Sri Sathya Sai Anandadayi
Journey with Sai
Inner view, not Interview
|Prayer must emanate from heart, where God resides and not from head where doctrines and doubts clash.|
|Sri Sathya Sai Baba|
Devotees are aware how difficult it is to get an interview with Swami these days. People wait for weeks and months for this privilege, but only a blessed few get it. However, things were different in forties and fifties. Conversations with Swami were not confined to some people, at one place or at a fixed time. They can be better termed as interactions rather than interviews. The number of devotees at the ashram in those days did not exceed thirty or forty during normal times. Swami was spending most of His time with the devotees, hopping in and out of their kitchens, on the Chitravathi Sands, around the Kalpataru, amidst the hillocks or in the Bhajan Hall. Conversations with Swami were more informal, covering a wide spectrum — domestic issues, personal problems, philosophical matters, spiritual guidance for serious sadhakas — all figured in the discussions.
With the passage of time, the number of devotees increased by thousands and lakhs. Hence individual interviews became rare. If at all an interview is granted today, it is for a group of people. As Swami told us once, in course of time, this too will cease. Swami's divine discourses will be the only interview then. I am, therefore, glad that whatever we heard from Swami on an intimate, personal level is coming out in print now.
This chapter contains excerpts from the notes I kept at various points of time during the period 1946-1967. They are arranged chronologically. Dates were not always noted down since the idea of publishing them had never entered my mind. I also do not claim that all the questions put to Swami by me and others are profound. But the answers are. They carry His signature, the stamp of God. Even today the complete import of a few of them are not clear to me. But I have not omitted even a single line as it is from Swami and hence is the Ultimate Truth.
[The following conversations took place during 1946-50.]
My mother and sister went to Puttaparthi in December 1947 and spent three wonderful months in the divine presence of Swami. Later, all of us went to Puttaparthi in May 1948 to stay there for a month. We reached old mandir around 6 p.m. When Swami came outside, we garlanded Him, offered Him fruits and did padanamaskar. He enquired about our welfare. One of those days, when all the devotees were sitting in the shed, Swami came in, chewing betel leaves and sat on a trunk. The conversations began.
DEVOTEE: Swami, it is difficult for us to perform vrata or sadhana according to the time honoured rules. What is the fate of persons like us?
SWAMI: People of Kaliyuga are sustained by food and are physically weak. That is why God has shown them the easy path of smarana and manana of God. Before sleeping in the night pray wholeheartedly, "God, I do not know whether my actions since morning are good or bad. I offer all of them to You. I do not know whether I will be alive tomorrow morning. Protect me. My pranama to You," and then sleep. After waking up in the morning pray, "God, by Your grace I am still alive. I do not know what I will be doing till tonight. Please give me the wisdom not to sin. My pranama to You." Pray with devotion. If you do this every day, that is enough.
Another day, after evening bhajans, everybody had their food and were resting outside the mandir. Swami came, sat with us and narrated an instance: A yogi was meditating at the foot of Himalayas. He had a considerable following. One day when he was meditating, Lord Vishnu appeared before him with shankha, chakra, gada, padma and said, "I am staying in South India. Come and see Me there." The yogi went round many places and then came to Bangalore. Walking along a street in Bangalore, he saw a gathering of people near a house. Then he saw Me coming down the stairs. Immediately he realised that I had come in his dream. He rushed to Me and hugged Me. He cried a lot. He asked Me to keep him with Me, as he could not bear the separation from Me even for a single moment. I consoled him in many ways. I told him that his followers would be orphaned if he leaves them at this stage and advised him to return to his ashram. I advised him to stay there for some more time and said that I would send for him later. I consoled him and sent him back. None of the devotees around Me could understand the importance of this incident. I had to explain to them in detail.
DEVOTEE: Swami, according to the epics, when God takes an avatar, even His enemies attain salvation. How is this possible?
SWAMI: Kamsasura tried all the means to do away with Krishna after he realised that Krishna would be his antaka. This fear and hatred towards Krishna was on his mind all the time. Radha also had Krishna on her mind always, but for a different reason — overflowing prema towards the Lord. But, Radha's sister Chandravali hated Krishna all the time. All the three of them attained salvation (see page 123). The common element in all of them was constant thought of God.
But there is a big difference between the two methods. Attaining salvation through hatred is like pulling the Lord towards you by tying Him in an iron chain. The method of prema offers a soft silken ribbon at the Lord's feet and then He is pulled towards you. In essence, constant contemplation is the key.
I do not ignore and turn away anyone coming to Me, whether the person is a sinner or a saint. I welcome all beings whether they love Me or hate Me. If you remember Me, that is sufficient. When adharma is all prevalent, lower level officers with limited powers cannot stem the tide, let alone turn it. That is why Major General (pointing Himself) has come to wield His power.
A lot of dust had gathered on the photos in the mandir. One day Swami asked us to clean them and sat amidst us. He began telling a small story:
A poor man was collecting all the dry twigs and cow dung he could get in the forest. Seeing him struggling hard to take care of the family, a sanyasi said to himself, "Down with samsari, hail sanyasi." It started to rain in the evening. The sanyasi felt hungry. He came to the town begging for alms. The poor family man, by then, had come back, bathed in hot water, changed clothes, had a hot meal served by his wife and chewing betel leaves sat warmly. When he saw the sanyasi, drenched in rain, shivering with cold and going from house to house begging for food, he said to himself, "Hail samsari, down with sanyasi."
KANNAMMA: Swami, please stop telling such trivial stories and tell us something more serious.
SWAMI: Keep aside serious, spiritual discussions for a while. These stories are also equally fine.
RADHA: Swami, You are not coming out as frequently as before and not conversing as before. This has pained us a lot.
SWAMI: Why do you grieve? If I talk to you alone, other devotees will complain that I do not talk to them. I have to please and satisfy everyone.
RADHA: Swami, it is many days since You talked to us.
SWAMI: If one eats a lot of sweets, all at once, one feels satiated. If you get everything at once, you would not come to Puttaparthi. For that reason, I am giving My darshana, sparshana and sambhashana in installments! I am putting the laddu into your mouths grain by grain. Having tasted once, you will be coming again and again to Puttaparthi.
RAMAMURTHY: Swami, I am working in Railways as a temporary employee. Since they are already over staffed, I am always worried about being relieved of my job. I pray Swami to help me to retain the job.
SWAMI: (Looking at the moon in the sky) Do not be afraid. Have courage. You will not be removed as you are a devotee of Swami. Your job will also be made permanent. I am the God of Gods. My word never goes wrong. Have no fear. (As assured by Swami, my husband's job was made permanent.)
Do not whine that you are burdened with difficulties. As you undergo more difficulties, your karma will reduce. If someone comes across unbearable problems or difficulties, one has to understand that they are going to see good times shortly. (Swami explained certain incidents in the lives of Sri Thirumala Rao and Sri Kurup.)
Therefore, do not get upset or distressed when misfortunes befall. Welcome them instead. It is not always summer or winter. Fortune smiles on you after misfortune and vice versa. To illustrate this, God made fifteen nights dark and filled the other fifteen with cool moonlight in a month. Nothing is permanent. You should get upset only when you are in a happy state, as unhappiness will follow soon!
Another time, some of us were seeking clarifications from Swami.
DEVOTEE: Swami, we hear that all those who die on the war front attain virasvarga.
SWAMI: It all depends. If you serve in the army just for the sake of livelihood, it is different. But those who lay down their lives for their motherland attain virasvarga.
DEVOTEE: Swami, is shraddha necessary?
SWAMI: Why do you celebrate festivals like Ramanavami and Krishnashtami? It is to remember them, is it not? Similarly, shraddha is ordained in Hindu rituals as a way to remember and honour our ancestors who are dead. The rituals and ceremonies are meant only for emphasising one's duty. Moreover, your elders have stipulated certain rituals as part of your duties which should be honoured.
The commonly held belief is that cows are given in charity to enable the dead to cross the river, Vaitarani, holding the cow's tail. Has anybody seen this? All rituals are based on one's faith. There is nothing special in this. This also prevents a person from becoming an atheist.
DEVOTEE: Swami, is it true that small children who die are not born again?
SWAMI: Yes. What type of children? Parents of the deceased child should not have any type of disease and should be healthy. The child should not have any congenital disease and should have been born healthy. If such children die, they do not have rebirth. Children below fifteen years who die when they are healthy will not have rebirth — up to fifteen years lust, anger, etc., would not have polluted their minds. If yogis have some karma to exhaust, such as dwelling in the womb, miseries of childhood, etc., they take birth to undergo this karma for a short period and then die. That will be their last birth.
DEVOTEE: Swami, why should we perform puja to idols?
SWAMI: To enable the mind to concentrate upon one thing. Sagunopasana is easier for the common man to reach God. External form helps the mind from straying aimlessly. When worshipping the idol, you are seeing your ishtadevata svarupa in the idol. It helps to instill the necessary bhava. Your bhavana is turning the inanimate clay or stone into a living God. Do you think of the impurities in the clay of which the idol is made? No, your mind is on the form of deity only and not on the clay.
DEVOTEE: Swami, when I am distressed, I feel like committing suicide.
SWAMI: You should not. However difficult life is, try to be its master and not its slave. Every human being has a preordained life span. It is like staying in a leased house. Before you actually vacate the house, you have to find another one to move in. Similarly, before leaving one body, God selects another body and a span, depending upon the karmic debts. In case death is inflicted arbitrarily, you are denying yourself a chance to work out your karma as early as possible and reach a permanent abode. In suicide, you are stranded midway. It would be a frightening state of affairs for you. There is no vacant space in nature. God has filled the space with spirits and many other invisible entities. When suicide is committed, they show up and terrorise you. Moreover, a jivi is blissfully aware of God only for one hour in its life. First, fifteen minutes while shedding the mortal coil, i.e., at death; second, fifteen minutes after coming out of the womb, i.e., at birth; and third, thirty minutes during the marriage. God is present with the jivi on all these three occasions.
Hence, do not destroy the life that God has given you. Lead the life you have got righteously. The person who faces the trials in life calmly and always remembers God will one day, definitely, get His grace. Do not doubt its veracity. Face these tests with faith in Him.
(Swami asked other people to get their doubts clarified. Nobody asked anything.)
SWAMI: You will never get such wonderful days again. Ask any doubt you have got and I will clear it.
DEVOTEE: Swami, when God comes as an avatar, why doesn't He mend the whole world? He gives His grace to only a few people. Is it not unfair?
SWAMI: No. You may feel it is unfair. But God is never unfair to anyone. God is never partial to anyone. I will tell you a story. One day Narada thought, "There are so many wrong things happening on earth. Lord Vishnu is keeping quiet. If He sends me, I will make the people come on the right path." With these thoughts, he came to vaikuntha. Vishnu welcomed Narada and asked the reason for his visit. When Narada expressed his thoughts, the Lord said, "Then you go to earth and propagate the path of bhakti. I am disgusted and hence I am giving you this work. In a forest on the earth, you will find a crow perched on a tree. Repeat Govinda thrice in front of the crow. Tell Me what happened later."
No sooner had Narada finished saying Govinda thrice, the crow also did likewise and dropped down dead. He returned and told this to Vishnu, who asked Narada to do the same thing in front of a parrot this time. Narada did the same thing. The parrot also repeated Govinda three times and died. Narada was frightened and told this to Vishnu. Vishnu said, "It is all right. This time go and tell the same thing in front of a calf in the cattle shed of a Brahmana." Narada said, "No Swami, I will not do that. If the calf dies, the Brahmana will curse me." Vishnu convinced him to go once more. Narada agreed. The calf also died. Narada ran out in haste. He told everything to Vishnu and added, "If I listen to Your words any more, I will be condemned forever."
