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Yajna - Aid to self transformation

(Text of the Divine Discourse delivered by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba on VijayaDasami Morning, 26th October 2001 as part of the Dasara Celebrations and the Poorna Ahuti (Completion) of the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yagna at Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam. )

Which is that flower that is dear to the Lord,
What is to be offered into this sacrificial fire?
Sensual pleasures are the most suitable oblation.
Forbearance is the most satisfying offering
which brings satisfaction to the Lord.
This is the very truth.

(Telugu Poem)

Embodiments of Love !

In the Krita and Treta Yugas the Rishis and sages performed various Yajnas. In the Dwapara Yuga we know of the Yajna performed by Viswamitra. The Yajnas were completed when all evil and demonic tendencies pervading were destroyed. Only after the annihilation of wickedness, unrighteousness and evil forms, the threefold recitation of the Mantra Om Santhi, Santhi, Santhi was pronounced. Samapti is satisfactory completion. Today this Yajna has reached Samapti. One should try to understand the inner significance of today's Yajna Samapti. We are all aware of the various agitations in man caused by his senses of pleasure, pain, good, evil etc. All these are unreal, external, worldly, physical and transient. These are innate tendencies of the physical world. What is the inner significance of this Yajna? God is trying to make explicit the inner and outer paths of spiritual Sadhana (Nivritti and Pravritti). Pravritti, the outward path promotes all the evil tendencies in man. Nivritti, the inward path promotes good tendencies emanating from the heart, such as truth, love, forbearance and sympathy. The qualities emanating from the heart are lasting. The evil qualities pertaining to the external path (Pravritti) are transient and evanescent. To whom should these be offered? The answer is: to God.
What is the meaning of the word Bha-ga-wan? Bha represents the divine effulgence. Ga represents the quality of spreading and pervading. 'Wan' means the capacity and ability to spread and pervade. Hence, Bhagawan means the only being with the capacity and ability to spread this brilliant effulgence. In fact, the Atma inside us is of this nature. However, man is unaware of this. Hence, the prayer Thamaso Maa Jyotirgamaya (lead us from the darkness of ignorance into the light of wisdom). This light of wisdom is essential for all humans. The external path relates to the indulgence of the senses. There is a subtle difference between the actual use of sense organs and the power behind each of these senses. These are actually the elements (Bhutas). They are divine in nature. We say, the five elements. These are, firstly the earth. The ancients named it Goddess Bhudevi; secondly water. We call it Gangadevi. Then fire, this we call Agnideva. Then air, it is known as Vayudeva. The fifth is Akasa. The deity behind this principle is Sabda Brahman. Thus, these five elements have been recognised as divine and worshipped as such.
If you ask who is God, it is possible to assert that the five elements are God. These five elements are present in everything, everywhere and they pervade all over. They make no differentiation or distinctions in regard to the place or circumstances of their presence. Sarvata Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvata Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Thishthati (with hands, feet, eyes, heads, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe). The elements do not make distinction with respect to places, people or period. They are present in all countries. No country or person can deny their existence. Scientists cannot isolate them. The five elements correspond to the five life principles in living beings. These are known as Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana and revered as such. They are the very forms of God. As it is not possible for ordinary men to visualise these subtle forms, they have assigned different forms for their own worship, adoration and achievement of bliss. There are no inherent defects in any of these elements. Defects lie in their use. Such defects are the consequence of following the external path (Pravritti Marga). All the knowledge that we relate and its application is external. All that you hear, see or feel are also external (Pravritti) in nature. The Atma, the inward path, is attributeless, formless, pure and entirely different from the Pravritti. These we describe as Nirgunam, Niranjanam, Sanathana Niketanam, Nitya, Suddha, Buddha, Mukta, Nirmala Swarupinam (attributeless, pure, final abode, eternal, unsullied, enlightened, free and embodiment of sacredness). It is permanent everywhere. By adopting this eternal unchanging pure process and discarding the ephemeral, transient and temporary Pravritti path, we attain happiness.
Who is a human being? Man is a combination of the body, mind and spirit. Body performs physical acts, mind enquires and and the spirit, Atma, is the witness. For every action, the body is necessary. Body performs actions, Mind differentiates good from evil, and the Atma is witness. A man in the true sense possesses all the three in a proper proportion and thereby qualifies himself to be called man. When the Atma and the mind are disregarded and only the bodily comforts are taken into consideration, it is bestial. When the body and the mind act together neglecting the Atma, it is demonic. When one is able to disregard the body and the mind and live purely in the Spirit (Atma), he is divine. Divinity means staying firmly in the Atmic principle unaffected by the other propensities. One should develop greater reliance on the Atma. Increase of body consciousness leads one to animality. One must eliminate the animal and demonic tendencies, develop attachment to the Atma and achieve illuminative effulgence. Therefore, man should make proper use of the instruments he is gifted with, and lead a balanced life.
