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Satyopanishad

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"Upanishad" evokes a setting marked by harmonious and reverential pursuit of the Supreme Wisdom under the care of a loving Guru. It is my good fortune that Bhagawan Baba has permitted me to participate in an Upanishadic retreat in Kodaikanal during four summers. A select band of students and a visitor or two were present. Baba encouraged them to come forward with their questions and doubts. Patiently and lovingly, He responded to questions on a wide range of topics political, economic, social, psychological, metaphysical, ethical, educational, scientific and cultural. By his divine inspiration, I felt like writing them down in my diary chronologically. These conversations, indeed, constitute an Upanishad. Therefore, I prayerfully have named it Satyopanishad.

Anil Kumar Kamaraju

 

CONTENTS

- Chapter 1: The Indian Eternal

- Chapter 2: Trends in Society

- Chapter 3: Youth

- Chapter 4: The outer Door

- Chapter 5: Concepts

- Chapter 6: Parallels and Polarities

- Chapter 7: Sadhana. The Inner Door

- Chapter 8: Human Values

- Chapter 9: Scriptures and Baba - Ramayana

- Chapter 10: Scriptures and Baba - Mahabharata

- Chapter 11: Scriptures and Baba - Bhagavata

- Chapter 12: Scriptures and Baba - Baba

By Questions

 

CHAPTER I THE INDIA ETERNAL

Q1) Swami! India (Bharat) is the land of religion and spirituality. All the incarnations have taken birth in Bharat. What is the reason behind this?

Bhagawan: Bharat is yogabhumi, the land of spirituality. Bharat is punyabhumi, the sacred land. Bharat is karmabhumi, the land of sacred activity. Bharat is tyagabhumi, the land of renunciation. Here saints, sages, seers, aspirants, seekers and devotees pray to God to enjoy His proximity. This necessitates the descent of God in human form or incarnation. In response to their fervent appeals and prayers, God, out of His grace and compassion, descends on earth or incarnates and moves amidst us. Devotees, then, experience bliss and follow Him.

Here is an illustration. You asked why Bharat alone has always been the birthplace of the incarnations. You know that the train has an engine in the front with several carriages connected to it. The power or energy generated there in the engine pulls the carriages forward. Where do you find the driver? Naturally, he sits in the engine monitoring the train, does he not? Similarly, in the train of the world, Bharat is in the position of an engine and the carriages are the several countries attached to it. God is the driver. The engine is His place. Just as we find heat and power generated there, we also find the same elements produced as a result of sacred rituals such as yajnas and yagas performed from time to time in this land of Bharat.

In the great epic, the Mahabharata we find Arjuna and Bhima always following Dharmaja. Here, Arjuna stands, for intelligence, while Bhima symbolises physical strength. Now, Bharat is in the position of Dharmaja. America is Arjuna, while Russia is Bhima. Just as you find Bhima and Arjuna obeying the command of Dharmaja, America and Russia should follow Bharat.

In the very name "Bharat" we have three letters. (Written in Telugu, "Bharat" comprises three letters). Bha, the first letter stands for bhava or feeling, ra, the second signifies raga, tune, or melody, and ta, the third indicates tala or beat. Thus, Bharat is the country where the glory of God is sung with bhava, raga and tala. This country has another name Hindudesam which means a country that shuns violence, 'Him' himsa or violence, ' du' du ra or shuns. For these reasons God has chosen to incarnate or descend in human form in Bharat.

Q2) Swami! We find people of every religion following a specific sacred text and a particular path. But in Sanatana Dharma, we have numerous paths, texts, and procedures such as dualism, qualified non-dualism and nondualism, the nine paths of devotion, the six Darsanas, the four Vedas, numerous Sastras, and so on. How are we to understand these and practice the principles of Sanatana Dharma?

Bhagawan: Sanatana Dharma is the most ancient spiritual way of life. Its diversity matches the spectrum of human behavioral tendencies, temperaments and mental attitudes. It is practical and confers divine experiences.

A small example. You buy a piece of cloth and give it to a tailor to make a suit for you. The tailor will get your suit ready according to your measurements, does he not? You cannot wear a dress made for someone else. It may be too lose or too tight, too long or too short. Therefore, your dress must be according to your size. Similarly, some may like Rama, some Siva, Krishna, and so on. They find it easy to concentrate on the deity of their choice, whereas the followers of other faiths may have to wear one dress of one and the same size.

Another example. You may know the nadasvaram, the South Indian musical instrument required to be played on every auspicious occasion. To maintain srti or rhythm by way of an accompaniment, one person plays an instrument in the same way all through. On the other hand, with nadasvaram you can play any number of ragas or tunes. Sanatana Dharma is like the nadasvaram.

Another example: Whatever, the combination of optional subjects you may take in Science during your undergraduate programme, be it 'M.P.C.' (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) or "C.B.Z." (Chemistry, Botany and Zoology), you get a B.Sc. degree. Similarly, in the university established by Sage Vyasa, you can opt for any course like the Sastras, the Vedas, the Upanishads, etc. This is the significance of our ancient Sanatana Dharma, which gives ample freedom for you to select and follow.

Another example: A pharmacist and a cafe owner got headache on the same day. Seeking relief, the pharmacist went to the cafe for a cup of coffee, and the cafe owner to the medical shop for a tablet. So one has faith in a cup of coffee while the other trusts a tablet. In the same way, you should follow the spiritual path you believe in, and the text that is convincing and appealing to you.

Q3) Swami! Muslims go to a mosque every Friday to pray (namaj), and Christians go to a church every Sunday. Then, how is it that Hindus do not meet in a temple like other religious groups?

Bhagawan: You are wrong if you think Hindus should. They are not required to specially meet on a specific day like others. Why? Every Hindu has a puja room or an altar in his home particularly meant for worship. He prays there every day. So there is no need for him to assemble for mass prayer or to pray on specific days like people belonging to other religions.

Q4) Swami! Since God is omnipresent and omniscient, do we need temples and should we go on pilgrimage to holy places like Shirdi, Puttaparti, Tirupati, and so on?

Bhagawan: This is a foolish question. You are exhibiting your ignorance and your 'fashionable' way of thinking which, more often than not, is perverted. There is no relationship between what is said and what is experienced. You say that God is everywhere. But it is merely an expression, vocal and verbal. Do you really have strong faith that God is present everywhere? Do you have that experience of the divinity, which is all pervasive? You are simply speaking like a parrot.

I give you here a simple example. Blood circulates throughout the body of a cow. But you can draw milk only out of the udder! You can't squeeze the ear or twist the tail of a cow to get its milk, can you? Therefore, the all pervading God can be visualised and experienced in a temple and at a holy pilgrim centre.

Q5) Swami! Why did the ancient rishis, sages and saints, choose forests to undertake tapas or penance? Why did they prefer solitude?

Bhagawan: There is significance undoubtedly. Why did they choose forests for penance? Here is an example. Suppose an exhibition is organised in a city. Naturally, the stalls there and the articles kept there for sales attract you. The music, eatables, clothes, etc., draw you. The exhibits attract your senses since you find them right before you. But, in a forest, there is nothing to attract or distract your attention.

Solitude helps you to maintain the inner peace and tranquility needed for meditation. It provides a congenial atmosphere for spiritual life. So, saints and sages always did penance in forests. In other words, "forest" is "for rest" spiritually.

Q6) Swami! We don't find any understanding between any two persons, but only mutual bickering and differences. We hardly find any unity or brotherhood between man and man. What is the reason?

Bhagawan: There is one thing you should clearly know when you think of unity and differences among people. What is the reason? Today there is no understanding between any two persons. The absence of understanding is the main cause of all the conflicts, enmity, and differences. Therefore, people do not adjust with others. Adjustment is possible only when there is understanding. But, today you are moving in the opposite direction. You think that you can adjust first and then understand each other. But, that is wrong. You must first understand and adjustment then becomes easy.

Here is a small illustration. When there is perfect understanding between you and your wife, she does not mind if you return home late from your office. She pities you and sympathises with you. With all her concern and love, she brings you a cup of coffee. But, if by any chance, there is a slight misunderstanding, and your return from office is delayed even by five minutes, there will be a civil war at home. Why? Misunderstanding is the cause of her inability to adjust. It makes her put questions like: "Where have you been till now? Where did you go? With whom did you spend the time?" etc. So understanding is very necessary for proper adjustment. Many problems of society today can be solved if this is realised.

Q7) Swami! Hindus are criticised for worshipping idols, trees, etc. Many think that this is all superstition and blind faith. What do you feel about this, Swami?

Bhagawan: Bharat is the spiritual centre of the world. This is the country that practised, preached and propagated that divinity exists in all the living and the nonliving, right from an atom to the entire cosmos. You will notice that here, in this country, putta, anthill, gutta, mountain, chettu, tree and pitta, bird are objects of veneration and worship. An anthill is worshipped as the abode of Lord Subrahmanya, a bird is respected as the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, a mountain is spiritually important as it is viewed as Govardhana lifted by Lord Krishna, and a tree is worshipped as the asvatthavriksa. All objects are divine according to our scriptures. This is not superstition. This is not in any way blind faith. Sanatana Dharma wants us to view, feel, and experience divinity everywhere. This is the spiritual path. This is the highest and noblest experience.

Q8) Swami! Kindly tell us what is to be done in our country now?

Bhagawan: You don't have to protect your country now. You should protect and uphold Satya and Dharma. You should of necessity follow these twin principles. They will protect the entire universe. You should develop love for the universe in all its vastness and magnitude.

Love all and serve all. You should rise above the narrow limits of caste, creed and nationality. You should believe in the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. You should never waste time. Gratitude must be expressed by rendering service to the society in which you are born, grew up, made money and earned reputation. Be patriotic and strive for integration, harmony, peace and security in society. You should follow and uphold the great and unique Indian culture.

Cultivate human values and realise the divinity within you. Politics without Principles, Commerce without Morality, Science without Humanity, and Education without Character are not only useless, but also dangerous. You should be a perfect, ideal man. You are from God. You are the spark of the Divine. Hence, your qualities should be daiva, divine and not dayyam, demonic. You say, "I am a human being". This is only half a truth. The other half is, "I am not an animal". You should give up animal qualities. If you have both bestial and human qualities, it means your mind is dual. The man with a dual mind is half blind.

If you place a ceiling on your desires, you will be happy. He who has many desires is the poorest man. The man with contentment is the richest man. Guna, virtue is more important than ana, coin.

You should know the purpose and the goal of life. Life is not for eating, drinking, and sleeping alone. Animals also do the same. What is your specialty, then? God has gifted you this life in order that you may know, experience and realise the divinity within you. Morality and integrity are very important. Nitiye jati, morality, indeed, is national character. A Telugu verse runs as follows:

adi vadalitiv o kotikante hinud avu,

jati gauravamu ni tipai nilucunu

ni ti kalugu jati nijamaina jati .

Without character, you are worse than a monkey. The prestige of a nation depends on its morality. That nation alone deserves to be called a nation when it truly maintains high standards of morality and individuality.

You should always remember these three important points. The first is: do not trust the way of the world. Sometimes it not only deludes and distracts you, but betrays you also. The second is: never forget God who is always with you, in you, above you, below you. Nay, you are God. The third is: do not fear death, as it is sure to take place. In fact, death is the dress of life. Follow the sacred path in life by maintaining unity in thought, word and deed.

There is one more thing I want you to note. Open your heart and close your mouth. Today, people speak what they don't really mean; their hearts are full of jealousy, pride, envy, and what not. I want you to open your heart and be free from all those that pollute it and close your mouth. Dedicate your life to service. Keep God as your ultimate aim and goal. This is what I mean when I say, "Hands in society and Head in the forest" .

You should share your precious knowledge and valuable experience with others. You should share Sai's message with others. Have faith in yourself first and then you can trust God. The real cause of the problem of the present day lies here. You don't have faith in yourself. You have no selfconfidence.

Consider gramaseva, rural service as Rama Seva, service to God. Explain clearly to the villagers issues like hygiene, health, cleanliness, and organise medical camps. Ensure to everyone water supply, especially drinking water supply. Tell them about the evil effects of smoking and drinking. Help them to get rid of these bad habits. If you work and serve mingling closely with the local people, in course of time, they will be able to work independently and become self reliant. Service to man is service to God. Service is a greater and higher spiritual path than meditation, penance, worship and chanting. Serve the poor and the needy.

Don't be selfish. Don't give any scope for jealousy, pride, and attachment. Develop virtues like devotion, adherence to truth, discipline, broadmindedness, and never yield to pomp, pride, and egoism. Bad qualities are like tigers while noble qualities are like cows. Will tigers allow cows to live? No. So, don't have any evil tendencies in your heart. You should imbibe human values more and more, and live up to the ideals you cherish.

Q9) Swami! Kindly tell us about Vasishtha and Visvamitra the two sages who are very prominent in the Ramayana?

Bhagawan: In ancient days, kings were always guided by their preceptor. They consulted him on all major issues. That was how satya and dharma were maintained and upheld. History shows instances when kings approached their gurus for blessings and guidance, and thus became great. You know how King Krishnadevaraya was guided by his mentor and preceptor, Vidyaranya, and Emperor Sivaji by Samartha Ramadas.

Rama and Lakshmana followed Sage Visvamitra, learnt archery from him and killed demons like Khara and Dushana who were obstructing and desecrating Vedic rituals like yajnas and yagas in the forest. Thus, Visvamitra was instrumental in demonstrating to the world at large the valour and expertise of Rama and Lakshmana. Visvamitra also taught Rama the most sacred mantra, the Gayatri. Visvamitra was also responsible for the divine wedding of Sita and Rama, which was in essence a union of prakriti, matter and purusa, energy, the Absolute one. He was and is the mitra, friend, of visva, the entire Universe, and so the name of the sage has been so apt and befitting.

Visvamitra was the one who gave Gayatri Mantra to mankind. As he was growing in spiritual stature, he wished to be called Brahmarshi by Vasishtha. He was always competitive and envious of Vasishtha to the extent of even resolving to kill him. On a full moon day he planned to kill Vasishtha and was holding in his hand a big stone to be thrown on his head. Meanwhile, he heard Vasishtha tell his wife Arundhati how bright and beautiful the moonlight was and how it was equal to the power of the penance of Visvamitra. His mind immediately changed and he fell at the feet of Vasishtha and the latter addressed him as Brahmarshi since he had conquered his ego.

Q10) Swami! Among the sages, how is Valmiki noteworthy?

Bhagawan: The Ramayana was both composed and recited during the time of Rama's incarnation. As for the great sage and ascetic Valmiki, besides being a contemporary of Rama, he, as the author of the Ramayana, is the very first poet. He gave shelter to Sita, renowned for her virtue and chastity, brought up her sons, Lava and Kusa, and taught them archery and all the arts. Thus, he played a vital role in the Ramayana.

Having completed the Ramayana, he thought deeply about popularising such a great work. At that juncture, Lava and Kusa came forward and took a vow in the presence of Valmiki and other distinguished sages that they would themselves sing the Ramayana and offer its nectar to people all over the world. Thus, Valmiki has the unique distinction of composing the divine Ramayana as Rama's contemporary and having it sung in Rama's presence. Valmiki proclaimed to the whole world the ideals and divinity of Rama, the protector of the world and the inspirer of His muse. Thus, it was only from the Tretayuga that the divinity within humanity began to shine forth.

The purpose of the incarnation of Rama was to pass on to mankind the whole duty of man. What is happening today is exactly the same phenomenon. You would have noticed how in the present avatar too, biographies are written by contemporaries, and the Divinity is acknowledged, worshipped, experienced, and celebrated all over the world. That all this is happening during the time of the incarnation is another parallel to Rama's descent. The same Ideal! The same Love! The same Message, viz., the practice of Satya and Dharma.

Q11) Swami! We heard about King Dasaratha, the yoga called 'putrakameshti', and so on. Kindly tell us something about King Janaka.

Bhagawan: Janaka was a Rajayogi, a man of great wisdom, utterly devoid of the sense of the body. Therefore, he came to be known as videha, one without attachment to the body. As the daughter of that King, Sita came to be known as Vaidehi. Janaka was an ideal king possessing immense devotion to the preceptor, extensive knowledge of the Sastras, and the spirit of renunciation. He performed Sita's marriage as his bounden duty. Later on, Rama left for the forest along with Sita and Lakshmana. Though their stay in the forest stretched into years, Janaka never set foot in the forest. Such was Janaka's abounding wealth of jnana and vairagya.

Q12) Swami. We hear that Adi Sankara died at a young age. What could be the reason?

Bhagawan: It is true that the founder of the doctrine of advaita, nondualism, died young. He wrote commentaries on three important sacred texts known as Prasthanatraya, viz. the Upanishads, the Brahmasutras, and the Bhagavadgita. Besides, emphasising jnana, he composed a large number of hymns on bhakti. He travelled all over the country and established pithas centres of worship and spiritual learning. He symbolises Sanatana Dharma, the ancient, timeless spiritual culture of this land.

Adi Sankara went to the ancient pilgrim centre, Kasi where he prayed to the presiding deity, Visvanath to pardon him for the three mistakes he had committed. The first mistake happened to be his behavior contrary to what he had been stating all along. While saying, Vasudevas sarvamiti, God is everywhere, he had come to Kasi to see God. The second mistake was that even while knowing that God is beyond our comprehension and description, yato vaco nivartante, he tried to write books on divinity. The third mistake was that while knowing that one God manifested Himself as many, ekoham bahu syam, and that the same God is present in everyone, atmavat sarva bhutani and that awareness is in everyone, prajnanam brahma he organised mathas, centres of learning considering his disciples separate from him.

You may also have heard another episode connected with his life. He prayed to his mother for permission to become a Sannyasi, a lifelong celibate. She didn't accept the proposal initially. One day Sankara went to a nearby river to have a bath. Suddenly a crocodile caught his feet. Then he started crying, "Mother! Mother! This crocodile is pulling me into the water. It is not going to leave me until you permit me to become a sannyasi". His mother at last gave her permission and Sankara was released by the crocodile. The inner meaning of the episode is that the river is comparable to samsara, worldly life in general, and the crocodile to visaya, sensual pleasure. Man is dragged into the river of life by the crocodile of worldly pleasure. Release is renunciation or detachment.

Sankara shuffled off the mortal coil soon after completing the tasks he had set for himself, because he was sure that his mission would be carried further by his disciples, the torchbearers of his philosophy and that his theory of advaita, nondualism would be widely spread and propagated. His disciples too were of the stature and eminence to carry on his mission successfully.

Q13) Swami! Tyagaraja, very well known as a devotee of Rama, composed kritis (hymns in praise of the Lord) which are sung even today. What is special about them?

Bhagawan: There are many names of devotees who composed devotional songs all over the world. God also responded to them. Those songs make you ecstatic and sublime. But the hymns of Tyagaraja have a specialty about them. Every song of his is related to an incident in his life.

For example, when the King of Tanjore sent him jewels, provisions and costly presents, Tyagaraja mildly and politely rejected them and put to himself a question in the form of a krti, nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama, is it money that makes you happy or is it nearness to God? Once his brother threw all the idols worshipped by Tyagaraja into the Kaveri river. Tyagaraja cried and cried for this loss. One day when he was taking his bath in the Kaveri, he could get by the grace of Rama those lost idols, and holding them in his palms he brought them home singing, rara ma inti daka raghuvi ra sukumara : "Lord Rama! Please come home." In a music concert in the court of a king, he sang paying obeisance to all the distinguished people present in the assembly, endaro mahanubhavulu andariki vandanamulu, "there are many noble and great people here, my humble pranams to all of you." Like this, every song composed by Tyagaraja is associated with some real life occasion or incident. The hymns of Tyagaraja reflect practical devotion and surrender.

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Q14) Swami! Right now, we are in Kodaikanal. Tamilnadu is known for its renowned devotees. We often hear about Manikya Vachakar and Tiruvalluvar. We want to hear from you about these two illustrious sons of Tamilnadu.

Bhagawan: Manikya Vachakar is the personification of forbearance, forgiveness, patience, and devotion. One day the son of a very rich man came to him. You know, Manikya Vachakar was selling saris and maintaining his family. This boy who came to him was a pampered spoilt child. Picking up a sari there, the boy asked, " What is the price of this sari?" Manikya Vachakar said, " Twenty rupees, sir" . The boy tore the sari into two halves and said, " What is the price of this half sari?" The sari seller said, " Rupees ten, sir" . The boy tore it further into two halves and asked, " Now what is the price of this quarter sari" ? The former patiently replied, " Rupees five sir" . The mischievous boy was very much taken aback by Manikya Vachakar's patience. He then asked, " How is it that you are so patient in spite of my mischief?" Manikya Vachakar smiled and said, " 1 am a devotee of God and I have full faith in Him. He is responsible for my peace and calmness" .

In Tamilnadu there was one devotee by name Tiruvalluvar. He was highly reputed and is known even today for his devotional composition, Tirukkural. In those days, the Pandya king had youngsters serving him as ministers. Tiruvalluvar was one of them. The Pandya king had a great liking for horses. He liked to have a number of horses of different breeds from all parts of the country. He called Tiruvalluvar, gave him some money, and sent him to get new breeds of horses from all places. The latter agreed and proceeded.

On his way, Tiruvalluvar found a temple in a dilapidated condition. He decided to renovate it. In so doing, he had spent all the money he had with him. Having come to know what he had done, the king became very furious and wild. He kept Tiruvalluvar in prison as a punishment. There in the prison Tiruvalluvar composed his famous Tirukkural. The king repented later for his hasty and wrong decision. He requested Tiruvalluvar to come back and resume his duties as a minister. However, Tiruvalluvar politely refused to take up any responsibilities in the kingdom. He spent the remaining part of his life wholly in spiritual pursuits.

Q15) Swami! God is attributeless. He is above sattvika, rajasika, and tamasika qualities. But, we are bound by these three attributes. How can we realise God, then?

Bhagawan: The Divine has two aspects. He can be experienced as the one with attributes and also as beyond them. You should know one thing chiefly. God is in the attributes. But, the attributes are not in Him. Attributes or traits cannot function and operate without divinity in them. Gold is in the jewellery. But, jewels are not in gold. Pots are made of clay, but not vice versa. Silverware, like a glass or a plate, is made of silver. But, the glass and plate are not in silver.

Another example: You know, an electric bulb illumines, and a fan revolves. Radios, TVs work by electricity only. They are electrical gadgets. Electricity is the main cause of their functioning. But, none of these gadgets are there in electricity. Likewise, God is present in the attributes. They are not present in God. So in a way we can say that He has attributes and at the same time He is attributeless, saguna and nirguna.

Every man has three qualities sattva, rajas, and tamas. But, the one that dominates the other two decides his thinking, feeling and action. But, unless we transcend these three qualities, we cannot experience divinity in the true sense. Here is an example. If you want to see your own chest, what should you do? You should first of all remove your coat, then your shirt, and finally even your banian, to look at your chest, isn't it so? So also, to see the chest of divinity you should first remove the coat of tamasika quality, the shirt of rajasika quality and the banian of sattvika quality.

Q16) Swami! We pray to you to tell us about the two aspects of God, with form and without it?

Bhagawan: It is here that many are confused. Without a form, from where do you get the formless? How is it possible for you to visualise the formless? Since you have a form, you can only think of God with a form. For example, if a fish is to think of God, it can visualise God only in the form of a bigger fish. So also, if at all a buffalo thinks of God, it can think of God only as a bigger buffalo. In the same way, man can think of God only as existing in human form, the form of an ideal man.

Even the formless aspect of God can be meditated upon basing on the aspect of God with form. You cannot derive the formless without a form. Here is a small example. You are all here seated in this hall in front of Swami today in Kodaikanal. You are listening to Swami's words. This is an experience with a form. Later, you go home and after a few days you begin to reflect on what had happened here. You recall the entire scenario. In fact, has Swami come to your place physically? Would you find this room at your place? Have all of you gone there? No. But this direct experience is pictured mentally, which gives you the indirect experience of being here. What you see here is the sakara and what you experience there is the nirakara. So, the formless is based on the aspect with form. One cannot exist without the other.

Another example. Here is milk. You want to drink it. How do you drink? Don't you need a cup or a glass? Similarly to worship God (milk) you need a form (cup).

Swami, of these two ways of worship, the aspect with form and the other, the formless, which is greater?

Bhagawan: In my opinion, both are equal. One is not in any way greater than the other. Now you are in Coimbatore. Here the land is plain, without any ups and downs. The level of the land is the same throughout. Nobody levelled it. Nobody prepared the ground like this. The form of Coimbatore is like this. Its design is like this. But Kodaikanal is located on the hills. Nobody assembled hills there. Its form is of that sort. Coimbatore and Kodaikanal are different from one other. Each one is full, but in its own way.

So also, the two methods of worship one with form and the other formless are equally beneficial to the seekers of truth and aspirants of spiritual enlightenment.

Q17) Swami! Scriptures declare that God is omnipresent; God is everywhere. Kindly explain this aspect of Divinity? How are we to understand this?

Bhagawan: The Bhagavadgita says, "bijam mam sarvabh utanam, God is the seed of this entire creation. God is the seed of all beings." For example, you see here a mango seed. You sow it in the ground. The seed, as days pass, germinates. In the process, the seed produces a root, then a stem, a leaf, branches, and flowers gradually. The seed is latent in every part of the plant, as all parts directly or indirectly emerge from it. Finally, in the hard seed of the fruit also the initial or the original seed is present. So, God is present in the entire universe. The whole world is a tree, God is the seed, and fruits are the beings or creatures born of the tree of the world.

Q18) Swami! When the same divinity is present in everyone, why should differences exist? Divinity being the same, why are we so different from each other?

Bhagawan: Ekamevadvitiyam brahma, " God is one without a second" , says the scripture. Then, how do we account for the variety, diversity, differences, and so on? A small example to understand this. Power supply being the same, don't you find the difference in the voltage of the bulbs that illumine? A bulb with a low voltage gives you light of low intensity and a bulb with a high voltage illumines more brightly. Don't they? But, at the same time, electricity is one and the same. Bulbs are different in their voltage and this determines the intensity of light. Similarly, our bodies are like those bulbs with the inner current of the same Divinity.

Swami! You said that divinity is in everyone. Then, before we were born where had it been? Does divinity exist even after our death?

Bhagawan: The Divine exists. Divinity is imperishable, pure and unsullied. It has neither birth nor death. It is eternal and stable. It is beyond time and space. Divinity transcends all physical laws.

Now, your question is: where did divinity exist prior to your birth and where will it be after your death, while it is in you during this lifetime? You see, there is an electrical wire on the wall, and also holders here and there to which bulbs are fixed. You get light only if a bulb is fixed to a holder and not otherwise. Why? The current passes through the wire that enters the bulb fixed to the holder. If you hold the bulb in your hand, it does not illumine, as there is no power supply. What you have to understand is this. The current has not been newly produced to get into the bulb. It was already there in the wire. If you remove the bulb, what will happen to the current? It will be there in the wire only. The only difference is that you will not experience its presence as illumination. Similarly, the bulb is the body, the current of divinity flows into it as the illumination of life. When this bulb of the body is removed, even then, the current of divinity persists hidden or latent, so much so divinity has all along been there before you were born, during your lifetime and will even be there after your death like the current of electricity.

Q19) Swami! It is said that God is hr dayavasi, dweller in our heart. Is it the same heart, which is on the left side in on our chest?

Bhagawan: No, no. That is the physical heart. But the seat of God is the spiritual heart, which is also called hrdaya. It means hr + daya = hrdaya. The one filled with compassion is hrdaya, heart. Today compassion is a matter of fashion. People put on kasayavastra, ochre robes but they have kasayihrdaya, hearts of butchery.

The physical heart is on the left side while the spiritual heart is on the right side. The spiritual heart is the temple of God. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says, isvarah hrddese arjuna tisthati which means God resides in the altar of your heart. Knowledge, be it physical, secular, scientific or technological, relates to the head and not to the heart. But love, compassion, truth, sacrifice and forbearance concern the heart.

Q20) Swami! Can divinity be probed into? Is it possible to know it by reasoning?

Bhagawan: All worldly experiences are bound by time and space. Your senses help you to experience all that is in the outer world. Science and Technology investigate the five elements, make certain combinations and permutations, and provide certain additional conveniences and comforts for mankind to lead a better life. These include electronic gadgets, computers, and so on. A scientist conducts an experiment, but a spiritual aspirant's experiences of divinity cannot be conducted in a laboratory. How do you expect to convey anything about divinity, which is beyond expression? How do you imagine divinity, which is beyond comprehension? How do you investigate and experiment upon divinity which transcends all your reasoning and senses? Science is based on experiments, and religion on experience. In science, you analyse, but in religion, you realise.

Q21) Swami! What should we do to receive God's grace?

Bhagawan: There is no way other than devotion. Your wealth, scholarship, authority and physical personality cannot please God. It is only your devotion that He looks into.

Don't you know Guha in the Ramayana? What scholarship had he to please Rama? Nothing. He was not even educated. You also must have heard of Sabari, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. How rich was she to be close to Rama? Nothing. She was in rags at that time, the poorest of the poor. What made that bird, Jatayu receive the special blessings of Rama so as to deserve performance of the last rites at the divine hands of Rama? Even Rama's father, Dasaratha, was not as fortunate as this bird Jatayu, because he died when Rama was in the forest, far away from Ayodhya. How about Hanuman, a monkey? By implicit faith in and total surrender to Rama he could be successful not only in the task assigned to him, but also came to be worshipped by the devotees of the Lord and his worship has been continuing since the days of the Ramavatara.

The Mahabharata clearly portrays Draupadi, the queen of the Pandavas as Lord Krishna's devotee of the highest order, always, in times of success or failure, pleasure or pain, calm or turmoil, anywhere, either on the throne in Hastinapura or in the forest. The Pandavas are known for their deep devotion and abounding love for Krishna. They are the best examples of equanimity and total surrender to God such that Krishna identified Himself completely with them by saying that Dharmaja was His head, Arjuna His heart, Bhima His shoulders, and the two youngest brothers Nakula and Sahadeva equal to His two feet. This is true devotion. This is the ideal stature of a devotee.

In the Bhagavata you come across the Gopis (the cowherd girls who were rustic, innocent, and unlettered) whose madhurabhakti, total attachment to God, was backed by unconditional love and surrender. Their devotion was noble, pure, nectarine, and exemplary. They saw Krishna in bushes, thorns, leaves, branches, and flowers. Is theirs not tadatmyabhava, total identification? Isn't theirs the advaitabhava, nondualistic state? They could not bear the pangs of separation from Krishna even for a split second. This is the level of their devotion.

Have you not heard about Tyagaraja, the South Indian saintsinger and composer, who had put the question: 'nidhi cala sukhama ramuni sannidhi seva sukhama '. Is it wealth that gives you happiness or proximity to God? Ramadas, Surdas, Kabir, Tulasidas, Jayadev, Tukaram, Mira, and others were the very personifications of devotion. They are remembered to this day. By reading about them, you will not only be the recipient of God's grace but even have a claim on God's grace. You know, the moment you marry, your wife will have a claim on your property. This is due to the mangalasutra, the sacred knot tied at the time of the wedding. Similarly, devotion is bhaktisutra the knot of devotion, which empowers the devotee to claim from God His grace. Therefore, for everything, devotion is most important. For most people, it is the proper and noble approach to Divinity.

Q22) Swami! Why are we not the recipients of Divine grace?

Bhagawan: It is not proper to feel so. You are wrong if you think so. God's grace is equally available to all of you. He makes no distinctions of caste, creed, sex, nationality, and so on. You should know that the defect is in you. You have to cleanse the tumbler of your heart. For example, it is raining heavily now. If you want to collect water in a vessel, what you do is to keep it straight. However, if you turn it downwards or put it upside down, is it possible to collect water? The downpour of rain will be of no help at all. Therefore, we have to keep our hearts always pure and ready to receive the rain of grace. We have to turn it towards the rain of God's Love in order to collect it. Is it not so?

Q23) Swami! Our fortune is immeasurable, how many people get this opportunity! This is all your grace. But, how are we to preserve this?

Bhagawan: Look! Out of the millions of devotees how many are able to be here? Is this proximity possible for everyone? Merit from several past lives had made you fortunate enough to be here. Out of a few thousand in our institutions, how many students are lucky enough to be here? Only a few of you could follow me to this place, Kodaikanal. This you will have to preserve and sustain carefully.

A small example. Here is a roll of thread, which is the product of much rotating and winding. A time consuming job, really! If they take up this process in haste, and drop it in the middle out of neglect or carelessness, all the thread will lie scattered on the ground. Similarly, your fortune is like this roll of thread carefully and laboriously wound like the merit of the good deeds you had done in your past lives. If you neglect this fortune and lose it by any mischance, you can't get it back. All the effort you have put in will go waste. The thick pad at the centre of this roll is like your faith round which your meritorious deeds are wound. So, never neglect this good luck, nor take it for granted, nor view it as simple and ordinary. Negligence and carelessness are harmful to spiritual aspirants.

Q24) Swami! How does your Grace affect our destiny and our prarabdha, past karma?

Bhagawan: God's grace and God's will can change anything. God is love. His infinite compassion makes Him change your, pra rabdhakarma or the ka rmic effects of your past lives. A devotee can arrest God in the jail of his heart. In this world, there is nothing that you can't achieve with devotion. God's grace can cancel all your karmic effects or the evil effects of your past life. Nothing untoward can happen to you.

A small example. You see many medicines kept for sale in a medical shop. On each of the medicines you find the date of manufacture and of expiry. The medicine will not act with efficiency beyond the date of expiry. It becomes just useless. What God does is exactly the same thing. He simply stamps on the medicine bottle the date of expiry cancelling your prarabdhakarma the suffering you are going through in this life. Right then your suffering ends. This is how Swami, out of His sheer grace and compassion, gives you relief.

Q25) Swami! Can we be sure of God's grace if we do sadhana regularly?

Bhagawan: Certainly! As sure as anything! Why do you doubt? For example, you have a pet dog. You feed it every day and you will notice that it will get habituated to come to you exactly at the same time every day to be fed. Is this not true? When regularity makes a dog respond, why not God? You will definitely receive His grace.

Q26) Swami! We are here in your presence because of your infinite grace and mercy. Your blessings have brought us all here. We bask in the sunshine of bliss bestowed on us by your Divine dars' an , spars'an and sambhas an. Do we still need merit from past lives and the samskaras ?

Bhagawan: The present state of bliss and the merit from past lives are both essential and they should go together. They are closely interrelated. Take this example. Here the soil is sandy. When there are heavy rains, water sinks into the soil or gets absorbed in the soil. The same is the situation with you at present. Therefore, devotion doesn't remain steady. But, suppose there is a flow of river water, what happens when it rains? Water will flow with greater vigour than before. Similarly, your present blessed opportunity of being with me is like rainwater. If you have good samska ras from your past life like the water flow of a river, the blissful state you are experiencing now will continue with more vigour.

God's grace is like a shower of rain. Your merit from the past will enable you to contain it. So, I tell you often to retain the good luck, the opportunity, and the privilege given to you. You draw water out of the well in a bucket. But you have to pick up the bucket full of water yourself. On the other hand, if you drop it in the middle, what happens? You can't collect water, can you? However, there is one important thing. If you love God intensely, you can achieve anything. As human effort increases, God's grace also lends strength and intensity to the effort, which ultimately leads man to success.

 

CHAPTER II

Trends in Society

Q27) Swami! Manis not behaving in the way expected of him. He is losing his very humannature. How should he transform himself at this juncture? How about society, if he remains like this, Swami?

Bhagawan:You do not know that you areusing certain words without knowing their meaning. If you understand the wordsthat you utter, you will notice that they are selfexplanatory and conveytheir meaning in unambiguous terms. What is the meaning of this word manava, man? â 'Ma' means maya or illusion, 'na', 'dati '(Telugu), 'va', vartincu (Telugu). In other words, ' manava 'means 'the one who crosses maya and conducts himself accordingly' anddefinitely not one who is enslaved by maya. It can also be interpretedin another way. The word 'manava' means, 'ma ', not, 'nava', new. Thus 'manava ' means 'not new'. Man had many births earlier andthe present one is not new.

Man is also called narah(Sanskrit). Na means 'not', and rah means 'perishable'. Thus, narah, means 'not perishable'. Obviously, the one, which is imperishable, is eternal that is, immortal, or atma, Truth. There is another word vanara (Sanskrit) denoting a â 'monkey'. Va denotes vala or tail. So narashould be viewed as man without vala or tail. Man is saksara : sa, divine and aksara, undiminishable or permanent. Thus, saksara is one who is undiminishable, permanent or eternal, Atma. He whohas the awareness of such Atma is saksara. But alas! Man today isbehaving as raksasa, demon. Man is expected to have dama, control of senses, but he is full of mada, pride and conceit. So, whenwe understand the meaning of these words, we shall know that man or vyakti, the individual, should exhibit and express the quality of atma, which he trulyis.

A community or a group ofindividuals makes a society. A single vr ks a, tree , cannot make avana, forest. A single grha, house cannot make a grama, village. What is the meaning of samaja, society? Sama, equalityor equanimity, ja, born out of. Thus samaja, is that whichmaintains equality and equanimity. What are needed for ideal society? They are samaikyata, unity; samagrata, coordination; samarasa, integration; saubhratrata, fraternity; and samanata, equality.These are the features of an ideal society.

We hear people saying thatsociety should change. However, in my opinion, it is wrong. If the individualchanges, society will automatically change. A small example. A fatherpresented a map of India to his young son. The boy, by mistake, tore it topieces and was reprimanded by his father. After some time, the son brought themap intact. When asked by the father how he could do it, the boy replied thaton the reverse side of the map there was the picture of a man. He said theonly thing he did was to correctly assemble the torn pieces of the man to makeit into the original picture. Then the original map formed itselfautomatically.

Thus, when individuals reform, society will automatically get reformed. Every person should know that thehappiness of the individual depends on that of society. Man's welfare, progress and prosperity depend on society. This truth must be fully understoodby everyone. For example, when there is a fire in the neighbourhood you makean attempt to extinguish it. Why? If you do not, your house will not be safe.When all the other houses in the neighbourhood are burnt down by the fire, your house too will be burnt. When there are epidemics like cholera, you willbe extra careful; otherwise, you will also become one of the victims. Similaris the relationship between an individual and the society he lives in.

Q28) Swami! May be due to theimpact of the Age of Kali, we don't find in these days, any understandingamong the members of a family. Instead, we find differences in many families, even conflicts, complexes, competitions; and sometimes matters become so bad as to drag a family tothe courts. Please suggest a way out of this sad plight, Swami!

Bhagawan:In this world though diversity is apparent, there is an inherent unity.Multiplicity may be patent. But the underlying unity is latent. The whole ofnature shows both these aspects.

Take the earth; it is not thesame throughout. There are hills, mountains, and valleys. However, in ourexperience we clearly visualise unity. Are the five fingers of the same handidentical? No. Similarly, the members of one and the same family are not alikeor uniform. They are not stereotypes. All the same, there cannot be any validreason for the absence of fraternity, unity, and love among the members of thefamily.

A good example from our epics maybe cited in this context. You analyse Siva samsaram 'the family ofour Lord Siva'. Siva has Ganga, water, over his head, and fire on his foreheadbetween the two eyes. He is, therefore, Trinetra or 'the threeeyed'God'. 'Water' and 'Fire' are also opposed to each other in their nature anddon't coexist. Siva is pannagadhara, nagabhusana for He hasround his neck venomous serpents. The vehicle of his elder son LordSubrahmanya is a peacock. Snakes and peacocks are enemies. The vehicle ofGoddess Parvati, consort of Siva is a lion. She is simhavahini. Thevery face of Siva's second son is that of an elephant. Ganesh is calledGajanana for this reason. An elephant can't even dream of the sight of a lion.Parvati has all the jewels, but her Lord, Siva is digambara, naked, bhasmabh u s itanga with vibhuti smeared all over the body, andsurrounded by bhutas or devils. Though Siva's family is full ofopposites and contradictions, there is integration, coordination, harmony andunity.

Similarly, in your families, themembers may differ from each other, yet you should be able to live in perfectharmony like Siva's family. This is the lesson that over the ages Lord Sivahas been teaching the world.

Q29)Swami! Today the whole world is strifetorn. We hear of racial discrimination, class conflict, bloodshed, war, and so on. Kindly give some message to thepresent day world.

Bhagawan:Today we have many intellectuals who find diversity in unity. There are only afew who notice unity in diversity. This is the reason for the present daytroubles, turmoil, conflicts, wars, and so on in the world. Manava, manis behaving like a danava, demon. So we find violent, demonic, bestial, and inhuman tendencies among people. The moment man recognises and experiencesunity in diversity, peace, comfort, safety, security, and happiness areensured.

The composition of human blood isthe same all over the world. All breathe oxygen only. All tread the sameground. Hunger is one, be that of a rich man who may dine in a fivestar hotelor of a beggar who appeases his hunger with mere starch. Thirst is one and thesame, be that of a rich man who will have a cool drink or of a poor man whodrinks tap water in the street. Both feel happy in moments of joy and bothgrieve in times of difficulties.

The human body is composed of thefive elements: earth, water, air, fire, and space. The body is inert. Webreathe air into it. There is also fire within, keeping the body warm andhelping us in digesting food. There is space within accommodating all parts ofthe human body. There is plenty of water in the body. So the five elementsoutside are also inside you. Everyone has them in the same proportion. Allthat you have is also present in everybody else. Then, why do you stretch yourhand begging everyone? What for? What is it that you don't have which theother man has? Basically nothing! This is the philosophy of unity indiversity. This unity is divinity.

The experience of this sort ofspiritual unity is liberation, whereas the feeling of multiplicity, pluralityand diversity is bondage, dualism, and attachment.

Flowers are many, but worship isone, Cows are many, but milk is one

Jewels are many, but gold is one, Paths are many, but the goal is one, Stars are many, but the sky is one, Beings are many, but breath is one, Names and forms are many, but God is one.

This is oneness or unity. Yarn ismultiple, but when interwoven, it becomes a piece of cloth. This is how youshould find out and experience unity in order to realise divinity. Peoplefight in the name of religion. What a shame it is! No religion tells you tospeak lies, to harm or kill others or do any such things. All religions layemphasis on love, brotherhood, sacrifice, peace, truth, and so on. So, itisridiculous to fight in the name of religion. In fact, matulu mancivainamatamedi ceddadi, (Telugu) if your mind is good, which religion is bad?

There is only one religion, thereligion of love. To have differences based on language or race is bad. It isa sign of narrow mindedness. There is only one language, the language of theheart. It is very mean to have differences on grounds of caste. You are notborn with a signboard indicating your caste. What is the caste of the air? Towhich caste does water belong? What is the caste of fire and earth? Therefore, there is only one caste, the caste of humanity. Wars are fought in the name ofGod. Don'tyou know that many Gods are not there; God is one without a second.You may call Him by any name. There is one God who is omnipresent.

Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti, Truth is one, but interpreted in many ways by scholars. There are nodifferences in divinity. With cittas'uddhi, purity of heart, you canexperience the principle of unity or oneness, which is the path to divinity.First, develop purity. That helps you to achieve unity and attain Divinity.

Q30)Swami! In reality, the entire human race is one and the same, its basic corebeing divinity. Why then do we not react in the same way? Why do we think andact differently?

Bhagawan:Humanity may be one, but people act in different ways. No two are alike. Thisis the law of nature. Thought, words and actions depend on time andcircumstances. Here is an example. A tender fruit is sour in its taste; anunripe fruit is astringent, while a ripe fruit is sweet. All the three are thestages of the same fruit, aren't they! It is sour, then astringent and finallysweet. How does it happen? Why? The change of taste is due to the passage oftime. No one has filled the ripe fruit with sugar. So, I say "yetti matiyo, atti gati. yetti sthitio, atti sampatti" (Telugu verse). As is the mati, mind, so is the gati, destiny; as is the position, so is the sampatti, affluence.

In human life there are threeimportant aspects, 'doing', Body, 'thinking', Mind, 'being', Atma. Bodydesires, mind thinks and atma experiences. You should have broadmindedness.You should never be narrowminded. When examination results are published, whydon't you feel happy that so many have passed the examinations? If in thespirit of a large heart, you look for your result, you will definitely findyour number in the newspaper along with those of other candidates. It is butnarrow-Â≠mindedness if you look only for your own number unmindful of others.

Another example. Suppose you feelhappy that in a group photo everyone has figured nicely. If you then look atyour own figure, you will be known to be broadminded.

