Swami teaches....Part 13
Swami teaches.... (25 - 26 February 2005)
Shivaraathri - Festival of the Divine Inspiration
Bhaarath is the name of a way of life, not an extent of land between the seas and the Himaalayas. It is another name for tolerance and mutual love, which have made it a garden of multicoloured religions and philosophies, creeds and faiths.
It is the land where the identity
between human being and God has been declared by persons who
have attained that realisation.
On Mahaashivaraathri Festival, you
have to impress on your consciousness that Nature is alive,
since God is life; that Nature appears ever-lasting, since
God is eternal; Nature is but a reflection of God. He lends
the colour of order, purpose, and activity to inert Nature.
motivator, Nature is helpless and powerless. Appearance is
but a reflection of reality; Ishwara is
The Linga created during this festival is just a symbol, a sign, an illustration, of the beginningless, the endless, the limitless. Its shape is like the picture one imagines the Niraakaara (Formless) to be. It is the fittest symbol of the All-pervasive, the All-knowing, the All-powerful.
Without an intellectual grasp of the fundamentals of the Divine Principle, all vows, fasts and vigils are imitative, routine, mechanical activities that involve waste of time and energy. It is best that you impress upon yourself the need for this basic step on this Mahaashivaraathri, for, this raathri (night) is the night that has to usher in the dawn of realisation.
Spiritual effort should not becomes
mechanical repetition of set formulae or execution of dry
formalities. Attachment is born out of this Maayaa only. It
acts like a veil to hide the reality behind all this
multiplicity. Maayaa is the vesture of Maadhava (God). Thyaaga
(renunciation) alone can grant the immortality of merging in
God. You must be unaffected, ever in calm joy, in the inner
depths; it does not matter if the waves play on the top,
heaving and falling, for that is but the action of wind upon
What is the service that the ocean with all its mass of water does? It cannot slake the thirst of single human being. What is the profit if a miser lives a hundred years? Do not exhibit anger or grief or pain. Be happy, spread happiness around you and do not fall into actions of stupid fanaticism; modify its rigour by a little discrimination. Be reasonable, considerate, sympathetic, full of toleration of the other points of view.
Life is a short and fast-flowing chance; you will have to put every minute to the best use: that is, the discovery of your own Reality, which gives you the highest joy.
Expand your hearts; enlarge your vision; enlarge the circle of kinship; take more and more of your fellow beings into the tabernacle of your hearts. And, adore them in loving worship.
A small story concern to selfless action.
father sent his son to the market with a sum of money to bring
home some fruits. While bringing them home, the boy saw a few
beggars on the road and heard their wails; he realised that they
were very hungry and that they needed the fruits more urgently.
So he gave the fruits to them and came home empty-handed. When
the father chided him, the son replied, "I have
Wisdom is compassion at its highest; for, through sympathy you enter the heart of another and understand him through and through, you go behind the veil of pretence and punditry, convention and custom; you go behind good manners and fashion that people put on to hide their agony and ignorance from the rest of the world. Finding the unity in this diversity of roles is true wisdom.
The Grace of God cannot be won through the gymnastics of reason, the contortions of Yoga or the denials of asceticism. Divine Love alone can win it. There is no strength more effective than purity, no bliss more satisfying than love, no joy more restoring 'than bhakthi (devotion), no triumph more praiseworthy than surrender.
The achievement of aanandha through prema (of the highest bliss through the highest love) is the teaching of Vedhaantha. Vedhaantha is an often misunderstood school of philosophy. It does not mean the study of profound tomes, or the calculated breathing, through trained nostrils of measured quantities of air, or even eating as a dog does and sleeping as a jackal does, (wandering without any assured abode or source of sustenance) as the saying goes! Right living, balanced living, true living is the prescription of Vedhaantha.
The fair face of Vedhaantha has been disfigured by fanatics
and false interpreters. They sought manifold meanings behind
the axioms of Vedhaantha and landed themselves amidst a medley
of wrong meanings! They created confusion where clarity
existed and so people lost faith in spiritual discipline
itself. Vedhaantha is the philosophical basis for Love.
Wherever there is a vacuum, in any heart, Love flows into it
and is glad that it can fill the emptiness. It is never held
back; it is offered in abundance, without guile or deceit; it
does not wear the cloak of falsehood, flattery or fear.
The Vedhas prescribe forms of worship through rites and formulae for different Names and Forms of the single Godhead, so that people of different stages of growth and different standard of intellectual attainment can draw inspiration therefrom. The Unity of all the names and forms was, however, emphasised throughout. Each name and form when it was adored was described as All-powerful, All-knowing.