One should not act solely to the dictates of the mind. The use of the mind should be within limits. The mind has the discriminating power to distinguish good and bad, right and wrong and therefore one should use it in the right way. Acting contrarily is demonic. How does this demonic nature arise? Desires arise in the mind and action proceeds as per the dictates of the mind. Mind by itself is neutral to good or bad. Only when it is associated with the body, good or bad arises. The mind is quite capable of functioning without the influence of the body. Discarding the dictates of both body and mind the one who stands firmly in the Self, qualifies himself for divinity. For existence all the three are required. These subtleties are there in humanness.
Atma provides the illumation. Mind discriminates and shows the way to Atmabhimanam (attachment to Self). Most people have forgotten this attachment to Self. Many live solely in a state of body-consciousness. What is this body? This is made up of the five elements. However, it is impermanent. Body is like a water bubble, mind is like a mad monkey, so don't follow the body, don't follow the mind, follow the Atma - the conscience. For a time, there is no harm in putting to use all the three. But what is the bodily activity one should undertake? One should question oneself, what, when, how, why and with what consequences and discriminate and then only should let the body perform action. This is known as Sarira Dharma (bodily duty). Action is possible only through the body. Sareeramadhyam Khalu Dharma Sadhanam (body is meant to perform righteous actions) What is this bodily duty? The term 'Dharma' has a few subtle interpretations. What is the Dharma of the heart? It is Constant-Integrated-Awareness. The bodily and mental Dharmas are physical and external (Pravrittis), opposed to Nivritti. The mind is there for exercising discrimination between the ephemeral and eternal, good and bad, and action should be undertaken only after such enquiry. The mind is between the body and the inner Self. Hence, the mind should recognise the way of the Self and direct the body to act in the right direction. This is the truth of the man's individual Dharma.
However, today people are neglecting the path of the inner Self (Atma) and Concentrate on the body. Since the body and the mind act in concert and deliberately choose the needs of the body, one becomes demonic in nature. All that is happening in the world is due to this inclination towards demonic nature. How then will the light of wisdom arise? Only when the mind is unified with the Atma that wisdom dawns. Advaita Darshanam Jnanam (perception of the One without a second is true wisdom). One should follow the dictates of the Atma alone. Never succumb to the enticements of the mind and body. Life should be led by a harmonised use of the body, mind and the Atma. The Bhagawad Gita declares, Karmanyevaadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana. You have only the right to perform action. What kind of action? Not the external (Pravritti) activities, but the internal (Nivritti). Even external activities can be performed in consonance with the dictates of the Atma. You have responsibilities to discharge. While performing these, it is not possible to rely entirely on Self alone. You have to harmonise the three components - body, mind and self. If you act thus, the mind is peaceful. When the mind is at peace, the inner wisdom dawns. All the three components are active in man.
When any action is undertaken, the mind should exercise judgement whether it is good or bad, whether it will sustain your reputation and that of your family in society. These factors should decide your action. Changes in circumstances do take place all the time. Social change, individual change, inner transformation. First of all we should consider the individual change. Any evil and inhuman tendencies must be distanced. Lying, stealing, unrighteousness, these are such tendencies. Body indulges in some of these. Some times one causes deliberate harm to others. We must conform to the norms of the society. What is this societal conduct? Excessive eating, wandering aimlessly, mixing in wrong company, gambling. There are many such bad habits. Indulging in these, the mind gets defiled. All these are to be eliminated for achieving individual transformation. After transforming your individual self, you can follow the societal duties also well. When the individual and social activities are righteous, there will be spiritual transformation. These are represented by the letters S A I. S symbolises spiritual change. A stands for Associational change. I represents individual change. These are all contained in SAI. Once individual transformation is achieved, social transformation becomes possible. This social transformation is an extremely difficult process. Society today is directionless. There are no constraints or restraints on it. It is drifting about without any of direction. Society as an entity has lost its capacity to discriminate between good and evil. Under these circumstances, societal transformation is a difficult task. Normally most people follow the prevailing social norms. There is scope for much evil in these socially accepted norms. When there is total individual transformation, societal transformation is an automatic sequel.

Embodiments of Love !

