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SRI SATHYA SAI - ANANDADAYI

[Journey with Sai]

Some Excerpts from the book written by Karunamba Ramamurthy Part 1 of 3

[A Treasure]

 

 

Prayer must emanate from heart, where God resides and not from head where doctrines and doubts clash

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Inner view, not Interview

Devotees are aware how difficult it is to get an interview with Swami these days. People wait for weeks and months for this privilege, but only a blessed few get it. However, things were different in forties and fifties. Conversations with Swami were not confined to some people, at one place or at a fixed time. They can be better termed as interactions rather than interviews. The number of devotees at the ashram in those days did not exceed thirty or forty during normal times. Swami was spending most of His time with the devotees, hopping in and out of their kitchens, on the Chitravathi Sands, around the Kalpataru, amidst the hillocks or in the Bhajan Hall. Conversations with Swami were more informal, covering a wide spectrum domestic issues, personal problems, philosophical matters, spiritual guidance for serious Sadhakas all figured in the discussions.

With the passage of time, the number of devotees increased by thousands and lakhs. Hence individual interviews became rare. If at all an interview is granted today, it is for a group of people. As Swami told us once, in course of time, this too will cease. Swami's divine discourses will be the only interview then. I am, therefore, glad that whatever we heard from Swami on an intimate, personal level is coming out in print now.

This contains excerpts from the notes I kept at various points of time during the period 1946-1967. They are arranged chronologically. Dates were not always noted down since the idea of publishing them had never entered my mind. I also do not claim that all the questions put to Swami by me and others are profound. But the answers are. They carry His signature, the stamp of God. Even today the complete import of a few of them are not clear to me. But I have not omitted even a single line as it is from Swami and hence is the Ultimate Truth.

The following conversations took place during 1946-50

My mother and sister went to Puttaparthi in December 1947 and spent three wonderful months in the divine presence of Swami. Later, all of us went to Puttaparthi in May 1948 to stay there for a month. We reached old Mandir around 6 p.m. When Swami came outside, we garlanded Him, offered Him fruits and did pada Namaskar. He enquired about our welfare. One of those days, when all the devotees were sitting in the shed, Swami came in, chewing betel leaves and sat on a trunk. The conversations began.

DEVOTEE: Swami, it is difficult for us to perform vrata or sadhana according to the time honoured rules. What is the fate of persons like us?

SWAMI: People of Kaliyug are sustained by food and are physically weak. That is why God has shown them the easy path of Smarana and Manana of God. Before sleeping in the night pray wholeheartedly, "God, I do not know whether my actions since morning are good or bad. I offer all of them to You. I do not know whether I will be alive tomorrow morning. Protect me. My pranama to You," and then sleep. After waking up in the morning pray, "God, by Your grace I am still alive. I do not know what I will be doing till tonight. Please give me the wisdom not to sin. My pranama to You." Pray with devotion. If you do this every day, that is enough.

Another day, after evening Bhajans, everybody had their food and was resting outside the Mandir. Swami came, sat with us and narrated an instance: A yogi was meditating at the foot of Himalayas. He had a considerable following. One day when he was meditating, Lord Vishnu appeared before him with Shankha, Chakra, Gada, and Padma and said, "I am staying in South India. Come and see Me there." The yogi went round many places and then came to Bangalore. Walking along a street in Bangalore, he saw a gathering of people near a house. Then he saw Me coming down the stairs. Immediately he realised that I had come in his dream. He rushed to Me and hugged Me. He cried a lot. He asked Me to keep him with Me, as he could not bear the separation from Me even for a single moment. I consoled him in many ways. I told him that his followers would be orphaned if he leaves them at this stage and advised him to return to his ashram. I advised him to stay there for some more time and said that I would send for him later. I consoled him and sent him back. None of the devotees around Me could understand the importance of this incident. I had to explain to them in detail.

DEVOTEE: Swami, according to the epics, when God takes an avatar, even His enemies attain salvation. How is this possible?

SWAMI: Kamsasura tried all the means to do away with Krishna after he realised that Krishna would be his antaka. This fear and hatred towards Krishna was on his mind all the time. Radha also had Krishna on her mind always, but for a different reason overflowing prema towards the Lord. But, Radha's sister Chandravali hated Krishna all the time. All the three of them attained salvation (see page 123). The common element in all of them was constant thought of God.

