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Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Answers For   

Spiritualising Our Day-To-Day Life 

The India Eternal  

 Q1) Swami! India (Bharat) is the land of religion and spirituality. All the incarnations have taken birth in Bharat. What is the reason behind this?

Bhagawan: Bharat is Yogabhumi, the land of spirituality. Bharat is Punyabhumi , the sacred land. Bharat is Karmabhumi, the land of sacred activity. Bharat is Tyagabhumi, the land of renunciation. Here saints, sages, seers, aspirants, seekers and devotees pray to God to enjoy His proximity. This necessitates the descent of God in human form or incarnation. In response to their fervent appeals and prayers, God, out of His grace and compassion, descends on earth or incarnates and moves amidst us. Devotees, then, experience bliss and follow Him.

Here is an illustration. You asked why Bharat alone has always been the birthplace of the incarnations. You know that the train has an engine in the front with several carriages connected to it. The power or energy generated there in the engine pulls the carriages forward. Where do you find the driver? Naturally, he sits in the engine monitoring the train, does he not? Similarly, in the train of the world, Bharat is in the position of an engine and the carriages are the several countries attached to it. God is the driver. The engine is His place. Just as we find heat and power generated there, we also find the same elements produced as a result of sacred rituals such as Yajnas and Yagas performed from time to time in this land of Bharat .

In the great epic, the Mahabharata we find Arjuna and Bhima always following Dharmaja. Here, Arjuna stands, for intelligence, while Bhima symbolizes physical strength. Now, Bharat is in the position of Dharmaja. America is Arjuna, while Russia is Bhima. Just as you find Bhima and Arjuna obeying the command of Dharmaja , America and Russia should follow Bharat.

In the very name "Bharat" we have three letters. (Written in Telugu, "Bharat" comprises three letters). Bha, the first letter stands for bhava or feeling, ra, the second signifies raga, tune, or melody, and ta, the third indicates tala or beat. Thus, Bharat is the country where the glory of God is sung with bhava, raga and tala. This country has another name Hindu Desam which means a country that shuns violence, `Him' - himsa or violence, ` du ' du ra or shuns. For these reasons God has chosen to incarnate or descend in human form in Bharat.

Q2) Swami! We find people of every religion following a specific sacred text and a particular path. But in Sanathana Dharma, we have numerous paths, texts, and procedures such as dualism, qualified non-dualism and non-dualism, the nine paths of devotion, the six Darsanas, the four Vedas, numerous Sasthras, and so on. How are we to understand these and practice the principles of Sanathana Dharma?

Bhagawan: Sanathana Dharma is the most ancient spiritual way of life. Its diversity matches the spectrum of human behavioral tendencies, temperaments and mental attitudes. It is practical and confers divine experiences.

A small example. You buy a piece of cloth and give it to a tailor to make a suit for you. The tailor will get your suit ready according to your measurements, does he not? You cannot wear a dress made for someone else. It may be too lose or too tight, too long or too short. Therefore, your dress must be according to your size. Similarly, some may like Rama, some Siva, Krishna , and so on. They find it easy to concentrate on the deity of their choice, whereas the followers of other faiths may have to wear one dress of one and the same size.

Another example. You may know the nadasvaram, the South Indian musical instrument required to be played on every auspicious occasion. To maintain srti or rhythm by way of an accompaniment, one person plays an instrument in the same way all through. On the other hand, with nadasvaram you can play any number of ragas or tunes. Sanathana Dharma is like the nadasvaram.

Another example: Whatever, the combination of optional subjects you may take in Science during your undergraduate programme, be it `M.P.C.' (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) or "C.B.Z." (Chemistry, Botany and Zoology), you get a B.Sc. degree. Similarly, in the university established by Sage Vyasa, you can opt for any course like the Sasthras, the Vedas, the Upanishads, etc. This is the significance of our ancient Sanathana Dharma, which gives ample freedom for you to select and follow.

Another example: A pharmacist and a cafe owner got headache on the same day. Seeking relief, the pharmacist went to the cafe for a cup of coffee, and the cafe owner to the medical shop for a tablet. So one has faith in a cup of coffee while the other trusts a tablet. In the same way, you should follow the spiritual path you believe in, and the text that is convincing and appealing to you.

Q3) Swami! Muslims go to a mosque every Friday to pray (namaj), and Christians go to a church every Sunday. Then, how is it that Hindus do not meet in a temple like other religious groups?