If the present conditions in society persist, the whole world will be in conflagration. There is pervasive fear. Every action is fraught with fear. People are afraid even to speak freely. A spiritual transformation therefore is necessary under the present circumstances. With a widespread loss of self-confidence, people take to perverted ways of behaviour. Even the well-to-do people, well educated, people in power, all take to wrong ways. One has a great reputation but his behaviour is mean. A good reputation should be the consequence of good actions. There is no way greater than righteous conduct. Your very nature is decided by your righteous conduct. It may not be possible for you to turn away completely from the outward path (Pravritti). To the extent possible, undertake good actions. Work for the satisfaction of your conscience. Without self-satisfaction, no action can be performed satisfactorily.
In the Dwapara Yuga, the number of people indulging in wicked deeds were very few. But in this Kali age, the number of such people has become enormous. Moreover, these wicked tendencies have become ingrained. Sins are being committed every moment. In this situation, how is one to destroy sin? Krishna said, "Arjuna, you are going into battle. But this is not an ordinary battle. Arjuna, get up; righteousness will win. Selfishness will perish. This is the law in all ages. Act according to the need of the hour. With faith in Me hear this. A father of a hundred sons is going to be left without a single one to perform his obsequies. Moreover, A rain of weapons is unavoidable before world peace is achieved. This rain of weapons is not localised. It will be here, there, everywhere. Sakuni and Karna are directing the war into disastrous ways. And Bhishma, knowing what is right, yet has not taken the right lead. Karna is one who knows the truth and the righteous path. But in spite of this, his bad qualities have not changed." The one who was famed as the personification of generosity, what was his fate in the end?
Pandavas were the true devotees of God. They never swerved from the commands of Krishna. When Krishna went to the court of Duryodhana as an emissary of peace and returned, Nakula and Sahadeva who loved and revered Krishna, fell at His feet and asked about the outcome of His mission. Krishna told them that the Kauravas had confirmed their intention to fight the war. Nakula said, "Krishna, You ventured into the enemies camp on a peace mission, you have returned unhurt. That is enough for us, it is greater than all the wealth in the world. We were afraid that they might harm You. Now that you are safely back, it is enough to fill us with joy."
Apart from this, there were some mistakes committed by Arjuna, who had advised earlier against any peace mission. He said angrily that he was ready for war and wanted no change of plan. But when he saw his near and dear ones arrayed against him, he was overpowered by attachment. This is a manifestation of body attachment (Dehabhimana). He said, "Krishna, how can I kill my own relatives, friends and preceptors? My head is reeling with confusion, let us go back without any delay." Krishna got up and said, "You are the one who said, "Krishna! Is it possible to turn poison into nectar, is there any sense in throwing Jasmine flowers into fire, are you facing the people who would listen to reasoning, stop this mental confusion and prepare for war. Now you seem to feel that the war is a waste of time and you want to turn away from battle."
If there is fire at one place it is possible to put it out with fire engine. But when there is fire all over, no fire engine will avail. "A rain of weapons is inevitable for ultimate peace in the world. War must take place for the sake of peace in the world. Once in a while for world peace, war is inevitable. Shouting for world peace will not achieve world peace. Wickedness has increased beyond bounds. Goodness has become impotent. A good man today becomes a bad man tomorrow. Friend becomes an enemy. A widespread war is inevitable to change the situation." Sacred lands must pray for the welfare of all countries of the world. There has to be shower of weapons in some places because extreme wickedness is rampant. There are places utterly devoid of truth and right conduct. The few who are righteous get into difficulties. A rain of weapons under these conditions is inescapable.
Abhimanyu was getting prepared to go to the battlefield. His mother Subhadra thought, "Sister Draupadi's sons have been beheaded. The only one left is Abhimanyu. How can I send him alone?" Abhimanyu told her "Mother, do not entertain such thoughts. Say, you are ready to send your son to the battle with your blessings." Dharmaraja alone was there at home. He also said "Son, how can I send you into battle? Your opponents are cruel and proficient in the Padmavyuha formation which is difficult to penetrate. Dronacharya who is merciless in battle has formed this impregnable formation. So don't go." Dharmaja tried his best to dissuade Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu was angry. He told his mother Subadhra, "My uncle Krishna and my father Arjuna, when they return from battle, if they find me sitting at home they will never forgive me. In fact, my father may behead me for behaving in a cowardly manner. I must act in accordance with the traditions of my lineage. My parents must feel proud of me. Of what use is a son who does not bring reputation to his parents and his lineage? So nobody can stop me from joining the battle." He further added, "What is the use of my staying here? Instead of dying here, I might as well die in the battlefield and reach heaven". Subhadra said "My son, your father is not here. Your young wife is pregnant, there Drona has formed the formidable Padmavyuha. Moreover, there is Karna with his powerful weapons. Please therefore give up your idea of going to battle."
But seeing that all pleading was of no avail she blessed him, May the same kind of protection cover you as that which Mother Gowri conferred on her son Kumara when he went out for battle against Tarakasura. The blessing conferred on the son of Bhargava by his mother at the time of slaying of Shambarasura, the blessing that Vinata conferred on Garuda and may the blessing of Rama protect you." Where do you see such sons these days? Parents send their children abroad for education. Children conduct themselves almost like animals. Yet, their parents praise them. By encouraging their own children in wrong paths parents almost kill them in effect. Students who go abroad for studies should conduct themselves so as to bring a good name to their country. Students, you are all very good. In Swami's proximity, you have acquired several good qualities. You should practise and propagate them. If you see anyone misbehaving you should go and try to correct him. Born as human beings, you should neither behave like animals nor like demons. Unless you, as individuals, become good, the country cannot become good. If you are good the country will be good.
