Fleeting Moments – Eternal memories

What are the fundamental questions that a spiritual aspirant must ask oneself while  treading on the spiritual path…with references and anecdotes of His precious pristine presence Dr Deepak Anand gave an enthralling talk on the final day of Prasanthi Vidwan Mahasabha on 24 October 2012. Dr Deepak Anand holds and MBA and Ph.D. from Bhagawan’s university and is currently a faculty with Dept. of Management Studies at the Prasanthi Nilayam campus.

Aum Sri Sai Ram!

…With utmost love and humility, I offer myself at the lotus feet of our Beloved Mother Sai.
Revered Elders, Dear Sisters and Brothers – Sai Ram to all of you.

All said and done, we are all co-travellers on a spiritual journey, on this spiritual sojourn where the goal is right in front of us. But between us and this particular goal, there are certain fundamental questions which we will have to answer sooner or later. You can avoid them for some time, but they will appear before you again and pose themselves to you and say – first give us the answer and then only you can move forward on this spiritual path.

What are these fundamental questions?

The first big question Swami says is that we must all ask ourselves is ‘Who are you?’ When was the last time did you ask this question to yourself? How sincere and earnest was the quest? It was in the upper portico in the year 1997, one of my first physical interactions with Bhagawan after I joined the MBA course in Sathya Sai University and Bhagawan asked me – ‘Where do you come from?’ I said Swami I come from Sri Aurobindo Institutions, the Mother’s International school and year after year on 23rd November since 1926, we have celebrated this day as victory day because on 23rd of November on your birthday, Bhagawan, when You incarnated on earth, Sri Aurobindo came out after more than a decade of deep meditation and said – ‘Celebrate, because this is the day of victory. The Krishna Consciousness has taken birth in physical form on earth.’

I said, ‘Bhagawan, Sri Aurobindo knew that you are God incarnate.”

A few seconds of silence and Swami looked deep into my eyes and smiled and said that I am GOD is only half the story, better half of the story is that you also are GOD. The only difference being that I know it and you don’t have faith in these words of Mine. So always think that you are God, always feel that you are one with Swami. I took it as a spiritual instruction and thereafter I started feeling, trying to pretend to myself that I am Swami inside.

But there was a big problem, and what was the problem? As we are all spiritual seekers, these problems come in our path. I wear glasses, how can there be a bi-spectacled Swami? That thought came into my mind. Yes, I can be Swami. But does Swami wear spectacles like this? He does not. So how can there be a bi-spectacled Swami was the question that came into my mind.

Fortunately Swami took me that year to Kodaikanal and one day as He came out of His room, we were all sitting outside and I happened to be the first one that day and Swami spoke to the boys for sometime and without any premonition, He just took out my glasses and put them on His eyes, bent forward, raised His eyebrows and looked deep into my eyes as if asking me – ‘Now can there be a bi-spectacled Swami?’ And in those moments of silence, I got my answer- Yes, if these photographs can be embodiments of Bhagawan, if the idol and metals and rocks can manifest God in fullness if we have faith, why can’t the human body which is the highest embodiment of Divine consciousness.

Yes, there can be a bi-spectacled Swami also. If you look at these photographs of Bhagawan all over, yes we should fold our hands and pray to them. We should wave the camphor at them and incense sticks at them, but that is not the end. What Swami says is these are not just My photographs for praying and folding of your hands and passage of your time but these are your vision statements. This is what you really are. You are all Sathya Sai Babas in making. This is what the reality is. This is the answer to the first question – Who are you?

The second question which follows is – ‘Where are you?’

In my presence, one of the senior devotees asked Bhagawan, ‘Swami, We do so much spiritual sadhana from morning Suprabhatam to night Karacharana Kritamva… and the evening prayers, Sandhya  3 times, nagar sankirtanam, gram seva, all these we do Swami, how do I know where I am? Unless I know where I am, how can I progress towards where I want to go.

The second question is, ‘Where are you?’ And Swami gave an immediate reply, ‘He said ask yourself how deep, how selfless, how expansive is your love? That is where you are  because if really we have to encapsulate the entire teachings of Bhagawan, the message of His life in one word and that is LOVE; that alone can be LOVE.

