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Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Answers For   

Spiritualising Our Day-To-Day Life 

CONCEPTS

 Q97) Swami! We often hear the word srti. Does this word have any bearing upon the life of the ordinary man? This srti, is it only for scholars? For us, the common people, does it have any relevance?

Bhagawan: Srti is divine. Mati, mind, is human, worldly, and conditions your progress. Srti guides buddhi, intellect, and furnishes it with fundamental discrimination. Mati functions at the level of the separate individual. In man, three nitis or principles operate: manavaniti, the human code, rajaniti, the political code, and daivaniti, the divine code. Man's estate and fortune depend on the code he follows. For instance, Bhishmacharya taught rajaniti, principles of kingship, to Dharmaja. On another occasion, following daivaniti, he passed on to Dharmaja the celebrated Visnusahasranama, the thousand names of Vishnu. But, when he led the war as the Commander-in-chief on the side of the Kauravas, he forgot the divine sr ti , and lost his fundamental discrimination. He followed his mati, mind, which is his own individually. Because of this, he had to lie down on the bed of arrows for so many days.

In contrast, note the role of young Abhimanyu. For that day's fighting in the Mahabharata war, Drona had designed the military manouvre called Padmavyuha, the lotus maze. The forces of the enemy were spurring Abhimanyu on to take up the challenge. Noticing that the heroic Abhimanyu was getting ready to fight, his mother said, "My son! Your father is not at home now. Your uncle Krishna too is not here. You know your wife is pregnant. It is in these circumstances that you are planning to enter the battlefield. Please desist from this!" Abhimanyu's response reflects his adherence to rajaniti: "How come, mother, that you din into my ears words of cowardice? When the enemy challenges you to fight, is it consistent with rajaniti to say, `no'? Does it accord with the dharma of a Kshatriya warrior? What an insult it would be to my father, the greatest of heroes, Arjuna! Won't he hang his head down in shame? O Mother! Bless me to return victorious, routing the enemies like the young lion leaping on to the elephant in must!" This indeed, is rajaniti. In this manner, manavaniti takes the cue from the mati, mind, of an individual even as sr ti , being divine, stimulates the intellect into fundamental  discrimination. Thus, Abhimanyu, who behaved the way he did, died heroically. Similarly, in life the good meets with only the good. Evil necessarily encounters only evil. This law never failed.

 Q98) Swami! We hear about pancak o s as the five sheaths, panca pran as, the five vital airs, and pancendriyas, the five organs. Do they cover our spirit, Atma? Are they obstacles to atmic bliss? What exactly is their position and role in our body?

Bhagawan: The whole world is made of five elements: Earth, fire, water, air and space are the five elements. Man is the product of these five elements, besides his temperament. Raga attachment, dvesa, hatred, and bhaya, fear, originate in akas'a, space. Our breathing process, movements like walking or other body movements are due to vayu, wind. Hunger, thirst, sleep are the effects of agni, fire. Phlegm, blood, bile, urine, etc., are the outcome of jala, water. Skin, muscles, bones, nails, hairs, nerves are of prthvi, matter. Therefore, all the five elements are equally distributed in everyone. Then you don't find any differences among people. No one can be considered superior to any other.

The human body has five sheaths, `Pancakos'as'. The first one is annamaya kos'a, the sheath of food, the second is pran amaya kos'a, the sheath of life, and the third is manomaya kos'a, the sheath of mind. The fourth is vijnanamaya kos'a, the sheath of knowledge and finally anandamaya kos'a, the sheath of bliss. One sheath encloses the other. You know rice grains. They are enclosed within husks. Therefore, a rice grain is within the sheath of husk. For the tamarind seed tamarind pulp is the sheath. An embryo is within the sheath of its mother's womb. Annamaya kos'a is a sheath which covers pran amaya kos’a. This encloses manomaya kos’ a sheath of the mind. This covers vijñanamaya kos’a, sheath of wisdom, which encloses anandamaya kos’a, the sheath of bliss.

Annamaya kos'a is the product of food. The body is annamaya kos'a. You have all the behavioural tendencies that result from the food you eat. Then, you have pran amaya kos' a composed of the five organs of action, the karmendriyas and five life breaths panca pran as (pran a, apana, vyana , udana, samana ).

Then comes mano maya kos’a, mental sheath consisting of five organs of perception, jnanendriyas, and the mind full of thoughts and counter-thoughts sankalpa-vikalpa. The fourth is vijnanamaya kos'a, the sheath of knowledge, of sound, touch, form, taste and smell (s'abda, rupa, spars'a , rasa and gandha) which constitutes the Buddhi, intellect.

The innermost sheath is anandamaya kos'a. In order to enable yourself to experience this state of bliss, you will have to practice all that you theoretically know and do what you are supposed to. Likewise, you should understand the principle of samatva, equality, and ekatva, unity, and daivatva, experience divinity. This leads you to a state when you will not hate anyone ` advesta sarva bh utanam'.

Everyone has an equal right to know and experience the atma, self. To attain such an awareness, self-enquiry atmavicara is very necessary. However, an intense and deep desire is essential to know and experience atma. Just like a seed within a fruit, as a copper wire within a plastic covering, butter in milk, sugar in the sugarcane and oil within til, sesame seeds and fire in wood, atma is encased within pancakos'as , pancendriyas and panca pranas.

Q99) Swami! We come across words like manas, mind, buddhi, intellect, citta, consciousness, and aham kara, egoism. How are we to understand and correlate them? How do they differ from one another? It is our good fortune that Swami explains in simple terms ever so complex.

