This is the transcription of the talk given by Prof. Anil Kumar in the U.S.A
With Pranaams at the Lotus Feet of our most Beloved Bhagavan. Revered Elders, Brothers and Sisters.
A Dream Realized
I thank all of you for having given me this opportunity to be in your midst this afternoon. To be very honest though, I am not able to believe that I am here. Is this a dream or a reality? Perhaps this very much certifies what Bhagavan says: Life is a dream; realize it! This is the dream, realized!
Because I was not quite sure that I would get His permission to come over here. There have been repeated calls and demands from my children asking me to be here some way or another. With great reluctance and postponements repeatedly, somehow I ventured to broach the matter with Bhagavan: Swami, may I go to U.S as my children want me there? You will be surprised to hear His first question: When are you going to return? I said: Swami, I must make my travel arrangements; I dont know when I would be back.
Somehow that day passed; and the next day He asked: When are you going?
I said: I must get my reservations Swami; I am waiting for a call from my travel agent. He asked: When are you coming back? Therefore you can imagine the situation - I am not able to believe that I am here this afternoon with you! But anyway, I thank Bhagavan for making this trip possible and to have the privilege of your company for some time.
Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Because, I for one, would believe that distance lends enchantment. We feel Bhagavan, we experience Bhagavan, far from the physical proximity. Perhaps the very idea of the Avatar Incarnation as per the scripture is this: to take every seeker from the Form to the Formless state; from the state of attributes, to an attribute-less state; from the finite to the Infinite.
In that context, we can certainly understand that we feel more. Because someone asked me there in San Antonio: Anil Kumar, how do you feel now being away from Swami? I said: As it is with the case of any family; we miss our children when they are far from us and they miss us when we are far away.
So also God; it is also true with Swami. We feel His presence more and more away from Him. But near Him, theres every chance of being deluded by the Form of being carried away that He is just a human Form with all the attributes; but to experience His Divinity, one has to be away from Him.
Exile from Shirdi
I happily recall at this moment an incident from the biography: Shirdi Bhagavan. Shirdi Bhagavan all of a sudden asked one of His devotees to go away from Shirdi and not to return for one year to come. What a punishment it is! What penal code, what law He applied no one knows.
So this grand old man was asked to go away from Shirdi - not to come back for a year. He cried and cried, and ultimately left the place in obedience to the commandment of the Lord. And towards the end of one year of exile, with a day left more to return, he was sitting in a garden and he was crying: Oh Lord! What a punishment you have given me? This is not the way you should treat your devotees! Is this the reward I get Bhagavan? How do you expect me to be separated from You?
Suddenly he finds a hand on his shoulder. He feels that gentle touch. He turns behind and to his utter surprise he finds a gigantic personality, 6 feet tall, wearing white dress, with a beautiful, soft expression and gentle and tender in His touch.
Well he couldnt identify that God - Bhagavan has come to that garden far away from Shirdi! Then Bhagavan started talking to him like this: Look here My son; you know why I asked you to get out from here? You fool! You have been thinking that this physical Form is the Divinity! You just think that Bhagavan is present in Shirdi only! But I want you to experience Me everywhere! I want you to feel Me everywhere. That I am not limited to this place alone. That Baba is not limited to this physical frame. That was the message of Shirdi Bhagavan in those days.
Experience the Closeness
Those of you who are familiar with this episode will surely be convinced of the fact that whether we are near or far does not matter; because God is beyond time and space. God is not a person to be near. If anyone claims that he is near and close to Swami, please keep him away from you. The best service you can do to him is to admit him in a mental hospital. Because no one can be close to God - all are close to God. It is not any exclusive right of anybody; no, all are close to Him. God is not a person to be near. God is not an object to be possessed. God is not a claim. The experience of God is not an achievement. Because some people say that: I think I advanced spiritually. He advanced in age not spiritually. Geriatric problem.
