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Summer Course Discourse IX - 23rd May
GOD HAS NO FORM
tree can be fashioned without any twist and turn,
Our warden has asked me to talk about the three akashas (infinities). That which cannot be seen by the eye, or cannot be heard by the ear and that cannot be expressed by words characterizes the realm of Akasa. It cannot be comprehended by the mind either. The sun and the moon, the clouds and the stars belong to the realm of Akasha. There are three akashas: Bhootakasha, Chittakasha and Chidakasha. The Bhootakasha envelops the visible and the invisible phenomenon. For example, some stars are visible in the sky; but there are many more those remain invisible. The distance between the earth and the sun is about nine crores and eleven lakh miles. The Bhootakasha spreads over an extent that is impossible to calculate. The sun is a star and there are countless numbers of other stars scattered in the cosmos. They match our own Sun in size. Since they are so far away, they appear like tiny stars to us. Each star shines with the splendour of the sun. The light of these stars travels at an incredible speed of 16,000 crores of miles per second! There are other stars whose light has not yet reached the earth.
The light emanating from the stars is stupendous in its intensity. The brilliance cannot be withstood by anything or anyone on the earth. Our sun imparts only a portion of its radiance to earth. Neither the huge stars nor the sun and the moon are capable of generating this effulgence on their own. There is a fundamental power that is the basis of all this. It is the basic illumination from which the rest of the brilliance originates. This primordial power is that of the atma. It allows the stars, sun and moon to shine.
mentioned above are encompassed in the Bhootakasha. What is Chittakasha then?
Since everything that is visible is Bhootakasha, it cannot be argued that those
invisible belong to Chittakasha. There is a power that is invisible, silent,
imperceptible and eternal. This power is the Chittakasha. In it is reflected or
imprinted everything that is seen is Bhootakasha. The span of the Chittakasha is
very small and subtle. On the other hand, the gross and visible Bhootakasha
spans a terrific extent. Yet, the entire contents of Bhootakasha appear in the
chittakasha as small blips! For example, you see a huge mountain. When you close
your eyes after seeing it, you will be able to visualize the image of the
mountain from the Chittakasha. Similarly, the stars and sky and all that is seen
are permanently etched on the Chittakasha.
The exact physical extent and dimensions of the Bhootakasha have not been estimated to date. But something can be known of the Chittakasha. The entire visible creation is stored in Chittakasha in a subtle form. Every form and sound in the Chittakasha is a reflection of some entity in the Bhootakasha. Bhootakasha is physically perceptible. That which is mentally perceptible is Chittakasha.
The third is
called Chidaksha. It is also called Atma. Atma has no form. It has no movement.
It is without any attributes, ever effulgent, eternal, victorious, pure,
unsullied and everlasting. He who has seen this Chidakasa is one who has had the
experience of Atma. No educational qualifications, scholarship or special
abilities are required to see Chittakasa. On the other hand none can see even
the reflection or shadow of Chidaksa, however strenuous the effort.
The distance of several stars from the earth is measurable. But there are many more which are so far away that they are beyond any human estimation. Scientists have made several attempts to investigate such a phenomenon. They attempted to reach the Chidakasa with their scientific examinations. All their efforts can take them at most till the Chittakasa only and not a step more. Chidakasa couldn't be adequately described even by the Vedanta. Science too fails in its efforts. However, pointers are to some extent available from Vedanta on Chidakasa. The reflection of Bhootakasa is Chittakasa. That which reflects Chittakasa itself is Chidakasa. The relation between the three is explained as follows: -
1. The one you think you are, which is Bhootakasa because it contains all that you see, hear and experience.
2. The one that others think you are, which is the Chittakasa, because, it reflects in your mind's eye whatever you contemplate on.