Bhagawan: Here is an illustration. Consider a Brahmin. When he conducts ceremonies like weddings, you call him purohit, priest; when he reads out from the almanac at your home the tithi, lunar phase, the varam day of the week, naksatra, star, etc; you call him the pancanga Brahmin; when he prepares food in your home, you call him the brahmin cook.

Another illustration. Your wife addresses you in Telugu as e mandi, "Oh, you! Please, Sir!" because, addressing the husband by name is not considered proper. Your child calls you `Father' and your student addresses you as 'Sir': But, you are, after all, only one individual, aren't you! One and the same faculty has different names: manas or mind when engaged in thinking, citta or awareness in a state of equanimity devoid of plans or decisions; buddhi or intellect while exercising discrimination; and aham kara or egoism when introducing oneself or referring to oneself as `I' . All these are one, but named differently according to their function.

What is to be controlled is the mind. When you have that nigraham, control, you obtain God's anugraham, grace. Once you consider something as evil, do not allow it to enter the mind. The behaviour of trees and animals is regulated by prakrti, Nature. Only man is disobeying the commands of God and has become depraved. There is only one solution.

Another little illustration. Tie up kamadhenu, the wish fulfilling cow, of your body with the pas'a, rope of prema, love, to the post called amna, chanting the name of the Lord. That is enough. You gain control over the mind. Then, on the citta, awareness, devoid of the turmoil of thoughts, is imprinted the form of God. Buddhi undertakes fundamental discrimination; the `I' which has been egoistic cognises its own true nature as atma and realises the innermost Self in all beings. This is adhyatmika , spirituality.

Q100) Swami! You stress citta suddhi, purification of our heart, but how is one to accomplish it?

Bhagawan: You are mistaken here. Citta, heart is always pure. So, where is the need for its suddhi, purification? You only pollute it.

Take for example this kerchief. This is white in colour. It becomes dirty as I use it. I give it to a washerman to wash it and bring it back. When he brings it, it looks white and bright as before. It was so before and it is so after a wash, but it was dirty in between due to use. The washerman did not paint the kerchief white. He only removed the dirt. So too like a kerchief, your mind is also pure which becomes impure due to your desires and thoughts. Once you remove the impurities from the mind, it will become pure. So citta suddhi means exercising control over desires.

Q101) Swami! Now it is clear that citta suddhi is lacking in us due to our bad thoughts and bad deeds. We have certain weaknesses, lapses, bad qualities and thoughts. As you have said unless we get over them, citta suddhi cannot be attained. The mind gets polluted very often. How is one to control bad qualities?

Bhagawan: It all depends upon your determination and your understanding of the intensity and the gravity of the problem. It needs an honest and sincere attempt on your part.

A small example. You are moving freely without any hesitation and fear in this room. There lies a rope in one corner. But, if you come to know that it is not a rope as you have been thinking it to be, but a snake, would you move freely in that room any longer? You know that it is dangerous to be anywhere near a poisonous snake. You know that you will die if that snake bites you, and so you keep off from that place. Similarly, when you are aware of the danger or harm you will be put to, you will definitely stop your misdeeds.

You keep on holding the rope until you come to know that it is not a rope but a snake. You drop it down immediately because of the fear of death. So long as you think that these bad thoughts and evil deeds make you happy, you continue to be in the same frame of mind. But, when you know that they are dangerous, you will not hanker after them. Therefore, first of all, you must identify your own bad qualities and then give them up gradually one after another until you are perfect.

It is also strange to notice that some seekers undergo rigorous discipline for a set period of time during which they lead a perfect life without any trace of a bad quality. But after that avowed period of discipline they resume their previous bad habits with redoubled vigour. This is a big mistake. That which holds you for some time is artificial. Here withdrawal from bad habits is not due to the realisation of the evil effects.

Here is an example. You see the ceiling fan rotating there. Now, if you switch it off it will not stop rotating immediately. It stops slowly. The three blades slowly stop moving. The fan does not stop rotating immediately. Therefore, in full knowledge of the possible harm and the evil effects, you should give up your bad habits slowly.

Q102) Swami! Pranayama, breath control, some say, is important on the spiritual path. Would you please tell us about it?

Bhagawan: Pranayama, breath control, has to be undertaken in an exact and perfect way under the care and guidance of a Guru. It leads to danger if it is done imperfectly and irregularly.

There are chiefly three steps in Pranayama or breathing exercise. The first one is purakam, inhalation. The second is holding the breath or the air breathed in. This is called kumbhakam, retention. The third stage is exhalation or recakam. The important, point here is that, the time taken during all these three stages must be equal. It means that the time taken for purakam must be the same as for kumbhakam. Similarly, the time taken for kumbhakam must be the same as for recakam.

In the human body there are shadcakras, six life sustaining points on the vertebral column. The lowest is called muladhara cakra, fundamental, primordial life sustaining point at the bottom. In pranayama, during the second step, kumbhakam, holding the breath, kundalini starts moving upward being restless due to the lack of supply of air across the sadcakras. On the top lies sahasrara cakra, head region. There exists a jyoti, divine light surrounded by dalas, petals. The sahasrara cakra is like a thousand petalled lotus flower. The petals touch the central jyoti when one has asura sampatti, demonic qualities. If one has daivi sampatti, divine qualities the jyoti starts touching the petals. Thus, kundalini affects the human body during this course of sadhana. A living being taking many breaths per day is short lived. A dog takes many breaths. So, its life span is short. Snakes and mongooses take a few breaths per day. They live long. The breathing exercise has an influence on the life span.

