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Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Answers For   

Spiritualising Our Day-To-Day Life 

THE OUTER DOOR

Q72) Bhagawan! Should we follow any discipline or regulation in our food habits? Is that necessary for our spiritual pursuit? Sai devotees all over the world are vegetarians because of your teachings. This is amazing. We have none today to tell us matters relating to our food habits. Kindly direct us.

Bhagawan:

As is the food, so is the Mind.
As is the mind, so are our Thoughts.
As is the thought, so is the Action.
As is the action, so is the Result.

Therefore, the result depends on 'the food you eat. Meticulously and unerringly, you should follow discipline in your food habits. Food, Head, and God are to be viewed in this sequence. As is your food so is your head, as is the condition of your head, so is the manifestation of God in you.

You should not eat too much. You eat to live and never live to eat. Eating in excess is a tamasika quality. If you eat once a day, you are a yogi, if you eat twice a day you are a rogi, sick. If you take sattvika, soft, and balanced food, in moderate quantity, you develop sattvika or pious mind. If you eat rajasika , spicy, hot, food, you will have rajasika or emotional, agitated mind, and if you have tamasika food, meat, alcohol, etc., you will have tamasika or bestial, dull, passive mind. So, it is food that shapes the mind and on this your actions depend, leading to their corresponding consequences.

You should also think of patras'uddhi, cleanness of the vessels and utensils used, padarthas'uddhi, purity of the materials, pakas'uddhi clean method of preparation or cooking and bhavas'uddhi, purity of the thought of the person who cooks the food. You shouldn't eat food offered to you everywhere.

A few years ago; there lived a sanyasi, who, on invitation, dined at the residence of a businessman. That night this sanyasi, a celibate and spiritual seeker, could not sleep. Somehow, he fell asleep very late, and had a dream in which he saw a sixteen year old girl shedding tears. Then, this sanyasi went to his guru and told him about the dream. The guru meditated for some time and told him the reason behind the dream. The day on which the businessman invited him for dinner happened to be the eleventh day after the death of his sixteen year old wife and he was performing special rites traditionally. Since the sanyasi ate the food cooked for the occasion, the girl who had died appeared in the dream with tears in her eyes. The young girl's father was very poor and could hardly maintain his family. So, much against her wish, he gave her in marriage to this aged businessman. Out of frustration, she committed suicide by jumping into a well. The businessman had to perform her customary funeral rites and while doing so on the eleventh day, he requested the sanyasi to come over to his house for meals. This is the whole story behind the sanyasi's dream. So, without discrimination, you shouldn't eat any food offered to you.

A similar thing happened once to a disciple of Swami Nityananda. One day he went out of the ashram and ate food outside. While returning, he stole from a house a silver tumbler and brought it to the ashram. But soon, he felt very sad over his miserable plight, as he had resorted to a crime like stealing a silver tumbler. He cried and repented. The next morning, he went to his guru and confessed the whole thing. Because of his spiritual power, Nityananda could find out the reason. He said to his disciple, "Well, the food you had outside the asram was prepared by a cook who at one time happened to be a thief and as a result you developed the instinct to steal." Therefore, cooks must have purity of thought.

Further, you should feel your body as light after eating as before eating. The best thing is to keep half of your stomach empty. The remaining half should be filled in with water and other foodstuffs. Tubers are not good for the body. You should not drink whole milk. You should mix some water in your milk and then drink it. You should have a minimum interval of four hours between two meals. You should take food, which gives you enough calories needed for the body. You shouldn't have too much of oily and fried curries. Sleep a while after lunch, and walk a mile after dinner. You should work hard and eat well.

Q73) Swami! In your organisation or your institutions, workers, students, teachers, devotees and doctors wear white dress always. Why? What is the reason?

Bhagawan: White dress symbolises purity and cleanliness. A pure white cloth may be compared to a clean mirror. If dust gathers on the mirror, you will not be able to see your reflection clearly. Similarly, buddhi, intellect, is like a clean white cloth. It is only then that you will be able to find out your own faults and apply your discrimination to rectify them. Today, this is not happening. People are able to see clearly the mistakes of others and don't find their own faults. If you stand in front of your mirror, you see your reflection. But, if you turn the mirror, towards the other man, naturally you find his reflection. Isn't it so? Similarly, the mirror of your buddhi or intellect is turned towards others, and this makes you see the mistakes of others.

Even the slightest spot or mark is very clearly visible on a white dress. If you wear coloured dress, you don't see dirt, dots, spots, marks or stains and so on. This is wrong. You should never hide and cover the dirt on your person. You should immediately clean and wash it off. You should share the good with others. Neither good nor bad should be in you. You should shed the bad in you and share the good with others. But, some of you keep the good to yourselves and distribute the bad to others. It is a mistake on your part to do so.

Lord Siva offers you the best way by setting forth an ideal to this world. He kept and retained poison in His throat. So, He is nilakantha , the blue‑throated God. But, the cool and comforting moonlight from the moon over His head is distributed to others. It is for this purpose of sharing comfort with others that He kept the moon on His head.

Q74) Swami! Today Sai devotees are spread all over the world. They range from Heads of Governments to ordinary citizens. As your devotees, they enjoy special respect and esteem in society. What is the key to this?

Bhagawan: Naturally so! This is the effect of the company you are in. Even the string that passes through and binds the flowers in a garland acquires a value. The rat as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh is also worshipped. The bull as the vehicle of Lord Siva is respected. Likewise, all the vehicles of all our deities are worshipped.

Once Lord Vishnu sent a message to Siva through his vehicle, Garuda, the eagle. As Garuda was flying fast with the message and was about to land near Siva, due to a severe wind there, the dust rose up as in a dust storm. Watching this, the snakes adorning the neck of Siva started hissing at Garuda ready to bite him. Then Garuda replied to the snakes, "You are with Siva, so you are hissing at me thus fearlessly. You come out of the Lord and see what will happen to you! I can finish you off in no time". In the same manner, since you are with me, you are respected and served. If you are away from me, you will be put to infamy and humiliation.

You should not run after all silly worldly things, like the common flies that land on anything and everything. Like honeybees you should only draw honey from flowers. Look at the person who drives the car of the President of India. He can never act as a common taxi driver. Similarly, those who sing the glory of God shouldn't run after people for petty favours.