Vishnu then pleaded with Narada to do as He said for the last time and said, "If the same thing happens, you need not listen to My words again." Vishnu asked Narada to repeat His name in front of a prince, just born to a king. Reluctantly Narada entered the palace with trepidation. The king welcomed him with joy, treated him well and prayed Narada to bless his son. Though he was frightened, Narada uttered Govinda three times in front of the baby. The child said, "Oh sage, I am grateful to you. When I was a crow, you gave upadesha and let me have a parrot's life. Then also you gave me upadesha and I was born as a calf. Again I got your upadesha and I was born as a prince. By having your darshan, my life is fulfilled. My salutations to you."
On hearing this, Narada felt ashamed and wisdom dawned on him that God never stops doing good to people. He thought, "If one can attain higher realms of life by mere chanting of His name, can anyone even imagine His mahima? Unaware of this, I accused Lord Vishnu." A repentant Narada came to vaikuntha, prostrated before Lord Vishnu and begged the Lord's pardon for his mistake.
In late 1940's, a few of us were sitting near the serpent altar. Conversations with Swami began.
DEVOTEE: Swami, how will You come to know that we are meditating?
SWAMI: I come to know very well! Suppose an incense stick is being burnt in some part of the house. Its fragrance can be felt in any part of the house. Similarly, I come to know of your meditation. Your chaitanya is the same as Mine. Mine is brighter. Yours is dim. My darshan brightens your chaitanya. The mind becomes brighter by contemplating on Me. A brighter mind can see everything clearly. The heat of smarana converts butter to ghee.
DEVOTEE: Swami, we have Your darshan in our sleep. Is that true?
SWAMI: Yes. Answers to your spiritual doubts come in dreams. But I will not come in your dreams just because you think of Me. Only when I think of you, I will come in your dreams.
DEVOTEE: Swami, is it possible to attain salvation by namasmarana in just one life span?
SWAMI: Rather than the number of lives, the sincerity in sadhana is important. More intense the devotion, better are the results. Do not pray Me asking for forgiveness. You should pray, "God, make me suffer for all my mistakes and take me into You quickly." If you pray for forgiveness, it may act as an obstruction in your sadhana.
DEVOTEE: Swami, what kind of acts should be done and what type of acts should be avoided for self-realisation? We are ignorant of this.
SWAMI: If you have strength in your body, money in your purse, help others. If you are weak and poor and cannot help others, do not harm others. If you do not have strength to help anyone, stay quiet. Not wishing bad to others is nothing but help. Do not find fault with others. Since you too have the tendency to commit the same mistakes, try to mend yourselves every time. The jivatma becomes one with the paramatma during the night for a period equal to the time which your mind has concentrated completely on God while meditating during the day time. If this oneness continues, the mind will become stabler for a longer duration in japa and dhyana.
Do not believe in mesmerism. Do not try to learn it or practice it. What you see then are evil spirits. God is not that easily attainable. God, who is a form of satvaguna, will never enter into these lowly things and talk. Man is seven steps below God. Evil spirits are six steps below God. God's aura falls on all these steps. Evil spirits have slightly greater strength than man. With this extra strength, they have the power to masquerade themselves as Gods. (Do not get cheated by these spirits. Beware!)
DEVOTEE: Swami, you tell that we can meditate in our place and that it is not important that we should be in Puttaparthi. If so, why should we come to Puttaparthi?
SWAMI: You should come to Puttaparthi when you have some doubts about spiritual matters. Your doubts themselves will bring you to Puttaparthi. After coming here, your doubts will be cleared and you will also get peace of mind. You do a bit of dhyana and look for very big results. But that cannot be granted. You get results depending on your efforts. God never cheats or lets anyone down.
One day a few of us were sitting around Him in the old mandir. My mother, a widow, was also present. She had lost her husband when she was just twenty years old.
SWAMI: Since shastras were written by men, it is written to their convenience. But there are rules and regulations for men also. Mothers, I will advise just like Dakshinamurti. Listen to My words. You need not fast or perform any vrata. Take the correct amount of satvika ahara at the right time. Do your household duties and keep chanting the name of the Lord. Songs for women; mantras for men. If you forcibly perform vratas or fast, you will not get the desired results. Prakriti is woman; always mangala svarupi and fond of alankara. There is nothing inauspicious for you. You have not sinned. I have excused you, excused you, excused you.
I never talk to real devotees. Do you know why? I enjoy their melodious chanting of My name with love which is music to My ears. If I talk, I will be impeding their namasmarana. I do not want to do that.
Persons who come to see Me here, repeatedly, after their first darshan, have some relationship with Me over many births. Some others cannot come however much they try and they may not even have the desire to visit. Before I shed the mortal coil, I will distribute My spiritual assets fairly among My true devotees.
[The following conversations took place during 1951-60.]
By Swami's grace, on September 3, 1953 we went to Puttaparthi again. Swami was standing outside the new mandir and welcomed us. We offered flowers and fruits and did padanamaskara. From 7 to 7.30 p.m., Swami talked with devotees and then sent them for bhajans. Turning to my mother He asked, "How are Kannamma, Radhamma and the children?" We replied, "Swami, we are all fine by Your grace." Then I said, "Swami, there is no oil on Your hair. Your body looks so weak. I feel very sad."
SWAMI: I have stopped attending to My needs.
MOTHER: Swami, You are nityananda. Why should You stop attending to Your needs?
SWAMI: I have left it so as to use even that time for the sake of devotees.
MOTHER: Swami, You are distancing Yourself from us. You do not appear now even in our dreams. Have You forgotten us?
SWAMI: I have not forgotten you. I have come for the sake of devotees only. I have no worries about My body. My work is not yet complete. I have no desire to look after this body at the cost of My work. I performed lila up to the age of sixteen. Then onwards, I am showing My mahima. To understand My mahima, namasmarana alone is enough. Namasmarana alleviates all sorrows and helps to overcome all difficulties.
MOTHER: Swami, I am not able to do even that. I am not in the same state of mind as when I first saw You, Swami. I am bogged down in worldly matters.
SWAMI: I have given you twenty four hours in a day. Out of that you spend twelve hours for your worldly duties and sleep for six hours. If you meditate two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, then you will be in yoganidra (yogic trance) for two hours.
MOTHER: Swami, I am not able to do so.
SWAMI: You will get results proportional to the time you keep your mind concentrated on Me. You desire the liberation in your mind. Isn't that also a form of desire? You perform so many tasks during the day. You can assume that meditation is also one such task and perform it every day. For every act of yours, do not aspire for results. After concentrating on Me for just two minutes, you ask for boundless results! Offer both of them, work and meditation, to Me. In Kaliyuga, performing namajapa without expecting anything in return is the main sadhana. Those who adore Me with an unwavering faith without aspiring for anything other than Me, they can easily cross the bhavasagara. They will be immersed in anandasagara.
MOTHER: The mind does not allow us to meditate. We do not have the strength to control the mind. How do we do it? We need Your grace for it.
SWAMI: Do not worry about your inability to control your mind. Let the mind wander as it likes. Do not attempt to suppress the thoughts. When pot filled with water shakes, some water spills out and the remaining water in the pot will be still. Do namasmarana. Pot is the body and water is the mind. It is like placing the pot of water on the fire for boiling to eliminate impurities. Similarly, the fire of namasmarana eliminates all the impurities in mind and ultimately the mind becomes pure. That is the secret of the mind.
MOTHER: Swami, tell us more.
SWAMI: Do satkarma.
MOTHER: What should we do?
SWAMI: Listen. You will grow a lawn with green grass. The grass belongs to the cow, and not to you. When the cow comes there to satisfy its hunger, you chase it away. You enjoy yourself by seeing the lawn. But the cow suffers from pangs of hunger. You should not enjoy at the cost of other's sorrow. One's happiness alone is not important. It is better to bear some difficulties if it can bring happiness to others.
MOTHER: Give me difficulties so that my thoughts always remain fixed on You.
SWAMI: If your mind is meditating on Me, I will protect you from all difficulties. I have given three quarters of happiness and only one quarter of difficulties to the human beings. People cannot bear even that and presume it to be a mighty mountain. When they are hungry, they eat hurriedly. After filling their stomachs, if they find even a single stone in the last morsel, they complain that the entire food was filled with stones. I keep giving small difficulties every now and then so that the minds of people are turned towards God. Without understanding this, people blame God.
While the main road is being repaired, people have to temporarily use the kachchha road. After the completion of the repairs, they are back on the main road. In a similar way, when your personality is being repaired, I go by another road. You feel that I have kept you away from Me. But it is not the truth. I do it with the purpose that repairs should be finished early so that our atmanubandha is resumed at the earliest.
Sometime in April 1954, we went to Puttaparthi. Swami was seated on a sofa in upstairs of the mandir fanning Himself. My mother, myself and other devotees did padanamaskara. He asked, "Kannamma, what news?" I said, "Nothing, Swami." The talk turned to spiritual matters.
DEVOTEE: Swami, You must free us from maya.
SWAMI: How is it possible? Use the discriminatory power I have given you. If you try for a thorough enquiry into yourself, I will surely give you the necessary strength.
DEVOTEE: Swami, You have tied us down by asking us to follow our husband's words. If he does not like us to come here, how can we come, stay here and get Your blessings?
SWAMI: Aha! Do you remember how enthusiastic you were when looking forward to the marriage! Now you are bored. The laddu has become bitter? For having married, you must adjust accordingly. When you are not able to bear the burden of the family, you lament as to why the elders performed your marriage. Then, why do you keep trying to marry off your children? Are you not trying to reduce your burden? There is plenty of water here. Bring a big pot and fill as much as you can. Who is preventing you? I will fill the water to the vessel that you bring.
DEVOTEE: Swami, You only have to give the big pot.
SWAMI: I can give. But do you have the strength to carry it? If you try to carry more than what you can, your legs will buckle and you will fall down. You can only carry the load depending on your strength.
DEVOTEE: Swami, You should give us that strength too. You have immersed us in an illusion. We do not know how to maintain ourselves.
SWAMI: Again the same illusion! Do not blame maya. Even when you are in maya, do your duties. Only then you will understand the hidden principles. From the principles, you gain the knowledge from which you obtain peace. From peace you get sukha and that is svarga. If you do not try even a little bit, I cannot give you everything. In a shop, unless you pay, you do not get the materials. Similarly, if you give the money of knowledge, devotion and vairagya, you get the material called spiritual power. Think for yourself: An engineer can draw any number of plans. Only when the owner spends money and the workers build it, the building gets completed. Your desires are like feeding less and expecting the cow to give a lot of milk. There are no shortcuts. Do sadhana, do sadhana, do sadhana. The trials and tribulations of samsara can be likened to depressions and elevations on the riverbed. These are covered when the river is flowing in spate. By contemplating on My name and with My grace your problems and sorrows will vanish. Samsara can then be crossed easily.
DEVOTEE: You put several garbs on us and make us act in Your drama. It is Your wish. What can we do? We are helpless.
SWAMI: You are mistaken. The director of the drama instructs the actors how to act. If the actor does not portray the character properly, does not render the dialogue properly and does not sing the songs correctly, it is his fault and not the director's. Whatever be the costume, whatever be the role, he should follow the director's instructions and put in his best efforts. If he acts well, the audience will ask him to perform 'once more.' But they do not demand 'once more' from the director!