Q103) Swami! It is said that we carry with us certain traits, vasanas of the past life. Is that true and how does it happen?

Bhagawan: Certainly so! Just as in accounts the balance is brought forward from the previous page to the next page, the traits of the previous life are brought forward to the present.

When you light an incense stick or an agarbatti or camphor, don't you get the fragrance all over this room? When you have a fragrant flower, does it not spread its fragrance? Similarly, bad odour or foul smell also spreads. So also, the characteristics of the past lives are brought forward to subsequent lives.

Q104) Bhagawan! How is it that we have vasanas, traits of the past life? We are born, we grow and die. The body is bound to weaken, wither, die and decay. How then are our features brought forward to the next life?

Bhagawan: It is certain that the features of the past life are carried to the next life. You can call them vasanas or samskaras or the qualities of the past life. People with good samskaras will spend their time in a sacred way by participating in satsang, good company, bhajan, singing His glory, entertaining sadalocana, good thoughts, and satkarma, good deeds, and good discussion. On the other hand, people with bad samskaras make their lifetime unholy by indulging in duskarma, misdeeds, entertaining durbhavana, bad thoughts and asatya, speaking falsehood. As you have said, it is true that the body weakens, withers, dies and decays, but the samskaras don’t die. They follow you to the next life.

A simple illustration will make this subject clearer to you. Suppose your hand was injured. You got it treated, and for some time you put a bandage also over and around the injured part. The hand was healed completely after some time. But in that part of your hand where the injury took place, a scar or a mark is left, and it remains till now as well. Similarly, the body may die. But the vasanas remain as a spot in the next life.

Q105) Swami! Three Gunas or attributes such as rajas, Tamas and Sattva are said to bind man. Does a sattvika quality also bind man? Is that also a bondage?

Bhagawan: These three attributes only bind man. Your life is conditioned by them. All your deeds and expressions are governed by them. They monitor your conduct and behaviour. Even sattvika qualities also chain you.

For example, you are confined with an iron chain. Is that not bondage? You may be confined with a silver chain. It is also bondage. It may be now a gold chain this time that binds you. Is it not bondage? After all, the three chains differ only in the composition of the metal. After all, each is a chain and nothing more though its value may differ from that of the other. Thus, the attributes bind or limit you.

Here the iron chain is compared to that of 'Tamas’, dullness or inertia. The silver chain is like the ` rajasika ' quality, active, energetic, passionate, and the gold chain is like the ` sattvika ' nature, pure, steady; good. But divinity is beyond these three `Gunas'. It is, in fact, attributeless.

Q106) Swami! We have many qualities - tamasika, rajasika and sduvika Do they change at any time? How are we to ennoble ourselves? Sometimes these attributes may be responsible for conflicts with our colleagues in the office. What is to be done under these circumstances? Kindly give us a solution to this problem that we encounter everyday?

Bhagawan: The whole world revolves round these three attributes - tamasika, rajasika and sattvika. Every individual has these three attributes working like the three blades of a fan. But in a person, the quality which dominates the other two decides his nature, his total personality, nay, his very destiny as a whole.

He is a pious man whose sattvika quality dominates his rajasika and tamasika qualities. He is an emotional, passionate, active man if his rajasika quality dominates his sattvika and tamasika qualities. He is a dull, inactive and passive man if he is dominated by the tamasika nature. Thus, everyone has these three attributes.

For instance, in an eyeball don't you see all the three colours, white, red, and black. They symbolise these trigunas or traits. Watch the sunrise. You will notice three colours red, white and black indicating trigunas or the three attributes. However, you should note one important point. Gunas have no independent existence. Divinity makes them functional. But the gunas are not to be found in the divine as God is gunatita, beyond attributes.

 Gunas are transformable. For instance, you can get over tamasika quality by karma, action. Karma transforms tamasika quality into rajasika activity. Rajasika nature is dual. It may give you success or failure, profit or loss, praise or blame, etc. Man has to perform karma. In fact there is no one who does not take any action. You may lie on a bed sleeping, yet your heart beats, blood circulates and the nervous system and pulmonary system work. Don't they? Does it not amount to action?

By doing selfless actions, offering all the fruits of action to God, serving God in everyone and by realising indwelling divinity, one can develop anubhavajnana, practical wisdom or experience based wisdom. At that stage, a rajasika person becomes a sattvika person. Therefore, karma is important karmanubandhini manus yaloke , human society is bound by action. Your very life is gifted to do karma. Thus, janma, birth and karma, actions are inter-related. In fact, one should salute respectfully the action he does. Tasmai namah karman e, my salutations to the action given or assigned to me. Therefore, a tamasika nature can be converted into rajasika by volitional action, which can be further transformed into sattvika by bhakti, and jnana, devotion and awareness. This is sadhana or spiritual practice.

By atmavicara, self-enquiry you can improve and change your nature. When any lower or animal qualities like wavering of the mind, excessive sleep, gluttony, crop up immediately say to yourself at least ten times. "I am a man, I am not an animal." Then, you will be able to get over them. Do your duty sincerely. Don't be pompous. Don't show off nor do any stunt. Always be sure that God notices everything that you do, though others may not. Do your duty with love.

"Duty with love is Desirable.
Duty without love is Deplorable,
Love without duty is Divine."

If you offer all your work and the fruits thereof to God, your work will be transformed into worship.

You may not agree with your colleagues in your office. Your temperament may be incompatible with theirs, sometimes leading to controversies and in-­fights and you may, as a result, lose your peace of mind. So, don't have too close a relationship with too many people. Say "hello, hello" to everyone, `how are you' to all those you meet and end with `goodbye'. That's all and nothing more.