Human life is a combination ofthree attributes trigunas . The three work in perfect union as thethree wings of a fan. Just as a chutney is made of tamarind, salt and chillieswell ground, so also human life has ' trigunas, ' well mixed. You alsomust have known pan, which Indians chew. It has three ingredients, betel leaf, betel nut and lime, of green, brown and white coloursrespectively. When the ingredients of three different colours are chewed youget the red colour.

Similarly, in human life all thethree gun as are intermixed. But spiritually, basically andfundamentally, the core of the human being is sat, 'being', cit, 'awareness' and ananda, 'bliss'. Sat and cit together confer ananda.

An example.Here are two separate things, water and sugar. When you mix the two it isneither sugar nor water, but syrup. So also water is sat, sugar is cit, forming the syrup ananda. The triune trigunas (threeattributes) and the basic nature of sat, cit, and ananda mixedwith deha, 'body, ' manas 'mind, ' and buddhi 'intellect, 'interacting with pravrtti, ' the external world' lead to anekatva â 'diversity or multiplicity or plurality'

Q31) Swami! We hear the words, "rajanitiâÄù and "rajakiyam. " Are these, in fact, one and the same? Howshould we name what we see around us?

Bhagawan: "Rajaniti" and "rajakiyam" can never be the same. Look at "Rajayoga" .Among the yogas, the one most highly revered which stands kinglike isgiven that name. Similarly the very greatest among moral codes, equal instatus to a king among men, is called "rajaniti" . The king of animalsis the lion, you know. "Rajaniti" is conjoined with Satya, bound byDharma, and confers all welfare. What you have today are not "rajaniti" or rajakiyam political strategies, at all, but rajakayyamsbattles royal, born of malice, envy, and hatred. All these are kayyams, bitter fights. Therefore, they are "rajaki yams" .

Q32)Swami! We have people of varied temperaments, views, ideas, outlooks, ambitions and interests. Conflict becomes inevitable. Each one wants things tohappen in his own way. What should we do then?

Bhagawan: Munde munde matirbhinna , Heads vary. No two people look alike: notwo think in the same way. It is quite natural that ideas differ. Each onefeels that he is correct. But you should maintain the spirit of unity, equality and equanimity.

A small example. Once upon a timeall the five fingers of the palm started claiming superiority over oneanother. First, the little finger said to the others, "Look! As you do namaskar, I come first. Therefore, I am important " . The ring finger then said, "What! Don't you know my value? Costly diamond and gold rings are wornround me!" Then, the middle finger said, "Very funny! What are you talkingabout? I am ready to wear costly rings. Why not? Some do that way also.Further, don't you see me, who am taller than all of you? Isn't that enough tosay that I am superior to all of you?" The forefinger started saying, "If youwant to direct anybody, I come first. People show me to direct people.Further, even to warn or caution others, I come first. Don't you see this?" Then, last but not the least, the thumb smiling said, "I have been watchingso long all that is happening! Unless I join, even if the four of you standunited, you cannot function. While eating anything, can you manage without me?Why go to that extent? When you shoot an arrow, I have to pull the stringbackwards with force. Else, the arrow will never go far. So mine is thehighest position among us" .

This is how we find peoplestaking their claims for superiority over one other. You should always beready to receive the good from anybody. You should work in cooperation andharmony with one another. No one should feel superior to anyone. Otherwise, because of the domination of one over another, groups, factions, rivalries, controversies and conflicts arise. As a result, the sprit of love totallyvanishes from the scene. Unless all the five fingers join, you cannot doanything, you see! Society can never progress if there is no cooperation, integration and unity among its members.

Q33)Swami! When we say, 'men and women are equal', why then do we find differencesand discrimination between the two sexes?

Bhagawan:Physically men and women are different. But spiritually, i.e., from the atmic point of view, both are equal. In fact, God is the only male whileall others are females. The deham, body, is also called puram, dwelling place. It is the principle of atma that works from top to bottom. Youknow, Colleges for Women celebrate Anniversary Functions during which theypresent cultural items like a play. Here, girls play all the different roleslike those of a soldier, a minister, a king, and so on. Similarly, all but Godare women in this world. A similar thing happened in the life of Mira, thegreat devotee of Lord Krishna. She was stopped at the main entrance of a Krishna mandir atBrindavan and was told that women were not permitted to enter a temple of God.Then Mira replied, "Oh! Is that so! Where are men here? I find only women. Godis the only male person. "

However, from the worldly pointof view, for the division of work, men and women are different from eachother. Everything and everyone are Divine. Even though it is your own body, you don't put slippers or footwear on the head or hands. Functionally, all theparts of the body are different from each other, though they may belong to thesame person. So also physically and functionally, men and women are separateentities though spiritually they are one and the same.Q34)Swami! We hear many funny statements in present day society. People speakabout Women's Liberation Movement. Some say that women have not been giventheir due place since times immemorial. They complain that there has alwaysbeen discrimination on grounds of gender and never was a fair deal given to awoman. Women now fight for equal rights with men. We pray to you to describeto us the role of women in our society?

Bhagawan:This is not true, spiritually speaking. There is a physical difference, butAtma or the spirit is one. However, each one has to discharge duties expectedof him or her. In a social order, man and woman are like the two hands, thetwo eyes, and the two feet. One is the positive, while the other is thenegative for the current to flow and operate. Lord Siva is called ardhanaris'vara, androgynous God (half of his body being that of a woman)to explain this unity. Man and woman are like matter and energy. A woman isdescribed as adis'akti, par a s'akti Supreme Power, InfinitePower.

You alsonotice in the history of Bharat the place given to women. Many of them areknown today for their sacrifice, wisdom, devotion, and many of them could givebetter and sane advice to their husbands. Characters like Savitri, Mandodari, Sita, Anasuya, Tara, Damayanti, Madalasa, and Draupadi are very well known.Draupadi served her five husbands most faithfully, never said 'no' to whateverwork was assigned to her, and led a life of contentment. When there was adebate between Adi Sankara and Mandanamisra, it was the wife of Mandanamisra, Ubhaya Bharati, who played the role of a judge and pronounced Adi Sankarawinner at the end. In ancient times, Gargi and Maitreyi were known for theiroutstanding scholarship and spiritual excellence. In recent times, have younot heard of the role played by the mother of Emperor Sivaji and of Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, in moulding their character and personality? Theylearnt lessons of life in the lap of their mothers! It was due to the love andinspiration of Kausalya and Sita towards their respective sons, Lord Rama andthe twins Lava and Kusa that the latter could earn undying reputation andstand till today as ideals to the entire world.

In our daily prayers we say matr devo bhava, Mother is God. Don't you see the names of women comefirst and those of men next in compounds like SitaRama, GauriSankar, LakshmiNarayanaand so on? In the past, there never was an instance of women being humiliated, neglected or treated with disrespect. Don't you hear words like 'motherland', 'mother tongue' that speak highly of women?

The Bhagavad gita refersto seven types of power enjoyed by women as a matter of right. She has quite afew titles that underscore her contribution to the family and her specialrole. A housewife is called illalu, the one who takes care of the houseor illu. She is described as sahadharma carini, the one whoguides her husband along the path of Dharma. She is praised as gr halaks mi, the very embodiment of the wealth, peace and prosperity of the family. Sheis called ardhangi, representing a half of man, the better half.

Woman stands for patience, sacrifice, forbearance, respect, humility and obedience, the qualities, whichare usually missing among men. A woman is prepared to die for her child orhusband. She slogs and struggles for the progress and the well being of thefamily. She is the backbone of the country. She is the light and the delightof the family.

Q35)Swami! A change is very much needed in every field of our activity. Almost allwalks of public life are nowadays polluted, disgusting and disappointing. Howis change to be brought about?

Bhagawan:Truly speaking, villagers who are unlettered, innocent and rustic are livingin greater peace and cooperation, more intimate relationships, and mutuallove than the socalled urban, sophisticated, educated, and seemingly culturedpeople. The latter are full of ego and jealousy. To bring about a change, theyneed to work for it. They must put in enough sincere effort to overcomequalities like egoism pride, jealousy, and hatred. Butter is no doubt verysoft. But in order to make ghee out of it, you must heat it. Similarly for anychange, you have to work for it. You should first of all listen to all goodthings from good people. This listening, s'ravan a is the first step.It is not enough if you simply listen. You should remember, recall, recollect, and recapitulate the good things you have listened to. This is called manana. The third thing is to practice what you have listened and learnt.This is called nidhidhy a sa . Take a small example. First of all, yourfood must be cooked in the kitchen. Then it has to be brought and kept on thedining table and served. It is then that you eat it. Further, the food thatyou eat must be digested, assimilated, and the nourishment is to be suppliedto different parts of your body. Is it not so? Similarly, s'rvan a , listening is like cooking, manana, remembering is the same as foodkept on the table, whereas nidhidhy a sa , practicing what is heard islike eating and digesting.

Q36) Swami! We are always in ahurry. We have to rush to so many places to catch up and to keep pace withtime and work. In this type of fast life, is it possible to be spiritual? Canwe hurry here in the spiritual field too?

Bhagawan:Today, many of the diseases are due to the three factors very common amongyou: hurry, worry, and curry. Haste makes waste, waste makes worry. So, don'tbe in a hurry. Patience is very important and essential. In my previous format Shirdi, I laid emphasis on sraddha and saburi, sincerity and patience.

It is very common to find peoplerunning to catch a train or a bus to go to office, and so on. You wait for anylength of time standing in long queues in front of cinema theatres. But here, you begin to look at your wrist watches wondering why Swami has not yet comeout for dars'an ! So, you must be patient enough to enjoy real bliss.For anything to happen, there is a proper time, preordained, predetermined, and designed by God. You know Arjuna had to wait till his 74thyear in order to listen to the Bhagavadgita, the Song Celestial, from Krishnaalthough both of them were moving together for years very intimately.Similarly, you too should wait. You should not feel, "What is this! Why isSwami not talking to me?" At the right time, I will do the appropriate thingfor you. See, how a fruit falls down on the ground soon after it is ripedetaching itself from the tree! You will have to wait till the time is ripefor you. You can't and shouldn't be in a hurry in the spiritual field.

Q37)Swami! The growing trend today is to earn more and more money. Ego and prideare growing beyond control. Would you kindly give us the solution for thistrend?

Bhagawan:The earth revolves round the sun. So also, man today is revolving round money.In fact, money provides only comfort and conveniences. There are many thingsthat money cannot do.

'Withmoney you can have delicious food in a five star hotel, But how about your appetite?

You can buy a beautiful bed, But can you buy sleep? You can have the latest, costliest medicines, But can you with your money extend the life of a dying man?'

You think money makes manythings, but it is not so. It leads you on to vices. People have two importantresources 'Head' and 'Heart'., Head carries with it responsibility. It hasall the knowledge of pravrtti, the external world, but heart stands for nivrtti, right internal awakening. Values like sacrifice, truth, charity, love, compassion, come out of the heart. All that you find outside isonly 'art', but 'heart' is inside. Don't be carried away by the outer 'art'.

The breeze you get from a numberof electric fans is nothing compared to natural breeze. Tank water, riverwater, and lake water can never equal rain water. God is infinite. Where doesman stand in front of Him? Why are you egoistic and proud? What for?Mountains may be of high altitude. But, water from the mountain top flows onlydownward. Similarly, you may be a great scholar or occupy a good position. Ifyou are proud and egoistic, your fall is near. Light travels upward. So also, the fire of knowledge takes you to the heights. In fact modern man is muchworse than cats and dogs. When they are sick they do not eat anything, theyfast or starve. However, man is for a feast even in times of sickness. Henever â 'fasts'. He likes â 'feasts' only. Therefore he falls sick frequently.,

The cycle of creation goes by thethree attributes or Gunas: tamas, inertia, rajas, passion, and sattva, piety represented by the triune, Brahma, creator, Vishnu, sustainer, and Siva, annihilator. Among the eighty-four lakhs of species, thehuman being is very special. He is blessed by God, his creator with mind andintellect. But man has become so egoistic and proud that he even doubts, questions, and denies God, his creator. This is the significance of theepisode of Mohini Bhasmasura in our epics.

There was one demon king by nameBhasmasura. He did penance and pleased Lord Siva. He prayed to Siva to granthim a boon that would give him the power to turn anybody into ashes the momenthe lays his hands on his head. Siva granted the boon. Thus, intoxicated withthis new found power, Bhasmasura began laying his hand indiscriminately on theheads of all those persons he found near him. Naturally, according to the boonhe got from God, they died and were burnt to ashes. He became so bad, sohorrible, and so highly egoistic that he decided to place his hand even on thehead of Siva, the very giver of the boon. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of abeautiful dancer Mohini, and started dancing in front of Bhasmasura who, excited by her enchanting beauty, also started dancing along with her. In thecourse of gestures and postures, Mohini had suddenly put her hand on her headand Bhasmasura did the same thing. The moment he placed his hand on his headhe died. So by denying God, man is ruining himself.

Modern man is like Bhasmasura. Heharms the person who helps him. Whatever is said, thought, and done by him isfull of selfishness. He has lost the value of fundamental discrimination, which is applicable to all and beneficial to everyone. He lacks divinequalities like truth, peace and love. This is the flaw. He lacks divinequalities and possesses demonic qualities like jealousy, pride, and hatred. He "kills" knowledge. He has to 'skill' his knowledge to maintain balance. Thisis the reason for all his troubles .He removes the letter 'S' that stands for'Sai' from the word 'skill' and loses balance. Ego, avarice, jealousy, andsuch bad qualities are due to our ahara, vihara, and samparka:food, company, and interaction. When you control and discipline yourself, youwill find the solution.

beneficial to everyone. He lacksdivine qualities like truth, peace and love. This is the flaw. He lacks divinequalities and possesses demonic qualities like jealousy, pride, and hatred. He "kills" knowledge. He has to 'skill' his knowledge to maintain balance. Thisis the reason for all his troubles .He removes the letter 'S' that stands for'Sai' from the word 'skill' and loses balance. Ego, avarice, jealousy, andsuch bad qualities are due to our ahara, vihara, and samparka:food, company, and interaction. When you control and discipline yourself, youwill find the solution.Q38)Swami! In an organisation where we have to interact with people, most often wecome across people criticising each other and blaming each other. This is veryfrustrating, and divides people into groups. Sincere persons become frustratedbecause of uncharitable criticism. It looks like character assassination andmud slinging. How are we to take this evil prevalent everywhere?

Bhagawan:It is a sin to criticise others. It is a sign of weakness and inferioritycomplex. You shouldn't criticise or hate anyone. In fact, no one has anyauthority to criticise others. To tackle this, first of all, one should put aquestion to oneself: "Who is being criticised?" Then, you don't feel upset anylonger. Why? If the criticism applies to your body, you don't need to feel badbecause the body is temporary and ephemeral. You should be indifferent to yourown body, which lands you in many difficulties and problems. The other man isdoing service to you by criticising your body. You should be thankful to himfor doing so on your behalf. Is it then, the spirit or atma that is criticised?This is not possible because the same soul or atma is present in the criticalso. Atma is Self, the same in all. Then, who is the critic and who iscriticised? It all amounts to the criticism of one's own self. Ego andjealousy are the root causes that provoke a person to criticise others.

You have put another question.You want to know how you should react to criticism against you. A smallexample. Suppose you receive a registered letter. If you don't want to acceptit, you can refuse to take delivery. The registered letter will then go backto the sender. Will it not? Similarly, criticism against you is a registeredletter. Don't acknowledge and receive it. Refuse it so that the sameregistered letter of criticism will go back to the sender, the critic himself.If anyone speaks loudly and belligerently against you in public, it is alllost in the air or in your vicinity. If anybody accuses you secretly, it goesto the accuser himself.

What I feel is that one has to bejudged by one's merits and not by one's faults. I ask you repeatedly to seekout your own faults and others' merits. If you enquire deeply, you will noticethat personal criticism is nothing but the "reflection of the inner being" .You spot the bad in the outside world, because of the bad in you. There isnothing that you can find outside yourself. Duryodhana was asked to go insearch of a good man. He returned saying that he had found none. If you wantto know any good person existing in this world, it is yourself only. Dharmajawas asked to go round and bring a bad person. He returned saying that therewas none who was bad other than himself. This is the difference in theattitude of two persons with different views of life. As is your vision soappears the creation. As is the colour of the glasses you wear, so is thecolour of the world you see. If you are aware of this truth, you will nevercriticise anybody.

Sarva ova namaskarah kes'avamprati gacchati, whomsoever you respect and revere, it amounts to reverence unto God. Since Godis in everyone, if you respect anyone, it means, you respect God. Similarly, sarva jiva tiraskarah kes'avam prati gacchati, whomsoever you hate, itamounts to hatred of the Divine Himself. If you deeply look into the eyes ofthe man standing in front of you, you see your own reflection. Therefore, heis not a separate person but your own reflection.

There is only one without thesecond, i.e., God who is present in all. When you point out your forefinger atthe mistakes of another man, three fingers of yours are turned towards you, reminding you of your own mistakes. If you understand this, you won'tcriticise anybody or blame anybody. God gives and forgives. I often tell you, past is past and it is beyond recovery. Hence, be careful hereafter.

Q39) Swami! Aswe think of the way in which our life is going, we find it confusing anddisheartening. We also doubt if it is going in the right direction or not. Youare our only refuge. Kindly guide us.

Bhagawan:You know mrdangam, the South Indian musical instrument, which like adrum, has to be beaten on both the sides as you play. Your life is like a ratcaught in that mrdangam. If the mrdangam is beaten on one side, the rat runs to the other side and, vice versa, as there is no way out for it.Similarly having been fed up with this world, you think of God. When God testsyou, you again drift towards the world. Your movement between the world andGod is like that of the rat. This is not the proper way.

A small example. Two studentscompeted with each other in a tournament of eating bananas. One student wantedto eat the outer skin of every fruit first so that he could finish eating thesoft pulp part next. The other student planned to eat the soft part first andthe skin next. Accordingly, they started eating. The first student havingeaten the outer skin of every fruit first had his belly full of that stuff andhe could not eat any sweet pulp. So he was defeated, and suffered fromstomachache and indigestion. The second student ate a bellyfull of the pulpof every fruit and hence couldn't eat the skin of the fruits. So, he too lostin the competition. All the same, he remained healthy.

Similar is the case with thosepeople who are after worldly desires and sensual pleasures. They will have toend their lives in misery finding no cure for bhavaroga, the ailment ofworldly attachment. This is equal to the condition of the first student whoate only the outer skin of the banana first in the tournament. But those whothink of God are like the second student who ate the soft pulp. They growstronger in divine life.

Life should start from the pointof dasoham, I am your servant. Fill its middle with the relentlessenquiry, koham, "Who am I?" End it with full awareness of the identityof the individual self with God soham, I am God. This is the correctway of life.

Man should realise that thehappiness and peace he essentially needs are not present in this mundaneworld. A simple example. A person went to a hotel. The bearer asked him, "Whatshall I serve for you" ? The person said, "I want idli and sambar" . Then the bearer taken by great surprise, said "What Sir! Have you not seenthe board hanging over there! This is a military nonvegetarian hotel. Sir!" Likewise, how can you expect items like Palav, Biriyani and Chicken in anUdipi Brahmin vegetarian hotel?

In the same manner there is aboard attached to this world, anityam asukham lokam, "This world istemporary and full of misery. "How do you expect peace and happiness in thisworld? That is why in the Bhagavad gita Krishnasays, 'mam bhajasva' meaning, 'Think of me or worship me or be immersedin me or surrender to me'. You should lead your life in full knowledge ofthese facts.

Q40) Swami! How should we conductourselves socially? What are social norms?

Bhagawan:You should forget two things: the help you have given to others and the harmothers have done to you. Moreover, you should remember two things: the helpthat others have given to you and the harm you have done to others. Then therewill be no ego, pride, jealousy, envy, hatred, and other evil tendencies inyou.

You should also note anotherimportant thing. However small a fault or mistake there is in you, take it asa very big one. At the same time when you notice a big mistake in others, youshould consider it a very small one. Take your own goodness as tiny and thatof others as mighty. This attitude helps you to correct yourself, improveyourself, and enable you to forgive and forget the lapses of others.

But, today quite the opposite ishappening. Everyone magnifies his own goodness and minimises that of others, considers his own Himalayan blunders small as an anthill, while he givesHimalayan magnitude even to the smallest mistakes of others. This is the causeof all conflicts and infighting.

There are still two more extremecategories of people. Some of them portray their lapses as merits, projecttheir mistakes as right things, and try to focus on their virtues, which areactually missing in them. Then, there is the last category of people who areeven worse than demons. These are the people who attribute faults, mistakes, and defects to others, which are all false, and totally ignore their merits.Correct your own mistakes first. Judge others by their merits and not by theirfaults. Seek out your own faults and others' merits.

Q41) Swami! Many people feel thatthey are too busy to have rest. How, then, is one to take rest?

Bhagawan:Change of work is rest. You should never be idle. You should not be lazy.Laziness is rust and dust that ultimately bursts. But work is rest and best.If you are tired of a particular piece of work, change to another. Change ofwork is rest.

Q42) Swami! We worry a lot.Sometimes we fall sick also due to worry. What is worry? Please tell us hownot to worry?

Bhagawan:In my opinion, there is nothing like worry. If you enquire in depth, you willknow that there is no worry at all in this world. It is merely psychological.Worry is fear mentally created. That is all! Nothing more! It is all yourimagination.

At times you feel guilty. So, youworry remembering your past, which is beyond recovery. By no effort can yourecover it. Past is past. Then, why worry about the past? Is there any sensein it? You may worry about the future. This is also useless in my opinion.Why? Because the future is uncertain, anything may happen. Who knows? Thefuture is unknown. Why, then, should you worry about the future? What do yougain by that?

Understand clearly thateverything is in the present. It is not simple present, it is omnipresent.How? In the present lie the results of the past. The present is the foundationof the future. The seed of today is out of the tree you grew yesterday, and itwill germinate and grow into a tree tomorrow. So, worry is useless. Hence, never worry about anything.

Q43) Swami!Nowadays many educated people waste their time, money and energy in towns andcities. Bhagawan, we are eager to know your views on this subject.

Bhagawan: "Time is God" . In your prayers you say, kalaya namah, kalakalaya namah, kalatitaya namah, and so on. Time is divine. You should not waste time. Itis a sin to waste or misuse time. Everybody must follow time. God is themaster of time. Time waste is life waste. Haste makes waste, waste makesworry, so do not be in a hurry. We should perform good actions and thus spendour time

in a sacred way. Youth and ariver will never flow backwards. When you pass the stage of youth, it will notcome back. The river water flowing forward will never retreat. Therefore, youshould consider time a very precious commodity.

You have also pointed out thatmoney is wasted by many educated people. This is very bad. Waste of money isevil. You should not misuse money. Remember always, much money makes many morewrong things. Much money leads you into bad habits. You should spend money onwelfare programmes. You should express gratitude to society, which has beenresponsible for your present status, by spending money on service activities.You should sacrifice for the poor and needy. Na karmana na prajaya dhanena, tyagenaike amrtatva manasuh. You attain moksha or liberation onlyby sacrifice. No action, no offspring, no possession or property ever equalssacrifice.

In the human body, blood shouldalways circulate. Similarly, money should circulate in society. It should notstagnate in the hands of a few persons. If blood does not circulate, theredevelops on the body a boil or a tumour. If you run short of money, it isdifficult to manage things. At the same time, too much money spoils you. Itshould be like your shoes that fit your feet exactly. If the shoes are loose, you cannot walk; if they are tight, then also you find it tough to walkfreely. Your shoes always should be of the exact size of your feet. So also, money should neither be too little nor too much for you. Bear in mind what Itell repeatedly and caution you. Money comes and goes, but morality comes andgrows.

Morality consists of properutilisation of energy and other resources. You should not waste energy in anyform. You should not waste water. Do not waste food;annam brahma, Food is God. You can eat till your hunger is appeased. There is nothing wrongin it. There are many who are starving. There are many who do not have enoughfood to eat. What is the prayer you say before you take your food?brahmarpanam brahma havih brahmagnau brahman a hutam, brahmaiva tena gantavyam, brahmakarma samadhind. aham vaisvanaro bhutva praninam dehamas'ritah, pran apana samayuktah pacamyannam caturvidham.

"Oh God! You are in the form ofVaisvanara. You verily digest and assimilate the food that I eat. I offer thefood that I eat. I offer the food to you. You alone supply its essence to allparts of my body" . This is the meaning of the prayer that you say before youtake your food. Therefore, you should not waste food. It is a sin to waste it.

I want you to place a ceiling onyour desires. This is possible only if you decide and pledge not to wastetime, money, food and energy. All the five elements of nature earth, water, air, fire, and space are divine. You should be highly reverential and gratefulto these five elements. Always consider them divine.

Q44) Swami!When we are not happy with the type of education and the money we receive, isit right to feel that they are useless? Should we give up these two? What isthe way out?

Bhagawan:It is not correct. In this world, nothing is useless. Everything depends onyour mind. Your thoughts and counterthoughts are responsible for all that youfeel, say, and do. God created this world for the benefit and the bettermentof humankind. Use, abuse, and misuse depend on your mind. Therefore, you gothrough certain experiences and the corresponding results. In fact, ineducation there is nothing wrong, for prajnanam brahma , Knowledge isGod. So education can't be defective. When your mind is pure, your educationconfers wisdom and spiritual awakening on you. But a polluted mind makes useof education for its selfish gains. Hence, education being the constant, itsutility depends on the nature of the mind. This is true of money as well.

A sacred mind prompts you tosacrifice: But a polluted mind makes you waste money by taking to vices. Itmakes you a slave to all sorts of bad habits. Ultimately you lose your goodname. Here also money being constant, its utility depends on the mind.Therefore, it is necessary to keep your mind pure, sacred, Godward, and fullof selfless divine love. This process is sadhana, spiritual endeavour.Body attachment, doubts, jealousy, hatred, ego, and selfishness pollute themind, and lead to the total ruin of life. Therefore, these evil tendenciesmust be got rid of forthwith and your mind filled with love instead. Thus, your education and money are well utilised. They would prompt you to undertakeservice activities enabling you ultimately to experience Divinity withinyourself.

Q45) Swami! Ourcountry, Bharat, is famous politically for its secular constitution. But, political parties interpret "secularism" in a variety of ways. Some offerdistorted comments. I pray for your clarification.

Bhagawan: "Secularism" does not mean atheism. A secular nation is not the land ofHiranayakasipu, but one where each citizen follows his dharma, propagates andprofesses it freely without criticising other people's faiths and dharmasunder any circumstances. Sanatana dharma does refer to the "secular" . SriKrishna remarks:

Svadharme nidhanam s'reyah paradharmo bhayavahah

In other words, you should follow'svadharma' and not 'paradharma'. But, there is a subtle point here. 'Svadharma'does not mean the dharmas relating to one's caste, stage in life, orprofession, as you imagine. 'Svadharma' is Atmadharma, the dharma based onAtmaconsciousness, and 'paradharma' is Anatmadharma based on nonatma orbodily consciousness, devoid of the spirit.

Q46) Swami!Today a number of international organisations are striving for peace. It looksas though the guiding principles of these organisations are not focusedproperly. How then is peace to be achieved?

Bhagawan:Their approach, is defective. Where is peace? Peace is within you. You are theembodiment of peace. Peace is not to be found in the world outside. What liesoutside is not peace, but pieces. First, achieve peace as an individual, thenspread it in your family. Gradually you will enjoy peace in the community andthen in the nation. Many countries stockpile atom bombs and other weapons ofmass destruction, and ceaselessly go on chanting peace aphorisms. Is thispeace?

Q47) Swami! Inthis modern age, many of us consider our ageold religious rituals like yajnasand yagas meaningless, ridiculous and outdated. Why has this happened?

Bhagawan:Ignorance is the main cause, the utter ignorance of thoughtless speeches. Asimple example. A District Collector went to a village on official work. Therein a field he saw a farmer who was just throwing paddy grains on his plot ofland. The official felt that this was the reason why India was so poor. 'Whata funny man is this rustic fellow throwing away paddy grains at a time whenpeople are starving, " he thought. He finally decided to ask the farmer why hewas doing like that. The farmer responded, "Sir, I am not wasting these paddygrains. Today it looks as though one bag of paddy is just thrown to the winds, but later you will get fifty bags of paddy out of this one bag" . Then theCollector understood that he was mistaken.

Likewise, watching sacred ritualslike yajnas and yagas, one might feel that ghee and lots of other materialsare wasted by being put into the sacrificial fire. It is not so. The smokethat comes out of this fire as these materials are poured into the fire, andthe Vedic mantras chanted simultaneously cleanse the polluted air. The wholeatmosphere is purified. So it is foolish to consider these rituals asoutdated, ridiculous, and meaningless. They ensure timely rains and harvests.In fact all these rituals prescribed by our Vedic texts are meant for thewelfare of mankind and confer peace and bliss.

Q48) Swami!Kindly instruct us in the main principles making for progress in spheres suchas Science, Politics, Ethics, Religion, and Spirituality.

Bhagawan:If you follow three main principles, all round progress is ensured. You willundoubtedly progress in all fields of activity, individual and collective.

The first principle is daivapri ti, Love of God. The second is papabha ti, Fear of Sin.The third is sanghan i ti, Morality in Society. Unless you love Godimmensely, you cannot fear sin. With fear of sin, morality gets automaticallyestablished in society. Thus, the three principles are interdependent andinterrelated.

I often tell my students, "Beforeyou do anything, just put this question to yourself: Will Swami approve thisaction? Is this going to please Swami? " Your intense love for Swami will notallow you to do anything wrong. Evidently, love of God leads to fear of sin.We find turbulent and raging waves in the sea dashing against boulders thatstand steady and unshaken. In the same way your faith should be steady, strong, unshakeable, and unwavering, irrespective of losses, failures, defeats, troubles, difficulties, and problems. For instance, if anyone saysto you, "There is no God, " what reply should you give? You should reply inthis way, "All right, you don't have your God, but what right do you have todeny my God?"

Never forget God, remember pancaksari, the five lettered mantra ' devudunnadu ' (1) de, (2) vu, (3 ) du , (4) nna, (5) du , (Telugu sentence with five lettersmeaning God exists). In order to see that you don't doubt this, repeat astaksari , the eight lettered Sanskrit mantra, sams'ayatma vinas yati, (1) sam, (2) s'a, 3) ya, (4) tma , (5) vi, 6) na, 7) s'ya, 8) ti which means'doubt is death'. Never doubt God. In a sentence like this, "God is nowhere" reflects your pitiable plight of being denied His presence. Now, take out 'w'from the beginning of the fourth word 'where', and join it at the end of thethird word 'no'. Then the sentence reads, 'God is now here'.

Man most unfortunately commitssins but is not prepared to face their consequences. He expects pun yam, merit, the result of good actions, but does not refrain from doing papam, sin. Nor would he do any meritorious deeds to get good results. Is there anylogic or rationale for him to get good results? How foolish are suchexpectations? How do you expect one kind of result from an altogetherdifferent and opposite kind of action? Always bear in mind the whole thingcomes back to you in the form of reaction, reflection, and resound. You cannotescape them. When you fully realise this, you will not commit sins or involveyourself in harmful deeds. So you should 'Love God' and 'Fear Sin'. With thesetwo, there will be 'Morality in Society'.

Q49) Swami! Many speak ofculture? What is the value of culture?

Bhagawan:Culture is very important because your life and its value depend on it.Culture is a way of life. Culture enables you to experience divinity in yourlife. Culture helps one to know unity in diversity. Without culture, manbecomes a demon. He falls down in stature and ultimately ruins himself.

You know thatsea water is saline or salty. Human life is like a vast sea. God's grace islike sunlight that falls on the sea. The seawater because of the heat of thesun becomes vaporised. This is the vapour of bliss that settles as clouds inthe sky to fall down to the earth as rain. It is the rain of love. Theseawater is salty but the rainwater is sweet. Why? Where does the differencelie? Seawater is refined by sunlight. So also, our life must be cultured andrefined. The value of life will then go up. A piece of iron worth less than arupee can be made into a beautiful costly watch after it is processed andrefined. This is due to the culture it has undergone. So long as a boulderremains itself, it is bound to be neglected. But, once it is in the hands of asculptor, chiselled and hammered, and shaped into a beautiful Krishna idol; itstarts receiving respect and worship. Why? It is only culture that makes allthe difference. A boulder, once trodden by everyone underfoot and now in theform of an idol, occupies a place at the altar in a temple and is worshippedeveryday. This is the value that culture confers.

Without culture, one develops afoolish view of life finding diversity in unity. For example, take a needle.It stitches pieces of cloth into a garment. The needle stands for culture. Butscissors cut the cloth into pieces. This is the condition in the absence ofculture.

Q50) Swami! Have people comecloser to God in this modern world?

Bhagawan:The modern world is completely superficial and artificial. Outwardly, all say'hello', 'hello' to each other. Everyone says 'thanks' for every small thing.This is all mechanical, routine courtesy, and those words don't mean anything.You find utter selfishness everywhere.

Modern science has enabled man toland on the moon. But, man has forgotten to step into his neighbour's house.Yes, he can reach chandra, the moon, but can't see Ramachandra in hisheart. Modern man can swim in water like a fish, and fly like a bird, butcan't walk a mile with his two legs on the ground. With his physical eye, which is not even two inches in size, he is able to see a galaxy severalthousand miles away from him, but he is not able to see himself. The eye andthe ear are so near but they don't see each other!

Do they? God reclines on the ks i rasagara , 'ocean of milk' located in your Heart, but today we findthat the 'Heart' has become ks arasagara, 'ocean of poison'. How do youexpect him to realise Divinity?

Even afterhaving become a very rich country, France, lost the great war. Why? It wasbecause of her reckless youngsters and the vices of the day. This trend isincreasing today among people. Man is living and working for the fulfilment ofhis as'alu, lowly desires, but he should live for as'ayalu, ideals. People with high ideals alone can come closer to one anotherspiritually.Q51) Swami! How can we come up inlife?

Bhagawan:You have to work for it. It may be difficult, but it is desirable to achieveit. In fact, everyone should strive to come up in life, So, it is said, 'Aimhigh. Low aim is a crime'. One has to travel in the right direction and reachthe goal. Birth as a human being is meant for this purpose. Man has to realisethat he is essentially divine. One has to attain Divinity. But this is not aseasy and as simple as it seems. After all, a fall is easy and quick too.

Take this example. As you come toKodaikanal by bus climbing the hills, the bus makes a lot of noise. Lorriesalso struggle and make loud sounds climbing these hills and reachingKodaikanal. But, the very same bus or lorry finds it easy to go downhill. Sois the case with human life too! You have to struggle and work hard to come upin life. But to fall from a height and ruin yourself is easy, simple, andquick.

Take another example. When youshoot an arrow, the more you pull it backwards closer to the string, the arrowgoes farther. Similarly, if you work more, your success will be equallygreater. A rocket, the moment it is launched with force, jerks backwards andthereafter it gets released into space where it rises with burning flames. So, in life the amount of effort you put in decides your rate of success.

Q52) Swami! Kindly tell us how toachieve greatness in life?

Bhagawan:Never allow this sort of idea to get into your head. You are mistaken if youthink that you have achieved something very special and unique by becominggreat. No, not at all. Becoming great in life should not be your aim. Thereare several great people in society. I don't think this is important or thatthis matters most. Goodness is superior to greatness. Instead of aiming to begreat, try to be good. It is far more important to be a good man than a greatman.

What is the difference betweenthe two? A great man sees man in God, while a good man sees God in man. Ravana, as portrayed in the Ramayana, was undoubtedly a great man. Heconsidered Rama, the Lord, a mere man. But, Rama was an ideal good man. Ramasaw divinity in a bird like Jatayu, in squirrels, and even in rakshasas likeVibhishana. Women like Sabari, illiterate people like Guha as well as saintsappear to Rama like his own reflections. So, Rama was good. So, you should tryto get the reputation that you are a good man and not a great man.

Q53) Swami! What is an idealgovernment?

Bhagawan:In an ideal government everyone willingly observes the rules and regulationsof the State. Everybody discharges his or her responsibilities. 'Godment' issuperior to Government. But, today we see people fighting for their rights, forgetting their duties.

You should not give any scope forlaziness. All employees should work most sincerely doing justice to thesalaries they receive every month. Otherwise, they will be cheating orbetraying their fellowbeings or the government. People should cultivatesdmarasyam, integration, samagrata, coordination, samaikyata, unity, andsaubhrdtrata, fraternity.

Look at this piece of cloth. Thisis very strong because the threads are closely interwoven. But if you separatethe threads, you can cut it with your finger. Everybody should know thatstrength lies in unity. India could achieve independence but not unity. Youare free to walk waving your walking stick, so long as it does not hit thenose of another pedestrian and your freedom does not rob the independence ofothers.

Fundamentals applicable to allmust be followed. The individual is less important than the community orsociety. It is always better that you manage to employ yourselves in learningthose things that are needed for society. Your education should help you tobetter the community.

Q54) Swami! This gentleman is afamous journalist. Many say that he reports well for the newspapers.

Bhagawan:Is that so! Good! Who is a journalist? He who writes a general list of mattersin papers is a journalist. What is news? All the information from North, East, West and South forms news. It is good to know the news that comes from theoutside world. What about nuisance that comes from within you? Know that andcorrect yourself.

Q55) Swami! What is essential forus now?

Bhagawan:If you have love, it is enough. Everything will be added unto you. Service, sacrifice, humility, devotion, discipline, etc are contained within love. Itis only love that prompts and promotes all virtues. Where there is love, therewill be no ego, hatred, jealousy and such other low mean, animal qualities.

There was a lady in Paris. Sheled her life with the little money she had. She saw one day some helplessfootpath dwellers shivering in the cold. She was deeply moved by this sight.Everyday she used to take a few blankets along with her and offer them tothose poor, needy and forlorn. This had gone to the notice of the elders andfinally the government. They decided to honour her. A few youngsters came toher to congratulate her. She said that she was not happy since she could nothelp everyone, when the compassionate Almighty God was helping everyonealways. She further added that she felt ashamed and frustrated, as her helpcould not be extended to everyone.

I will tell you another story.There was in an army a soldier who lost both his legs in a war and had to movewith the help of crutches. Since his service was relatively short, he was noteligible for all the retirement benefits. The Major of his unit gave him somemoney and asked him to return. The soldier, on his way back home, had to stopin a village and take shelter in a choultry as it was raining heavily. Themoney on hand also was exhausted. Next morning, a schoolgirl happened to passthe same street, saw this soldier, and made enquiries. The girl was deeplymoved by his plight. Since then, she used to go to school an hour earlyeveryday, collect some fruits on the way, sell them, and purchase a fewchapatis for the soldier.

After a couple of weeks, theMajor happened to pass the same way and noticed the soldier. The major wassurprised to see him, for even after a long time he had not yet reached homedue to paucity of funds. The Major found out how the soldier was managinghimself all these days. In the meantime, the girl came and served chapatis tothe soldier. The Major followed her and went to her house. On seeing him herparents thought that their daughter must have done something wrong and so hehad come to make an enquiry. When they were about to punish her, the Majorintervened and said to her parents, "You are indeed very lucky! How many of ushave such children with magnanimity, love, concern for the needy, and thespirit of service?" He was about to give some gold coins to her parents whosaid "Sir! We don't want all this. We can live with our hard earned money. Whocan guard these gold coins at home? Please leave us alone, Sir!" The Majorfelt happy and left for his native place where he found an eligible bridegroomfor this girl and performed her marriage. This is the true wealth of love.'Expansion of love is life. Contraction of love is death'

 

CHAPTER III YOUTH

Q56) Swami! We go to colleges and universities for studies and acquire knowledge. We take up some employment thereafter. We draw our salaries, but, the pity is whomsoever we meet starts saying, "I don't have peace of mind" . Why is this so? What is to be done?

Bhagawan: Mere education will not give you peace of mind. Sage Vyasa compiled all the Vedas, wrote the great epic Mahabharata, the eighteen Puranas and the Brahmasutras. Yet, his mind was restless, without peace. At this stage of Vyasa's anguish, sage Narada advised him to write the Bhagavata, a work, which incorporated the lilas of the Lord and life sketches of some of the most outstanding devotees of the Lord who sang the full glory of His miracles. It was only then that he enjoyed peace and bliss. Neither position, nor status, nor scholarship, nor influence, nor wealth, nor fame, no, none of these achievements can ever give you peace of mind. It can't be received from anyone nor can it be located at a place. No external objects, articles, or possessions can give you peace of mind.

The root cause of loss of peace is the bundle of desires. So, I often tell you "less luggage, more comfort, make travel a pleasure" , the maxim of the Indian Railways. Therefore, a ceiling on desires is most important.

"Don't feel sad that you don't have koti , one crore of rupees, but be happy that you have enough for ro ti " (food)

"Don't feel unhappy over not having a car, but be happy that you have a kalu " (leg). .

"Don't cry over a scorpion bite, but be happy that you are not bitten by an enormous snake" .

"Don't grieve that a snake has bitten you, but be grateful to God that you didn't die because of that" .

It is in contentment that peace and happiness are present. Who is the richest man? The man with contentment is the richest man. Who is the poorest man? He who has many desires is the poorest man.

Many come to me and say, "I want peace" . I tell everyone, "The answer is in your request itself. When you say, 'I want peace', there are two components 'I' and 'want'. 'I' is mamaka ra or the 'ego' or attachment, and 'want' is kama or desire. When you give up these two 'I ego' and 'want desire', 'peace' is already there.

Q57) Swami! Many of us are helpless when we interact with youngsters. They often say, "Don't interfere with Bhagawan: our freedom. We are independent and act in the way we choose. " We find it difficult to convince them about what we think is right, and to guide them in the right direction. What should we do in the present circumstances?

Bhagawan: From your statement, it is very clear that modern youth do not know what freedom is. They use terms like sveccha , freedom and svatantra, independence, indiscriminately without knowing their correct meaning.

What is freedom? What is independence? If freedom means behaving as we like, without any norms, in what way then are we different from birds and beasts which act as they like? They move about freely without any restrictions. They also procreate producing dozens and dozens of young ones. If that is what the youngsters mean and want by 'freedom', insects, birds, and animals, without attending any universities and getting degrees are able to manage to secure food and shelter and live freely as ordained by nature. Then in what way does your freedom benefit you? What is your specialty? What for is your education? Animals are better than you as they have some reason and season. You have neither reason nor season.

What is sveccha, freedom? If the Sanskrit word sveccha is analysed properly sva+iccha is sveccha. Sva means 'yourself', i.e. soul, spirit, atma, iccha means 'will'. Thus, sva, atma plus iccha will means the will power of atma. So this relates to our atma. Is it that sveccha that our youngsters want today? The pity is they do not know the meaning of the word they use.

Then, modern man says, "I have svatantra, independence, to do anything I like. Can't I be independent?" Here also youngsters do not know the meaning of svatantra. Does svatantra mean reckless, careless, and irresponsible behaviour? No. If you think that moving and roaming around, eating and drinking anything to your liking, are the signs of independence, don't you see that cats and rats also enjoy themselves in the same manner? Does independence mean food and drink? You are spending your entire lifetime any way on these two, food and drink. Life has come down to the level of just loading and unloading.

Then what is svatantra, independence? You have to remember in this context one important point. True, you have independence. But, there is a limit. Your independence should not come in the way of the independence of others. So you have independence up to the point that it does not affect the independence of others. A small example. A gentleman on a fine morning started his stroll, waving his walking stick and swinging it freely. After some time a man passing that way pointed out, "Do not swing your walking stick like that!" Then this man said, "Why not? I have independence and can move my walking stick in any way I like" . But, the other said, "Sir, it is true. But your independence to swing your walking stick ends where my nose begins to appear because while swinging your walking stick, I am afraid, you might hit my nose" . This is the limitation of your independence.

We also hear people say, "We are celebrating svarajya, Independence Day. " Is it true? No. Here sva means 'self'. Have you mastered yourself? Do you have control over your senses? Usually svatantra means becoming independent of foreign rule. You break the chains of slavery under the yoke of the rulers and declare independence. This is political independence. This is not enough.

Spiritually also you should be independent by controlling your senses, conquering your weaknesses and checking your evil tendencies.This is independence in the kingdom of Atma. You become truly independent only after you have conquered desire, lust, greed, anger, hatred, avarice, sense of vengeance, etc. You have to understand the meaning of svatantra in this sense.