So nobody can say that: I advanced. What is spiritual advancement? To be very frank with you; spiritual advancement cannot be measured in terms of degrees or in terms of number of years that one spends in close proximity with God.
Spiritual advancement is the realization of the Supreme Self - which is uniform in everyone; from microcosm to macrocosm. The Self is very much the same in every one - that cosmic principle is very much the same in everyone. That is spiritual realization. Bhagavan says: Do not try to analyze, it is time to Realize.
We cannot go on experimenting, we cannot go on expressing. That which is given to expression by word is a limitation. Because mind cannot comprehend, words cannot express says the Upanishad. So, spirituality is not an expression but it is an experience.
The Greatest Challenge
Life with Bhagavan is really challenging. If you credit me anything for having stayed there so long, I can only tell you; it is not an easy joke! So nice to hear about Him, so nice to experience His miracles. But to stay with Him and to work with close proximity is quite challenging!
Life is a challenge, meet it! Because it is quite challenging it does not mean that we should run away from the responsibility. Because it is challenging, it does not mean that we should find some excuse or other to avoid any assignments given to us from time to time. No! Life is a challenge; so we have to meet it!
I recall at this moment the year 1989 during our trip to Kodaikanal, when Bhagavan said, all of a sudden, I appoint you as the principal of Brindavan campus of Shri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning at Bangalore. I was not physically or psychologically prepared. I was upset on hearing this news, because I had many responsibilities at home.
But Swamis remarks and commands are like a mathematics question paper - no choice. Choicelessness is Divinity. Choice and preference are different. When there are two, you can prefer either of the two. When it is choiceless, not to question why, not to reason why, but to do and live; not die.
So when He said: I am appointing you as the principal there, I was so much upset. Thank god I was quite young at that time; nothing happened to my blood pressure. It was afternoon and I was having a nap and tossing on the bed. I thought I cannot run away from Kodaikanal at that moment though I really want to. I cannot jump at the opportunity because I know its implications, ramifications and the threats and the Divine risks and the spiritual danger involved over there. So I had no choice; I just kept quiet.
That evening Bhagavan gave a beautiful message. He wanted me to translate. In the course of the talk, He made a reference to a particular situation from the epic Ramayana. Lord Rama started asking everybody: Is anyone here prepared to go over to Lanka crossing this vast ocean in search of Sita?
Nobody had the guts to raise their hands. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Somehow Rama started asking one after another: Are you ready to go? One Nala said: Swami, I am quite young. I am not sure that I will be able to do that. Next: Neela. Are you prepared to do it? I am not sure of my strength but anyway, I will be able to fulfill one fourth of the task assigned to me. Jambahavan, are you ready? Yes Swami, but I am a retired man working on super annuation. I am physically indisposed. I am not sure that I will be able to cross this? Finally the good Lord came to Hanuman. And Lord Rama said: Hanuman, are you ready to jump over this ocean and go over there in search of Mother Sita? Hanuman said: Yes my Lord, Ill do that.
Then Rama started putting some questions. First question: Did you have previous experience? No Swami. Two: Did you see Sita before because you have to identify Sita there No Swami. So you dont know the route! You dont know her! You have never seen her before! And you are prepared to undertake to travel all the way and find out if they are there. Why did you do that? Why do you speak like that?
Hanuman replied like this: Oh Lord! when You have assigned me some duty; when You want me to do one thing, I am more than sure that You will give me the needed skills, ability, talents, energy, courage and all that is required to be successful in the Divine task assigned to me.
Saying this, when I completed my translation, Bhagavan in His usual style, looked at me and gave a mischievous smile. The whole episode had to be said only in support of my appointment there; because I was in a fix at that moment of time.
So my friends, life is a challenge; meet it. Life there or elsewhere anywhere all over the world is a challenge. People are not prepared to accept that challenge. Thats the reason why we find people being upset at times. I know one elderly gentleman to whom Swami asked You be the district president of the Sathya Sai Seva Organization. He said: Swami I am incompetent. Swami said: I know your competence, keep quiet! I know your competence. So one has to be prepared.