Q75) Swami! We visit temples religiously. We go on pilgrimage once in a while. We continue to do our rituals and religious acts. But there is no cognisable change in our life-pattern. Why is this so, Swami?

Bhagawan: Worship, penance, meditation, Bhajan, etc., are sacred activities that make your life meaningful, purposeful and useful. But you can't brand them as spiritual. All these are good actions and help you to spend time in a sacred way. Anything that you do with your mind (ego, `I‑ ness') can't be spiritual. The true spiritual path is atmavicara , self­-enquiry.

The seeker should know that he is not the deha, body, the manas, mind, or the buddhi, intellect and that his Atma, true self, is beyond time and space. The self is not a ndma, name, or a rupa, form with which it is identified in this transient world. Atma is eternal, pure and nondual. True spirituality is the awareness of atma. This is Brahman, the divinity which is spread all over in all creatures according to the scripture which says eko vasi sarvabhutantaratma. True spirituality alone can make you experience this awareness. But you find many forms of religious practice in the name of spirituality. The prasadam or sacrificial food offered to God is actually eaten by the devotees. They just show it to a picture or an image of God and the whole lot of it is eaten by them only (cupulu and mepulu, in Telugu). If God really starts taking anything offered to Him, I am sure, no one would offer Him anything.

Always remember that tyaga, sacrifice, is the highest and the best form of sadhana. You have to sacrifice your time, money, resources and energy. You should at least offer a tulasi leaf to God in worship. So, tyagenaike amr tatvamanasuh. Sacrifice makes you attain immortality. Tyaga is yoga, spiritual exercise.

Love expresses itself as sacrifice. Love without sacrifice is meaningless and totally selfish. You have to sacrifice the body feeling or attachment to the body. You have to sacrifice your wicked thoughts and bad feelings. Sacrifice is your true nature. Sacrifice is a divine quality gifted to man. In fact, you are not doing anything great and special by sacrifice. You are doing it for your own self.

A yogi noticed a cow struggling for life in a river. He went and rescued it. Someone asked him, "Why did you save the cow?" The yogi replied, "I saved the cow for my, own happiness. I couldn't see the cow struggling and suffering." Many might have passed that way and noticed the cow in its miserable plight But none did a thing to save it. Therefore, sacrifice is an opportunity given to man.

There is another small story. A householder one day wanted to serve food to a Brahmin as part of a ritual he was performing. He could get one poor old Brahmin who agreed to dine at his house. The Brahmin came and hurriedly started eating the food placed before him. The householder felt like this: "What a Brahmin is he? He didn't even take his bath and do any puja before taking the food. It is not pun ya , meritorious to feed such a man". He grew so angry with the old Brahmin that he beat him with a stick and drove him out holding him tight at the neck. On that day when the householder was asleep, he had a dream in which God appeared and said to him "Why did you invite the old Brahmin for food and beat him? Why did you turn him out wringing his neck? After all, you could not feed him even for one day while I have been giving him food all these eighty years! What a shame!"

Tyaga is above any restrictions and stipulations. A mother is ready to sacrifice her life for her child. Why? It is only love that makes her sacrifice. Trees sacrifice fruits so that you may eat them. No tree takes its own fruits. Rivers flow and sacrifice water to quench your thirst. The cow yields milk and sacrifices it for all of you to drink and nurture your body. Your body too is intended for sacrifice,

paropakarardhamidam s'ariram.

Worship, bhajan and such other external activities are less than seva and sacrifice. The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray. Love of God is devotion, which has to be expressed as sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. Sacrifice is prema yoga, the path of love to God. Sacrifice is yoga. Be that this faith, devotion and steadfastness would get, strengthened and deep rooted. Through the path of jnana, which is self‑enquiry, proceed to atmavicara , follow and experience God. It is said, jnanadeva to kaivalyam, the practical wisdom obtained from tyaga is the only way to kaivalyam, liberation. This is a process beyond the mind and the activity performed by the body. Then only will you achieve the expected results and attain ananda.

Q76) Swami! Why do we differ? Why does our behaviour vary? What is the root cause behind these differences? How are we to cultivate ideal and good ways in life?

Bhagawan: Since you have not studied and understood human nature wholly, you get this doubt. Man is a combination of three main qualities, demonic, bestial and human. It is the human quality that helps you to attain divinity.

You take, for example, an orange fruit. In it there are an outer bitter skin, hard seeds and soft juicy pulp. So also a human being has a demonic nature like the outer bitter skin of an orange, bestial temperament like the hard seeds; and finally the human values like the soft juicy pulp. Take for example a ripe tamarind fruit. Its outer skin is the bestial nature, its hard seeds symbolise demonic nature while its soft pulp is the human behaviour. If the pulp joins the seed, i.e., if human nature is in association with demonic behaviour, it expresses itself like a demon. If the soft pulp associates itself with the outer skin, i.e. if human nature joins bestial behaviour, it manifests itself as a beast.

So, more or less, this depends on the association, be it demonic or bestial. This is the root cause of all the differences. But it is human value that makes you ideal and enables you to experience divinity. There lies the sweetness and purpose of life.

Q77) Swami! Is it necessary for us to observe austerity and follow discipline only inside an asram or in the society outside as well?

Bhagawan: I suggest that you follow discipline and lead a simple life wherever you live. You may go to any place, but there also you should always follow niyama, discipline, have s'raddh a , sincerity, and take to Sadhana, spiritual practice. This is the spiritual way of life.

Out of two sick persons, one may be treated as an outpatient and the other may be admitted to a hospital depending on the ailment. But, both should necessarily take medicine for a cure, should not they? Similarly, you may reside in an asram or outside: But you should definitely follow discipline, be simple, and lead a spiritual life. As individuals caught in the cycle of birth and death, bhava roga, you need to take the medicine of Sadhana.

Q78) Swami! Some people pose challenges quite unwarranted. Pious and noble people are disturbed and agitated in such situations? What should we do with those who challenge us unnecessarily?