Once Narada took Dharmaraja around both hell and heaven. In the heaven, Dharmaraja saw Indra and bowed to him. He then told Narada, "How much punya this person must have accumulated to get the position of Indra!" Narada said, "Dharmaraja, look properly. It is Duryodhana who has got the rank of Indra." Seeing this Dharmaraja thought to himself, "If this villain can become Indra, what exalted position my generous, elder brother Karna would have got?" So thinking, he asked Narada to take him immediately to Karna. Narada took him to hell. There, seeing a person being tortured, Dharmaraja said, "How many bad deeds this person must have committed! Poor chap, I cannot bear to see him suffer." Narada said, "Dharmaraja, he is your generous brother Karna." Hearing this, Dharmaraja was surprised and was sad. He said, "God is biased. If He deceives like this, why blame human beings for doing wrong things?" Narada said, "But Karna was a traitor." When Dharmaraja asked how could it be, Narada said, "When Karna was bemoaning that he had no relatives and he was an orphan, Duryodhana consoled him, acknowledged his capabilities and made him the king of Angarajya. Karna was happy and promised Duryodhana that he would kill all the enemies of Duryodhana. Placing his faith in Karna, Duryodhana did not worry too much when the war was declared. But before the war, Krishna sent Kunti to Karna. Kunti asked for some concessions from Karna, whose heart melted at his mother's prayers and he promised to safeguard Pandavas. Accordingly, he protected Nakula and Sahadeva from Duryodhana. He also did not kill Arjuna when he had the opportunity to do so. This paved the way for the defeat and death of Duryodhana. For this treason, he is in hell."
Once Satyabhama asked Krishna, "You love Arjuna the most among the Pandavas. Why not Dharmaraja?" Krishna said, "Arjuna's surrender to Me is complete and unquestioning even when he has some doubts regarding the propriety of My thoughts and actions. Dharmaraja debates the issues and sticks to his conclusions. During the day, if I say, 'Arjuna, it is night,' Arjuna agrees. He knew that I am capable of changing day to night." Just by doing dana and dharma one cannot aspire for liberation. I alone know who deserves My grace. Swami then cited the poem,
Ihamuna sukhiyimpa hemataraka vidya
Paramuna sukhiyimpa brahmavidya
With worldly education you can obtain temporary and transitory pleasures. Only by spiritual education, you get eternal pleasures. Therefore, I insist on your spiritual evolution.
DEVOTEE: Swami, we need Your grace here also.
SWAMI: It is always there. God's grace will shower on everyone just as the sun shines on everyone. The sunshine does not fall behind an obstruction. Similarly, My grace falls on those who are very much interested in My name and form. It does not fall on those who are not interested. Every jivi will get at least one chance in its life time. If you want to clean a room, all the materials in the room are kept outside and thus are exposed to sunshine. Likewise, the jwi will remember Me when he is exposed to the aura. The choice to obtain grace or not is entirely yours. Those who constantly contemplate on My name and form will get My grace. (He recited a couplet) "Oh devotee, why do you worry, when you have Sai as your father, mother, relative and friend."
In this world all are equal. None should pride themselves that they are greater than others. Once all the five fingers of the hand had a fight as to who was the greatest among them. When asked about the greatness of each finger, the small finger said, "I am the first one to punish others. I am like the commander at the front, all others follow me." The ring finger said, "I am bedecked with gold and diamonds. What do all others have?" The middle finger said, "I have two bodyguards on either side. I am like a king in the middle." The index finger said, "I am the one who points out the good or the bad." The thumb said, "Without me no other finger can work". Each one is great in one way or the other. But alone, none of them are useful. Always have humility.
Gopala does not mean one who tends cows. But also a leader of gopalakas. Who are gopis? Are the women who lived in Brindavan called gopis? No. All persons who forget themselves when they hear the name of the Lord are gopis. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would get into a trance whenever he heard the word 'Krishna.' Hence, he got the name Krishna Chaitanya. It is the mind that is important.
DEVOTEE: Swami, mind always tries to do bad things, but seldom tries to do good things.
SWAMI: That is the human nature. This is the reason why we do not add sweet smelling things like saffron, cardamom, etc. to onion. By adding this, can we change the smell of onion? No. Hence we add salt, pepper, etc., to reduce its smell. Salt, sour things such as tamarind, and hot stuff like pepper are nothing but knowledge, devotion and renunciation. With these, we can inflect the onion-mind to something less offensive.
On June 18, 1958, Swami had come to our house for a brief period (see page 103).
KANNAMMA: Swami, You had said that You will stay for a day. But, You are leaving in a hurry. We thought we can ask about spiritual matters this time. We feel very sad if You leave early after showering so much love on us.
SWAMI: Where will I go? I will always be with you. I may not be visible, but I will always be with My devotees.
KANNAMMA: It seems You told Sri Ramasharma (from Venkatagiri) that a person cannot get atma sakshatkara in a single birth. Why?
SWAMI: It depends on the depth of the person's devoutness. Why do you desire for atma sakshatkara? It gives ananda for a mere five minutes. After that experience, your body will be alive only for twenty one days. Spending your time always in meditation and bhajans is better than that.
KANNAMMA: Swami, if that experience is beyond us, should we lead the rest of our lives like this.
SWAMI: No. If I wish, I can grant you that experience in a minute, in an hour, in a day. But you must deserve it. That is why I keep telling you to make yourself ripe. I may bestow My grace on you anytime (Once Swami advised us to aspire for vyaktitva sakshatkara, which is the best state for a human being).
KANNAMMA: Swami, we have considered You as our sarvasva.
SWAMI: I know. Since you are My devotees, I have come to your house. Otherwise I would not have come. (He turned towards the children) Look here, I did not come for your sake or your father's sake. I came here only for the sake of your mother.
KANNAMMA: Swami, our request to You is to give a small place for us in Your heart and also at Puttaparthi.
SWAMI: Granted. Your names are registered.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You said that in another five years' time darshan and interviews would get reduced. We felt sad on hearing this. How do we make our lives worth living in Puttaparthi, when we cannot have Your darshan?
SWAMI: I did not mean that way. In future, more people are going to come and since I have to treat everybody alike, My availability to you people would surely decrease. I will always be like this. Am I a sadhaka? I am Brahman. I will not change. You are My devotees who will never change. By going farther physically, you will come nearer spiritually. The proof is that your own mother will not be able to have My darshan in spite of staying at Puttaparthi. Swami will not change even physically, but devotees will.
KANNAMMA: Swami, we have not made any progress in sadhana. When do we go to the next stage?
SWAMI: Forget about the stages. It is enough if you make yourself eligible for God's grace. That is why I tell you often to keep your mind in a ripened state. In a single birth, one cannot have unwavering bhakti. You developed unwavering faith in Me as soon as you saw Me, because of your good deeds in your previous births. The persons whose minds stick to Me like blotting paper as soon as they see Me are My real devotees. Due to the fruits of sadhana of many births, people are able to fix their minds upon God as soon as they see Him.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You have told us not to compare ourselves to Meerabai, Sakkubai and others. We dare not compare! But You should grace and make our lives similar to theirs — always engrossed in Your meditation and bhajans.
SWAMI: You are living like that. You will continue to be like that forever. Poor Meera, Sakku and others had to face too many ordeals in their lives.
KANNAMMA: Swami, since they had elements of God in them, they could overcome the ordeals.
SWAMI: Everyone has an element of God in them. Everyone can attain God. Everyone is a paramahamsa.
KANNAMMA: Swami, we have kept this puja room for omkara and meditation. Is this a proper place? Can we practice here?
SWAMI: (Looking around the room) Yes. This is a nice place. How do you sit for omkara? You should not sit on the floor. You should have a raised seat, a minimum of half an inch from the floor. Spread a clean, unused, white cloth on the seat and then sit on it.
KANNAMMA: I would like to have upanayana of Raghu and Shankara performed in Your presence. But we have neither physical nor financial capacity to organise a function. We will be blessed, if You give upadesha in Your room.
SWAMI: Celebrate upanayana happily. I will gladly give upadesha to them in My room. Ammayi, I have burnt My mouth by eating betel leaves in a devotee's house. Perhaps they had applied too much lime. (Swami showed His mouth.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, we devotees are more of a nuisance to You than of any help.
SWAMI: For devotees like you, I will bear any type of difficulty. It is not difficult for Me.
KANNAMMA: What does Satya Sai Ram mean?
SWAMI: 'Ra' means agni, 'Ma' means amrita. Nectar should be always by the side of fire or else every thing will be burnt. One who is having shayana on satya is Satya Sai. Ram is premasvarupa. There is no kama near Rama.
Murali prayed Swami for sadbuddhi. (When the boys were very young, Swami used to ask them, "What did your mother teach you to pray?" They would answer, "She taught us to pray You asking for good mind and protection." Swami would say, "If that one thing, wisdom, is present, you do not need anything else to get God.")
SWAMI: You pray like this, "Swami, grace me to lead my life with good qualities."
RAGHU: Swami, shall I learn music? swami: Learn.
SHANKARA: Swami, I have passed SSLC. What shall I study further?
SWAMI: You have to study only further. Does anyone study backwards? Aren't your eyes in the front?
SHANKARA: Swami, I want to enroll for Engineering. But people say that teaching is not good.
SWAMI: Why do you worry about teaching? Everything depends on the student's sincerity. If remembering Me becomes easy, the lessons also become easy. Join that school itself for Diploma course in Mechanical Engineering (points in the direction of CPC Polytechnic, Mysore). In future, it is going to be the age of machines. So, you will prosper well in that field.
SHANKARA: Swami, You should help me understand the lessons easily.
SWAMI: So be it. All of you do your work sincerely, remembering Me all the time. I will look after everything. (In fact, Swami taught Shankara, in the latter's dreams, a few difficult subjects. He was able to secure first rank in the State.)
Swami visited Ramachandra Shetty's house on December 17, 1958. Shetty's family performed padapuja. After the puja, Swami gave a brief discourse to the housewives assembled there:
Perform your duties sincerely and think of God during the rest of the time. This is your dharma. Eyes are important for the body as the sun and the moon are the eyes of the loka. Dharma is the eye of the mind. Without this, life will be dark. Therefore, follow dharma. Look after your husband and children and do not make unreasonable demands. How can he get you a saree worth Rs. 150 when his earning is only Rs. 100?
Perform good deeds. Do not take on yourself duties of others' or transfer your duties to them. An unripe fruit will not fall by itself, whereas a ripe fruit will fall by itself. Merely by shaving one's head, does the feelings of the mind vanish? Hence one should put in efforts to remove the desires of the mind. What is the use of external appearances? Try to curtail your needs. When this fruit (body) is rotten, it will be thrown away. When the fruit is good, shouldn't you offer it to God? You cannot rest without performing your duties. Even breathing is an action. If that stops, no other action is possible. Therefore, do your duties sincerely contemplating on God.
There was a brief interval during which some devotees sought clarifications from Swami about their doubts.
KANNAMMA: Swami, what is the meaning of manava?
SWAMI: Let Me put it like this:
jiva + vyamoha = manava
jiva - vyamoha = daiva
In other words, human being is vyamoha sahita, whereas God is vyamoha rahita. (Swami sang the song, Rama nannu brovara (Rama, please take care of me). He emphasised the importance of detachment and discrimination citing a stanza from the song chimalo brahmalo.) In this song, Saint Tyagaraja declares that Brahma is present even in an ant. He leaves out the human being intentionally. The ant exercises the faculty of discrimination when sugar and sand are mixed. The ant selects only the sugar and discards the sand whereas the human being grabs everything and comes to grief.
KANNAMMA: Swami, why did You create this type of world?
SWAMI: To make human beings learn from their sufferings and enable them to experience and exercise their power of discrimination for their evolution.
KANNAMMA: Swami, did You create this world as a pastime?