Q58) Swami! What is the ideal ambience of a classroom?

Bhagawan: You should follow your ancient traditional culture. A student with vinaya, humility, and vidheyata , obedience will be able to acquire thorough knowledge. Students should evince keen interest in the subject they study, and even ask questions. Whenever they have doubts, they should seek clarifications from their teachers. Therefore, a student should be seated at a lower level than a teacher who occupies his seat at a higher level on a chair. Water always flows downwards, so does knowledge. Fire travels upwards. Similarly, the fire of wisdom of a student travels upwards.

Q59) Swami! Today we find imitation in all spheres of life. In particular, this imitation is very common among youngsters. What does Swami say about it?

Bhagawan: Imitation is weakness. This is a defect in the modern youth. Imitation is human, creation is divine. Imitation makes you forget your natural behaviour also.

A crow happened to see a swan and was very much attracted by its graceful and dignified gait. The crow started imitating. It started walking slowly for a while, then started jumping and finally was about to fly with the result that it had lost its own way of walking. It looked so awkward and artificial. Therefore, one has to be natural. Imitation is not only unnatural, but also ridiculous.

Q60) Swami! Today many people, particularly youngsters, are wasting their time. Many are lazy, and idle away their precious time. So, in spite of rich resources, the country is not progressing. Kindly suggest a cure for this malady.

Bhagawan: There is no dearth of anything in this country. We have sufficient resources. People are also highly resourceful and talented: There is nothing in the world outside which is not here in Bharat. As the Kannada saying goes, enna bharate tanna bharati .

History tells you that in the past this country was the target of invasions and attacks by many foreigners drawn by the riches and the resources here. But today, we find many lazy people wasting their precious time. Though they draw fat salaries, they don't work proportionately. Thus, the country is betrayed and cheated. You should follow Time. Time will not follow you. God is time, samvatsaraya namah. Time is God. Kalaya namah, kalatitaya namah, kaladarpadamanaya namah are some of the epithets of God depicting him as the Master, the Designer and the Controller of Time. The Namavali emphasises this aspect of Divinity. So, if you waste your time, it is a sin. You should spend time in the most sacred way.

I tell my boys often:

See no evil, see what is good,

Speak no evil, speak what is good,

Hear no evil, hear what is good,

Do no evil, do what is good.

Therefore, it can be concluded that 'casting evil looks, hearing evil words, talking evil, thinking evil, acting evil', amount to waste of time.

You should work hard. "Thou shalt live by the sweat of thy brow, " says the Holy Bible. But, today it is not like that; people would rather like to have their earnings without putting in any effort. Any work you do, do it with namasmarana, repeating God's name. This is bhakti marga, the path of devotion. Such work turns itself into an offering to God. This is anubhava jnana or Wisdom borne out of experience or Practical Knowledge.

Idle people, lazy fellows can't achieve anything in life. Truly, if you work with both the hands couldn't you feed one stomach? You, know how a photographer clicks a camera. He adjusts his lens calculating the distance and asks you to be ready before he clicks. Doesn't he? But, kalud u , the God of Death, does not give you any time nor does he ask you to be ready as he clicks the camera of life. He takes away your life all of a sudden, unnoticed. So, you should be ever ready to face , death. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to make the best use of time in the most sacred way. Observe God's creation: the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and the Planets. All of them move in their orbits so that you have day and night in your life, constituting time. Trees and rivers follow time and are an ideal to humanity. So; it is said that nature is the best teacher.

Swami has no holiday. You have at least a Sunday as a holiday during the week. I receive thousands of letters everyday. I read them all. I attend to all my work. I walk miles everyday moving amidst you. I supervise, monitor, guide and direct all matters relating to the University, the Superspecialty Hospital and the Water Project personally, besides thousands of Sai Centres spread all over the world. I don't take rest; I don't have any interval or a holiday. Your happiness is my happiness. God incarnates to show you the ideal way of life. So, don't waste time. By karma, proper action, uphold dharma, righteousness, and merge in Brahman Divinity, and thus redeem your lives.

Q61) Swami! Everywhere we hear people speaking of 'brain drain'. Statistics indicate that from year to year the number of educated people going abroad is increasing. Is this good?

Bhagawan: This is not good. It is not proper on the part of the young people to leave this country and settle in foreign countries. Here, in Bharat, according to tradition, you have five mothers almost equally venerable. These five are the most revered and ranked along with one's own mother. Who are those five mothers? The first and foremost, of course; is the dehamata, the physical mother. It is this mother who has given you birth, struggled hard serving you and sacrificed everything for your comfort and upbringing. So, she has to be revered. The second is gomata, the cow. It is the cow that gives you milk and helps to nurture and strengthen your body. You have to be grateful to the cow. The third is bhumata, Mother Earth. It is on the earth that we live. We cultivate the land and grow grains. All the metal ores we extract and use are treasured in the Earth. The fourth is Vedamata, Mother Scripture. It is the Vedas, that teach you the aim and the goal of life while showing you the spiritual path as well. We should be grateful to Mother Scripture, as we should be to our mothers. The fifth is des'amata, Motherland. Your culture, tradition, and rich heritage are all embodied in this land where you are born. You have to treat your des'a , country, as your mother. So it is called des'amata , Motherland. des'a

For the simple reason that a woman you meet happens to be more beautiful than your mother, you will not call her 'amma', mother. This message is conveyed in the Ramayana. At the end of the war, after Ravana had died, Lakshmana said to Rama: "O Brother! This Lanka is prosperous and exceedingly beautiful. Our enemies have all died, and we have every right to rule this land. O Lord! Why don't you become its king? Bharata has been already been there for fourteen years as the king of Ayodhya. We can as well ask him to continue his reign there, and we stay here and rule this kingdom. " Then Rama replied, "O Lakshmana! Your motherland is greater than heaven itself. Your mother may be ugly and another woman you have seen may be beautiful. Yet, you don't address the beautiful woman as 'amma'. "

Whatever may be the country you belong to, it is your Motherland. Everyone must be patriotic. Everyone must love his or her own country. You should serve your country.

Q62) Swami! What are your comments on brain drain? Many highly educated professionals like engineers, doctors, computer experts plan to go abroad and settle there for better and higher prospects of income and placement in life. This is the cause for worry in many circles, both government and private. What do you feel about this?

Bhagawan: It is most unfortunate that this trend is on the rise. This is not good at any point of time anywhere in the world. You are born in this society. So you grow up, educate yourself, make money, name and fame in this society. Only through this society you could get your clothing, food and shelter: Have you come up on your own without the society you live in? Could you make a career for yourself without its support? Should you not express your sense of gratitude to it for all it has done for you?

Man should never be an ungrateful creature. The best way to be grateful is to serve. You know, our people put in greater effort, and work more sincerely abroad. While they are here they don't show the same spirit and the same zeal in their work. They are not as sincere and industrious here as they are in foreign countries. In fact, the emoluments they get here by doing their best will be the same as they get abroad, a fact they fail to realise. To some extent, parents also are responsible for this problem of brain drain. They don't properly inculcate in children the values of work, patriotism, sacrifice, love and gratitude.

So, it is your fundamental duty to serve the society in which you are born and brought up. You see many a foreigner coming here. They learn lots of things from this sacred land of your birth, whereas our people forget what they know. Some of our people are even inferior to locals and natives of foreign countries in respect of observing traditions. What for is our education? Is it for the decline of human values? Janani janmabhumi s'ca svargadapi gariyasi . Rama observed 'Mother and motherland are greater than Heaven.'

Q63) Swami! Modern youth, in the name of generation gap, are not prepared to pay heed to their elders. Advise and give us your message.

Bhagawan: This is meaningless. What are the changes you notice in the name of generation gap? The sun rises only in the east and never in the west. There is no change in the laws of nature. Don't you feed the same stomach every day? Don't you wash the same face every day? Don't you clean the same utensils every day? Don't you wear the same clothes? So, all important things need to be done time and again. In the name of generation gap you should not neglect doing things that need to be repeated.

You shouldn't turn a deaf ear to the advice of your elders branding them as senile, old hags. No. They are persons with rich experience. They are your well Â≠wishers. You must listen to them, obey and follow their instructions. The modern generation is not prepared to listen to the elders. It is foolishness and utter ignorance to brush aside all that the elders say. It amounts to pride and egotism. You will be ultimately ruining yourself if you don't follow the valuable advice of elders.

Q64) Swami! We have on one side our parents pulling us towards the world and on the other, the divine teachings we have been fortunate enough to receive from you. We wonder which of the two will dominate and influence us.

Bhagawan: If the ideas of your parents are against God, you should choose God and definitely not your parents. You must clearly explain and appeal to them and then convince them of the value and importance of the spiritual path. Among the Bal Vikas children, there are a large number who have brought about a change in their parents. There are many who have been influenced and transformed by the children of Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School and the students of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. There should be a change in the family of the children first, then in the society.

In fact, you are not from your parents, but you are through your parents. Truly, you are from God. If you are convinced of this, your words and actions would be godly. Take a simple example. You fill a container with sweet milk pudding, payasam. If the container has holes, you will expect the same sweet pudding to come out of these holes. Will you not? Similarly, when you know that you are from God, your words, thoughts and actions will be divine.

Q65) Swami! We are progressing in Science and Technology. At the same time, our modern youth are not able to face life's problems courageously. They are depressed by the slightest problem. They are not able to bear any suffering with patience, and easily take to drink and drugs. What is Swami's message to our youth?

Bhagawan: Today, many young men and women go to Colleges and Universities for studies. There are many specialisations in every branch of knowledge. This is, on the whole, good. But the pity of it is that we find innate, vital human qualities deteriorating fast and disappearing altogether.

Education is not for living, but it is for life.

Education is not for transmitting information, but it is for transformation.

Education is for elevating the human personality to the mansion of God.

Education should not be instrumental to earning annas, but to earning gunas, values.

Education is not for ' ji tam' , salary, but it is for ' jivitam, ' life.

Without values even if one is highly educated, what is the use? Is there progress without values? Will Science and Technology help you, if you have no values? It is for this reason, viz., the absence of values, that modern youth take to drugs and alcohol.

The youth are not vira, courageous, but bhira, timid. They should be masters, instead they are slaves. They should know "Life is a challenge. Meet it" . They have to encounter and overcome all the problems and difficulties in life rather than choose to run away from them and feel frustrated. Since life is a challenge, you should meet it. Life is full of keen competition in all fields, scientific, technological, physical, ethical, political and spiritual. They should fully equip themselves with the right weapons and be ever ready to face the challenges of life.

A similar thing happened during the Mahabharata war. Arjuna wanted to run away from the battlefield being totally disheartened like a coward. At that time, Lord Krishna instilled in him the needed courage and morale by teaching him the Bhagavadgita, the Song Celestial. This acted like calcium and glucose injections that gave strength of mind and body to Arjuna.

Life is a sports ground, life is a game, play it. You have to play with sportsmanship and accept victory or defeat, gain or loss., with equanimity. In this world, everyone may not have everything, but there is none without love. So, life is love, share it. God is love, love is God; hence, live in love. Your heart is full of love, but with how many are you sharing this precious gift? Question yourself. Love begets love. Today it is not happening. This' is the main reason for all conflicts; misunderstandings, and differences. Do your duty with all your skill and to the best of your ability. Don't be lazy, building castles in the air. You work such that your dreams come true, "Life is a dream. Realise it!" Nowadays, you plan in a funny way, so very far from reality. Is it life? No.

Yogah karmasu kaus'alam do your duty sincerely praying to God. Then, your work will be transformed into worship. Your karma, action, will turn into yoga, spiritual communion. Then, duty and work will become a spiritual discipline on the path of karmayoga. Don't merely dream, don't spend time in meaningless fancies. Know that life is duty.

Q66) Swami! You seem to be very much upset and annoyed when anything goes wrong in respect of discipline, educational standards and personality development in general. Swami! You come down heavily upon students when you see their slackness in coming up to your expectations and openly reprimand the guilty in public. It is terrifying to be a witness to this sort of a thing. I get fearstricken when I think of you, Swami, in that mood. How are we to reconcile ourselves to such a situation and take it positively?

Bhagawan: First of all, you should know that Swami is completely selfless. You should also note very clearly that Swami is never angry with anyone: "God is Love, Love is God" . I pretend to be angry and unhappy with you only to correct you. Even that apparent anger vanishes very soon like a shower of hail. You cannot call anyone a guru if he accepts and endorses all that you do and say. He is a guru in the true sense of the term if he corrects you and turns you in the right direction as your wellwisher.

Suppose this is a workshop. All damaged and spoiled vehicles come here for repair. I must, if I am a mechanic, tighten bolts, nuts, screws, etc. Similarly, I should correct your mistakes, make you free from your faults, see that you are rid of your weaknesses and defects and finally mould you into ideal citizens of this country. Your mistake must be corrected immediately then and there itself, as and when it is committed. I should be harsh enough to correct you. You bend iron when it is hot, don't you? But, when it is not hot, no man with all the strength of his muscles will be able to bend it. So, you should be corrected and admonished when you go wrong immediately. If your mistakes are pointed out in public, you don't repeat them.

Take a small example here. Suppose, wearing a lungi (a South Indian informal dress, a long robe wrapped round the waist, down to the feet), you are sweeping your room with a broom. Suddenly your friend comes to see you. What do you do? You will put the broom aside, change your dress and make yourself presentable to your friend. Why do you do that? After all; you are cleaning your room. Nothing wrong about it! You don't want to be seen in your informal dress. You want to be dressed neatly before you meet him. You care for him. Don't you? So also here, when I point out your mistakes in public, you will be able to correct them forthwith and you will also be careful enough in future not to repeat such mistakes, won't you?

In fact, I don't lose anything if you are spoiled. I don't gain anything if you are good. I don't expect anything from you. I want you to be good and get a good name to your parents, your institution, and your country. This is not for me, but for your ultimate good.

Q67) Swami! Today when we meet students and ask them what they are doing, we hear them say that they are in the computer line or doing an M. Tech. Course. We want to know Swami's views on this craze for computer studies?

Bhagawan: One of the most important things you should know is that all your modern education is within you. You are the 'Computer'. You are the 'Generator'. There is 'Electricity' in you. There is 'Heat' in you. You are the 'Magnet'. Everything around you is nothing but the 'reflection', 'reaction' and 'resound' of your inner being.

You say that a computer is great. You stand in front of a computer and put a question, "Who is my wife?" Do you get the answer? No. Why? The computer should be fed with some information which you get back as and when you want it, isn't it so? It shows only what has already been supplied to it. Nothing new! It was, after all, a man who made the computer. So, naturally, man is greater than a computer. Your brain is a computer with all your memories and experiences recorded therein. When a mosquito bites you even while you are talking to me, you will pick it up and throw it out. How? There is communication. On the way, when your eye finds a thorn, the leg automatically passes it, but doesn't step on it. Why? There is a magnetic force within you.

When I ask you, "What are you doing?" some of you may say, 'M. Tech'. What do you mean by 'M. Tech.'? You may reply, 'Master of Technology'. Then who is 'master'? What is "Technology" ? A person who has control over his senses is a 'master', but not everybody. You are merely 'Misters' Mr. Rao, Mr. Kumar and so on, and not 'Master'. You should use your 'knowledge' for the advancement of society; otherwise, it turns into 'allergy'. You should go to society with your knowledge, 'Take knowledge'; this is 'technology'. Otherwise it is 'tricknology'. It can never be 'technology'.

Q68) Swami! What are the qualities of a leader?

Bhagawan: There are mainly two qualities that every leader must possess. Since these are missing, we don't have good and ideal leaders today. Eventually we find disturbances, agitations, and tensions everywhere.

These two qualities are 'Individual Character' and 'National Character'. In the past this country had leaders possessing these two qualities, leaders such as Tilak, Netaji, and Patel, and so on. You can't just call anyone a leader unless he possesses 'Individual Character" . A leader should lead, but not push from behind. A true follower becomes a good leader later on. Without being a servant; you can't be an ideal master. Every leader must always remember this, 'first be', 'then do', and 'then tell'. First, you must 'be' what you 'profess', and 'do' what you 'profess'. Then you will have the right to 'tell'. By doing good, an ideal leader tells others to be good. This is why I often tell my students, "Be good, Do good, and See good" .

Q69) Swami! We often wonder at the way you instruct and advise your students. We don't think that we, as parents, can ever do this in the same manner as you do. You are great and benevolent, offering free education to our children. You also teach them how they should conduct themselves as responsible citizens in society. Your love excels the love of even a thousand mothers. Your love is an ocean of fathomless depth. Some of the M.B.A. boys of your Institute of Higher Learning are here. Would you please give them a message?

Bhagawan: Education is not for living, it is for life. This has to be known first. It is not the job or salary that matters. You have got to make use of your education for the betterment of society through service. Education is not meant to help you meet selfish ends and selfinterests. It is very strange to see students nowadays opting for courses with one eye on the salary they are likely to get after their studies rather than on their aptitude. Parents also think along the same lines. This is not proper or correct. It is most necessary to express gratitude to the society in which you are born and brought up, and where you get name and fame besides money. You must respect your parents, serve and please them. You should make them very happy every way. You say that Swami's love is equal to the love of a thousand mothers. You don't know even the love of your own mother. How can you, then, know and estimate the love of a thousand mothers!

The MBA boys, after getting their degree, are going to be appointed as managers. It is very good, no doubt But you should also know certain things that you don't find in books. You have stuffed your brains with bookish knowledge. But you must put it into practice. You should also know that it is not always possible to put into practice all that you have read in books. You have to apply your knowledge to the ground realities and work out solutions for the problems you face.

As a manager, you can't simply sit, dressed in a suit, and relax in a chair under a ceiling fan, having your tiffin and other refreshments. You have to put to yourself the question whether you are working justifying your salary. Otherwise, you should consider yourself a cheat or a betrayer of the company. You have to work sincerely. You shouldn't change your jobs and companies frequently. No one will trust you because the new company you want to join for higher emoluments will start feeling that you would quit any day for a little more money, if offered elsewhere. You can come up in your company with your skill, talent and hard work.

The MBA boys should know all the details with regard to raw materials, power supply, accounting, finances, marketing, advertisement and machinery as well. They should also be aware of the trade unions and their activities and the kind of obligations of the company to the government. In no case should you compromise on quality, because you lose your name in public. The rise and the rate of profits may be slow and low initially, yet this should not trouble you. One day it will stabilise. You should observe every worker and the way a machine is handled by him. You should ensure that every worker is able to do all kinds of assignments given to him from time to time such that you don't have to depend on one hand or a few hands to run the factory.

As an MBA degree holder, in the capacity of a company's manager, you will be under the control of the Managing Director or Board of Directors. At times, you may have to consult them before taking certain important decisions. You have to be very humble and polite in their presence. Even if you disagree with them on any issue, you shouldn't condemn or contradict them outright. You shouldn't oppose them openly then and there. Take another opportunity to meet them. Find out their mood and when they are calm and cool, you meet and explain clearly the pros and cons of the problem and try to bring them round to your point of view. Then, there will be every scope for them to find a point in what you say.

Today you need to know another subject, Re-Â≠engineering. When a factory or industry is closed or bankrupt, you should investigate the reasons for its closure. You should study every factor very clearly and find out proper solutions to the problem and the appropriate steps to be taken to reopen and revitalise the factory and make it effectively function thereafter. You also have a paper on Rural Development in your MBA course. You need to know the background, resources and needs of the village, its atmosphere and socioeconomic conditions even before you start working in a particular village. Three or four of you may join and start an industry on your own. You have to uphold the basic human values unconditionally and uncompromisingly. You are valued because of this reason only. Always keep in view the needs of your country, the systems to be adopted, the procedures to be followed, the national resources and national development.

Q70) Swami! Listening to your spiritual elucidation of worldly studies, we are lost in wonder. Our Swami, who brings into the open the values of several disciplines, is the World Teacher. We learn that Swami had given a message to the M.B.A. students. If you consider us fit to receive it, kindly describe the salient points to us.

Bhagawan: Our institute offers M.B.A., and M.F.M. courses. But, first, what is meant by "business" ? What does a "market" mean? Who is a "manager" ? Students learn these things in the classroom and from their texts. However, business and marketing are spread across the entire globe. Know that wherever giving and taking occur, that is a market. This exchange, this give and take activity is business. Not merely a shopping complex.

In the market called the world, what we call the Mind is the Manager. This Mind has to manage well; then, the Heart is a Leader. Between one event and another, there is time; between one thing and another, there is space. What takes place between the two is karma.

Now let us turn to appreciate the love of a guru or preceptor. Teachers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are famous the world over. Of these, Socrates is quite familiar to you. The judges sentenced Socrates to death because he thought that under the 'evil' influence of Socrates, young men were taking to wicked ways instead of joining the army, as they should. But Socrates who loved his students was not prepared for that sort of death. Ordering them to obey him strictly, he bade them procure some poison. He had them seated all around him, and asked them to touch the vessel of poison. He thought, it is better to die among his students than at the hands of foolish judges. Such was his love for them. The disciples who realised this became illustrious later on.

Consider the founder of the Bata Company, a man of immense devotion to God. He used to make creaking shoes with a cushion of horse and donkey hair. He made a living out of selling these and served the people thus. His devotion and his spirit of service led to his rise to honour and fame. Therefore, love, devotion, and the spirit of service are essential for a Manager

Alexander was getting ready to invade Bharat; he approached his teacher to seek his blessings. Then, the teacher said, "My son! I heard that some of the most highly esteemed objects are to be found in Bharat. Get them for me as your offering to the teacher. First, there are in Bharat wandering ascetics endowed with perfect devotion and absolute detachment. Bring along with you one such ascetic. Second, Bharat is a land sanctified by the feet of great spiritual aspirants, mahants, heads of mendicants, sages, and incarnations of God in the course of their wanderings. That dust is very sacred. Bring some along. Third, they say river Ganga washes off all sins. My son! Bring some Ganga water in a vessel. Fourth, there is the riches of the Bhagavadgita which underscores the right way to live and its goal. Procure a copy for me!"

Now, being born in the land of Bharat, you have to develop the spirit of sacrifice. Our high ideals and values help students to attain prestige and fame. Satya and Dharma are very important in life. They are as precious as the vital breath. Know that without these, life is barren. These qualities are absolutely essential for a Manager.

Q71) Swami! We don't understand what wisdom actually is. Isn't the knowledge we gain in our educational institutions wisdom? If not, how are we to acquire it easily?

Bhagawan: Practical knowledge is jnanam, or wisdom. It is not textual information. Feeling the presence of God always, everywhere, within, and around is jnanam , true wisdom.

 

CHAPTER IV

THE OUTER DOOR

 

Q72) Bhagawan! Should we follow any discipline or regulation in our food habits? Is that necessary for our spiritual pursuit? Sai devotees all over the world are vegetarians because of your teachings. This is amazing. We have none today to tell us matters relating to our food habits. Kindly direct us.

Bhagawan:

As is the food, so is the Mind.

As is the mind, so are our Thoughts.

As is the thought, so is the Action.

As is the action, so is the Result.

Therefore, the result depends on 'the food you eat. Meticulously and unerringly, you should follow discipline in your food habits. Food, Head, and God are to be viewed in this sequence. As is your food so is your head, as is the condition of your head, so is the manifestation of God in you.

You should not eat too much. You eat to live and never live to eat. Eating in excess is a tamasika quality. If you eat once a day, you are a yogi, if you eat twice a day you are a rogi, sick. If you take sattvika, soft, and balanced food, in moderate quantity, you develop sattvika or pious mind. If you eat rajasika , spicy, hot, food, you will have rajasika or emotional, agitated mind, and if you have tamasika food, meat, alcohol, etc., you will have tamasika or bestial, dull, passive mind. So, it is food that shapes the mind and on this your actions depend, leading to their corresponding consequences.

You should also think of patras'uddhi, cleanness of the vessels and utensils used, padarthas'uddhi, purity of the materials, pakas'uddhi clean method of preparation or cooking and bhavas'uddhi, purity of the thought of the person who cooks the food. You shouldn't eat food offered to you everywhere.

A few years ago; there lived a sanyasi, who, on invitation, dined at the residence of a businessman. That night this sanyasi, a celibate and spiritual seeker, could not sleep. Somehow, he fell asleep very late, and had a dream in which he saw a sixteenyearold girl shedding tears. Then, this sanyasi went to his guru and told him about the dream. The guru meditated for some time and told him the reason behind the dream. The day on which the businessman invited him for dinner happened to be the eleventh day after the death of his sixteenyearold wife and he was performing special rites traditionally. Since the sanyasi ate the food cooked for the occasion, the girl who had died appeared in the dream with tears in her eyes. The young girl's father was very poor and could hardly maintain his family. So, much against her wish, he gave her in marriage to this aged businessman. Out of frustration, she committed suicide by jumping into a well. The businessman had to perform her customary funeral rites and while doing so on the eleventh day, he requested the sanyasi to come over to his house for meals. This is the whole story behind the sanyasi's dream. So, without discrimination, you shouldn't eat any food offered to you.

A similar thing happened once to a disciple of Swami Nityananda. One day he went out of the ashram and ate food outside. While returning, he stole from a house a silver tumbler and brought it to the ashram. But soon, he felt very sad over his miserable plight, as he had resorted to a crime like stealing a silver tumbler. He cried and repented. The next morning, he went to his guru and confessed the whole thing. Because of his spiritual power, Nityananda could find out the reason. He said to his disciple, "Well, the food you had outside the asram was prepared by a cook who at one time happened to be a thief and as a result you developed the instinct to steal. " Therefore, cooks must have purity of thought.

Further, you should feel your body as light after eating as before eating. The best thing is to keep half of your stomach empty. The remaining half should be filled in with water and other foodstuffs. Tubers are not good for the body. You should not drink whole milk. You should mix some water in your milk and then drink it. You should have a minimum interval of four hours between two meals. You should take food, which gives you enough calories needed for the body. You shouldn't have too much of oily and fried curries. Sleep a while after lunch, and walk a mile after dinner. You should work hard and eat well.

Q73) Swami! In your organisation or your institutions, workers, students, teachers, devotees and doctors wear white dress always. Why? What is the reason?

Bhagawan: White dress symbolises purity and cleanliness. A pure white cloth may be compared to a clean mirror. If dust gathers on the mirror, you will not be able to see your reflection clearly. Similarly, buddhi, intellect, is like a clean white cloth. It is only then that you will be able to find out your own faults and apply your discrimination to rectify them. Today, this is not happening. People are able to see clearly the mistakes of others and don't find their own faults. If you stand in front of your mirror, you see your reflection. But, if you turn the mirror, towards the other man, naturally you find his reflection. Isn't it so? Similarly, the mirror of your buddhi or intellect is turned towards others, and this makes you see the mistakes of others.

Even the slightest spot or mark is very clearly visible on a white dress. If you wear coloured dress, you don't see dirt, dots, spots, marks or stains and so on. This is wrong. You should never hide and cover the dirt on your person. You should immediately clean and wash it off. You should share the good with others. Neither good nor bad should be in you. You should shed the bad in you and share the good with others. But, some of you keep the good to yourselves and distribute the bad to others. It is a mistake on your part to do so.

Lord Siva offers you the best way by setting forth an ideal to this world. He kept and retained poison in His throat. So, He is nilakantha , the bluethroated God. But, the cool and comforting moonlight from the moon over His head is distributed to others. It is for this purpose of sharing comfort with others that He kept the moon on His head.

Q74) Swami! Today Sai devotees are spread all over the world. They range from Heads of Governments to ordinary citizens. As your devotees, they enjoy special respect and esteem in society. What is the key to this?

Bhagawan: Naturally so! This is the effect of the company you are in. Even the string that passes through and binds the flowers in a garland acquires a value. The rat as the vehicle of Lord Ganesh is also worshipped. The bull as the vehicle of Lord Siva is respected. Likewise, all the vehicles of all our deities are worshipped.

Once Lord Vishnu sent a message to Siva through his vehicle, Garuda, the eagle. As Garuda was flying fast with the message and was about to land near Siva, due to a severe wind there, the dust rose up as in a dust storm. Watching this, the snakes adorning the neck of Siva started hissing at Garuda ready to bite him. Then Garuda replied to the snakes, "You are with Siva, so you are hissing at me thus fearlessly. You come out of the Lord and see what will happen to you! I can finish you off in no time" . In the same manner, since you are with me, you are respected and served. If you are away from me, you will be put to infamy and humiliation.

You should not run after all silly worldly things, like the common flies that land on anything and everything. Like honeybees you should only draw honey from flowers. Look at the person who drives the car of the President of India. He can never act as a common taxi driver. Similarly, those who sing the glory of God shouldn't run after people for petty favours.

Q75) Swami! We visit temples religiously. We go on pilgrimage once in a while. We continue to do our rituals and religious acts. But there is no cognisable change in our lifepattern. Why is this so, Swami?

Bhagawan: Worship, penance, meditation, bhajan, etc., are sacred activities that make your life meaningful, purposeful and useful. But you can't brand them as spiritual. All these are good actions and help you to spend time in a sacred way. Anything that you do with your mind (ego, 'I ness') can't be spiritual. The true spiritual path is atmavicara , selfÂ≠-enquiry.

The seeker should know that he is not the deha, body, the manas, mind, or the buddhi, intellect and that his atma, true self, is beyond time and space. The self is not a ndma, name, or a rupa, form with which it is identified in this transient world. Atma is eternal, pure and nondual. True spirituality is the awareness of atma. This is Brahman, the divinity which is spread all over in all creatures according to the scripture which says eko vasi sarvabhutantaratma. True spirituality alone can make you experience this awareness. But you find many forms of religious practice in the name of spirituality. The prasadam or sacrificial food offered to God is actually eaten by the devotees. They just show it to a picture or an image of God and the whole lot of it is eaten by them only (cupulu and mepulu, in Telugu). If God really starts taking anything offered to Him, I am sure, no one would offer Him anything.

Always remember that tyaga, sacrifice, is the highest and the best form of sadhana. You have to sacrifice your time, money, resources and energy. You should at least offer a tulasi leaf to God in worship. So, tyagenaike amr tatvamanasuh. Sacrifice makes you attain immortality. Tyaga is yoga, spiritual exercise.

Love expresses itself as sacrifice. Love without sacrifice is meaningless and totally selfish. You have to sacrifice the body feeling or attachment to the body. You have to sacrifice your wicked thoughts and bad feelings. Sacrifice is your true nature. Sacrifice is a divine quality gifted to man. In fact, you are not doing anything great and special by sacrifice. You are doing it for your own self.

A yogi noticed a cow struggling for life in a river. He went and rescued it. Someone asked him, "Why did you save the cow?" The yogi replied, "I saved the cow for my, own happiness. I couldn't see the cow struggling and suffering. " Many might have passed that way and noticed the cow in its miserable plight But none did a thing to save it. Therefore, sacrifice is an opportunity given to man.

There is another small story. A householder one day wanted to serve food to a Brahmin as part of a ritual he was performing. He could get one poor old Brahmin who agreed to dine at his house. The Brahmin came and hurriedly started eating the food placed before him. The householder felt like this: "What a Brahmin is he? He didn't even take his bath and do any puja before taking the food. It is not pun ya , meritorious to feed such a man" . He grew so angry with the old Brahmin that he beat him with a stick and drove him out holding him tight at the neck. On that day when the householder was asleep, he had a dream in which God appeared and said to him " Why did you invite the old Brahmin for food and beat him? Why did you turn him out wringing his neck? After all, you could not feed him even for one day while I have been giving him food all these eighty years! What a shame!"

Tyaga is above any restrictions and stipulations. A mother is ready to sacrifice her life for her child. Why? It is only love that makes her sacrifice. Trees sacrifice fruits so that you may eat them. No tree takes its own fruits. Rivers flow and sacrifice water to quench your thirst. The cow yields milk and sacrifices it for all of you to drink and nurture your body. Your body too is intended for sacrifice,

paropakarardhamidam s'ariram.

Worship, bhajan and such other external activities are less than seva and sacrifice. The hands that serve are holier than the lips that pray. Love of God is devotion, which has to be expressed as sacrifice. Love is sacrifice. Sacrifice is prema yoga, the path of love to God. Sacrifice is yoga. Be that this faith, devotion and steadfastness would get, strengthened and deep rooted. Through the path of jnana, which is selfenquiry, proceed to atmavicara , follow and experience God. It is said, jnanadeva to kaivalyam, the practical wisdom obtained from tyaga is the only way to kaivalyam, liberation. This is a process beyond the mind and the activity performed by the body. Then only will you achieve the expected results and attain ananda.

Q76) Swami! Why do we differ? Why does our behaviour vary? What is the root cause behind these differences? How are we to cultivate ideal and good ways in life?

Bhagawan: Since you have not studied and understood human nature wholly, you get this doubt. Man is a combination of three main qualities, demonic, bestial and human. It is the human quality that helps you to attain divinity.

You take, for example, an orange fruit. In it there are an outer bitter skin, hard seeds and soft juicy pulp. So also a human being has a demonic nature like the outer bitter skin of an orange, bestial temperament like the hard seeds; and finally the human values like the soft juicy pulp. Take for example a ripe tamarind fruit. Its outer skin is the bestial nature, its hard seeds symbolise demonic nature while its soft pulp is the human behaviour. If the pulp joins the seed, i.e., if human nature is in association with demonic behaviour, it expresses itself like a demon. If the soft pulp associates itself with the outer skin, i.e. if human nature joins bestial behaviour, it manifests itself as a beast.

So, more or less, this depends on the association, be it demonic or bestial. This is the root cause of all the differences. But it is human value that makes you ideal and enables you to experience divinity. There lies the sweetness and purpose of life.

Q77) Swami! Is it necessary for us to observe austerity and follow discipline only inside an asram or in the society outside as well?

Bhagawan: I suggest that you follow discipline and lead a simple life wherever you live. You may go to any place, but there also you should always follow niyama, discipline, have s'raddh a , sincerity, and take to sadhana, spiritual practice. This is the spiritual way of life.

Out of two sick persons, one may be treated as an outpatient and the other may be admitted to a hospital depending on the ailment. But, both should necessarily take medicine for a cure, should not they? Similarly, you may reside in an asram or outside: But you should definitely follow discipline, be simple, and lead a spiritual life. As individuals caught in the cycle of birth and death, bhava roga, you need to take the medicine of sadhana.

Q78) Swami! Some people pose challenges quite unwarranted. Pious and noble people are disturbed and agitated in such situations? What should we do with those who challenge us unnecessarily?

Bhagawan: Only egoistic, jealous people with bodily attachment challenge like this. Aspirants and seekers should not be disturbed by these challenges. You should not react to their words and be affected thereby. A cow that grazes in a field may challenge another cow. A pig that feeds on faeces can challenge another pig. Should man who takes food challenge a pig? You can talk to an equal but not to everyone. Don't respond to everyone and then lose your peace. In fact, you should face a challenge if you must, in this way, " Do you help everyone as I do? Have you taken up welfare programmes as I have done? Are you broadminded like me? How many people have you transformed into the righteous way of life?" People should have healthy competition. You should not challenge for petty, low, mean things.

Q79) Swami! We are engrossed in worldly, problems and responsibilities. We get deeply involved in selfÂ≠centred activities. Yet, we pray to God. In a sense, our minds are fully occupied with mundane thoughts. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: The Mahabharata explains this aspect clearly. The righteous Pandavas, the five brothers who spent their time in exile never lost their devotion. Everything in life depends on priorities. They kept God first, others next and they considered themselves the last. Therefore, they were successful and are remembered till this day. On the contrary, for the Kauravas, their cousins, their priorities were different. They kept their comfort and selfish interests in the first place, others next and God last. What happened? They lost the battle and got a bad name. Since they placed God last in their priorities, they 'lost.' the battle. If you have God with you, you don't need to worry. You will be successful in all fields. After all, in this world nothing is permanent. All are passing clouds. Not even one is permanent. Know that whatever happens in life, it is for your own good.

A human being walks on his two legs. So he is erect, unlike the fourlegged animals: After marriage, man loses some of his freedom with increasing responsibility and becomes " fourlegged" and his walking pace slows down. With a child born to him he has " six legs" like those of a scorpion, and with another child he turns eightlegged like a cockroach and his movement further slows down. All this bondage and attachment is of your own making. No one made it for you.

In spite of all your riches and positions, remember that true happiness lies in the company of and nearness to God. You may keep a fish in a gem studded golden vessel; it will never feel comfortable there. It freely swims only in water. Bliss lies in your true self. The rest, however valuable it is, leads only to unhappiness.

A simple example for you, here is a glass with water, and sugar at the bottom. If you taste the water on the top, it is tasteless and the water in the middle of the glass is equally tasteless. But, get a spoon, stir the water in the bottom well until the sugar gets totally dissolved in the water. Now you taste it, either at the top or in the middle of the glass, the water is sweet. So also in your life, 'the glass' is your 'body', 'water' is your life', the 'spoon' is your 'intellect' and 'sugar' is 'divinity'. If you exercise your intellect in the right direction, you will experience the sweetness of divinity everywhere. What you need are peace and happiness. You should pray to God for these two essentials. You worship Him and serve Him. You aspire to be happy and peaceful, no doubt. But, your prayers to God are for worldly possessions. So, aspirations and prayers are at variance with each other. This is your weakness.

Q80) Swami! Today, Sai glory brought almost everybody from all parts of the world to your feet. People from many countries, whose names we had never heard before, are coming to you. People of almost all linguistic groups of the world are here. We have representation from all walks of life. It is unfortunate that we, who have been here with you, find ourselves less devoted to you than your overseas devotees. We see them practice your teachings with much more sincerity of heart than us! Why is this happening?

Bhagawan: The experiences of the devotees depend on their sincerity, steadfastness, devotion and faith. Nearness in one way is responsible for not realising the actual value of Divinity. Don't you find a shadow under a lamp? Similar is the case here. As the light of the Avatar spreads everywhere, there is shadow underneath the light. You also know that honeybees come from a distance to suck the honey out of the lotus flower, while frogs, snails and fishes so near the lotus flower do not know the taste of honey. The same thing happens when God incarnates in human form. People who are very near Him will not to be able to realise His divine splendour.

When you hear of a mango fruit, you feel like eating it. But when you go to a market and see fruits there, you take a fruit close to your nose and start smelling it. Why? You doubt if it is a ripe fruit or not. The very mention of the name of the fruit made you long for it. But when you near it, you doubt. Isn't it so? Why go for such a farfetched simile? Well, you speak ecstatically to everyone saying that Baba appeared in your dreams and that you experienced His presence at your place. But, when you are in the immediate presence of Baba, you are not even thrilled and excited. You, people who are so near me, don't know the tremendous and magnificent experiences of devotees all over the world and their magnitude. A frog in a well cannot know the outer world, you see!

It is not the length of time or the number of years you are with Swami that matters! Bus drivers come here and go from here daily. What experience do they have? You may keep an iron ball in a water tank for any length of time. What happens? Absolutely it undergoes no change in any way! Just as darkness is dispelled by a flash of light, the darkness of ignorance should be dispelled by the light of wisdom.

If you have full faith in and love for Swami, you will follow His teachings. You find a spectacular transformation in the life of umpteen number of people everywhere. Why? It is because of their implicit faith in the teachings of Swami. I don't send invitations to anybody to come over here. There are no welcome boards nor do I say goodbye to anyone. But people come in large numbers everyday. Why? This is the love of Divinity that attracts and draws people, this Prasanti Nilayam

It is only God whom you respect, love and worship. You respect your boss, administrators; elders, etc. You love your parents, family, and friends. All the same, you don't worship your officers nor do you worship the members of your family. Isn't it so? But you respect, love and worship God only.

Q81) Swami, devotees come from far off places like Argentina, Philippines, Guatemala, Russia and many other countries from all over the world. Name a country, and its representation is there at Prasanti Nilayam. They go out of this place with heavy hearts, not able to leave you. How should they take it and what exactly do you want them to do in the circumstances?

Bhagawan: You should experience the omniscience of God. God is always with you, around you, below you, above you and in you. In fact, you are God. Devotees come to Swami to charge their batteries. Always remember this. 'Near' is not important to Swami, 'dear' is important. The flame burns brilliantly when the breeze blows. Two wooden pieces should be kept close together. This is 'nearness'. As you light and burn them, you should also fan them, so that the flame will rise upwards. This fanning is 'dearness'. Mere nearness is not enough.

There is a lotus flower in a lake. There are a number of fishes and frogs in the same lake that do not know the value of the flower. But honeybees come from long distances and suck nectar from the flower. Bees represent dearness while frogs and fishes stand for nearness.

Similarly, you know the lighthouse from which light spreads all around guiding the ship's voyage. But, under the lighthouse, it is dark because of the shadow. So, light around is dearness while the shadow underneath is nearness. So, devotees who go from here should understand this. They should strive to be dear to Swami and not merely near to Him.

Q82) Swami! It is our common experience that some of us are quite good for sometime, devoted, disciplined and dutiful especially when we are here in your proximity. Then, why do we change when we are somewhere else? What happens to all that we learn here? Why do we lose sacred qualities like sincerity, devotion and steadfastness when we are away? Kindly pardon our mistakes and let us know the causes of our downfall?

Bhagawan: This is a wrong statement. Sincerity, devotion, discipline, steadfastness and all the noble qualities that you claim to have possessed while you are here are not true and natural. They are artificial. They are like plastic flowers that are not fragrant and cannot attract bees. It is all your show or trick. God is never carried away by these artificial, temporary, and external features. God looks into your heart and internal nature.

You say that circumstances change you. If noble qualities were really present in you, you wouldn't change due to the change of circumstances. No change in the environment will ever affect you. Truly, the mistake lies in you only. You don't have strong faith and conviction. In fact, the seeds are there lying underground and are waiting to sprout at an appropriate time. Environment has no legs and hands and life to move about like you!

You are now here in Kodaikanal. You are fully clothed, with sweaters and shawls, rugs and blankets and all the woollen stuff to keep you warm in this cold place. If you don't have warm clothes, whose fault is it? Whom would you blame then? Similarly, you know how challenging and testing, life is in the world today. It is your own responsibility to carry with you the blanket of duty, the rug of devotion and wear the sweater of discipline whenever you are exposed to the severe cold winds of neglect of duty, disobedience of God's commands, and vagaries of ego and disbelief. Wearing this warm woollen clothing, you will not be affected by the cold climate: You have to protect yourself, and blaming the environment is of no use. If good thoughts and good behaviour are in you, you will remain unaffected, whatever be your surroundings.

Q83) Swami? We are here by your sheer grace and mercy. You say that you spend threefourths of your time on your boys. What do you want us to do?

Bhagawan: There is nothing you can do for me. I don't need anything from you. I only give and never receive. I do not accept or receive anything from anyone. I never stretch my hand before anybody in order to receive something. I have never asked anybody for anything till now. In fact, all things happen according to the will of Swami. But, I ask you to give me only one thing, and that is enough. What is it? It is your love. Your parents sometimes stay away from you. But I am always with you, in you, below you, above you and around you. I am indeed yourself. You remember this always, and that is enough. You follow Swami, you will shine like a precious gem in the future. You will be highly respected and you will get a good name in society. Whatever you have learnt here in the hostel and the college, and on top of all this, the love of Swami you have received, should never be forgotten. Get for yourselves a good name. Follow Swami's teachings.

Once King Janaka put a question in the open court, " Is there anyone who can teach me brahmaj nana, knowledge of the ultimate reality, within the time it takes to place my foot in the stirrup and ride on the back of my horse?" His preceptor, Yajnavalkya said, " Oh King! I shall teach you. Follow me" . King Janaka accordingly got up from the throne and started following him. After walking some distance, Yajnavalkya asked the king to stop and sit on the ground in the middle of the royal highway. Janaka obeyed and sat down accordingly.

Everyone was taken aback on seeing the King sitting on the ground. In vain they prayed to him to go back to the palace but he would not respond to any of his citizens. The army chief and the ministers heard the news; rushed off to the spot and pleaded with the King to let them know what had happened. Janaka did not open his mouth. The Queen came out of the royal palace, sat in front of him, cried and begged him to let her know what had happened. The King did not speak to her. Soon everyone came to know that Sage Yajnavalkya was responsible for the present plight of the King. They went out in search of him, and finally got him. They questioned him as to what he had done to the King that made him sit on the ground in the highway. Yajnavalkya replied that he did not do anything to the King, and never asked him to keep silent.