Life is a challenge; meet it! This challenge, the climax in this pursuit of meeting the life as a challenge, goes to the point of realizing Divinity within - that is the challenge, a spiritual challenge. Bhagavan said so long as you think God is outside you, you have not understood Him; you have not experienced Him. The real challenge is really met with when once you experience Him within. The realization of Divinity within - that is the spiritual challenge. Be that any religion, be that any sect, be that any spiritual path given to anybody, any Guru for that matter will certainly want you to realize the Divinity within - that is the biggest challenge!
Swamis Challenge to His Students
I can also give you one illustration. All students usually sit there in front of the mandir there; and Swami, after completing His usual interviews to selected groups of devotees, walked out and slowly came to the students and said to one boy You move from one room to another room like a cat and a rat; you are not supposed to move like that! How do you study like that? That boy never knew how Swami could know that he was moving from room to room!
He went to another boy and said: You are weak in mathematics; youre not doing well in mathematics - you should study properly! He pointed to another boy and said: You always sleep; you dont read properly - you sleep in classes too, I know! Then He said: I know boys. Know that I know; because where am I? I am in you! That is what Bhagavan said: I am in you! That is the challenge! Life is a challenge! The spiritual challenge; to know that God is in you, with you, above you, below you, around you! That has to come into our experience. That is really fantastic.
Late for a Letter
I can also give you one more example. Of course this being a small family, I dont think anyone would have any reservations or secrecy here. Again I take you back to Kodai Kanal days. I was asked to follow students to be taken to the lake every morning, and bring them back to Sai Shruti. It so happened I was late; all the boys had arrived already. And Swami started joking and the boys were laughing. By the time I reached there, I heard loud laughter! Then I thought: Entertainment must be waiting at my cost!
Then I went slowly; and Swami said: Why are you late? I said: Swami: I am late! I know you are late, I am asking you why are you late? Do you understand my question? The answer was too personal; I couldnt respond immediately. I thought: Silence is golden. Then immediately Bhagavan said: I know you had been to the post office! Everybody laughed. He looked at the boys and said: Hey boys! Did I not tell you that your teacher went to the post office? Yes, Swami.
Then the cat is out of the bag! I had to say: Yes Swami, I had been to the post office. What did you do there? What do you do in postoffice? You will not have a breakfast or a dinner? What do you do there? Either you write a letter or post a letter. Swami, I wrote a letter. Hmmm
to whom did you write? Thats the next question - searching questions! And He looked at boys: Boys didnt I tell you that he was writing some letter in the post office?
Yes Swami, I wrote a letter. To whom did you write I say? Swami, I wrote a letter to my wife. Aha! To your wife? Where is she? Is she in your pocket? What did you write? Swami whats there to write after all? All the miracles that we experience - the Divine conversations. Then you would have asked one of your boys to
post that letter. Why should you stay there? Swami, its too delicate a matter, so I wanted to post it. No ! You thought that our students will censor your letter or would go through the letter? No. My boys do not read others letters, understand. So you dont need to suspect them. That is what Bhagavan said.
Be that as it may, it is a revealing experience that Bhagavan knows pretty well what I did there; I was actually very shocked! This is the challenge to feel. Because the silent conversations, the softest whispers go to His notice; and suddenly He starts telling you everything.
The Embodiment of Generosity
I recall another incident. It so happened that I was traveling with Swami in His car from Puttaparthi to Brindavan. Swami stopped His car at several places and started picking out something from His wallet, giving some currency notes to everybody. I didnt understand this. But I didnt have the guts to ask why this is happening. But later softly, finding out the mood of Bhagavan, and the ambience around, I picked up a little courage and said: Swami, what is it that You are doing?
He said: They are all poor people. They dont even have food to eat, they have to go begging everywhere. The whole family depends on them. So I gave Rs. 500 notes to everybody. Rs. 500 notes! Costly begging indeed! I said: Rs. 500 notes Swami! He said: It doesnt matter I just give it to them!