SWAMI: No. Never. God does not have even a moment of free time. He created the world with all its beauty to educate and uplift the human being.
Leelamma then told Swami about the impediments in bhakti marga to reach God (sufferings, wavering of faith and so on).
SWAMI: No. You think wrongly. Why do you think a mother punishes the child? It is not shiksha (punishment), but shikshana (training of the senses and emotion; teaching). It is the same with God. Just because the mother chides the child sometimes, it does not turn away from her. When your child is seriously ill, whom do you turn to? You do not pray your rich father, husband or others. You pray God, 'Please, save my child'. Is it not?
In this world everybody, both rich and poor, is a beggar. God gives more alms to some and less to others. One is a bigger beggar and other one is a smaller beggar, that is all. How much each one gets is decided by their karma. Therefore, don't hate or envy others. Live amicably, work happily, share equally with others and try to please God.
SHANKARA: Swami, what is atma?
SWAMI: You are too young to understand it. (Turning to Shetty) Atma has no akara (form). It is ananta (endless).
We reached Parthi on June 14, 1959, we had darsan of Swami. He blessed us holding His right hand high and enquired about children's welfare and their examination results. My husband told Swami that by His grace, they had passed. Swami told laughingly, "To pass in examination, My grace; for other results, your grace." Swami enquired, "You were to come yesterday itself. Is it not?" My husband told, "We could not make it." Swami said, "You had no plans to come to Puttaparthi." My husband remained silent. Swami continued. "Is Radhamma all right? Has she left for her place?" The next day, after I had darshan of Swami, I did padanamaskara. I went to see Swami in the afternoon. He said, "I will see you after My lunch." The door of the Interview Room opened. I said, "We are going back tomorrow. Permit us to do padapuja." Swami said, "If you are leaving tomorrow morning, how will you perform padapuja? You will miss the bus." I replied, "Swami, if You permit, we will go by the evening bus." He said, "Fine."
We were waiting for the padapuja on Tuesday. After bhajans and mangalarati, Swami went upstairs for His lunch. I went upstairs and waited. Swami opened the door. He asked, "What?" I replied, "We are waiting for padapuja." He said, "Which padapuja? You did not ask for it. Should you not have come to the Interview Room in the morning?" Saying that, He came down. Looking at my mother He said, "Should you not, at least, tell them that devotees on the spiritual path have no need to do any external puja?"
KANNAMMA: Swami, if You are inconvenienced by our puja, we will not do it.
SWAMI: I am not tired. But you are under an illusion. If you are still concerned only with this external puja, when will you start doing it internally? Do you consider it to be puja only after you have washed My feet with water? (Later He allowed us to perform the puja.)
MOTHER: Swami, tell me about nirakara dhyana.
SWAMI: That is not good. It is good to walk where there is a road. Give up the rocky path and take the royal path. Thereby, you will know the right direction. You may mistake a piece of glass found on your way for a diamond. When you come across a real diamond, you may neglect it as only a piece of glass. Who will guide you? Hence sakara dhyana is good. Nirakara dhyana is a very difficult path. The universe was seen in Krishna's mouth; Krishna was not seen in the universe. Power dwells in a person and not vice versa. Why are you trying to go by that way? The important thing during meditation is that you must meditate with Godly feelings. Human feelings should not be brought there.
We asked as to where we could see Him before leaving for Mysore. He asked us to come near the Interview Room. After 3 p.m. we were standing outside the Interview Room. Swami saw us from upstairs and beckoned us. He took us to a room, which is right on top of the puja place in the mandir downstairs. After we sat down, my husband started pressing Swami's legs.
KANNAMMA: You have said in Sanathana Sarathi that we should do japa and dhyana along with omkara. We are not able to do all the three together.
SWAMI: You have got it wrong. When you are doing omkara, is it possible to chant the mantra or meditate? While doing omkara, just concentrate on the sound of omkara. Later, feeling the sound of omkara, meditate on the letter OM and chant the mantra. If mantra japa stops, continue the dhyana. Even if japa stops, do not worry, but continue the dhyana.
KANNAMMA: Swami, why don't we feel happy while doing dhyana?
SWAMI: Initially there will be no feelings. You should practice continuously. When you close your eyes during dhyana, you see only darkness. In that you should see a light and see Me in that light. That is all. It is good if you do not have any other darshanas during the dhyana. Realization of the soul is the highest state. After that everything will be perceived as filled with Brahma. In that state one will forget oneself. This state can be reached with the help of japa and dhyana. To bring the turbulent mind of Swami Vivekananda under control, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa gave him the experience of sakshatkara for a short time. He did not make that permanent.
I will tell you an example to illustrate the complete surrender of soul. Once the king of Khatvanga was going through a forest. On the way, he saw a sage. Immediately he got down from his horse, prostrated before the sage and prayed, "Guruji, I want to have realization of the soul before I step on the stirrup to climb my horse again." The sage said, "In that case, you should do as I advice you to." The king agreed. Sage said, "Offer your body, speech and mind to me." The king said, "I offer them to you." The sage vanished. The king stood rooted to the same spot.
The king's family members came in search of him as he did not turn up even after a long time. After finding him, they tried to talk to him. The king did not utter a single word. They thought that the king's mental state could be due to the advice of a noble soul. Later they searched the forest for the sage and prayed him to come to the place where the king was transfixed. The king bowed to the sage and spoke to him. When the family members asked for the reason for his being silent earlier, the king after taking permission from the sage said, "I had offered my body, speech and mind to the sage and so without his permission I had no right to do anything." The sage pleased by this total surrender asked him to mount the horse. As soon as the king placed his foot on the stirrup, he realised the soul and attained salvation.
KANNAMMA: Swami, is it not possible to attain self-realization in one's lifetime itself?
SWAMI: It is possible. You can realise your soul by the grace of the Guru in just one second, one hour, one day, one month or an year.
KANNAMMA: In that case, shouldn't You grace those persons who are entirely dependent on You and seeking Your grace?
SWAMI: I will surely bless them. I am here only for that reason and for such aspirants. You still have responsibilities. As soon as you finish them, I will shower grace on you. If you desire it before finishing your duties, it will be an act of selfishness.
KANNAMMA: Swami, aren't there people who are doing their duties and sadhana at the same time?
SWAMI: Yes, but it is better to finish one's duties first.
KANNAMMA: Swami, it is an endless world. Duties never end.
SWAMI: No. A time will come when your duties will be over. It will not be like this forever. Do you know why I tell you people to work (serve)? It is for the reason that you should not have a body another time. Even though your mind is purified, your body might not have done enough manual work. The result is that you will have to be born again, at least, as an exalted person. Make sure you do not get a body again. Believe Me, I will definitely grace you.
KANNAMMA: Swami, the body is already weak. Can we do later what we are unable to do now? While sitting for japa and dhyana, our minds will stray towards the pain in the legs, etc. When we become old, many more difficulties will be there to distract us even more.
SWAMI: Mind is more important than the body. If you just count the rosary on your fingers without involving the mind, what is the use? Do you know the strength of the mind? If the mind so decides, it can make the body bend to its dictum, irrespective of the state or condition of the body. Without thinking about the leg pain, you focus the mind on japa-dhyana. It will cure by itself. You are like potholes in a riverbed filled with mud and dirty water. Would the river go in search of those holes which are away from the main stream? But when the river is in spate, all mud and dirty water are washed out and only pure water stays in the holes. Similarly, by cleansing the mind the soul will be realized. The flood is God's grace. The river is namasmarana. Do all the rivers end up in sea? No. Some of them end in a lake or tank. When the 'rain' called 'God's grace' pours down on the 'river' called namasmarana, it results in a spate which is destined to reach the 'sea' called 'God'. In Kaliyuga, you need not do anything other than namasmarana. Your karma gets destroyed by having My darshana, sparshana and sambhashana. I have kept programs such as omkara, japa, bhajan, etc., to stop you people from wasting time by talking unnecessary things. That's all.
KANNAMMA: But in the house, we have to do them in an order.
SWAMI: Yes. You have to do that. Only because you do puja, bhajan and other good deeds, your children will imbibe these good habits.
KANNAMMA: Swami, Your grace should be always on us. swami: It is there. A lot of it. My grace is always on you.
So saying, Swami blessed both of us by placing His hands on our heads. He materialised vibhuti, applied it on our foreheads and gave us some to take home for children. Swami also gave us a piece of paper to pack it up. I said, "Swami, my son has applied for diploma according to Your guidance. You should bless him to get a seat there." Swami said, "Why? Everywhere they give a seat for a student who is eligible." I said, "Another son also has to get a seat." Swami said, "Sure. He too will get a seat." (As promised by Swami, both of them got seats in the respective institutions.)
After doing padanamaskara, I asked, "Swami, children will have holidays for ten days for Dasara. Can we all come to Puttaparthi?" Swami replied, "Don't come. Sit at home and keep chanting 'Ramamurthy, Ramamurthy' (my husband's name). (Laughs) This is your mother's house. Where else can you go? You have to come. Ammayi, do not get upset that I scolded you for requesting padapuja. I am not angry. I did it for fun." My husband said that he was not feeling well for past fifteen days. Swami said, "Is it so? Kannamma, you get him married. Everything will be all right (laughs)." I asked, "Swami, should we leave now or tomorrow morning?" Swami said, "Better if you stay back today and leave tomorrow. You can leave tomorrow morning after doing padanamaskara. Now, it is getting late for bhajans. Shall We leave now?" So saying Swami stood up. We followed Him downstairs.
The next morning at 7 a.m. we were waiting outside the mandir. Swami came on the balcony and smiled at us. He asked, "Why are you two standing so far? Did you quarrel yesterday?" We replied in the negative. He signalled us to come upstairs. We went up. Swami said, "Tell your children that I enquired about them." We said, "Swami, You should help them to get seats in the college." Swami touching His chest said, "I am there. I am there to get them the seats. Do not worry." Both of us did padanamaskara.
We said, "Swami, You should always be ours." Swami placed His hands on our hands and said, "I am always yours. I am yours now. I will be yours in the future and I was yours in the past." We were happy. In that ecstatic state, we started to climb down the stairs, completely forgetting the prasada. Swami called, "Kannamma, take some prasada and then go." He gave me a handful of vibhuti packets. When I asked some vibhuti for Leelamma, He told me to give some from what He had given me.
I asked, "Swami, is it true that You are coming to Mysore in July?" Swami said, "I am definitely coming. Shetty has invited Me for Gurupurnima." I asked, "Will You not come to our house?" Swami said, "Surely, I will. Did I not come even when I stayed for just one day? Shettys are My devotees. But I do not want them to hear nasty things from their relatives because of Me. So, I will not stay there for long. The house is also small. People should not be inconvenienced due to My presence there."
On October 30, 1959, we went to Puttaparthi, offered flowers and did padanamaskara to Swami. Looking at me, He enquired, "Kannamma, you have come!" I said, "Yes, Swami." He said, "I am very happy, very happy," and gave me a flower as prasada.
On November 7, 1959, Swami called us into the Interview Room at 11. a.m.
SWAMI: Kannamma, are you leaving now itself?
KANNAMMA: Swami, we were planning to leave the next morning by bus.
SWAMI: Today is ashtami-navami. What will you do? I will talk to you in the evening.
KANNAMMA: What shall I do Swami? I wanted to go tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.
SWAMI: Yes, you can leave tomorrow morning. It is ashtami till 3 p.m. I will therefore talk to you in the evening and not now. (We garlanded Him and did padanamaskara.) How is the couple?
KANNAMMA: Swami, we are fine. swami: Do you want a boy or a girl? kannamma: Swami, I want neither.