I was seated here nearly a decade ago, this used to be the second portico where boys used to sit when I joined the MBA…and one particular day, there was one 1st MSc boy sitting next to me. I was in the MBA course. Swami came taking letters all the way and then came and looked towards us and asking  to the Mathematics boy, ‘How Are you?’ I don’t know what came over him or he had some family problem or he was too much over whelmed with the difficulty of the Calculus, Algebra and Real Analysis of his Mathematics course. He said, ‘Swami I want to merge in you.’ I was taken aback by his request to Bhagawan and Bhagawan immediately said ‘Welcome’. But first become like Me and I Am only LOVE.

You take a cup of sandalwood oil and pour into it one drop of water and try mixing it together by churning for millions of years – it is impossible. But if it is a drop of sandalwood oil dropping into a pot of sandalwood oil, immediately it will merge and become one.

The second question that we have to ask is ‘Where are we?’ But what comes in the middle of us and His expansive, selfless and deep love? Swami says – It is the MIND. It is only the MIND. What does the MIND do? In the beginning of time, God gave us all equal amount of LOVE. the external looks or orientation of this mind divided and diluted this LOVE into so many pieces that it never remained LOVE any more. What do we have to do? Bring all this love back into our hearts and offer it to GOD. That is the whole process that we are undergoing in this spiritual sojourn. If you are not able to find as to how deep, expansive and selfless is your love, Swami says – I will give you one more formula – follow that and you would know where you are and that formula is, before you go to sleep in the night, ask yourself how may desires does your heart still entertain? For people, from people, money, power, position, if there are so many desires still left, that means you have not loved GOD enough.Because Bhagawan says – To master the mind and become a MASTERMIND  there is only one formula and that is – Love God more and more.

The 3rd question that we have to ask in this spiritual journey to Him, on this day of Vijayadashmi, so that we can all be victorious in our spiritual journey and reach Him in this very lifetime is - ‘Which is the best path to follow, to expand our love and make it universal?’ In the Bhagavad Gita, we have been given so many paths. There is the path of Karma i.e. the path of action, Bhakti – the path of devotion, Jnana – the path of knowledge and the Ashtanga Marg – the eight fold path. Which is the best path to follow so that we can reach the goals of our life?

Once, Bhagawan was giving discourses during Navaratri as He used to do every year. On the first day, Bhagawan gave a discourse talking about the greatness of the path of Karma or the path of action. He said, ‘ All your past karmas, all your past actions remain embedded in your flesh like a thorn. So take the thorn of good actions and remove that earlier thorns, throw them both away and walk on the spiritual path – you will be able to reach Me, that is why the path of Karma or action is most important.

The very next day Swami gave another discourse telling that everybody is tainted with egoism of one kind or the other. That is why even if you do good actions, born out of  egoism, it binds you with a golden chain. The bad actions bind you with an iron chain. Both bind you and they will not let you progress and that is why the path of devotion is the highest path. The path which Radha, Meera, Gauranga, Ramakrishna Paramhansa etc., followed, that is the path which you all have to follow, because that is the royal path to Divinity and that is the best path in Kali Yuga. We all heard that and relished Bhagawan’s beautiful discourse.

The very next day, Bhagawan gave a discourse on Janana Marga and said, ‘If Karma Marga is like walking on the road to destination and the Bhakti Marga is like travelling in the car, it is only the Jnana Marga which takes you by air to the destination and that is why it is the best path.

The following day fortunately we could get an interaction with Bhagawan, in fact, not an interaction, we had gone to pick up prasadam and as Swami was sitting on the sofa, I left the box of prasadam and said, ‘Swami, I have one question to ask You, in the previous three days You have declared the three paths of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga as the best paths. How is it possible Swami that all three are the best? In reply I thought Swami will give me one answer.

Swami counter-questioned me and asked, ‘Have you seen a ladder?’ I did not understand. I said, Swami, ladder? Yes, Swami many times I have climbed ladders and fallen from ladders also. And Swami asked – How is a ladder made? I was not getting anywhere. I said Swami – two big poles on the side and smaller ones in the middle to be able to climb. I did not talk about falling. And Swami said, the two side poles are the paths of Bhakti and Jnana and the middle rungs on which you have to climb up is the path of Karma. But don’t worry, He said, choose the path towards which you have a natural inclination. That is the best path for you.