And those people were illiterate, rural, and far from the frontiers of any sophistication or civilization - ill dressed. And they didnt even thank Swami - they simply took the money and left! They didnt know who He was either.
Then I said: Swami, they dont seem to know You. What I meant was they didnt thank You. He said: They dont know Me, but I know everyone! I know all! Then He looked straight into my eye and said: I dont expect any thanks from anybody.
Because love is unconditional - no stipulation, no regulation. Love to love, heart to heart is the hallmark of the present Incarnation - Bhagavan Shri Sathya Sai Baba.
When water was supplied to almost around 700 villages in that Ananthapur District of Andhra Pradesh in India; village heads from these 700 villages came to Prashanti Nilayam to thank Swami. They all came there heads of villages. They all sat there and Bhagavan was granting them Darshan that morning. When Swami came close to them, they all said in one voice: Swami, thank you for all your help. You gave us drinking water. We were denied of this for several years in the past. Thank you for your concern and love.
Do you know Bhagavans answer? Please mark this. He said: I should thank you for giving Me this opportunity to serve you. - whereas we expect thanks for every silly thing!
There are also some people who donate some ceiling fans. The ceiling fan has three wings. They will have some name written on the three wings of the ceiling fan. And the fan rotates at high speed - nobody can read their name. So they pray for an electricity breakdown so that anyone can read their names!
Publicity is not spirituality. Vanity is not spirituality. Propaganda, aggrandizement, self praise, self-esteem have no place in the realms of spirituality!
Self-effacement, humility, obedience, reverence, prayerfulness - they are the qualities of a true devotee. Life is Love, share it! Because Bhagavan is the very Personification, the very Embodiment, the very Metaphor of Love. He shares that Love with everybody.
The Game to Play
Life is a game, play it. Game and play, from the point of English may be akin to each other; they may sound synonyms. I am not a student of English literature, yet I am more than sure that a game and play are not synonymous; certainly not!
A game has certain restrictions and regulations. At the end of the game, one may win or lose. The game is limited to
a time. Game may give you a sort of feeling of pride, achievement, accomplishment or may frustrate you if you lose it. But play is fun and frolic. Play is full of fun and enjoyment and laughter. Life is a game, play it. Life is ecstasy. Life is a dance. Life is a celebration.
Life is laughter. Swami smiles and smiles but His smile is of a different nature. Of course I can even dramatize it; but I dont venture to do it. Suppose there are two devotees here. Hes very serious with this devotee; He wants to teach him a lesson. Well, He goes on reprimanding him: You are a fool; you are not doing your duty properly! This devotee, immediately He smiles: Hello, how are you? Hows your wife? When did you come? Simultaneous, parallel talk at the same time; impossible for anyone to do it! He is serious with this man, on one hand; full of fun with this man on the other at the same time!
Because life is just a play - Gods play! The whole creation is Gods play. Only humans are involved in a game. That of humans is a game; that of the Divine is a play! A childs play. A child while playing along the seashore, will gather all the sand, make a small hut, smiles and jumps; and immediately kicks it off; and smiles and jumps. Why then? Why now? No one knows. Thats it. Life is a game; play it! That game being dual, make it non-dual - like a play.
Thus speaks Bhagavan; thus advises Bhagavan everyone to view life in the true perspective. In fact, He made the whole definition of spirituality into a single sentence: Spirituality is a travel from I to We.
There are three challenging terms. The first term is dependence. All children depend on their parents. Child expects to be lifted by mother; child expects to be escorted by father - dependence. The next stage is that of adolescence. I dont depend on you - independence. So, from dependence to independence. But the greatest is interdependence. Interdependence is the highest state; which is the path of spirituality interdependence.
The Inner Experience
I can also tell you, the true spiritual experience one will have when one starts listening to the inner voice. Many people start questioning, What is inner voice? We dont have time to listen to the inner voice because of outer noise. Unless outer noise is silenced, the inner voice cannot be heard. It is only in the depths of silence; the voice of God can be heard declared Bhagavan.