SWAMI: Why do you take it in that way? Why do you take all My words in worldly sense and not in the spiritual sense? Don't you want the daughter called vijnana and the son called sujnana? (Vijnana - knowledge of the phenomenal world; highest wisdom, constant efforts to discriminate between dharma and adharma. Sujnana - higher levels of consciousness; knowledge which enables one to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad.)
KANNAMMA: Yes, Swami, I need such children.
SWAMI: Then, why did you say that you did not want them. Henceforth, try to understand the inner meaning of whatever I say. You should not have only the worldly view. The attraction between God and devotee is inexplicable. Ammayi, without your knowledge, you will get access to God. If you are in the boat, you can circumvent all the whirlpools in the river.
KANNAMMA: We do not know how to escape.
SWAMI: When you are in a boat (referring to Himself), why do you fear? I will take you safely through any dangerous whirlpool. The boat called paramatma is the best security. When you have Me, you need not do any other sadhana. Just meditate on this form and you will get divine consciousness. Do not be afraid thinking how big your sack of karma is. This is the right time to undergo all your karma and finish it off once for all.
In the evening, we had darshan of Swami again in the Interview Room. The garland, which I had taken, was entangled and I was struggling to straighten it out. Swami asked for the garland telling that He would straighten it out. He untangled the garland and handed it back to me. I put it around His neck and did padanamaskara. (This is subtly suggestive — He is the one who untangles all our problems — Ed.)
SWAMI: You came to talk to Me in the morning. You least expected that I will call you again in the evening. It is because of the attraction between God and devotee. Without your knowledge, God graces you.
I told Him about all our family problems.
SWAMI: (After listening to everything, asked smilingly) Is that the entire list or have you left out something? Why do you worry like this when I am here? You still think that I have to know your problems from you and only then solve them! Since I am with you, I will protect you as and when a difficult situation arises. It is like keeping the luggage on your lap while travelling by train. The train carrying you also carries your luggage. At the top muktikanta is present. At the bottom, prakritikanta is present and you are in between them. If you keep going towards the objective world, when will you start coming up towards mukti? With one leg kept fixed at a place, if you move your other leg forward and backwards, would you progress in any direction? At least now, if you start to move slowly, step by step forward, you can go towards muktikanta. Do you understand?
KANNAMMA: Swami, how to obtain Your grace?
SWAMI: There is nothing more left for Me to tell you except to advise you to do sadhana. You are My devotees. It is good if you keep name and form. As soon as you remember the name, it draws the form. There is nothing simpler than this. It is better to simply contemplate with a pure mind than trying to practise orthodox sadhana methods and fail. It is easier for devotees following the bhaktimarga to attain mukti. How many yogis and munis are liberated? Even the saptarishis occasionally slipped in their sadhana, since they could not control their anger, ego and envy. I am giving you a simple method — namasmarana — to get yourself liberated from the cycles of birth and death.
MOTHER: Swami, if the mind contemplates for two days, it will not be interested for four days.
SWAMI: Your situation is like the trader of coconuts who cried along with traders of salt and pulses for no reason. The story goes thus: Three traders were crossing a river. One of them traded coconuts, another salt and another pulses. Accidentally all their goods fell into the river. Understandably, the salt and pulses traders cried over their loss. Seeing them crying, the coconut dealer too joined them even though he had lost nothing. Your children think that you are happy here, far away from worldly problems. You think that so far you have not gained anything by being here and people from afar have better opportunities as they can spend more time with Swami in the Interview Room. The water placed in the sun gets heated up even though the sun is far away. You are in a similar position. You do not know how the water gets heated? But, only I know.
KANNAMMA: Swami, those who are present here are like water before the sun. What about devotees like us?
SWAMI: I have given all of you the fire called namasmarana. It will burn away your karma. It will merge you in God. Butter is soft, but does not melt until heated. You may think that Swami keeps telling that He is as soft as butter, but nowadays He has hardened. Only when the heat of smarana is applied to the butter, it melts. But, Ammayi, this butter (meaning Himself) is melting under the heat of your namasmarana. That is the reason why you are getting opportunities to have samipya, sparshana and sambhashana.
KANNAMMA: Swami, however much You talk, accept our services or assure us, we are not satisfied.
SWAMI: Yes. It is true. Devotees will never have the satisfaction in matters pertaining to God. It is not possible also. Even though sage Narada continued to have darshan of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara, he did not stop chanting the name 'Hare Narayana.' Why? Because, he was not contented with the darshan. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in your not being satisfied even though you get lots of opportunities to be near Me.
KANNAMMA: Swami, does not our craving for more and more of Your darshan anger You?
SWAMI: No. I will never get angry in the matters of bhakti. I will only tell that you should learn to be contented with what you have in worldly matters.
KANNAMMA: Swami, which bhava should we have in bhakti?
SWAMI: In the beginning, have the master-servant feeling. Later, other feelings will come by themselves. First prabhu bhakti, then sakhya bhakti, then anuraga bhakti and so on. Contemplate with a peaceful mind. There is no other easier method to cross the bhavasagara other than namasmarana. The fire of smarana and My darshan will burn all three kinds of your karma. (Swami has explained that karma is of three kinds — prarabdha karma: being exhausted in the present life; agami karma: being accumulated in the present life and sanchita karma: is accumulated to be experienced in future lives.) Persons staying here can burn their bad qualities if they perform bhajans with devotion twice a day. Just as Bhishma was waiting for the auspicious moment to die, lying on the bed of arrows, you should endure all worldly sufferings. Godhead be attained only then. There is no other easier method. When Pandavas and Krishna came near Bhishma, who was suffering, Krishna said, "Arjuna, your grandfather is suffering. Ask him the reason." When Arjuna enquired, Bhishma said, "Forget the reasons why I am suffering. Even after having Lord Krishna always at your side, how much have you suffered? Instead of asking the reasons for my sufferings, you ask Krishna the reasons for your suffering. In fact, I am reminiscing Krishna's mahima and am finding it difficult to unravel the mystery of your sufferings."
KANNAMMA: Swami, why did Krishna make His devotees suffer so much?
SWAMI: He wanted their lives to be an ideal example for the people of Kaliyuga. He does not want to trouble any of His devotees.
KANNAMMA: Swami, when there are lot of problems in the house, bhakti weakens.
SWAMI: It is always like that. In such situations, take your mind off the troubles and turn towards God. The troubles will solve themselves. If you had the peace of mind in your house, would you have felt like coming here? Disgusted with the problems in your house, you have come here to stay peacefully, at least, for a few days. Kunti bowed to Krishna and asked Him to give her trouble always. Krishna asked, "Mother, are not the present troubles enough?" Kunti said, "Krishna, when I was in the palace of Pandu, I did not utter 'Krishna' even once. But, in difficulties I am always contemplating on You."
KANNAMMA: I cannot bear to see my children suffer.
SWAMI: Ha! That is attachment. It is not only today's problem, but has been so for ages. You can cross this hurdle also by namasmarana.
KANNAMMA: Swami, can we have an interview again in the evening?
We had an interview in the evening. mother: I pray You to grant me darshan always.
SWAMI: So shall it be, even for Kannamma. (He placed His abhaya hasta on our heads.) Always comprehend the inner meanings. Move towards muktikanta. You will reach the goal. You are still not sure as to what type of bhava you should develop. You like the bhava of a mother. It is good for you. Due to bhajans and contemplation, you have come in contact with several devotees such as Leelamma, Shetty and others. Even here, you have got friends who are good devotees. Look, if you have a direct contact of smarana between you and Me, think of the things that you can get. Close friends share all their confidential secrets with each other. Even God, who dwells in heart, reveals all His secrets to His atmiyabhakta. God goes even to the sinner if he contemplates on Him. When such is the case, will not God stay constantly with devoted persons who contemplate on Him with love?
Next day, i.e., on November 8, 1959, Swami called us again to continue the conversation. We garlanded Him and did padanamaskara. I briefed Him about a few family matters for His advice.
SWAMI: (after hearing me patiently He cited a poem in Telugu meaning it is like going to a shop for buying things in spite of having kalpavriksha with you; like going to the market to buy a cow when kamadhenu is with you.) Why are you harping on your difficulties even after having Me? In times of difficulties you somehow get help, don't you? Do you think it could have happened without My involvement? Your desire is that I should show you the way in asatya as I do for satya. If you are firm in your satya sadhana, all your asatya affairs will sort out by themselves.
KANNAMMA: Is it not good to do japa early in the morning?
SWAMI: Aha! Definitely. You should surely do at that time. There is no better time in the entire day for japa other than brahmi muhurta.
KANNAMMA: How should we do japa? swami: How do you sit for japa? kannamma: I sit in padmasana.
SWAMI: Do not sit like that. Sit relaxed as you are sitting now. As you complain of leg pain, do not sit in padmasana. But you should sit straight. Show Me how you sit?
I showed Him the way I sit for japa. Swami demonstrated sitting straight and said that the back should not be bent.
KANNAMMA: Initially I sit straight. Later, without my knowledge, my back bends.
SWAMI: That is not your mistake. Sit straight in the beginning, the rest is left to Him. You should keep your thumb and middle finger in contact. Some people keep the thumb and the forefinger in contact. That is wrong. The job of the forefinger is to say, 'that is wrong, this is wrong; I want that, I want this; see that, see this.' So you should join the thumb and the middle finger.
KANNAMMA: What should we do next? swami: Chant the name and think of His form.
KANNAMMA: The form comes for a moment and then it disappears. It does not stay for long.
SWAMI: Do not do it simultaneously. First do some japa. Then slowly picturise the form in your mind. This way the mind concentrates for ten to fifteen minutes at the least. That is enough.
KANNAMMA: Swami, you told us to do japa synchronised with our breathing. Should we not do kumbhaka to hold the breath for a while?
SWAMI: Do not do it. Just doing japa synchronised with your breathing is enough. When you draw in your breath, naturally you keep your breath for a moment and then leave it out. That one moment of kumbhaka is sufficient.
KANNAMMA: My mind can concentrate better while doing japa, but not during dhyana.
SWAMI: That is why I told you to do japa first. While picturising the form you can't do japa. You need not do also. As soon as you get up early in the morning, do not go about performing your daily chores. You need not even take a bath. Mind then will start its usual routine. Wash your mouth and face. Immediately sit for japa-dhyana. Do this much. As you are still involved in worldly affairs, it will take some more time for your mind to calm down.
KANNAMMA: When You are there, why do I fear? swami: Yes. That is right. Why fear when I am here?
KANNAMMA: Swami Vivekananda had told that we can concentrate on anything like concentrating on a black dot at the centre of a white cloth or concentrating on a flame.
SWAMI: Don't concentrate directly on the flame. Your eyes will be damaged. You should see it for a few minutes and close your eyes. Then you must imagine the flame in your mind. This is for the beginners. You do not need that. I have taught you the best sadhana. If you leave japa, do dhyana. If you leave dhyana, do japa. This is good for you. Try to do what I have told you.
KANNAMMA: Our devotion gets diluted when we undergo a lot of worldly troubles. Should You not give us a little peace of mind?
SWAMI: Ammayi, if I had given you peace of mind, you would have forgotten Puttaparthi. Since you are not at peace there, you come here and stay here for a few days to get peace. Only after you have experienced the heat of the sun, you will enjoy the coolness of the shade. Shishupala was always contemplating on Krishna, of course, with hatred. Due to this constant contemplation, at the end he merged in Krishna.
Swami got up, we prostrated to Him and left.
We were at Puttaparthi during late 1950's. Swami called us to the Interview Room. We garlanded Him and did padanamaskara. Swami enquired about the state of affairs at the house.