3. The one you really are, which is the Chidakasa or the principle of Atma - your true nature. It is Divine Bliss.
Bliss, I, reflection of Divinity and Atma all are mean the same. 'I' is related exclusively to the Atma. 'I' is a single lettered word. The Vedas declare "Ekam Sat Vipahraha Bahuda Vadanti". 'I' is the truth. It is interpreted in several ways by scholars. I may call 'Anil Kumar' and the reply comes 'I'. I may call 'Girigaru' - once again the reply comes from the other side 'I'. In this way I may call out the names of several lakhs of people; the reply is always 'I'. This unity in diversity is 'I'. It is the Atmatatwa. It can't be explained as being the sky or earth etc. It is so infinitely expansive that it has no measure at all. Scholars therefore say, "Akasam Gaganam Soonyam." There is nothing but empty space in which you may see a few stars and clouds. But, to what extent can you see them? Only upto a certain distance. Anything beyond that is invisible to your eyes. That which can't be seen but only visualized is Chittakasha. 'I' also cannot be visualized. None can give its true meaning.
Vedanta always propounds unity in diversity through all its teachings. For
instance the phrase "Aham Bramhasmi" translates to 'I am Brahma'. The
word Brahma follows the single letter 'I'. Any other word has to follow Aham.
Without the letter 'I' the word Atma can't appear. Brahma is originated from
'I'. Therefore the letter 'I' signifies the primordial principle.
The Vedanta advises that though one may have read scriptures and texts, he should still make every effort to find out his true nature. He should repeatedly ask himself: 'Who am I?' This question cannot be answered with your scholarship or practical applications. When asked 'Who are you?' you reply, 'I am Anil Kumar'. To whom is the name 'Anil Kumar' given? Your parents have given that name to your body. What was your name before you were so christened? There is no answer. Therefore all names are only given, none of them were born with you. They were all added to you at the time of your birth for identifying you in this material world. They don't establish your true identity. Atma has no fixed name. It is its own identity. It has no other form.
Chittakasha can be discussed and studied upto some extent. However Chidakasha
has no form or attribute. What form and name can you assign to the formless one?
It is therefore its own identity. No one is able to comprehend the true meaning
of the word 'I'. 'I' should not be confused with ego. Ego has form, but not 'I'.
Vedanta describes 'I' by negation. It is not ether, ego, sound or any such
thing. A master once asked his disciple to find out who he really was. The next
day the disciple appeared and said, "Sir, I've found the answer. My name is
Ramaiah." The master once again asked him, "Who are you?" After
further enquiry, the answer came, "I am the son of Mallaiah and my mother's
name is Pullamma." These are all names of various bodies. None of them is
your true identity because names relate to the body. They are useful for you to
introduce yourself in the physical world. Only one name was born with you and
not given. It is 'I'. Atma, 'I' all mean the same. Make efforts to realize the
nature of 'I'. There is nothing else you need to know further. There is no need
for you to say, "I am Ramaiah" when announcing your true identity. 'I'
is itself enough. No other words need to follow 'I' to reinforce your identity.
'I' is unique and always single. Realising this is the secret contained in all
Chidakasha has nothing to do with reflections, reactions and resounds. It is beyond all the three. It cannot be identified or comprehended with any name or form. At one point of time, in Uttar Pradesh, there was a bangle seller on the banks of river Ganges. One day a radiant form emerged from the Ganges and asked him, " Sir, will you please sell me some bangles?" The bangle seller complied and taking out some bangles for her size, he made her put them on. The form said, " I don't have the money for this bangles with me. However, I will give you an address and directions to reach the house. Go to the person and collect the money from him. He is my father." The bangle seller then asked her, "Madam, what is your name? I will need to identify you at your house for collecting the money." The form replied, "You can tell them that my name is Ganga" and then vanished.
As directed, the bangle seller reached the house and told the owner that he had come to collect the money due to him from his daughter Ganga to whom he had sold some bangles. The astonished owner replied, "I am not even married. How can I then have a daughter and how would she buy bangles?" The bangle seller replied, " The lady was certainly telling the truth. How else could I have discovered and found my way to your house? She even identified your name for me. Is this your name or not?" The person agreed that it was so. The bangle seller argued, " If all this is true, the lady certainly was not lying." The house owner didn't even know that he had the amount with him. He searched in his locker and was astounded to find the amount there exactly as predicted.
