a friend’s woodland cottage. As we were going to sleep, I saw an old man standing over my bed in the moonlight. My feeling was not one of fear but rather like one has while a mother is looking at her son. The old man then turned and walked across the room and through the wall! Just then, my wife said in a loud voice, “Jim, are you awake?” She screamed since she was watching the old man as he walked through the wall. Barbara had never seen anything like that in her life and was shaken by the experience. Now let us leave this experience and move ahead to 1968.

Our married life had produced our first daughter. Business was not going well. My health was not so good. The IRS [Internal Revenue Service, which is the name for the Income Tax Department in the U.S.] was looking for me. I had just sold my car to pay the month’s rent for our living quarters. I was frustrated about the way things were going and my apparent inability to change the circumstances. One day, it just became too much for me to bear. I went into my cellar where I had a desk. I sat down and prayed:

I don’t know who You are.
I don’t know where You are.
I don’t know what You are.
But this I do know: You are!
So, You have to take over,
Because I have made a mess of everything.

I resolved not to leave the cellar till the Divine literally took over, whatever that meant. All of a sudden, I looked to my right and saw what appeared to be a little royal child dressed in gold and jewels. The child had long hair, so I thought it must be a girl. Suddenly, all my fear was gone. I was totally at ease. I got up and went upstairs. The fun was about to begin.

I began to meditate twice a day. The environment slowly began to improve. I had an interesting experience. My meditation was on the light from a candle. Every time I started my meditation looking at the candle flame, I saw a little fellow in the flame wearing an orange robe with a great shock of black hair. Then I would transcend thought. I also began to have the same dream every single night. It went on for years. I saw myself walking up a hill, led by three men in the darkness of night. One was an old man in white. One looked somewhat like Jesus Christ. The one in the middle had an orange robe. This dream occurred night after night for years. At that time, I had no knowledge of Shirdi Sai Baba or Sathya Sai Baba. For that matter I had no idea of any Avatar and did not know what the word meant.

Now we move ahead another eighteen years to 1984. I have been meditating now for fifteen years. I am a vegetarian, and I keep a special room in my house for my meditation. It is a tiny hut, completely private. My meditation has lost form of any kind. A friend who then was a technical commodity market analyst knew my interest in meditation. He suggested that I might like the tape he has. He told me that he it played before and after his meditation. It gave him a great spiritual feeling. I was most grateful and began the same practice for relaxation before and after meditation. Wow! It was powerful.

Now comes the spectacular story. Please understand that I don’t feel special in any way. In fact, I believe that someone had been knocking hard on my door for a lifetime. I was too stupid to know. Therefore, this person had to blow a bugle in my ear to get my attention. Well, the bugle blew in Connecticut, East Coast USA, one winter evening.

I was walking from the lavatory in the night. You know how you get a feeling someone is there. I did. I turned around and there He was. I hadn’t the slightest idea who He was. This handsome figure dressed in a long orange robe, with a shock of hair you wouldn’t believe, was in my hallway, looking at me silently. I nearly jumped out of my skin. As fast I had seen Him, He was gone. Well, it happened a second time. Not too much later, I was in my meditation room, and this same figure was standing when I came out of meditation. I rubbed my eyes. He was still there. He motioned as if I was to do something with His Feet. I knelt down and touched His Feet. As I looked up, He was no longer there. This time I didn’t feel scared, I felt out of my mind. I didn’t know which I needed more, spiritual or professional medical help! I was determined to find out who this fellow was that visited me. I certainly wasn’t going to tell my wife.

Off I went to the fort of spiritual knowledge in New York City, Samuel Weiser’s bookstore. I approached the clerk. He asked if he could help me. I said, ‘I certainly hope so.’ I described my visitor, of course without giving details of the visit. I wanted to know if there was any book about someone who looked like the description of my visitor. He said, ‘One moment. I will be right back.’ He returned and handed a packet of whitish grey powder and a book titled Holy Man and the Psychiatrist written by a doctor [this book is by Dr. Sandweiss]. The salesman told me that he himself was a devotee of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Now I knew that the name of the form was Sathya Sai Baba. Was I in for a surprise when I recognised that the recurring dream had been of Shirdi Sai, Sathya Sai, and Prema Sai walking up the hill night after night for many years? The figure in the flame was also Him.

Sai Baba Trinity

On my first visit to Prashanti Nilayam, which is a story in itself, I was granted an Interview with Baba. As I entered the room, He said, “All I have given you, and you have never been happy one moment in your life. I CAME TO YOU TWICE. Would you do something for Swami?” My answer was, of course, yes.

Swami went on, “BE HAPPY”. I had told absolutely no one at that time of the visit. In a 1994 Interview, Swami said to my wife and myself, “I came to you thirty years ago”. He said it right out of the blue. 1964 was the year when we had the experience in the woodland cabin with the figure of the old man in white. That was indeed thirty years ago.

Who was the royal little girl in my cellar when I was at my wits ends? I believe it was Baba in the form of Baby Krishna, welcoming me as a spiritual baby onto His path. Thank You, Swami!


RadioSai Reference