Today, there is no real social service. Everything is either slow service or show-service. You should have a feeling that what you do is not for anybody but for your own satisfaction and happiness. Whatever you do, do it for the satisfaction of your conscience. You shouldn't do anything for praise or appreciation by others. Your conscience is God. Know that character is most important and you should never compromise on this score. What is always necessary for success in life is co-operation. But nowadays, we find only operation.

By joining good company satsang, listening to the teachings of great masters and seers and above all with God's grace, you can change your attitudes and mentality. By Buddha's teaching the cruel Angulimala and by Narada's instructions Ratnakara (who became sage Valmiki later) were transformed. Visvamitra who was a Rajarshi, a sage among kings became a Brahmarshi, a sage ever immersed in Brahman by the direction of Vasishtha. Visvamitra thus became the mitra, friend of the visva, universe.

Arjuna, on one occasion dropped his bow and arrows in the battlefield. He became tamasika (dull. passive, weak) and even reluctant to engage in a war for which he stood in the battle-field. He forgot all the vows he had taken and the atrocities the Kauravas committed. It was at that time that Krishna induced rajasika quality into Arjuna's mind preparing him for the war of Kurukshetra with renewed zeal.

Emperor Janaka who became a rajarshi due to the teachings of Sage Yajnavalkya renounced everything and became a perfect jnani, one known for spiritual wisdom.

Therefore, by intense sadhana, tamas can be converted into rajas, and rajas into sattva. In so doing an aspirant, becomes a recipient of God's grace and ultimately a seeker of nirvana (liberation).

Q107) Swami! We hear of purusarthas, the four goals of life. How are we to achieve them?

Bhagawan: I tell my students quite often about the four `F's'. The first `F' is `Follow the master'. Dharma, righteousness, is your master. Follow dharma at all times. All your actions must be approved by dharma, the ideal norms of life. If you hold on to dharma throughout, the very same dharma will protect you, dharmo raks ati raks itahManava, being human, should follow the dharma of a human being, manavadharma, and never that of a demon danavadharma.

The second `F' is `Face the devil'. What is the devil here? While dharma is the master, artha, wealth or money, is the devil. Most people struggle a lot for money. They resort to all sorts of tactics, do unrighteous unjustified and wrong deeds only for money. You think that the world goes by money, dhanamulamidam jagat. No, the world relies on dharma, dharmamulamidam jagat. One should earn money righteously and not unrighteously.

The third `F' is `Fight to the end'. What is the enemy you should fight till the end? It is kama , desire. Until the last desire too vanishes, you should continue to fight.

Once Sage Dakshinamurthy happened to walk along the shore of a sea. He noticed the rising waves pushing a small blade of grass, towards the shore. He felt bad. After all, it was a tiny grass blade and the mighty sea sent forth its mounting waves to push it away on to the shore. "How arrogant is the sea not to tolerate even a grass blade!" thought the sage within himself. Then the Sea God, Samudra, appeared before the sage with folded hands and said very humbly, "Oh! Great sage! I am not at fault: Do not blame me and call me arrogant. I am not arrogant. I cannot afford to have a single, simple blemish. I do not want a blemish, not even a blade of grass in me. So my waves pushed it away to the shore and not out of any hatred or enmity". This is what `fight to the end' means.

Then the fourth `F' is `Finish the game'. What is the game? It is the game of life. When does the game of life finish? It finishes with the attainment of moksha. So moksha is the final goal of the four objectives of life.

Here you should remember one important point. Of the four purusarthas, dharma is `Follow the master',

artha is ‘Face the devil’, kama is `Fight to the end' and moksha is `Finish the game'. The first one is dharma and the fourth is moksha, with the second artha and the third kama in between. It implies that artha should be earned with dharma: Then kama should be used only to attain the fourth goal of life moksha.. So, the four `F's' stand for these purusarthas of life. But now, I tell you there is another purusartha, the fifth one which is the supreme goal of life. That is `Love'

Love is God,
God is Love, hence,
Live in Love.

There is nothing that you cannot achieve without love.

Q108) Swami! What is it that we should have in order to deserve your prapti?

Bhagawan: Your interest is the most important thing. With this you can achieve anything in life. When you have trust in a particular matter or a subject or a person, you are said to have interest in that matter or that subject or that person. Since you have immense interest in Swami, you run fast and occupy the front rows close to my feet. Isn't it so? During the morning time, in silence you wait anxiously for Swami, and that is why even the slightest sounds such as the sound of closing the door of Swami's car makes you think and alerts you that Swami is coming towards you. Whosoever comes to the scene at that time is expected to convey some message of Swami's arrival. What is the reason? This is all due to your interest in Swami. If you have no interest in Swami, you don't notice His presence even if He stands in front of you.

Q109) Swami! What is illusion, Maya? Kindly explain.

Bhagawan: There is no illusion whatsoever. What exists is only Brahman, the cosmic soul. The so-called illusion or Maya is only your imagination. There is only Brahman. Nothing more! The body attachment is illusion, Maya or Brahma.

A simple example. Here is a huge tree under which you see its shadow, don't you? The branches and the leaves are the cause of the shade. As the sunlight falls on the tree you see the shade beneath the tree. Here you have to know one important point. There is nothing like shade above the tree or on the top of the tree. It means there is no shade in sunlight. Why is it so? The branches and the leaves of the tree are responsible for the shade below. Sunlight is Brahman, tree is life and the branches and leaves are attachments and desires. They are responsible for the shade of Maya or illusion. Shade is out of question when there are no leaves and branches. So, there is no illusion or Maya as such. It is the fallacy of your imagination.