But there is a big difference between the two methods. Attaining salvation through hatred is like pulling the Lord towards you by tying Him in an iron chain. The method of prema offers a soft silken ribbon at the Lord's feet and then He is pulled towards you. In essence, constant contemplation is the key.

I do not ignore and turn away anyone coming to Me, whether the person is a sinner or a saint. I welcome all beings whether they love Me or hate Me. If you remember Me, that is sufficient. When Adharma is all prevalent, lower level officers with limited powers cannot stem the tide, let alone turn it. That is why Major General (pointing Himself) has come to wield His power.

A lot of dust had gathered on the photos in the Mandir. One day Swami asked us to clean them and sat amidst us. He began telling a small story:

A poor man was collecting all the dry twigs and cow dung he could get in the forest. Seeing him struggling hard to take care of the family, a sanyasi said to himself, "Down with samsari, hail sanyasi." It started to rain in the evening. The sanyasi felt hungry. He came to the town begging for alms. The poor family man, by then, had come back, bathed in hot water, changed clothes, had a hot meal served by his wife and chewing betel leaves sat warmly. When he saw the sanyasi, drenched in rain, shivering with cold and going from house to house begging for food, he said to himself, "Hail samsari, down with sanyasi."

KANNAMMA: Swami, please stop telling such trivial stories and tell us something more serious.

SWAMI: Keep aside serious, spiritual discussions for a while. These stories are also equally fine.

RADHA: Swami, You are not coming out as frequently as before and not conversing as before. This has pained us a lot.

SWAMI: Why do you grieve? If I talk to you alone, other devotees will complain that I do not talk to them. I have to please and satisfy everyone.

RADHA: Swami, it is many days since You talked to us.

SWAMI: If one eats a lot of sweets, all at once, one feels satiated. If you get everything at once, you would not come to Puttaparthi. For that reason, I am giving My Darshan, Sparshan and Sambashan in installments! I am putting the Laddu into your mouths grain by grain. Having tasted once, you will be coming again and again to Puttaparthi.

RAMAMURTHY: Swami, I am working in Railways as a temporary employee. Since they are already over staffed, I am always worried about being relieved of my job. I pray Swami to help me to retain the job.

SWAMI: (Looking at the moon in the sky) Do not be afraid. Have courage. You will not be removed, as you are a devotee of Swami. Your job will also be made permanent. I am the God of Gods. My word never goes wrong. Have no fear. (As assured by Swami, my husband's job was made permanent.)

Do not whine that you are burdened with difficulties. As you undergo more difficulties, your karma will reduce. If someone comes across unbearable problems or difficulties, one has to understand that they are going to see good times shortly. (Swami explained certain incidents in the lives of Sri Tirumala Rao and Sri Kurup.)

Therefore, do not get upset or distressed when misfortunes befall. Welcome them instead. It is not always summer or winter. Fortune smiles on you after misfortune and vice versa. To illustrate this, God made fifteen nights dark and filled the other fifteen with cool moonlight in a month. Nothing is permanent. You should get upset only when you are in a happy state, as unhappiness will follow soon!

Another time, some of us were seeking clarifications from Swami.

DEVOTEE: Swami, we hear that all those who die on the war front attain virasvarga.

SWAMI: It all depends. If you serve in the army just for the sake of livelihood, it is different. But those who lay down their lives for their motherland attain virasvarga.

DEVOTEE: Swami, is shraddha necessary?

SWAMI: Why do you celebrate festivals like Ramnavami and Krishnashtami? It is to remember them, is it not? Similarly, shraddha is ordained in Hindu rituals as a way to remember and honour our ancestors who are dead. The rituals and ceremonies are meant only for emphasising one's duty. Moreover, your elders have stipulated certain rituals as part of your duties, which should be honoured.

The commonly held belief is that cows are given in charity to enable the dead to cross the river, Vaitarani, holding the cow's tail. Has anybody seen this? All rituals are based on one's faith. There is nothing special in this. This also prevents a person from becoming an atheist.

DEVOTEE: Swami, is it true that small children who die are not born again?