Bhagawan: Only egoistic, jealous people with bodily attachment challenge like this. Aspirants and seekers should not be disturbed by these challenges. You should not react to their words and be affected thereby. A cow that grazes in a field may challenge another cow. A pig that feeds on faeces can challenge another pig. Should man who takes food challenge a pig? You can talk to an equal but not to everyone. Don't respond to everyone and then lose your peace. In fact, you should face a challenge if you must, in this way, "Do you help everyone as I do? Have you taken up welfare programmes as I have done? Are you broadminded like me? How many people have you transformed into the righteous way of life?" People should have healthy competition. You should not challenge for petty, low, mean things.

Q79) Swami! We are engrossed in worldly, problems and responsibilities. We get deeply involved in self-centered activities. Yet, we pray to God. In a sense, our minds are fully occupied with mundane thoughts. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: The Mahabharata explains this aspect clearly. The righteous Pandavas, the five brothers who spent their time in exile never lost their devotion. Everything in life depends on priorities. They kept God first, others next and they considered themselves the last. Therefore, they were successful and are remembered till this day. On the contrary, for the Kauravas, their cousins, their priorities were different. They kept their comfort and selfish interests in the first place, others next and God last. What happened? They lost the battle and got a bad name. Since they placed God last in their priorities, they `lost.' the battle. If you have God with you, you don't need to worry. You will be successful in all fields. After all, in this world nothing is permanent. All are passing clouds. Not even one is permanent. Know that whatever happens in life, it is for your own good.

A human being walks on his two legs. So he is erect, unlike the four-legged animals: After marriage, man loses some of his freedom with increasing responsibility and becomes "four-legged" and his walking pace slows down. With a child born to him he has "six legs" like those of a scorpion, and with another child he turns eight-legged like a cockroach and his movement further slows down. All this bondage and attachment is of your own making. No one made it for you.

In spite of all your riches and positions, remember that true happiness lies in the company of and nearness to God. You may keep a fish in a gem studded golden vessel; it will never feel comfortable there. It freely swims only in water. Bliss lies in your true self. The rest, however valuable it is, leads only to unhappiness.

A simple example for you, here is a glass with water, and sugar at the bottom. If you taste the water on the top, it is tasteless and the water in the middle of the glass is equally tasteless. But, get a spoon, stir the water in the bottom well until the sugar gets totally dissolved in the water. Now you taste it, either at the top or in the middle of the glass, the water is sweet. So also in your life, `the glass' is your `body', `water' is your life', the `spoon' is your `intellect' and `sugar' is `divinity'. If you exercise your intellect in the right direction, you will experience the sweetness of divinity everywhere. What you need are peace and happiness. You should pray to God for these two essentials. You worship Him and serve Him. You aspire to be happy and peaceful, no doubt. But, your prayers to God are for worldly possessions. So, aspirations and prayers are at variance with each other. This is your weakness.

Q80) Swami! Today, Sai glory brought almost everybody from all parts of the world to your feet. People from many countries, whose names we had never heard before, are coming to you. People of almost all linguistic groups of the world are here. We have representation from all walks of life. It is unfortunate that we, who have been here with you, find ourselves less devoted to you than your overseas devotees. We see them practice your teachings with much more sincerity of heart than us! Why is this happening?

Bhagawan: The experiences of the devotees depend on their sincerity, steadfastness, devotion and faith. Nearness in one way is responsible for not realising the actual value of Divinity. Don't you find a shadow under a lamp? Similar is the case here. As the light of the Avatar spreads everywhere, there is shadow underneath the light. You also know that honeybees come from a distance to suck the honey out of the lotus flower, while frogs, snails and fishes so near the lotus flower do not know the taste of honey. The same thing happens when God incarnates in human form. People who are very near Him will not to be able to realise His divine splendor.

When you hear of a mango fruit, you feel like eating it. But when you go to a market and see fruits there, you take a fruit close to your nose and start smelling it. Why? You doubt if it is a ripe fruit or not. The very mention of the name of the fruit made you long for it. But when you near it, you doubt. Isn't it so? Why go for such a far-fetched simile? Well, you speak ecstatically to everyone saying that Baba appeared in your dreams and that you experienced His presence at your place. But, when you are in the immediate presence of Baba, you are not even thrilled and excited. You, people who are so near me, don't know the tremendous and magnificent experiences of devotees all over the world and their magnitude. A frog in a well cannot know the outer world, you see!

It is not the length of time or the number of years you are with Swami that matters! Bus drivers come here and go from here daily. What experience do they have? You may keep an iron ball in a water tank for any length of time. What happens? Absolutely it undergoes no change in any way! Just as darkness is dispelled by a flash of light, the darkness of ignorance should be dispelled by the light of wisdom.

If you have full faith in and love for Swami, you will follow His teachings. You find a spectacular transformation in the life of umpteen numbers of people everywhere. Why? It is because of their implicit faith in the teachings of Swami. I don't send invitations to anybody to come over here. There are no welcome boards nor do I say good-bye to anyone. But people come in large numbers everyday. Why? This is the love of Divinity that attracts and draws people, this Prasanti Nilayam 

It is only God whom you respect, love and worship. You respect your boss, administrators; elders, etc. You love your parents, family, and friends. All the same, you don't worship your officers nor do you worship the members of your family. Isn't it so? But you respect, love and worship God only.

Q81) Swami, devotees come from far off places like Argentina, Philippines, Guatemala, Russia and many other countries from all over the world. Name a country, and its representation is there at Prasanti Nilayam. They go out of this place with heavy hearts, not able to leave you. How should they take it and what exactly do you want them to do in the circumstances?

Bhagawan: You should experience the omniscience of God. God is always with you, around you, below you, above you and in you. In fact, you are God. Devotees come to Swami to charge their batteries. Always remember this. `Near' is not important to Swami, `dear' is important. The flame burns brilliantly when the breeze blows. Two wooden pieces should be kept close together. This is `nearness'. As you light and burn them, you should also fan them, so that the flame will rise upwards. This fanning is 'dearness'. Mere nearness is not enough.

There is a lotus flower in a lake. There are a number of fishes and frogs in the same lake that do not know the value of the flower. But honeybees come from long distances and suck nectar from the flower. Bees represent dearness while frogs and fishes stand for nearness.

Similarly, you know the lighthouse from which light spreads all around guiding the ship's voyage. But, under the lighthouse, it is dark because of the shadow. So, light around is dearness while the shadow underneath is nearness. So, devotees who go from here should understand this. They should strive to be dear to Swami and not merely near to Him.