Bhagawan: You are wrong if you think Hindus should. They are not required to specially meet on a specific day like others. Why? Every Hindu has a puja room or an altar in his home particularly meant for worship. He prays there everyday. So there is no need for him to assemble for mass prayer or to pray on specific days like people belonging to other religions.

Q4) Swami! Since God is omnipresent and omniscient, do we need temples and should we go on pilgrimage to holy places like Shirdi, Puttaparthi, Tirupati, and so on?

Bhagawan: This is a foolish question. You are exhibiting your ignorance and your `fashionable' way of thinking which, more often than not, is perverted. There is no relationship between what is said and what is experienced. You say that God is everywhere. But it is merely an expression, vocal and verbal. Do you really have strong faith that God is present everywhere? Do you have that experience of the divinity, which is all‑pervasive? You are simply speaking like a parrot.

I give you here a simple example. Blood circulates throughout the body of a cow. But you can draw milk only out of the udder! You can't squeeze the ear or twist the tail of a cow to get its milk, can you? Therefore, the all-pervading God can be visualised and experienced in a temple and at a holy pilgrim centre.

Q5) Swami! Why did the ancient Rishis, sages and saints, choose forests to undertake tapas or penance? Why did they prefer solitude?

Bhagawan: There is significance undoubtedly. Why did they choose forests for penance? Here is an example. Suppose an exhibition is organised in a city. Naturally, the stalls there and the articles kept there for sales attract you. The music, eatables, clothes, etc., draw you. The exhibits attract your senses since you find them right before you. But, in a forest, there is nothing to attract or distract your attention.

Solitude helps you to maintain the inner peace and tranquility needed for meditation. It provides a congenial atmosphere for spiritual life. So, saints and sages always did penance in forests. In other words, "forest" is "for- rest" spiritually.

Q6) Swami! We don't find any understanding between any two persons, but only mutual bickering and differences. We hardly find any unity or brotherhood between man and man. What is the reason?

Bhagawan: There is one thing you should clearly know when you think of unity and differences among people. What is the reason? Today there is no understanding between any two persons. The absence of understanding is the main cause of all the conflicts, enmity, and differences. Therefore, people do not adjust with others. Adjustment is possible only when there is understanding. But, today you are moving in the opposite direction. You think that you can adjust first and then understand each other. But, that is wrong. You must first understand and adjustment then becomes easy.

Here is a small illustration. When there is perfect understanding between you and your wife, she does not mind if you return home late from your office. She pities you and sympathises with you. With all her concern and love, she brings you a cup of coffee. But, if by any chance, there is a slight misunderstanding, and your return from office is delayed even by five minutes, there will be a civil war at home. Why? Misunderstanding is the cause of her inability to adjust. It makes her put questions like: "Where have you been till now? Where did you go? With whom did you spend the time?" etc. So understanding is very necessary for proper adjustment. Many problems of society today can be solved if this is realised.

Q7) Swami! Hindus are criticised for worshipping idols, trees, etc. Many think that this is all superstition and blind faith. What do you feel about this, Swami?

Bhagawan: Bharat is the spiritual centre of the world. This is the country that practiced, preached and propagated that divinity exists in all the living and the nonliving, right from an atom to the entire cosmos. You will notice that here, in this country, putta, anthill, gutta, mountain, chettu, tree and pitta, bird are objects of veneration and worship. An anthill is worshipped as the abode of Lord Subrahmanya, a bird is respected as the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, a mountain is spiritually important as it is viewed as Govardhana lifted by Lord Krishna, and a tree is worshipped as the as vatthavr ks a . All objects are divine according to our scriptures. This is not superstition. This is not in any way blind faith. Sanathana Dharma wants us to view, feel, and experience divinity everywhere. This is the spiritual path. This is the highest and noblest experience.

Q8) Swami! Kindly tell us what is to be done in our country now?

Bhagawan: You don't have to protect your country now. You should protect and uphold Sathya and Dharma. You should of necessity follow these twin principles. They will protect the entire universe. You should develop love for the universe in all its vastness and magnitude.

Love all and serve all. You should rise above the narrow limits of caste, creed and nationality. You should believe in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. You should never waste time. Gratitude must be expressed by rendering service to the society in which you are born, grew up, made money and earned reputation. Be patriotic and strive for integration, harmony, peace and security in society. You should follow and uphold the great and unique Indian culture.