KANNAMMA: We have no fear when You are there. swami: Face all situations like that.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You told us once that we can know God's presence in our breath by watching the 'door' of soham. Where is this door? What is the technique of reciting soham, with every breath?
SWAMI: You do not need all that. It is impossible for persons sunk in worldly life to do all these things. Only persons who stay isolated in a forest can practice such techniques. Is it possible for you to count on twenty one thousand six hundred breaths and chant the mantra an equal number of times per day? Namasmarana is enough for you.
KANNAMMA: We can do that during meditation.
SWAMI: How is that possible? How will you keep track of the number of breaths — how many you have done and how many you have to do? That is impossible. Do namasmarana.
KANNAMMA: Swami, it is said that people who perform japa and dhyana should not eat food that is prepared for sraddha. Is it so?
SWAMI: Yes. A sadhaka should not eat the food prepared for shraddha of people not related to him/her. That is harmful for spiritual practice. Your husband attends them to please people. Let him go.
KANNAMMA: Swami, a spiritual society is planning a function in Mysore. If they invite, will You come?
SWAMI: No. I will not come. I have nothing to do with that spiritual society. To become a member of the society, one has to pay four ana. It is not four and that is to be given, but four guna, which are satya, dharma, shanti and prema. Some societies are formed to amass money. In Puttaparthi, money is not sought.
KANNAMMA: Swami, when are you leaving on tour?
SWAMI: I will leave towards the end of June. (Turning to my mother) You should not permit anyone to enter your room. If you lend your ears to idle gossip, because of human weakness, you will start thinking only about those matters. If they speak about Swami, talk with them. Tell them that you are not interested in any other matter, either good or bad.
On January 15, 1960, at 7 p.m. Swami opened the door of the Interview Room and called us inside. All of us garlanded Swami and did padanamaskara. After He sat down, we sat around Him; Seeing the children, He asked, "How are Durvasa and others?" Murali said that he would no longer take that name. Swami asked, "He is better now, isn't he?" I replied in the affirmative. Swami said, "Now is the chance of your second son. Later the third. Look, fire is withdrawn from the fire chamber and simultaneously water is poured to douse the fire. Even then so much of heat (anger) is left! (Turning towards Raghu) Why do you get so angry? I will punish you properly. I will make you fail this time." I prayed, "Swami please do not do like that." Swami said, "Why should they not listen to Us? Should We listen to them?" Looking at the boys, "If you follow My words, I will protect you from all difficulties. Tell your friends that you have to do bhajans in the evening and that you do not like to be disturbed. All right. Was the speech I gave yesterday good?" We replied, "Yes, Swami." He asked the same thing twice or thrice. I said that it would have been nice if He had spoken for some more time. Swami said, "It is enough if you digest that. If I tell more, it may cause indigestion."
KANNAMMA: At what time should we do japa in the evening?
SWAMI: Evening is not that good.
KANNAMMA: What mantra should be chanted during japa?
SWAMI: A mantra which is dear to your mind. Any mantra will do. Ramayati iti raamah(a).
KANNAMMA: Please teach us, Swami.
SWAMI: 'Om Namo Shrii Saaii Raamaaya' or 'Om Shrii Saaii Raamaaya Namah(a)'. Both have pancha bijaksharas.
KANNAMMA: Shouldn't the word 'Satya' come? swami: No. I do not have such a distinction.
KANNAMMA: Swami, can we not chant 'Om Shrii Satya Saaii Parabrahmane Namah(a)' ?
SWAMI: Mantra becomes too long.
KANNAMMA: Yes, Swami. We feel that mantra should be short. If it is long it is difficult to chant.
SWAMI: It is better that the mantra is shorter. You can chant it faster. It is similar to a battery which charges up faster if the generator rotates at higher speed. If you chant the mantra at a higher speed, your battery will also be charged at a faster rate. The mind will start chanting on its own without your knowledge (ajapajapa). 'Shrii Gopiijana Vallabhaaya Namah(a)' is also a long mantra. You can chant 'Om Shrii Saaii Raamaaya Namah(a)'. You should do japa and dhyana alternately. But you should see to it that your mind does not wander away from japa or dhyana.
KANNAMMA: Our minds do everything with interest for a few days. Certain days it cannot be forced even. In Such a case, what should we do?
SWAMI: If the mind does not obey you, you force it to obey. The farmer ties the bullocks to the plough and then ploughs the fields. Some times they stop. Will the farmer simply sit back, pity them and let them rest? Will he not make them work? If he keeps quiet, the work comes to a stop. So continue your practice. After some time, every thing will be all right. Do not give up sadhana at any cost, yielding to the frailty of the mind. How was My speech on Uttarayana?
KANNAMMA: It was excellent, Swami. Please take us on that path.
SWAMI: You are on that path only. That is why you were able to come to Parthi to listen to such discourses.
KANNAMMA: My husband expressed his inability to visit Puttaparthi this time. But I insisted that he should come.
SWAMI: Could he have come here by your mere urging? He was destined to get amrita. So he came.
KANNAMMA: What should we do to be near You like this forever?
SWAMI: You are already here.
SHANKARA: Why are there one hundred and eight beads in a japamala?
SWAMI: To count the ashtottarashata nama.
SHANKARA: I have got a scholarship.
SWAMI: (mimicking Shankara) You have got it. Study well. (Continuing) How is the situation in the house?
KANNAMMA: You know it, Swami.
MURALI: Swami, You should give us some upadesha.
SWAMI: Aha! I performed your upanayana. Are you regularly doing sandhyavandana?
MURALI: I am doing sandhyavandana daily without fail. (Swami turned towards my husband. He concurred.) You should give us some advice, Swami. We will follow it.
SWAMI: All that I have told you so far is My upadesha. Heed My words and those of your parents. I will look after your welfare. It is the parents' duty to bring up the children in the right way, give education, equip them for employment and marry them off. If these are done, their duties are over. (Swami materialised vibhuti and smeared it on our foreheads.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, are You sending us out so soon? You have materialised vibhuti already.
SWAMI: Ammayi, look outside, how many are waiting?
All of us prostrated to Him. I asked a few things about Radha. I mentioned about some people telling about a calamity that would befall my husband that year. I prayed Him to protect us from it. Swami said, "Who told you? Do not worry about such mad predictions. Nothing of that sort will happen." He placed His hand on my head and blessed. "You will be a dirgha sumangali. Do you know how many more years all of you have to serve Me?" All of us held His hands and prayed Him not to forget us and to kindly grant atmajnana. Swami held our hands and said, "I will never forget you and I will fulfil your prayers."
Swami asked my child, Suresh, "All of you together are nine persons, is it not?" He said, "Yes." Turning to me He said, "Look, he says you have nine children." I said, "No, Swami." He asked, "How many?" I replied, "Five, Swami."
SWAMI: You do not have any daughters, do you?
KANNAMMA: No, Swami. But, as You told it is enough if You give me a son called sujnana and a daughter called muktikanta.
SWAMI: There will be a big crowd for vaikuntha ekadashi. This is because the linga I materialise during Shivaratri goes only to a few people, while everybody gets amrita during vaikuntha ekadashi.
KANNAMMA: Swami, we want to sing in Your presence during Shivaratri. But old devotees are not allowed into the mandir. We lost even that opportunity.
SWAMI: (in a sad tone) What shall I do? No place.
With a heavy heart, we sought His permission to leave for Mysore.
Once my sister, Radha and myself were in Puttaparthi. We were standing near the Interview Room in the morning. Swami called us and talked to us.
KANNAMMA: Swami, after early morning meditation, I will not have time the whole day to contemplate on You.
SWAMI: No. You will be remembering Me again in the afternoon. (After lunch, she would sit and relax thinking of Him — Ed.)
KANNAMMA: I am not able to contemplate on You while doing work.
SWAMI: You need not. You should concentrate on your work and do it properly. It is enough if you contemplate on Me even for just one second with devotion. I know it is not possible to contemplate on Me the whole day saddled as you are with family responsibilities.
RADHA: She does that much at least. I do not do anything at all.
SWAMI: You tell that she does it and she tells that you doit!
RADHA: People say that persons staying here get more of Your grace than those who stay far away. Is it true?
SWAMI: The process is similar to that of coal catching fire. People staying here will have chance of becoming fire first. But what is the use if they stay here but keep away from the fire? People staying far away will have to fan a bit to catch fire. That is all. (People staying near Swami have better chances for faster redemption. People staying far away have to do namasmarana.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, what is the meaning of the word dram that we find in namavali?
SWAMI: That is a bijakshara. There are words such as 'vaasudevaaya namah(a)', 'devakii nandanaaya namah(a)' and so on. The letter 'kliim' contains the meaning of all the above. Instead of saying, 'Krishnaaya namah(a)', you can as well say just 'kliim'.
KANNAMMA: Swami, are there any divisions among the mantras based on their greatness?
SWAMI: Yes. You get enduring results by chanting those mantras which have bijakshara in them. Mantras which do not have bijakshara will not give the expected results.
KANNAMMA: Swami, we are afraid that You will grow beyond our reach.
SWAMI: (Rising from sofa and keeping His abhaya hasta on our heads) Never, never, never. I will never leave you, never leave you, never leave you.
KANNAMMA: Swami, grace us to realise You internally.
SWAMI: Definitely. I have come for the sake of devotees like you only.
He materialised vibhuti, applied it to our foreheads and permitted us to do padanamaskara.
Sometime in 1950's, before we left Puttaparthi, Swami called us to the Interview Room. He enquired about our welfare and the subject of bhakti came up.
SWAMI: While chanting a mantra one should contemplate on the form also. You should meditate on Him selflessly with the feeling that He belongs, not only to you, but to everyone and as the Lord of the Universe. You can meditate on any mantra. Just as all the rivers reach the ocean, all the mantras lead to God. (Swami was implying any bijakshara mantra). After reaching the ocean, the river looses its own taste and will acquire the taste of the ocean. Even if a number of sins have been committed, they will be washed away in the continuous contemplation of God. As you people belong to Me, you are able to come here so often. I am yours. I have no right on Myself. Devotees have the right of making Me their own.
While chanting a mantra, if the letters of the mantra appear before you, meditate on the mantra for sometime and then on the form for some time. Keep on alternating between mantra and form, and finally make your mind stick to the form. You might say that you are the same as before and have not changed. Without your knowledge, your state of 'being' will have changed. If I tell you in which stage you are now, your ego grows and you destroy yourself. There are many such eligible persons. If they are told, their ego will grow. They will do what is prohibited. So I do not tell anyone. Only I know what stage everyone is in.
KANNAMMA: Swami, kindly let us know the stage we have reached.
SWAMI: No. I will not tell. You are one among a thousand eligible people. I will not forget you. I have kept your mother here only to grace her. (Looking at us) You are all tied to family life. Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Shakti and other similar mahamantras are available to you. The mantra, Satya Saaii has the combined power of all these mantras. Just this mantra is enough. You sing 'Kamakshi, Kamakshi.' Therefore, meditating on God with the feelings of mother suits best for you. Remember what I told you yesterday. (Swami had explained the devotion of Gopis as the supreme example).
Swami materialised vibhuti and applied it on our foreheads and allowed us to do padanamaskara prior to leaving the Interview Room.
One afternoon we were sitting in the old mandir after our meals. Swami sent words through a devotee asking us to go to the new mandir. We immediately went there. Swami called us to the Interview Room. Swami had just finished His lunch.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You have not taken betel leaves.
SWAMI: Ammayi. It is all right. I very much like to talk to people who are interested in spiritual matters. You wanted to ask something. What is it?