Q82) Swami! It is our common experience that some of us are quite good for sometime, devoted, disciplined and dutiful especially when we are here in your proximity. Then, why do we change when we are somewhere else? What happens to all that we learn here? Why do we lose sacred qualities like sincerity, devotion and steadfastness when we are away? Kindly pardon our mistakes and let us know the causes of our downfall?

Bhagawan: This is a wrong statement. Sincerity, devotion, discipline, steadfastness and all the noble qualities that you claim to have possessed while you are here are not true and natural. They are artificial. They are like plastic flowers that are not fragrant and cannot attract bees. It is all your show or trick. God is never carried away by these artificial, temporary, and external features. God looks into your heart and internal nature.

You say that circumstances change you. If noble qualities were really present in you, you wouldn't change due to the change of circumstances. No change in the environment will ever affect you. Truly, the mistake lies in you only. You don't have strong faith and conviction. In fact, the seeds are there lying underground and are waiting to sprout at an appropriate time. Environment has no legs and hands and life to move about like you!

You are now here in Kodaikanal. You are fully clothed, with sweaters and shawls, rugs and blankets and all the woollen stuff to keep you warm in this cold place. If you don't have warm clothes, whose fault is it? Whom would you blame then? Similarly, you know how challenging and testing, life is in the world today. It is your own responsibility to carry with you the blanket of duty, the rug of devotion and wear the sweater of discipline whenever you are exposed to the severe cold winds of neglect of duty, disobedience of God's commands, and vagaries of ego and disbelief. Wearing this warm woollen clothing, you will not be affected by the cold climate: You have to protect yourself, and blaming the environment is of no use. If good thoughts and good behaviour are in you, you will remain unaffected, whatever be your surroundings.

Q83) Swami? We are here by your sheer grace and mercy. You say that you spend three‑fourths of your time on your boys. What do you want us to do?

Bhagawan: There is nothing you can do for me. I don't need anything from you. I only give and never receive. I do not accept or receive anything from anyone. I never stretch my hand before anybody in order to receive something. I have never asked anybody for anything till now. In fact, all things happen according to the will of Swami. But, I ask you to give me only one thing, and that is enough. What is it? It is your love. Your parents sometimes stay away from you. But I am always with you, in you, below you, above you and around you. I am indeed yourself. You remember this always, and that is enough. You follow Swami, you will shine like a precious gem in the future. You will be highly respected and you will get a good name in society. Whatever you have learnt here in the hostel and the college, and on top of all this, the love of Swami you have received, should never be forgotten. Get for yourselves a good name. Follow Swami's teachings.

Once King Janaka put a question in the open court, "Is there anyone who can teach me brahmaj nana, knowledge of the ultimate reality, within the time it takes to place my foot in the stirrup and ride on the back of my horse?" His preceptor, Yajnavalkya said, "Oh King! I shall teach you. Follow me". King Janaka accordingly got up from the throne and started following him. After walking some distance, Yajnavalkya asked the king to stop and sit on the ground in the middle of the royal highway. Janaka obeyed and sat down accordingly.

Everyone was taken aback on seeing the King sitting on the ground. In vain they prayed to him to go back to the palace but he would not respond to any of his citizens. The army chief and the ministers heard the news; rushed off to the spot and pleaded with the King to let them know what had happened. Janaka did not open his mouth. The Queen came out of the royal palace, sat in front of him, cried and begged him to let her know what had happened. The King did not speak to her. Soon everyone came to know that Sage Yajnavalkya was responsible for the present plight of the King. They went out in search of him, and finally got him. They questioned him as to what he had done to the King that made him sit on the ground in the highway. Yajnavalkya replied that he did not do anything to the King, and never asked him to keep silent.

Followed by all of them, Yajnavalkya came to the King and asked him why he was remaining silent without replying to any of the queries made by those visiting him. Janaka said, "Swami! You asked me to follow you. I did so. You made me sit on the ground in the highway. I obeyed you. But you never asked me to reply or talk to anyone. I needed your permission to do anything other than what you had told me to do. The moment you wanted me to follow you, I was no longer my own. I had to wait for your instructions, isn't that right, Sir?" This kind of strict obedience to his Guru made Janaka a Rajarshi, a saint among kings. What is expected from all of you is following the teachings of Swami.

The Pandavas were acclaimed as the noblest of kings since they followed Lord Krishna unquestioningly. You follow Swami's command. That is enough. Since Anjaneya followed the command of his chief Sugriva, he could come so close to Rama and he could do the duty assigned to him successfully. This is why he is remembered today as a great devotee of Rama.

There is nothing that you can't achieve if you follow Swami's teachings. There was a Muslim devotee by name Mansoor. He always used to repeat analhak, which means `I am God'. Hearing this, the King of the place was very furious and forbade him to repeat these words. But still Mansoor did not stop saying `analhak'. The king became so very angry with him this time that he got Mansoor's hands and legs chopped off. Yet, Mansoor didn't stop repeating `ahalhak'. The blood that was oozing out of the wounds started saying 'analhak'. Finally, the King got Mansoor burnt alive. Then the ashes from the burnt body started rising, echoing `analhak'. This is an eloquent example of a devotee's staunch and unflinching faith in God. He may choose to die, but he would not under any circumstances lose his faith in God.

Q84) Swami! How can we develop confidence in ourselves?

Bhagawan: By discrimination if you eliminate all doubts and confusions, you can develop confidence in yourselves. Today no one is exercising this faculty of discrimination, a gift from God. You have buddhi, the intellect, which discriminates. Since you don't discriminate, you are full of confusion and doubts. Hence, modern youth are not able to accomplish anything worthwhile. For any human attempt, confidence is absolutely necessary.

Q85) Swami! I am interested in philosophy. Do you advise me to study philosophy?

Bhagawan: Many read books on philosophy. What is the use? Their reading of philosophy brings them down to "full loss". It should be the other way round. Philosophy should "fill-loss" in our life. Then only is its study useful. Go through the book of your heart. It is not enough if you merely repeat mantras. You will never be able to experience their efficacy by doing so. You have to know what you are repeating. In other words, you need to have practical knowledge.

