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The Pancha Klesas

(The Five Miseries Afflicting Man)

[The above divine discourse was delivered by Bhagavan in Prashanthi Nilayam on 4 October 2000 During Dasara Festival.]

In this world, our path is not illumined by either lamps or torches.
It is only Dharma, which illumines our path. Sai's word is verily the Truth.
                                                                                                                                                (Telugu Poem)

Embodiments of Love!

In this world, we don't come across anyone who is not subjected to misery and suffering. Whether he be a king, a farmer, a millionaire or a pauper, everyone has to face five types of Klesas (miseries). The first of these Klesas is Avidya Klesa i.e., the misery of ignorance. Attachment to body is the root cause for this ignorance. Today man attaches great importance to his body and makes lots of efforts to nourish it. In his struggle for existence, he loses self-control and hence suffers. Education imparted today is not true education (Vidya). All that you learn is for your physical upkeep. Such an education cannot be called Atma Vidya. In order to sustain the body, man aspires for so many things. If he fails to get them, he gets frustrated which in turn leads to depression and misery. This is why I have been cautioning you and emphasizing not to have too much body attachment. This body is responsible for both happiness and misery of man. First, develop attachment to the Atma or the spirit and then think of the body. When you are not aware of the Atma, your attachment to body makes you miserable. Attachment to the body is responsible for all desires and diseases of man.

The second one is Abhinava Klesa or the misery that is caused because of the mind. Mind runs after everything in the world. That is why it is said "Mano Moolam Idam Jagath". This mind has many anxieties. From birth to death, man is suffering from many problems arising out of the mind. Mind aspires for so many things. When man fails to satisfy all these desires of the mind, he gets frustrated. In fact, without this body consciousness and troubles of the mind, man is free from all worries. Man has to find out a way to get rid of these worries. He has to give up his delusion that body alone is the basis of his life. He has to transcend body consciousness and frailties of the mind.

The third Klesa is the Asthitha Klesa. This is due to the limitless desires of man combined with his body attachment and the fickleness of the mind. Today, man is not able to understand what sort of desires he should entertain. He is not able to investigate and discriminate good from bad, truth from falsehood, eternal from ephemeral and desirable from undesirable. He desires to possess whatever he sees and is dictated by sensual cravings.

In order to keep the body under control and tame the mind, ancient people pursued certain practices such as Dhyanam, Yoga and so on. If body and mind are not kept under control, they behave as they like and ruin you. The best way to keep them under check is to chant the glory of God incessantly.

You all know a horse. It stands for instability. It keeps on moving some part or the other of its body all the time. Then, how is the rider able to control such a horse? He puts a blinker for its eyes and a bridle (a piece of iron) in its mouth held by the reins. Even a strong and powerful horse will come under control thereby. Similarly, when man is able to keep his tongue under his control, half of his problems will get eliminated. That is the reason, why the ancients practiced Silence (Mounam). They never indulged in meaningless practices. Every activity or task of theirs had an inner significance. Silence helps you to control the mind, which in turn leads to conquer desires and finally confers happiness.

The fourth one is Raga Klesa. Avidya, Abhinava and Asthitha Klesas join and give rise to Raga Klesa. Raga Klesa refers to excessive attachment to and craving for wealth and properties. Because of Raga, man desires everything that is there in the world. This Raga (desire) is responsible for all Rogas (diseases) of man. A weak person who does not have capacity to satisfy his desires approaches affluent and influential people. If they do not fulfill his desires, he develops hatred towards them. This gives rise to the fifth Klesa, the Dwesha Klesa, i.e. misery due to hatred.

When man is bound by all these five klesas, how can he be happy? The root cause for all these Klesas is attachment to body and mind. Ancient rishis, in order to get rid of this body attachment left their homes and led a sacred life in forest. In forests, there is minimal scope for the mind to wander. As there will be no worldly attractions, it is possible to keep the mind under control. However, living in forest is not the only way to control the body and the mind. Even while living a family life, you can control body and mind. Observance of silence is helpful for this. Ancient sages gave utmost importance to Mounam (Silence). Limited talk helped them to keep their desires under control. When you talk less, there is also less chance of telling lies.

All actions done by ancients had a purpose and meaning. They led by example. Man today is not able to recognize this. There was a queen by name Madalasa, who used to laugh at the king's attempts to name the new born children. When the king enquired the reason for her derision, she replied, "Can you ever give a name to the Eternal Atma? Even if you do so, there is no guarantee that the child will conduct in conformity with its name. So, no name will ever be completely appropriate. Hence, do not attempt to name the child." Life in this world is a long sleep. All our experiences are merely dreams. Therefore, she would put the children in the cradle and sing lullabies of wisdom like, "You are the ever pure, the ever wise and the ever blissful one, but the illusion of the world has transformed you into an ignorant one. The worldly life is like a sleep with deluding dreams. Once born, you are subject to the trials and tribulations of the world. Having taken birth in a mother's womb once, don't be born again." She sang to them, "In the cradle of Omkara, on the bedspread of wisdom with Awareness as pillow, oh dear child! Enter the sleep of communion with your true Self." Thus, Madalasa molded her children as embodiments of wisdom. Madalasa stands as an ideal to all mothers. She discharged her Dharma unattached to the world. In fact, she sent her children to the forest telling them, "Children! You are deluded in thinking that comfort and happiness are only in palaces. But it is in the forests that you have true happiness and solitude."