Followed by all of them, Yajnavalkya came to the King and asked him why he was remaining silent without replying to any of the queries made by those visiting him. Janaka said, " Swami! You asked me to follow you. I did so. You made me sit on the ground in the highway. I obeyed you. But you never asked me to reply or talk to anyone. I needed your permission to do anything other than what you had told me to do. The moment you wanted me to follow you, I was no longer my own. I had to wait for your instructions, isn't that right, Sir?" This kind of strict obedience to his Guru made Janaka a Rajarshi, a saint among kings. What is expected from all of you is following the teachings of Swami.

The Pandavas were acclaimed as the noblest of kings since they followed Lord Krishna unquestioningly. You follow Swami's command. That is enough. Since Anjaneya followed the command of his chief Sugriva, he could come so close to Rama and he could do the duty assigned to him successfully. This is why he is remembered today as a great devotee of Rama.

There is nothing that you can't achieve if you follow Swami's teachings. There was a Muslim devotee by name Mansoor. He always used to repeat analhak, which means 'I am God'. Hearing this, the King of the place was very furious and forbade him to repeat these words. But still Mansoor did not stop saying 'analhak'. The king became so very angry with him this time that he got Mansoor's hands and legs chopped off. Yet, Mansoor didn't stop repeating 'ahalhak'. The blood that was oozing out of the wounds started saying 'analhak'. Finally, the King got Mansoor burnt alive. Then the ashes from the burnt body started rising, echoing 'analhak'. This is an eloquent example of a devotee's staunch and unflinching faith in God. He may choose to die, but he would not under any circumstances lose his faith in God.

Q84) Swami! How can we develop confidence in ourselves?

Bhagawan: By discrimination if you eliminate all doubts and confusions, you can develop confidence in yourselves. Today no one is exercising this faculty of discrimination, a gift from God. You have buddhi, the intellect, which discriminates. Since you don't discriminate, you are full of confusion and doubts. Hence, modern youth are not able to accomplish anything worthwhile. For any human attempt, confidence is absolutely necessary.

Q85) Swami! I am interested in philosophy. Do you advise me to study philosophy?

Bhagawan: Many read books on philosophy. What is the use? Their reading of philosophy brings them down to " full loss" . It should be the other way round. Philosophy should " fillloss" in our life. Then only is its study useful. Go through the book of your heart. It is not enough if you merely repeat mantras. You will never be able to experience their efficacy by doing so. You have to know what you are repeating. In other words, you need to have practical knowledge.

Take for example, the Bhagavadgita, where in the first verse, dharmaks etre kuruksetre ; the king wanted to know from Sanjaya what was happening there in the battlefield. Does it not look silly and meaningless? In a battlefield what else can one expect other than fights and killing. Did King Dhritarashtra expect a dinner or, a football match in the battlefield? Then, why did he put that question to Sanjaya at all? Well, it is not as simple as it sounds. Dhritarashtra wanted to know from Sanjaya if his sons, the Kauravas had undergone any transformation in the last minute before the war started, which possibly could lead to a compromise between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. So, mere reading is not enough. One must know the inner significance and subtle meanings of the text for a clear understanding. This is " Fillloss" which is true philosophy.

Q86) Swami! How are we to believe all this is happening everyday in Kodaikanal? Can we estimate our good luck that is responsible for the golden opportunity of sitting at your lotus feet and listening to five discourses a day? How are we to retain this privilege?

Bhagawan: As you rightly deserve, you get this opportunity. But you need to note one important point. The Bhagavadg i ta says, ks in e pun ye martyalokam vis'anti , which means that the merit accrued is exhausted with the passage of time. You will have to return to the earth even from the highest of heavens.

One example. You know that some of your representatives are elected as legislators and some as members of the parliament. How long does their term last? Only five years. Does it not? Their term is for five years after which they have to go back to their constituencies. But as legislators, parliamentarians and people's representatives, if they frequently visit their constituencies, meet the electorate and render service to the voters who elected them to those positions, they can contest elections again and return to the assembly or parliament as the case may be for another term. Similarly, while enjoying the present golden opportunity you can still work for its continuity by satkarma, doing good deeds, sadalo cana , entertaining good thoughts and satsang, joining good company.

Q87) Swami! We have on one side the most invaluable spirituality while on the other, we have also friends and relatives diverting our attention towards the world. No doubt, it is our fault to pay heed to their words. Yet, we face the conflict. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: Today there are no true friends to anyone. Who are the friends of today's world and of what sort are they? After all, your friendship lasts for two or three years until you complete your studies here and leave the hostel. Later you separate from each other and go your own way. So long as you have money in your pocket and your father is in a good position, everyone would come to you and say " hello" , but the day your pocket is empty and your father retires, you will be left with none even to say 'good bye'. Can you still call anyone your friend?

Friendship in Sanskrit is known as 'maitri, ' pronounced as 'mythree'. Here three represents the harmony in thought, word and deed. Are there friends with this purity? Nowhere! Who is your true friend then? God is your real friend. God is the only friend for you as He is always with you and in you: Don't consider anyone else a friend of yours. Further, you should be very careful with people or your company. It is said, " Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are" .So all and sundry can't be your friends. A warrior of outstanding stature and an expert in archery, Karna fell into disrepute because he was in bad company and so he is branded as one among the wicked four, the " dust a catustaya " , Duryodhana, Dussasana, Sakuni and Kama.

Next, who are your relatives? In what way were you related to them before you were born? All of them come in. with the passage of time and pass off like passing clouds. Is it not so? Relatives come up to the main door as one dies and the members of the family at the most follow one's corpse to the, cremation ground. None follows the departed soul. It is only God who is with you during your life and even after your death. So God is your real friend and the only relation. These worldly people shouldn't be taken as friends and relatives.

Your life too is short. But God is awareness and existence. He is there before, during, and after your life. He is the eternal truth. So follow him, catch hold of God with your right hand as it is the right thing and catch hold of the world with your left hand as it has to be left behind sometime or other. It is thus the right thing to remember God always.

Q88) Swami! It is most unfortunate that there is no tangible change in our lifestyle though we have been here and listening to your divine discourses over the years. We do not know the reason why it is so. Kindly show us the way.

Bhagawan: Lack of practice is the only reason. When there is no power supply and it is dark all over, can darkness be dispelled by just saying " lamp" unless you light it? The hunger of a starving man can never be satiated by merely looking at the menu with a list of the most delicious items. He has to eat some of the items to appease his hunger, hasn't he? Can a sick man be cured of a disease by merely listening to the formula and composition of the medicine without his taking it? Can the suffering of a poor man be alleviated with all the knowledge of Economics and Accountancy? Can you attain mukti by reading books without practicing any of the instruction found therein? Instead of saying something without doing, it is better to do and not say anything. I repeatedly tell you that until you practice what you say, there is little effect even after listening to talks for years together.

Take a small example here. Suppose you have with you a matchbox full of matchsticks and you want to light a lamp. You will now have to open the box, pick up a stick and strike against the side of the box to light it. In case you fail to light the matchstick, even after striking it again and again, what does it mean? You then come to discover the meaning: the matchbox is wet. You cannot light a stick striking it against the box. What is to be done now? You have to dry the matchbox in the sunlight for some time.

Similarly, you are drowned in the water of worldly desires and attachments. Therefore, you can't light the lamp of wisdom. Dry your, mind with all its limitless desires and thoughts of worldly comfort in the sunlight of renunciation. Only then can you light the lamp of wisdom. You may be here listening to any number of discourses for any length of time, but you will not be able to achieve the expected results if you fail to translate the essence of one discourse into your daily life.

Q89) Swami! Because of wrong direction in our thinking, we feel dejected restless and often fail in our attempts. Kindly show us the way out of it.

Bhagawan: For all these agitations, disturbances, disappointments, depressions and failures, your wrong way of thinking is responsible. It is totally misdirected. Whatever may happen in life, you should think, " This is good for me" . You should know that everything that happens ultimately turns to your own good. This is called positive thinking. Today you are full of negative thoughts. How do you expect to know and experience God?

Your body, mind, intellect and the senses are completely negative, but your spirit, conscience, or Atma is positive. God is your conscience. Do you know why you are not able to realise and experience God? It is entirely due to these negative thoughts and attitudes. So, positive thinking and positive actions are very essential for spiritual progress. Only then will you be peaceful, blissful and successful.

Take your own example. It is absolutely because of positive thinking that you are able to plan your academic programme and prepare yourself accordingly, as also aim to secure a good rank in the examinations and later a job. But planning to study whatever would fetch you a very fat salary, help you to go abroad, earn more money and marry a girl who would get you a large amount of dowry, is negative thinking.

Turning to parents, educating you is absolutely positive but making a business out of the education given to you is negative thinking. For a doctor to treat a patient and cure is a positive approach, but if the money is the criterion for the treatment given to the patient, it is a negative approach. We should today fill our hearts with all positive thoughts like divine feelings, divine sentiments and good thoughts. Then only you will experience God who is satcitananda , the absolute positive. Therefore, it is necessary for you to take everything as good for you. This is positive thinking. Come what may, problems, difficulties, troubles, failures, losses, blame and what not! You will know later that all this had happened for your own good.

A small story. There was a king who had a fancy one day to cut a sugarcane all by himself to small pieces and eat it piece by piece. While he was cutting, as ill luck would have it, he had cut his finger. The minister who was by his side, remarked " Oh King! You have cut your finger. This is good for you. " On hearing this remark; the king grew wild, and thought, " What! How can this, my having lost my finger be good? What would the minister say if I lose my head too?" So the king ordered, out of fury and anger, that the minister be put in prison. Then the minister said, " Oh King! This imprisonment is my good fortune" .

After some time, the king went hunting all alone to a nearby forest. He lost his way and was noticed by some tribals moving in that area. They were actually in search of a man suitable to be sacrificed to propitiate their deity at the end of their ritual. They caught hold of the king and took him to their head priest. After checking the king thoroughly, the head priest said, " We can't kill this king and make an offering to our deity as one of his fingers is missing. A handicapped or crippled body is unfit to be an offering. " Saying so, he let the king go away from there.

On the way the king realised the truth of what the minister had said, " This is good for you" when he had cut his finger. He summoned the minister and said, " Oh Minister! How true is what you said! It was just because of the fact that I had lost my finger that the tribals set me free, unharmed. Now I have one doubt. You remarked that it was good for you when I put you behind bars. How has this imprisonment turned out to be good for you?" Then the minister replied, '.Certainly! Had I not been kept in the jail, I would have followed you. The tribals after leaving you, would have caught hold of me, killed me and offered me to their deity in your place. So this punishment has been my good fortune" . This is positive thinking and attitude. Then happiness and success follow you.

akkaraku rani cuttamu

mrokkina varamiyani velpu

moharamuna tanekkina parani gurramu

grakkunna viduvangavalayu gadara sumati

This Telugu poem, means, 'A relation who doesn't come to your help in time of need, a God who doesn't grant you boons even after you pray, a horse that doesn't run in the battlefield, will have to be given up immediately, Oh! Wise one! Is it not so?'

Here, in this poem, first of all, know that it is addressed to a Sumati, a wise one. It is true that you have to sever connections with a relation who doesn't come to your aid in the hour of your need, give up the horse that fails to run in the battlefield, and forget a God who doesn't grant you rewards even after you pray. Here, you should note one important point. Why don't you think this way? Before you blame your relation that he is not of any help to you when you need him most, why don't you think for a while whether you have ever been of any help to your relation when he needed you? A horse that doesn't gallop in the field must be given up, but why don't you question your competence in horse riding? God who doesn't respond to your prayers is not God. But do you deserve what you desire and pray for? This poem is meant for that person, Sumati who thinks positively before blaming anybody. This is how your thinking process should be.

Q90) Swami! Now we understand that we should also have such intense faith in God. Naturally, our experience will be proportionate to the depth of our faith. Swami! Does God also respond commensurate with the intensity of our faith?

Bhagawan: Certainly! If you put in krsi , effort, you will earn God's krpa, grace. Moreover, with krs i , effort, you can even become a rishi, sage.

A village boy happened to meet a scholar who said to him that God could be experienced through pranayama and dhyana . Hearing this, the boy began practising it most sincerely. Pleased with his devotion and sincerity, God manifested Himself before the boy and blessed him. The boy then told the scholar that he had seen God by doing what he asked him to do, things like pranayama, dhyana and so on. The scholar could not believe it. He said, " Oh! Don't talk rubbish! How is it that you could see God while I couldn't, by practising pranayama, dhyana for years? Don't speak lies like that!"

The boy returned to his place of meditation and saw Narayana there. He said to Him, " Oh God! The scholar calls me a liar! How am I to make him accept what I have experienced? Swami! Kindly stay here until I bring him here and make him see you and experience the truth for himself. But dear God! I am afraid you may run way from here and it will make me very miserable in the sight of the scholar who doubts me. Therefore, with this rope let me tie you to this pole here. " He did so, ran to the scholar and requested him to see Narayana for himself. Although the scholar came over there, he couldn't see God tied to the post, but the cowherd boy could see Him and converse with Him. Ultimately, the boy cried and prayed to Narayana to make Himself visible to the scholar also. God obliged him. This is what true devotion is. God even allowed Himself to be tied to a post. You have to note another point here .The faith that the cowherd boy had in the words of the scholar was the cause of his experience.

If you spend your life in prayer, it is bound to be peaceful and blissful. For example, if you climb up the seven hills and reach the shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala, you will feel much tired. On the other hand, if you go to Tirupati in a group singing God's glory all along the way, you will hardly feel any strain,

Q91) Swami! In this Age of Kali, devotion, faith and steadfastness are on the decline. Not only this, we often find people making fun of devotees and leading a life opposed to religious norms. This is a very sad state of affairs. What do you want us to do in these circumstances?

Bhagawan: First of all, correct yourself. Rectify your own defects and mistakes. When you are not flawless and idealistic you have no right to blame anybody and point out the mistakes of others. So, see that your own faith is strong, deep and unflinching.

In Andhradesa there lived three Rajus, kings in their own field of activity: the king of poetry, Goparaju, the king of devotion, Tyagaraju, the king of sublime lyrical music, Potaraju refused to dedicate his rendering of the great work, the Bhagavatam to the king who promised him immense wealth as a token of his appreciation of the work. But Potaraju or Potana dedicated his work only to Lord Ramachandra.

Goparaju or Ramadasu also called Gopanna spent all the money he had in the treasury for the renovation of the temple of Rama, for which he was severely punished. Tyagaraju considered ramuni sannidhi, proximity to God, more precious than nidhi, money. All these three Rajus followed their chosen paths out of their deep conviction about the supremacy of God. They worked and suffered for their own self-Â≠satisfaction and for the satisfaction of their own conscience. They did not bother about the views and opinions of others. They did not yield to temptations of any sort.

Dogs may bark watching an elephant passing by, but the elephant loses nothing. You know the vastness of a sea. Have you not heard the puranas proclaiming that amrta, nectar, and halahala, poison, are produced by the same ocean? Amrta makes you happy while vis a or poison is dangerous. Isn't it so?

Similarly, society is like a vast ocean where you have nectarlike good people and poisonlike bad people. Bad people make fun of good people. It doesn't mean that you should give up your nobility and goodness.

A crane may make fun of a swan. The singing of a cuckoo bird is horrible to the ears of a crow. A koel eats the tender leaves of a mango tree while a crow eats the bitter leaves of a neem tree. Similarly, some in society struggle for worldly, fleeting and sensual pleasures while others make all sincere efforts for God's grace to enjoy divine bliss. A donkey that carries a bundle of sandalwood on its back doesn't know the fragrance of the sandalwood. A buffalo doesn't know the taste of beaten rice. Similarly, divinity is not relished by all and sundry.

If you deny God, it means you are denying yourself. You are not different from God. You are God. Your praise and blame don't affect God. The good and bad of your own actions come back to you as reaction. The axe cuts the sandalwood tree that has not done any harm to the axe. Because of this evil deed, the axe loses its sharpness for which it is kept in fire and hammered. The sandalwood tree does not subject the axe to any punishment. So it is the action of the axe that comes back as reaction.

Consider another example in this context. When gold is burnt in fire it shines brilliantly. But, as a reaction the goldsmith has to suffer because ash falls into his eyes in the process of burning the gold and his own clothes become dirty due to smoke. Here, the gold burnt and hammered does not punish the goldsmith. His own action punishes him. Similarly, if you accuse or blame or deny God, it will not do anything to Him. But, your action will come back to you as reaction. You punish yourself.

Suppose you throw some dust at the sun, what happens? It falls in your eyes only. If you switch on an electric fan, you will enjoy the cool breeze. If you don't switch on the fan, it will not lose anything. It suffers no loss. If you switch on the bulb you'll get light. But, if you don't switch on the bulb, the bulb suffers no loss. Therefore, good and bad depend only on you. Just as you can buy any material object in this world with money, similarly with the money of God's name, you can be blissful. Under a streetlight, you will be able to see all around including the bulb that illumines. Similarly, divinity makes you happy and everybody around you too. So, deepen your faith in God. Experience divine bliss. That's what you should do.

Fruits can't protect themselves. It is the tree that protects the fruits it bears. The tree is protected and kept green by its roots. If you supply water and manure to the roots, they protect the tree, which in its turn protects the fruits. Isn't it so? God is the root of this world. If you surrender to God, everything will be taken care of.

People with worldly thoughts can't relish divine feelings. A person from the fish market can't imagine who a jeweller is. A sea has most precious gems at its bottom but the seawater is full of salt. Isn't it? Similarly, we have people of different temperaments in this world. God is never against anyone. There are none close to or distant from Him. All are alike to Him. You may hold a jasmine flower by either your right hand or left hand. But it smells equally well in either hand. God is that one who is in all.

Q92) Swami! In spite of a long period of desiring to be devoted to God, devotion somehow does not grow as intense as it should. What is essential to develop devotion of the magnitude and intensity expected of a true devotee?

Bhagawan: Here it is not time that matters. An iron ball in a pond, however long it might stay there, will never change. It will remain as it is without any change in it. You should know that it is transformation that is important. It is the goal you set for yourself that matters most. Until then, you should pursue your goal not mindful of the time involved.

You know a lamp has a container, a wick, and oil. With a wick kept for long in water, you can never light a lamp even if you use any number of matchsticks. Impossible! What you should do is, take the wick out of water, keep it in sunshine for some time and dry it. Then you will be able to light the wick easily. Here the process of drying the wick in sunlight is renunciation. The procedure of lighting it with a matchstick is sadhana and the light you get thereby is devotion or intense Love for God. The lamp is the human body. The same process is applicable to those who are not devoted, as you have said. The more they are drenched and drowned in worldly life, the farther they are from God, the source of all light; they can never light the lamp of their life. Dry it in the sunshine of detachment so as to be benefited by the light of devotion. Some people in spite of a prolonged period of stay and association are not devoted as much as they should be, for the simple reason: They lack detachment from worldly things. Therefore, intense devotion is not given to everybody.

Q93) Swami! We beg you to suggest to us a spiritual path that can be followed in the present circumstances. The situation around us seems to be dispiriting. Kindly give us the direction?

Bhagawan: It is said that man is the most precious among all the living creatures. Therefore, it is imperative on your part to lead your lives in full realisation of the value of life. For example, in the kitchen you make 'dal' to eat for lunch. If salt is added in excess by mistake, the dal loses its taste. It is unfit for consumption any more. After all, the foodstuff, which is digested in three hours or so, is kept aside if it is not tasty. Then how about a long life? Should it not be tasty?

Suppose you are waiting at the bus stand to board the bus that takes you to your office and the bus is delayed. You lose your patience. Then, imagine how you start feeling about this delay. " What! Drivers don't have a sense of responsibility in this country. Conductors too don't discharge their duties properly. The Road Transport Corporation is not efficient; the Government seems to be lenient towards them" . A bus is lifeless; it is a vehicle and a means of transport. Man, on the other hand, is the embodiment of awareness: He is active and intelligent. If such a man forgets his human value, and leads life unbecoming of a human being, don't you know that society will blame him?

Man has 85% of divinity while an animal has only 15% latent in it. It is only a human being who has a chance to realise and experience his divinity. Just as a stone dropped from above falls to the ground due to the unseen gravitational force, the unseen values and virtues should guide man. For this, however, determination is required.

Another example. Here you find a machine. If it is not put to use, it gets rusted. Don't you think that similar is the case with the human body if it is not used properly? It is because of dust that the machine gets rusted. Is it not? Due to this it loses its power and rusts. Then you keep the machine in a workshop and give it rest. There you repair, test and make it fit for use. Isn't it so? Now, what should you do? See that the dust of bad thoughts does not get into you. Why? Your faith otherwise begins to shake and becomes unsteady. Take your mind to the workshop of surrender to God for rest. Then, you are the best.

Hence, you should always preserve and maintain human values. In fact, no spiritual path can be practiced with a sense of ego. Since all the methods adopted by you are done with your mind, ego, or 'IÂ≠ness', you couldn't progress spiritually till now.

Some begin sadhana, identifying themselves with the body, aham dehosmi . This will never take you to the true spiritual goal. Ravana, Kamsa, Bhasmasura, and others belong to this category. Some expect progress by changing even their faith and religion. It is not matamu, religion, which is to be changed. It is mati, the mind that has got to be changed. You are the embodiment of love. Don't merely be a lover and narrow down the vistas of love. To feel and experience the same divinity in all living beings is true love.

One day Krishna decided to lead his cows to a nearby forest for grazing. He asked Yasoda to permit him to do so. Then, she said, " My dear son! All along the way to the forest, you find rocks, thorny bushes and stones. Better, you go tomorrow. I will get your footwear ready for you" . Smiling, Krishna said, " Mother! Do I need footwear? Why and what for? Cows don't have any footwear. Then why footwear for me alone?" Yasoda said, " Look! They are animals. We are human beings. We need chappals. " Krishna responded with a fitting reply, " Mother! You mean to say cows are ordinary simple animals. Do we have as much gratitude as they have? They eat grass and yield milk. The moment they hear any voice they stop grazing and run towards me. Calves even stop sucking milk and come to me. Their skin is useful after their death to make chappals" . Cows are symbols of sacrifice and forbearance. Such noble qualities are very essential for spiritual seekers.

In agriculture, the land is ploughed well, watered and manured, weeds removed, and seeds sown. The human heart is a field. This has to be tilled and watered with love. You have to take the plough of selfenquiry to plough the field of the human heart. You have to raise the fence of discipline. Bad qualities are the weeds that have to be removed totally. Then you can cultivate the crop of bliss. It is enough if you have a small area of fertile land. Why have many acres of barren land?

A small example, you see an orange fruit. It is covered with a green bitter rind or skin. This is ego or pomp. You find hard seeds inside. They are the wicked thoughts and bad actions. Then you find the fibrous soft pulp.This is attachment. In order to have the sweet juice you need to remove the outer bitter skin, the hard seeds and squeeze the soft fibrous pulp. The sweet juice is love that you need. This is the essence, raso vai sah.

You need both the positive and the negative wires for the electric current to flow. The negative may be very powerful. It is powerless without joining the positive. The fan and bulb may be very good and of high voltage. But without power supply they are useless. This current is positive. Divinity is positive. The bulb and the fan are merely negative. All that pertains to the name and form is negative. Your journey on the spiritual path will be successful if only there is love. You have to reform yourself first. This transformation is not taking place today.

You can carve a statue out of a boulder. By removing the husk, you can have the grain. With the vegetables you bring from the market, you can cook well and make good delicious items of food. Difficulties, pain, blame, loss, etc., will help to refine you, improve you, nurture faith and take you to spiritual heights.

You have to face and resolve all problems of life and proceed in your sadhana. Follow your own experience and develop vis'vasa, faith thereby. Can you breathe s'vasa, on behalf of anybody? You see with your own eyes, don't you? The eyes of the other man may be bright and beautiful. You cannot see through his eyes. Can you close your eyes and see through the eyes of somebody else? You have to stand on your own legs and not on anybody else's.

Q94) Swami! At times it appears that others may influence and lead us to a total change in our life style, making us ask ourselves the question, 'Why should not we be like others? For what should we adopt this special type of living?' I am afraid we may change! What is to be done now?

Bhagawan: This is not proper and can't be justified either. In fact, it is your innate weakness that brings about change. If your faith is strong and your value deeprooted, none can do anything to you. You will not change at any time. But your faith is not strong, and the values you speak about are only superficial.

At any point of time, under any circumstances you should not change your moral and spiritual way of life. If anyone comes to you and says, " There is no God, " what should you say then? Then you reply, " You may deny your God, but what right do you have to deny my God? How can you negate my faith and devotion?" You should never change your convictions.

A boy saw a scorpion that fell into a tank struggling to come out. He went and picked it up. The scorpion stung him. Immediately he dropped it back into the tank. On seeing it struggle there, he picked it up to save it. But it stung him again. The process went on and on. An elderly person watching the whole scene asked him, " Oh boy! Why do you want to save the scorpion when it is stinging you?" He replied, " Sir! The scorpion is teaching me a good lesson. When it is not giving up its own nature of stinging, why should I give up my nature of protecting one struggling for life?" So you should not change your nature.

Maitreyi who felt very sad on hearing the difficulties that the Pandavas were passing through in the forest Kamyavana, started thinking like this: " It is true that noble people suffer! What a lesson does a parrot in a cage teach us! A crow flies freely, but it doesn't mean that we are prepared to lead the life of a crow rather than that of a parrot in a cage. Will a parrot ever become a crow?" Similarly, we should not change our path

In the army, we have thousands of soldiers. But, the Army Chief is the only one who commands. Captains are always a few while their followers are many. It is they, the few, who train the many. This is possible if you don't leave your path.

Q95) Swami! You have complete faith in us. But, our faith in you is wavering: It is not consistently steady and deep. Why is this so?

Bhagawan: " Eko vasi sarvabh utantar atma " God is in everyone moving about with different names and forms. " deho devalayah prokto ji vo devas sanatanah , " the body is the temple. The individual jiva is none other than Deva, the ancient and eternal, sanatana. It is only one God who has manifested Himself as many. I am present in all of you. Since I know this truth, I have faith in you. But you consider yourself separate from me and so your faith is not strong, deep, and unwavering. In fact, I can change you all by Myself. But I don't. I want to bring about your transformation through and by you.

Q96) Swami! We are dissatisfied and unhappy when our desires are not fulfilled. Why should it happen to devotees?

Bhagawan: First, put a question to yourself. Can you call yourself a devotee if your sense of happiness and gratification depends on your fleeting desires? In fact, ask yourself, if you have followed the command of God, if you have made Him happy with your faith and devotion. When Swami is happy with you, the whole world will be happy with you. When you displease Swami by your conduct, everyone else will be displeased with you. Act according to Swami's teachings. Everything will then happen in your favour conferring peace and joy on you.

CHAPTER V CONCEPTS

Q97) Swami! We often hear the word srti. Does this word have any bearing upon the life of the ordinary man? This sr ti , is it only for scholars? For us, the common people, does it have any relevance?

Bhagawan: Srti is divine. Mati, mind, is human, worldly, and conditions your progress. Srti guides buddhi, intellect, and furnishes it with fundamental discrimination. Mati functions at the level of the separate individual. In man, three nitis or principles operate: manavaniti , the human code, rajaniti , the political code, and daivaniti , the divine code. Man's estate and fortune depend on the code he follows. For instance, Bhishmacharya taught rajaniti , principles of kingship, to Dharmaja. On another occasion, following daivaniti, he passed on to Dharmaja the celebrated Visnusahasranama , the thousand names of Vishnu. But, when he led the war as the Commanderinchief on the side of the Kauravas, he forgot the divine sr ti , and lost his fundamental discrimination. He followed his mati, mind, which is his own individually. Because of this, he had to lie down on the bed of arrows for so many days.

In contrast, note the role of young Abhimanyu. For that day's fighting in the Mahabharata war, Drona had designed the military manouvre called Padmavyuha, the lotus maze. The forces of the enemy were spurring Abhimanyu on to take up the challenge. Noticing that the heroic Abhimanyu was getting ready to fight, his mother said, " My son! Your father is not at home now. Your uncle Krishna too is not here. You know your wife is pregnant. It is in these circumstances that you are planning to enter the battlefield. Please desist from this!" Abhimanyu's response reflects his adherence to rajaniti : " How come, mother, that you din into my ears words of cowardice? When the enemy challenges you to fight, is it consistent with rajaniti to say, 'no'? Does it accord with the dharma of a Kshatriya warrior? What an insult it would be to my father, the greatest of heroes, Arjuna! Won't he hang his head down in shame? O Mother! Bless me to return victorious, routing the enemies like the young lion leaping on to the elephant in must!" This indeed, is rajaniti . In this manner, manavaniti takes the cue from the mati, mind, of an individual even as sr ti , being divine, stimulates the intellect into fundamental discrimination. Thus, Abhimanyu, who behaved the way he did, died heroically. Similarly, in life the good meets with only the good. Evil necessarily encounters only evil. This law never failed.

Q98) Swami! We hear about pancak o s as the five sheaths, panca pran as, the five vital airs, and pancendriyas, the five organs. Do they cover our spirit, atma? Are they obstacles to atmic bliss? What exactly is their position and role in our body?

Bhagawan: The whole world is made of five elements: Earth, fire, water, air and space are the five elements. Man is the product of these five elements, besides his temperament. Raga attachment, dvesa, hatred, and bhaya, fear, originate in akas'a, space. Our breathing process, movements like walking or other body movements are due to vayu, wind. Hunger, thirst, sleep are the effects of agni, fire. Phlegm, blood, bile, urine, etc., are the outcome of jala, water. Skin, muscles, bones, nails, hairs, nerves are of prthvi, matter. Therefore, all the five elements are equally distributed in everyone. Then you don't find any differences among people. No one can be considered superior to any other.

The human body has five sheaths, 'Pancakos'as'. The first one is annamaya kos'a, the sheath of food, the second is pran amaya kos'a, the sheath of life, and the third is manomaya kos'a, the sheath of mind. The fourth is vijnanamaya kos'a, the sheath of knowledge and finally anandamaya kos'a, the sheath of bliss. One sheath encloses the other. You know rice grains. They are enclosed within husks. Therefore, a rice grain is within the sheath of husk. For the tamarind seed tamarind pulp is the sheath. An embryo is within the sheath of its mother's womb. Annamaya kos'a is a sheath which covers pran amaya kos'a . This encloses manomaya kos' a sheath of the mind. This covers vijñanamaya kos'a , sheath of wisdom, which encloses anandamaya kos'a , the sheath of bliss.

Annamaya kos'a is the product of food. The body is annamaya kos'a. You have all the behavioural tendencies that result from the food you eat. Then, you have pran amaya kos' a composed of the five organs of action, the karmendriyas and five life breaths panca pran as (pran a, apana, vyana , udana, samana ).

Then comes mano maya kos'a , mental sheath consisting of five organs of perception, jnanendriyas, and the mind full of thoughts and counterthoughts sankalpavikalpa. The fourth . is vijnanamaya kos'a, the sheath of knowledge, of sound, touch, form, taste and smell (s'abda, rupa, spars'a , rasa and gandha) which constitutes the buddhi, intellect.

The innermost sheath is anandamaya kos'a. In order to enable yourself to experience this state of bliss, you will have to practice all that you theoretically know and do what you are supposed to. Likewise, you should understand the principle of samatva, equality, and ekatva, unity, and daivatva, experience divinity. This leads you to a state when you will not hate anyone ' advesta sarva bh utanam'.

Everyone has an equal right to know and experience the atma, self. To attain such an awareness, self-enquiry atmavicara is very necessary. However, an intense and deep desire is essential to know and experience atma. Just like a seed within a fruit, as a copper wire within a plastic covering, butter in milk, sugar in the sugarcane and oil within til, sesame seeds and fire in wood, atma is encased within pancakos'as , pancendriyas and panca pranas.

Q99) Swami! We come across words like manas, mind, buddhi, intellect, citta, consciousness, and aham kara, egoism. How are we to understand and correlate them? How do they differ from one another? It is our good fortune that Swami explains in simple terms ever so complex.

Bhagawan: Here is an illustration. Consider a Brahmin. When he conducts ceremonies like weddings, you call him purohit, priest; when he reads out from the almanac at your home the tithi, lunar phase, the varam day of the week, naksatra, star, etc; you call him the pancanga Brahmin; when he prepares food in your home, you call him the brahmin cook.

Another illustration. Your wife addresses you in Telugu as e mandi , " Oh, you! Please, Sir!" because, addressing the husband by name is not considered proper. Your child calls you 'Father' and your student addresses you as 'Sir': But, you are, after all, only one individual, aren't you! One and the same faculty has different names: manas or mind when engaged in thinking, citta or awareness in a state of equanimity devoid of plans or decisions; buddhi or intellect while exercising discrimination; and aham kara or egoism when introducing oneself or referring to oneself as 'I' . All these are one, but named differently according to their function.

What is to be controlled is the mind. When you have that nigraham, control, you obtain God's anugraham, grace. Once you consider something as evil, do not allow it to enter the mind. The behaviour of trees and animals is regulated by prakrti, Nature. Only man is disobeying the commands of God and has become depraved. There is only one solution.

Another little illustration. Tie up kamadhenu, the wish fulfilling cow, of your body with the pas'a, rope of prema, love, to the post called amna, chanting the name of the Lord. That is enough. You gain control over the mind. Then, on the citta, awareness, devoid of the turmoil of thoughts, is imprinted the form of God. Buddhi undertakes fundamental discrimination; the 'I' which has been egoistic cognises its own true nature as atma and realises the innermost Self in all beings. This is adhyatmika , spirituality.

Q100) Swami! You stress cittas'uddhi, purification of our heart, but how is one to accomplish it?

Bhagawan: You are mistaken here. Citta, heart is always pure. So, where is the need for its s'uddhi, purification? You only pollute it.

Take for example this kerchief. This is white in colour. It becomes dirty as I use it. I give it to a washerman to wash it and bring it back. When he brings it, it looks white and bright as before. It was so before and it is so after a wash, but it was dirty in between due to use. The washerman did not paint the kerchief white. He only removed the dirt. So too like a kerchief, your mind is also pure which becomes impure due to your desires and thoughts. Once you remove the impurities from the mind, it will become pure. So cittas'uddhi means exercising control over desires.

Q101) Swami! Now it is clear that cittas'uddhi is lacking in us due to our bad thoughts and bad deeds. We have certain weaknesses, lapses, bad qualities and thoughts. As you have said unless we get over them, cittas'uddhi cannot be attained. The mind gets polluted very often. How is one to control bad qualities?

Bhagawan: It all depends upon your determination and your understanding of the intensity and the gravity of the problem. It needs an honest and sincere attempt on your part.

A small example. You are moving freely without any hesitation and fear in this room. There lies a rope in one corner. But, if you come to know that it is not a rope as you have been thinking it to be, but a snake, would you move freely in that room any longer? You know that it is dangerous to be anywhere near a poisonous snake. You know that you will die if that snake bites you, and so you keep off from that place. Similarly, when you are aware of the danger or harm you will be put to, you will definitely stop your misdeeds.

You keep on holding the rope until you come to know that it is not a rope but a snake. You drop it down immediately because of the fear of death. So long as you think that these bad thoughts and evil deeds make you happy, you continue to be in the same frame of mind. But, when you know that they are dangerous, you will not hanker after them. Therefore, first of all, you must identify your own bad qualities and then give them up gradually one after another until you are perfect.

It is also strange to notice that some seekers undergo rigorous discipline for a set period of time during which they lead a perfect life without any trace of a bad quality. But after that avowed period of discipline they resume their previous bad habits with redoubled vigour. This is a big mistake. That which holds you for some time is artificial. Here withdrawal from bad habits is not due to the realisation of the evil effects.

Here is an example. You see the ceiling fan rotating there. Now, if you switch it off it will not stop rotating immediately. It stops slowly. The three blades slowly stop moving. The fan does not stop rotating immediately. Therefore, in full knowledge of the possible harm and the evil effects, you should give up your bad habits slowly.

Q102) Swami! Pranayama, breath control, some say, is important on the spiritual path. Would you please tell us about it?

Bhagawan: Pranayama, breath control, has to be undertaken in an exact and perfect way under the care and guidance of a Guru. It leads to danger if it is done imperfectly and irregularly.

There are chiefly three steps in pranayama or breathing exercise. The first one is purakam, inhalation. The second is holding the breath or the air breathed in. This is called kumbhakam, retention. The third stage is exhalation or recakam. The important, point here is that, the time taken during all these three stages must be equal. It means that the time taken for purakam must be the same as for kumbhakam. Similarly, the time taken for kumbhakam must be the same as for recakam.

In the human body there are shadcakras, six life sustaining points on the vertebral column. The lowest is called muladhara cakra, fundamental, primordial life sustaining point at the bottom. In pranayama, during the second step, kumbhakam, holding the breath, kundalini starts moving upward being restless due to the lack of supply of air across the sadcakras. On the top lies sahasrara cakra, head region. There exists a jyoti, divine light surrounded by dalas, petals. The sahasrara cakra is like a thousand petalled lotus flower. The petals touch the central jyoti when one has asura sampatti, demonic qualities. If one has daivi sampatti, divine qualities the jyoti starts touching the petals. Thus, kundalini affects the human body during this course of sadhana. A living being taking many breaths per day is short lived. A dog takes many breaths. So, its life span is short. Snakes and mongooses take a few breaths per day. They live long. The breathing exercise has an influence on the life span.

Q103) Swami! It is said that we carry with us certain traits, vasanas of the past life. Is that true and how does it happen?

Bhagawan: Certainly so! Just as in accounts the balance is brought forward from the previous page to the next page, the traits of the previous life are brought forward to the present.

When you light an incense stick or an agarbatti or camphor, don't you get the fragrance all over this room? When you have a fragrant flower, does it not spread its fragrance? Similarly, bad odour or foul smell also spreads. So also, the characteristics of the past lives are brought forward to subsequent lives.

Q104) Bhagawan! How is it that we have vasanas, traits of the past life? We are born, we grow and die. The body is bound to weaken, wither, die and decay. How then are our features brought forward to the next life?

Bhagawan: It is certain that the features of the past life are carried to the next life. You can call them vasanas or samskaras or the qualities of the past life. People with good samskaras will spend their time in a sacred way by participating in satsang, good company, bhajan, singing His glory, entertaining sadalocana, good thoughts, and satkarma, good deeds, and good discussion. On the other hand, people with bad samskaras make their lifetime unholy by indulging in duskarma, misdeeds, entertaining durbhavana, bad thoughts and asatya, speaking falsehood. As you have said, it is true that the body weakens, withers, dies and decays, but the samskaras don't die. They follow you to the next life.

A simple illustration will make this subject clearer to you. Suppose your hand was injured. You got it treated, and for some time you put a bandage also over and around the injured part. The hand was healed completely after some time. But in that part of your hand where the injury took place, a scar or a mark is left, and it remains till now as well. Similarly, the body may die. But the vasanas remain as a spot in the next life.

Q105) Swami! Three gunas or attributes such as rajas, tamas and sattva are said to bind man. Does a sattvika quality also bind man? Is that also a bondage?

Bhagawan: These three attributes only bind man. Your life is conditioned by them. All your deeds and expressions are governed by them. They monitor your conduct and behaviour. Even sattvika qualities also chain you.

For example, you are confined with an iron chain. Is that not bondage? You may be confined with a silver chain. It is also bondage. It may be now a gold chain this time that binds you. Is it not bondage? After all, the three chains differ only in the composition of the metal. After all, each is a chain and nothing more though its value may differ from that of the other. Thus, the attributes bind or limit you.

Here the iron chain is compared to that of 'tamas', dullness or inertia. The silver chain is like the ' rajasika ' quality, active, energetic, passionate, and the gold chain is like the ' sattvika ' nature, pure, steady; good. But divinity is beyond these three 'gunas'. It is, in fact, attributeless.

Q106) Swami! We have many qualities tamasika, rajasika and sduvika Do they change at any time? How are we to ennoble ourselves? Sometimes these attributes may be responsible for conflicts with our colleagues in the office. What is to be done under these circumstances? Kindly give us a solution to this problem that we encounter everyday?

Bhagawan: The whole world revolves round these three attributes tamasika, rajasika and sattvika. Every individual has these three attributes working like the three blades of a fan. But in a person, the quality which dominates the other two decides his nature, his total personality, nay, his very destiny as a whole.

He is a pious man whose sattvika quality dominates his rajasika and tamasika qualities. He is an emotional, passionate, active man if his rajasika quality dominates his sattvika and tamasika qualities. He is a dull, inactive and passive man if he is dominated by the tamasika nature. Thus, everyone has these three attributes.

For instance, in an eyeball don't you see all the three colours, white, red, and black. They symbolise these trigunas or traits. Watch the sunrise. You will notice three colours red, white and black indicating trigunas or the three attributes. However, you should note one important point. Gunas have no independent existence. Divinity makes them functional. But the gunas are not to be found in the divine as God is gunatita, beyond attributes.

Gunas are transformable. For instance, you can get over tamasika quality by karma, action. Karma transforms tamasika quality into rajasika activity. Rajasika nature is dual. It may give you success or failure, profit or loss, praise or blame, etc. Man has to perform karma. In fact there is no one who does not take any action. You may lie on a bed sleeping, yet your heart beats, blood circulates and the nervous system and pulmonary system work. Don't they? Does it not amount to action?

By doing selfless actions, offering all the fruits of action to God, serving God in everyone and by realising indwelling divinity, one can develop anubhavajnana, practical wisdom or experience based wisdom. At that stage, a rajasika person becomes a sattvika person. Therefore, karma is important karmanubandhini manus yaloke , human society is bound by action. Your very life is gifted to do karma. Thus, janma, birth and karma, actions are interrelated. In fact, one should salute respectfully the action he does. Tasmai namah karman e, my salutations to the action given or assigned to me. Therefore, a tamasika nature can be converted into rajasika by volitional action, which can be further transformed into sattvika by bhakti, and jnana, devotion and awareness. This is sadhana or spiritual practice.

By atmavicara, self enquiry you can improve and change your nature. When any lower or animal qualities like wavering of the mind, excessive sleep, gluttony, crop up immediately say to yourself at least ten times. " I am a man, I am not an animal. " Then, you will be able to get over them. Do your duty sincerely. Don't be pompous. Don't show off nor do any stunt. Always be sure that God notices everything that you do, though others may not. Do your duty with love.

" Duty with love is Desirable.

Duty without love is Deplorable,

Love without duty is Divine. "

If you offer all your work and the fruits thereof to God, your work will be transformed into worship.

You may not agree with your colleagues in your office. Your temperament may be incompatible with theirs, sometimes leading to controversies and in-Â≠fights and you may, as a result, lose your peace of mind. So, don't have too close a relationship with too many people. Say " hello, hello" to everyone, 'how are you' to all those you meet and end with 'goodbye'. That's all and nothing more.

Today, there is no real social service. Everything is either slow service or showservice. You should have a feeling that what you do is not for anybody but for your own satisfaction and happiness. Whatever you do, do it for the satisfaction of your conscience. You shouldn't do anything for praise or appreciation by others. Your conscience is God. Know that character is most important and you should never compromise on this score. What is always necessary for success in life is cooperation. But nowadays, we find only operation.

By joining good company satsang, listening to the teachings of great masters and seers and above all with God's grace, you can change your attitudes and mentality. By Buddha's teaching the cruel Angulimala and by Narada's instructions Ratnakara (who became sage Valmiki later) were transformed. Visvamitra who was a Rajarshi, a sage among kings became a Brahmarshi, a sage ever immersed in Brahman by the direction of Vasishtha. Visvamitra thus became the mitra, friend of the visva, universe.

Arjuna, on one occasion dropped his bow and arrows in the battlefield. He became tamasika (dull. passive, weak) and even reluctant to engage in a war for which he stood in the battlefield. He forgot all the vows he had taken and the atrocities the Kauravas committed. It was at that time that Krishna induced rajasika quality into Arjuna's mind preparing him for the war of Kurukshetra with renewed zeal.

Emperor Janaka who became a rajarshi due to the teachings of Sage Yajnavalkya renounced everything and became a perfect jnani, one known for spiritual wisdom.

Therefore, by intense sadhana, tamas can be converted into rajas, and rajas into sattva. In so doing an aspirant, becomes a recipient of God's grace and ultimately a seeker of nirvana (liberation).

Q107) Swami! We hear of purusarthas, the four goals of life. How are we to achieve them?