Cultivate human values and realise the divinity within you. Politics without Principles, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, and Education without Character are not only useless, but also dangerous. You should be a perfect, ideal man. You are from God. You are the spark of the Divine. Hence, your qualities should be daiva, divine and not dayyam, demonic. You say, "I am a human being". This is only half a truth. The other half is, "I am not an animal". You should give up animal qualities. If you have both bestial and human qualities, it means your mind is dual. The man with a dual mind is half blind.

If you place a ceiling on your desires, you will be happy. He who has many desires is the poorest man. The man with contentment is the richest man. Guna, virtue is more important than ana, coin.

You should know the purpose and the goal of life. Life is not for eating, drinking, and sleeping alone. Animals also do the same. What is your specialty, then? God has gifted you this life in order that you may know, experience and realise the divinity within you. Morality and integrity are very important. Nitiye jati, morality, indeed, is national character. A Telugu verse runs as follows:

adi vadalitiv o kotikante hinud avu,
jati gauravamu ni tipai nilucunu
ni ti kalugu jati nijamaina jati .

Without character, you are worse than a monkey. The prestige of a nation depends on its morality. That nation alone deserves to be called a nation when it truly maintains high standards of morality and individuality.

You should always remember these three important points. The first is: do not trust the way of the world. Sometimes it not only deludes and distracts you, but betrays you also. The second is: never forget God who is always with you, in you, above you, below you. Nay, you are God. The third is: do not fear death, as it is sure to take place. In fact, death is the dress of life. Follow the sacred path in life by maintaining unity in thought, word and deed.

There is one more thing I want you to note. Open your heart and close your mouth. Today, people speak what they don't really mean; their hearts are full of jealousy, pride, envy, and what not. I want you to open your heart and be free from all those that pollute it and close your mouth. Dedicate your life to service. Keep God as your ultimate aim and goal. This is what I mean when I say, "Hands in society and Head in the forest".

You should share your precious knowledge and valuable experience with others. You should share Sai's message with others. Have faith in yourself first and then you can trust God. The real cause of the problem of the present day lies here. You don't have faith in yourself. You have no self‑confidence.

Consider gramaseva, rural service as Rama Seva, service to God. Explain clearly to the villagersí issues like hygiene, health, cleanliness, and organise medical camps. Ensure to everyone water supply, especially drinking water supply. Tell them about the evil effects of smoking and drinking. Help them to get rid of these bad habits. If you work and serve mingling closely with the local people, in course of time, they will be able to work independently and become self reliant. Service to man is service to God. Service is a greater and higher spiritual path than meditation, penance, worship and chanting. Serve the poor and the needy.

Don't be selfish. Don't give any scope for jealousy, pride, and attachment. Develop virtues like devotion, adherence to truth, discipline, broad‑mindedness, and never yield to pomp, pride, and egoism. Bad qualities are like tigers while noble qualities are like cows. Will tigers allow cows to live? No. So, don't have any evil tendencies in your heart. You should imbibe human values more and more, and live up to the ideals you cherish.

Q9) Swami! Kindly tell us about Vasishta and Visvamitra the two sages who are very prominent in the Ramayana?

Bhagawan: In ancient days, kings were always guided by their preceptor. They consulted him on all major issues. That was how satya and dharma were maintained and upheld. History shows instances when kings approached their gurus for blessings and guidance, and thus became great. You know how King Krishnadevaraya was guided by his mentor and preceptor, Vidyaranya, and Emperor Sivaji by Samartha Ramadas.

Rama and Lakshmana followed Sage Visvamitra, learnt archery from him and killed demons like Khara and Dushana who were obstructing and desecrating Vedic rituals like yajnas and yagas in the forest. Thus, Visvamitra was instrumental in demonstrating to the world at large the valour and expertise of Rama and Lakshmana. Visvamitra also taught Rama the most sacred mantra, the Gayatri. Visvamitra was also responsible for the divine wedding of Sita and Rama, which was in essence a union of prakrti, matter and purusa, energy, the Absolute one. He was and is the mitra, friend, of visva, the entire Universe, and so the name of the sage has been so apt and befitting.

Visvamitra was the one who gave Gayathri Mantra to mankind. As he was growing in spiritual stature, he wished to be called Brahmarshi by Vasishtha. He was always competitive and envious of Vasishtha to the extent of even resolving to kill him. On a full moon day he planned to kill Vasishtha and was holding in his hand a big stone to be thrown on his head. Meanwhile, he heard Vasishtha tell his wife Arundhati how bright and beautiful the moonlight was and how it was equal to the power of the penance of Visvamitra. His mind immediately changed and he fell at the feet of Vasishtha and the latter addressed him as Brahmarshi since he had conquered his ego.