But, Names and Forms were taken as
essentially distinct and each became the centre of a sect,
creed, with all its divisive consequences. Thus, we have a
multitude of warring factions, each swearing by its own
favourite Form and Name, to the exclusion of all the rest like
Gaanaapathyas, Souras, Shaivas, Vaishnavas, Veerashaivas,
Veeravaishnavas etc.The real harvest of Aanandha for which the
spiritual operations of rites and manthras (sacred formulae)
were gone through has been neglected, while the weeds of
calumny, cynicism and conflict have grown wild over the fields.
In chapter 5, shloka 28, the Geetha
says that the Muni (ascetic) who is eager to attain liberation
must be the master of his senses, mind and intellect and he has
also to give up raaga (likes and dislikes and preferences),
bhaya (fear, at something unpleasant or undesirable happening)
and krodha (resentment, anger, at those who cause disappointment
or grief or loss). The shloka goes on to say that such a person
is already liberated; he has nothing else to do!
Swami's nature is unaffected by His movements and activities. He is away from any attachment. Train your minds to follow the Divine path, of which I am revealing to you the trail.
Let your mind have no waves; let it be
silent, level, calm, accepting right and rejecting wrong. Dive
into the depth of silence can hear the Cosmic Om.
Whatever the handicap, howsoever you
are tempted to loosen the grip, hold on to God; there is always
a calm, after the storm. Love ennobles the least and the lowest.
Love your self for the God that it embodies; love others, for
the God that is enshrined in them, that speaks and acts through
You consider Shivaraathri to be a
great event, a sacred festival. Some superficial scholars say
that Shiva was born this day, some say that He started thapas
(penance) today, and some others that today marks the conclusion
of His thapas! Even this is due to attempt to drag Divinity down
to human level, so that human can peer into the face of God and
move as His servant or slave! The affinity should elevate both,
not degrade the outer and the inner Divine. No low desire or
vulgar ambition should be ascribed to Godhead by the meanness of
Swami teaches.... (24 February 2005)
Enlightenment Given by Shiva and Krishna
Shivaraathri observed every month, on the fourteenth night of the dark half of the moon, which is the presiding deity of the human mind. In the month of Magha the fourteenth night is named Mahaa (great) Shivaraathri, what is sacred also for another reason. It is the day on which Shiva (supreme God) takes the Linga form, for the benefit of seekers. Shiva is revered as the form to be adored for the acquisition of Jnaana (supreme wisdom). This day and night is for the contemplation on the Aathma Linga (elliptical idol which emanates from Shiva as His symbol), the Jyothir Linga (symbol of the supreme light of wisdom). Shiva is in everyone. Let that vision illumine anyone's inner consciousness.
Shiva means, graciousness, auspiciousness, Mangalam. He is all graciousness, ever auspicious, Sarva Mangalam. Shiva is adored as the teacher of teachers, Dakshinamuurthi. The form of Shiva is itself a great lesson in tolerance and forbearance who teaches that renunciation, detachment, indifference to good fortune or bad, are the paths to attain Him.
Shiva is known as Mrthyunjaya (He who vanquishes death). He is also the Kaamaari (the destroyer of desire). These two names show that he who destroys desire can conquer death, for desire breeds activity, activity breeds consequence, consequence breeds bondage, bondage results in birth and birth involves death.
Ishwara, also a name of Shiva, means that He has all the glory that is associated with Godhead. Ishwara is symbolised in the Linga form. Linga is derived from the Sanskrit root, 'Li,' which means 'Leeyathe,' 'merges'; it is the form in which all forms merge.
Shamkara, another name of Shiva, means that He causes by His grace, Sham, that is, Aanandha (bliss) at the supremest level. Shiva is the embodiment of Aanandha; hence the Thaandava dance, which He enjoys so much, with the cosmos as His stage. To set apart just one day among the 365 for the worship of this universal omnipresence is an insult to His majesty and mystery.
The significance of the form that Shiva has assumed for human adoration: In His throat, He has the holocaust-producing poison, Haalahaala, that can destroy all life in a trice. On His head, He has the sacred Ganga river, whose waters can cure all ills, here and hereafter. On His forehead, He has the eye of fire. On his head, He has the cool comforting moon. On His wrists, ankles, shoulders and neck He wears deadly cobras, which live in life-giving breath of air. Shiva lives in the burial ground and the burning ghat, the Rudhrabhuumi, as it is called - the land of Shiva or Rudhra. The place is no area of dread; it is an auspicious area, for all have to end their lives there, at the close of this life or a few more lives. Shiva is teaching you that death cannot be shunned or frightened away. It has to be gladly and bravely met.