Bhagawan: I tell my students quite often about the four 'F's'. The first 'F' is 'Follow the master'. Dharma, righteousness, is your master. Follow dharma at all times. All your actions must be approved by dharma, the ideal norms of life. If you hold on to dharma throughout, the very same dharma will protect you, dharmo raks ati raks itah. Manava, being human, should follow the dharma of a human being, manavadharma, and never that of a demon danavadharma.

The second 'F' is 'Face the devil'. What is the devil here? While dharma is the master, artha, wealth or money, is the devil. Most people struggle a lot for money. They resort to all sorts of tactics, do unrighteous unjustified, and wrong deeds only for money. You think that the world goes by money, dhanamulamidam jagat. No, the world relies on dharma, dharmamulamidam jagat. One should earn money righteously and not unrighteously.

The third 'F' is 'Fight to the end'. What is the enemy you should fight till the end? It is kama, desire. Until the last desire too vanishes, you should continue to fight.

Once Sage Dakshinamurthy happened to walk along the shore of a sea. He noticed the rising waves pushing a small blade of grass, towards the shore. He felt bad. After all, it was a tiny grass blade and the mighty sea sent forth its mounting waves to push it away on to the shore. " How arrogant is the sea not to tolerate even a grass blade!" thought the sage within himself. Then the Sea God, Samudra, appeared before the sage with folded hands and said very humbly, " Oh! Great sage! I am not at fault: Do not blame me and call me arrogant. I am not arrogant. I cannot afford to have a single, simple blemish. I do not want a blemish, not even a blade of grass in me. So my waves pushed it away to the shore and not out of any hatred or enmity" . This is what 'fight to the end' means.

Then the fourth 'F' is 'Finish the game'. What is the game? It is the game of life. When does the game of life finish? It finishes with the attainment of moksha. So moksha is the final goal of the four objectives of life.

Here you should remember one important point. Of the four purusarthas, dharma is 'Follow the master',

artha is â 'Face the devil', kama is 'Fight to the end' and moksha is 'Finish the game'. The first one is dharma and the fourth is moksha, with the second artha and the third kama in between. It implies that artha should be earned with dharma: Then kama should be used only to attain the fourth goal of life moksha.. So, the four 'F's' stand for these purusarthas of life. But now, I tell you there is another purusartha, the fifth one which is the supreme goal of life. That is 'Love'

Love is God,

God is Love, hence,

Live in Love.

There is nothing that you cannot achieve without love.

Q108) Swami! What is it that we should have in order to deserve your prapti ?

Bhagawan: Your interest is the most important thing. With this you can achieve anything in life. When you have trust in a particular matter or a subject or a person, you are said to have interest in that matter or that subject or that person. Since you have immense interest in Swami, you run fast and occupy the front rows close to my feet. Isn't it so? During the morning time, in silence you wait anxiously for Swami, and that is why even the slightest sounds such as the sound of closing the door of Swami's car makes you think and alerts you that Swami is coming towards you. Whosoever comes to the scene at that time is expected to convey some message of Swami's arrival. What is the reason? This is all due to your interest in Swami. If you have no interest in Swami, you don't notice His presence even if He stands in front of you.

Q109) Swami! What is illusion, maya? Kindly explain.

Bhagawan: There is no illusion whatsoever. What exists is only brahman, the cosmic soul. The socalled illusion or maya is only your imagination. There is only Brahman. Nothing more! The body attachment is illusion, maya or bhrama.

A simple example. Here is a huge tree under which you see its shadow, don't you? The branches and the leaves are the cause of the shade. As the sunlight falls on the tree you see the shade beneath the tree. Here you have to know one important point. There is nothing like shade above the tree or on the top of the tree. It means there is no shade in sunlight. Why is it so? The branches and the leaves of the tree are responsible for the shade below. Sunlight is brahman, tree is life and the branches and leaves are attachments and desires. They are responsible for the shade of maya or illusion. Shade is out of question when there are no leaves and branches. So, there is no illusion or maya as such. It is the fallacy of your imagination.

Q110) Swami! How are we to get over maya or illusion?

Bhagawan: There is no maya. It is your own creation. How is it then you want to get over that, which does not exist at all?

In the night time, seeing a rope, you mistake it for a serpent and you are very much fearstricken. Later on, enquiry reveals that it is only a rope and not a serpent. What you should know here are two points. Neither the snake disappears nor does the rope come especially to give you relief. All along, it has been a rope only. You are the only one who is mistaken by taking a rope for a serpent. So also, the reality is brahman or atma and the rest is bhrama, or illusion or imagination.

Q111) Swami! It is often said and felt that none escapes maya or illusion. Everyone falls a victim to the influence of maya. So, man is prone to delusion. Then Swami, a person who has known what maya is and has been out of maya, how is it that he gets into the trap again?

Bhagawan: Think of this situation. When it is dark what happens to light? Where does it go? Similarly, when there is light, where does the darkness that was present till the light came, go? Absence of light is darkness. Darkness does not flow or run away. Because of the light, it is not noticed. Once the light is put off, it will be dark as before. Here light is wisdom, darkness is ignorance or maya or delusion or avidya. To dispel the darkness the only thing to do is light a candle.

Your question is, how the darkness of ignorance comes back again having been dispelled once already by the light of wisdom. A simple example. Many travel by bus. As the bus speeds forward along the rugged roads, we find the dust rising behind the bus so long as it is on a continuous run. But, the moment the bus stops the whole lot of dust collects inside. All of it just blows into the bus. Similarly, human life is a bus. So long as it is on the move of sadhana, the dust of illusion stays behind. But, if the bus of life stops or halts sadhana, the dust of delusion will get into life. So, it is sadhana that keeps you unaffected by delusion. If you stop sadhana you will again become a victim of maya. Therefore, you can never take it for granted that you are rid of maya in your lifetime. It is your constant sadhana that helps you.

Q112) Swami! Illusion is a nonatmic feeling or worldly approach. To identify myself with that which I am not is illusion. Truly Â≠speaking, the " I" we often speak of is in reality only atma. Nothing else. How is one to know this truth, to recognise and experience this truth? Kindly tell us about this Swami!

Bhagawan: Actually, 'I' is only atma or brahman. A sincere attempt to know this truth is called 'enquiry'. Selfenquiry is most essential in the spiritual path. Puja, namasmarana , dhyana, tapas, yajna, yaga, and such rituals are not truly spiritual. They are good activities to attain purity of heart. True spirituality indeed, is selfenquiry. I do not mean that you should give up all rituals and sacred actions. Selfenquiry is the most important in my view. Since you do not have people properly experienced in this field of knowledge to teach you, you find it tough and difficult to move in the right direction.

If this question, " Who are you?" is put to a group of people you get different answers. One says in reply, " I am an Indian" . This is not correct, because you may shift to America and then you become an American. If you go to Russia, you are a Russian and so on. India is the country where you are born. But you are not the country. So to say, " I am an Indian" is wrong. To the same question " Who or you" ? Another would say, " I am an engineer" . This is not correct, because you are an engineer by virtue of your profession. You are not the profession you are in. Some answer in a different way, saying, " I am so and so ...I am Ram, I am Syam. " It is a name given to you by your parents. You are not born with that name nor did you come to this world with a signboard on your forehead. You are not the name as you may change it according to your taste at any time.

One may prefer to answer the question " Who are you?" in another way saying, " I am a young man" , " I am an aged person'. " I am a boy" and so on. This is also wrong. Why? Boyhood, youth, and old age are the different stages that you pass through in your life. But you remain one and the same person all along. At one time, you were a boy. Then, a man. Later a father and finally a grandfather. But you have been the same person throughout. Then, how can you identify yourself with your age which does not remain the same? Another person may feel like saying, " I am a tall person" , " I am a handsome man" , " I am a lean man" . These are again the replies related to the nature of the body. This is not correct, you are not the body, which is merely an instrument, because while you are in deep sleep your body is passive and static, and you are not aware of its existence. You are not the mind also.

If you think you are the mind you lead the life of ego and pride. Even the mind does not exist in susupti, deep sleep. You are not the intellect either. You may be intelligent but you are not the intellect. Intellect is God's gift for you to discriminate, judge, decide and thus to be discreet. But, when it turns selfish, it is called " individual discrimination" . But, what is expected is " fundamental discrimination" , which is universal, and is good to everybody. You will also know that buddhi, intellect, does not exist in deep sleep. So, definitely you are not the intellect which is only an instrument like the body and the mind.

So, what is the correct answer to this question, " Who are you" ? It is " I am atma" . This atma is the eternal witness and is the experiencer of all. This exists in all the three states of consciousness, jagrata waking state, svapna, dreaming state, and susupti, deep

sleep. You may be named in any way, you may belong to any country, you may be of any age group or profession, etc., but as a matter of fact, you are the 'Eternal Atma' only. This is the correct answer you get in the path of selfenquiry. This is true spirituality.

Q113) Swami! What is Vedanta?

Bhagawan: The Veda is dualism. Vedanta is nondualism. There is nothing beyond Vedanta. Milk on curdling becomes curds. You get butter when you churn curds. When you heat butter, you get ghee. Ghee is the final stage of milk. Even if you heat further it remains the same. So, milk after passing through changes becomes ghee. Milk represents dualism and ghee represents nondualism.

Q114) Swami, do you view that the three schools of Vedanta philosophy like dualism, dvaita, qualified nondualism visistadvaita and nondualism advaita as contradictory to one another? Does one school advocate just the opposite of what the other says?

Bhagawan: This is how it is usually understood and practiced by many. But, truly speaking it is not so. In fact; these three are integrated. You find one as being the continuation of the other. You will notice that one leads to the other.

Take for example, sugarcane. You find juice in the sugarcane. Here, there is pulp and juice. This is the state of dualism. Now, you can extract juice separating the pulp from the sugarcane. The juice, though very important and the very essence drawn out of the sugarcane, does not stay long or cannot be preserved for long. This state of obtaining the juice, separating the pulp from the sugarcane is the state of qualified nondualism. This juice is purified, refined and processed into sugar and sugar remains the same forever. This is the state of nondualism. You can make use of sugar in anyway you like.

Q115) Swami! One cannot escape from the effects of fate or destiny. Things are preordained, and accordingly events happen in our life. This being inevitable, we suffer and face difficulties. Would you please tell us the way out of this?

Bhagawan: Everything in life is nothing but a reflection of your own thought and deed of your earlier life or lives. You pretend happily to think that none can notice you. But God within you knows full well all your thoughts, feelings and deeds. God is everywhere. You cannot hide anything from Him. One day or other you must face the consequences of your actions. This is the supreme truth.

You think and blame someone else, holding him responsible for your troubles .You are thoroughly mistaken here. Your actions are responsible for both the good and the bad you experience in this life. God is an eternal witness of all human activities. He created this world and gave it to man for his enjoyment, but on one condition that he must face the consequences of his own actions. God is like a postman. He is least bothered about the contents of the letters that he hands over to people. It is all a matter of relationship that exists between you and the one who writes you a letter. God is not concerned in any other way about the matter. Well, you receive a wedding card, you don't pay complements to the postman, do you? If you receive a threatening letter from someone, you don't blame the postman either. The postman is merely an instrument in the process of delivering letters. But prayer does help you to withstand tensions and problems with courage. Intense prayer, deep devotion, strong faith, sincere repentance, constant yearning and supreme love for God can alter the sequence of events in life. They can make even God reverse His own will. Take for example, the life of Markandeya. Fate granted him only sixteen years of life. But his devotion to Lord Siva was so intense that He made him immortal. God had to review and revise His own master plan in response to the prayers of Markandeya.

Take another example. There is a prisoner punished according to the laws of the penal code. During the period of imprisonment, if the character and conduct of the prisoner are found to be good and if he follows all the rules, regulations, and code of discipline imposed by the jail authorities, there is scope for the reduction of his jail term. There is another point you should note. Suppose the appeal of a person in a criminal case is lost in all the courts from the district level to the High Court even the Supreme Court, and when punishment like death sentence or life imprisonment becomes imminent and inevitable, the President of India can still order his release from jail on grounds of mercy and for special reasons. Similarly, though you are bound to suffer and destined to face difficulties as a result of your past actions, God in response to your sincere prayer and repentance will change the course of your life and save you from your suffering. God confers special grace on you being pleased with your singleminded devotion to Him.

Q116) Swami! Bhagavadgita wants us to give up the fruits of our actions, karmaphalaparityaga, both good and bad. Since we do good rarely, there is very little or none to offer you as the fruits of our good actions. We feel that it is not proper to offer evil or bad to you. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: You have to surrender both good and bad to God. Never get yourself attached to the results of your actions, be they good or bad. God is beyond these two opposites as He is nondual. Any water, pure or impure when mixed with Ganga, you will notice, does not affect the sanctity of Ganga. The sanctity never diminishes. Similarly, whatever you put into the fire gets burnt. The fire is in no way affected or polluted by those things that are put into it. Hence, if you offer both good and bad to God, ultimately you will be benefited.

A small example. Suppose you have a five hundred rupee currency note in your pocket, and you need to go out on some business and return later. You will be very careful to see that you do not lose it. You keep your hand on the pocket if you go to a cafeteria for a cup of coffee so that no one will pick your pocket. Even in a theatre, you will be vigilant. But on the other hand, if you deposit that money in the bank, it will be credited to your account and it will be safe. Then, you don't need to bother about it further. So also, if you surrender all the good you have done to God without attaching any value to the results, what happens is that you will be humble and simple. Here you do not take the credit. You thank God. You are full of thankfulness and gratitude to God. But if you own and claim the results of all your good and meritorious deeds, you will feel that you are the doer, so much so you will become proud and egoistic. Hence, you should surrender the reward of your good actions to God.

Then how about the evil or bad to be offered to God? You may feel that it is not proper to do so. Yet, you will notice that it will help you finally. A small example for you in this matter. Suppose you have with you a spoiled, dirty and halftorn five hundred rupee note. You don't throw it away as it is a valuable currency note. But you have not been able to use it. No one will accept that note. You are not in a position to buy anything. So, you can neither throw it away nor use it. But, if you deposit the very same currency note in the Reserve Bank, they accept it and give you a brand new note. One thing is very necessary. The number on the currency note should be very clear for them to accept and give you a good note. Similarly, the currency note of your deeds and consequences of your bad action, if offered to God, He will see the 'number' of 'devotion' on the note and give you in turn the good note or transform you. God is the Reserve Bank. Only God can receive your evil tendencies and misdeeds and transform them into good ones and give them back to you. Hence, both good and bad must be offered to God for your own ultimate benefit.

Q117) Swami! All the experiences, which are dual, are obtained due to our mind. Swami says 'Mind is a mad monkey.' Pleasure and pain are both due to our mind. How are we to kill the mind (manonasanam), annihilate it?

Bhagawan: The mind never makes you suffer; it all depends upon the way you use it. It is everywhere. It takes the form of that into which it gets. It is deathless. So, it is said that the mind is the world, manomulamidam jagat. Therefore, annihilation of the mind, manonas'anam is not correct. What you should desire is the merger of the mind with the divine, manolaya .

Just as the river merges in the mighty ocean, the mind should also merge in the Self . The mind surrendered to God becomes Ramadas, servant of Rama. But the mind full of desires is a slave to the organs, kamadas.

The mind should not be allowed to be lured by what we call in Telugu balimi, strength, kalimi, wealth and celimi, friendship. It should be filled with divine thoughts so that it may become one with God.

Q118) Swami! Are there any who attained tadatmya with God? We hear that total identification with God is the highest step in spirituality.

Bhagawan: Yes. There are many who experienced that state of total identification with God. In fact, a devotee should aim at it. There was a Westerner by name, Hen, who was very intelligent. The famous scientist, Darwin, was his guru. He started seeing his guru by contemplating on him continuously. Darwin concentrated his vision on a star and experienced certain vibrations. His student also reached that state.

You also must have heard of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. At one time, while worshipping Lord Sri Rama, he considered himself Hanuman. It is reported that he developed a short tail during that time.

You also find another illustration in the great epic Ramayana. Bharata wanted Rama to come back to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. He pleaded with him repeatedly. But, Rama refused to return, since he had decided and vowed to follow the command of his father and follow dharma in toto. Bharata left the place, after Rama promised that he would return immediately after the period of exile. The period was almost over and Bharata was expecting Rama to return at the appointed hour. Unable to bear the anguish at seeing no sign of Rama's arrival, Bharata got ready a funeral pyre and was prepared to jump into it ready for selfimmolation. In the meantime, Rama had sent Hanuman in advance with a message to Bharata in order to avert this situation and to inform Bharata of his arrival as he had promised before. Hanuman immediately dashed off to Nandigrama where Bharata was staying. As Hanuman was just landing, he noticed the scene there. Bharata was circumambulating the pyre into which he was about to jump and burn himself. Hanuman thought, " How is it that Rama is here? Why is Rama circumambulating the pyre?" Evidently, it means that Bharata looked exactly like Rama due to his constant meditation on him. This left even Hanuman confused. This is the meaning of what the Veda says, " Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati" Constant awareness of Brahman makes you Brahman.

Towards the end of the Ramayana, after he had killed Ravana, Rama was returning to Ayodhya along with his consort Sita and Lakshmana in a chariot. Bharata himself was driving the chariot. As the chariot was approaching the outskirts of Ayodhya, the inhabitants were eager to receive Rama, Sita and Lakshmana with garlands. Here again, the people were confused since Bharata, holding the reins of the chariot, looked exactly like Rama. When the people were about to garland Bharata mistaking him for Lord Rama, Bharata had to silently and softly point out to Rama with his folded hands as to who should be garlanded. This is again an instance of total identification, tadatmya .

Here is another example. You must have heard of Swami Samartha Ramadas, the preceptor of emperor Sivaji. Like Bharata, Swami Samartha Ramadas also looked for some time exactly like Lord Rama in his form as well as in his manner of walking with the bow and arrow on his shoulders. People, watching this, were amazed, and one of them asked him, " Swami! If you are really Lord Rama, can you shoot the bird sitting over there on a branch located on the top of that distant tree?" Ramadas killed the bird with an arrow. It fell on the ground. Someone said then, " Swami! You have killed the bird for no reason. It did no harm to you. Rama, known for compassion, never kills anyone without a valid reason. Can you revive it now?" Then, the Swami collected the dead bird with both his hands and lifted it. He prayed for its life. Lo and behold! The wings started to flutter. The bird moved slowly and finally flew away. All present there joined in a chorus shouting in praise of the Swami, " Jai! Samartha Ramadas Ki Jai, " Our praises to Swami Samartha Ramadas! This is an instance of total identification with God.

Q119) Swami! You are referring to anubhavajnanam, practical knowledge. We think we know many things. Is this not wisdom?

Bhagawan: Certainly not! The pity is that you do not realise that you do not know. You know very little and what you know is at best negligible. But you think you know everything. What you study is very little and it is a big mistake if you think that you know everything. It is foolish too. There is a lot to be known. What you know is but a fragment, and it is not total knowledge.

Now, look! What is this? This, as you see, is a handkerchief. (At this point, Swami, kept the handkerchief in his grip and held it in such a way that only a bit could be seen outside his fist.) Now, what is this? This is only a piece of cloth. It is not the whole kerchief. (Then Swami spread the kerchief and held it in His hands). Now, what is this? You will say, " It is a kerchief'. Seeing only a bit, you cannot call it a handkerchief. So also, acquiring a little knowledge, you can hardly claim to have attained total knowledge. This is a mistake the educated commit in this modern age. They know a little and claim to know everything. Complete or total knowledge is awareness, and not knowledge of a bit or a fragment. This you should remember. Go in for the whole. Be aware!

Q120) Swami! When does a devotee get total experience?

Bhagawan: Bhakti finds its fulfilment in. mukti Till then, we can't say that a devotee has got total experience. Total experience is purnan ubhavam, advaitanandam, a state of nondual bliss, brahmanandam, Supreme bliss, and nityanandam, eternal bliss. A simple example, A river flows incessantly. There may be a number of obstacles in its way. Yet, the river flows on taking different turns. It overcomes the obstacles and proceeds forward. How long and how far? It must reach the ocean and merge in it. The ocean does not permit the merger so easily. It drives away the river or pushes it out. Still the river does not give up its attempt. Finally, as the ocean tides rise the river merges. When layam, sayujyam, merger of the two takes place, there the river finds vis'ranti and pras'anti, rest and peace.

Similar is the relationship between a devotee and God. The flow of devotion leading to merging in God is sadhana. The river merging in the ocean is the merger of the individual jiva with brahman, which is known as jiva brahmaikyata; a state of perfect merging or unison of jivatma and paramatma or jiva and brahman.

Q121) Swami! What is wisdom?

Bhagawan: Wisdom is not textual information. Wisdom is not scholarship. Wisdom is not preaching. Wisdom is not verbal or vocal. Wisdom is not an academic Master's degree or Doctorate. Wisdom is practical experience. Wisdom cannot be stuffed into the head. Wisdom is what enables you to identify your own mistakes, faults, and defects, corrects them and leads you towards not repeating any errors of the past

QI22) Swami! In the big human body, where is the source of life located?

Bhagawan: You think it is the heart. No. Don't you know that today surgeons can do heart transplantations also? Even while it is done, the patient doesn't die. Then where is the life principle that keeps you living? In the spinal column between the 9th and 12th vertebrae, there is the life principle that acts as the main switch.

In the mantrapus pam it is clearly indicated: vidyullekheva bhasvara, a lightning or electric current acts as the life centre.

Q123) Swami! What are the main principles of life?

Bhagawan: A newborn baby cries, but a grownup man should part from this world smiling. Do you know why the baby cries? It cries because of the misfortune that lies ahead of it, a long, troublesome and problematic life. In the words of Adi Sankara, punarapi jananam punarapi maranam, punarapi janani jathare s'ayanam.

Everyone is born again and again, life after life. So, the infant cries. But at its birth, its parents, its relatives and elders celebrate, smile and distribute sweets don't they? Life begins with a question, koham, who am I? But, it should find an answer soham, I am He, I am God, before it ends. We get the answer, through sadhana, spiritual practice or exercise. There is no point in going through the question paper again and again. without finding the answer.

We can in one way divide life into three phases morning, midday and night. Morning is the stage of an infant, the four legged one crawling on the ground on both hands and both legs. Midday is the stage of a youth, the twolegged, walking with two legs. Night is the stage of an old man, the three legged with a walking stick as an aid to the two weakened legs.

Brahmacarya, celibacy is the foundation over which a threestoried building, with the first floor, the stage of a householder, the second floor that of a recluse, and the top floor that of a renunciant is built. Thus, for the mansion, celibacy is the foundation. By the time a person becomes fifty years old, he should have full control over his five organs of action, karmendriyas by the time he is sixty he should have conquered all the six weaknesses, kama, desire, krodha, anger, lobha, greed, moha, infatuation mada, pride, and matsarya, jealousy.

At the age of seventy, after overcoming the weaknesses, he is revered as one of the seven sages, saptaris is, like the seven notes of music, saptasvaras, and the seven seas, saptasamudra. At the age of eighty, having followed the eight paths of yoga astanga yoga, he shines like the eight lords of the directions as tadikpalakas. At the age of ninety, life shines like nine precious gems, navaratnas having followed the nine paths of devotion. At the age of hundred, he is master of the five organs of perception, and the five organs of action, and is divine having experienced divinity in depth, brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati.

You should also know another point. Whatever you do, it is for your own satisfaction and not for other people's. In other words, it is for your self-satisfaction. You put on new clothes. For whom do you wear them? It is for your satisfaction that you wear a new dress. You construct a new house. For whom? It is for you only, isn't it? You eat an apple not for the benefit of the apple, it is for your own satisfaction.

Understand that Self is God. You have to play well your role in the drama of your life. Swami is Sutradhari, the director while you are the actor, patradhari. Consider this an opportunity. Lead your life in an ideal way and get a good name in society. God should say that you are good. This is what is said in the Gita, manman a bhava madbhakto madyaji mam namaskuru. Don't pray for the fulfilment of desires. Pray to be with Him and Him alone. Then. everything else will be added unto you. Be always humble and respectful.

In South India, food is served on plantain leaves When all the items are served, the leaf on account of its weight, remains without being blown off by the wind: When it is empty, it is blown off because of its lightness. In other words, empty vessels make much noise. A tree loaded with fruits is always bent because of the weight of the fruits. Similarly, a true scholar is humble and modest .A cloudlike mass of air goes up higher and higher, while a cloud of vapour comes down. A person with ego ruins himself.

There are four main principles you should know and follow in life. The first principle is tyaja durjana samsargam, run away from bad company. The second principle is bhaja sadhu samagamam, be always in good company. If necessary, you better lose or pay money if you must in order to avoid bad company. You should never be separated from good, pious and noble people.

The third principle is smara nityamanityatam, bear in mind always what is impermanent or transitory. In other words, distinguish that which is divine from the one that is temporal. You are gifted with intellect for discrimination and judgment. Discriminate between what is transient, perishable and dual and what is eternal; immortal and nondual.

The fourth principle is kuru pun yamahoratram , do meritorious deeds day and night. The body is meant for serving others. Paropakararthamidam sariram.

CHAPTER VI Parallels and Polarities

Q124)Swami! We hear two terms veryoften used by pandits: prakrti and purusa . Please explain thesetwo terms?

Bhagawan: Prakti and purusa are matter and energy.You can also take them as the positive and the negative. Even if there is abulb, you don't get light unless there is power supply. Likewise, the powersupply remains useless, if there is no bulb either. Therefore, both power andlight bulb are required. Similarly, this entire creation is a combination of prakrti and purusa . These two are interdependent andinterrelated.

Prakrti is viewed as feminine.God is the only male.

In a Collegefor Women, girls play all the different roles in a drama. So also, at thelevel of the body, there are differences. But, the indweller, atma, is one andthe same. The body is a bundle of bones. It is like a water bubble, it isephemeral. It is afflicted by many diseases. After all, it is full of urine, blood, muscles, bones and faecal matter. It emits only bad odour and not thefragrance of flowers and perfumes. The body is prakrti and undergoeschange periodically. But, the eternal, changeless, immortal truth is purusa or God. It is only the purusa that is valued. Prakrti isaccepted and cherished so long as purusa is there.

Sugar mixedwith cream of wheat makes a sweet by name ravva laddu. Sugar incombination with dal makes a laddu. The same sugar can be mixedwith any type of flour pi s t á di gudasampar ká t . Similarly, purusa functions through prakrti assuming different forms and names.But, purusa remains a witness, who is transcendental, beyond time andspace; nondual, eternal, blissful and is a personification of wisdom. It is purusa, who created prakrti the universe. Purusa is theobject while prakrti is his reflection. Therefore, these twin terms areused by Sanskrit scholars to indicate purusa and prakrti: loka lókésvara, vis'va vis'vésvara, jagat jagad i s'vara , sarvam sarvé svara, prapanca paramv é svara , etc. Supposing therearecontainers made of gold, silver, copper and clay and they are filled withwater. Although the containers differ in metal and value, the reflection ofthe sun in all these containers is one and the same. So, the sun is purusa while the containers represent prakrti . Matter + Energy = God.

Q125)Swami! Some worship Vishnu, whilesome others worship Siva. They don't see eye to eye with one another. There seems to be constant rivalry between thesetwo groups, the Vaishnavites and the Saivites. Kindly tell us how these twogroups of devotees of God can be united.

Bhagawan: This is utterignorance and foolishness. The scripture says, â 'ekamevadvitiyam brahma, ' which means God is one without a second. It also says, â 'advaitadars'anam jnanam, ' true wisdom isnondual. Every seeker of truth orspiritual aspirant should know the essential unity in diversity. You shouldexperience unity in divinity. The worshippers of Lord Vishnu address the Lordof the seven hills of Tirupati as Venkata Ramana while the worshippers of Sivacall him Venkatesvara. But, you know both are the same.

Once a kingconvened a conference of scholars of both these groups to deliberate, discussand finally decide as to who was the greater of the two, Vishnu or Siva. Boththe contending groups presented their viewpoints convincingly .The king, therefore, wanted his Chief Minister to consider all the points of thescholars and then give his verdict on the issue. The latter got up and said, " Oh King! I do not think if either of these two groups has ever experiencedreality. Those who argued in favour of Vaishnavism saying that Vishnu isgreater than Siva knew little of Vishnu. Had they been genuinely devoted toHim, they would have seen Siva in Vishnu also. Similarly, those who held thatSiva was superior to Vishnu would see Vishnu in Siva also" .

There isanother episode to illustrate this fact. One day Lord Sri Rama was passing byand on the way He saw a stone. Hanuman observed it and wanted to pick it upand throw it away. He used all his strength, but could not lift it. That verystone was the Sivalinga installed by Sri Rama in Ramesvaram, a pilgrim centrein Tamilnadu. Rama, being Vishnu Himself, proved that He and Siva arebasically one and the same by installing a Sivalinga. Isn't it so? Know thatall names are Hisand all forms are His. He is the only one who responds to our prayers.

Q126) Swami! You repeatedly mention'love' in your discourses. Why? Don't we have prema, love, within us? If not, how are we to developit? What is the difference between prema, love and móha, attachment?

Bhagawan: You think you have prema, love. It is a mistake. You have only abhimana, attachment.There is a lot of difference between the two. You have misdirected love andallowed it to flow in different ways and ultimately got it steeped inattachment. You have forgotten real prema.

The love youhave towards your children is vatsalya, 'affection'. Your love towardsyour wife is anuraga, 'attachment' and your love towards worldlyobjects is mamakara , 'possessiveness'. Your love towards your equalsis maitri, 'friendship'. Like this, love flows in many differentdirections. All this is not love in the true sense of the term. This is allphysical, worldly, ever changing and temporary. This may give you prapancik√°nanda, worldly pleasure, bhautik√°nanda, mundane pleasure, indriy√°nanda, sensual pleasure, and manasikananda desireoriented love. They give you only pleasure.

Today youmay be happy with one thing and tomorrow you may not be with the same thing.In winter, you are happy wearing a woollen coat but in summer, you will beunhappy if you wear the same woollen coat. Therefore, time, position, spaceand states of mind bind happiness. This is the type of happiness you get out of abhim√°na, attachment. Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya in the Ramayana, died of his attachment to Rama as he couldn't bear separationfrom him. It is again, the attachment of Kaikeyi that led to the attempt to crown Bharata and the exile of Rama.

You observethe contrast between Rama and Dasaratha. The father, Dasaratha, due to hisattachment to Kaikeyi, had to be separated from Rama by granting her the boonshe had promised. But, his son, Rama, left his consort Sita to her fate in aforest, when a washerman spoke ill of her as she had spent eight long months in Lanka under the control of Ravana. What supreme detachment! He had no attachment to the kingdom either. So, he simply obeyed his father's command and left for the forest.

In the Mahabharata, you know how king Dhritarashtra remained silent due to attachment when his sons were committing atrocities against their cousins, the Pandavas, which ultimately led to the death of all his progeny. Isn't it so?

Don't you know that Yasoda couldn't fully comprehend the divinity of Krishna because sheconsidered him always only her son and never as God, due to her vatsalya, attachment? Had Buddha been attached to his wife, Yasodhara and his son, Rahul, would it have been possible for him to leave them? Krishna, once he left Repalle, a place where he had spent his boyhood, never stepped in there again. He was not attached to the place. But, his connection with the Gopiscontinued, as it was only love to love relationship, which was divine. The love of the Pandavas suffered no decrease or loss in spite of the terrible sufferings they had gone through.

Love is changeless. Love is steady and unshakeable. Love is nondual. Love is not carried away by praise nor does it vanish with blame. Love is selfless and unconditional. Love is spiritual and essentially divine: It was the love of Jesus for humanity that made him pray for those who had persecuted him while he was on the cross. Isn't that a climax of love?

Attachment is confined to getting and forgetting, while love always gives and forgives. Love is God. God is love. Live in love. Attachment is bondage leading to misery. Attachment is narrow and utterly selfish.

A child is full of love and bliss. As he grows up, he starts loving toys; thereafter he loves to play and slowly starts loving friends. On becoming a youth, he loves a lifepartner, then his family, and gradually he develops love for possessions, position and properties. Thus, love is allowed to flow in different directions, and as such, it becomes diluted and finally reduced to attachment.

Your love for God is devotion, and helps you to cultivate virtues like humility and obedience and makes your life blissful. It helps you to attain mukti, liberation. What you need today is the expansion of love.

First ofall, you start with loving your family, extend your love to your relations andslowly to your community and your country as a whole and ultimately to the entire universe. You can realise and experience God only by and through Love, as God is the embodiment of Love. You may find people in want of one thing orother. But, you find none lacking in love. You have to channelise it. Love isthe natural quality which is God's gift to man.

Q127) Swami! What are brahma, and bhrama?

Bhagawan: To realise andexperience unity in diversity is 'brahma', divinity. But, viewing oneas many is 'bhrama', illusion. That which is bound by name and form is bhrama. Brahma transcends time and space, and is eternal and unsullied.You know many sweets such as gulabjamun, laddu, jilébi, basundi etc.These sweets have their names and forms. This is bhrama. But, they aremade of sugar, which is one and the same. This is brahma.

Anotherexample. You see cloth which is made of yarn closely interwoven. This is bhrama. Though the yarn is apparently different from the cloth, it isafter all made of the same cotton only. This approach is Brahma. So bhrama illusion, is multiplicity, plurality, diversity and has different namesand forms, while brahma, divinity is unity, the fundamental primordialprinciple.

Q128) Swami! Some say that God has noform. But, we see devotees praying to idols in temples. The Concept of Avatar, incarnation of God, is of special significance in our land of SanatanaDharma. But followers of other paths argue that God has no form. We prayto you to clarify this point.

Bhagawan: When you see a doctor, you will be reminded of your physical complaints. When you meet a lawyer, youthink of litigation and court cases, don't you? Likewise, when you see a gopuram, temple tower, you will be reminded of God. As I often say, lovemay not have a form, but a loving mother has. Water may not have form, but thetumbler with water has a form; air may not have a form, but the balloon intowhich it is pumped has a form. In the same manner, the formless divine has itsform or forms. The formless expresses itself through a form.

A simpleexample. You know the screen in a theatre. You find pictures projected on thescreen. In every picture, there is the screen. Without the screen, you can'tsee the picture. Pictures come and pass. Not even one remains permanent. Thisscreen may be described in spiritual parlance as 'sad and asad'or 'sadasad'. Sat is existence asat is nonexistence. Like this, these two coexist, sakara one with form and nirakara theformless.

Q129) Swami! We hear of cellular phonesand remote controls everywhere. All the necessities of our worldly existenceseem to be from Electronics and Computers, drawing the attention of everyone.How does the subject of Spirituality come into the picture here? Where is thetime for it? As if this is not enough, we hear of nuclear tests also. How are we to coordinate andintegrate these diverse aspects? Kindly show us the way.

Bhagawan: Men are more valuablethan all the wealth of the world. Having been born as human beings, you shouldstrive to attain moksha. Science andTechnology can provide you many comforts and conveniences. They can't conferon you peace and bliss. What is Science? What is Spirituality? What is thedifference between the two? Science is below the senses. Spirituality is abovethe senses. Spirituality speaks of tat, that, and Science speaks of tvam, you, so as to make you learn tattvamasi, That thou art. Thisis nature, world, or prakrti. That is purusa or God.

Spiritualityis like the letter 'O' which is full and complete, whereas Science is like theletter 'C' which is incomplete with a hollow space within, starting at onepoint and ending elsewhere. Spirituality begins where Science ends and ittakes you from the world to God. Spirituality makes you feel and experiencedivinity in this world. This is the way to integrate Science and Spirituality.Spirituality is the unseen principle behind the apparent electronic orscientific gadgets and equipment.

Q130) Swami! Are Science andSpirituality contradictory to each other? We are eager to know Swami's viewson this subject.

Bhagawan: Science operates belowthe senses, while Spirituality functions above the senses. Science speaks of'this', 'tvam', world, while Spirituality thinks of 'that', 'tat', divine. Science refers to tvamidam, 'near' while Spiritualityconcentrates on 'far' param, beyond. Science is meant for the padartha , 'material' and Spirituality is for the ultimate paramartha . Science deals with the jada, inert, and spirituality, with caitanya, awareness. Spirituality aims at the adhara, base andScience experiments on the adheya, superstructure.

Science isthe 'split of love' while Spirituality is the 'spirit of love'. Science dealsin pravrtti marga, the external world, and Spirituality in theintuitive nivrtti marga. Science can visualise the vyakta, apparent, while Spirituality dives into the avyakta, hidden. You canlearn Science with your carmacaks us, physical eye, but theunderstanding of Spirituality needs the jñanacaks us, 'eye ofwisdom'. Science is the collection of facts, which are stuffed in your 'head'.Spirituality is metaphysical, and touches your 'heart'. Science is incompletelike the letter 'C' which begins at one point and ends somewhere else.Spirituality is purnam, full like the letter 'O'.

Sciencesupplies implements. Spirituality tells you how to use them. For example, aknife with which you can cut vegetables, fruits and so on can be used to cutthroats. Science shows what you see, like your photo or picture. But, Spirituality is an xray film. Science is 'negative' while Spirituality is'positive'.

Creation is'negative' while the creator is 'positive'. Fill your heart with positivespirituality as you fill the tank with water. Senses are the taps throughwhich you draw the water of love. Science states facts, but Spiritualitysymbolises unchangeable truth, r tam.

Q131) Swami! We experience love in ourworldly life. How is it different from spiritual love?

Bhagawan: Split of love isworldly, but the spirit of love is spiritual. Love shared with one's own kithand kin is the split of love. This is worldly love. The primordial principlegoverning the entire universe is spiritual love. This is the spirit of love.Spiritual love is universal.

Q132) Swami! Today everyone speaks ofFree Will. Do we really have Free Will?

Bhagawan: Man has no Free Will.It is only God who has Free Will. Being a slave to the senses, how can youclaim to have free will? Where from do you get Free Will? God alone is freeand hence He alone has Free Will and that is why this Free Will is anabsolutely divine attribute. How? Here is a small example. When a man suffersfrom a paralytic stroke, he is not able to lift or move the paralysed part ofhis body. Come on! Let him now try in the name of Free Will! So, there is noFree Will as such, and it is ridiculous to think so. There is no meaning inthe claim.

Swami!In modern society, much knowledge is only halfknowledge and partialunderstanding: We don't have a clear picture of anything. We want to know thedifference between Free Will and Divine Will?

Bhagawan: It is ego and ignorancethat prompt doubts of this kind. On account of body identification, you arenot able to know reality. In fact, you are a slave to your senses. So, you arenot free. How can you have Free Will then? God is the master of all. He isabove everything. He is not bound or limited by anybody or anything. He isabsolutely free. Hence, it is only God who has Free Will or Divine Will.

Todayeveryone thinks that he has Free Will enabling him to do anything of hischoice and that he can decide anything in the name of his Free Will. This maybe one thing today and quite a different thing tomorrow, but Divine Will neverchanges. While exercising your Free Will, you may succeed or fail, win orlose. If you succeed, you become proud and egoistic. If you fail, you becomefrustrated and disappointed. But, Divine Will is a transcendental phenomenon.What you should do is simply surrender to Divine Will. It means readiness orpreparedness to receive and accept happily whatever happens in your life, goodor bad, with the feeling that it is only for your ultimate good. You mustaccept it as God's gift to you. This is true jñana and bhakti.In fact, you do not know what is good for you. God knows the when, the why, the what, and the how, of everything, of everyone. Everything happensaccording to God's will or Divine Will. If you know and sincerely believethis, you will never be elated, egoistic, proud, frustrated, depressed anddisappointed once you have surrendered truly to the Divine Will.

Divine Willis present in the guise of conscience, reminding you of your responsibility.It is the antarvani , Inner Voice. But, you neglect it and don't payheed to its appeal and message, and so you suffer. With your mind turnedinward, your intellect tuned to the fundamental principle and your senses keptunder strict control, you can hear clearly your Inner Voice, which is noneother than the voice of God. Divine Will is the master plan of God.

Q133) Swami! Kindly let us know thedifference between devotion and surrender.

Bhagawan: Devotion is dual. Hereis one who is devoted to God. Therefore, devotion is the path of dualism. Adevotee has no meaning if there is no God. So also, God is associated with adevotee. It is devotion that links them. But, surrender is nondual. In thepath of nondualism, we find this surrender. Once you surrender to God, you donot exist for yourself any longer. You do not have anything of your own.

For example, you have water and sugar. As it is, these two are separate and different fromeach other in their names, forms and tastes. This is the principle of dualism, since sugar and water exist apart from each other. Now, mix both, whathappens? It is neither Sugar nor is it water. It becomes syrup. So also, thedevotee who totally surrenders himself to God does not consider himself as aseparate entity apart from God. This is true surrender and the spirit ofnon-dualism.

Q134) Swami! Out of the two, faith andlove, which precedes the other? Is it true that we love if only we have faithor is it the other way round? Kindly tell us about it.

Bhagawan: You should definitelyhave faith first in order to love. Do not doubt this. Unless you have fullfaith that so and so is your father, mother, son, wife or husband, you willnot be able to love any one of them. If you have no faith, and if you are notsure of the dear ones how can you love them? Is it possible for you to lovethe one you doubt? So, faith comes first and love next.

Q135) Swami! We meet many persons whosay that they can believe only after going through an intimation of divinity, develop faith onlyafter they experience. But, many also feel that only strong faith givesus that experience. So, which of the two precedes the other? Please tell us, Swami.

Bhagawan: Faith, which comesfirst gives you experience. You must have unwavering faith in order toexperience. Faith is the foundation. For example, to swim, you should jumpinto water. You cannot say that you will jump into water only after learningswimming. You cannot learn it on tar roads or cement roads. You can learn itonly in water. Here water is faith and the art of swimming is experience. So, faith precedes experience.

Q136) Swami! Is it proper to say that 'I am in God'? Or should I say that 'God is in me'? Which of the two is appropriate?

Bhagawan: Our scripture says, â 'sarvam vis n umayam jagat, ' God is all pervasive. He encompasses the entire Universe. 'Vasudevas sarvamiti', 'is'avasyamidagm sarvam' are our scriptural dicta. They make it very clear that the entire cosmos is in Him.

It is correct to say that you are in God. It is not correct to say that God is in you. Of course, when the whole universe is in Him, naturally you are in Him. How? A small example. You are holding in your hand a rose flower. It means that the rose flower is small and you are big. Since God is infinite, the world is in Him. But, if you put it in the reverse order by saying that God is in you, you become bigger than God. This is not a proper feeling. You are a spark of that divine. mamaiva√°ms o â ' jivaloke jivabhutah sanatanah', says the Gita.

Q137) Swami! How is it possible not to be attached to the family and to rise above the feeling of 'mine' and 'thine'?

Bhagawan: A small example here. A rich man who resides in a big bungalow has an Alsatian dog. This dog is always vigilant and will not permit anyone to enter the house. Now to get into that house, what is to be done? You are left with two ways. Either you should tame the dog and get in or call for the rich man to escort you. Otherwise, the dog will not permit you to move forward even an inch.

Similarly, to pass through the main gate of attachment, you have to tame possessiveness, like a dog. This is karmamarga , the path of action. Alternatively, you can call for the help of God and get in. This is bhaktimarga , the path of devotion. Hence, karma, selfless action and bhakti, devotion, are the two alternatives, for developing detachment and giving up possessive instincts.

Q138) Swami! We come across certain terms used in philosophy and get very much confused. For instance, 'conscience' and 'consciousness'. Are they not synonyms? If not, what is the difference between the two? Scholars, when consulted, add to the confusion. I am at a loss to know what these two terms 'conscience and consciousness' mean?

Bhagawan: There is difference between the two. They are not definitely synonyms. You should know here three terms: 'subconscious, conscience, and consciousness'. That which works below the senses is the subconscious. But, 'conscience' is above the senses. 'Consciousness' is allpervasive.

A small example. You have air all around. You fill a balloon with air. It gets inflated. Now, there is air in the balloon and also outside it. If you pump in more air into the balloon it bursts with the result that the air in the balloon gets merged with the air around. You can equate the air within the balloon with 'subconscious' and the air all around with conscience. The divinity within the individual is conscience while divinity in everyone, which is all pervasive, collective, and universal is consciousness. Spirituality refers to many subtle things. You must understand them very carefully.

Q139) Swami! Almost all of us claim to have immense faith in and intense love for Bhagawan. But, we also notice at the same time a lot of ego and pride in our words and deeds. What is to be done then?