Q10) Swami! Among the sages, how is Valmiki noteworthy?

Bhagawan: The Ramayana was both composed and recited during the time of Rama's incarnation. As for the great sage and ascetic Valmiki, besides being a contemporary of Rama, he, as the author of the Ramayana, is the very first poet. He gave shelter to Sita, renowned for her virtue and chastity, brought up her sons, Lava and Kusa, and taught them archery and all the arts. Thus, he played a vital role in the Ramayana.

Having completed the Ramayana, he thought deeply about popularising such a great work. At that juncture, Lava and Kusa came forward and took a vow in the presence of Valmiki and other distinguished sages that they would themselves sing the Ramayana and offer its nectar to people all over the world. Thus, Valmiki has the unique distinction of composing the divine Ramayana as Rama's contemporary and having it sung in Rama's presence. Valmiki proclaimed to the whole world the ideals and divinity of Rama, the protector of the world and the inspirer of His muse. Thus, it was only from the Tretayuga that the divinity within humanity began to shine forth.

The purpose of the incarnation of Rama was to pass on to mankind the whole duty of man. What is happening today is exactly the same phenomenon. You would have noticed how in the present avatar too, biographies are written by contemporaries, and the Divinity is acknowledged, worshipped, experienced, and celebrated all over the world. That all this is happening during the time of the incarnation is another parallel to Rama's descent. The same Ideal! The same Love! The same Message, viz., the practice of Satya and Dharma.

Q11) Swami! We heard about King Dasaratha, the yoga called `putrakameshti', and so on. Kindly tell us something about King Janaka.

Bhagawan: Janaka was a Raja yogi, a man of great wisdom, utterly devoid of the sense of the body. Therefore, he came to be known as videha, one without attachment to the body. As the daughter of that King, Sita came to be known as vaidehi. Janaka was an ideal king possessing immense devotion to the preceptor, extensive knowledge of the Sasthras, and the sprit of renunciation. He performed Sita's marriage as his bounden duty. Later on, Rama left for the forest along with Sita and Lakshmana. Though their stay in the forest stretched into years, Janaka never set foot in the forest. Such was Janaka's abounding wealth of jnana and vairagya.

Q12) Swami'. We hear that Adi Sankara died at a young age. What could be the reason?

Bhagawan: It is true that the founder of the doctrine of advaita, nondualism, died young. He wrote commentaries on three important sacred texts known as Prasthanatraya, viz. the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras, and the Bhagavadgita . Besides, emphasising jnana, he composed a large number of hymns on bhakti. He travelled all over the country and established pit has centres of worship and spiritual learning. He symbolises Sanatana Dharma, the ancient, timeless spiritual culture of this land.

Adi Sankara went to the ancient pilgrim centre, Kasi where he prayed to the presiding deity, Visvanath to pardon him for the three mistakes he had committed. The first mistake happened to be his behaviour contrary to what he had been stating all along. While saying, Vasudevas sarvamiti, God is everywhere, he had come to Kasi to see God. The second mistake was that even while knowing that God is beyond our comprehension and description, yato vaco nivartant e , he tried to write books on divinity. The third mistake was that while knowing that one God manifested Himself as many, ekoham bahu syam, and that the same God is present in everyone, atmavat sarva bhutani and that awareness is in everyone, prajnanam brahma he organised mathas, centres of learning considering his disciples separate from him.

You may also have heard another episode connected with his life. He prayed to his mother for permission to become a Sanyasi, a lifelong celibate. She didn't accept the proposal initially. One day Sankara went to a nearby river to have a bath. Suddenly a crocodile caught his feet. Then he started crying, "Mother! Mother! This crocodile is pulling me into the water. It is not going to leave me until you permit me to become a sanyasi". His mother at last gave her permission and Sankara was released by the crocodile. The inner meaning of the episode is that the river is comparable to samsa ra, worldly life in general, and the crocodile to visaya, sensual pleasure. Man is dragged into the river of life by the crocodile of worldly pleasure. Release is renunciation or detachment.

Sankara shuffled off the mortal coil soon after completing the tasks he had set for himself, because he was sure that his mission would be carried further by his disciples, the torchbearers of his philosophy and that his theory of advaita, non-dualism would be widely spread and propagated. His disciples too were of the stature and eminence to carry on his mission successfully.