Q110) Swami! How are we to get over Maya or illusion?

Bhagawan: There is no Maya. It is your own creation. How is it then you want to get over that, which does not exist at all?

In the night time, seeing a rope, you mistake it for a serpent and you are very much fear-stricken. Later on, enquiry reveals that it is only a rope and not a serpent. What you should know here are two points. Neither the snake disappears nor does the rope come especially to give you relief. All along, it has been a rope only. You are the only one who is mistaken by taking a rope for a serpent. So also, the reality is Brahman or Atma and the rest is Brahma, or illusion or imagination.

Q111) Swami! It is often said and felt that none escapes Maya or illusion. Everyone falls a victim to the influence of Maya. So, man is prone to delusion. Then Swami, a person who has known what Maya is and has been out of Maya, how is it that he gets into the trap again?

Bhagawan: Think of this situation. When it is dark what happens to light? Where does it go? Similarly, when there is light, where does the darkness that was present till the light came, go? Absence of light is darkness. Darkness does not flow or run away. Because of the light, it is not noticed. Once the light is put off, it will be dark as before. Here light is wisdom, darkness is ignorance or Maya or delusion or avidya. To dispel the darkness the only thing to do is light a candle.

Your question is, how the darkness of ignorance comes back again having been dispelled once already by the light of wisdom. A simple example. Many travel by bus. As the bus speeds forward along the rugged roads, we find the dust rising behind the bus so long as it is on a continuous run. But, the moment the bus stops the whole lot of dust collects inside. All of it just blows into the bus. Similarly, human life is a bus. So long as it is on the move of Sadhana, the dust of illusion stays behind. But, if the bus of life stops or halts Sadhana, the dust of delusion will get into life. So, it is Sadhana that keeps you unaffected by delusion. If you stop Sadhana you will again become a victim of Maya. Therefore, you can never take it for granted that you are rid of Maya in your lifetime. It is your constant Sadhana that helps you.

Q112) Swami! Illusion is a non-atmic feeling or worldly approach. To identify myself with that which I am not is illusion. Truly ­speaking, the "I" we often speak of is in reality only Atma. Nothing else. How is one to know this truth, to recognise and experience this truth? Kindly tell us about this Swami!

Bhagawan: Actually, `I' is only Atma or Brahman. A sincere attempt to know this truth is called `enquiry'. Self-enquiry is most essential in the spiritual path. Puja, namasmarana , dhyana, tapas, yajna, yaga, and such rituals are not truly spiritual. They are good activities to attain purity of heart. True spirituality indeed, is self-enquiry. I do not mean that you should give up all rituals and sacred actions. Self-enquiry is the most important in my view. Since you do not have people properly experienced in this field of knowledge to teach you, you find it tough and difficult to move in the right direction.

If this question, "Who are you?" is put to a group of people you get different answers. One says in reply, "I am an Indian". This is not correct, because you may shift to America and then you become an American. If you go to Russia , you are a Russian and so on. India is the country where you are born. But you are not the country. So to say, "I am an Indian" is wrong. To the same question "Who or you"? Another would say, "I am an engineer". This is not correct, because you are an engineer by virtue of your profession. You are not the profession you are in. Some answer in a different way, saying, "I am so and so ...I am Ram, I am Syam." It is a name given to you by your parents. You are not born with that name nor did you come to this world with a signboard on your forehead. You are not the name as you may change it according to your taste at any time.

One may prefer to answer the question "Who are you?" in another way saying, "I am a young man", "I am an aged person'.”I am a boy" and so on. This is also wrong. Why? Boyhood, youth, and old age are the different stages that you pass through in your life. But you remain one and the same person all along. At one time, you were a boy. Then, a man. Later a father and finally a grandfather. But you have been the same person throughout. Then, how can you identify yourself with your age which does not remain the same? Another person may feel like saying," I am a tall person", "I am a handsome man", "I am a lean man". These are again the replies related to the nature of the body. This is not correct, you are not the body, which is merely an instrument, because while you are in deep sleep your body is passive and static, and you are not aware of its existence. You are not the mind also.

If you think you are the mind you lead the life of ego and pride. Even the mind does not exist in susupti, deep sleep. You are not the intellect either. You may be intelligent but you are not the intellect. Intellect is God's gift for you to discriminate, judge, decide and thus to be discreet. But, when it turns selfish, it is called "individual discrimination". But, what is expected is "fundamental discrimination", which is universal, and is good to everybody. You will also know that Buddhi, intellect, does not exist in deep sleep. So, definitely you are not the intellect which is only an instrument like the body and the mind.

So, what is the correct answer to this question, "Who are you"? It is "I am Atma". This Atma is the eternal witness and is the experiencer of all. This exists in all the three states of consciousness, jagrata - waking state, svapna, dreaming state, and susupti, deep sleep. You may be named in any way, you may belong to any country, you may be of any age group or profession, etc., but as a matter of fact, you are the `Eternal Atma' only. This is the correct answer you get in the path of self-enquiry. This is true spirituality.

Q113) Swami! What is Vedanta?

Bhagawan: The Veda is dualism. Vedanta is nondualism. There is nothing beyond Vedanta. Milk on curdling becomes curds. You get butter when you churn curds. When you heat butter, you get ghee. Ghee is the final stage of milk. Even if you heat further it remains the same. So, milk after passing through changes becomes ghee. Milk represents dualism and ghee represents non-dualism.