SWAMI: Yes. What type of children? Parents of the deceased child should not have any type of disease and should be healthy. The child should not have any congenital disease and should have been born healthy. If such children die, they do not have rebirth. Children below fifteen years who die when they are healthy will not have rebirth up to fifteen years lust, anger, etc., would not have polluted their minds. If yogis have some karma to exhaust, such as dwelling in the womb, miseries of childhood, etc., they take birth to undergo this karma for a short period and then die. That will be their last birth.

DEVOTEE: Swami, why should we perform Puja to idols?

SWAMI: To enable the mind to concentrate upon one thing. Sagunopasana is easier for the common man to reach God. External form helps the mind from straying aimlessly. When worshipping the idol, you are seeing your ishtadevata Swarupa in the idol. It helps to instill the necessary Bhava. Your bhavana is turning the inanimate clay or stone into a living God. Do you think of the impurities in the clay of which the idol is made? No, your mind is on the form of deity only and not on the clay.

DEVOTEE: Swami, when I am distressed, I feel like committing suicide.

SWAMI: You should not. However difficult life is, try to be its master and not its slave. Every human being has a preordained life span. It is like staying in a leased house. Before you actually vacate the house, you have to find another one to move in. Similarly, before leaving one body, God selects another body and a span, depending upon the karmic debts. In case death is inflicted arbitrarily, you are denying yourself a chance to work out your karma as early as possible and reach a permanent abode. In suicide, you are stranded midway. It would be a frightening state of affairs for you. There is no vacant space in nature. God has filled the space with spirits and many other invisible entities. When suicide is committed, they show up and terrorise you. Moreover, a Jivi is blissfully aware of God only for one hour in its life. First, fifteen minutes while shedding the mortal coil, i.e., at death; second, fifteen minutes after coming out of the womb, i.e., at birth; and third, thirty minutes during the marriage. God is present with the Jivi on all these three occasions.

Hence, do not destroy the life that God has given you. Lead the life you have got righteously. The person who faces the trials in life calmly and always remembers God will one day, definitely, get His grace. Do not doubt its veracity. Face these tests with faith in Him.

(Swami asked other people to get their doubts clarified. Nobody asked anything.)

SWAMI: You will never get such wonderful days again. Ask any doubt you have got and I will clear it.

DEVOTEE: Swami, when God comes as an avatar, why doesn't He mend the whole world? He gives His grace to only a few people. Is it not unfair?

SWAMI: No. You may feel it is unfair. But God is never unfair to anyone. God is never partial to anyone. I will tell you a story. One day Narada thought, "There are so many wrong things happening on earth. Lord Vishnu is keeping quiet. If He sends me, I will make the people come on the right path." With these thoughts, he came to Vaikunta. Vishnu welcomed Narada and asked the reason for his visit. When Narada expressed his thoughts, the Lord said, "Then you go to earth and propagate the path of Bhakti. I am disgusted and hence I am giving you this work. In a forest on the earth, you will find a crow perched on a tree. Repeat Govinda thrice in front of the crow. Tell Me what happened later."

No sooner had Narada finished saying Govinda thrice; the crow also did likewise and dropped down dead. He returned and told this to Vishnu, who asked Narada to do the same thing in front of a parrot this time. Narada did the same thing. The parrot also repeated Govinda three times and died. Narada was frightened and told this to Vishnu. Vishnu said, "It is all right. This time go and tell the same thing in front of a calf in the cattle shed of a Brahmana." Narada said, "No Swami, I will not do that. If the calf dies, the Brahmana will curse me." Vishnu convinced him to go once more. Narada agreed. The calf also died. Narada ran out in haste. He told everything to Vishnu and added, "If I listen to Your words any more, I will be condemned forever."

Vishnu then pleaded with Narada to do as He said for the last time and said, "If the same thing happens, you need not listen to My words again." Vishnu asked Narada to repeat His name in front of a prince, just born to a king. Reluctantly Narada entered the palace with trepidation. The king welcomed him with joy, treated him well and prayed Narada to bless his son. Though he was frightened, Narada uttered Govinda three times in front of the baby. The child said, "Oh sage, I am grateful to you. When I was a crow, you gave Upadesh and let me have a parrot's life. Then also you gave me Upadesh and I was born as a calf. Again I got your Upadesh and I was born as a prince. By having your Darshan, my life is fulfilled. My salutations to you."