Q13) Swami! Tyagaraja, very well known as a devotee of Rama, composed krtis (hymns in praise of the Lord) which are sung even today. What is special about them?

Bhagawan: There are many names of devotees who composed devotional songs all over the world. God also responded to them. Those songs make you ecstatic and sublime. But the hymns of Tyagaraja have a specialty about them. Every song of his is related to an incident in his life.

For example, when the King of Tanjore sent him jewels, provisions and costly presents, Tyagaraja mildly and politely rejected them and put to himself a question in the form of a krti, nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama , is it money that makes you happy or is it nearness to God? Once his brother threw all the idols worshipped by Tyagaraja into the Kaveri river. Tyagaraja cried and cried for this loss. One day when he was taking his bath in the Kaveri, he could get by the grace of Rama those lost idols, and holding them in his palms he brought them home singing, rara ma inti daka raghuvi ra sukumara : "Lord Rama! Please come home." In a music concert in the court of a king, he sang paying obeisance to all the distinguished people present in the assembly, endaro mahanubhavulu andariki vandanamulu, "there are many noble and great people here, my humble pranams to all of you." Like this, every song composed by Tyagaraja is associated with some real life occasion or incident. The hymns of Tyagaraja reflect practical devotion and surrender.

Q14) Swami! Right now, we are in Kodaikanal. Tamilnadu is known for its renowned devotees. We often hear about Manika Vachakar and Tiruvalluvar. We want to hear from you about these two illustrious sons of Tamilnadu.

Bhagawan: Manikya Vachakar is the personification of forbearance, forgiveness, patience, and devotion. One day the son of a very rich man came to him. You know, Manikya Vachakar was selling saris and maintaining his family. This boy who came to him was a pampered spoilt child. Picking up a sari there, the boy asked, "What is the price of this sari?" Manikya Vachakar said, "Twenty rupees, sir". The boy tore the sari into two halves and said, "What is the price of this half sari?" The sari seller said, "Rupees ten, sir". The boy tore it further into two halves and asked, "Now what is the price of this quarter sari"? The former patiently replied, "Rupees five sir". The mischievous boy was very much taken aback by Manikya Vachakar's patience. He then asked, "How is it that you are so patient in spite of my mischief?" Manikya Vachakar smiled and said, ď I am a devotee of God and I have full faith in Him. He is responsible for my peace and calmness".

In Tamilnadu there was one devotee by name Tiruvalluvar. He was highly reputed and is known even today for his devotional composition, Tirukkural. In those days, the Pandya king had youngsters serving him as ministers. Tiruvalluvar was one of them. The Pandya king had a great liking for horses. He liked to have a number of horses of different breeds from all parts of the country. He called Tiruvalluvar, gave him some money, and sent him to get new breeds of horses from all places. The latter agreed and proceeded.

On his way, Tiruvalluvar found a temple in a dilapidated condition. He decided to renovate it. In so doing, he had spent all the money he had with him. Having come to know what he had done, the king became very furious and wild. He kept Tiruvalluvar in prison as a punishment. There in the prison Tiruvalluvar composed his famous Tirukkural. The king repented later for his hasty and wrong decision. He requested Tiruvalluvar to come back and resume his duties as a minister. However, Tiruvalluvar politely refused to take up any responsibilities in the kingdom. He spent the remaining part of his life wholly in spiritual pursuits.

Q15) Swami! God is attributeless. He is above sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika qualities. But, we are bound by these three attributes. How can we realise God, then?

Bhagawan: The Divine has two aspects. He can be experienced as the one with attributes and also as beyond them. You should know one thing chiefly. God is in the attributes. But, the attributes are not in Him. Attributes or traits cannot function and operate without divinity in them. Gold is in the jewellery. But, jewels are not in gold. Pots are made of clay, but not vice versa. Silverware, like a glass or a plate, is made of silver. But, the glass and plate are not in silver.

Another example: You know, an electric bulb illumines, and a fan revolves. Radios, TVs work by electricity only. They are electrical gadgets. Electricity is the main cause of their functioning. But, none of these gadgets are there in electricity. Likewise, God is present in the attributes. They are not present in God. So in a way we can say that He has attributes and at the same time He is attributeless, saguna and nirguna.