Forest is the place of calmness and serenity. The trees of the forest take in carbon dioxide exhaled by us and give us oxygen, which sustains our life. In forest, there is no scope for diseases as people talk less and have fewer desires. Thus, they have a longer life span. Hence, forests teach us to lead a serene and secluded life.

In these days mothers fill their children with worldly desires by which the children develop a weak physique. Ponder over this lullaby sung by a mother today. The mother says, "Near the tank bed, your uncle is sowing green gram. Go, and ask for a share, O Child Shankara!" When Shankara does so and demands a share, the uncle replies, " You were not there when I had sown the seeds or harvested the crop. Why should I give you a share in the yield?" Shankara argues, " Isn't my mother your sister? Come, let us settle the matter in the court." Shankara and his uncle go to the court where elders decide that the uncle should not only give a share in his property but also his daughter to Shankara in marriage. As seen in this episode, the children today are brought up in bondage.

Boys today have girlfriends. This only projects how unsacred is their conduct, how wicked and unjust. Is this what the boys should aspire for? You can always marry if you want to at a suitable age, when you are capable of living independently. Nobody will stop you from that. But how sinful it is to indulge yourself in 'love' with a girl who is going to be some one else's wife. Later, she may even come as your sister-in-law. Parents today are overjoyed and support such sinful activities. They think that thereby their son's marriage can be performed without spending even a single pie. But are they considering the decline in the values arising there from? How can a man sustain a good character in such an atmosphere?

It is the duty of the parents to control their children. This control should be exercised in accordance with the child's age. Children should be molded in such a manner that they bring name and fame to their parents. Madalasa exemplified this aspect. From the very birth, she guided her children in the right path. It is said "Start Early, Drive Slowly, Reach Safely". To the growing snake gourd is tied a stone so that it grows straight. Similarly, parents should attach the weight of discipline to their children. Leaving them freely without any restrictions would only, in course of time, bring them a bad name. It may even affect the honor and reputation of the family. Freedom should be given wherever necessary, but not in matters which can bring down the prestige of your family. As our ancestors guarded family reputation, Bharat today has such name and fame.

The great king Harischandra was the very embodiment of truth. He was ready to give up his life to uphold Truth. His wife Chandramathi too followed him. Harischandra had to sell his wife and son to keep up his word. Chandramathi supported him saying, "'Lord! We may live or die, but let us never swerve from our pledge. Let us never sully our reputation". They reached the city of Kasi thus and there too the creditors troubled them. Helpless, Harischandra offered himself in auction. In this way, he even gave up his entire life for the sake of Truth. Ancient Bharatiyas, thus, lived up to their word. They dedicated their lives to keep up their honor.

However, people of today do not realize the value of life. They take it to be merely earning and enjoying licentious lives. But in reality, life is a challenge and one has to meet it. We will have to confront many problems in life. We have to overcome them and uphold our family name. We have to emulate the glorious example set by our ancestors. There should be mothers like Madalasa. We should consider her as an ideal and derive inspiration from her example. Nobody can ever match Madalasa in the way in which she molded her children.

Why should you get deluded by desires? Just as the mansions seen in dreams are not real, the fruition of these desires too is transient. Hence, control your mind. If you reduce your body attachment, your body will be safe. Food is for nourishment of the body; clothes should be worn for protection from cold.

Body should never be our center of focus. Man's goal is to realize the Atma. Only when you attain this 'Self', who is the master of all, your life finds fulfillment.


We should become more and more spiritual. We should not become miserable by unnecessarily developing desires. You are the embodiment of Bliss. You should never give scope for worries. Control is very essential. We should not spoil our culture. We should keep up the family honor. Gradually you are ruining your family honor by mean behavior.

Nowadays parents are not advising their children correctly. You can learn so much in a joint family. The elders advise and keep the situation in control when there is bickering. Today newly wed couples demand to live separately. But why should you give them a separate house? You can give one of the rooms in your house itself. Then, you can check the petty disputes that arise. Nip the evil in the bud.

Youth today lack patience. They quarrel over petty reasons and then leave the home. In this way, life is becoming miserable. Human life is very valuable and highly ideal. Why should we spoil such a life? Whether rich or poor, the parents should retain their married sons and daughters in their own house. It is a different matter if the children are transferred to a different place, but being in the same place, they should not even think of a separate residence. The parents are spoiling their children. If the parents are good, then there is no scope for the children to get off the track. The parents should exercise control over their children. But this is not found today. Youngsters today are like brakeless cars. They do not know where they are heading. It is the duty of the parents to act as brakes. Only then will their children prosper.