On hearing this, Narada felt ashamed and wisdom dawned on him that God never stops doing good to people. He thought, "If one can attain higher realms of life by mere chanting of His name, can anyone even imagine His Mahima? Unaware of this, I accused Lord Vishnu." A repentant Narada came to Vaikunta, prostrated before Lord Vishnu and begged the Lord's pardon for his mistake.

In late 1940's, a few of us were sitting near the serpent altar. Conversations with Swami began.

DEVOTEE: Swami, how will You come to know that we are meditating?

SWAMI: I come to know very well! Suppose an incense stick is being burnt in some part of the house. Its fragrance can be felt in any part of the house. Similarly, I come to know of your meditation. Your Chaitanya is the same as Mine. Mine is brighter. Yours is dim. My Darshan brightens your Chaitanya. The mind becomes brighter by contemplating on Me. A brighter mind can see everything clearly. The heat of Smarana converts butter to ghee.

DEVOTEE: Swami, we have Your Darshan in our sleep. Is that true?

SWAMI: Yes. Answers to your spiritual doubts come in dreams. But I will not come in your dreams just because you think of Me. Only when I think of you, I will come in your dreams.

DEVOTEE: Swami, is it possible to attain salvation by Naamasmarana in just one life span?

SWAMI: Rather than the number of lives, the sincerity in sadhana is important. More intense the devotion, better are the results. Do not pray Me asking for forgiveness. You should pray, "God, make me suffer for all my mistakes and take me into You quickly." If you pray for forgiveness, it may act as an obstruction in your sadhana.

DEVOTEE: Swami, what kind of acts should be done and what type of acts should be avoided for self-realisation? We are ignorant of this.

SWAMI: If you have strength in your body, money in your purse, help others. If you are weak and poor and cannot help others, do not harm others. If you do not have strength to help anyone, stay quiet. Not wishing bad to others is nothing but help. Do not find fault with others. Since you too have the tendency to commit the same mistakes, try to mend yourselves every time. The jivatma becomes one with the Paramatma during the night for a period equal to the time which your mind has concentrated completely on God while meditating during the daytime. If this oneness continues, the mind will become stabler for a longer duration in Japa and Dhyana.

Do not believe in mesmerism. Do not try to learn it or practice it. What you see then are evil spirits. God is not that easily attainable. God, who is a form of satvaguna, will never enter into these lowly things and talk. Man is seven steps below God. Evil spirits are six steps below God. God's aura falls on all these steps. Evil spirits have slightly greater strength than man. With this extra strength, they have the power to masquerade themselves as Gods. (Do not get cheated by these spirits. Beware!)

DEVOTEE: Swami, you tell that we can meditate in our place and that it is not important that we should be in Puttaparthi. If so, why should we come to Puttaparthi?

SWAMI: You should come to Puttaparthi when you have some doubts about spiritual matters. Your doubts themselves will bring you to Puttaparthi. After coming here, your doubts will be cleared and you will also get peace of mind. You do a bit of Dhyana and look for very big results. But that cannot be granted. You get results depending on your efforts. God never cheats or lets anyone down.

One day a few of us were sitting around Him in the old Mandir. My mother, a widow, was also present. She had lost her husband when she was just twenty years old.

SWAMI: Since Shastras were written by men, it is written to their convenience. But there are rules and regulations for men also. Mothers, I will advise just like Dakshinamurti. Listen to My words. You need not fast or perform any vrata. Take the correct amount of satvika ahara at the right time. Do your household duties and keep chanting the name of the Lord. Songs for women; mantras for men. If you forcibly perform Vratas or fast, you will not get the desired results. Prakriti is woman; always Mangala svarupi and fond of alankara. There is nothing inauspicious for you. You have not sinned. I have excused you, excused you, excused you.

I never talk to real devotees. Do you know why? I enjoy their melodious chanting of My name with love, which is music to My ears. If I talk, I will be impeding their Naamasmarana. I do not want to do that.

Persons who come to see Me here, repeatedly, after their first Darshan, have some relationship with Me over many births. Some others cannot come however much they try and they may not even have the desire to visit. Before I shed the mortal coil, I will distribute My spiritual assets fairly among My true devotees.

The following conversations took place during 1951-60.