Bhagawan: It is impossible for an egotistic person to know and experience God. This is very certain. Just as water flows always downwards, so also a proud man is sure to fall. You may say that you love God. But, God also must acknowledge your love. Should He not? Suppose you send a registered letter to your friend, should you not get the acknowledgement? Similarly, God also should be touched and moved by your devotion to Him in order to respond to your love. This will never happen so long as there is ego in you.

One day Krishna and Arjuna noticed a Brahmin who was holding a sword and eating a dry blade of grass. They were very surprised to see such a peculiar Brahmin. Slowly, they approached him and softly asked him why he was carrying a sword as he was a Brahmin. The Brahmin said, " I am in search of four persons, whom I have decided to kill" . Krishna asked, " Who are they?" In reply, the Brahmin said, " The first person I want to kill is Narada, the celestial singer. He sings continuously the glory of Narayana all the time and everywhere he moves making Narayana, my God, restless. So, I must kill him. "

" The second person I am going to kill is that boy Prahlada. His father put him to suffering of all kinds. My Lord had to rush every time to save him. When Prahlada was given poison, my Lord had to be there in the poison to save him. When he was thrown from the mountaintop, my God, had to stretch His hands to hold and save him. When he was thrown into the sea, my Lord had to rescue him. When he was thrown into the fire, my Lord had to be there too in the fire to save him. He was trampled under the feet of an elephant and Narayana had to be there for his protection. Every time he prayed to God, He, out of compassion, responded to his prayers. In a way, Prahlada made my God constantly wait to save him so that nothing untoward might happen to him at any time. So I plan to kill him" .

" The third person in my hit list is Draupadi. She prayed to my Lord Krishna as the only refuge of the forlorn when she was being disrobed in the open court by Dussasana. My God Krishna had to rush to help her out of a most humiliating situation leaving all his consorts behind him and without saying anything to anyone. And last but not the least, the person whom I want to kill is Arjuna, He made my Lord his charioteer during the Kurukshetra war and gave him a great deal of trouble" .

Arjuna standing by the side of Krishna heard the entire conversation. He bent his head in full recognition of the Brahmin's devotion to God, a kind of devotion which excelled even his own.

Q140) Swami! How can we differentiate thought from intuition?

Bhagawan: Thought is the outcome of the mind and hence it is dual while intuition is nondual. A thought may arise according to your convenience. But, intuition is beyond both mind and intellect; it is direct perception of truth and hence it stands for conviction. So, intuition is said to be buddhi which is transcendental, buddhi grahyamati ndriyam .

A thought may be right or wrong, but the prompting of an intuition is nothing but truth. Thoughts are mostly of a sensual and worldly nature. But, intuition is the inner voice or the voice of conscience and is divine. Your intelligence may sometimes lead you to a situation when you begin to doubt or suspect even your wife. Sometimes you may also turn mad. But, conscience or intuition awakens your inner awareness.

Q141) Swami! We are influenced by social, ethical, scientific, economic and political factors in life. I have one question to ask you. If I am wrong, kindly pardon me. We hear people speaking about equality and equanimity. How can we achieve them? Some groups in society claim to work towards these ideals. How are we to accomplish them?

Bhagawan: There is nothing wrong if one is a seeker of truth. You understand clearly that the two words you now mentioned 'samanatva' equality, and 'samatva' equanimity, are not synonymous. They have different meanings.

Samatva, equanimity, is to be achieved at the individual level, while samanatva, equality, applies to a society. It is impossible to realise and establish samatva anywhere and at any time. Your body is not equal to it.. It has ups and downs. While your nose and stomach project outwards, your neck dips downwards. Are you like a pillar? Then, how about the earth? Is it level? No. It is full of ups and downs with mountains, valleys, hills, oceans etc. Isn't it? Are all of you of the same height, weight and complexion? Are your ideas, aspirations, ambitions equal? No. Where is equality then?

A small illustration. One person has seven acres of land. Another person has five acres. Supposing you divide the land equally between them, the first person loses one acre and naturally feels sad while the other person gains one more acre and feels happy. The feelings of the two are not the same. Then, where is equality?

A small story to illustrate the same meaning. A certain king went round his kingdom in disguise and noticed the sufferings and difficulties of some of his people. He decided to alleviate their sufferings. He went to a forest and there he prayed to God. God manifested before him and granted him the life span of a hundred years to realise his dream of establishing equality in his kingdom, when all people would be happy and equal. On hearing this, the queen went and prayed to God. " Oh! God! May the people also be granted a hundred year span of life! What is the use if only the king lives for a hundred years?" God granted a hundred years to each one of the people also. Then a few elders did penance and pleased God who responded to their prayers by granting a hundred years to the queen, Rajyalajkshmi. After some time the king returned to his kingdom, and with great difficulty, he could find out his palace because God had made all equal and hence he noticed palaces all over.

The king asked the queen, " Why are the streets dirty?" She said, " Oh! We have no sweepers now, all being equal" . Then the king asked the queen to get some water ready for him to take his bath. The queen said, " Oh King! We have no servants as all are equal now" . The king realised his mistake, as he found the entire social order greatly disturbed. He immediately prayed to God for the return of the old order.

This is how the socalled equality operates. But, 'equanimity' is different. It has to be achieved by everyone. It is the state of mind unruffled by 'bumps and jumps' in life, not tossed about by defeats and failures. A state of mind that remains the same in the time of both fortune and misfortune is said to be equanimous. You should not be elated by praise or depressed by blame but maintain equanimity in both the times, Spiritually, 'ekovasi , sarvabhutantaratma, ' the same God is in everyone. Feelings of thirst and hunger are identical for all. Desires differ, views vary. As you know, 'tastes differ'. Equality is impossible but equanimity is desirable and one has to work for it.

Q142) Swami! Excuse me for putting this question. We speak of 'God' and 'demigod'. Are both the same? Please clarify.

Bhagawan: I often say, " You are God'. In the ancient days our population was much less, say about three cores. So people said there were three crores of 'demigods' devatas. Remember that the human body is the moving temple of God. But, it should be realised in your experience. This you don't get out of worldly or secular knowledge. You don't get it in the realm of your mind with ' sujñana.' But, it is experienced through atmajñana, knowledge of the Self. If God is the Prime Minister, Demigods, devatas are Cabinet Ministers, each one of them being in charge of a particular department, like Finance, Education, Home, etc.

During earlier times, they considered the five elements demigods, such as; agnideva, Fire God',

vayudeva, Wind God, bhumata , Mother Earth, varunadeva , Rain God, Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth, Sarasvati, Goddess of knowledge, Durga, Goddess of Energy; and so on. If you write a letter addressed to 'Prime Minister', it will go to him, so also your prayers to God. But, if you write to the Cabinet Ministers separately, the letters go to them respectively. Our yajnas and yagas are the sacred rituals that appease demigods.

Another example. There are two types of telephone calls. One is the number call and the other the personal call. When I dial your number to find out if you are at home, anyone at home can respond. But, if I make a 'personal call' only you will reply. Similarly, all prayers to demigods are like 'number calls'. But, a prayer to God is the 'personal call.'

During namasankirtan, congregational singing, all can sing mentioning various names, attributes and qualities of God. However, in meditation you have to concentrate on a name and form of your choice.

CHAPTER VII: SADHANA, The Inner Door

Q143) Swami! Good company is very essential for everybody. Is it assignificant as it is said to be?

Bhagawan:Undoubtedly, good company is very important for every one of you. In fact, youshould also seek the company of good people. You should run away from badcompany. It is the company you join that, decides your life. So, it is said, " Tell me your company! I shall tell you what you are!" Dust when it is inassociation with the wind goes up, but the same dust in association with watersinks down. Another example for you. In ten cups of milk if you mix one cup ofwater, the value of water also will go up. But, on the other hand, in ten cupsof water, if you pour one cup of milk, the milk will lose its value. See, thisexplains clearly the importance of the association or the company you keep.

You also hear in the Mahabharata about Kama, who, in spite of all his excellence in archery, intelligence, and physical prowess, because of his bad company, has come to beknown as one among the 'dustacatustaya', the four wicked ones. Kamalost all his name and fame, because of bad company.

Q144) Swami! What is your advice to employees, who struggle to make both endsmeet and wish to follow Swami?

Bhagawan:I have advised you a great many times to keep hands in society and head in theforest. You work well with both your hands. Be very sincere in your work andserve wholeheartedly. At the same time, keep God as your aim and objective.You should keep Him in your mind at all times.

Consider a mother. She may bevery busy with her household work, but she never forgets her child. She knowswhen her child will feel hungry and needs to be fed.

You must have watched the danceprogramme in our auditorium. The dancer keeps two or three pots one above theother on the head, and moves her head and limbs precisely to the rhythm andthe drumbeat. To the surprise of the audience all the while the pots remainexactly one above the other on her head as they were kept just before thedance performance began. How? The answer is simple. As she dances, sheconstantly concentrates on the pots over her head so that the balance is neverlost. Similarly, in your life you may be doing several things. Yet, you shouldever remember God and keep him as your sole aim. Always look up inwardly.

Q145) Swami! You are unique in explaining both the components of our life, the spiritual and the physical. You alone can do it in this world. It ismostnecessary that we mix with people, and sometimes even intimately. We have tointeract with one another in our daily life. How are we to speak, and what isgood for us to speak? Kindly tell us about this, Swami!

Bhagawan:You think that worldly life and spiritual life are separate entities. They arenot. Spirituality is awareness. It is total knowledge and not pieces or bitsof information. You should always talk sweetly and softly. You can pleaseeveryone with your fine talk. See, when a crow sits on the wall repeating kav, kav we chase it away, but when a cuckoo repeats kuhu, kuhu, you too start imitating its sweet sound. Both are birds, but where does thedifference lie? It is only the sound, you see! Similarly your talk makes allthe difference. The crow has not harmed you in the least, nor has the cuckoorendered any help to you. It is only the sound that pleases or displeases you.You should speak the truth, you should talk pleasingly. You cannot alwaysoblige, but you can speak obligingly. Is it not? Your words should never hurtor harm anyone.

One day, a hunter was chasing adeer in the forest. A sage who was sitting there saw the deer running fast toescape the hunter. The hunter in his search for the deer, saw the sage andasked him if he had seen a deer passing by. In reply, the sage said, " Ohhunter! The eye that saw the deer passing cannot speak and the tongue thatspeaks cannot see. What can I say?" So nothing false was spoken.

Youmust have heard of the great king Harischandra. By just telling one lie, hecould have easily got back the kingdom that he had lost. By adhering to truth, his son was brought back to life, and his family reunited. He did not utter asingle lie. He stuck to truth only. So, till this day his name is rememberedand it has come to stay so long as the sun, the moon and this galaxy remain.He is the very embodiment of truth. So he is called " Satya Harischandra" mat aku pran amu satyamu

Truth is the life of speech.

kot aku pran amu sainyamu

-Army is the life of afort.

not tuku pran amu cevralu

- Signature is thelife of an IOU.

You should not talk too much orexcessively. If you do so, society will call you a chatterbox, a loose tonguedman. Ati bhasa mati hani, too much talk turns you mad. Mitabhasa atihayi, limited talk makes you very happy as you are not likely to tell alie, criticise, gossip, or talk vainly.

Youlose your respect if you talk endlessly. You tend to lose your memory as well.You lose your energy. If you switch on a radio and keep it on high volume fora long time, many units of electricity are consumed, aren't they? So also, your energy gets consumed if you keep talking for long.

Note that it is always in thedepth of silence that the voice of God is heard. If anyone greets you with a'hello, ' respond with a 'hello'; if anyone says 'goodbye', you also reply inthe same way, 'goodbye'. That's all. You talk only when it is necessary and tothe extent it is needed.

Q146) Swami! Is it not a helpto a person if I point out his mistakes?

Bhagawan:Thinking of the mistakes of someone else, you also become defective. To faceand to resist a bad man you have to become even worse than him. So, it is asin to point out the mistakes of others. If .you point out the mistakes ofothers, with one finger, three fingers point towards you. As the saying goes, a street dog is always in search of slippers. A pig spends its time ingutters. You would also look like a pig if you go on looking at the faults ofothers. In a way, a monkey is much better than a man who finds fault withothers. When a monkey finds an orange fruit, what does it do? It will takeaway the outer rind and then does the fruit. Will it not? This sort ofseparating the good from the bad is called vibhagayoga. You should giveup the bad, the undesirable.

InJapan, there is a city by name Kyoto. A woman was passing through a particularstreet carrying with her a big bundle of clothes wrapped up in a neat purepiece of white clothe. These clothes were all dirty and were not neat. Someoneasked, " What are those clothes?" She said, " I want to show you the good. Iwant you to see the good. Therefore, I have wrapped these dirty clothes in awhite cloth" . Finding faults in others, making fun of others, criticisingothers, are mistakes that one should not commit.

Q147) Swami! Now we understand that we are mistaken with regard to ourknowledge. You have explained clearly what awareness is by saying that it iscomplete knowledge but not the knowledge of a bit or a piece of anything. Howare we to cultivate this awareness?

Bhagawan:Spirituality is very essential for awareness. It is impossible to developawareness by any other means. With a spiritual background, things will be veryclear to you. You will then have total understanding, which is awareness.Otherwise, what you acquire is bookish knowledge, superficial knowledge, general knowledge but not practical knowledge, which is awareness. This ispossible only in the spiritual path.

A small example. You sow a seedin the ground. It germinates into a plant. But do you expect the seed togerminate if it is kept in a tin? Impossible. Similarly, the plant ofawareness grows in the field of spirituality and not in a tin of worldlypleasures. The awareness then developed is, in fact, true awareness.

Q148) Swami! Now it is clearthat this sort of " awareness" is not available in our educationalinstitutions, that awareness is so very important for all of us. You are theincarnation of God in the present day world. Why don't you, by your grace, grant us this boon of awareness?

Bhagawan:If everything is done by God Himself, what will be there for you to do? Howwill you make use of the Godgiven mind and intellect? Don't you realise thatthese divine instruments like the mind and the intellect that you are equippedwith will be a waste, if God does every thing for you? The mother cooks andserves food. She cannot eat it on behalf of the child! When the child sustainsany injury the mother feels sad. But she cannot bandage herself on behalf ofthe child!

Though you sit in front of theplate filled with potato curry and chapatti, you must also pick them up withyour own hands and eat. By simply repeating " potato, chapatti" will your hungerbe appeased? The hand and the mouth should be put to work. Is it not?Similarly, you should make use of your mind and intellect.

Everything will be known to you.By your effort, you will win God's grace. With krsi, effort, one caneven become a rishi, a sage. Do your duty thinking at the same time of theLord. Krishna too said the same thing to Arjuna, mamanusmara yudhya ca, " O Arjuna! Remember me and fight!" Chanting Rama's name, Hanuman could crossthe mighty ocean. So do your duty and you can achieve whatever you want to.

Swami! Spiritual aspirantsobserve austerities like upavasa, fasting, jagarana, vigil andconsider them spiritual. We request you to let us know their importance andinner significance.

Bhagawan:The traditions, rituals, and the ageold practices of Bharat have a meaningand significance. Aspirants undoubtedly get divine experiences. But todaypeople are after external and pompous rituals without any understanding oftheir inner significance. So they have forgotten the very goals and purposesfor which they were originally intended. Almost all the rituals have becomemechanical, monotonous and routine. There is none to explain to them lucidly.Most people are not aware of the subtleties. So, you don't find anybodypracticing austerities or rituals sincerely. Man need not change. It is themind that should change.

Suppose you are traveling to adistant place and you don't have food to eat on the way: Can you consider this upavasa, fasting? Will this be of any spiritual use? A patient doesn'ttake normal food. Is that fasting? What do you get out of it? To feel God inyou is upavasa and not mere fasting as the literal meaning goes: Upa, near, vasa, living: In other words, upavasa means living closeto or near God. It means one should turn inward, feel God and constantly thinkof Him. This is upavasa in its true sense. Today, we notice people whofast on the ekadas'i day. But, they eat double the normal quantity offood the next day. The madhvas (followers of Madhvacharya) observe Bhisma ekadas'i on which day they fast. They don't, swallow even theirsaliva.

In the state of Karnataka, theysay in Kannada, " bida bedi bittu keda bedi" which means, do not give upand spoil yourself. When you give up anything, don't pick it up again. It is abad habit. Instead, what is happening? They get the flour ready well grindedand preserve the dough for three days, With this they make nice tasteful dosas, south Indian tiffin. So in Kannada it is said, indu adideekadas'i ondu tindu nalavattu dosa, it means, in the name of ekadas'i, on one fasting day in a month, preparations are made for as many as forty dosas . Is this upavasa? No, definitely not.

Whyshould you observe vigil, jagarana? Why is jagarana , keepingawake throughout the night,

observed? It means that youshould keep off from your worldly happiness, sensual pleasures and materialcomforts. You should be unmindful of all these mundane matters, but awake orvigilant to the inner core, the atma. You should be awake in respect of theinner divinity while neglecting worldly botherations. But what is done in thename of jagarana? They play cards throughout the night or watch threemovies one after the other throughout the night in the name of jagaran a .Watchmen, nurses in the hospital on duty, Railway station masters on dutydon't sleep in the night. Does it amount to jagarana? Certainly not!Merely skipping sleep is an external ritual. One should know the inner realitywhile observing these rituals. Since they are all done mechanically, they aremade fun of and they look ridiculous in the eyes of others.

Q149) Swami! Some want us to do puja, some suggest dhyana, meditation, a few prescribe parayana, reading of the scripture and some others assure us of good results from japa, repetition of God's name. I am confused about what to do and whichone to follow. Kindly tell me the best among these ways to be followed in my sadhana ?

Bhagawan:You can follow any of them with total prema, love, nissvardha, selflessness, chittas'uddhi, purity of your heart, ekagrata, onepointedness, and saranagati, surrender to realise and experience God.

You follow the path that suitsyour convenience. Any procedure that appeals to you and gives you shanti, and ananda can be followed. But never imitate. Never go by otherpeople's words and paths. You follow your chosen path. Otherwise, you loseyour own way also. Imitation is human. But creation is divine.

A small example to illustratethat one becomes a loser by following others. There was a fruit market and itwas the season when mangoes were available in plenty. A shopkeeper got a boardspecially painted with the words " Good mango fruits are sold here" anddisplayed it in front of his shop to promote sales. One stranger came andsaid, " Sir! What is it that is written there on the board? This is a fruitmarket. Why should you have the word on the board 'here'? It looks silly andsuperfluous. I suggest you erase this word 'here" '. Then the shopkeeper sentword to the painter and erased that word on the board 'here'.

Now on the board, the words " Goodmango fruits are sold" were left. Another man came to the shop and said " What, Sir? You don't look smart and intelligent. Have you yourself cared to readwhat is written on the board? This is the mango season. All the shops areselling mangoes only. Why should you write 'mangoes' especially, as if theyare here only? Better you remove the word 'mango' from the board!" .

The shopkeeper got it erased withthe help of the painter. Now on the board the words " Good Fruits are sold" were left. Another customer came and said, " What nonsense is this? Do you findany one selling 'bad fruits'? How funny it looks when you say 'good fruits', very silly! Remove those words 'good fruits' from the board.

The shopkeeper was convinced andgot them erased with the result that only the word 'Are sold' were left on theboard. A well wisher of the owner who happened to pass by looked at the boardand was shocked. He said. " What? Are you mad? Did you read the board? What doyou mean by 'Are sold'? Are you going to sell the board or what?" Theshopkeeper called for the painter and got the words 'Are sold' removed. Now hewas left with a blank board. Finally, the painter gave the bill with twoentries, one for initially painting the letters and the other for erasing eachword at intervals. What happened to the owner of the shop who paid heed to thewords of everyone? He lost both the board and that money. This will happen toyou too, if you adopt other people's ways.

Your Guru also prescribes amethod that suits you. He never wants all and sundry to follow the samepattern. The methods of sadhana are suggested depending on yourcapacity, skill, understanding and the level of your spiritual awareness.

I give you here a simpleillustration from the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Once it sohappened, that one disciple by name Brahmananda was crossing the river in aboat to buy and fetch the requirements for the residents of the asram. Heoverheard the conversation going on among others that boarded the same boat.One said that Ramakrishna was spoiling many youngsters who were wasting theirtime by being lazy in the name of devotion and that it was surprising to seethem with shaven heads and wearing ochre robes. Brahmananda felt very sad andshed tears. He returned to the asram that evening. Ramakrishna asked him whathad happened in the boat while crossing the river. Brahmananda recounted thewhole episode feeling very bad about the remarks made against Ramakrishna andhis disciples. Then Ramakrishna was furious and said, " What Brahmananda! Howcould you hear all these remarks! Can you bear when your Guru is criticisedlike that? How do you react when your parents are attacked? How could you hearall this?"

Next day, it was the turn ofVivekananda to go to the market. He boarded the boat and was on his way.Vivekananda had to hear once again the boatman speaking ill of Ramakrishna formaking youngsters lazy and useless. He could not control his anger. He got upimmediately, held the neck of the boatman and was even ready to push him intothe Ganges. Somehow, others calmed him down.

:n the evening, as usual in thecourse of the conversation, Ramakrishna, surrounded by his young disciples, asked Vivekananda what had happened in the boat. He proudly reported hisreaction to the words of the boatman. Then Ramakrishna said, " What Naren! Areyou not ashamed of your behaviour? Couldn't you control your anger? What isthe use of your sadhana? Is this the way a brahmacari shouldbehave?"

Vivekananda then asked, " Swami! It is very strange to hear you speak likethis. The other day you were angry with Brahmananda for keeping quiet when wewere criticised. Today when I reacted to the same words, you are blaming me.Why this difference, Swami?" Ramakrishna smiling said, " A bicycle has twotyres. There is too much air in the front wheel. A little of it should be letout. The air is less than necessary in the back wheel. Some more air must bepumped into it. So also, Brahmananda should have more spirit, while yourtemper must be reduced. " That's how the individual level is important in thespiritual path. You shouldn't imitate and follow others blindly.

Q150) Bhagawan! In our namavali, series of names of God, we address God by so many names. We havemore than a hundred names 'astottara' and a thousand names â 'sahasranama.' Of these various names, which is the best and the exact name of God?

Bhagawan: All names and forms are His only.There is nothing in the universe, which is not His. You should consider God asthe indweller of your heart hrdayavasi. Draupadi, when she was beingdisrobed and humiliated, prayed to Krishna for help, calling him ' brndavanasancari ' and 'mathuranatha ' which caused some delay inKrishna's manifesting to save her. To prove the truth of her prayerful words, Krishna had to go to Brindavan and Mathura and then reach the open court tosave her. Had she called Krishna 'Hrdayavasi ', the indweller of herheart He would have appeared immediately before her and saved her straightaway from disgrace.You sing 'Brndavanasancari' in your bhajans. Presently I am in Kodaikanal. Are you not wrong? Yousing, prasantivasa, partivihara , 'one who is in Prasanti Nilayam, moves about in Puttaparti', in your bhajans. Is it right? No. I am inKodaikanal, not in Parti or Prasanthi. But, if you say â 'Hrdayavasi' theindweller of your heart, though I may be physically anywhere, you will getimmediate response from me.

Q151) Swami! The Gayatri mantra is being chanted over many ages here in this holyland. But, we hear that women are prohibited from chanting Gayatri and so arenon brahmins. Should we chant that mantra at specific times and not at anytime of our choice and convenience? What is the importance and significance ofGayatri mantra? We shall indeed be very fortunate to hear from your divinelips about this subject.Bhagawan:Everyone must chant the Gayatri. It transcends the barriers of caste, community, sex, nationality, time and space. It is the one mantra thatall should repeatedly chant. There are three main things in the Gayatri mantra. First of all, you should know that Bhur Bhuvah Suvah in theGayatri are not separate worlds. You think, " Bhur Bhuvah Suvah " arethree different worlds. It is a mistake to think so. They are within you. 'Gayamulu' means senses. Since Gayatri deals with sense control, it is called so. Thebody has senses of perception and action. This first aspect of Gayatri iscalled materialisation or Gayatri.

The body can function if onlythere is life in it. The pulsatory activity is due to life. Therefore, thelife principle vibrates in the body, which makes it functional or operational.This second aspect of Gayatri, which is the life force, is called vibration orSavitri.

The third aspect of Gayatri isthe primal sound Omkar, which springs upwards from the navel. Om is acombination of three sounds, 'A', 'U' and 'M'. 'A' is uttered as it startsfrom the navel. 'U' starts from the throat. 'M' comes out of the lips. 'Soham ' is chanted in our breathing process though we are unaware of it. This iscalled 'Japa Gayatri'.

As we breathe in, we make thesound 'so' and as we breathe out the sound 'ham' is made. The 'soham'mantra is repeated everyday 21, 600 times in our respiratory process. In themantra, 'soham', the second sound in 'so', i.e., 'o' andthe second sound in 'ham', 'm' together constitute 'om'.This 'soham' is repeatedly chanted in all the three states; waking, dream and deep sleep. The entire alphabet is formed out of the mother ofletters, the primal sound 'OM'.

Toillustrate this, I give you a small example. In the English alphabet, we have26 letters from A to Z. All words and sentences are spoken and written usingthese letters only, aren't they? You notice that the harmonium has reeds. Asyou press the bellows the air gets in and as you press the reeds, you getmusical notes like sa re ga ma pa dha ni. By means of these sevensounds only, different tunes or ragas are composed. Are they not? You know theviolin. It has strings on which you can play any tune. So also, 'omkar'is the primal, primordial sound out of which the rest of the soundsoriginated.

Whenyou close both your ears tight, you will listen to the Pranava, the 'Omkar'within you. You go very close to an electric pole and listen with your eartouching it. You will hear that primal sound omkar. This is the sound(internal) in silence (external). This is the divine sound heard in the depthof silence, (nis's'abdamuloni s'abdabrahmam, in Telugu). You can hearthe footsteps of God only in silence. This third aspect of Gayatri thatpertains to this omkar, the primordial sound, the speech faculty andthe chief source is known as radiation or Saraswati.Therefore, at the body level itis Gayatri, materialisation. As the life principle, it is Savitri, vibration, and finally as the chief source of sound, it is Saraswati, radiation. Theseare the three aspects of Gayatri mantra .In other words the atmicpower, divine source, is radiation (Saraswati) that enters the body asvibration or life principle (Savitri), so that this body made of materialbecomes functional which is called materialisation (Gayatri).

Q152) Swami! How should we adore you? How should we serve you? We are notable to decide. Kindly show us the way?

Bhagawan:God does not need your service. He does, not require your worship. God desiresfrom you only one thing, and that is love. This love is not your propertyeither. It is not your ancestral property. This love is not gifted to you byanyone. It is not a commodity to be manufactured by any company. It is not tobe acquired from a guru. You are born with love. It is the gift of God.Therefore, it must be given to Him. It is His and so you should return it toHim by loving Him incessantly.

Take a small example. Onoccasions like a wedding ceremony, many people are invited. So, in order toprepare food on a large scale you need very big utensils. You hire them for aday or two and return them after use. But they should be returned safe, cleaned and in perfect condition without any damage. Is it not so? Similarly, the human heart is a vessel filled with love, gifted by God, and has got to bereturned intact to Him. This is the true form of worship.

How tolove God? The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Wheneverything is His, and He being the giver of all that you need, what is itthat He wants from you other than love? A pure heart is the temple of God.Then, where is it? I always tell the students that there should be perfectharmony between thought, word, and deed. Today, we find selfishness at alllevels. In whatever is said and done, there is an underlying selfishness. Buttrue worship is a selfless act of service with love. Do your duty sincerely.Service to man is service to God. You don't need to worship God with flowersthat fade and decay. Pluck the flowers of virtue, character, and love from thegarden of your heart and worship God with flowers of value.

Q153) Swami! Kindly let us knowhow we can achieve anandaprapti, gaining permanent happiness, andremoval of suffering dukhanivrtti.

Bhagawan: These two levels of consciousness arenot separate from each other, as you have stated. When suffering is removed, you derive happiness. Absence of happiness is the cause of misery. Both areinterrelated. Absence of light is darkness: Where there is light there is nodarkness. Absence of one of the two is the presence of the other. So, if youexplore the methods of removing suffering, happiness naturally andautomatically dawns.If you investigate the reason formisery, you will know that ignorance is the cause of all misery. What isresponsible for ignorance? It is the ego. What is ego? It is attachment. Whatis attachment? It is the body, consciousness. So, misery occurs due toattachment to the body. But, one can be happy physically as well asspiritually if one's senses are under one's control. In fact, sadness is notnatural to man. Therefore, methods have to be found out to remove sadness, which is artificial. Misery can be removed only by prayer and by following thespiritual path. If idle horses are overfed, they will be still lazier.Similarly, if you act according to the whims and fancies of your senses, yoursenses will get strengthened day by day and ultimately you will cease to be ahuman being.

Man faces three types of miseries adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika miseriesare physical and mental. Physical suffering makes you mentally sick. Yourmental irregularities add to your physical sickness. Therefore, physical andmental sufferings are branded as adhyatmika. The second one is thesuffering called adhibhautika, which is caused due to a snakebite or ascorpion bite or injuries inflicted by animals and other creatures. The thirdtype of misery called, adhidaivika befalls due to cyclones, floods, earthquakes, fire accidents and various other natural calamities.

Primarily you should know that the mind is the cause of both pleasure andpain. If your mind is positive, it doesn't matter if you are either at yourhome or in a forest. You should fill your mind with love. With constantthought of God, developing more and more of faith in Him, and following thespiritual path, you can undoubtedly remove your suffering. Of course, controlof senses is absolutely necessary.

If you understand your true self, atma you will have ananda, bliss. Bliss is the state, which isabove pain and pleasure bliss is nondual. This is also called prajña.Since prajna is vast, the scripture says, Prajnanam Brahma. Prajnais divine. Prajna is uniformly present in the body, the mind and theintellect. Prajna is also known as antarvani, the inner voice.By exercising control over external and internal sense, you can listen to your antarvani. If you follow and act according to your inner voice, youwill be blissful.

Janma or birth is responsible for all misery.Where there is no janma there is no chance for either pleasure or pain.However, janma is due to karma, the consequence of past actions.For karma, the causes are raga, attachment and dvesa, hatred. You take to an activity only if or when you like it, or prefer it tosome other activity, otherwise not. Isn't it? So all actions are born ofeither of these two states of mind, raga and dvesa. They in turnarise out of ahamkara, ego and ajnana, ignorance. Ajnanais the main cause of misery. Ignorance goes away only if ego is given up. Forego to be dropped one must rise above attachment and hatred. For these two tovanish there should be akarma, inaction, because these actions andtheir consequences lead to punarjanma. As the Bhajagovindam ofAdi Sankara states: Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam punarapijanani jathare s'ayanam, " one takes birth life after life, lying in thewomb of the mother, again and again after death. " Birth and death areresponsible for all the misery. In fact, one should follow the spiritual pathin life not to be born again. Instead of consuming sugar, you can become sugaritself! This is the sugar of ananda, bliss. This is the sugar ofliberation. This is the sugar of sayujya, merger with God. Therefore, mukti, liberation, is the only solution for the alleviation ofsuffering.

Thehappiness that you get from listening to a person whom you like or onacquiring an article that you wished to acquire is described as priyam.When you actually get what you really want, that is called modam, joyThe experience of joy after acquiring what you want is called pramodam, supreme joy. If anybody starts talking to you about all that you like, youwill be happy. So it is called priyam. If you see or meet those who aredear to you, you will be extremely happy. This is called modam. Onreceiving and possessing what is dearest to you, your experience is describedas pramodam.

Whenyou hear of the divine power from great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and of the lilas of God incarnate and devotioncelebrated in Bhagavata, and other texts, you will be very happy. Thisis priyam. If you practice all that you have heard from these immortalbooks, you will derive a kind of joy described as modam. If youidentify yourself with the divinity and merge in it, the supreme bliss you getout of it is called pramodam.

So onehas to hear about God, priyam in the first stage, practice all that isheard, modam in the second stage and finally experience the blissthereafter, pramodam in the third stage. This is anandaprapti, the way to be blissful.

Q154) Swami! What is to berenounced? What is to be sacrificed?

Bhagawan:You do not need to renounce the world. Many people commit a mistake here. Youdo not have to sacrifice the world. You have to give up worldly thoughts andfeelings. You must have heard of Ramananda Tirtha, a renunciant. He wasmarried, and also had a son. He renounced his family. One day when his wifevisited him, he refused to see her and turned his head away. Watching this, the wife said to him. " Swami! Since you have the feeling that I am your wife, you did not look at me and turned away your face. I do not have that feeling, not in the least" . It was then she gave him the ochre robes. So, you need notrenounce the world. You need to shed worldly thoughts. You do not have tosacrifice your properties, but you must establish properties with God.

Q155) Swami! What is truehappiness? How are we to acquire it?

Bhagawan:You should, first of all, know what happiness truly is! I want you to beblissful and not simply happy. Happiness, as you understand it, is not trulyhappiness. In fact, true happiness lies in union with God. This you candevelop by establishing contact with the Divinity within you. In other words, being aware of the Divinity within you, you can also make yourself happy inthe world. Happiness lies in liking what you should do and not doing what youlike.

Q156) Swami! We meet some people who are not happy, as if they are deniedhappiness once for all. Why should it happen like that?

Bhagawan: For all this, understand that the mindis the main cause. If you turn your mind God wards, you will be happy. If youturn it towards the world, you cannot be happy for long. See, here you turnthe fan towards you. Then you get the breeze. If you turn it the opposite way, you won't get any breeze. Your getting or not getting the breeze depends uponthe direction in which you turn the fan.

Q157) Swami! You want us to look for unity in diversity. You expect us to be awareof unity in diversity. How is it possible?

Bhagawan:It is certainly possible. Everything in this world has five aspects. Amongthem, three are changeless while the other two change. The three areasti, being, bhati, awareness, priyam, bliss and are immortal. Theymay also be termed as sat, cit and ananda. Then there are twomore aspects that change. They are rupa, form and nama, name.Name and form depend on the three changeless and permanent aspects mentionedabove, viz., truth, awareness and bliss, sat, cit, ananda. For example:you observe the sea, its waves and its foam. They are interdependent; onecannot exist without the other. Waves come out of the sea. Waves are notindependent. We find foam collecting on the surface of the waves. When thereare no waves, there can be no chance for the foam to collect on the surface.However, apparently, we have three forms in different names sea, wave, andfoam. But essentially, all the three show the same water by different names.Don't they?

The sea represents paramarthika satya, Spiritual Truth; the waves stand for pratibhasikasatya, superimposed or mistaken identity, while the foam is the vyavaharika satya, worldly or physical truth.

Q158) Swami! Is sadhana a must in every day life? Is it compulsory?

Bhagawan:Yes, it is very necessary that you should do it everyday. Don't you wash andscrub utensils everyday to keep them clean? Until you become steady, developunwavering faith and total surrender. It is most necessary to do sadhana everyday.

You see that the paddy fields arewatered everyday. Otherwise, the crops dry up and die. But tall trees likeEucalyptus, Banyan, Neem and so on, do not need to be watered everyday. Why?The reason is simple. Their roots go very deep, up to the ground water level;and draw nourishment for the entire tree. It appears surprising that smalltender plants need water everyday while huge trees do not. Roots of smallplants go a few inches deep and cannot draw water, from the depths. But treeshave roots that spread and go deep to draw, ground water. Similarly, until theroots of your faith go deep into the ground of your heart, you have to do sadhana everyday. Your faith today is like the root of a small plant thathas not yet gone deep into your heart and so you should do sadhanaeveryday.

Q159) Swami! Muchemphasis is laid on sadhana, spiritual practice. But we find it toughto do any sadhana. What is the solution? Bhagawan:For achieving or attaining anything in life one needs to do sadhana orpractice. Walking, talking, reading, eating, writing, everything in life youlearn by practice. How does a child walk? It is clearly by practice only.Singers practice a lot! Driving a motorcar for that matter has to be practised.You have the steering at one place, the brake at one point, the clutchelsewhere and so on. Yet, you will be able to drive a car by practice only. Soalso, sadhana in the spiritual field.

Swami! What is the role of a Guruon the spiritual path?

Bhagawan:One should have total faith in the Guru. Suppose you wish to go to a city on apicnic. You do not know anything about that city, as you have never been therebefore. What you do is to take the help of a guide to go round the city. Youdo not question the guide at any point since you are totally new to the place.So also, a Guru who has vast knowledge and experience has to be scrupulouslyfollowed. He should not be questioned, doubted, or disobeyed on any grounds.

You also find signboards at crossroads indicating directions to different places. This is your commonexperience. To reach the place of your choice, you must follow the directionsin the signboard and reach the destination. You don't expect the signboard tocarry you or lift you to that place. You have to go along the way as directedin the signboard. A Guru similarly shows the spiritual path, teaches you thetechniques to be followed, and explains in detail all that you need on thespiritual path. You have to work for it and achieve it all by yourself. No onecan do that on your behalf.

'Guru', is a twoletter word inTelugu 'Gu' and 'ru'. The word has two meanings. 'Gu'is darkness (ignorance), 'ru' is the light (wisdom) that dispels thisdarkness. The second meaning is 'gu' stands for gunatita, one beyondattributes and 'ru' for rupavarjita formless. So, Guru is one whoteaches you about divinity which is both attributeless and formless. A trueGuru wishes the best for his disciples. He tells them what is hita, good and not ista, that which is liked. A true disciple follows themaster implicitly.

Q160) Swami! We feelthat results are delayed in sadhana : We do not get quick results, atleast according to our expectations. What do you say, Swami?Bhagawan:You do not have proper, understanding of sadhana. See, in this world, you begin your studies from childhood. After the primary school, you go to thesecondary school, college and then to the university. After fifteen years ofintense study and hard work you get a degree. This is your experience. Howmuch have you worked to get a degree? Have you not taken a long time to get adegree? For this education and a degree, and to earn your livelihood youstrive so much. Then how long should you take, how much of effort should youput in to earn God's grace which is the eternal spiritual truth? Just thinkfor yourself. It is a big mistake to expect quick results in sadhana.

Q161) Swami! Are youpleased with our dhyana, meditation?Bhagawan:Do you call what you do every day meditation? No, you are not doing itproperly. It may be anything but certainly not meditation. It is all rightthat you sit down to meditate. But your mind is in the market, you will bethinking of what you are going to eat for lunch. Or you will be thinking ofyour dhobi, when he would bring your ironed clothes. Is that meditation?Certainly not.

A small example. You are seatedhere waiting eagerly and anxiously for the arrival of Swami. Any sound of adoor or a car will draw your attention as Swami might come any time. Your mindis fully concentrated on Swami and you begin to view everything in terms ofSwami's arrival. Do you not? On the other hand, if you are mentally engagedotherwise and not alert, even if Swami comes and stands in front of you, youwill not notice him.

So, in meditation the mostimportant thing is to have a full cent percent concentration on God. Youshould be fully alert, without any diversion of attention. So, an unwaveringsteadiness of mind. I emphasise for meditation calincani manasubhramincani drsti (Telugu).

Q162) Swami, how manythings should we study and learn in order to take to sadhana, spiritual path?How many details should we know from the sacred texts to start our sadhana ?

Bhagawan:Many things or details are not necessary. We see most people reading books.They listen to discourses for a number of years. But, what is the use? Theyremain where they have been in the spiritual path. What is the reason? It islack of practice that has detained them, retarded their progress. In fact, youdon't have to read so many books. You don't need to learn many things. If youclearly and thoroughly understand one thing, it is enough. If you practice onething, that is enough. Why learn many and don't practice even one? To commitsuicide a small pin or a needle is enough. But to kill others you require apistol or a revolver or a knife. Similarly, to teach others you need to learnand know many things for which you have to read a lot. But to work for one'sown liberation, redemption and emancipation it is enough if one thing ispracticed sincerely. So, practising is more important than knowing andlearning in life.

QI63) Swami! We areindeed very fortunate to have been listening to you. We are in a blissfulstate. You alone can answer our questions like this, out of your infinitecompassion for us. None can do that. Swami, pardon me for this question. It isnow very clear to us what enquiry is. But why am I unable to do so? Why is mymind not steady? Is it the nature of the mind to waver? Is it the naturalquality of the mind to remain unstable and unsteady that prevents me fromconcentration on enquiry?Bhagawan:You complain that your mind is unsteady and that you are not able toconcentrate. This is not true. In fact, there is no mind as such. It isnothing but a bundle of desires. It is a bundle of thoughts. It is like apiece of cloth with yarn closely interwoven. When you separate the yarn orthreads one after another, the cloth does not exist any more. So also, whenthe desires are gone and the thoughts withdrawn, the mind does not exist anymore. This is called amanaska, withdrawal of the mind, or manolaya annihilation of the mind.

You say that your mind wavers.This is also not quite true. You see a tree here. The leaves flutter. Why? Itis the wind that makes the leaves of the tree flutter. But when there is nowind they do not move. So, the movement is due to the wind and not due to thequality of the leaves or the tree. The tree of life like leaves of the humanmind flutters as the wind of desires blows.

You also say that you are notable to concentrate your mind. This is not true again. How are you riding yourbicycle or driving your car without concentration? Is it not dangerous'? Willit not lead to accidents? How could you concentrate in order to drive your caror ride your bicycle? As you read a book, a paper, or a draft, how are youable to concentrate? Without concentration, how could you grasp all that ismentioned in a book? In your profession are you not doing your job with fullattention and concentration? Are you doing this with your mind engagedelsewhere or absentminded? If you do so, don't you spoil the work assigned toyou? You would have been summarily dismissed from your service had you beendoing your job without concentration. Are you not concentrating your mind onevery activity of your daily life? Yes, you do it beyond doubt. But, concentration of mind becomes a very difficult task only in respect of God. Isit not a misfortune? The mind is stable and it concentrates easily andnaturally. The loss of concentration with respect to God implies that you donot have as much love for and interest in Him as you have in worldly matters.Concentration, hence, depends on the degree of your interest. You can't blamethe mind. It is like a mirror. It only reflects what is kept in front of it.So I often lay stress on good and pure thoughts. As is the thought so is themind. You know one who has manas (mind) is manisi, a humanbeing. The most valuable thing in this world in your estimate is a diamond.But 'diamond' means 'diemind' or withdrawal of mind.

Q164) Swami! Now weunderstand from your divine discourse and by your grace how important devotionis. But, faith is the base of devotion. How is one to cultivate faith, Swami?Bhagawan:What a foolish question you have asked! What do you mean by saying cultivatingfaith? Can you cultivate it? Is that a commodity to be purchased from a shop?It can neither be given nor received. Faith is your natural quality. In fact vis'vasa, faith is your s'vasa, breath. Without it there is atotal stoppage of your breath.

Just think for a moment how youcarry on your daily routine with or without faith. You will soon notice thatyour every action, both mundane and spiritual, is based only on faith. Yougive your clothes, costly shirts and safari suits to a washer man in fullfaith that he would bring them back after washing and ironing. If you suspectthat he would run away with your clothes, will you give them to him? Mostvaluable gold is given to goldsmiths to make jewellery out of it in good faiththat they would do so. Even if a trace of doubt arises in your mind, will youever hand over valuable gold? You go to a barber for a haircut. Do you for amoment entertain the feeling that he would put his knife in the neck insteadof on the head? You bend your head in good faith in front of the barber tohave your hair cut. So also in good faith, a patient will lie down on theoperation table and allow himself to be operated upon by the surgeon. Do youdoubt that your life is not safe in his hands? No. So be he a dhobi or agoldsmith or a barber or a doctor for that matter, all transactions are madein good faith. So faith is a natural gift of God to mankind. To be faithlessis unnatural and artificial. But the pity of it is that you have full faith ineveryone but not in God. Isn't that very unfortunate?

Devotion and faith are like thetwo eyes of a living being or the two wheels of a bicycle or the two wings ofa bird. Without faith, as we say, even an ant can't move an inch. A birdcannot fly high without faith. A bird perches on a branch. The branch may bedrooping or swinging, yet the bird is not bothered. Why? It is because thebird has full faith in its wings on which it relies but not on the branch. So, everything depends on your faith.

How do you know your father? Itis your mother, who has the authority to show you your father and you havefull faith in your mother. If not, there is no way to know your father. Youknow the dates and the days from a calendar and you go by what the calendarindicates. Otherwise, how do you know that today is Monday, the 14th May? Theday has not appeared in front of you with a signboard on the foreheadindicating the day of the week and the date. You have full faith in all thatyou listen to from the All India Radio news bulletin and the various newscolumns that you go through in a newspaper. So much so, you believe what youhear on the radio, watch on the T.V., read in the newspapers, but you don'tbelieve our rsivakya or the sayings and teachings of our sages andsaints of yore embodied in the Vedas and other holy scriptures. The Vedas arecalled

is'variya, apauru seya, compositions of God. You don't have faith in them. How strange andunfortunate it is! Think over it for sometime.