When once we observe silence, when once we turn inward, when once the mind goes to a state of total withdrawal of thought - the thoughtless state of the mind - then one will have the chance to listen to the inner voice. That inner voice is His Masters voice. That inner voice is of the conscience one has to adhere and follow.
That is the reason why Bhagavan says: You are not the body; dont follow the body. You are not the mind; dont follow the mind. Follow your conscience. The conscience is the inner voice that could be experienced only in a state of silence.
What is silence? Silence is not refraining from talk. Silence means silencing our thoughts. The stillness of the human mind. Stillness. One goes into the fathomless depths into the interior within - that is silence. Then one can experience God within.
Loneliness and Aloneless
Spiritual life is one of aloneness. Aloneness is different from loneliness. Loneliness is imposed. If I have a bitter tongue; if I cannot talk to you politely, if my talk is not sweet and soft, nobody would like to be near me. So I should lead my life in loneliness. If I am not helpful to anybody; if everybody suspects something harm or hurt from my side, nobody would dare to be near me - naturally I will be forced to get into that state of loneliness.
But aloneness is spiritual. Leave me alone! Let me reflect upon Him for sometime. Let me meditate. Let me pray for some time. Let me think of His Form, let me chant His name, let me sing His glory. Leave me alone! That is aloneness. It is for that reason most of the spiritual people would like to be left by themselves. Spirituality is the life of aloneness; not of loneliness.
I should also bring to your attention it is not one of friendship. We cannot make a kind of social contact in the name of a spiritual organization; no! If it is for social contacts and for personal development, for business prospects, it is a sacrilege to the very word religion. Because this spirituality, has nothing to do with friendship. But true spirituality is friendliness.
Friendliness is different form friendship. You can be a friend to one or two; you can be a friend to a group of people but you can be friendly with everybody. You can be friendly with humans, you can be friendly with animals; you can be friendly with flowers, birds and bees, nature, mountains and rocks. Friendliness is Divine; friendship is human and physical. So, if you are to be truly spiritual, let us cultivate this friendliness to be friendly with everybody; rather than crave for friendship. It is not merely being a lover; Bhagavan always says you can love one or two. But you can transform yourselves to Love itself.
The Real Meditation
There was one gentleman who was sitting in a corner. He was feeling so sad How is it that Bhagavan is not talking to me in the recent years? Because Swami used to talk to him every morning; but somehow for the last couple of years He was not talking to him. He was feeling so sad; he was about 90.
One fine morning, Swami came and stood in front of him and said: You should not feel like that. These are the times to think of the moments when I spoke to you! These are the times to remind yourself to bring back to your memory, to recall those happy moments of our togetherness, of what all I said in those days, you have to think and recall. That is meditation.
Mediation it is not sitting straight; because people say: I meditate. Some people say: My husband meditates morning five to six. What is that he meditates on? Nothing but awaiting the first cup of coffee; it is coffee meditation. You cannot say I mediate between five and six. Certainly not! How do you know it is six o clock, if you are in a state of meditation? How do you know that? Have you kept an alarm, or special instructions to your wife to wake you up?
Bhagavan says: Life is meditation. While at work or at home, while in dialogue or in conversation, or in prayer - one can think of God. As one thinks, he offers in dedication his whole work to please God: Let it please You, oh Swami! All these things that are offered to You, let them be acceptable to You Bhagavan. That is meditation.
Bhagavan gives a number of examples. As you start driving, as you sit in front of your steering wheel, if you close your eyes and think of God, that is meditation. Meditation is not a time bound program. Meditation is not a physical exercise because we find most interestingly some of the news papers coming up with advertisements: Meditation in thirty days; fifty dollars. Meditation in fifteen days; hundred dollars! Fifteen days is costlier, you know! Instant meditation! Like instant coffee! Ridiculous! Think of the sages and saints that spent years and years in meditation; are they fools? Dont they know this instant method of fulfillment of meditation? Meditation is not like that. According to Bhagavan Shri Sathya Sai Baba, life is meditation. Life is prayer. There is no prayer time; whenever you are reverential or surrender the fruits of your action to God; that is prayer.