By Swami's grace, on September 3, 1953 we went to Puttaparthi again. Swami was standing outside the new Mandir and welcomed us. We offered flowers and fruits and did pada Namaskara. From 7 to 7.30 p.m., Swami talked with devotees and then sent them for Bhajans. Turning to my mother He asked, "How are Kannamma, Radhamma and the children?" We replied, "Swami, we are all fine by Your grace." Then I said, "Swami, there is no oil on Your hair. Your body looks so weak. I feel very sad."

SWAMI: I have stopped attending to My needs.

MOTHER: Swami, You are Nityananda. Why should You stop attending to Your needs?

SWAMI: I have left it so as to use even that time for the sake of devotees.

MOTHER: Swami, You are distancing Yourself from us. You do not appear now even in our dreams. Have You forgotten us?

SWAMI: I have not forgotten you. I have come for the sake of devotees only. I have no worries about My body. My work is not yet complete. I have no desire to look after this body at the cost of My work. I performed lila up to the age of sixteen. Then onwards, I am showing My Mahima. To understand My Mahima, Naamasmarana alone is enough. Naamasmarana alleviates all sorrows and helps to overcome all difficulties.

MOTHER: Swami, I am not able to do even that. I am not in the same state of mind as when I first saw You, Swami. I am bogged down in worldly matters.

SWAMI: I have given you twenty-four hours in a day. Out of that you spend twelve hours for your worldly duties and sleep for six hours. If you meditate two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, then you will be in yoganidra (yogic trance) for two hours.

MOTHER: Swami, I am not able to do so.

SWAMI: You will get results proportional to the time you keep your mind concentrated on Me. You desire the liberation in your mind. Isn't that also a form of desire? You perform so many tasks during the day. You can assume that meditation is also one such task and perform it every day. For every act of yours, do not aspire for results. After concentrating on Me for just two minutes, you ask for boundless results! Offer both of them, work and meditation, to Me. In Kaliyug, performing Nama Japa without expecting anything in return is the main sadhana. Those who adore Me with an unwavering faith without aspiring for anything other than Me, they can easily cross the Bhava Sagara. They will be immersed in ananda Sagara.

MOTHER: The mind does not allow us to meditate. We do not have the strength to control the mind. How do we do it? We need Your grace for it.

SWAMI: Do not worry about your inability to control your mind. Let the mind wander, as it likes. Do not attempt to suppress the thoughts. When pot filled with water shakes, some water spills out and the remaining water in the pot will be still. Do Naamasmarana. Pot is the body and water is the mind. It is like placing the pot of water on the fire for boiling to eliminate impurities. Similarly, the fire of Naamasmarana eliminates all the impurities in mind and ultimately the mind becomes pure. That is the secret of the mind.

MOTHER: Swami, tell us more.

SWAMI: Do sat karma.

MOTHER: What should we do?

SWAMI: Listen. You will grow a lawn with green grass. The grass belongs to the cow, and not to you. When the cow comes there to satisfy its hunger, you chase it away. You enjoy yourself by seeing the lawn. But the cow suffers from pangs of hunger. You should not enjoy at the cost of other's sorrow. One's happiness alone is not important. It is better to bear some difficulties if it can bring happiness to others.

MOTHER: Give me difficulties so that my thoughts always remain fixed on You.

SWAMI: If your mind is meditating on Me, I will protect you from all difficulties. I have given three quarters of happiness and only one quarter of difficulties to the human beings. People cannot bear even that and presume it to be a mighty mountain. When they are hungry, they eat hurriedly. After filling their stomachs, if they find even a single stone in the last morsel, they complain that the entire food was filled with stones. I keep giving small difficulties every now and then so that the minds of people are turned towards God. Without understanding this, people blame God.

While the main road is being repaired, people have to temporarily use the kachchha road. After the completion of the repairs, they are back on the main road. In a similar way, when your personality is being repaired, I go by another road. You feel that I have kept you away from Me. But it is not the truth. I do it with the purpose that repairs should be finished early so that our atmanubandha is resumed at the earliest.

Sometime in April 1954, we went to Puttaparthi. Swami was seated on a sofa in upstairs of the Mandir fanning Himself. My mother, myself and other devotees did pada Namaskara. He asked, "Kannamma, what news?" I said, "Nothing, Swami." The talk turned to spiritual matters.