This person was an ardent devotee of mother Ganges. He was thrilled and told the bangle-seller, "Sir! I worship mother Ganges. She is my patron deity. I have offered myself to her and have hence chosen to remain unmarried. I am eager to see the sacred spot where you saw my mother Ganges. Let us go!" The bangle seller obliged and soon both arrived at the banks of the river. The bangle-seller ardently prayed, "Mother! You appeared to me and took the bangles. You guided me to your devotee's house to take the payment. Will you not appear again and show me your form? I have come to you with gratitude to tell you that I have received the payment due to me." A voice replied, "Here is the blessing that I confer for your gratitude" and a hand emerged from the river, with the newly bought bangles adorning it! The devotee saw the hand and was ecstatic. He exclaimed, "Mother! Will you not show me your true form and sanctify me?" He thus kept pleading and praying. The voice replied, "Son! I cannot show any form to anybody. That is because I do not have a particular form. All forms that you can see are God's forms only! God can appear in any form that a devotee prays to Him to appear in. God Himself has no specific form or attribute. I showed you my hand filled with bangles just as a proof that I have indeed bought the bangles and you must pay the bangle seller." The devotee saw the hand; he was thrilled at the grace conferred on him and said, "Mother! I have seen atleast your hand and have been sanctified! I do not want anything else in life"; he then fell into the Ganges and breathed his last.
Divinity always assumes the form that a devotee visualizes and prays for. None can actually fix and estimate what Divinity looks like, because there is no form at all! Ramakrishna Paramahamsa too had a similar experience. He was staying at Kamarpakur. He was gripped by a strong desire to have darshan of the Goddess Kali. Unable to bear the pain of separation anymore, he attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the Ganges. Surprisingly, however far he walked into the river, he found that the water came only up to his knees! He prayed, "O' Mother of the universe! Why are you testing me so? Why do you not reveal your form to me? Why do you not allow me to merge in you? I am unable to bear this tortuous pain." The mother Goddess replied, "Son! I can show you my form if I had one in the first place! I have no form for you to see. My only form is that of Atma. You can see any form that you think of. All the forms that you see are products of your illusion. None of them can be taken to be the true identity of Divinity."
You say that Rama and Krishna or Sai Baba etc. have appeared before you. Several people make such claims. These are all figments of one's illusion (Bhrama). As long as you have Bhrama you will be far away from Brahma (Divinity). On the other hand if you have realized Brahma, Bhrama can come nowhere near you. The need of the hour is therefore to overcome this illusion. Get rid off the body attachment. Cultivate attachment to the Atma instead. Your true identity is Atma. It has neither a name nor a form. It is the embodiment of bliss. Atma is therefore described as;
Nityanandam Parama Sukhadam Kevalam Gnanamurthym
supreme happiness, wisdom, non-dual, ethereal and ultimate, the single one,
eternal, pure, immobile and eternal witness - these are the various names and
descriptions of the Atma. However, it has no form. Hence do not aim to see the
form of God. Instead consider all the forms that you see to be that of God. Do
not fix various forms as unique to God.
The feature of Bhootakasa is that, it encompasses the sun, the stars and all the galaxies in it. Do not take these to be the permanent attributes of God! They will all perish someday, pass on or change forms. They will withdraw themselves and disappear from creation itself at some point of time. There is only one thing that will always be with you, in you, around you, above you and below you and that is bliss.
Bliss has no
form. There is only one way to know it. People think that bursting out into
laughter is bliss! Even laughter should not be a guffaw. How does Divinity
laugh? It is by a delicate smile. No sound accompanies this smile. It is not a
guffaw; but it confers plenty of joy to those who see it. Loud laughter is
called a "prahasan" while the soundless smile is called
"hasan". God always smiles and never laughs. What you see around you
is an exercise in histrionics that is passed on as laughter. Seeing this, people
imagine that God too must be laughing like this!