Because in the past samskaras, you have been a Karma Yogi, don’t worry even if you are a Karma Yogi… like Vivekananda, the devotion of Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the Jnana of Shankaracharya will be added on to you. Once you climb the hill-top and reach the peak, you will realize that all the four paths are leading to the same peak and you will have the essence of the knowledge of all four paths… Don’t worry, the path towards which you have the natural inclination that is the best path for you.

The 4th question that we have to ask ourselves is - ‘Which form of God is the most ideal to meditate upon?’ Many of our brothers and sisters are coming from various parts of the world. They have been brought up in different cultures. We all have different family deities and then we come to Bhagawan and get confused, which form is the best for us to meditate upon and pray to?

In the year 2001, when we were doing our Ph.D, one day Bhagawan came to Sai Kulwant Hall from Poornachandra at 6.15 in the morning. Twilight time, even lights were not on. only Seva dal was standing outside on duty and they called the portico in charges and everybody else and Swami in that darkness, just imagine, alone in the Kulwant Hall, cutting across the lines, holding His robe with the left hand, the right hand mysteriously waving in the air, alone just walked to the interview room and went inside. Then He sent word for the research scholars and we all came running from the hostel. We entered the interview room, Swami did not even acknowledge our presence for 45 minutes. Was He even breathing? I could not make out. He was just totally still for 45 minutes and then He took a deep breath and opened His eyes and looked at all of us.

I was sitting there and Swami asked ‘what date is today?’ I said Swami it is 6th August. What happened on this day was His next question? We had no answer, so we remained silent. And Swami Himself said that this was the day when atom bomb was dropped at Hiroshima. And then He revealed further and said, right now in Osaka, Japan, thousands of My children are praying to Me that such a holocaust, such a catastrophe should never befall humanity again. And what reassuring words were they when Swami said – I listened to their prayers and came. The question Sisters and Brothers is – were the devotees in Osaka, Japan praying to Sathya Sai Baba’s form? No, they were praying to their own Gods and Goddesses. But Who responded? Any sincere prayer for the welfare of others wherever it may emanate, to whichever form it may emanate, response comes from only one place in this world and that is Prasanti Nilayam. That is from Bhagawan Sathya Sai Baba.

The last question that we have to ask ourselves is – ‘What is the Best mantra?’ What is the best formula to remain hooked and embedded onto the goals of life? One of our old students spoke in the prayer session one day in the morning and because I organise prayer sessions, I had a few rehearsals with him. He said that he asked Swami for a mantra. And Swami said, why do you need a mantra. He said, I have come to you, you are God so you must give me a mantra. My father has told me that I must get a mantra from you. And Swami said, the mantra is already been given – ‘Love all, Serve all’ and ‘Help Ever Hurt Never.’ He said, no Swami I want a specific mantra for me, a personal mantra. Swami said that nothing is personal. If Arjuna was to say that Bhagavad Gita is personal discourse given to me, what will happen to the remaining humanity? It is not personal but I will give you a mantra, Swami said. And what was that mantra which Swami gave very beautifully to him – Swami said, the mantra is ‘Lavvu, Navvu, Naavu’ basically meaning in telugu is ‘Love and Smile in the Present Moment.’

When God comes on earth, what does He do? He spreads only His love and smiles to everybody. When we see Him, we smile. Why because His life is His message. And once there was a ‘Paduka pooja’ mahotsavam here and Swami asked us in the interview room – what is the meaning of Paada Pooja? You all say that you want to serve Swami. What is the meaning of Paada Pooja? And we all said – Swami serving Your Lotus Feet. And Swami said – that is different. The real meaning of Paada pooja is that when God incarnates on earth in human form, He keeps His Feet on the sands of time which is Love and Service, greater Love and greater Service, still greater Love and still greater Service. Keep your feet on those footsteps of God and reach Him. That is the real meaning of Paada pooja. That is the real meaning of service to Bhagawan.

Sisters and Brothers, there is nothing personal in our spiritual life. It is all to be shared and distributed because it only increases by distribution and sharing.

Let us pray on this Vijayadashmi day – the day of victory, to our beloved Mother Sai that we shall be victorious. We will ask ourselves these questions, we will follow the tenets which emerge from our own hearts and then not only understand the essence of spiritual life, but also experience and express it in our daily lives. That will be the real spiritual victory, which Bhagawan wants us to achieve so that we can live a life of dedication as His perfect and dedicated instruments till breath pervades our body and there after merge in Him in oneness for ever and ever.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II