Take for example, the Bhagavadgita, where in the first verse, dharmaks etre kuruksetre ; the king wanted to know from Sanjaya what was happening there in the battlefield. Does it not look silly and meaningless? In a battlefield what else can one expect other than fights and killing. Did King Dhritarashtra expect a dinner or, a football match in the battlefield? Then, why did he put that question to Sanjaya at all? Well, it is not as simple as it sounds. Dhritarashtra wanted to know from Sanjaya if his sons, the Kauravas had undergone any transformation in the last minute before the war started, which possibly could lead to a compromise between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. So, mere reading is not enough. One must know the inner significance and subtle meanings of the text for a clear understanding. This is "Fill‑loss" which is true philosophy.

Q86) Swami! How are we to believe all this is happening everyday in Kodaikanal? Can we estimate our good luck that is responsible for the golden opportunity of sitting at your lotus feet and listening to five discourses a day? How are we to retain this privilege?

Bhagawan: As you rightly deserve, you get this opportunity. But you need to note one important point. The Bhagavadgita says, ks in e  pun ye martyalokam vis'anti , which means that the merit accrued is exhausted with the passage of time. You will have to return to the earth even from the highest of heavens.

One example. You know that some of your representatives are elected as legislators and some as members of the parliament. How long does their term last? Only five years. Does it not? Their term is for five years after which they have to go back to their constituencies. But as legislators, parliamentarians and people's representatives, if they frequently visit their constituencies, meet the electorate and render service to the voters who elected them to those positions, they can contest elections again and return to the assembly or parliament as the case may be for another term. Similarly, while enjoying the present golden opportunity you can still work for its continuity by satkarma, doing good deeds, sadalo cana , entertaining good thoughts and satsang, joining good company.

Q87) Swami! We have on one side the most invaluable spirituality while on the other, we have also friends and relatives diverting our attention towards the world. No doubt, it is our fault to pay heed to their words. Yet, we face the conflict. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: Today there are no true friends to anyone. Who are the friends of today's world and of what sort are they? After all, your friendship lasts for two or three years until you complete your studies here and leave the hostel. Later you separate from each other and go your own way. So long as you have money in your pocket and your father is in a good position, everyone would come to you and say "hello", but the day your pocket is empty and your father retires, you will be left with none even to say `good bye'. Can you still call anyone your friend?

Friendship in Sanskrit is known as `maitri,’ pronounced as `my-three'. Here three represents the harmony in thought, word and deed. Are there friends with this purity? Nowhere! Who is your true friend then? God is your real friend. God is the only friend for you as He is always with you and in you: Don't consider anyone else a friend of yours. Further, you should be very careful with people or your company. It is said, "Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are" .So all and sundry can't be your friends. A warrior of outstanding stature and an expert in archery, Karna fell into disrepute because he was in bad company and so he is branded as one among the wicked four, the "dust a catustaya ", Duryodhana, Dussasana, Sakuni and Kama.

Next, who are your relatives? In what way were you related to them before you were born? All of them come in. with the passage of time and pass off like passing clouds. Is it not so? Relatives come up to the main door as one dies and the members of the family at the most follow one's corpse to the, cremation ground. None follows the departed soul. It is only God who is with you during your life and even after your death. So God is your real friend and the only relation. These worldly people shouldn't be taken as friends and relatives.

Your life too is short. But God is awareness and existence. He is there before, during, and after your life. He is the eternal truth. So follow him, catch hold of God with your right hand as it is the right thing and catch hold of the world with your left hand as it has to be left behind sometime or other. It is thus the right thing to remember God always.

Q88) Swami! It is most unfortunate that there is no tangible change in our lifestyle though we have been here and listening to your divine discourses over the years. We do not know the reason why it is so. Kindly show us the way.

Bhagawan: Lack of practice is the only reason. When there is no power supply and it is dark all over, can darkness be dispelled by just saying "lamp" unless you light it? The hunger of a starving man can never be satiated by merely looking at the menu with a list of the most delicious items. He has to eat some of the items to appease his hunger, hasn't he? Can a sick man be cured of a disease by merely listening to the formula and composition of the medicine without his taking it? Can the suffering of a poor man be alleviated with all the knowledge of Economics and Accountancy? Can you attain mukti by reading books without practicing any of the instruction found therein? Instead of saying something without doing, it is better to do and not say anything. I repeatedly tell you that until you practice what you say, there is little effect even after listening to talks for years together.

Take a small example here. Suppose you have with you a matchbox full of matchsticks and you want to light a lamp. You will now have to open the box, pick up a stick and strike against the side of the box to light it. In case you fail to light the matchstick, even after striking it again and again, what does it mean? You then come to discover the meaning: the matchbox is wet. You cannot light a stick striking it against the box. What is to be done now? You have to dry the matchbox in the sunlight for some time.

Similarly, you are drowned in the water of worldly desires and attachments. Therefore, you can't light the lamp of wisdom. Dry your, mind with all its limitless desires and thoughts of worldly comfort in the sunlight of renunciation. Only then can you light the lamp of wisdom. You may be here listening to any number of discourses for any length of time, but you will not be able to achieve the expected results if you fail to translate the essence of one discourse into your daily life.

Q89) Swami! Because of wrong direction in our thinking, we feel dejected restless and often fail in our attempts. Kindly show us the way out of it.

Bhagawan: For all these agitations, disturbances, disappointments, depressions and failures, your wrong way of thinking is responsible. It is totally misdirected. Whatever may happen in life, you should think, "This is good for me". You should know that everything that happens ultimately turns to your own good. This is called positive thinking. Today you are full of negative thoughts. How do you expect to know and experience God?

Your body, mind, intellect and the senses are completely negative, but your spirit, conscience, or Atma is positive. God is your conscience. Do you know why you are not able to realise and experience God? It is entirely due to these negative thoughts and attitudes. So, positive thinking and positive actions are very essential for spiritual progress. Only then will you be peaceful, blissful and successful.

Take your own example. It is absolutely because of positive thinking that you are able to plan your academic programme and prepare yourself accordingly, as also aim to secure a good rank in the examinations and later a job. But planning to study whatever would fetch you a very fat salary, help you to go abroad, earn more money and marry a girl who would get you a large amount of dowry, is negative thinking.