Every man has three qualities sattva, rajas, and tamas. But, the one that dominates the other two decides his thinking, feeling and action. But, unless we transcend these three qualities, we cannot experience divinity in the true sense. Here is an example. If you want to see your own chest, what should you do? You should first of all remove your coat, then your shirt, and finally even your banian, to look at your chest, isn't it so? So also, to see the chest of divinity you should first remove the coat of tamasika quality, the shirt of rajasika quality and the banian of sattvika quality.

Q16) Swami! We pray to you to tell us about the two aspects of God, with form and without it?

Bhagawan: It is here that many are confused. Without a form, from where do you get the formless? How is it possible for you to visualise the formless? Since you have a form, you can only think of God with a form. For example, if a fish is to think of God, it can visualise God only in the form of a bigger fish. So also, if at all a buffalo thinks of God, it can think of God only as a bigger buffalo. In the same way, man can think of God only as existing in human form, the form of an ideal man.

Even the formless aspect of God can be meditated upon basing on the aspect of God with form. You cannot derive the formless without a form. Here is a small example. You are all here seated in this hall in front of Swami today in Kodaikanal. You are listening to Swami's words. This is an experience with a form. Later, you go home and after a few days you begin to reflect on what had happened here. You recall the entire scenario. In fact, has Swami come to your place physically? Would you find this room at your place? Have all of you gone there? No. But this direct experience is pictured mentally, which gives you the indirect experience of being here. What you see here is the sakara and what you experience there is the nirakara. So, the formless is based on the aspect with form. One cannot exist without the other.

Another example. Here is milk. You want to drink it. How do you drink? Don't you need a cup or a glass? Similarly to worship God (milk) you need a form (cup).

Swami, of these two ways of worship, the aspect with form and the other, the formless, which is greater?

Bhagawan: In my opinion, both are equal. One is not in any way greater than the other. Now you are in Coimbatore . Here the land is plain, without any ups and downs. The level of the land is the same throughout. Nobody levelled it. Nobody prepared the ground like this. The form of Coimbatore is like this. Its design is like this. But Kodaikanal is located on the hills. Nobody assembled hills there. Its form is of that sort. Coimbatore and Kodaikanal are different from one other. Each one is full, but in its own way.

So also, the two methods of worship one with form and the other formless are equally beneficial to the seekers of truth and aspirants of spiritual enlightenment.

Q17) Swami! Scriptures declare that God is omnipresent; God is everywhere. Kindly explain this aspect of Divinity? How are we to understand this?

Bhagawan: The Bhagavadg ita says, "bijam mam sarvabh utanam, God is the seed of this entire creation. God is the seed of all beings." For example, you see here a mango seed. You sow it in the ground. The seed, as days pass, germinates. In the process, the seed produces a root, then a stem, a leaf, branches, and flowers gradually. The seed is latent in every part of the plant, as all parts directly or indirectly emerge from it. Finally, in the hard seed of the fruit also the initial or the original seed is present. So, God is present in the entire universe. The whole world is a tree, God is the seed, and fruits are the beings or creatures born of the tree of the world.

Q18) Swami! When the same divinity is present in everyone, why should differences exist? Divinity being the same, why are we so different from each other?

Bhagawan: Ekamevadvitiyam brahma, "God is one without a second", says the scripture. Then, how do we account for the variety, diversity, differences, and so on? A small example to understand this. Power supply being the same, don't you find the difference in the voltage of the bulbs that illumine? A bulb with a low voltage gives you light of low intensity and a bulb with a high voltage illumines more brightly. Don't they? But, at the same time, electricity is one and the same. Bulbs are different in their voltage and this determines the intensity of light. Similarly, our bodies are like those bulbs with the inner current of the same Divinity.

Swami! You said that divinity is in everyone. Then, before we were born where had it been? Does divinity exist even after our death?

Bhagawan: The Divine exists. Divinity is imperishable, pure and unsullied. It has neither birth nor death. It is eternal and stable. It is beyond time and space. Divinity transcends all physical laws.

Now, your question is: where did divinity exist prior to your birth and where will it be after your death, while it is in you during this lifetime? You see, there is an electrical wire on the wall, and also holders here and there to which bulbs are fixed. You get light only if a bulb is fixed to a holder and not otherwise. Why? The current passes through the wire that enters the bulb fixed to the holder. If you hold the bulb in your hand, it does not illumine, as there is no power supply. What you have to understand is this. The current has not been newly produced to get into the bulb. It was already there in the wire. If you remove the bulb, what will happen to the current? It will be there in the wire only. The only difference is that you will not experience its presence as illumination. Similarly, the bulb is the body, the current of divinity flows into it as the illumination of life. When this bulb of the body is removed, even then, the current of divinity persists hidden or latent, so much so divinity has all along been there before you were born, during your lifetime and will even be there after your death like the current of electricity.