DEVOTEE: Swami, You must free us from Maya.

SWAMI: How is it possible? Use the discriminatory power I have given you. If you try for a thorough enquiry into yourself, I will surely give you the necessary strength.

DEVOTEE: Swami, You have tied us down by asking us to follow our husband's words. If he does not like us to come here, how can we come, stay here and get Your blessings?

SWAMI: Aha! Do you remember how enthusiastic you were when looking forward to the marriage! Now you are bored. The Laddu has become bitter? For having married, you must adjust accordingly. When you are not able to bear the burden of the family, you lament as to why the elders performed your marriage. Then, why do you keep trying to marry off your children? Are you not trying to reduce your burden? There is plenty of water here. Bring a big pot and fill as much as you can. Who is preventing you? I will fill the water to the vessel that you bring.

DEVOTEE: Swami, You only have to give the big pot.

SWAMI: I can give. But do you have the strength to carry it? If you try to carry more than what you can, your legs will buckle and you will fall down. You can only carry the load depending on your strength.

DEVOTEE: Swami, You should give us that strength too. You have immersed us in an illusion. We do not know how to maintain ourselves.

SWAMI: Again the same illusion! Do not blame Maya. Even when you are in Maya, do your duties. Only then you will understand the hidden principles. From the principles, you gain the knowledge from which you obtain peace. From peace you get sukha and that is svarga. If you do not try even a little bit, I cannot give you everything. In a shop, unless you pay, you do not get the materials. Similarly, if you give the money of knowledge, devotion and Vairagya, you get the material called spiritual power. Think for yourself: An engineer can draw any number of plans. Only when the owner spends money and the workers build it, the building gets completed. Your desires are like feeding less and expecting the cow to give a lot of milk. There are no shortcuts. Do sadhana, do sadhana, do sadhana. The trials and tribulations of samsara can be likened to depressions and elevations on the riverbed. These are covered when the river is flowing in spate. By contemplating on My name and with My grace your problems and sorrows will vanish. Samsara can then be crossed easily.

DEVOTEE: You put several garbs on us and make us act in Your drama. It is Your wish. What can we do? We are helpless.

SWAMI: You are mistaken. The director of the drama instructs the actors how to act. If the actor does not portray the character properly, does not render the dialogue properly and does not sing the songs correctly, it is his fault and not the director's. Whatever be the costume, whatever be the role, he should follow the director's instructions and put in his best efforts. If he acts well, the audience will ask him to perform 'once more.' But they do not demand 'once more' from the director!

Once Narada took Dharmaraja around both hell and heaven. In the heaven, Dharmaraja saw Indra and bowed to him. He then told Narada, "How much Punya this person must have accumulated to get the position of Indra!" Narada said, "Dharmaraja, look properly. It is Duryodhana who has got the rank of Indra." Seeing this Dharmaraja thought to himself, "If this villain can become Indra, what exalted position my generous, elder brother Karna would have got?" So thinking, he asked Narada to take him immediately to Karna. Narada took him to hell. There, seeing a person being tortured, Dharmaraja said, "How many bad deeds this person must have committed! Poor chap, I cannot bear to see him suffer." Narada said, "Dharmaraja, he is your generous brother Karna." Hearing this, Dharmaraja was surprised and was sad. He said, "God is biased. If He deceives like this, why blame human beings for doing wrong things?" Narada said, "But Karna was a traitor." When Dharmaraja asked how could it be, Narada said, "When Karna was bemoaning that he had no relatives and he was an orphan, Duryodhana consoled him, acknowledged his capabilities and made him the king of Angarajya. Karna was happy and promised Duryodhana that he would kill all the enemies of Duryodhana. Placing his faith in Karna, Duryodhana did not worry too much when the war was declared. But before the war, Krishna sent Kunthi to Karna. Kunthi asked for some concessions from Karna, whose heart melted at his mother's prayers and he promised to safeguard Pandavas. Accordingly, he protected Nakula and Sahadeva from Duryodhana. He also did not kill Arjuna when he had the opportunity to do so. This paved the way for the defeat and death of Duryodhana. For this treason, he is in hell."