Turning to parents, educating you is absolutely positive but making a business out of the education given to you is negative thinking. For a doctor to treat a patient and cure is a positive approach, but if the money is the criterion for the treatment given to the patient, it is a negative approach. We should today fill our hearts with all positive thoughts like divine feelings, divine sentiments and good thoughts. Then only you will experience God who is sat-cit-ananda , the absolute positive. Therefore, it is necessary for you to take everything as good for you. This is positive thinking. Come what may, problems, difficulties, troubles, failures, losses, blame and what not! You will know later that all this had happened for your own good.

A small story. There was a king who had a fancy one day to cut a sugarcane all by himself to small pieces and eat it piece by piece. While he was cutting, as ill luck would have it, he had cut his finger. The minister who was by his side, remarked "Oh King! You have cut your finger. This is good for you." On hearing this remark; the king grew wild, and thought, "What! How can this, my having lost my finger be good? What would the minister say if I lose my head too?" So the king ordered, out of fury and anger, that the minister be put in prison. Then the minister said, "Oh King! This imprisonment is my good fortune".

After some time, the king went hunting all alone to a nearby forest. He lost his way and was noticed by some tribals moving in that area. They were actually in search of a man suitable to be sacrificed to propitiate their deity at the end of their ritual. They caught hold of the king and took him to their head priest. After checking the king thoroughly, the head priest said, "We can't kill this king and make an offering to our deity as one of his fingers is missing. A handicapped or crippled body is unfit to be an offering." Saying so, he let the king go away from there.

On the way the king realised the truth of what the minister had said, "This is good for you" when he had cut his finger. He summoned the minister and said, "Oh Minister! How true is what you said! It was just because of the fact that I had lost my finger that the tribals set me free, unharmed. Now I have one doubt. You remarked that it was good for you when I put you behind bars. How has this imprisonment turned out to be good for you?" Then the minister replied, '.Certainly! Had I not been kept in the jail, I would have followed you. The tribals after leaving you, would have caught hold of me, killed me and offered me to their deity in your place. So this punishment has been my good fortune". This is positive thinking and attitude. Then happiness and success follow you.

akkaraku rani cuttamu
mrokkina varamiyani velpu
moharamuna tanekkina parani gurramu
grakkunna viduvangavalayu
gadara sumati

This Telugu poem, means, `A relation who doesn't come to your help in time of need, a God who doesn't grant you boons even after you pray, a horse that doesn't run in the battlefield, will have to be given up immediately, Oh! Wise one! Is it not so?'

Here, in this poem, first of all, know that it is addressed to a Sumati, a wise one. It is true that you have to sever connections with a relation who doesn't come to your aid in the hour of your need, give up the horse that fails to run in the battlefield, and forget a God who doesn't grant you rewards even after you pray. Here, you should note one important point. Why don't you think this way? Before you blame your relation that he is not of any help to you when you need him most, why don't you think for a while whether you have ever been of any help to your relation when he needed you? A horse that doesn't gallop in the field must be given up, but why don't you question your competence in horse riding? God who doesn't respond to your prayers is not God. But do you deserve what you desire and pray for? This poem is meant for that person, Sumati who thinks positively before blaming anybody. This is how your thinking process should be.

Q90) Swami! Now we understand that we should also have such intense faith in God. Naturally, our experience will be proportionate to the depth of our faith. Swami! Does God also respond commensurate with the intensity of our faith?

Bhagawan: Certainly! If you put in krsi , effort, you will earn God's krpa, grace. Moreover, with krs i , effort, you can even become a rishi, sage.

A village boy happened to meet a scholar who said to him that God could be experienced through pranayama and dhyana . Hearing this, the boy began practising it most sincerely. Pleased with his devotion and sincerity, God manifested Himself before the boy and blessed him. The boy then told the scholar that he had seen God by doing what he asked him to do, things like pranayama, dhyana and so on. The scholar could not believe it. He said, "Oh! Don't talk rubbish! How is it that you could see God while I couldn't, by practising pranayama, dhyana for years? Don't speak lies like that!"

The boy returned to his place of meditation and saw Narayana there. He said to Him, "Oh God! The scholar calls me a liar! How am I to make him accept what I have experienced? Swami! Kindly stay here until I bring him here and make him see you and experience the truth for himself. But dear God! I am afraid you may run way from here and it will make me very miserable in the sight of the scholar who doubts me. Therefore, with this rope let me tie you to this pole here." He did so, ran to the scholar and requested him to see Narayana for himself. Although the scholar came over there, he couldn't see God tied to the post, but the cowherd boy could see Him and converse with Him. Ultimately, the boy cried and prayed to Narayana to make Himself visible to the scholar also. God obliged him. This is what true devotion is. God even allowed Himself to be tied to a post. You have to note another point here .The faith that the cowherd boy had in the words of the scholar was the cause of his experience.

If you spend your life in prayer, it is bound to be peaceful and blissful. For example, if you climb up the seven hills and reach the shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala, you will feel much tired. On the other hand, if you go to Tirupati in a group singing God's glory all along the way, you will hardly feel any strain,

Q91) Swami! In this Age of Kali, devotion, faith and steadfastness are on the decline. Not only this, we often find people making fun of devotees and leading a life opposed to religious norms. This is a very sad state of affairs. What do you want us to do in these circumstances?

Bhagawan: First of all, correct yourself. Rectify your own defects and mistakes. When you are not flawless and idealistic you have no right to blame anybody and point out the mistakes of others. So, see that your own faith is strong, deep and unflinching.

In Andhradesa there lived three Rajus, kings in their own field of activity: the king of poetry, Goparaju, the king of devotion, Tyagaraju, the king of sublime lyrical music, Potaraju refused to dedicate his rendering of the great work, the Bhagavatam to the king who promised him immense wealth as a token of his appreciation of the work. But Potaraju or Potana dedicated his work only to Lord Ramachandra.

Goparaju or Ramadasu also called Gopanna spent all the money he had in the treasury for the renovation of the temple of Rama , for which he was severely punished. Tyagaraju considered ramuni sannidhi, proximity to God, more precious than nidhi, money. All these three Rajus followed their chosen paths out of their deep conviction about the supremacy of God. They worked and suffered for their own self-­satisfaction and for the satisfaction of their own conscience. They did not bother about the views and opinions of others. They did not yield to temptations of any sort.