Shiva is the God who blesses beings with the most desirable gift of meaning in the universe. That is the end, beyond death, which one should strive for, the end which Shiva can vouchsafe. Realise the God in you first; then, if you involve yourself with the material world, no harm can come to you, for you will recognise the objective world as but the body of God. But, if you try to involve yourself with the objective world first, and then try to discover God, you will see the material world only. Again, you can direct your spiritual effort in either of two ways: Follow the commands of God, and He will be pleased to raise you up. Follow the path of inquiry and discover where He resides, and realise Him there. You can follow either means.
Shiva takes the Linga forms - symbols of supreme wisdom and light; through contemplation He teaches seekers to find the truth about human's reality. The same teaches Krishna to Arjuna. (The Sanskrit word arjuna means one who is pure). Krishna's teaching (by example to Arjuna) is as actual as Shiva's teaching for development of spiritual culture not only in India but all over the world.
To reach your spiritual goals, you need to obtain God's love. Krishna taught, 'Obey my commands and perform your duty.' In obeying the commands of the Lord and fighting in the war, Arjuna's actions became a sacred yagna, a sacrificial ritual. There is another story in one of the epics of Daksha who wanted to perform a yagna, a ritual sacrifice. However, he disobeyed and disrespected Lord Shiva, and violated the commands of the holy sages. With a sense of egoism and attachment, he commenced the sacrifice. His egoism converted that sacrifice into a war.
Actions that are pure and selfless, and performed as an offering to the Lord, become a sacrifice. But actions which are undertaken in violation of the Lord's command, which are contrary to the scriptures and which are performed with a sense of egoism and pomposity, undertaken only for the purpose of promoting one's desires or hatreds become a war, even though the nature of the action may be that of a sacrifice. The root of all this is attachment and desire, arising from identification with the body.
Krishna decided that Arjuna was ready for the highest wisdom and resolved to turn him into a truly wise being. Arjuna had both the capacity and the virtue to rise to great spiritual heights.
Krishna gave Arjuna the title who was the sacred-hearted one; another was the jewel-of-men. Arjuna was such a powerful person that he could, if he wanted to, undertake acts which would terrify the entire world. However, Arjuna always acted purely in keeping with righteousness. He earned the right to use a powerful weapon which could not be wielded by any other living person of his day. Originally, this weapon belonged to Lord Shiva. This same fearsome weapon which was originally with Shiva and then with King Janaka in an earlier age, in Krishna and Arjuna's time, became the Gandhiva, Arjuna's formidable bow. By earning the grace of Shiva, Arjuna was able to obtain this magnificent weapon. In every respect Arjuna Krishna chose to teach the Gita, so that the entire world would benefit thereby.
It is through your mouth that you offer food to the stomach. Then it is through the stomach that the food reaches the entire body. In the same way as food reaches all the limbs of the body when offered to the stomach, the Gita was given to a pure and selfless person such as Arjuna so that it might reach the entire world. One of Arjuna's names is Parthiva which means son of the earth. All of you are children of the earth. Since Arjuna may be considered an outstanding representative of all mankind, Krishna felt that the whole world would in time be transformed by converting him into a sacred person.
"Only a person who has sacred vision can achieve success in great undertakings. Arjuna, people are giving the same value to the shadow as they give to that which is casting the shadow; they are giving the same value to the reflection as they give to the one whose reflection they are seeing. The unchanging, sacred principle which has given rise to all these shadows and reflections is the eternal self. It is the Atma. Its value is unlimited and beyond all measure."
When Arjuna gave so much value to mere reflections, he was displaying his ignorance. Arjuna had not developed his inner vision. He was not yet able to discriminate between that which is real and that which is unreal. In order to save him from all the misunderstandings and confusion which would inevitably arise when there is a lack of inner vision, Krishna undertook to teach Arjuna the sacred knowledge of the eternal self. Krishna instructed Arjuna in the spiritual exercises which had to be practiced in order to attain this highest wisdom.
Compared to ordinary actions which are done by thinking of yourself as the doer, actions done without any sense of doership will be much greater. But, an action that is done with complete selflessness, performed impersonally with total indifference and without any attachment - is greater still. But when the action is entirely offered to the Lord, when it becomes a holy sacrifice, it is even more sacred than all of these. Thus, Krishna commanded Arjuna to offer all his acts to the Lord.