Once Sathyabhama asked Krishna, "You love Arjuna the most among the Pandavas. Why not Dharmaraja?" Krishna said, "Arjuna's surrender to Me is complete and unquestioning even when he has some doubts regarding the propriety of My thoughts and actions. Dharmaraja debates the issues and sticks to his conclusions. During the day, if I say, 'Arjuna, it is night,' Arjuna agrees. He knew that I am capable of changing day to night." Just by doing dana and dharma one cannot aspire for liberation. I alone know who deserves My grace. Swami then cited the poem,

Ihamuna sukhiyimpa hemataraka vidya
Paramuna sukhiyimpa brahmavidya

With worldly education you can obtain temporary and transitory pleasures. Only by spiritual education, you get eternal pleasures. Therefore, I insist on your spiritual evolution.

DEVOTEE: Swami, we need Your grace here also.

SWAMI: It is always there. God's grace will shower on everyone just as the sun shines on everyone. The sunshine does not fall behind an obstruction. Similarly, My grace falls on those who are very much interested in My name and form. It does not fall on those who are not interested. Every Jivi will get at least one chance in its life time. If you want to clean a room, all the materials in the room are kept outside and thus are exposed to sunshine. Likewise, the Jivi will remember Me when he is exposed to the aura. The choice to obtain grace or not is entirely yours. Those who constantly contemplate on My name and form will get My grace. (He recited a couplet) "Oh devotee, why do you worry, when you have Sai as your father, mother, relative and friend."

In this world all are equal. None should pride themselves that they are greater than others. Once all the five fingers of the hand had a fight as to who was the greatest among them. When asked about the greatness of each finger, the small finger said, "I am the first one to punish others. I am like the commander at the front, all others follow me." The ring finger said, "I am bedecked with gold and diamonds. What do all others have?" The middle finger said, "I have two bodyguards on either side. I am like a king in the middle." The index finger said, "I am the one who points out the good or the bad." The thumb said, "Without me no other finger can work". Each one is great in one way or the other. But alone, none of them are useful. Always have humility.

Gopala does not mean one who tends cows. But also a leader of gopalakas. Who are Gopis? Are the women who lived in Brindavan called Gopis? No. All persons who forget themselves when they hear the name of the Lord are Gopis. Chaitanya Maha Prabhu would get into a trance whenever he heard the word 'Krishna.' Hence, he got the name Krishna Chaitanya. It is the mind that is important.

DEVOTEE: Swami, mind always tries to do bad things, but seldom tries to do good things.

SWAMI: That is the human nature. This is the reason why we do not add sweet smelling things like saffron, cardamom, etc. to onion. By adding this, can we change the smell of onion? No. Hence we add salt, pepper, etc., to reduce its smell. Salt, sour things such as tamarind, and hot stuff like pepper are nothing but knowledge, devotion and renunciation. With these, we can inflect the onion-mind to something less offensive.

On June 18, 1958, Swami had come to our house for a brief period (see page 103).

KANNAMMA: Swami, You had said that You will stay for a day. But, You are leaving in a hurry. We thought we can ask about spiritual matters this time. We feel very sad if You leave early after showering so much love on us.

SWAMI: Where will I go? I will always be with you. I may not be visible, but I will always be with My devotees.

KANNAMMA: It seems You told Sri Ramasharma (from Venkatagiri) that a person cannot get Atma Sakshathkaram in a single birth. Why?

SWAMI: It depends on the depth of the person's devoutness. Why do you desire for Atma Sakshathkaram? It gives ananda for a mere five minutes. After that experience, your body will be alive only for twenty-one days. Spending your time always in meditation and Bhajans is better than that.

KANNAMMA: Swami, if that experience is beyond us, should we lead the rest of our lives like this.

SWAMI: No. If I wish, I can grant you that experience in a minute, in an hour, in a day. But you must deserve it. That is why I keep telling you to make yourself ripe. I may bestow My grace on you anytime (Once Swami advised us to aspire for vyaktitva Sakshathkaram, which is the best state for a human being).

KANNAMMA: Swami, we have considered You as our sarvasva.

SWAMI: I know. Since you are My devotees, I have come to your house. Otherwise I would not have come. (He turned towards the children) Look here, I did not come for your sake or your father's sake. I came here only for the sake of your mother.

KANNAMMA: Swami, our request to You is to give a small place for us in Your heart and also at Puttaparthi.