Dogs may bark watching an elephant passing by, but the elephant loses nothing. You know the vastness of a sea. Have you not heard the puranas proclaiming that amrta, nectar, and halahala, poison, are produced by the same ocean? Amrta makes you happy while vis a or poison is dangerous. Isn't it so?

Similarly, society is like a vast ocean where you have nectar-like good people and poison-like bad people. Bad people make fun of good people. It doesn't mean that you should give up your nobility and goodness.

A crane may make fun of a swan. The singing of a cuckoo bird is horrible to the ears of a crow. A koel eats the tender leaves of a mango tree while a crow eats the bitter leaves of a neem tree. Similarly, some in society struggle for worldly, fleeting and sensual pleasures while others make all sincere efforts for God's grace to enjoy divine bliss. A donkey that carries a bundle of sandalwood on its back doesn't know the fragrance of the sandalwood. A buffalo doesn't know the taste of beaten rice. Similarly, divinity is not relished by all and sundry.

If you deny God, it means you are denying yourself. You are not different from God. You are God. Your praise and blame don't affect God. The good and bad of your own actions come back to you as reaction. The axe cuts the sandalwood tree that has not done any harm to the axe. Because of this evil deed, the axe loses its sharpness for which it is kept in fire and hammered. The sandalwood tree does not subject the axe to any punishment. So it is the action of the axe that comes back as reaction.

Consider another example in this context. When gold is burnt in fire it shines brilliantly. But, as a reaction the goldsmith has to suffer because ash falls into his eyes in the process of burning the gold and his own clothes become dirty due to smoke. Here, the gold burnt and hammered does not punish the goldsmith. His own action punishes him. Similarly, if you accuse or blame or deny God, it will not do anything to Him. But, your action will come back to you as reaction. You punish yourself.

Suppose you throw some dust at the sun, what happens? It falls in your eyes only. If you switch on an electric fan, you will enjoy the cool breeze. If you don't switch on the fan, it will not lose anything. It suffers no loss. If you switch on the bulb you'll get light. But, if you don't switch on the bulb, the bulb suffers no loss. Therefore, good and bad depend only on you. Just as you can buy any material object in this world with money, similarly with the money of God's name, you can be blissful. Under a streetlight, you will be able to see all around including the bulb that illumines. Similarly, divinity makes you happy and everybody around you too. So, deepen your faith in God. Experience divine bliss. That's what you should do.

Fruits can't protect themselves. It is the tree that protects the fruits it bears. The tree is protected and kept green by its roots. If you supply water and manure to the roots, they protect the tree, which in its turn protects the fruits. Isn't it so? God is the root of this world. If you surrender to God, everything will be taken care of.

People with worldly thoughts can't relish divine feelings. A person from the fish market can't imagine who a jeweller is. A sea has most precious gems at its bottom but the seawater is full of salt. Isn't it? Similarly, we have people of different temperaments in this world. God is never against anyone. There are none close to or distant from Him. All are alike to Him. You may hold a jasmine flower by either your right hand or left hand. But it smells equally well in either hand. God is that one who is in all.

Q92) Swami! In spite of a long period of desiring to be devoted to God, devotion somehow does not grow as intense as it should. What is essential to develop devotion of the magnitude and intensity expected of a true devotee?

Bhagawan: Here it is not time that matters. An iron ball in a pond, however long it might stay there, will never change. It will remain as it is without any change in it. You should know that it is transformation that is important. It is the goal you set for yourself that matters most. Until then, you should pursue your goal not mindful of the time involved.

You know a lamp has a container, a wick, and oil. With a wick kept for long in water, you can never light a lamp even if you use any number of matchsticks. Impossible! What you should do is, take the wick out of water, keep it in sunshine for some time and dry it. Then you will be able to light the wick easily. Here the process of drying the wick in sunlight is renunciation. The procedure of lighting it with a matchstick is sadhana and the light you get thereby is devotion or intense Love for God. The lamp is the human body. The same process is applicable to those who are not devoted, as you have said. The more they are drenched and drowned in worldly life, the farther they are from God, the source of all light; they can never light the lamp of their life. Dry it in the sunshine of detachment so as to be benefited by the light of devotion. Some people in spite of a prolonged period of stay and association are not devoted as much as they should be, for the simple reason: They lack detachment from worldly things. Therefore, intense devotion is not given to everybody.

Q93) Swami! We beg you to suggest to us a spiritual path that can be followed in the present circumstances. The situation around us seems to be dispiriting. Kindly give us the direction?

Bhagawan: It is said that man is the most precious among all the living creatures. Therefore, it is imperative on your part to lead your lives in full realisation of the value of life. For example, in the kitchen you make `dal' to eat for lunch. If salt is added in excess by mistake, the dal loses its taste. It is unfit for consumption any more. After all, the foodstuff, which is digested in three hours or so, is kept aside if it is not tasty. Then how about a long life? Should it not be tasty?

Suppose you are waiting at the bus stand to board the bus that takes you to your office and the bus is delayed. You lose your patience. Then, imagine how you start feeling about this delay. "What! Drivers don't have a sense of responsibility in this country. Conductors too don't discharge their duties properly. The Road Transport Corporation is not efficient; the Government seems to be lenient towards them". A bus is lifeless; it is a vehicle and a means of transport. Man, on the other hand, is the embodiment of awareness: He is active and intelligent. If such a man forgets his human value, and leads life unbecoming of a human being, don't you know that society will blame him?

Man has 85% of divinity while an animal has only 15% latent in it. It is only a human being who has a chance to realise and experience his divinity. Just as a stone dropped from above falls to the ground due to the unseen gravitational force, the unseen values and virtues should guide man. For this, however, determination is required.

Another example. Here you find a machine. If it is not put to use, it gets rusted. Don't you think that similar is the case with the human body if it is not used properly? It is because of dust that the machine gets rusted. Is it not? Due to this it loses its power and rusts. Then you keep the machine in a workshop and give it rest. There you repair, test and make it fit for use. Isn't it so? Now, what should you do? See that the dust of bad thoughts does not get into you. Why? Your faith otherwise begins to shake and becomes unsteady. Take your mind to the workshop of surrender to God for rest. Then, you are the best.