In the primary stage, every human being has to perform actions and be actively employed in the tasks for which he is suited. One needs to perform action in order not to develop laziness. Swami does not approve or encourage anyone to be lazy. First, one must perform ordinary actions. Then one would enter into the stage where all actions have performed without any self-interest. Gradually one transforms these actions into yoga, work into worship. This is one of the core teachings of the Gita.
The chariot that is being spoken of Gita is the human body. There is millions upon millions of chariots. Every day, these chariots move from street to street and house to house, taking the indwelling resident in procession. You have been developing your vision in such a way that you see only the body and its external features or the expressions arising from various feelings and emotional states. But you would to develop the internal vision, the vision which perceives the indwelling person and understands who he really is.
The bodies of human beings are not the only chariots. The bodies every alive beings is a chariot. For example, Lord Shiva is depicted as riding on Nandi, the bull. The bullock is Shiva's chariot. Yet, when you see a bullock, you do not think of Lord Shiva; still he will be seated there. When you see a rat, you will not be thinking of Ganesha, the elephant god, who represents the aspects of protection and wisdom in the divinity. Lord Ganesha will be there, riding on that rat. The rat is his vehicle, so it is also a chariot in which God is installed. In a similar way, lions, crows, dogs, snakes, eagles and so many other animals and birds are used as vehicles for the many different aspects of God.
These days you are developing the vision that sees only the chariot. You are focusing all your concentration on the external decorations. In this age, almost your entire time is spent on adorning the chariot and seeing to the comforts and pleasures of the body. As a result, you are paying attention only to the external differences and you are not spending any time trying to see the indweller.
"Therefore, Arjuna," said Krishna, "know that all these people about whom you are so concerned, are only chariots. In truth, you are seeing only chariots in the form of these various relatives and teachers. You have been keeping your vision clouded by seeing only the body. But a sacred person like you should not care so much for externals. You must concentrate your mind on the indweller who is seated in every human body. Then only will your vision become sacred and can provide the basis for your victory."
There are many who bargain with God, and offer Him gifts of money or articles if He would confer grace. If one believes that God can be mollified by the gift of a coconut or a purse of 116 rupees, I wonder what kind of God he has in his mind? Those who plan to have their desires granted through riches can never deserve the name, devotee. Those who encourage the payment of money for spiritual gains or for gaining divine favour are also to be condemned. This is the reason why the Geetha (Gita) lays down that God will be pleased by offering leaf, flower or fruit or even a drop of water. But even these four articles are materials.
The Geetha (Gita) does not intend that you should pluck a leaf or flower or a fruit from some plant or tree and place it before God. Nor does it ask you to bring water from a well or river or the roadside tap. The leaf is your own body, which like the leaf, sprouts green, fades, and finally falls off from the branch. The flower is the heart freed from the insect pests of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, hate, etc. The fruit is the mind, the consequence of its yearnings, which have to be dedicated to God. The water is the stream of tears that flow from the eyes when one is in ecstatic bliss at the contemplation of God's glory. (Reet's compilation from, Sathya Sai Baba. The Divine Discourse "Teacher of Teachers." Brindavan, 5 March 1973. Sathya Sai Baba. "Sai Baba Gita," Chapters XXX - XXXV).
Swami teaches.... (23 February 2005)
Everything has energy latent in it - a piece
of paper has it, a strip of cloth has it. When the latent energy is
exhausted, death results; when energy fills, birth happens.
Sath-Chith-Ananda is energy. We (Sath) are (chith) happy (ananda).
Energy is all and energy is derived from God. It is the basis. The most
scientists are building superstructures somewhere else, not on the
basis. We are fascinated by subjects and studies that promise to feed
our stomachs and make us materially happy and powerful. But the hard
truth is the Divine beneath all. One must either know the supreme Truth
of the One Being behind all Becoming or at least know the practical
Truth of Love and Brotherhood.
This is an unbalanced and mutually contradictory situation. Human's mind is degenerating in the ethical, spiritual and religious fields of life, continuously and with great speed.
People have now become more vicious than ever. Hatred, envy, greed, desire for pompous display and for comparison and competition with others - these evil traits have to be uprooted. These traits are vitiating even ascetics, monks, heads of religious institutions, and pundits. Among these, envy and greed have grown wild. When these masters and preceptors, who project themselves as embodiments of ideals, exhibit such low qualities, how can they set right the world? They can only intensify the pollution.
What the world needs today is neither a new order, a new education, a new system, a new society nor a new religion. The remedy lies in a mind, in a heart filled with holiness. Holiness must take root and grow in the minds and hearts of adult and youth everywhere, of boys and girls .