The welfare of a country depends on the character of its students. Only when you have good thoughts and feelings your actions will be good. When your behaviour is good, you will have mental peace. Therefore, first make your thoughts pure. Get into truthful ways. Strict adherence to truth may some times cause difficulties. But you must learn some techniques for getting over dilemmas. Such Yukti (cleverness) is also a form of Yoga. But you must see that you do not get into wrong, your mind must be clear with no guilt feeling. First, you must get rid of bad qualities. The demonic nature must be given up. That is one of the chief aims of this Yajna.
Rama and Lakshmana went with Viswamitra to protect his Yajna. Demons appeared aroud. Viswamitra said, "Children your job has begun." What was the job? It was the destruction of the demons. Then only the Yajna will be complete. Once the Yajna was over, Viswamitra told Rama, "Now I want your wedding to be performed." Just at that time, the message from Janaka was received that he was performing the Swayamvara of Sita. Those capable of lifting the Sivadhanush (Siva's Bow) might come to try their prowess. The news reached Rama and Lakshmana. They were not interested in the wedding, but were curious about Sivadhanush. Viswamitra persuaded Rama saying that the Sivadhanush was worth seeing. Rama pleaded that His father's instructions were to go and protect the Yajna and not to go to Mithila to see the Sivadhanush. Viswamitra countered that Dasaratha had given common instructions to act according to Viswamitra's directions. They had no choice but to go along with Viswamitra to Mithila. There they saw the Sivadhanush, which they were eagerly looking forward to see. Their whole attention was on the Sivadhanush only. You should always concentrate on the job on hand. The attention of the public was fixed on the two accompanying Viswamitra.
When people send their children to America or some foreign country for studies, they forget their studies and get involved in many other activities. They go on extending their stay on the excuse of further study, misleading their parents. Such was not the case with Rama or Lakshmana.
At that time, Ravana came to try his strength. With his massive fearsome personality, he walked up proudly towards the bow. He tried with one hand and then with both to lift the Bow. In spite of his mighty effort, he could not lift the Bow and instead fell back on the ground with Bow on top of him. There was nobody to help him out, as he lay trapped under the bow. Rama's instinct was to go to the help of Ravana to get him out of his predicament. Viswamitra seized the opportunity and told Rama to go and pick up the Bow. Rama's aim was not lifting of the Bow, but help Ravana. Help ever hurt never. This was Rama's motto. Rama walked up to the place and lifted up the bow with his left hand and put it aside. All were astonished. The weight of the Bow was phenomenal and the power required for lifting it was of a cosmic proportion. It was far beyond human capacity. This divine power is truly cosmic in nature. This power was present in full in Rama. While the people were watching this spectacle with wonder, Janaka came there. He said, "One who can lift it can string it also." But Rama said that without His preceptor's command, He would not do that. Then Janaka looked at Viswamitra who in turn indicated to Rama to go ahead. Then Rama bent the Bow and before it could be strung, the Bow broke with a loud noise. The crowd was ecstatic.
Thereafter Janaka offered his daughter Sita in marriage to Rama as declared earlier. But Rama said that without the permission of His parents, He could not agree to the proposal. Then Janaka asked Rama to look at Sita, at least. But Rama said that to look at a woman before wedding her is a great sin. Janaka was astonished at Rama's strict adherence to Dharma. Then Janaka sent his messengers in a befitting manner to Ayodhya to bring the King Dasaratha and others. It took four days for the party to reach Mithila. During this period, Rama did not even go to Janaka's palace or take part in any of the festivities going on there.
The marriages of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Satrughna were performed simultaneously. As you are aware, the bride and the groom exchange garlands during the wedding. Sita had to garland Rama before the other brides could garland their respective grooms. Sita being short in stature could not garland Rama, who was Ajanubahu (tall personality). Rama was expected to bend His head before Sita so that she could garland Him. However, He would not do so, lest people should say that Rama, one of valour and righteousness, bowed His head before a woman. Unable to garland Rama, Sita was holding the garland in her hand for a long time. The onlookers became anxious and watched the proceedings without winking of an eyelid.
There is another subtle secret in this act of Rama. From the worldly point of view, Rama had not seen Sita till then. Only after tying the Mangalasutra, would Sita become His consort and He would have the right to look at her. It is not proper for a man to look at an unmarried woman. This was the Dharma of Rama. He had laid down for Himself this regulation.
Lakshmana was the incarnation of Adisesha, who carries the mother earth on his hood. Rama looked at Lakshmana as if to say, "Look, why don't you raise that part of earth where Sita is standing to enable her to garland Me." Then Lakshmana indicated to Rama that it was not possible to raise any particular area. If he tries to raise that part of earth where Sita was standing, simultaneously Rama would be raised and so also others.
Lakshmana, being one of intelligence, thought of a plan to solve the problem. All of a sudden, he fell at the feet of Rama and would not get up for a long time. Rama bent down to pick up Lakshmana and seizing the opportunity, Sita garlanded Rama. Then Viswamitra said that his very birth was for this consummation only and gave away all the spiritual powers that he had attained by Thapas, to Rama.
Rama did not take a glimpse even of Sita until the wedding formalities were over. Such was the norm in those days. Boys these days are not like this. Conduct is so loose that weddings take place after a child is born. What sort of behaviour is this? Ways to go astray are many. Our students should not behave in such a manner. Make your parents happy. If there is any difference of opinion, resolve it sweetly and gently by convincing them. Never act against the wishes of your parents.
This story of Rama is famous worldwide. Even after thousands of years, Rama's story is recited and listened to with joy. Man appeared on earth crores of years ago. Thousands of years ago, Rama's advent took place, but His story is considered as sacred and great epic even today. One should try to be truthful like Him. Do not get confused in the matter of marriage. You have a long life before you. The institution of marriage has become grossly perverted these days. People get married today and divorced the third day. Lack of proper consideration, want of blessings and consent of elders are the causes for such sad state of affairs. Your freedom does not permit you to behave as you please. Wherefrom should your desires arise? It should arise from your Atma, your conscience. Bad vision and bad thoughts give rise to many bad actions.