Q114) Swami, do you view that the three schools of Vedanta philosophy like dualism, dvaita, qualified non-dualism visistadvaita and non-dualism advaita as contradictory to one another? Does one school advocate just the opposite of what the other says?

Bhagawan: This is how it is usually understood and practiced by many. But, truly speaking it is not so. In fact; these three are integrated. You find one as being the continuation of the other. You will notice that one leads to the other.

Take for example, sugarcane. You find juice in the sugarcane. Here, there is pulp and juice. This is the state of dualism. Now, you can extract juice separating the pulp from the sugarcane. The juice, though very important and the very essence drawn out of the sugarcane, does not stay long or cannot be preserved for long. This state of obtaining the juice, separating the pulp from the sugarcane is the state of qualified non-dualism. This juice is purified, refined and processed into sugar and sugar remains the same forever. This is the state of non‑dualism. You can make use of sugar in anyway you like.

Q115) Swami! One cannot escape from the effects of fate or destiny. Things are pre-ordained, and accordingly events happen in our life. This being inevitable, we suffer and face difficulties. Would you please tell us the way out of this?

Bhagawan: Everything in life is nothing but a reflection of your own thought and deed of your earlier life or lives. You pretend happily to think that none can notice you. But God within you knows full well all your thoughts, feelings and deeds. God is everywhere. You cannot hide anything from Him. One day or other you must face the consequences of your actions. This is the supreme truth.

You think and blame someone else, holding him responsible for your troubles .You are thoroughly mistaken here. Your actions are responsible for both the good and the bad you experience in this life. God is an eternal witness of all human activities. He created this world and gave it to man for his enjoyment, but on one condition that he must face the consequences of his own actions. God is like a postman. He is least bothered about the contents of the letters that he hands over to people. It is all a matter of relationship that exists between you and the one who writes you a letter. God is not concerned in any other way about the matter. Well, you receive a wedding card, you don't pay complements to the postman, do you? If you receive a threatening letter from someone, you don't blame the postman either. The postman is merely an instrument in the process of delivering letters. But prayer does help you to withstand tensions and problems with courage. Intense prayer, deep devotion, strong faith, sincere repentance, constant yearning and supreme love for God can alter the sequence of events in life. They can make even God reverse His own will. Take for example, the life of Markandeya. Fate granted him only sixteen years of life. But his devotion to Lord Siva was so intense that He made him immortal. God had to review and revise His own master plan in response to the prayers of Markandeya.

Take another example. There is a prisoner punished according to the laws of the penal code. During the period of imprisonment, if the character and conduct of the prisoner are found to be good and if he follows all the rules, regulations, and code of discipline imposed by the jail authorities, there is scope for the reduction of his jail term. There is another point you should note. Suppose the appeal of a person in a criminal case is lost in all the courts from the district level to the High Court even the Supreme Court, and when punishment like death sentence or life imprisonment becomes imminent and inevitable, the President of India can still order his release from jail on grounds of mercy and for special reasons. Similarly, though you are bound to suffer and destined to face difficulties as a result of your past actions, God in response to your sincere prayer and repentance will change the course of your life and save you from your suffering. God confers special grace on you being pleased with your single-minded devotion to Him.

Q116) Swami! Bhagavad Gita wants us to give up the fruits of our actions, karmaphalaparityaga, both good and bad. Since we do good rarely, there is very little or none to offer you as the fruits of our good actions. We feel that it is not proper to offer evil or bad to you. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: You have to surrender both good and bad to God. Never get yourself attached to the results of your actions, be they good or bad. God is beyond these two opposites as He is non-dual. Any water, pure or impure when mixed with Ganga , you will notice, does not affect the sanctity of Ganga . The sanctity never diminishes. Similarly, whatever you put into the fire gets burnt. The fire is in no way affected or polluted by those things that are put into it. Hence, if you offer both good and bad to God, ultimately you will be benefited.

A small example. Suppose you have a five hundred rupee currency note in your pocket, and you need to go out on some business and return later. You will be very careful to see that you do not lose it. You keep your hand on the pocket if you go to a cafeteria for a cup of coffee so that no one will pick your pocket. Even in a theatre, you will be vigilant. But on the other hand, if you deposit that money in the bank, it will be credited to your account and it will be safe. Then, you don't need to bother about it further. So also, if you surrender all the good you have done to God without attaching any value to the results, what happens is that you will be humble and simple. Here you do not take the credit. You thank God. You are full of thankfulness and gratitude to God. But if you own and claim the results of all your good and meritorious deeds, you will feel that you are the doer, so much so you will become proud and egoistic. Hence, you should surrender the reward of your good actions to God.

Then how about the evil or bad to be offered to God? You may feel that it is not proper to do so. Yet, you will notice that it will help you finally. A small example for you in this matter. Suppose you have with you a spoiled, dirty and half-torn five hundred rupee note. You don't throw it away as it is a valuable currency note. But you have not been able to use it. No one will accept that note. You are not in a position to buy anything. So, you can neither throw it away nor use it. But, if you deposit the very same currency note in the Reserve Bank, they accept it and give you a brand new note. One thing is very necessary. The number on the currency note should be very clear for them to accept and give you a good note. Similarly, the currency note of your deeds and consequences of your bad action, if offered to God, He will see the `number' of `devotion' on the note and give you in turn the good note or transform you. God is the Reserve Bank. Only God can receive your evil tendencies and misdeeds and transform them into good ones and give them back to you. Hence, both good and bad must be offered to God for your own ultimate benefit.