Human being yearns to know all things; but not yearn to know the Truth. That which is not found at the beginning or at the end but is manifest only in the interval, the middle period, cannot be really Real. The Cosmos did not exist before it emerged, nor can it exist after it is submerged. What is evident in between can only be apparent Truth, temporary and limited Truth.
Whatever the objects, everything in the Universe is inexorably subject to the impact of Time and it has to face death and destruction. The tree and the soil, the house and the body, the King and the Kingdom - each has to suffer the same consummation. The awareness of the Atma (Brahmam) can give blessing and peace in mind. Can the lake, which strikes us as invitingly charming so long as the mirage is on, quench one's thirst? If one deludes himself with the belief that it can and runs towards the non-existent sheet of water, he can only get more thirsty.
Therefore, one should learn Atma Vidya,* the process by which one becomes aware of one's Atmic Reality. By learning it and living it, one can quench his own thirst and help to quench the thirst of all mankind.
Brahmavidya** is the specific theme of Taittiriyopanishad Upanishad. Of all disciplines and subjects of study, the Brahmavidya is the most sacred, holy and esoteric.
By this sacred text all that is caused, everything that is a result, is short-lived; this is evident from the Sastras as well as experience and reason. The Sastras speak of aspirants who discarded even higher regions like Heaven, which are attainable by persons who perform the prescribed rites; for Liberation is beyond the reach of those who dwell therein. Heaven and hell are results of actions, they are created objects and so they cannot be eternal; they are conditioned by birth, growth, decay and death. They do not exist from the very beginning; they were made; before that act, they were not.
Nothing can produce anew what already exists. Moksha exists and is there self-evident. It cannot be produced anew by any Karma. The moment the A-jnana which hides it from experience disappears, that moment you are liberated and you know your Reality; you are free from bondage. Prior to that moment, you were free, but imagined you were bound and you behaved as if you were bound. How then are you to get rid of this idea that you are bound? By listening to the teachings of the Vedas with faith therein. Listening, rumination and concentration are the three steps in this Realisation. Listening refers to Vedas, which have to be revered in faith and learnt by heart from a Guru; this confers the knowledge of the unknowable.
In Taittiriyopanishad Upanishad, the three words, Sathyam, Jnanam, Anantham, are meaningfully affixed to Brahmam, to explain its characteristics. They are three distinct words, signifying qualities seeking to mark out the One from the rest, the One Brahmam from other types of Brahmam which have not these traits.
All that are limited by time, space and objectivity are jada, material apparently different from Brahmam. The characteristics of Sathyam, Jnanam, Anantham, help to differentiate and distinguish from kindred and similar phenomena the real Brahmam.
By Taittiriyopanishad Brahmam (Atma) is Sathyam, with no modifications. It is unaffected by time. All that is not Brahmam ... that is, Jagath, is subject to change. All objects are subject to the triple process of the intellect: are known, the knower and knowledge; hence, the intellect or Buddhi is spoken of as a guha or cave, where the threefold process resides.
The Upanishad exhorts you not to swerve from duties of learning and teaching. "Swerve not from the true and the truth", it says. "From the true, it will not do to swerve nor from Dharma nor from welfare and well-being, nor from duties to Devas and Pitris. Treat thy mother as God. What works are free from fault, they should be resorted to, not others..." this is what the Upanishad teaches.
The Timeless Truth radiates also through Sutra (aphorism) in a few words, vast expanses of meaning, vast depths of fundamental significance. The Brahma Sutras build up the science of Vedantha. They gather multicoloured flowers from all the Upanishads and string them together to form an enchanting garland. Each Sutra can be elaborated and explained in a number of learned ways, according to each one's understanding, faith, preference, experience and pleasure.
The very first Sutra is "Athaatho Brahma Jijnaasaa". It is obvious that it refers to Brahma Jijnaasa, the yearning to understand the nature of Brahman (Atma). Among the preliminary qualifications for Brahma Jijnaasa, the first is Viveka: Discrimination between the transitory and the eternal. In other words, the discovery that the Atma alone is beyond Time, and that all objects perceivable by the senses of sight, etc., are only transitory. The Atma alone suffers no change. It alone is Nitya Sathya (Timeless Truth). (Reet's compilation from, Sathya Sai Baba. "Vidya Vahini," Chapter XIX and Chapter X ; Sathya Sai Baba. "Sutra Vahini," Athaatho Brahma Jijnaasaa; Sathya Sai Baba. "Upanishad Vahini," Chapter XI, Taittiriyopanishad.
PS. * Atma Vidya and **Brahmavidya by my understanding is principally the same.
(To be continued)