Q19) Swami! It is said that God is hr dayavasi, dweller in our heart. Is it the same heart, which is on the left side in on our chest?

Bhagawan: No, no. That is the physical heart. But the seat of God is the spiritual heart, which is also called hrdaya. It means hr + daya = hrdaya. The one filled with compassion is hrdaya, heart. Today compassion is a matter of fashion. People put on kasayavastra, ochre robes but they have kasayihrdaya, hearts of butchery.

The physical heart is on the left side while the spiritual heart is on the right side. The spiritual heart is the temple of God . In the Gita, Lord Krishna says, isvarah hrddese arjuna tisthati which means God resides in the altar of your heart. Knowledge, be it physical, secular, scientific or technological, relates to the head and not to the heart. But love, compassion, truth, sacrifice and forbearance concern the heart.

Q20) Swami! Can divinity be probed into? Is it possible to know it by reasoning?

 Bhagawan: All worldly experiences are bound by time and space. Your senses help you to experience all that is in the outer world. Science and Technology investigate the five elements, make certain combinations and permutations, and provide certain additional conveniences and comforts for mankind to lead a better life. These include electronic gadgets, computers, and so on.  A scientist conducts an experiment, but a spiritual aspirantís experiences of divinity cannot be conducted in a laboratory. How do you expect to convey anything about divinity, which is beyond expression?  How do you imagine divinity, which is beyond comprehension? How do you investigate and experiment upon divinity which transcends all your reasoning and senses? Science is based on experiments, and religion on experience. In science, you analyse, but in religion, you realise. 

Q21) Swami! What should we do to receive God's grace?

Bhagawan: There is no way other than devotion. Your wealth, scholarship, authority and physical personality cannot please God. It is only your devotion that He looks into.

Don't you know Guha in the Ramayana? What scholarship had he to please Rama? Nothing. He was not even educated. You also must have heard of Sabari, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. How rich was she to be close to Rama? Nothing. She was in rags at that time, the poorest of the poor. What made that bird, Jatayu receive the special blessings of Rama so as to deserve performance of the last rites at the divine hands of Rama? Even Rama's father, Dasaratha, was not as fortunate as this bird Jatayu, because he died when Rama was in the forest, far away from Ayodhya. How about Hanuman, a monkey? By implicit faith in and total surrender to Rama he could be successful not only in the task assigned to him, but also came to be worshipped by the devotees of the Lord and his worship has been continuing since the days of the Ramavatara.

The Mahabharata clearly portrays Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas as Lord Krishna's devotee of the highest order, always, in times of success or failure, pleasure or pain, calm or turmoil, anywhere, either on the throne in Hastinapura or in the forest. The Pandavas are known for their deep devotion and abounding love for Krishna . They are the best examples of equanimity and total surrender to God such that Krishna identified Himself completely with them by saying that Dharmaja was His head, Arjuna His heart, Bhima His shoulders and the two youngest brothers Nakula and Sahadeva equal to His two feet. This is true devotion. This is the ideal stature of a devotee.

In the Bhagavata you come across the Gopis (the cowherd girls who were rustic, innocent, and unlettered) whose madhurabhakti, total attachment to God, was backed by unconditional love and surrender. Their devotion was noble, pure, nectarine, and exemplary. They saw Krishna in bushes, thorns, leaves, branches, and flowers. Is theirs not tadatmyabhava, total identification? Isn't theirs the advaitabhava, non‑dualistic state? They could not bear the pangs of separation from Krishna even for a split second. This is the level of their devotion.

Have you not heard about Tyagaraja, the South Indian saint‑singer and composer, who had put the question: 'nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama '. Is it wealth that gives you happiness or proximity to God? Ramadas, Surdas, Kabir, Tulasidas, Jayadev, Tukaram, Mira, and others were the very personifications of devotion. They are remembered to this day. By reading about them, you will not only be the recipient of God's grace but even have a claim on God's grace. You know, the moment you marry, and your wife will have a claim on your property. This is due to the mangalasutra, the sacred knot tied at the time of the wedding. Similarly, devotion is bhaktisutra ‑ the knot of devotion, which empowers the devotee to claim from God His grace. Therefore, for everything, devotion is most important. For most people, it is the proper and noble approach to Divinity.