Q117) Swami! All the experiences, which are dual, are obtained due to our mind. Swami says `Mind is a mad monkey.' Pleasure and pain are both due to our mind. How are we to kill the mind (manonasanam), annihilate it?

Bhagawan: The mind never makes you suffer; it all depends upon the way you use it. It is everywhere. It takes the form of that into which it gets. It is deathless. So, it is said that the mind is the world, manomulamidam jagat. Therefore, annihilation of the mind, manonas'anam is not correct. What you should desire is the merger of the mind with the divine, manolaya .

Just as the river merges in the mighty ocean, the mind should also merge in the Self . The mind surrendered to God becomes Ramadas, servant of Rama. But the mind full of desires is a slave to the organs, kamadas.

The mind should not be allowed to be lured by what we call in Telugu balimi, strength, kalimi, wealth and celimi, friendship. It should be filled with divine thoughts so that it may become one with God.

Q118) Swami! Are there any who attained tadatmya with God? We hear that total identification with God is the highest step in spirituality.

Bhagawan: Yes. There are many who experienced that state of total identification with God. In fact, a devotee should aim at it. There was a Westerner by name, Hen, who was very intelligent. The famous scientist, Darwin, was his guru. He started seeing his guru by contemplating on him continuously. Darwin concentrated his vision on a star and experienced certain vibrations. His student also reached that state.

You also must have heard of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. At one time, while worshipping Lord Sri Rama, he considered himself Hanuman. It is reported that he developed a short tail during that time.

You also find another illustration in the great epic Ramayana. Bharata wanted Rama to come back to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. He pleaded with him repeatedly. But, Rama refused to return, since he had decided and vowed to follow the command of his father and follow dharma in toto. Bharata left the place, after Rama promised that he would return immediately after the period of exile. The period was almost over and Bharata was expecting Rama to return at the appointed hour. Unable to bear the anguish at seeing no sign of Rama's arrival, Bharata got ready a funeral pyre and was prepared to jump into it ready for self-immolation. In the meantime, Rama had sent Hanuman in advance with a message to Bharata in order to avert this situation and to inform Bharata of his arrival as he had promised before. Hanuman immediately dashed off to Nandigrama where Bharata was staying. As Hanuman was just landing, he noticed the scene there. Bharata was circumambulating the pyre into which he was about to jump and burn himself. Hanuman thought, "How is it that Rama is here? Why is Rama circumambulating the pyre?" Evidently, it means that Bharata looked exactly like Rama due to his constant meditation on him. This left even Hanuman confused. This is the meaning of what the Veda says, "Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati" Constant awareness of Brahman makes you Brahman.

Towards the end of the Ramayana, after he had killed Ravana, Rama was returning to Ayodhya along with his consort Sita and Lakshmana in a chariot. Bharata himself was driving the chariot. As the chariot  was approaching the outskirts of Ayodhya, the inhabitants were eager to receive Rama, Sita and Lakshmana with garlands. Here again, the people were confused since Bharata, holding the reins of the chariot, looked exactly like Rama. When the people were about to garland Bharata mistaking him for Lord Rama, Bharata had to silently and softly point out to Rama with his folded hands as to who should be garlanded. This is again an instance of total identification, tadatmya .

Here is another example. You must have heard of Swami Samartha Ramadas, the preceptor of emperor Sivaji. Like Bharata, Swami Samartha Ramadas also looked for some time exactly like Lord Rama in his form as well as in his manner of walking with the bow and arrow on his shoulders. People, watching this, were amazed, and one of them asked him, "Swami! If you are really Lord Rama, can you shoot the bird sitting over there on a branch located on the top of that distant tree?" Ramadas killed the bird with an arrow. It fell on the ground. Someone said then, "Swami! You have killed the bird for no reason. It did no harm to you. Rama, known for compassion, never kills anyone without a valid reason. Can you revive it now?" Then, the Swami collected the dead bird with both his hands and lifted it. He prayed for its life. Lo and behold! The wings started to flutter. The bird moved slowly and finally flew away. All present there joined in a chorus shouting in praise of the Swami, "Jai! Samartha Ramadas Ki Jai," Our praises to Swami Samartha Ramadas! This is an instance of total identification with God.

Q119) Swami! You are referring to anubhavajnanam, practical knowledge. We think we know many things. Is this not wisdom?

Bhagawan: Certainly not! The pity is that you do not realise that you do not know. You know very little and what you know is at best negligible. But you think you know everything. What you study is very little and it is a big mistake if you think that you know everything. It is foolish too. There is a lot to be known. What you know is but a fragment, and it is not total knowledge.

Now, look! What is this? This, as you see, is a handkerchief. (At this point, Swami, kept the handkerchief in his grip and held it in such a way that only a bit could be seen outside his fist.) Now, what is this? This is only a piece of cloth. It is not the whole kerchief. (Then Swami spread the kerchief and held it in His hands). Now, what is this? You will say, "It is a kerchief'. Seeing only a bit, you cannot call it a handkerchief. So also, acquiring a little knowledge, you can hardly claim to have attained total knowledge. This is a mistake the educated commit in this modern age. They know a little and claim to know everything. Complete or total knowledge is awareness, and not knowledge of a bit or a fragment. This you should remember. Go in for the whole. Be aware!

Q120) Swami! When does a devotee get total experience?