KANNAMMA: Swami, let the ups and downs of worldly life be there. But, if we do not advance even a little bit in the spiritual path, is not our life a waste?
SWAMI: Ammayi, do not tell so. First, you should have the minimum of comforts in your worldly life. Unless you are comfortable in your worldly life, you cannot progress in spiritual life. If you have to struggle even for food and clothing, how will you think of God? In this Kaliyuga, where life is sustained by food, you can advance in the spiritual path only if you have enough food and clothing. I therefore ensure that My devotees do not struggle for food and clothing. But, I will not let them amass wealth. After amassing wealth they will become insensitive to the sufferings around them.
KANNAMMA: How to stop the mind from straying?
SWAMI: Is it possible only by your efforts? Prakriti is wavering. Mind was born from it. How can it be steady? Is there a mind without desires? Is there a sky devoid of clouds? Is there a rose without thorn? If you pray Me everyday to stop your minds from straying, they will stop as soon as I make the sankalpa that your minds should be still.
KANNAMMA: Swami, having no interest in this world and not advancing in the spiritual matters is disgusting. How long should we stay in this situation? We are in the same state as we were. We have not advanced and attained anything even after coming to You for so many years.
SWAMI: You should not think like that. You should think that by His grace you are in this stage or else the position would have been worse. If your mind is not peaceful, think that Sainatha's grace has not yet been showered on you and wait patiently. Console yourself by remembering historical incidents wherein God has protected His devotees.
KANNAMMA: Swami, how should we conduct ourselves in family life?
SWAMI: (sang a Telugu song) Satya Dharmamu Shanti Premalato... (by contemplating on God with devotion, by performing daily duties with Satya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema one should undertake the journey of life). Lead your lives in such a manner. There are two small eyes in the big human body which are very important. They are veda and shastra. Man should follow the injunctions enshrined in them.
Swami got up, we prostrated to Him and returned.
During another visit to Parthi, we were with Swami in the Interview Room. Swami enquired about Radha's family matters. The topic of bhakti came up again.
KANNAMMA: Swami, a devotee could not come to Puttaparthi because her mother has broken her waist and is bedridden.
SWAMI: (jokingly) Why should not an injection be given to end her life immediately? What else, Ammayi, there is no use in being alive like that.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You have kept her in that state. Keeping her alive or not is in Your hands.
SWAMI: If they retain some karma of this life, they will have to undergo it in their next life. People who have lots of karma will have to suffer for a longer time. How will you finish it without undergoing some difficulties? I let them to get over it in this life itself so that there will be nothing left. (He meant that the slate would be wiped clean.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, all that we are undergoing, is it due to our previous karma?
SWAMI: Yes. Let us assume that you break Radhamma's hand. As a reaction she will break yours. You will come to Me and say, "Swami, she broke my hand." You will not know that you had broken her hand in the previous birth. But I know that. Then what should be done? If you console yourself that this difficulty has befallen you because you might have hurt her previously, your mind will be at peace and you will get the strength to bear the difficulty.
KANNAMMA: Swami, if we undergo all our karma now, do we attain a state of 'no birth' ?
SWAMI: Aha! Do you think that the state of 'no birth' is so easily attainable?
KANNAMMA: What should we do to attain it?
SWAMI: You have to do sadhana with your mind. The body experiences karma. The mind tries for birthlessness. If all the karma has been gone through, you will be born in a noble family. Due to inherited good qualities you do not commit any more sins and will not go against dharma. If people fear sin and willingly do good deeds, they will not commit sin. No sin means no birth.
KANNAMMA: Swami, should we have to undergo all the karma?
SWAMI: Yes. (It is our karma which either hurts or helps us. Actions of this birth are carried to the next birth. They are around our neck like invisible garlands. The pattern of our life is governed by what the garland is made of — fragrant flowers or foul smelling flowers. Swami has elaborated elsewhere that suffering and misery are inescapable acts of the cosmic drama. Man invites them by way of retribution for his evil deeds. This is corrective punishment which aids their evolution. It induces them to give up the wrong path and return to the right path.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, we have also committed a number of mistakes that has hurt You.
SWAMI: No. You have not hurt Me. (At that instant, the clock struck.) The striking of the clock is a good omen testifying My statement. Compelled to act against the nature's rule or against one's will due to inadequate strength in the body or by getting into some difficulties, everyone commits a few mistakes. That is not a sin. But remember, every person has an equal right over his own life. When such is the case, one person taking the life of the other and treachery are great sins. Treachery is pushing a blind person into a pit after promising him to show the way. If you ask Me as to what to do for all the things you have already committed, I have only one answer — you have to suffer for everything. It is suffering which sublimates life. In a family, facing household problems is nothing but ordinary karma. (Small illnesses, little injuries, financial problems, etc. cannot be compared with someone committing a murder and going to jail or having an incurable disease, etc. In ordinary day to day problems, there is no working of karma. On the contrary, they point to the fact that no serious sins have been committed.)
KANNAMMA: You should be sympathetic towards us and grace us without getting angry, Swami.
SWAMI: Why should I be angry at you? This is real madness.
KANNAMMA: Swami, what sadhana should be done to attain birthlessness?
SWAMI: You should do namasmarana relentlessly.
KANNAMMA: Swami, in spiritual books it is said that whatever we may do, we do not get liberation without God's grace. We will not attain liberation without Your grace.
SWAMI: It is not so. You are telling that rivers are there due to rains. I say it rains because there are rivers. It is like this: only if the river named sadhana flows, the rain named grace pours over it. If there is no river, it does not rain. It is, therefore, important that you do sadhana. Luckily you are the rivers that will join the ocean. The river called namasmarana joins the ocean of God. When the flood of God's ananda occurs, the dirty water of the river gets washed away, leaving only pure water. The rain called God's anugraha always pours over the river called namasmarana. People who stay here permanently are like staying with the sun; those who come and stay for a short while are like staying with the moon.
KANNAMMA: Swami, what will happen to us?
SWAMI: I have given you the fire of nama. If you relentlessly remember the name, all your karma will be burnt.
On another occasion, the same topic came up for discussion. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sri Ramachandra Iyer also was present then.
IYER: Swami, do we have to experience our karma? Is there no other way to eliminate our karma? If You say, 'No', we will happily undergo karma. Then what is the use of performing rituals, bhajans, contemplation, etc.
SWAMI: The shastra has told so under the assumption that you are not strong enough to reduce your karma by other means. I have not said that. As you said, if one comes to know that performing all the rites, rituals, pilgrimage, bhajans, darshan of holy men and so on does not reduce karma, why should one perform them? They surely help in reducing the karma. If one can totally change one's destiny (God's sankalpa) by contemplating on God, is it difficult to wipe off karma? I ordain you to contemplate on God with confidence and devotion while undergoing your karma. I will see to it that you do not feel the pain and you would not even know that you are undergoing karma. Though the snow covered mountains look very huge, the snow in the presence of sun's rays melts away. Similarly, your karma will melt away. Do not have even an iota of doubt and fear. You can surely escape it. Your past deeds (sanchita karma) is like a rice bag. Karma you undergo now (prarabdha) due to the past deeds is like taking a small quantity of rice from the bag for cooking now and then and eating it. The waste created is the consequence for the future (agami). If you keep removing rice from the rice bag to cook food, the rice bag will be empty one day. But, the seeds of past deeds have sprouted in the form of present karma. Before it can grow into a tree, burn it with the fire of namasmarana. Then it will become charcoal. If this substance also is subjected to fire, it will get burnt into ash. You can thus block the future. Namasmarana is supreme.
As your devotion becomes stronger, your behaviour becomes purer. Then you will not engage in bad activities. You will be endowed with good qualities.
Once we were in the Interview Room.
SWAMI: Living in this world is maya. Life is like a tree. At the top of the tree is the whole fruit. Reflection of the tree is its shadow. Man climbs the reflection and worries that he did not obtain the fruit. He worries only when something is not obtained. If he looks around, he will see the real tree. After he climbs the real tree, he can see his reflection. Now he gets the fruits on the real tree as well as in the reflection. These fruits are known as ihaphala and paraphala. The fruit on the real tree is the divine fruit. The reflection is the worldly fruit. Both ihaphala and paraphala will be yours once you choose the spiritual path. If you climb the tree of God, you can see your shadow also climbing. By climbing the tree of God, you will get fruits of this world without your knowledge.
When I see you, I can see your hearts clearly like the things kept in a glass almirah. You cannot hide anything from Me. Some people's hearts are totally dark. I do not try to do anything to such people. Some people's hearts glow brightly. I do not touch such people's lives also. Some people's hearts have a small glimmer like that of a candle light. My work is to ensure that this small glow is transformed into a bright light.
I have kept the secret of the creation neither on earth nor in heaven, but at the junction of these two. You have to see it in dhyana, i.e., in the transitory state between those of waking and sleeping. (It did not occur to us to ask how.) Ammayi, God has kept two of everything in the human body. Can you find anything which is single?
DEVOTEE: Yes, Swami. (After coming out of the Interview Room, we realised that navel was not in pairs! We could not help, but smile at the way Swami cleverly fooled us.)
SWAMI: It is only human beings who pursue the four goals of life — dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Not only humans, even animals have pride. A newborn calf also says "Ham, Hai." Man does not allow the calf to drink its mother's milk by tethering it. But, how much protection for the child of a human! There is a relationship between mother and child in all aspects. Anything done for others is paropakara, but children can influence the destiny of parents and vice-versa (see page 356).
Another time in the Interview Room, we asked Swami about bhakti.
SWAMI: To obtain God's grace you should first follow markata bhakti (devotion to God like a monkey cub clinging to its mother). After that, you will be able to achieve marjala bhakti (devotion to God like a kitten held by its mother in her mouth). Initially, you should have the stubbornness to reach God and you should cling to Him in all situations of your life. Later, you will develop the faith that everything happens according to His will. God is madhura svarupa (sweet natured). Madhurya (sweetness; melodiousness) is God. When you are asked about the taste of sugar, you answer that it is sweet. If pressed further, you answer that it is very sweet. The taste can only be experienced, not described. Similarly, the sweetness of God is known only to those who have tasted it. Just as madhurya has no form, God too has no form. To concentrate the mind, you can meditate on any of. His form or name. God is shabdabrahma. Rama, Krishna and others came from the energy waves of the shabdabrahma. Pranava is God." He turned towards the children and said, "You should be obedient to your parents. If you go away from them, you will be going away from Me also. You should pray God daily to lead you on the right path. If some other God (form) rather than your ishtadaiva appears while you are meditating, consider that as your God.
Another time in the Interview Room.
DEVOTEE: Swami, can we nullify the karma of our bad deeds by the merit we gain out of good deeds?
SWAMI: No. However well you mix the seeds of a thorny plant and a fruit bearing plant and sow them, the seeds of the thorny plant will turn into a thorny plant only and the seed of the fruit bearing plant will turn into a fruit bearing plant only. This is nature's law.
DEVOTEE: What is the solution?
SWAMI: Yes, there is a solution. The Income Tax department levies tax based on your income. If you invest money in approved instruments, they reduce the tax. Similarly, if you do good deeds, some amount of tax is reduced. If you sincerely perform bhajans, tax is reduced further. If you go for nagarasankirtana, some more tax is reduced. If you perform namajapa, tax is further reduced. If you do likhitajapa, tax reduces and dhyana reduces tax further. Even after all the deductions, tax is not zero. Balance amount has to be paid as there is no other way.
DEVOTEE: If that is the case, why should we have Your darshan? What do we gain from it?