Q22) Swami! Why are we not the recipients of Divine grace?

Bhagawan: It is not proper to feel so. You are wrong if you think so. God's grace is equally available to all of you. He makes no distinctions of caste, creed, sex, nationality, and so on. You should know that the defect is in you. You have to cleanse the tumbler of your heart. For example, it is raining heavily now. If you want to collect water in a vessel, what you do is to keep it straight. However, if you turn it downwards or put it upside down, is it possible to collect water? The downpour of rain will be of no help at all. Therefore, we have to keep our hearts always pure and ready to receive the rain of grace. We have to turn it towards the rain of God's Love in order to collect it. Is it not so?

Q23) Swami! Our fortune is immeasurable, how many people get this opportunity! This is all your grace. But, how are we to preserve this?

Bhagawan: Look! Out of the millions of devotees how many are able to be here? Is this proximity possible for everyone? Merit from several past lives had made you fortunate enough to be here. Out of a few thousand in our institutions, how many students are lucky enough to be here? Only a few of you could follow me to this place, Kodaikanal. This you will have to preserve and sustain carefully.

A small example. Here is a roll of thread, which is the product of much rotating and winding. A time consuming job, really! If they take up this process in haste, and drop it in the middle out of neglect or carelessness, all the thread will lie scattered on the ground. Similarly, your fortune is like this roll of thread carefully and laboriously wound like the merit of the good deeds you had done in your past lives. If you neglect this fortune and lose it by any mischance, you can't get it back. All the effort you have put in will go waste. The thick pad at the centre of this roll is like your faith round which your meritorious deeds are wound. So, never neglect this good luck, nor take it for granted, nor view it as simple and ordinary. Negligence and carelessness are harmful to spiritual aspirants.

Q24) Swami! How does your Grace affect our destiny and our prarabdha, past karma?

Bhagawan: God's grace and God's will can change anything. God is love. His infinite compassion makes Him change your, pra rabdhakarma or the ka rmic effects of your past lives. A devotee can arrest God in the jail of his heart. In this world, there is nothing that you can't achieve with devotion. God's grace can cancel all your karmic effects or the evil effects of your past life. Nothing untoward can happen to you.

A small example. You see many medicines kept for sale in a medical shop. On each of the medicines you find the date of manufacture and of expiry. The medicine will not act with efficiency beyond the date of expiry. It becomes just useless. What God does is exactly the same thing. He simply stamps on the medicine bottle the date of expiry cancelling your prarabdhakarma the suffering you are going through in this life. Right then your suffering ends. This is how Swami, out of His sheer grace and compassion, gives you relief.

Q25) Swami! Can we be sure of God's grace if we do Sadhana regularly?

Bhagawan: Certainly! As sure as anything! Why do you doubt? For example, you have a pet dog. You feed it every day and you will notice that it will get habituated to come to you exactly at the same time every day to be fed. Is this not true? When regularity makes a dog respond, why not God? You will definitely receive His grace.

Q26) Swami! We are here in your presence because of your infinite grace and mercy. Your blessings have brought us all here. We bask in the sunshine of bliss bestowed on us by your Divine Darshan, Sparshan and Sambashan. Do we still need merit from past lives and the samskaras?

Bhagawan: The present state of bliss and the merit from past lives are both essential and they should go together. They are closely interrelated. Take this example. Here the soil is sandy. When there are heavy rains, water sinks into the soil or gets absorbed in the soil. The same is the situation with you at present. Therefore, devotion doesn't remain steady. But, suppose there is a flow of river water, what happens when it rains? Water will flow with greater vigour than before. Similarly, your present blessed opportunity of being with me is like rainwater. If you have good samska ras from your past life like the water flow of a river, the blissful state you are experiencing now will continue with more vigour.

God's grace is like a shower of rain. Your merit from the past will enable you to contain it. So, I tell you often to retain the good luck, the opportunity, and the privilege given to you. You draw water out of the well in a bucket. But you have to pick up the bucket full of water yourself. On the other hand, if you drop it in the middle, what happens? You can't collect water, can you? However, there is one important thing. If you love God intensely, you can achieve anything. As human effort increases, God's grace also lends strength and intensity to the effort, which ultimately leads man to success.

Source: Gems from the book SATYOPANISAD VOL - I [Chapter-I] by Anil Kumar Kamaraja

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