Bhagawan: Bhakti finds its fulfillment in. mukti Till then, we can't say that a devotee has got total experience. Total experience is purnan ubhavam, advaitanandam, a state of non-dual bliss, brahmanandam, Supreme bliss, and nityanandam, eternal bliss. A simple example, A river flows incessantly. There may be a number of obstacles in its way. Yet, the river flows on taking different turns. It overcomes the obstacles and proceeds forward. How long and how far? It must reach the ocean and merge in it. The ocean does not permit the merger so easily. It drives away the river or pushes it out. Still the river does not give up its attempt. Finally, as the ocean tides rise the river merges. When layam, sayujyam, merger of the two takes place, there the river finds vis'ranti and prashanti, rest and peace.

Similar is the relationship between a devotee and God. The flow of devotion leading to merging in God is Sadhana. The river merging in the ocean is the merger of the individual Jiva with Brahman, which is known as jiva -brahmaikyata; a state of perfect merging or unison of jivatma and paramatma or Jiva and Brahman.

Q121) Swami! What is wisdom?

Bhagawan: Wisdom is not textual information. Wisdom is not scholarship. Wisdom is not preaching. Wisdom is not verbal or vocal. Wisdom is not an academic Master's degree or Doctorate. Wisdom is practical experience. Wisdom cannot be stuffed into the head. Wisdom is what enables you to identify your own mistakes, faults, and defects, corrects them and leads you towards not repeating any errors of the past

QI22) Swami! In the big human body, where is the source of life located?

Bhagawan: You think it is the heart. No. Don't you know that today surgeons can do heart transplantations also? Even while it is done, the patient doesn't die. Then where is the life principle that keeps you living? In the spinal column between the 9th and 12th vertebrae, there is the life principle that acts as the main switch.

In the mantrapus pam it is clearly indicated: vidyullekheva bhasvara, lightning or electric current acts as the life centre.

Q123) Swami! What are the main principles of life?

Bhagawan: A newborn baby cries, but a grown-up man should part from this world smiling. Do you know why the baby cries? It cries because of the misfortune that lies ahead of it, a long, troublesome and problematic life. In the words of Adi Shankara, punarapi jananam punarapi maranam, punarapi janani jathare s'ayanam.

Everyone is born again and again, life after life. So, the infant cries. But at its birth, its parents, its relatives and elders celebrate, smile and distribute sweets don't they? Life begins with a question, koham, who am I? But, it should find an answer soham, I am He, I am God, before it ends. We get the answer, through Sadhana, spiritual practice or exercise. There is no point in going through the question paper again and again. without finding the answer.

We can in one way divide life into three phases morning, midday and night. Morning is the stage of an infant, the four legged one crawling on the ground on both hands and both legs. Midday is the stage of a youth, the two-legged, walking with two legs. Night is the stage of an old man, the three legged with a walking stick as an aid to the two weakened legs.

Brahmacarya, celibacy is the foundation over which a three-storied building, with the first floor, the stage of a householder, the second floor that of a recluse and the top floor that of a renunciant is built. Thus, for the mansion, celibacy is the foundation. By the time a person becomes fifty years old, he should have full control over his five organs of action, karmendriyas by the time he is sixty he should have conquered all the six weaknesses, kama, desire, krodha, anger, lobha, greed, moha, infatuation mada, pride, and matsarya, jealousy.

At the age of seventy, after overcoming the weaknesses, he is revered as one of the seven sages, saptaris is, like the seven notes of music, saptasvaras, and the seven seas, saptasamudra. At the age of eighty, having followed the eight paths of yoga astanga yoga, he shines like the eight lords of the directions as tadikpalakas. At the age of ninety, life shines like nine precious gems, navaratnas having followed the nine paths of devotion. At the age of hundred, he is master of the five organs of perception, and the five organs of action, and is divine having experienced divinity in depth, brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati.

You should also know another point. Whatever you do, it is for your own satisfaction and not for other people's. In other words, it is for your self-satisfaction. You put on new clothes. For whom do you wear them? It is for your satisfaction that you wear a new dress. You construct a new house. For whom? It is for you only, isn't it? You eat an apple not for the benefit of the apple; it is for your own satisfaction.

Understand that Self is God. You have to play well your role in the drama of your life. Swami is Sutradhari, the director while you are the actor, patradhari. Consider this an opportunity. Lead your life in an ideal way and get a good name in society. God should say that you are good. This is what is said in the Gita, manman a bhava madbhakto madyaji mam namaskuru. Don't pray for the fulfilment of desires. Pray to be with Him and Him alone. Then. everything else will be added unto you. Be always humble and respectful.

In South India , food is served on plantain leaves when all the items are served, the leaf on account of its weight, remains without being blown off by the wind: When it is empty, it is blown off because of its lightness. In other words, empty vessels make much noise. A tree loaded with fruits is always bent because of the weight of the fruits. Similarly, a true scholar is humble and modest. A cloud-like mass of air goes up higher and higher, while a cloud of vapour comes down. A person with ego ruins himself.

There are four main principles you should know and follow in life. The first principle is tyaja durjana samsargam, run away from bad company. The second principle is bhaja sadhu samagamam, be always in good company. If necessary, you better lose or pay money if you must in order to avoid bad company. You should never be separated from good, pious and noble people.

The third principle is smara nityamanityatam, bear in mind always what is impermanent or transitory. In other words, distinguish that which is divine from the one that is temporal. You are gifted with intellect for discrimination and judgment. Discriminate between what is transient, perishable and dual and what is eternal; immortal and non-dual.

The fourth principle is kuru pun yamahoratram , do meritorious deeds day and night. The body is meant for serving others. Paropakararthamidam sariram.

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

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