Students !
Do not give any chance for bad tendencies to arise in your mind. Explain, convince and obtain the consent of your parents in respect of your desires. Without the blessings of your parents, you will not succeed in your endeavours. This is what we mean by 'sacrifice' today - the sacrifice of all your bad qualities and evil tendencies. This is the sole purpose of these elaborate rituals and Yajnas. Destruction of evil tendencies and fostering of good and righteous qualities are the aims of Yajnas.
The absence of men of character and truth is the cause of all this confusion and commotion in life today. The daily news is of death, killing, violence and crime. Is this good? No. Once you have control over your senses, you will have no evil tendencies. You will hate none. The abuser and the abused are one. It is the same Atma that exists in all. Once you realise this unity of the Self (Ekatma Bhava), you will not hate anyone. Then there will be universal happiness. There will be no problems or worries. There will be no strife or war. This is possible only by the realisation of Ekatma Bhava.
Whichever way you look, the Atman only is present. There are so many bulbs around here, but the electricity that makes them all glow is the same. There are many people of many hues around, but the vivifying power inside all of them is the same. In this manner, gradually enhance your Atma Bhava and reduce your Deha Bhava. With this enhancement of this Ekatma Bhava, all of you pray that all the troubles strife and conflicts in the world should disappear quickly. Swami's blessing is for the same. Do not have any sense of differentiation of this or that country, Pakistan, America, Russia, etc. Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu (May the entire world be happy!) This should be your constant prayer. The entire humanity is a single family. God is the father of all. Hold on to the principle of Brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. Bhagavan blesses that all peoples of all countries all over the world should enjoy peace, happiness and prosperity. Pray for this.
Having absorbed the divine vibrations out of the seven days of yajna, try to achieve spiritual transformation. Wherever you go, do not give up God and pray for the welfare of all. Tanks, bombs and other armaments do not provide the protection that a constant contemplation of God yields. A true human is one who has strong faith in the Self (Atmabhimanam). Therefore, comprehend this faith in the Self. That is the nature of the bliss that Swami confers on you on this sacred occasion of the Poornahuti.

(Bhagawn led the Bhajan, "Hari Bhajan Bina Sukha Santhi Nahi…" Swami continued after the Bhajan)

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