We should keep a check over our desires and attachments. Whenever a feeling of hatred wells up in you, do not react immediately. Take your time to cool your anger. Among the vices, anger is the worst. Therefore, controlling your anger confers an ideal and blissful life.

It is of no use if our students speak about devotion or the lives of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda in their talks. Students should speak what is relevant to the present day world and suggest solutions to the agitations and miseries of the world. Is it practical to do bhajans when one is engulfed by sorrow and misery on all sides? Alleviate the suffering first and foremost, bhajan will automatically follow. The concept of Bhakti itself is being distorted.

Uphold the honor and respect of your family. Patience and sympathy among the members of the family alone can keep the honor of the family. There can be no peace in the family that is bereft of these.

Wealth can never confer happiness to anyone. The educated lot and the city folk of the modern times are obsessed with the desire to earn money. How are they amassing this wealth? They barter their values for this. Of what value is money to man if he has lost his virtues. An honorable life is more desirable than that. This way you can endeavor to give happiness to the family. 'Money comes and goes' but do not lose your morality.

Giving long lectures on the lives of noble men is of no use. You should project the right ideal at the right time. Once the child has been christened, does it conduct itself in accordance with its name? You may name a child 'Dharmaraja', but his conduct could well be to the contrary. People today choose names from novels and cinemas to christen their children. The name is appropriate only when the conduct of the child matches it. Parents are the cause for degeneration in the conduct of the children of today. The parents should conduct themselves ideally for providing a better world.

The world today is troubled by agitations and disturbances. It is our duty to think about what ideal we should set to bring peace to the world. Being a member of the society, it is a folly if you do not think about the welfare of the society. You too should share the responsibility of the society. Man is the center of the human society. Knowing that you are a man and not an animal, act accordingly. Earn a good name wherever you go.

Wherever you are you should conduct yourself properly. Amassing wealth is not very important. Hordes of people migrate to foreign lands to earn money. This amounts to mere begging which you can do in your country itself. Nobody obstructs you from earning money and living happily, serving your own country. But have you taken birth just for the sake of earning? Of what use is money when there are no values to speak of? Highly educated people from our country go to other countries only to wash cups in hotels there. Canšt they wash pots in their house here giving some happiness to their mothers? On the other hand, they pride themselves in their being in America and refuse to step into the kitchen. Such people should be necked out of the house. Do earn money, but give respect to your parents too. I am deeply pained to see that this is not the case. Unless it is told strongly, no one pays heed to advice. Hence, I have decided to talk about the values needed for daily life, rather than about devotion, wisdom and renunciation. In fact, these will follow on their own if goodness is imbibed by you.

Be a good student with an ideal conduct. This is the hallmark of your education. Live with sacred feelings. Discard what is irrelevant to your life and the society. Should your society degenerate, you too shall. Hence it is said, "Tell me your company and I shall tell you what you are."

People today hanker after freedom and wealth in foreign countries. But these are mere illusions. They brush aside the homemade delicacies seeking rotten stuff outside. There was a medical shop and a hotel situated adjacent to each other. The owner of the medical shop comes to the hotel saying, "I have a headache. Would you give me a cup of hot coffee?" On the other hand, the hotel owner says, "I have got headache too. Could I have a Saridon pill?" Both are cures for the same headache, but each is not satisfied with what he has. This is the plight of today's students. They desire the colorful clothes that other children wear, discarding what their parents give them. In fact, these colorful clothes frighten cattle too! White dress symbolizes purity, steadfastness and love. Dirt is easily spotted on them and we can wash it off immediately. Colorful dresses hide the dirt on them. Students do not hesitate to wear such dresses continuously for any number of days at a stretch. Even if dirt does not show up, we have to cleanse the clothes. Only then can our mind be at peace.


You may relate incidents from Ramayana and Mahabharata in your talks, which project ideals to the people. But at the same time do pay attention to the present day situation, the agitations and turbulence of the world. You become an ideal student by setting right the society in which you live. There is nothing in the world that is not related to Atma. Our conduct, our writing, our reading, eating - everything is spiritual. God is latent in all. Actions, which make you forget the latent Divinity and focus outward, are not devotional. You should have the conviction that God is with you, in you, around you, above you and below you. You should be at peace even when you are alone. Before undertaking any action, question yourself whether it is right or wrong. Correct your mistakes before someone points them out to you. Stick to the right path even if someone criticizes you. For that, cultivate goodness and distance yourself from evil. When you lead such a life, you will be an ideal human being.

Embodiments of Love!

You do not have any idea of the situation outside. The conduct of the people there is very disgusting. Whatever others may think, you should lead a good life. Get good name for yourselves. That will make Swami happy. People should look up to you as a Sai student, who follows Swami's teachings and attends bhajans. You should cultivate the qualities befitting a student. Do not fear anything.

[Bhagavan conclude His Discourse with the Bhajan "Govinda Hare Gopala Hare..."]

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