There is one aspect that you can use to identify Divinity and that is gratitude. God is giving you so many things. When you are not well a doctor comes and gives you an injection. You pay the doctor his fees. Your expression of gratitude ends there. When you are hungry you tell your mother that you would like to eat something. Your mother gives you some food that you relish with great joy. This itself is an expression of gratitude to your mother. You may be suffering. When someone comes and consoles you and gives you strength, you express gratitude to him. In this way, all help rendered is gratefully acknowledged without fail. This should be the custom. Unfortunately, there is no such tradition today.
God is giving you so much. You are getting free education, free medical aid and free water. He is talking with you so freely and moving about amongst you so freely. He is giving you everything so 'free'! How do you express your gratitude for all these? You must give up your ego and spread happiness like He does. That will be the right thing to do. As it is said,
That heart which you have given me, O Lord!
It is these tears of joy and gratitude that you must offer to God. Without doing this, you will become an ungrateful wretch. You will collapse into the endless cycle of birth and death. Suffering and agony will shadow you. Your tears of gratitude will liberate you from all such problems. You will always be blissful, with cheerful smiles. This is the result of expressing your gratitude to God.
Once, there lived a devotee of Lord Krishna who spent his time constantly contemplating on Krishna's name. But he had a problem! Krishna was depicted in various ways in different pictures. Which form to select while contemplating on Lord Krishna? He could not decide. These photographs are artificially created ones. It is said, "Daivam Manusha Roopena" - God is in the human form. The crowns and jewels in the pictures are additions provided by artists; they are not His true form. His true nature is that He is ever smiling and is always making others smile! He is always blissful and presents bliss to others. That is the true hallmark of Lord Krishna. 'Be happy; make others happy.' It is a give and take philosophy! Give bliss and accept bliss in return. That is the only true form of gratitude you can express to God.
Without expressing your gratitude, you cannot aim to please God with anything that you may do. You will not attain any happiness in return. When you see your presiding deity, give a smile. Do not stand with a twisted face! With such a serious face, you can never hope to experience bliss. You must always be happy because bliss is your true nature. Always maintain a pleasant smile on your face. You may definitely face some problems and obstacles in life. Grief and sorrow may sometimes assail you. Do not break down and cry. These are things that come and go. They are passing clouds and will never stand permanently to trouble you. Do not bow to them; face them instead. A steady faith in God will give you the satisfaction of being a true devotee.
Today, you worry about your mother, father, kith and kin. How do you expect to attain happiness with so many worries? Who are your parents? They are the ones who gave you a physical body. Whose body is it? It is only a physical entity. Forget the body. Contemplate on Divinity instead. This is true devotion. Forget Bhootakasa entirely, though it is what you actually see. Chittakasa can be relied on to the same extent. Once you assimilate everything in Chittakasa, you will reach Chidakasa. Hence, develop the capability to completely merge in Chittakasa.
How will you visualize and merge into Chittakasa? I shall explain it in detail later. In this world, several scholars and experts explain Divinity quite extensively. However, Divinity that can be explained is not the true Divinity! These are only descriptions and pointers to Divinity. They can easily make you happy or even delude you. But you must go beyond these and aim to see the reality that is 'Tat'. 'Tat Tvam Asi' - Thou Art That. 'Thou' means 'this'. 'That' is 'Tat'. Both should therefore become one.
In response to Narasimhamoorthy's prayer, I have explained the three akasas of Bhootakasa, Chittakasa and Chidakasa to you. True 'Akasa' is 'Hridayakasa' - the heart. Chidakasa is vital and ultimate. Every attempt should be made to know its nature.
(Text of the Divine Discourse delivered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Babaon 23rd May 2002 as part of the Summer Course on Indian Culture and Spirituality held at Brindavan Campus, Bangalore)
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