Q165) Swami! Why aresome people not devoted to God? Devotion, it seems, has no place in theirlives. Would you kindly tell us the reason?Bhagawan:Very simple. It is only sensual pleasure that makes people disinclined towardsGod. Meaningless worry about the future, excessive desires, building castlesin the air are a way of life with them. Ambition to reach heights they don'tdeserve and too much attachment to the family and the world, all these arefactors that make a man not devoted to God. There can be no other reasonbeyond these.

You know the seesaw on whichchildren play. If one end goes up, the other end comes down, and vice versa.If the stress is laid on the world, your love of God will be less, and on theother hand, if your love of God is greater (heavy at one end as in the game)your attachment to the world becomes less (light at the another end as in thegame). This is how the balance works. Isn't it so? I will give you anotherexample, that of a magnet. It draws iron filings towards it. But . sometimesit doesn't. Why? If the iron pieces are rusted and dusty, they are not drawnand attracted by the magnet. Likewise, people who are like iron pieces dustyand rusted by worldly desires are not drawn to God, the 'Divine Magnet'. Is itclear now why some are not devoted to God?

Q166) Swami! Kindlygive a direction to our spiritual pursuit? How should it continue? Like theflow of a river? What are the restrictions to be observed?Bhagawan: 'Nas'reyo niyamam vina.' Everything must have limits without which youwill face risks and dangers. A river that flows under certain conditions withbanks on either side serves irrigation purposes better. Similarly, the riverof life has two banks, one on each side viz. sams' ayatma vinas'yati':never doubt and 's'raddhavan labhate ' : by sincerity you developwisdom. Your river of life should flow between these two banks. Your faithshould not be shaken. It should never waver. Your faith should be strong anddeep. No adverse situations and negative moments should make you lose yourfaith.

A life without faith is like apot with holes. You know that we water only the roots of a plant. Yet, wateris supplied to all parts of the plant. You do not water the stem, branches andleaves separately. Similarly, the water of faith, if supplied to the roots ofyour life, will take care of everything else related to life. The tree of lifecan sustain itself if the water of faith is supplied to its root. Withoutthis, the plant dries up and is no longer alive. It becomes firewood. Once youdoubt, all that you do will go in vain and nothing will be fruitful. No amountof scholarship or sadhana can help you if you allow doubt to step intoyour mind.

A small illustration. There was a pandit in a certain village. Daily a milkmaid from the neighboring villageused to bring him milk crossing a river by boat. In the process there wasnecessarily some delay in supplying milk to the pandit. One day the pandit questioned her and wanted to know the reason for the delay. Shereplied, " Oh Panditji! I have to cross the river by boat everyday to bringmilk. I can only get into the second trip of the boat because the boatman willload in the first trip all the elders of the village. There is no alternativeleft for me. So, I am late" . Then the pandit said, " Look! Why do you need tocome by boat? I suggest that you carry the milk pots over your head and crossthe river chanting God's name. The river will give way and you won't need towait for the boat" .

The milkmaid believed in what the pandit said and on the next day she could come on time and gave him thepot full of milk. Then on his enquiry, she told him that she could bring themilk on time by simply following his instructions. The pandit was verymuch astonished at this, and could not believe her words and decided to verifythe fact himself. He said to her " Good! Now as you go back I shall follow youand see you as you cross the river chanting God's name and how the river givesway for you to cross it"

Both of them came near the riverside. The milkmaid acted exactly according to the pandit 's instructions, viz. chanting the name of God. The pandit also wanted to act in the same way. He stepped forward and lifted his dhoti up to his knees so that his clothes would not be wet. He marched into the river step by step doubting if he would drown in the river. His doubt became true and he got drowned. Faith made the milkmaid walk across the river, while the pandit had no faith in his own words. Hence he drowned.

The bank on the other side of the river of life is s'raddha, sincerity, steadfastness, that confers jnanam, wisdom. You will be sincere only if you love the work you do. You should have full faith and love to become sincere.

A student cannot pass the examinations if he has no faith that he can read, love the subject and study it sincerely. So, vis'vasa, prema and s'raddha are the three steps that give you success in your attempts. A businessman or a lawyer or a doctor must be sincere, must have s'raddha, in order to be successful in his profession.

So for jnana, you should be sincere and steadfast. What type of jnana should it be? It is not physical, material, secular or worldly knowledge. It is the practical knowledge, anubhavajnana that you get when you are sincere and steadfast. So these are the two banks on either side of the river of life, doubtlessness and sincerity or steadfastness. Sams'aayatma vinas'yati : the doubters perish, and s'rddhavan labhate jnanam: the sincere and faithful attain wisdom.

Q167) Swami! Why and how do we get evil feelings such as jealousy, envy, pride, egoism, attachment and so on. How are we to get away from these evil feelings?

Bhagawan: The main cause for all these evil feelings is your body attachment. These feelings are born in your mind. They depend on your interactions and relationships with others.

A small example. Suppose you have a very intimate friend with whom you agree on everything. By chance, if you toss a rose flower at him, he will be immensely happy for your love and reverence. As ill luck would have it, if you do not see eye to eye with each other due to some differences, and if you toss a rose at him, he will totally misunderstand you. He will think that it is a deliberate action on your part to harm him, for your friend is a sugar patient (diabetic) and as such if a thorn of the flower by chance pricks him, it may cause an injury that never heals and even further complicates leading to the amputation of his hand. See the difference. The two individuals are the same. So, also is the rose flower. But during the period of friendly terms, the act is viewed positively and in the unfriendly period the same actions are viewed negatively. You will now know that everything lies in the mind. The rose flower that gives happiness to your friend creates suspicion in the mind of the same person during the period of animosity.

Then, let me tell you about your next weakness, anger. Why should you and what for should you be angry with anyone? You tend to lose your energy due to anger. You become weak subsequently. The energy you have gained out of the food you have consumed during a couple of months is just lost by a single fit of your anger. Here, enquire into the matter clearly. What exactly makes you angry? If anyone criticises, reprimands, accuses, or blames you, naturally you are angry with that person. Calm down for a moment and investigate clearly. Why should you be angry with anyone who points out your mistakes or defects? Are you not guilty? Are you angry because your faults are pointed out? Why? So, you need not be angry if your faults are pointed out.

Suppose you are faultless and not guilty, even then there is no need for you to be angry. Because, it is only a false allegation. If anyone says that my head is bald, I am not angry with him because there is no truth in what he says, as I am not bald. If anyone comments that I have a mop of hair, even then I am not angry because the truth is said. So let them say that I am a battatala Baba (bald headed Baba) or buttatala Baba (mop of hair on the head of Baba) (batta and butta are Telugu words). I am not angry either way. If you think in this way you will not be angry and annoyed with anyone.

There is the worst form of disease for which there is no cure. It is envy or jealousy. Hatred ruined powerful kings like Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu, Sisupala, Dantavaktra as mentioned in our epics like the Mahabhagavatham and the Mahabharata. Envy ruined the entire clan of Kauravas. Envy, pride, ego, jealousy and anger are demonic qualities. No one ever thinks of those with these evil tendencies. Have you met anyone by name Duryodhana who is the very personification of jealously in our epic Mahabharata? Have you met anyone by name Sisupala who is the embodiment of hatred in our scriptures? None. Why? It is a shame to be named so. There is then Mandhara a woman character in the Ramayana the very emblem of jealousy. She brought bad name even to queen Kaikeyi. She was responsible for sending Rama to the forest and Bharata's reign. Have you come across women by name Mandhara and Kaikeyi? No. Never. Why? They represent evil traits that ruin anyone.

Never be egoistic. Egoism is another trait that will lead to disrepute. Examine yourself when you feel egoistic. Why ego? On what grounds should you be egoistic? In the entire world, India is of the size of an ant. There, in India your state of Andhra Pradesh is the size of an eye of the ant. Your Anantapur district is but a speck in the eye of the ant. Then, how about Puttaparthi and what are you and your standing in your family? Practically nothing. So don't give any scope for ego and pride. Of course, if at all you want to be egoistic and proud, you can be egoistic about your ignorance and proud of your foolishness! Attachment and Selfinterest may make you egoistic on false grounds.

Attachment and feelings of " I and mine" are also not good in your own interest. The feelings of thine and mine arise out of abhimana and ahamkara. An example. Your neighbour has a daughter who was seriously ill for quite some time. You were not bothered or worried about her health. A year after her illness it so happened that you married her. Thereafter even a slight temperature or cold in her body makes you apply for casual leave and stay away from office. Why? She is your wife and no longer the daughter of your neighbour. The difference is due to attachment only.

It is mamakara, feelings of mine that made Dhritarashtra, the old king of the Mahabharata support all the misdeeds of his sons and led to the total ruin of the entire clan. Though he had one hundred sons he was left with none even to perform his last rites. To this state one will be reduced due to the feelings of 'I' and 'mine'.

When these traits find a place in you, repeat ten times " I am a man, not an animal" , " I am a man, not an animal" so that you can get rid of the animal qualities like ahamkara, ego, asuya, jealousy, irsya, envy, dvesa, hatred, abhimana, attachment, and mamakara, feelings of 'I' and 'mine'.

Q168) Swami? How wonderfully in simple terms and in such an easy way you have explained profound things. What is the way to immortality, the ultimate goal of life?

Bhagawan: Very simple! Very easy! The only way to 'immortality is the removal of immorality. Q169) Swami! How long does sensual pleasure last?

Bhagawan: Sensual pleasure is momentary and fleeting. It lands you in difficulties and makes you weak. Think well and understand clearly. You think that you are enjoying with your senses. Actually, it is not so. The senses are enjoying at your expense. At your cost the senses are having a nice time. How? You become weak. You lose your strength. You turn old. If you are right in thinking that you enjoy with your senses, you should have been quite active and enthusiastic. But in reality it is not so. You are negatively affected due to sensual pleasures. Therefore, know for sure that your senses enjoy you, making you sick, old and weak and not you enjoying with your senses.

Q170) Swami! How are we to lead a detached life? We are hurt when our belongings, positions and wealth are withdrawn. Please tell us how not to be hurt though these are taken away from us.

Bhagawan: You should always keep in view the purpose and the aim of your life. You should never give up your duties and responsibilities. You see, today's newspaper is tomorrow's waste paper. Be assured that past life will never return. You should always keep in mind three important points. Never feel that the world is permanent and that your relationships with all around you are lasting. No. The second thing is that you should not forget God under any circumstances. The third point to remember is not to fear death.

A District Collector has all the comforts and conveniences such as a big bungalow with a spacious compound, furniture, peons, etc. He has a very big office and personnel to provide assistance, but when he retires, he has to leave them all, though he lived till then with them as their sole proprietor and owner. Does he cry on the day of his retirement? Does he feel that he has lost anything personal? Similarly, servantmaids, who take care of children at the residences of rich business magnates or high officials consider the children very close to them and even say " our boy" 'our child' and so on. But is it really so? Can they claim and own them at any point of time? Similarly, you see a cashier in the bank. He has with him lakhs and lakhs of rupees, which he disburses to different account holders according to the cheques presented. Does he feel sad at any time for parting with the money? Not even a single naya paisa belongs to him. The same is your relationship with the world you live in. Know the essence, saram (Telugu) and lead this life (family, samsaram Telugu). In fact, no one has anything to do with anything or anybody. You are alone at the time both of your birth and death. The rest that comes in between are like passing clouds.

" Would you settle down on a bridge

you cross from one end to another!

Would you like making a house,

of a boat plying from bank to bank!

Would you build a mansion

right in the middle of a highway!"

So, one must leave to one's own self questions like: 'Who am I? 'Where do I come from?' 'Who is God'? 'What is the purpose of life?' Human life is gifted to you to find answers to these questions.

For example; a villager goes to a nearby town on some business. As he could not complete his work, he has to stay in a lodge to rest. The , proprietor of the hotel or lodge he chooses to stay in will naturally put some questions to him before letting out a room to him. He will ask the villager to register his name and address. He has to answer questions such as " Where do you come from? How long would you stay?" If the answers run like this, " I do not know where I come from. I do not know how long I am going to be here. I do not know when I would quit this room" , or " I don't know where I shall go from here!" The proprietor will say, " No room for you. This lodge is not for mad fellows like you" Similar is your situation and position if you don't know where you come from, how long you stay here and where you go from here. Do your duty thinking of God. That is enough, then, you will never suffer.

Q171) Swami! How are services rendered today helpful in future?

Bhagawan: I will give an example very well known to you. After your retirement, you are given pension. Why? It is the payment for your long service in a profession. So also, God's grace is bestowed on you for your service in the past.

Another example. If you fill the tank with water during the rainy season, you will have water supply in summer. Is it not so? Therefore, service of today will help you receive God's grace later, undoubtedly.

Q172) Swami! Is there death? Are there a heaven and a hell? What is life?

Bhagawan: There is no death. It is the body that dies. But atma, the indweller is immortal. Atma is the eternal truth. Your happiness is indeed heaven. Your misery is hell. Both are here in this life. They are not separate entities apart from you.

The whole universe is a tree with branches, leaves, , flowers and fruits. Man expects flowers and fruits and nurtures the tree by watering its roots. It is enough if you water the roots of a plant, in order to get the water circulated to different parts of the plant. Is it not so? Do you water the stem, branches and leaves separately? Do You? No, you don't. For this tree of the universe the branches are different countries and states; the leaves are desires; human beings are the flowers. The root is below and the fruit is on the top. The root is selfconfidence while the fruit is self-realisation. The juice within the fruit is divinity. Today, thereis no divinity but only community.

Q173) Swami! Man's greatest fear is the fear of death. How is he to overcome this?

Bhagawan: Man is not dying of diseases. In fact, it is fear that makes for his death. Ninety eight percent of all deaths are to be traced to fear of death. Diseases are, for the most part, psychological in origin and impact. Check your pulse rate and blood pressure when you are excited, worried, or afraid. These rise much above the normal level. Thus, diseases are, to a large extent, rooted in your mental state.

Once the deity of Cholera came to a village. Seeing her, the village elder said, " Mother! I am terrified at the thought of the devastation soon to overtake our villages. I wonder how many of our people are going to die!" The deity replied, " My son! Not all will be harmed by me. There will be five deaths a day, that's all. You need not be that much alarmed. " But, many people were dying. The elder thought the deity might have lied to him. He turned to her and asked, " Mother, you are a deity. How is it, then, that; after saying one thing to me, contrary to that, you punish us?" The Cholera deity replied, " Son! I did not utter a falsehood. I took away only five each day. So, I am not responsible for the deaths of al the others. Those did not die of cholera. They died of fear, that's all. "

You asked me how fear of death is to be overcome. The solution is only courage! You should understand that at some time or other, death is inevitable. Realise that there are no exemptions. When you have the courage to realise this fully, fear of death ceases.

Q174) Swami! How can we realise the divinity within us?Bhagawan: Look! In college, you have elective subjects like M.P.C (Mathematics. Physics and Chemistry), Bi.P.C (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and so on, haven't you? Similarly, to realise the divinity within you, you have to take a group of three subjects. What are the subjects to realise divinity? They are â 'bhakti' devotion, â 'jnana', wisdom and â 'vairagya', renunciation.

Without devotion, you can't acquire wisdom. Bhakti leads to jnanam. Without jnanam you can never develop detachment or renunciation. Jnanam takes you to vairagya. A flower, after some time, turns into an unripe bitter fruit, which ultimately becomes a sweet ripened one, doesn't it? It is a question of time that brings about the change. Devotion transforms itself into the wisdom that leads to detachment. This detachment helps you in visualising the divinity within yourself. The fruit drops down from the tree of life. Jnana contributes to s'ara pagan , s'aranagati, surrender.

You should remember one point here. Jnana, , japa, yagna are not important as such. Your love for God is more important than any other such rituals for success in spiritual pursuit. Intense love for God is bhakti, devotion. Knowledge, broadly speaking, is of two types: one is physical, secular material and worldly knowledge, while the other is spiritual, metaphysical, transcendental and divine knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is nondual, and helps the seeker to realise and experience his own divinity.

Q175) Swami! How are we to attain bliss?

Bhagawan: It is a pity to find many a confused and disturbed person even in the spiritual field. Though he is in an asram or spiritual centre, he undergoes â 'srama, ' suffering. It is a matter of shame if a person calls himself a devotee without following a single teaching or practicing it for his transformation. The life of a devotee should be pure, calm, peaceful, detached and he should pine for the knowledge and experience of the Self or spirit or atma. Infinite desires meaningless worries and anxieties to get all that one doesn't really deserve are obstacles in spiritual life. So many don't enjoy divine bliss. Body attachment makes things much worse.

Four qualities are very essential for the attainment of divine bliss: s'amam-damam control of the outer and inner senses, â 'tr pti', contentment, â 'vicarana, .'enquiry, and â 'satsang', good company. They confer divine bliss on the seeker. You have got to know how this most valuable divine bliss is contained within the human body, which is itself transient, and is of lesser value than the spirit.

The body is composed of two bucketfuls of water, one bucketful of lime, iron of four two inch nails, lead of six pencils, phosphorous of nine hundred and twenty matchsticks, and fat of four Lux soaps. Herein lies the atma, divine spirit. Divine bliss can be attained by investigating, realising and experiencing the inner core of this body, viz. atma.

Q176) Swami! Many spiritual practices are suggested, such as, namasmarana singing the glory of God, dhyana, meditation, puja, etc. But, still total satisfaction is not derived out of any of them. We are not able to practise and follow continuously even one of them. Dissatisfaction over not being able to succeed and frustration about not getting the rewards for the little we do, are overpowering us. Why is it happening like this? Kindly show us the way.

Bhagawan: You have to plough the land, remove the weeds, manure and water it. Isn't it so? Without tilling the land, removing the weeds and watering, even if you sow the best of seeds, will it be of any help? Similarly, if you want to achieve the four purus arthas, objectives of life, you should follow anyone of the nine paths of devotion, adopt the eightfold path of yogic practices, astaga yoga, follow the nine types of devotion, navavidha bhaktimarga, worship properly and follow the spiritual path scrupulously.

You should cultivate four main qualities; which are the prerequisites of a devotee of God. The first one is maitri, , friendship, second, karuna, compassion, the third mudita, feeling happy at others' progress, and the fourth quality is upeksa, detachment. These are necessary for spiritual advancement. Maitri is the first one. If you are friendly to the higherups, there is every possibility that those people put you under their control. If you are a friend to those who are inferior to you, there is every scope for you to dominate them. In either case, friendship will not continue long. Therefore, friendship must be among equals.

Karuna is the second one. You can't be compassionate towards all. Be compassionate towards the poor, needy, less fortunate, handicapped and sick as well as those who are less educated than you and are inferior to you in rank, position and property. If you do so, your compassion will be valued most and it will deepen increasingly. Mudita is the third one. You should not feel jealous of those who are better off than you. You should not have any bad feelings towards those who are more fortunate than you. You should, on the other hand, feel even happier at their progress and advancement. This is mudita. The fourth one is upeksa The opposite of upeksa is apeksa. Apeksa means attachment. Upeksa means detachment.

You should never be positively disposed towards bad people. You should not support designers of evil or those who indulge in bad deeds. You should never develop friendship with an evilminded person or a person with bad behaviour. With these four qualities you can achieve the objectives of life, the purusarthas. Hence, be friendly with your equals, compassionate towards the poor and needy, be happy at others' progress and keep away from bad people. In fact these four qualities may be said to be the objectives of life, the purusarthas. To cultivate them, purity of heart is necessary. To feel that the very same one God is present in all living creatures and living beings is the way to develop purity of heart. You have to purify your tamasika, bestial qualities and rajasika, emotional or passionate nature. You have to develop that kind of steadiness and purity of mind and heart.

You will not be able to see clearly the reflection of the sun or of the moon alike in containers filled with different kinds of water. One container may have very dirty water where you can't see the reflection of the sun or the moon clearly. This is how the tamasika quality acts, cutting you off from reality. In another container, water may be found shaking and not still. Then also the reflection of the sun will not be clear. This is the rajasika quality. But, a container filled with pure water, which is also steady, helps you to see the object reflected clearly in it. This is the effect of sattvika quality. Similarly, though the same atma is present in all, you are not able to recognise and experience it due to the differences in your body, mind and intellect.

Then, the question is how to achieve the pious quality or sattvika nature and the purity of heart or cittas'huddhi to recognise and experience awareness of atma? He who can find out his own faults and others' merits can keep his heart steady and pure. If you can identify your own mistakes and rectify them, it doesn't matter wherever you are.

Take a simple example. Your room may be full of mosquitoes. But if you have a mosquito net you will not be affected by their presence and you can sleep well. On the other hand, if there are mosquitoes inside in the net, how can you sleep? Whose mistake is it? Similarly, see that there are no mistakes in you. Always remember that sadhana is intended for devotion and steadfastness. Sadhana done for selfish gains will be of no use and it can never give you bliss, peace and satisfaction. You can't do sadhana in such a case intensely and fervently.

The Ramayana explains this very clearly. After his return from his uncle Kekaya's kingdom and on coming to know of the death of his father, King Dasaratha, Bharata approached his mother Kaikeyi and asked her about the reason for his death. Kaikeyi said, " My dear son, I am responsible for the king's death. For your benefit and to make you the king of Ayodhya, I asked your father to grant me the two boons he had promised to give me a long time ago. As the first boon, I asked that you be crowned and as the second, Rama be sent to the forest. Your father couldn't bear the separation from Rama and so he died" .

On listening to this, Bharata became very furious. He said, " Oh! Wicked woman! Do you know what you did? Are you foolish? Do you think that you can cut off a tree and plant its branches to grow? Don't you know that Rama is a tree?" In her view Kaikeyi was right in doing like that, but to Bharata it was very cruel. Today, what you are doing is exactly like that. You are cutting off the tree of divinity and planting the branches of prakrti, nature. This is not proper. So, any sadhana is useless if there is no devotion supported by steadfastness. Without these basic qualities of maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksa you can't achieve anything. You can't have peace; bliss and selfsatisfaction. Therefore, for a spiritual life you should acquire these four qualities.

Q177) Swami! Many spiritual paths are mentioned by diverse traditions and religions. How far can these paths lead to experiencing divinity? To what extent are their spiritual exercises to be adopted? From the description of some of these, success in one lifetime appears impossible. On the other hand, worry that no spiritual practice is undertaken plagues us. Is there no way out for us? Kindly grant us peace. Bhagawan: Listening to your accounts of sadhana, it appears you do not know what sadhana is. The practices you call 'spiritual' are undertaken by the mind. They give you only temporary happiness and satisfaction. On the other hand, they cannot be dismissed as altogether useless. Sadhanas must help you in spending your time in a pious way. What, then, is sadhana? " SaâÄù means salokyam, dwelling in heaven with the vision of God; therefore sadhana gives us the dhana, treasure, of salokyam. Every act of the mind is dualistic, artificial, and transient. Suppose you are on a journey. Suppose also that there is a thief by your side. How can you feel secure? The person beside you is a thief, isn't he? In the same way, all practices involving the mind can never give you unbroken bliss, the experience of Brahman. What you achieve in sadhana is the removal of the veil blocking the vision of the Self, the veil of anatmatabhava. With the removal of this veil, the experience of the atma, the real, stands revealed. This is not something that has to come from somewhere, nor is it something that can be lost.

The next question is how long sadhana needs to be practiced. Consider a wound. When healing starts, a scar appears covering the wound, and this drops off by itself. Suppose you peel it off by force. The wound grows bigger. In the same way, once you have the experience of the Self, the question of sadhana does not arise.

Another example. When you cook food, you adjust the flame. When you ask how long the flame is to be turned on, it is only till the food is cooked. Sadhana too is necessary only till one acquires jnana, supreme wisdom.

Q178) Swami! When we get wisdom based on our practical knowledge, discrimination and determination, will it stay with us permanently or is there any possibility of our losing it by chance leading us back to ignorance again?

Bhagawan: That is impossible. Actually, you can't call it wisdom at all, if it is lost. You can't consider a person a man of wisdom if he returns to the same old state of ajnana, ignorance.

In fact, jnana, wisdom, neither comes nor goes. You are the embodiment of Divyajnana, divine wisdom. Your own worldly attachments, sensual pleasures, and bodily identification obscure this awareness or wisdom. Once you realise it; you will never lose the state of awareness.

A simple example, you curdle milk and churn it to get butter. The butter, a product of milk, will never get mixed in the milk once again, will it? So also, the butter of wisdom cannot mix in the milk of ignorance, once it is realised. Similarly, a jnana, though he lives in the midst of ignorant people, will never lose his jnana. Ajnana, Ignorance will never come again. Wisdom, once it dawns on you, will never depart from you.

Q179) Swami! Is bodily feeling an obstacle to spiritual progress? The bodily feeling doesn't seem to leave us anyway. Kindly tell us what we should do about it?

Bhagawan: I have never told you to neglect your body. Always remember that the body is an instrument. A temple may be very beautiful, clean and highly attractive. However, you will not be satisfied by merely looking at it from outside, unless you go in and see the idol installed at the sanctum sanctorum. It is the idol or Mulavirat that makes you feel happy and ecstatic, doesn't it? Similarly, your body is the moving temple of God. You should never neglect it. Your desires will not make your body polluted. The only thing is that the desires need to be good and never bad.

We have on one side, arisadvarga six foes, such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, avarice, and hatred, which ruin man. But you can channelise them in the right direction. For example, take anger, krodha. Anger does you no good at any time. But if you are angry with your bad behaviour, wicked thoughts and evil tendencies, you will improve yourself. So, don't be angry with anyone, be angry with your own anger. Then, consider kama, desire. If you are after limitless desires, you will be leading a discontented life. On the other hand, if you desire God, desire to serve him, the very desire, kama, becomes sublime.

Therefore, so long as one is selfish, selfcentered, sensual and worldly, the body definitely is an obstacle to spiritual progress. But if you take it as an instrument for the realisation of the divinity within yourself then definitely it is not an obstacle. Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksha, Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Sisupala, Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, etc., ruined themselves because of their bad thoughts, wicked actions, cruel and harmful nature. In fact, the body is the gift of God for man to realise and experience Him.

Q180) Swami! How are we to grasp easily the purpose and aim of life?

Bhagawan: This is very simple. A small example. A patient takes medicines for an ailment and gets cured. Why? He has to take medicines regularly for a certain period of time so that he may not have to take medicines once again by falling sick. It means he should not be a patient a second time.

Similarly, your birth in this life is given to you not to be born again. In other words, you should not enter the cycle of birth and rebirth once again. One has to work for it spiritually by intense sadhana during this lifetime itself. This is the aim and the purpose of life.

Q181) Swami! What is meant by 'quest for truth'? How are we to go about this noble task?

Bhagawan: To say that one is involved in the process of search for truth is foolish and is a sign of ajnana, ignorance. When satya, truth, is everywhere, what is the point of searching for it? Truth is God. God is truth. God is omniscient. So also truth is everywhere.

Satyamunand undi sarvambu sr s t ince

Satyamunananage sarva sr s t i

Satyamahimaleni sthalamedi kanugonna.

S'uddha sattvamadiye cudarayya (telugu poem)

God, the eternal truth, has created the whole universe, which will merge ultimately in truth. It is the eternal truth.

With your eyes you look at your children. With the same eyes you see your wife also. Your eyes may be the same but your vision, the way you look at different persons such as mother, wife, and children varies. The feeling with which you look at everyone is the spirit of the search for truth. This distinguishes feelings from looks.

The Search for truth should answer questions like what, when, why, whom, where and how.

Q182) Swami! Nowadayseven devotion has become a matter of convenience and business, and is expected to yield quick results. Isn't this wrong in the path of devotion? Are cunning and craft fruitful in devotion?

Bhagawan: Today, whatever one does and says is all out of selfishness only. If you develop devotion for getting a job, you are devoted to your employer and not to God. If you are a devotee with a view to get married, you are devoted to your wife or husband as the case may be, but not to God.

If you notice clearly, you will know there is enough money in this world. There are many in good positions. There are many influential and reputed people. Should you pray to God for money, positions, popularity, and influence which are already available in this world plentifully? You should pray to God for those which are not available here and are present in and with Him only. Two things are with God only and are not present elsewhere. What are they? They are Bliss and Peace. True devotion is what urges you to pray to God for these two divine assets.

Most unfortunately, today people employ even tricks, backdoor methods and logic in spiritual fields. Alas! They will never yield good results. Such people will never succeed. Further they boomerang. God and Mammon can't go together. You can't buy or sell God. Business on commercial principles and God never go together. God doesn't want your dhana, money or wealth. He looks into your dharma, conduct.

Alas! In the name of spirituality, it is very unfortunate that people deceive each other, involve in financial transactions, politicise, manipulate, cheat, scheme, plot, spend time in gossip and mud slinging activities. Your knacks, tricks and gimmicks will never work with God. You will never realise God through these tactics.

Here is a small story. A very rich man had a pet dog. One day when a person was passing along the road, this dog chased him and was about to bite him. Then the person being totally helpless hit the dog with his stick. The dog died. This made the rich man very furious and he took the matter to court to sue this person. There in the court the judge asked the passerby as to why he had hit the dog resulting in its death. The person said, " Sir! It fell upon me and was about to bite me. I couldn't do anything. So, I had to hit it with the stick in my hand and unfortunately the dog died" . Then the judge asked the rich man what he would say in the matter. He said, " Sir! I can understand the situation. But, why should he hit it on the head? Had he not done so, the dog wouldn't have died" . The judge turned to this person, wanting him to give the explanation. He said, " Sir! It was about to bite me with its teeth. So I had to hit it on the head. Had it tried to bite me with the tail, I would have certainly beaten its tail" . So this is a knack or a trick to escape from the situation. These things are of no use in the spiritual path.

Another example, a businessman had to go to a neighbouring town on some business. He called his son and said, " My dear son! You please look after my work carefully until I return. Be vigilant. Son! You know I do daily puja. You also see me doing as t ottara puja, repeat 108 precious names of God. You do it without fail during my absence. I don't want you to discontinue" . The son said, " O.K. father! I will scrupulously follow your instructions" . On his return the businessman enquired of his son if he had done all the things assigned to him including as t ottara puja. The son had shown him a paper as proof of his compliance. There, on the paper his son wrote God's holy name and marked 'ditto, ditto' (dodo) so that he did not have to repeat 108 times. Would this make a genuine as t ottara puja? Do you expect any positive results out of such tactics?

Once a merchant went to a Guru and reverentially prayed to him to give him mantra upades'a, to attain moksha. Then, the merchant said, " Sir! Can I ask my assistant to repeat and chant the mantra a thousand times Sahasranama on my behalf?" The Guru said, " It is useless. What are you talking about? How do you expect to be benefited when your assistant does the puja on your behalf? Do you ever ask him to eat when you are hungry? Do you ever ask him to drink water when you are thirsty? Do you ever ask him to go to a doctor and take medicine when you are sick? What nonsense are you talking?" This seems to be the trend in the thinking among modern seekers and aspirants, this is not bhakti.

A path followed with your total virakti, detachment, your saktii, total capacity and your anurakti, total love for God is bhakti, and not yukti, the tricks you adopt.

Q183) Swami! Renunciation, we feel, is the most difficult thing. We have so many attachments and it is not easy to give them up. Kindly suggest an alternative!

Bhagawan: No. No. It is very easy. You are wrong if you say that detachment is difficult. In fact, it is simpler and easier to be detached than to be attached. Now look here! I hold this handkerchief in my hand. I hold it tight in my grip. It is a strain holding it like that for a long time, i.e. holding the handkerchief in the grip. On the contrary, it is very very easy to simply drop it. Is it not? Now, you will know that attachment is difficult while detachment is easy.

Q184) Swami! Many different types of sadhana are suggested and prescribed for seekers and aspirants. They are very confusing and the situation of the present day seekers is that they have almost forgotten what a spiritual practice is. Most often having taken one path, many drop out or discontinue. Why? Kindly tell us the truth of the matter?

Bhagawan: In my opinion, spirituality is very simple and easy. You may find crushing the petals of a rose flower difficult. Compared with it spirituality is easier. But unfortunately, today there is none who knows and teaches sadhana.

What is sadhana? It is a process of removing anatma, nonself from atma, Self. Then, you will have atmanubhavam the experience of the Self. In other words, the self, spirit, conscience, or atma is the reality. All the rest is nonself or 'anatma'. This is the purpose of spiritual pursuit or sadhana.

You also wanted to know why a chosen spiritual path is discontinued. Understand well that nothing is wrong with sadhana. The mistake is yours. It is your weakness. For example, you boarded the Bangalore bound tram. If you get down in the middle without reaching the destination, whose fault is it? It is definitely not the mistake of the train. It is your fault.

Q185) Swami! We are not able to meditate. We do not know the procedure even. What are we to do?

Bhagawan: When the procedure is not correctly known and you are not able to concentrate as you meditate, do not waste time. Do some good work. It is ridiculous sitting down for meditation, while thinking of all sense objects and sensual pleasures. It is purely a waste of time. In fact, if it is true meditation, the feeling, " I am meditating" , should totally vanish. The three 'the one that meditates, the one whom you meditate upon' and the 'process of meditation' should be unified. This is called triputi. Always keep in mind one important thing. You are as much far from me as I am from you. You should always experience proximity with God and finally identify yourself with Him. The fruit of your meditation depends on this. With conviction that God is everywhere and by loving and serving all, giving up selfishness and selfinterest, you will experience the benefit of true meditation and you will know that your reality is atma, the self.

One example you might remember about meditation. Here are two tumblers of which one is full of milk that has to be poured out into the other tumbler. What do you do? You hold the tumbler filled with milk in one hand and the empty tumbler in the other, and slowly pour milk. The two tumblers should be held tight. If the tumbler with milk is shaking for any reason, the milk spills out. If the other tumbler is not held tight, and starts shaking, you can never collect milk. In other words, both the tumblers must be kept steady. The upper tumbler with milk is God, who should be pleased with your unflinching devotion while the lower tumbler, which represents the devotee should have unwavering faith

Q186) Swami! My mind is not steady. How am I to do bhajans? Without steadiness of the mind, what for are our bhajanas?

Bhagawan: The mind is never steady. This is natural. The body may find it easy to be steady. But, movement and running, the body finds difficult. The condition of the mind is just the opposite. The mind finds it difficult to be steady, but easy to run or waver. Body is jada, inert. But the mind is caitanya, awareness. You may lie down on your bed. But your mind will go round all places. Here, one important point is to be noted. The mind has no independent existence. It functions through the body only. The mind which goes round different Â≠places is not received and responded to by anyone. No one extends hospitality or responds to its behaviour. It has to come back to the body sometime or other. Therefore, never stop your sadhana, be it bhajan or meditation. The mind will get settled and be steady gradually. Leaves flutter due to wind currents. Once they stop, leaves become steady and motionless. The same is the case with the mind.

Q187) Swami! Some people are not putting in enough effort in matters of spirituality. They are lazy. Is it proper to be so?

Bhagawan: This is not spirituality at all. " Laziness is rust and dust; Realisation is rest and best" . Man is gifted by God with body, mind and intellect for performing karma, action. It is said, Karmanubandhini manus yaloke. Human society is bound by action. Karmame karanam narunaku sukhadukhamilalo (Telugu verse). It is only action that makes you happy or unhappy. Karma is the cause of janma. For the redemption of life and following righteousness, one has to take the path of action that gives you the divine experience, brahman.

You may say that you are not doing any karma. Remember that you can't live for a moment without karma. Respiration, blood circulation etc., are actions, whether you know it or not. You eat food while it is God who digests it. One important thing is, human effort and God's grace are both equally important. These are like the positive and negative wires through which the current flows. Another example is the matchbox. In order to light a matchstick, you have to strike it against the sides of the box.

I give you another illustration in support of this. Suppose the cart in which you are traveling turns upside down. You have to get up slowly and lift a wheel to set it right. God's grace will add to your effort raising the other wheel so that the cart comes back to the normal position.

Q188) Swami! Some say that satkarma, good action is enough; some argue that puja is essential, but some hold the view that atmavidya is the only way to liberation. How are we to coordinate and integrate these three? Are these not contradictory to each other? Why should these three be prescribed?

Bhagawan: First, be very clear that they are not contradictory. Performance of good action is karma marga. The three activities you have mentioned are like three different kinds of travel by train. The first is the direct train that takes you to your destination. This is jnana marga the path of Wisdom. The other one is, the train in which you have to change to another at a railway junction, as it is not a direct train. This is karma marga the path of action.

But, there are still other trains to which the carriage you board will be connected, and you don't have to get down and change it on the way. This is bhakti marga the path of devotion. You can view these paths in this way.

Another example, a mother has three sons. She feeds the youngest, a child all by herself. But the second son is a grown up boy who will go to the kitchen straight and will have his food served by the cook. The eldest son being an adult can serve food for himself and eat it. Similar is the situation here. The youngest child stands for the path of action, the second son represents the path of devotion, while the eldest symbolises the path of wisdom.

Another example, a king had three wives. He had to be away from his kingdom longer than planned. So he sent a message to his three wives telling them that his return was delayed and also asking them to inform him as to what he should bring home for them as gifts. The first wife said that she needed nothing except his safe return. The second wife who was ailing for quite sometime wanted medicines, while the third one who was very fond of jewels wanted the latest designs to be brought. On his return, the king went straight to the first wife and stayed there. The other two wives came and pleaded with him to visit them also saying, " Oh King! Your return was already delayed. You. have been spending much time with your first wife. How about us?" The king replied, " Look! This one wanted my safe return. So I am with her. But you wanted medicines and jewels, and accordingly I sent to both of you what you had asked for. " Thus, the first wife who asked for the king himself and none else stands for vairagya, renunciation. The second wife who wanted medicines represents prakrtika jnana, material knowledge, while the third one who wanted jewels symbolises prakrtika bhakti worldly devotion for worldly gains.

Therefore, different spiritual paths are prescribed and suggested considering the eligibility, temperament, suitability, capability and the samskaras, vasanas qualities of the past life of different persons.

The same thing I tell my students. There are three 'W's. The first 'W' indicates 'work', karma marga, the second 'W' means 'Worship' or 'Devotion', Bhakti marga and the third 'W' signifies 'Wisdom', jnana marga. These three are contained in the name of SAI. 'S' stands for 'Service (karma yoga) 'A' for 'Adoration' (bhakti yoga) and I for 'illumination' jnana yoga).

Q189) Swami! We want to know how a true experience can be communicated.

Bhagawan: Here, there are three steps. First, you should know jnanatum , then see drastum and experience pravestum.

You know a mango. You go to the market where you see it. It is not enough. You should buy and eat it to experience the taste of it. You can describe what you know and see. But you can't convey your experience.

For instance, if you stand kneedeep in water you can freely talk. If you stand neck deep in water, you can afford to talk. If you drown yourself totally, you can't talk. Can you? This is the state of total experience beyond expression.

Q190) Swami! What is the cause of agitation? How are we to get rid of it? What changes are needed to be free from agitation?

Bhagawan: Absence of satya, truth and dharma, righteousness is responsible for all agitation today. Therefore, people have lost peace and bliss.

Modern man has faith neither in himself nor in God. He is blind having lost the two eyes of faith. Human life without faith is a barren land. It is not man manisi (Telugu) who should change. It is the mind, manasu (Telugu), that has to change. Niti (morality), riti (conduct), and khyati (good name) are essential. Truth or satya is morality or niti, righteous conduct or dharma is the way of life or rithi while sacrifice or tyaga is the good name or khyati that you should get.

A man with desires, kama, is never happy.

A man with anger, krodha, will have no friends.

A man with greed, lobha, is cut off from bliss, ananda.

Therefore, kama, krodha and lobha are enemies. The happiness of the vyakti, individual, depends on samisti, the community. The individual has a form. The community has no form. If you respect the individual, it means you are respecting the community. The community is in srsti, the creation. The Creator is paramesti, God. So it all begins with vyakti, the individual and ends in paramest, divinity. In other words, God has created this world in which samisti, communities consists of vyakti, individuals. Thus, they are interrelated and interdependent. Therefore, in the individual, morality is truth. His conduct should be righteous and his reputation lies in realising God.

Bhagawan Buddha speaks of certain aspects of individual sadhana. Buddha said, samyakdrrsti, good vision, is necessary. " Your vision must be pure and sacred" . This will lead to samyak s'ravanam, good listening. These two great qualities imprinted in the heart induce samyak bhava, good feeling. This prompts and promotes samyak kriya, good action. Therefore, at the individual level, when good vision, good listening, good feeling and good action are followed, the community will be ideal. There will be no disquiet and agitation.

One has to correct one's lapses and mistakes. You should never speak ill of anybody. There is another episode connected with Buddha. Buddha mercifully accepted the invitation of a prostitute to dine at her residence. While He was proceeding, the village head came and objected to His visit to her residence, as she was a bad character. Buddha caught hold of his right hand and said, " Now, clap your hands if you can" . The villagehead said " Oh! Lord! How can I clap with one hand while you hold my right hand?"

Buddha smiling said, " You can't clap with one hand. You have to join both the hands. Similarly, you have said that the woman is of loose character. Who has made her like that? Only you people spoiled her" . Then the village head and other elders fell at His feet and followed Buddha. The woman too changed her behaviour and became His devotee.

During that time another significant event happened. One day Buddha was tired and taking rest. So He asked one of His disciples to address the gathering that evening on a spiritual topic. The disciple got up, and while speaking in praise of his master, Buddha, he said, " No master like Buddha was ever born before him nor would be born later" . Everyone clapped. On hearing this, Buddha came into their midst, and gently said, " How old are you?" How do you know that no one like your master was born before and would be born in future? How can you speak about the future? Many noble people lived in the past and are now living in the present, and also will be born in the future" . Thus, He indicated indirectly the advent of Avatars, divine incarnations.

One has to live attached to God anurakti, detached from the world virakti, with devotion, bhakti and achieve liberation, mukti, with all your energies, s'akti. This is the only solution to problems like agitation, restlessness and conflicts internal or external.

Q191) Swami! We have been thinking that all things can be achieved through Selfconfidence. In your discourses today you mentioned Selfprotection and Selfpunishment also. Kindly explain these.

Bhagawan: Quite often I mention to our boys these things Selfconfidence, Selfsatisfaction, Self- sacrifice, and Selfrealisation. In addition to these, Selfprotection and Selfpunishment too are necessary. Selfprotection is the capacity to face anything with Selfsteadfastness. Then Self-punishment involves the faculties of examining one's mistakes of one's own accord, and of refraining from those mistakes through firm resolve. Selfpunishment is holding in check through repentance, possibilities of those mistakes.

Q192) Swami! In the classes, we have learnt about self-awareness. How can our tendency be changed? Kindly teach us the appropriate technique.

Bhagawan: I asked you, " What does 'selfawareness' mean?" Someone said, " understanding" . This is not the correct answer. This word can be interpreted in two ways. In the worldly sense, it refers to looking at oneself, i.e., selfishness. Knowledge concerning this can be called " selfawareness" . Spiritually, its meaning is quite different. In spiritual terms, all that is, is merely the Self. The key to all actions and all experiences lies within the Self. The body, mind, senses, and intellect are just instruments of the Self. Without the Self, these are useless. These are to the self what the head, leg, hand, and so on are to the body. Now I asked you what is meant by 'tendency'. Someone replied, " attitude" , and another " nature" . These are not correct. It is an innate orientation. Tendency exists in man in three modes. Their names are animal tendency, human tendency, and divine tendency. Of these, the first runs after sense objects. The second is marked by discrimination, though coloured by desires. The third is totally devoid of desires, attachment, and 'I' and 'Mine'. There may be an attachment and sense of 'I' and 'mine' in life, but life is not for the pursuit of these.

You asked for an appropriate technique. When I asked for the meaning of that word, one called it 'method, ' and another, 'procedure.' These two are not correct. The technique is vidhividhanam. What ought to be done is vidhi. How to do it is vidhanam. There is only one technique for Selfawareness. You have to have awareness that you are the atma, the Self. I refer to it as ConstantIntegratedAwarensss. This Self or Atma is truly God. You are the embodiment of God. Here you should remember three things.

i) What is it that once it is had, is never lost, what is it? Jnana. In other words, when jnana occurs, that is, when there is awareness, it never is lost.

ii) What is it which once lost can never be had again? Ajnana, ignorance. When once ajnana is lost, you cannot have it again.

iii) What is it that is neither lost nor had? Brahmam, Self, Atma, this may be called'SelfAwareness.'