SWAMI: A few years back, a military officer shot his wife to death. A case was registered against him. All the courts, including the Supreme Court, passed a death sentence on him. The officer appealed to the President. The ruling of the President was, "He has fought courageously for India and has protected the country in the past. Such a person deserves some consideration. He is, therefore, exonerated from the death sentence, but given a life sentence." Swami's darshan and grace works in that manner. (Avatar can always grant special grace, like clemency.)
[The following conversations took place during 1961-67.]
Once we were seated in Interview Room.
SWAMI: You can chant any name during contemplation. But while meditating, you should chant the same name of .the form you meditate on. Dhyana should be done in the same place. You should not change the place. Concentrating one's mind on the bridge of the nose (in between the eyes) is only for those who want to attain ashtasiddhis. Keep your sight on the tip of your nose, like Siva, Buddha and others. Picturise the form in your mind on which you want to meditate. By this you concentrate on the form for at least fifteen minutes. Or else meditate on OM with the feeling of God. While doing japa, you should keep remembering the form now and then. Contemplation on God helps you at the time of death. Meditation helps in sakshatkara. Vasanas are very strong. As the body has experienced all worldly desires, one should put sincere efforts to forget them. You might ask for a way to achieve it. When flood water flows over potholes filled with dirty water, it washes away the dirty water and leaves fresh water in the pothole. If the flow of the water is slow, the replacement does not take place. Similarly, the deluge of 'constant contemplation' washes away the dirty water, vasanas, and purifies the mind. Among the ashramas in a human life span, why is vanaprasthashrama introduced between grihasthashrama and sanyasashrama? It is essentially to wipe clean the vasanas of grihasthashrama. It is to overcome your senses even when you are in the world. If you keep milk in an earthen pot in which curds had been kept, in spite of thorough cleaning, the milk curdles. Suppose the pot is cleansed and kept empty for some time, then it can hold the milk without curdling it.
KANNAMMA: Swami, can a deserving one go to sanyasashrama directly from grihasthashrama?
SWAMI: How is it possible? In a train, people will be travelling by first, second and third classes. Can the people in first class jump stations because they don't want them? Similarly, everyone has to cross every station and cannot skip the intermediate stations. Everybody has to go through all the ashramas in the same order. Do not think of mental or body afflictions or the past, but think only of atma. Those who go for any course of study would know their results only after a year of hard and sincere work and examinations. Is it possible to know the results in between?
KANNAMMA: Swami, one should study well, is it not?
SWAMI: Yes. Study well. It is important to pass the courses prescribed in this college (pointing Himself) rather than passing in any other college. Even if you do not pass, at least the attendance should be there (visiting Him often). If one's conduct is not good, he will be failed.
KANNAMMA: Swami, when we are here we feel that we can do everything. Once we go back to our places, after a few days we slip and get back to our normal ways.
SWAMI: Do you know why? Your spiritual batteries get drained. I get you over here and make the adhyatmika current flow again and recharge them. Remember that sadhunam darshanam punyam... (see page 45).
KANNAMMA: Swami, can't You do it on an enduring basis, i.e., see to it that the battery never gets drained once it is charged? It just goes on and on without the necessity for any recharging.
SWAMI: This phenomena has to happen on its own. If the speed of a generator is increased, consequently the production of current also increases. If namasmarana is done constantly, then there is no question of either filling or draining your spiritual batteries. I will be always guiding those who are on the spiritual path. There are two types of people: yastika (person with unshakable faith in God at all times) and astika (theist; person who accepts the existence of God). Whereas yastika involves in spiritual activities such as bhajans, sadhana, etc. since birth, astika is involved in these activities now and then. I place nastika (atheist) between yastika and astika. You may ask Me why? The nastika is so placed hoping that he may improve being with them. If he does not and instead troubles you, he has to bear your sins. You should consider everything as Brahma.
KANNAMMA: Swami, I think it is not possible.
SWAMI: Practice it.
KANNAMMA: Swami, but it is possible to see You in everything and everything as being in You.
SWAMI: Well. View like that. Do you know that if you skid, there is injury? If your tongue slips, there is hell. Therefore, be very careful when you use your tongue.
Swami called us for an interview on February 12,1967 at Puttaparthi. There were five or six persons in the group. Generally Swami would talk to each person individually in the small room close to the stairs which lead to His room above. That day He did not follow the usual way.
SWAMI: Why should I talk to each one of you separately? None of you have any material desire. All of you desire answers or clarifications only on spiritual matters. Everybody sit down. (Swami sat on the throne. We sat around Him. Subbamma, wife of the reputed lawyer Chidambarayya, was present with us.) Look, henceforth, do not sit for interviews. I am thinking of stopping these interviews. This is because, if I talk to you in the morning, you will be happy until the evening. If I talk to you in the evening, you will be happy until the next morning. That's all. You will not be eternally happy. Therefore, you should attempt to achieve eternal happiness. You should also attempt to get My darshan wherever you are, near or far. (Have inner view, not interview — Ed.)
KANNAMMA: Swami, however much we contemplate on You, we do not get Your darshan.
SWAMI: When you are completely occupied with your thoughts, you will not be aware of who passed by you or what was happening around you. You would have completely given up yourself to the thoughts. Similarly, if your thoughts are about Me, you will be able to see Me with you always. If you curtail unnecessary activities, you can fix your mind more on God. To appease your hunger, it is enough to have a little rice and sambar or rasam. But for tickling your palate, you prepare vegetables, salads, papads, etc. So also in profession — if you are attached to it more than essential, your mind will be disturbed. So, you cannot concentrate. God told you to eat twice a day to sustain your body and did not tell you to eat all day long. He also told you to eat moderately and spend time contemplating on Him. But, the present generation eats all day long. How can they concentrate their minds on God? Just show Me a man who is not foolish or a woman who is not stubborn.
KANNAMMA: Swami, why have You kept them like that? You could have made everyone good.
SWAMI: What work do the noble have in this world then? I have to either merge them in Me or wear them as ornaments.
KANNAMMA: Swami, You mean to say that all of us are beyond redemption?
SWAMI: Not at all. All beings come to this world with defects. If the ornaments are good, they are worn. If they are defective, they are sent to goldsmith for repair. I am the goldsmith. You have come for repairs. After repairs, you are fit to be worn by Me. You are all getting older. So hurry up, merge your mind with God. Keep everything aside and make serious efforts.
What is lagna? It signifies merger. Your mind should become one with God. Only then, it is a merger. Do you know why I ask you to do japa, dhyana, satsanga and all that? If a marriage is to take place, there should be invitations, pandal, decorations, and mangalavadya. The bride is given to the bridegroom in presence of kith and kin. Why can't the bridegroom simply tie the mangalasutra and be done with it. In case the bridegroom tries to disown her later, the people who were witnesses to the function can testify and enforce her rights to his property through the courts of law. Similarly, if you act as I tell you, you get the eligibility to merge in Me sooner or later. In the court of God, when Paramatma asks, "Do you have rights to My property?", then the rishis and yogis, as witnesses, will support your rights. That is why I insist that you should do japa, tapa, dhyana, smarana and so on daily.
From the peak of this philosophical height, Swami came down to the mundane level in a split second, smiled at us and asked, "Subbamma, has your husband ever taught you these things before?" She said, "No." He said, "That is why I am telling you." He then materialised vibhuti, gave it to all of us and stood up signifying the end of the interview. All of us prostrated to Him and left with heavy hearts.
Swami called us for a few more interviews till 1970. But, the interviews were in big groups. Not much time was available for spiritual discussions.
One little story
|Blind are they who lack faith in God, For man sees the divine with the eyes of faith.|
|Sri Sathya Sai Baba|
When Swami intercepts the speeding current of His discourse with three Telugu words, oka chinna katha, meaning one little story, all ears are alert, all hearts are on the tip-toe. For the story that follows is a flash which illumines, a shower that cools, a joke that tickles, a 'tablet' that alleviates.... The chinna katha, if only we ponder over its relevance, is an effective instrument in Bhagavan's educational process. He lets a few fly into our hearts and nestle there until we fondle and foster them and make them part of our thought and behaviour patterns. (Prof. N. Kasturi in his foreword to Chinna Katha, by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust, Prashanthi Nilayam 515134, India.)
A few such stories which Swami told are narrated below.
Once we went to Puttaparthi and stayed there for a few days. Everyday there was a divine discourse by Swami. One day people had come and occupied their seats in the mandir by 3 p.m. itself. They were sitting in silence. There was still an hour left for the discourse to begin. Swami would often come and stand on the first floor right above the puja altar of the mandir. On that day too He came and stood there. He saw that even though the mandir was full, there was complete silence. Swami said, "What a wonder! Is it possible for so many people to sit silently? Especially women! I am very happy." So saying, He went inside.
In the evening, during the divine discourse, Swami told about the importance of being present in a congregation of sadhus. If the people in the olden days had the opportunity of listening to the divine discourses and sambhashana with God, they would not have gone to the forests to do penance at all.
In those days even eminent rishis would invite other great rishis to give divine discourses. Maharishi Vasishtha once had an opportunity of such a satsanga for one and a half galige (galige: span of twenty four minutes) by being in Brahmaloka for a moment. You are getting the benefits of such satsanga here for four hours every day (bhajan, darshan, upanyasa, and so on). Your punya is, therefore, immeasurable. But, do not feel proud about it.
Once brahmarishi Vasishtha and rajarishi Vishvamitra invited some eminent sages to give spiritual discourses. In that great gathering of rishis, Vishvamitra gifted the punyaphala obtained by his dvadasha vrata to Vasishtha. In return, Vasishtha offered to gift away a quarter of the punyaphala obtained in Brahmaloka. Vishvamitra felt slighted thinking that for his gift of the merits of twelve months' penance, Vasishtha had given him only a negligible measure of his punyaphala. With that idea, he rejected Vasishtha's offer. Vasishtha tried hard to convince Vishvamitra of the greatness of the punyaphala. Finally, he turned to the rishis and asked them to convince Vishvamitra. They replied, "You are greater than all of us. We cannot advice you. It is better if you can get a person greater than you to arbitrate." Sage Vasishtha told Vishvamitra to bring Surya, Vayu, Agastya and Adishesha for arbitration. During Girijakalyana, when the entire entourage of Shiva congregated on the northern side of Himalaya, the southern part rose. The devas then made Maharishi Agastya sit on the raised portion to counter the imbalance. Such was his mahima. Sage Vishvamitra left to get them. When he requested Surya to come, Surya said, "I cannot leave my place and come with you. If I do, the entire world will be in darkness. If you can take my place for sometime, I can go and give my opinion." Vishvamitra could not comply with the condition and returned. Vayu, Agastya and Adishesha also put similar conditions and he returned alone.
Then, Vasishtha proceeded to get them. He divided the one and a half galige punyaphala into four equal parts. With the strength of these, he substituted Surya by his sphatika japamala; his yogadanda took the place of Adishesha; his chamara took the place of Vayu and his kamandala replaced Agastya. All the four of them accompanied Vasishtha. Seeing them coming, Vishvamitra was highly surprised. He said, "Brahmarishi, enough. Seeing them come with you has made me realize your greatness. There is no need for arbitration," and prostrated before Vasishtha. He prayed Vasishtha to bless him by giving the quarter of the punyaphala. Vasistha said, "Where is the punyaphala? It was only by using that punyaphala, I was able to bring the four of them here." Vishvamitra realized his mistake and regretted.
With the punya of one and a half galige, Vasishtha could do so much. Here, you have the opportunity to sit with Me in bhajan and listen to discourses for hours. Is it possible to measure the punyaphala you are accumulating? Do you now realise how much importance the gathering of holy men has? You are enjoying this only due to punyaphala of many births.
. . .