SWAMI: Granted. Your names are registered.

KANNAMMA: Swami, You said that in another five years' time Darshan and interviews would get reduced. We felt sad on hearing this. How do we make our lives worth living in Puttaparthi, when we cannot have Your Darshan?

SWAMI: I did not mean that way. In future, more people are going to come and since I have to treat everybody alike, My availability to you people would surely decrease. I will always be like this. Am I a Sadhaka? I am Brahman. I will not change. You are My devotees who will never change. By going farther physically, you will come nearer spiritually. The proof is that your own mother will not be able to have My Darshan in spite of staying at Puttaparthi. Swami will not change even physically, but devotees will.

KANNAMMA: Swami, we have not made any progress in sadhana. When do we go to the next stage?

SWAMI: Forget about the stages. It is enough if you make yourself eligible for God's grace. That is why I tell you often to keep your mind in a ripened state. In a single birth, one cannot have unwavering Bhakti. You developed unwavering faith in Me as soon as you saw Me, because of your good deeds in your previous births. The persons whose minds stick to Me like blotting paper as soon as they see Me are My real devotees. Due to the fruits of sadhana of many births, people are able to fix their minds upon God as soon as they see Him.

KANNAMMA: Swami, You have told us not to compare ourselves to Meerabai, Sakkubai and others. We dare not compare! But You should grace and make our lives similar to theirs always engrossed in Your meditation and Bhajans.

SWAMI: You are living like that. You will continue to be like that forever. Poor Meera, Sakku and others had to face too many ordeals in their lives.

KANNAMMA: Swami, since they had elements of God in them, they could overcome the ordeals.

SWAMI: Everyone has an element of God in them. Everyone can attain God. Everyone is a Paramahamsa.

KANNAMMA: Swami, we have kept this Puja room for Omkara and meditation. Is this a proper place? Can we practice here?

SWAMI: (Looking around the room) Yes. This is a nice place. How do you sit for Omkara? You should not sit on the floor. You should have a raised seat, a minimum of half an inch from the floor. Spread a clean, unused, white cloth on the seat and then sit on it.

KANNAMMA: I would like to have Upanayana of Raghu and Shankara performed in Your presence. But we have neither physical nor financial capacity to organise a function. We will be blessed, if You give Upadesh in Your room.

SWAMI: Celebrate Upanayana happily. I will gladly give Upadesh to them in My room. Ammayi, I have burnt My mouth by eating betel leaves in a devotee's house. Perhaps they had applied too much lime. (Swami showed His mouth.)

KANNAMMA: Swami, we devotees are more of a nuisance to You than of any help.

SWAMI: For devotees like you, I will bear any type of difficulty. It is not difficult for Me.

KANNAMMA: What does Sathya Sai Ram mean?

SWAMI: 'Ra' means Agni, 'Ma' means amrita. Nectar should be always by the side of fire or else every thing will be burnt. One who is having shayana on satya is Sathya Sai. Ram is premasvarupa. There is no Kama near Rama.

Murali prayed Swami for sadbuddhi. (When the boys were very young, Swami used to ask them, "What did your mother teach you to pray?" They would answer, "She taught us to pray You asking for good mind and protection." Swami would say, "If that one thing, wisdom, is present, you do not need anything else to get God.")

SWAMI: You pray like this, "Swami, grace me to lead my life with good qualities."

RAGHU: Swami, shall I learn music? Swami: Learn.

SHANKARA: Swami, I have passed SSLC. What shall I study further?

SWAMI: You have to study only further. Does anyone study backwards? Aren't your eyes in the front?

SHANKARA: Swami, I want to enroll for Engineering. But people say that teaching is not good.

SWAMI: Why do you worry about teaching? Everything depends on the student's sincerity. If remembering Me becomes easy, the lessons also become easy. Join that school itself for Diploma course in Mechanical Engineering (points in the direction of CPC Polytechnic, Mysore). In future, it is going to be the age of machines. So, you will prosper well in that field.

SHANKARA: Swami, You should help me understand the lessons easily.

SWAMI: So be it. All of you do your work sincerely, remembering Me all the time. I will look after everything. (In fact, Swami taught Shankara, in the latter's dreams, a few difficult subjects. He was able to secure first rank in the State.)

Part:- 2 , 3 >


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