Hence, you should always preserve and maintain human values. In fact, no spiritual path can be practiced with a sense of ego. Since all the methods adopted by you are done with your mind, ego, or `I­ness', you couldn't progress spiritually till now.

Some begin sadhana, identifying themselves with the body, aham dehosmi . This will never take you to the true spiritual goal. Ravana, Kamsa, Bhasmasura, and others belong to this category. Some expect progress by changing even their faith and religion. It is not matamu, religion, which is to be changed. It is mati, the mind that has got to be changed. You are the embodiment of love. Don't merely be a lover and narrow down the vistas of love. To feel and experience the same divinity in all living beings is true love.

One day Krishna decided to lead his cows to a nearby forest for grazing. He asked Yasoda to permit him to do so. Then, she said, "My dear son! All along the way to the forest, you find rocks, thorny bushes and stones. Better, you go tomorrow. I will get your footwear ready for you". Smiling, Krishna said, "Mother! Do I need footwear? Why and what for? Cows don't have any footwear. Then why footwear for me alone?" Yasoda said, "Look! They are animals. We are human beings. We need chappals." Krishna responded with a fitting reply, "Mother! You mean to say cows are ordinary simple animals. Do we have as much gratitude as they have? They eat grass and yield milk. The moment they hear any voice they stop grazing and run towards me. Calves even stop sucking milk and come to me. Their skin is useful after their death to make chappals". Cows are symbols of sacrifice and forbearance. Such noble qualities are very essential for spiritual seekers.

In agriculture, the land is ploughed well, watered and manured, weeds removed, and seeds sown. The human heart is a field. This has to be tilled and watered with love. You have to take the plough of self-enquiry to plough the field of the human heart. You have to raise the fence of discipline. Bad qualities are the weeds that have to be removed totally. Then you can cultivate the crop of bliss. It is enough if you have a small area of fertile land. Why have many acres of barren land?

A small example, you see an orange fruit. It is covered with a green bitter rind or skin. This is ego or pomp. You find hard seeds inside. They are the wicked thoughts and bad actions. Then you find the fibrous soft pulp.This is attachment. In order to have the sweet juice you need to remove the outer bitter skin, the hard seeds and squeeze the soft fibrous pulp. The sweet juice is love that you need. This is the essence, raso vai sah

You need both the positive and the negative wires for the electric current to flow. The negative may be very powerful. It is powerless without joining the positive. The fan and bulb may be very good and of high voltage. But without power supply they are useless. This current is positive. Divinity is positive. The bulb and the fan are merely negative. All that pertains to the name and form is negative. Your journey on the spiritual path will be successful if only there is love. You have to reform yourself first. This transformation is not taking place today.

You can carve a statue out of a boulder. By removing the husk, you can have the grain. With the vegetables you bring from the market, you can cook well and make good delicious items of food. Difficulties, pain, blame, loss, etc., will help to refine you, improve you, nurture faith and take you to spiritual heights.

You have to face and resolve all problems of life and proceed in your sadhana. Follow your own experience and develop vis'vasa, faith thereby. Can you breathe s'vasa, on behalf of anybody? You see with your own eyes, don't you? The eyes of the other man may be bright and beautiful. You cannot see through his eyes. Can you close your eyes and see through the eyes of somebody else? You have to stand on your own legs and not on anybody else's.

 Q94) Swami! At times it appears that others may influence and lead us to a total change in our life style, making us ask ourselves the question, `Why should not we be like others? For what should we adopt this special type of living?' I am afraid we may change! What is to be done now?

Bhagawan: This is not proper and can't be justified either. In fact, it is your innate weakness that brings about change. If your faith is strong and your value deep‑rooted, none can do anything to you. You will not change at any time. But your faith is not strong, and the values you speak about are only superficial.

At any point of time, under any circumstances you should not change your moral and spiritual way of life. If anyone comes to you and says, "There is no God," what should you say then? Then you reply, "You may deny your God, but what right do you have to deny my God? How can you negate my faith and devotion?" You should never change your convictions.

A boy saw a scorpion that fell into a tank struggling to come out. He went and picked it up. The scorpion stung him. Immediately he dropped it back into the tank. On seeing it struggle there, he picked it up to save it. But it stung him again. The process went on and on. An elderly person watching the whole scene asked him, "Oh boy! Why do you want to save the scorpion when it is stinging you?" He replied, "Sir! The scorpion is teaching me a good lesson. When it is not giving up its own nature of stinging, why should I give up my nature of protecting one struggling for life?" So you should not change your nature.

Maitreyi who felt very sad on hearing the difficulties that the Pandavas were passing through in the forest Kamyavana, started thinking like this: "It is true that noble people suffer! What a lesson does a parrot in a cage teach us! A crow flies freely, but it doesn't mean that we are prepared to lead the life of a crow rather than that of a parrot in a cage. Will a parrot ever become a crow?" Similarly, we should not change our path 

In the army, we have thousands of soldiers. But, the Army Chief is the only one who commands. Captains are always a few while their followers are many. It is they, the few, who train the many. This is possible if you don't leave your path.

Q95) Swami! You have complete faith in us. But, our faith in you is wavering: It is not consistently steady and deep. Why is this so?

Bhagawan: " Eko vasi sarvabh utantar atma " God is in everyone moving about with different names and forms. " deho devalayah prokto ji vo devas sanatanah ," the body is the temple. The individual jiva is none other than Deva, the ancient and eternal, sanatana. It is only one God who has manifested Himself as many. I am present in all of you. Since I know this truth, I have faith in you. But you consider yourself separate from me and so your faith is not strong, deep, and unwavering. In fact, I can change you all by Myself. But I don't. I want to bring about your transformation through and by you.

Q96) Swami! We are dissatisfied and unhappy when our desires are not fulfilled. Why should it happen to devotees?

Bhagawan: First, put a question to yourself. Can you call yourself a devotee if your sense of happiness and gratification depends on your fleeting desires? In fact, ask yourself, if you have followed the command of God, if you have made Him happy with your faith and devotion. When Swami is happy with you, the whole world will be happy with you. When you displease Swami by your conduct, everyone else will be displeased with you. Act according to Swami's teachings. Everything will then happen in your favour conferring peace and joy on you.  

Source: SATYOPANISAD VOL - I [Part II, Chapter-IV] by Anil Kumar Kamaraja

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