What is Surrender
Oh Swami, I shall not take credit for the success. Bhagavan, I am not going to be frustrated by my failure. If it is a success, you are to be credited. If it were to be a failure, perhaps you want to teach me a lesson. In both the ways, I am benefited; I am profited. That is surrender. The moments of surrender, meaning - the readiness to accept whatever that comes in our way of life; that is surrender.
Many people ask: What is surrender? This surrender is not any particular process: Oh Swami, I am ready; whatever happens, that is your gift, that is Your prasad; that is Your Will, I accept it. That is surrender. Surrender is devotion, surrender is spirituality.
How to Celebrate Easwaramma Day
I also know full well that two days ahead of us we have the celebration of Easwaramma day, May 6th. From other point of view, it is Mothers day as well; that falls on May 11th. Bhagavans concept of the mother, is quite unique. He says The very Mother Earth we call this Motherland; no one would ever say Fatherland. No; this is Motherland! One has to be grateful to this Motherland. Why? You live on earth; you are benefited by the crops, youre benefited by the metals and the grain available on this Planet Earth. So one has to be grateful to Bhu Mata Mother Earth.
Second comes the Mother who gave us this physical body. She passes through all the trouble, pain and turmoil, bearing the child for nine long months. She takes care of the child; without any expectation - ready to even sacrifice her life for the future born child. That is Deha Mata; the physical Mother.
So, Bhu Mata, the Earth; Deha Mata, the physical Mother. If we dont have this body, there is no chance of doing good or bad; there is no scope to enjoy this creation. In fact, the scripture says all the angels in the ethereal form wait to be born as humans on earth. Human life is rarest of all; its the noblest of all. Its the climax in the course of evolution. Naturally, having been given this physical body, one has to be grateful to the physical mother Deha Mata.
And third, one has to be grateful to the cow; Go Mata. The cow is the Mother. In what sense? Some may say: Sir, I am a beef eater; how can I consider it as mother? Why do you say that? It is not that! The four legs of the cow stand for the four Vedas - the scripture. Cow represents the very principle of sacrifice. Giving you the milk; nurturing your body. So one has to treat the cow as ones own mother.
Bhu Mata, Deha Mata, Go Mata. Then comes the next; the Veda Mata. The Holy Scriptures of any religion - it does not matter. It is the Scripture that tells you what you are; the purpose of life; the value, the gift of life. So one has to be grateful to the Veda Mata; the Scripture.
It is in this sense we observe and celebrate May 6th - Eashwaramma day, in one sense, Mothers day; in other sense; it is also Childrens day - where children will have to realize their duties and responsibilities towards their parents. Bhagavan always says about the college students whenever they say: Swami, we want to serve You. Swami, we dont want to leave You. Swami, we want to be with You permanently. We dont want to leave this place.
being the Divine director knows our actions pretty well - how nicely we are acting; how dramatic we are. Suddenly He will say: You fellow, you do not know how to serve your mother, how am I to believe that you are going to serve Me? You know your mother well, you know what your mother requires; you know how to make your mother happy. But you do not know what I need. You do not know how to make Me happy; but you want to serve Me; it is ridiculous! Thats what Bhagavan said. So the children should learn to serve the parents first and foremost. And secondly is reverence to ones own teacher.
My friends, life is not the process of becoming. Life is the realization of Being. Becoming and Being are different. I get my doctorate, I become a doctor. I get my Masters degree, I become a Master. Religion is not like that - it is one of Being. So this message of Bhagavan should help to take us to the true essence of our very Being, the very core of our life. Not struggling for becoming. I am extremely happy for having your rapt attention to my talk.
Aum Jai Sai Ram.
- Heart2Heart Team
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