Q193) Swami! How are we to realise the existence of divinity, and by what intimation are we to cognise it? Swami is pleased to refer to it in the charming phrase, " ConstantIntegratedAwareness" . How are we to achieve this Awareness?

Bhagawan: The idea that all forms and all names belong to God is verily ConstantIntegrated Awareness. The experience of sarvan visnumayam jagat, the world is pervaded by Vishnu, is but ConstantIntegratedAwareness. God can be experienced in any form, at any time or place.

The life of Tulasidas illustrates this beautifully. He could not recognise God even when He approached him and talked to him. One day Tulasidas sat under a tree, grinding a piece of sandalwood on a mortar to prepare the paste. Right then, two cowherd boys came there and asked him, " Grandfather! Will you give us some sandal paste?" Then, Tulasidas replied, " My children! I am preparing this for Lord Sri Ramachandramurthi" . Two parrots, perched on a bough of that tree, observed this, and commented, " For whose sake is all this paste? Why doesn't he realise it?" Tulasidas heard these, words. He knew the language of the birds. The next day, while he was preparing the paste, the two cowherd boys turned up. This time, even without asking him, they took some sandal paste into their palms, applied it to the forehead, and left. Tulasidas who had noticed this was dumbfounded. This time too he heard the birds' comments from the branch of the tree, " Aha! What a wonder! Those for whom the sandal paste was prepared, had themselves come, and received it! What fortune!" As he knew the language of the birds, Tulasidas realised that the boys who had adorned themselves with the paste were, indeed, Rama and Lakshmana. Out of ignorance, he had at first denied them.

You may have heard of Vemana too. He was a thinker who belittled worship offered to stones and idols. He used to doubt, " God, who pervades the whole world, how can He be inside stone statues?" He used to make fun of idol worshippers. One day, his elder brother's daughter, whom he loved dearly, passed away. Griefstricken, he kept on gazing at the little girl's picture hanging on the wall. His elder brother's wife was observing all this. One day, she threw down the picture. It broke into pieces. This was too much for Vemana to bear. Then, she said, " My son! My girl is no more, isn't she? Why do you cry over a broken picture?" Vemana replied, " Mother! Though she is gone, her picture was here, wasn't it? Looking at it has been some consolation for me. That is why when it broke into pieces, I am grieving ever more. " Then his elder brother's wife counselled him admirably, " My son! It is very true that God is present everywhere. But, the devotee delights in seeing Him and worshipping Him in an idol as well. Just as you consoled yourself looking at the picture even though she whom you love is no more, the devotee invokes God in an idol, and offers it worship. " Straightaway Vemana grasped her message, and the secret behind idol worship. In this way, the experience of visualising the Supreme Lord in all places, times, and creatures is truly Constant-IntegratedAwareness. This can also be called the existence and intimation of Divinity.

CHAPTER VIII Human Values

Q194) Swami! Very often, you keep referring to HumanValues. Restoring these values is, indeed, a task this avatar had set foritself. Kindly enlighten us on how we may cognise their importance.

Bhagawan:A man lacking human values hasonly the semblance of the outer form, and is not a man in action at all. Thesupremacy and the distinction of mankind depend on human values, Man's birthhas a purpose: cherishing his humanity and rising to divinity Satya, dharma, s'anti, prema and ahimsa, these five may be said to be thevital airs which together constitute the breath. Without the vital airs prana, apana vyana, udana, samana, there is no question of man'sexistence, is there? Afraid that truth may land man in difficulty, he hasmoved further and further away from satya. He is in such a sorry plightthat he does not know what dharma is. Actually, man should never abandon thesevalues, however troublesome the circumstances may be. Giving up these valuesso sacred is tantamount to committing suicide.

When truth is given up, it amountsto losing one of the five vital airs. The dictum, satyam vada, dharmam cara (Speak the truth, Act righteously), is the foremost in the culture ofBharat, and crucial to spiritual advancement. What is the principal cause oftoday's turmoil? It is the total abandonment of satya and dharma. Thatis why prema is fast vanishing. In the absence of satya, dharma, s'anti and prema, himsa, violence, is on the rampage. In thehome and the village, in the city and the state, even in the nation at large, we witness orgies of violence. Terrible, cruel, and heinous crimes are beingcommitted. Human life has become empty. Even now, through faith in God, we cancultivate our human values. Like a parent grieving over a dimwitted child, Mother India is crying over the dearth of human values in its citizenry. Moral, religious, and spiritual values have sunk to the bottom. Note how differentKing Dushyanta, educated in the city, lacking all values; is from his son, Bharata, who imbibed human values through education in an asram. Education forlivelihood is not worth the name. True education trains pupils to cognize thehighest goals of life, and spurs them to realise human values.

Q195) Swami! Why do we need human values? What is their role in our lives?

Bhagawan:In this world every individual andevery material has a value. Each one has his or its own value. There isnothing in this world that has no value. Unfortunately in the present dayworld it is only man who has lost his value. His life is spent without anyvalue. Hence, man has become worse than an animal. Even the body of a bird ora small animal like a rabbit, even after it is killed, has a value. Its fleshor meat is useful. But man, even if he were an emperor, has no value soonafter he dies. So, there is every need to live with values. You should fillyour lives with values. You should live a valuable life.

Q196) Swami! How can weacquire human values?

Bhagawan:It is not enough if you repeatlike a parrot, the five human values - satya, Truth, dharma, Righteousness, s'anti, Peace, prema, love, and ahimsa, NonÂ≠violence. It is not enough if you give lectures on human values. It isabsolutely useless if you read books on human values. They have to bepractised.

Just as ice is cold and fire ishot, a human being also should have human values, in a natural way. If youlimit these values to mere lectures, they lose their value. An ounce, ofpractice is better than a ton of precepts. Your looking at the map of Indiadoesn't amount to your going round the country, does it? So also, by readingor lecturing on human values, you do not gain anything. If you sincerelypractise any one of them, the rest will follow. A tree has the dharma of atree. An animal has an animal dharma. Then should not a human being followhuman dharma?

The qualities expected of a humanbeing are called 'human values'. In my opinion, if you develop premaall the other values will follow. Love is the chief quality. Love is God, Godis love. Love is life. You have love no doubt, but it is narrow. It is limitedto you and your family, I and mine only. Love is not contraction as you havenow. It is expansion. Love is selflessness, self is lovelessness. Be he atheist or an atheist, there is none in this world without love. You can winGod's grace only by love. It is the bond of love that exists between you andGod.

What had made Lord Rama pleasedwith that squirrel in the Ramayana?

What scholarship had the boatmanGuha that pleased Rama?

What status and riches had Sabarito win the love of Rama?

What accomplishments had the Gopisof Brindavan to become so close

and intimate to Lord Krishna?

In all these instances, it wasonly pure love that made them enjoy proximity to God. Love excels physicalstrength, intelligence, wealth and authority. God looks for love in a devotee.Where there is love, there is truth.

For instance, if your son, afterplaying in the field returns home with his friend and asks you for a laddu, you may be tempted to say that there is no stock of sweets at home. But, if your son comes home all alone and asks for a sweet, you will immediatelyget into the kitchen and bring the whole tin of sweets for him to eat as manyas he likes. See the difference! In the beginning, you denied a single sweetand later you placed the whole tin of sweets. Why? It is the love that youhave for your son that made you speak the truth.

A word spoken with prema, love, is satya, truth. Any action that you do with love is dharma. Allthe unjust and unrighteous deeds that are happening today are only due to theabsence of love. But an action done with love is bound to be righteous. Whenthere is love, you enjoy peace. It is said that the face is the index of themind. We shall know if one is peaceful, disturbed, or agitated by looking atone's face. Satya is spoken, dharma is done, while s'antiis experienced. So, experience of love is peace. You will not be affected byblame or criticism. Your peace will be of that order, above negativity andaccusation when it is supported by love. This is the understanding you willhave in due course, with your heart full of love, and you will never hurtanybody in any manner. This is ahimsa, nonviolence. Understanding with loveis nonviolence.

So, there is nothing in this worldthat you cannot attain with love. You will be an embodiment of all the humanvirtues and values once you develop this divine universal love.

Q197) Swami! Now weunderstand that the defect of teaching lies somewhere in our schools, collegesand universities. Education is certainly not imparted in these institutions the way you are teaching.Where does the fault lie in our educational system?

Bhagawan:The knowledge you are acquiringfrom these educational institutions is not properly channelised and utilised.You have to nicely " skill" your knowledge. Then only there will be perfectbalance between " knowledge" and " skill" in our education system. Today you donot " skill" the knowledge, but you " kill" it. So, the balance is lost. This isthe main defect in modern education.

Q198) Swami! To whatextent are parents responsible for the degradation of values among children?

Bhagawan:My opinion is that parents aresoley responsible for spoiling children. Many parents behave likeDhritarashtra, the blind king of the Mahabharata. He never opposed orprevented his sons, the Kauravas, from doing any type of mischief, or misdeed.What happened to the king at the end? He was left with none to perform evenhis last rites or obsequies, though he had as many as a hundred sons. Heruined himself completely. Why? It was only his attachment to his sons thatbrought about his fall. The whole clan fell into disrepute due to hisattachment.

It appears as though modernparents do not know how to bring up their children. As the son watches the T.V., the mother brings food from the kitchen, and serves it there. Keeping theplate in front of the T.V., the parents don't teach them good manners and goodbehaviour. One with good manners is a man. The one with discipline is adevotee. The rest are only children.

Parents constantly think ofcareer-oriented and highly promising education with prospects of going abroad.They want their children to settle in big positions, earn money, go abroad, and marry rich women and so on.

There is also another category ofparents. When their children by chance go to a temple, they prevent themsaying, " Are you going to the temple now? Why, at this age? You are veryyoung. Should you be so religious at your age? You can be so after sixty.âÄùSometimes you also come across a father who asks his son to tell everyone whocomes to see him that he is not home. What do you expect the son to learn fromsuch a father?

In the modern age there are manychildren who are not fortunate enough to be brought up by the loving, sweet, and tender care of their mothers! Mothers are busy with their avocations, andspend their time in ladies clubs, in the market place, shopping, visitingfriends, and so on and so forth, with the result that a child weeps only whenthe servant-maid dies and not when its own mother is lost. Why? The reason isthat children haven't known the love of a mother, only that of a servant-maid.This is the shameful situation today.

Who made emperor Sivaji great? Whomade Gandhi a Mahatma? It is only his mother. It is entirely theresponsibility of parents to mould their children into ideal citizens. If agirl is spoiled, the mother has to be blamed. If a boy is spoiled, the fathermust be held responsible. Parents should shape children in such a way as towin the appreciation of everyone. They should get a good name for theirschools, society and country in general.

Q199) Swami! Pricehike is a common experience everywhere. People find it difficult to make bothends meet because of spiralling prices. We are eager to know Swami's views onthis issue of rising prices.

First of all you should know thatman is more valuable than all the wealth in the world. Prices have gone upas man has gone down in human values. The day human values go up, the pricesof commodities will come down. In fact, properties like land, jewellery, money, and houses, and physical comforts and conveniences have value onlybecause of man. Since man is utilizing them, they are valuable; if not, theyare useless.

For example, there is vast landavailable in a forest. It is very cheap to buy and own land there. You caneasily go in for a plot or a site, whereas in cities like Bombay and Delhi, the cost of the land is so high that it is not within the reach of the commonman. To get a plot of land there, even a small plot, costs a few lakhs. Why?Because many reside in the city. It is thickly populated. Every inch of landis fully utilised. But in a forest, hardly a few people live and as such thevalue of land is low there. Who is then responsible for the high cost of land?It is only man himself. If no one buys silver and gold, would you still callthem valuable? No. It is man who makes the commodities, articles andproperties either valuable or valueless. Since man has lost his own value, prices of various commodities have gone up. In order to bring down the prices, the value of man should be raised high by practising human values.

Q200) Swami! You knoweverything. It is very true that we as parents must be blamed. You havepointed out exactly where our mistakes lie. However, today we do not seechildren respecting their parents. They do not follow instructions. They aremost ungrateful. Kindly tell us how children should conduct themselves in thepresence of their parents and how they should treat them.

Bhagawan:You know the Vedic injunctions, matr devo bhava, pitr devo bhava, i.e., Mother is God and Father isGod. One must follow these injunctions. The Epics also cite many instances ofthis direction.

The culture of Bharat demands thateveryone should respect, love and serve his or her parents, and be verygrateful because blood, head, duddu (Tamil word for 'money') and Godare only parent's gifts. If you neglect your parents, you will face the samesituation at the hands of your own children. As is the fruit you eat, so youbelch. If you eat cucumber, you don't belch the odour of a mango. If you sow amango seed, do you expect a neem tree to grow from it? As is the seed, so isthe tree. Everything comes back to you as reaction, reflection, and resound.This is as sure as anything. You can never escape the consequences. If youmake your parents shed tears, your children will pass on to you the same fate.

Here is a small story. There liveda man by name Gopichand who had two sons. One day he was travelling in a trainalong with his wife. He wrote a letter to his sons asking them to meet him andhis wife at the station. Both the sons came to the station accordingly. Theeldest one did namaskar, salutation, to both the parents and enquiredwhen they started, how the journey was, and if they wanted anything. Thesecond son, on the other hand, did not greet them at all. His attitude to hisfather was rather arrogant. After some time, Gopichand said to his wife, " See!How our elder son greeted us and made enquiries, while the younger one didnot!" His wife, then, said, 'Don't find fault with the second one like that.After all, he is young. He will change as he grows older. Don't be angry withhim.âÄù

Years passed. What happenedfinally? The eldest son who did prostration to his parents became a Judge in acourt and was greeted honourably by everybody in society. The second at them?How do you expect them to be the recipients of God's love and mercy?

son got the job of a peon in thesame court and had to receive everyone and greet all and sundry with foldedhands! This is the difference. Those who respect their parents will berespected by all. The one who doesn't will not be respected by anyone.

The same lesson is that taught inour epics. In the Mahabharata, at the end of the battle of Kurukshetra, all the Kauravas died, and Queen Gandhari, wife of the blind king, Dritarashtra started blaming Krishna. She said, " Oh Krishna! You are verypartial to the Pandavas. Now that my sons have all died in battle are youhappy?âÄù then Krishna said to her, " See, Gandhari! Did you ever see your sonswith your own eyes? (Gandhari blindfolded herself to be like her husband whowas born blind). Did they at any point of time pay heed to your words ofcounsel? How do you expect them to be blessed by God when their own mothernever cast a glance

The same is the teaching of the Ramayana also. Kusa and Lava, the twin brothers, could fight Lord SriRamachandra with all their valour and might. Why and how? The reason is, Lavaand Kusa enjoyed the blessings of their mother Sita, and as a result, theycould heroically face Lord Sri Ramachandra, their father. That is the powerinherent in the blessings of parents.

Everyone must serve parents. Youneed their blessings all the time. You know what your parents like, you knowwhat to do to please them, and you know that you have been with them since youwere born. If you can't please them, how do you expect to please God who youhave never seen, nor know what He wants you to do and what you ought to do?Parents are divine.

Q 201) Swami! We know that we should cultivate good qualities right from our childhood. But, now, at this hour, how are we to cultivate them? Bhagawan:First of all, you should fullyrealize the need to acquire good qualities and cultivate themsincerely. You should also know to what exalted heights of nobility they wouldtake you. Then you should find out your own faults. The day you shed your badqualities, you can fill your life with good qualities, just as you fill atumbler with milk after emptying the water inside it. Otherwise, if thetumbler still retains water inside it, it will not be possible to fill it withmilk. So, always remember that the removal of immortality is immortality.First, begin the process by correcting yourself.

Swami! Many people emphasise theimportance of character. But, they interpret character in many different ways.So, what exactly is character? Let us know from you.

Bhagawan: Character is the most important thing. Life without character is like a pot full of holes. Water can never be retained in a pot with holes. So, the essential human quality will never be retained in the life of a person without character. This is what Prahlada too remarked. One day he saw a beautiful lady leaving his palace. He asked her, " Who are you?" She said. " I am your kingdom" . He kept quiet. After some time, he saw another very beautiful woman coming out of his royal palace. He asked her, " Who are you?" She said, " I am your wealth" . Again, after some time, he saw an angel coming out of his palace. He asked her, " Who are you" ? She responded saying, " I am your reputation. " He kept quiet. This time, he saw a woman with a brilliant face and with heavenly effulgence all around her, the like of whom he had never seen before, leaving his palace. He asked her, " Who are you?" She said, " I am your character" . Immediately Prahlada fell at her feet and repeatedly pleaded with her not to leave his palace. She obliged him and went back. The others reputation, wealth and kingdom, immediately followed her. Therefore, where there is character, the rest will follow automatically. So, I often tell our students:Politics without Principles

Science without Humanity

Commerce without Morality, and

Education without Character

Are not only useless but also dangerous

I repeatedly tell you:

The end of Education is Character,

The end of Culture is Perfection,

The end of Knowledge is Love,

The end of Wisdom is Freedom.

What is character? Perfect harmony in thought, word, and deed is character: manasyekam vacasyekam karmanyekam mahatmanam. Whatever you think, say it and do it. Your thought, word and deed must be one and the same. This is character. Manassanyat vacassanyat karman anyat duratmanam, it is only the wicked that think, say and act differently. This was very well demonstrated by Hanuman in the Ramayana. Rama commanded him to go in search of Sita, crossing the mighty sea. He did so with His infinite blessings. Given this divine assignment, Hanuman said, " Yes, " and immediately jumped from the top of that Mahendra Mountain.

Here three points are to be noted. Hanuman decided to do his Lord's bidding. This decision is the first thing. Then he declared on the mountaintop of Mahendra that he was proceeding on His mission. This declaration is the second thing. Thereafter, immediately he started his journey flying across the sky over the sea. Action followed the declaration. This is the third thing. In Hanuman, we find these three, 'decision, thought', 'declaration word' and 'action deed' or the three " H's" " Head'. 'Heart ' and 'Hand" in perfect harmony and integration. This is Character.

There is another important thing you should always keep in mind to guard your character. I give you 'Watch' as the 'watchword'. Here every letter has a message and an instruction. 'Watch' is a word with five letters. The first letter 'W' stands for the 'words' that we use. So, 'Watch your words'. The words should be filled with truth. You speak truth. So, watch that your words express truth. The second letter is 'A' which stands for 'action'. 'Watch your actions'. They should be dharmic. The third letter is 'T' and represents 'thoughts'. 'Watch you thoughts'. They should be calm, never disturbing and agitating. So, let your thoughts be of s'anti. The fourth letter is 'C', 'Watch your character'. Throughout your life, your character should be perfect. This is possible if you have pure prema. Love will make you achieve everything in this world. Human character is based on selfless, pure and divine love.

The fifth letter is 'H'. It represents 'Heart'. 'Watch you Heart'. 'Heart' in Sanskrit is h daya. This is hrt together with daya. 'Daya' is compassion. The one with 'daya' is hrdaya. Where there is violence, there is no daya, compassion. You should not be violent in your words, thoughts, or deeds. You should not harm people by your looks, words, thoughts and actions. You can watch your Heart with full understanding of your thoughts, words, and deeds so that your Heart is full of ahimsa. Ahimsa can be achieved by understanding.

So the five letters of this word â 'watch' represent Satya (w-Words), Dharma (a-Actions), s'anti (t-thoughts), Prema (cCharacter) and Ahimsa (h-Heart). These values constitute 'Character'. It is character that takes humanity to Divinity. Without character, a man falls to the level of a beast. In certain respects, even animals are much better than human beings as they have a season and a reason for their behaviour.

We can view character from two angles. One is Individual character and the other is National character. Individual character emphasises the code of conduct. The second is National character. Everyone is to act in the national interest. Today, we have leaders with neither of the two, or both missing. This is the cause of the present sad plight of the country. When students have these two, they will mould themselves into ideal citizens of the country. Nitiye jati, adi vadilitivo koti kante hinudavu:

A true nation should have character. Without that, you are worse than a monkey. So character is most essential and prevails when there is total unity and harmony in the 3H's, as I often say for our EHV. (Education in Human Values) programme, 'Head -word', 'Heart thought' and 'Hand action'.

Q202) Bhagawan! We are indeed very grateful to you for telling us so clearly and vividly the way we should view life in general. What are those essential qualities you wish we develop?

Bhagawan: Unless the foundation is strong, a building cannot stand firm and last long. So, the foundation is very important. You can construct any number of floors basing on a firm foundation. Self

confidence is the foundation. These days many do not have selfconfidence. They do not even attempt to do anything worthwhile as they have no confidence in themselves. How do you expect them to be successful? If a person has no confidence in himself, what can be done for his progress? On the foundation of selfconfidence are erected the walls of selfsatisfaction. A man with selfconfidence alone can have selfsatisfaction. A man without confidence can never have satisfaction in his lifetime. So, the walls of selfsatisfaction rest on the foundation of selfconfidence. Then the roof must be laid. Selfsacrifice is the roof. Gaining satisfaction out of confidence, one prepares oneself for sacrifice. You cannot live in a building without a roof. The roof rests on walls, and the walls, in their turn, stand on the foundation. Then, we live in the house. Life in such a house is selfrealisation. So, everyone must develop these four 'S's' Selfconfidence, Selfsatisfaction, Selfsacrifice and Selfrealisation.

You need to cultivate three 'D's' also. You must know that a VIP, like the Rashtrapati, the President of India will always be followed by two bodyguards one on either side. The first 'D' is duty that stands for Rashtrapati. He is accompanied by two 'D' s one on each side, 'discipline' and 'devotion'. To discharge duty ably, discipline is very essential. Without discipline, you will never be successful.

Normal body temperature is 98.4ÂįC. One's normal blood pressure is 120/80. If there is deviation from the normal rate, you are sick. Changes in blood pressure lead to heart complaints also. So, our body is a limited company with all the systems working in strict discipline. The eye can see the intensity of light only up to a certain limit. If it crosses the limit, the retina of the eye gets burnt. Similarly, the ear also can hear sound to a certain extent, and if it is exceeded, the eardrum breaks. This is the lesson in discipline that the body teaches.

The second thing that is required for performing one's duty is devotion. Devotion is Love.

Duty with Love is Desirable,

Duty without Love is Deplorable,

Love without Devotion is Demonic,

Love without Duty is Divine.

Everybody must be devoted to duty with discipline.

Q203) Swami! We have to work for our own moksha. But, how can we develop spiritually the basic human quality? Will spiritual awareness help us to be more human and ultimately experience the divine?

Bhagawan: Today, everyone appears to be a human being by virtue of having a human body. But, it is by virtue of your behaviour and nature that you are a human being. You should be a human being .You seem to have forgotten the value of human life. Kaya, the body, kala, time, karma, the action, kartavya, duties, and karana, the purpose of life are all either misused or misdirected or wasted. Though there is considerable progress in science and technology, the basic human values are lost. Everywhere there is the atmosphere of fear, anxiety, tension or insecurity or agitation and restlessness.

To cultivate human values two qualities yama, restraint and niyama, regulation and the five principles ahimsa, nonviolence, satyam, truth, asteyam, not coveting others' property, aparigraham, not accepting or expecting anything from anybody and brahmacaryam, celibacy are essential.

Ahimsa does not merely mean refraining from killing or hurting anybody. By thought, word, or deed, no one should be hurt or pained. This is true ahimsa or nonviolence. If you are harsh to anybody, it is violence. If you harbour evil thoughts towards anybody, it is violence. If you cast bad looks on anyone, it is violence. Therefore, nonviolence means not causing harm to anyone and not hurting anybody either by thought, word or deed.

Then, the second principle is satyam, truth. In the ordinary sense, you think that truth is telling exactly what you see, hear, and know. This is worldly truth. Even scientific laws are not constant. They change from time to time with new inventions, discoveries, observations and experiments. They may be called scientific truths, or material truths. Newspapers convey facts and not truth. Then what is truth? That which is permanent, eternal and changeless is satyam, truth. Truth is God. You should speak truth in an acceptable and pleasing way.

The third principle is asteyam, you shall not covet others' property. You shall not steal. Asteyam in the true sense means not entertaining any thought to own or possess others' property or that which doesn't belong to you.

The fourth one is aparigraha. Don't expect anything from anybody. Don't accept anything from anybody. But, you can accept things from your parents, Guru and God. You should not bother or pester your parents with demands they cannot afford to meet. You should accept wisdom and grace from your preceptor. But from God you must accept anything He gives you. Therefore, you are not permitted to receive anything from anyone. You should not be become rnagrasta, indebted to anybody. Give, but don't receive.

The fifth principle is brahmacarya, celibacy. Brahmacarya doesn't mean remaining unmarried. A brahmacari is one who treads the brahmamarga. Cariyuncuta (Telugu) of Brahman is brahmacari or a celibate. Harmony in thought, word and deed is brahmacarya.

Then, there are five niyamas. They are tapas, penance, saucam, cleanliness, s'antos'am, contentment, svadhyayam, scriptural reading, and isvara pranidhanam, dedicating all deeds to God.

Saucam includes both outer and inner cleanliness. It is not enough if you are clean outwardly, taking bath everyday and wearing ironed clothes. You should be clean inwardly also. Attachment and hatred usually pollute your mind. You should see that the mind is not polluted by these two evils. Therefore, both outer purity and inner purity are necessary.

The second niyama is tapas, penance. Tapas does not mean that you should run away from home leaving behind your property. It doesn't mean that you should break your family ties and go to a forest or stand upside down with your head on the ground and the legs up above. No, true penance means saying what you think and doing it accordingly. In other words, the three " H's Head, Heart and Hand" should be integrated by thought, word and deed. Giving up bad thoughts and deeds is penance. Pining for God or yearning for God is penance. Purging your heart with sacred thoughts is penance.

The third niyama is s'antos'am. You are under the impression that by fulfilling your desires, you will be satisfied and happy, No. Contentment lies in putting a ceiling on your desires. Too many desires make your life miserable. You may offer any number of objects and any amount of material to fire. It will burn them all to ashes. Fire never says " no" or " enough" at any time. Like that, desires also have no limit.

The fourth niyama is svadhyaya or study of the Holy Scriptures. You should read everyday one Holy Scripture. This is called parayana, worshipful reading of a religious book everyday. This cleanses your mind to some extent.

The fifth one is isvara pranidhanam. God is in you in the form of your conscience. You should satisfy your conscience. This is most important.

Thus the five yamas and the five niyamas will help you achieve the objectives or goals of life purusarthas and sustain your human values making you a true human being.

Q204) Swami! Our ancients gave top priority to satya, truth. It is not so now. Is satya so very important?

Bhagawan: It is remarked that of all the values of life satya, truth is the highest, Satyannasti paro dharmah. All have truth as the basis. God is truth. The entire creation came into existence from that truth and will ultimately merge in truth.

Satyamunand undi sarvambu srstinceSatyamunananage sarva srsti

Satyamahimaleni sthalamedi kanugonna.S'uddha sattva madiye cudarayya (Telugu poem)

So, understand that God is truth and that truth is God. So, live in truth. Truth is the foundation of righteous conduct and the route to peace, which will make your life one of love.

Why is the history of Harischandra remembered till this day? Because he adhered to truth at any cost even sacrificing his wife, son and kingdom,

Those were the days when Prahlada was king. One day he saw a beautiful female figure leaving the palace. He asked her, " May I know who you are?" She replied, " I am your Character" . Prahlada kept quiet. Next day he saw another beautiful woman was coming out of the palace and when asked who she was, she replied, " I am your Kingdom - Rajyalaksmi " . He remained silent. Next day he saw another woman of matchless beauty coming out of the palace. He asked, " Mother! Would you let me know who you are?âÄù She said, " I am your reputation " yasas.âÄù He didn't prevent her from leaving.

Next day he saw still another grand and majestic form, the like of whom he had never seen in his lifetime, coming out of the palace. He gently and reverentially asked her, " Mother! May I know who you are?âÄù She replied, " I am Truth.âÄù Then Prahlada fell at her feet and pleaded with her not to leave the palace. She finally agreed to get back into the palace and not to step out. Then what happened? The other angels, Character, Kingdom and Reputation followed her one after another back to the palace. It only means all will follow you if you have truth.

Q205) Swami! We do not have a precise idea of what dharma is and we are not able to conduct ourselves according to the little knowledge we have. Scholars expound dharma in a variety of ways. They designate one thing as dharma in one context and quite another in a different context. This adds to our confusion. Swami! Kindly explain dharma to us

Bhagawan: What our elders and scholars had taught about dharma needs to be understood correctly. You should not hastily conclude that their views are contradictory. Take for example the dictum, satyannasti paro dharmah. What is to be chiefly noted here? The dictum means, â 'There is no dharma higher than satyam, ' and more too. The deeper meaning is, â 'the foundation of dharma is satyam.' Now consider another dictum, ahimsa paramo dharmah. What does this mean? Earlier it is satyam which is said to be the foundation of dharma. Now, ahimsa, absence from violence, is called the highest dharma. Now ahimsa does not mean only refraining from violence. Harming none through word, deed or thought is true ahimsa. Here, it is seen that satyam has been touched upon obliquely. Satyam knows neither fear nor wrath. Satyagraha is not a hapy compound word. Where there is satyam, wrath does not exist. Satyam does not inflict pain. One, who is rooted in satyam, cannot undertake violence. Rather he considers ahimsa as his dharma. It is also said, vedokhilo dharmamulam. Veda which desribes yajnas, yagas and other rituals treats their performance as dharma. It is our duty to perform the deeds enjoined on us by Veda. Here, you have to consider dharma from the perspective of duty. You have to perform your duty, fulfil your obligations. Therefore, it is said, kartavyam yoga ucyate. In the verse from Gita, svadharme nidhanam sreyah, paradharmo bhayavahah, you have to realise that " svadharme " refers to atmadharma. On the other hand, the dharmas of the four castes and of the four stages, of life are matters of birth. The population of the world is a mixture of black, white, yellow, and brown hues and these are to be found in all countries. The dharmas of the four stages of life brahmacarya, garhastya, vanaprastha, and sanyasa are to be viewed as four kinds of steps, four processes of sadhana to reach Brahman, after performing the deeds enjoined as one's duty. Thus, dharma is very subtle. The life force of satyam resides in utterance as does that of dharma in practice or action.

Q206) Swami! Transformation of Man, how does this come about?

Bhagawan: Actually transformation of man is transformation of mind. You wrongly tend to call it transformation of the heart. The heart is not the physical heart located in the left side of the chest. The spiritual heart is quite different and is all-pervasive. This is existence of awareness, and is not subject to change. Transformation of the mind is truly important, for only the one endowed with mind is to be called Man. An individual passes away, but his mind survives. That is why it is said,

mana eva manus yanam,

karanam bandhamoksayoh The mind alone is the cause of bondage or release of men. When the mind reaches out, as it does in the

Pravrttimarga, it gets saturated with desires, ideas, and worldly concerns. But when it is withdrawn in the nivrttimarga, all these are subdued. This state is called amanaskam, disinterestedness, and facilitates the experience of peace and joy. This is what is meant by transformation of the mind. Then alone is transformation of men possible.

Q207) Swami! How are we to comprehend the threefold path, karma, bhakti and jnana ?

Bhagawan: You study your own wrist watches. Every watch has three hands the second, minute and hour, hasn't it? The second hand should go round sixty times for the minute hand to move one place. Then the minute hand should go round sixty times for the hour hand to move to the next place. Here the second hand is karma marga, path of selfless action. The minute hand is bhakti marga, path of devotion, while the hour hand is jnana marga, path of wisdom.

I will give you another example. Most of you travel by train as you go home for vacation. You have three ways of reaching your destination. You can board a train, an express train that takes you to your place straight. You can also get into a train where the coach in which you are seated will be connected to another train at a railway junction. It is a through carriage and so you do not have to get down anywhere in between and change. Then there is another way. You catch a train and travel some distance, get down at a junction, and board another train to reach your place. This is a passenger train.

These three ways of journey hold good in the spiritual path as well. The path of selfless service, karma marga is travel by a passenger train. The path of devotion, bhakti marga is travel by a through carriage where the carriage will be connected without your having to get down, to another train. Finally, the path of wisdom, jnana marga, is an express train that takes you straight to your destination.

Q208) Swami! It is said that we cannot escape from the consequences of our actions. It means we are responsible for both the good and the bad we experience. The fruits of our actions, thus, are inescapable. Then, how does devotion to God help us? Why should we be devoted to God at all?

Bhagawan: God created the whole world and gave it to man to be happy and to utilise it freely. But, however, he gave it on one condition. " Oh Man! You do whatever you want, but be prepared to face the fruits of your actions. You cannot escape from the consequences of your actions. In full knowledge of this, from now, you can enjoy and do whatever you wish to in this world" .

So, for both good and bad, your actions are responsible. Then why should you be devoted to God? How does it help you? You may decide to raise onions or jasmines in your field according to your own liking, but you must pay the tax for utilising the land accordingly. Similarly the tax of the result of your actions is inescapable.

However you note one thing here. You pay income tax. You have to pay it proportionate to your income. There is no way out. But there is a provision for exemption. Be sure it is not definitely tax evasion. If you have paid some amount as premium to the Life Insurance Corporation, if you have paid some amount towards Provident Fund, you are eligible for some exemption out of the total tax payable by you. So, your taxable amount is reduced. Similarly, spiritual practices like daily prayer, service activity, meditation, worship, help you to reduce the intensity and magnitude of the consequences of your past actions which you face, karmaphala. They give you the courage and forbearance needed to endure the suffering.

Q209) Swami! God is omnipresent. There is no place or object or person without divinity. All names as you have said are His . You have also said that all forms are His. In such a case how are we to comprehend, visualise and experience God.

Bhagawan:atmavat sarvabutani,

eko vasl sarvabhutantaratma .

Our scriptures say that God is the only one without a second. He has manifested Himself as many according to His will. 'ekoham bahu syam, ' the one becoming many, everything is divine. The plurality or multiplicity or diversity is due to name and form.

You will notice that ' jnani, ' the one who inquires, â 'jneya', the one to be known and â 'jnana' knowledge are one and the same. This is called 'triputi', trinity. Everything is out of that primordial principle of atma or consciousness.

The gross body, sthula, the subtle body, suksma, and the causal body, karana, of everyone are out of the atma only. You know the tamarind fruit. Its outer green covering, (physical, gross, sthula ), the middle soft pulp (subtle body, suksma), and the inner hard stone like seed (astral body, karana) are formed out of the original seed only. It is the seed that forms another seed in the times ahead. So, all the three are only atma.

I tell my students often, 'You are not one, but three: the one you think you are (physical body), the one others think you are (individual mind), and the one you really are atma, conscience. You are born with a question, koham ? (Who am I?) If the reply is aham dehosmi , I am the body, it represents the first step, the one you think you are. To the same question koham, if the answer is aham, I am an individual jiva, it represnts the second step, the one others think you are. But to the question koham, if the answer is aham brahmasmi, I am God, it conveys the real truth, the third step, the one you really are. This is your real nature.

It is the same atma that exists in all the three stages, jagrata, waking, svapna, dreaming and the susupti deep sleep. Atmavaisvanara plays all the three roles. Atmavaisvanara in the waking state operates in association with the body, the mind and the intellect. Atma functioning in the waking state may be called visva. Atmavaisvanara, functioning in a dream state, monitors the mind only. There is no body in the dreaming state as it lies on the bed. The entire thing is the creation of your mind only and the mind creates you when you pass through dream experiences. This atma of the dreaming state is known as taijasa. The third stage of deep sleep susupti also has the very same atma as in the previous two. In susupti the body, mind and intellect do not exist. Atma remains as an experiencer called prajna. So Atmavaisvanara left to itself is a pure, unsullied, unpolluted, eternal and immortal truth in the state of the ultimate turiya , expressed in the three levels of consciousness. In the waking state it is vis'va, in the dreaming it is taijasa while in deep sleep it is prajna. These are merely names given to the same atma in these three states, just as you know an actor playing three different roles. An actor by name Mallaya (equal to Atmavaisvanara, turiya state) plays the role of Dharmaja in one scene, visva, waking state, Arjuna in another scene, taijasa, dream state, and Bhima in still another scene, prajna , deep sleep state, while Mallaya (atma) remains the same basically.

So. in this universe everything is essentially atma. The five elements, the five senses of perception, the five senses of action, the five life breaths, the five life sheaths and the body constitute one wide area or realm called bhutakas'a. The impact, influence, and effects of all these components of the sphere of bhutakas'a (drawn from the outer world) are contained in or imprinted on a small sphere or field called chittakas'a , viz. the mind, citta. But then there is atma which monitors and operates through the body, mind, intellect, the sense of ego (I' ness) known as cidakas'a. These three are equivalent to the gross (sthula bhutakas'a), the subtle (chittakas'a- suksma) and the casual (cidakasa' a karana ) forms.

This is what Christ also said in his first statement, " I am the messenger of God" .This is dualism, dvaita. The next statement of Jesus was, " I sm the son of God.âÄù This is qualified non-dualism (visistadvaita).

Finally on the cross, Jesus said, " I and my Father in Heaven are one" . This is non dualism. In the Persian language too it is first said, " I am in the light:" , which is the state of dvaita, dualism. Later it is said, " The light is in me" , which is qualified visistadvaita , nondualism and finally, it is stated, " I am the light" , which is advaita, nondualism. We can find in all these states unity in diversity. If you identify yourself with the body (aham dehosmi ), it is the one you think you are or, what Jesus said, 'I am the messenger of God' or it is bhutakasa which is dualism, dvaita. If you think you are an individual, jivi, the one others think you are or aham jivosmi, it yields the same meaning as in Jesus' statement, " I am the son of God, " or the Persian declaration, " The light is in me" or chittakas'a, qualified nondualism. But the final experience lies in knowing what you really are, aham brahmasmi, the same as what Christ said " I and my Father in Heaven are one" or the Persian declaration, " I am the light" , or cidakas'a which is nondualism.

This is the one to be known and experienced. Hanuman said the same thing to Rama, " Oh! Rama! If I think I am the body, I am your servant; if I think I am an individual soul, jivi, you are my God, and if I think " I am atma" , you and I are one. This is the path of enquiry that leads to the discovery of one's true svarupa.

Q210) Swami! God's creation is absolutely good. Then, from where do we get anything bad in life? When there is nothing bad in your creation how can there be bad actions at all? Or do you say that there are both good and bad in your creation? Kindly clarify this doubt.

Bhagawan: Creation is absolutely pure and good. There is no trace and scope for the bad to exist in God's creation. It is only the factor of time that makes you take things as good or bad. You eat today a phalam, good fruit. Tomorrow, the very good fruit that you have eaten today transforms itself into malam, faeces. Is it not the same fruit? Is it not time that has brought about the change? Therefore, good and bad are present from your point of view. But to the divine both are the same as he is nondual.

God created everything for you to enjoy. It is in use that good and bad arise. For example, you brought all the necessary provisions from the market and kept them in the kitchen. It is now left for you to cook properly with these provisions. The taste depends on the way you cook, how and in what proportions you mix the provisions: You have the needed utensils and the material. Now it is up to you to cook your food properly and make it a delicacy. Similarly, God has given you everything. Good and bad depend on the way you use the material given to you.

Q211) Swami! Pardon me for asking this question. At an advanced stage in our life when somehow our memory fades, we will not be able to remember all that we should. What is to be done?

Bhagawan: You are mistaken. Never say that your memory is fading. You say you are old. It is only an excuse, but it is not really so. You remember your date of birth, you remember exactly when you married, when your children were born, when you performed their marriages, when your grandchildren were born, when you joined service and retired. If what you say is correct, that you are losing your memory as you are aging, how do you remember these details then? It is only love for your family that makes you remember these dates. You have interest in these matters. Since you do not have such intense love for and interest in spirituality, you take advantage of your advanced age as a lame excuse for complaining that your memory is fading. A fruit may be fully ripe, yet the seed within is hard.

Q212) Swami! What are the sources of our peace, happiness, wealth, comforts and convenience? How do we get them? Why are some denied these most coveted things?

Bhagawan:You don't get anything in life for nothing. One gets these things in life because of any one of the following three reasons. Take one simple example. You know banking. You are an account holder. Suppose you want some money. What should you do? You go to your bank and get the money. But you should be having enough money to your credit. and by submitting a cheque, affixing your signature you can withdraw the money you want. If you have no money to your credit in the account; you don't get any money. Yet, you need money. How to get it? If you mortgage your permanent assets like gold or landed property, the bank will give you some money proportionately. You may not have permanent assets. Still you want money. Then, if a rich man stands as a surety or guarantor, the bank will give you the money you need. Thus, these three are ways of getting money from the bank.

Here money is God's grace. If you are doing some good deeds in the present i.e.depositing some amount of money in your account, you can withdraw the money of God's grace in the future. If in the present there is no such credit, at least the good deeds you did in the past, that is to say, your permanent assets when mortgaged to the bank, entitle you to receive money. Without these two good acts you may still be eligible to draw money from your bank. if a rich man i.e.God or an Avatar or a Sadguru stands as your guarantor. So, you receive God's grace either because of your past merit, or present merit, or if a rich man stands as a surety or guarantor. There is no other way. These are the reasons for a person's affluence, luxury, life of happiness. comforts and conveniences.

Q213) Swami! You tell us that we are not mrnmaya (dust thou art), but cinmaya (you are awareness). Therefore, we devotees, should know that we are not simply the body, but awareness. You also repeatedly say, " You are God. " Then, when I am God, aham brahmasmi, why should I pray? Where is the need for all this spiritual exercise, then?

Bhagawan: You may know or may not, you may agree or may not, and you may believe or may not, but you are God indeed. " Mamaivamso jivaloke, " said Krishna in the Gita, which means " You are mine, you are the spark of My Divinity"

The three divine attributes sat, being, cit, awareness, and ananda, bliss are in you. Prajna, conscience in you is divine. So, it is said, prajnanam brahma . The great mahavakya, the supreme statement, also says, tattvamasi, " That thou art. "

We have today intelligent people who observe plurality or multiplicity in unity. But good, noble, and pious persons who find unity in diversity are rare. Once it so happened that a little tiger cub got mixed in a flock of sheep. Thus, moving about with the group for some time, the cub thought that he was also one of the sheep family. One day a tiger came that way and attacked the sheep. On seeing the tiger, the cub started shivering, and said, " Oh! Don't kill me. I am one of the sheep, after all, so weak" . Then the tiger spoke to the cub, " Why do you fear? You are not one of the sheep. You are a tiger. Come on. Follow me. Look into the river and see your reflection there in this water and compare your figure with mine. You will find the same stripes on the coat of your body, a moustache on your mouth and a roaring sound in your voice. Why do you think you are one of this flock of sheep. Oh dear one? You have forgotten your true identity and nature" . The cub then realised its true nature and abandoned fear from its mind.

Similarly, in the field of spirituality, a guru, through his uppeds'a, divine teaching, tells you your true identity. Once you separate yourself from all that is not your true Self, spirit or atma, you will experience your reality, i.e. atma. Therefore, selfenquiry is very essential. I say " You are God" but this truth has not come into your experience. You should continue your spiritual practice until you've experienced it. You have to continue your bhajans, meditations, etc., till the reality is experienced.

Q214) Swami! By now we have known about divinity very well. What more do we need in this world?

Bhagawan: You are mistaken. It is not enough if you merely know. If you spend your lifetime reading books when are you going to experience Bliss? It is experience which is important and not bookish or scriptural knowledge. The Gita refers to three specific steps in spirituality, jnatum, knowledge, drastum, sight and pravestum, experience.

Suppose you want to eat a delicious item. What do you do first? You know about delicacies such as kurma, pulao, etc. Then in the next step, these two items, pulao and kurma , are to be served in a .plate. It is not enough if you know, jnatum , the items and see them, drastum. Isn't it? You have to eat and enjoy the dishes, pravestum, experience. So mere information and knowledge are useless. You should practice and realise. This is wisdom and when you attain it, you find yourself immersed in bliss and you remain dumb.

The same thing has been explained in the Brahmasutras also. The first principle is: athato brahma jijnasa which means, athato, hereafter, brahma , about God, jijnasa , developing interest. But what is meant by 'hereafter'? When exactly should we develop interest in Brahman? This word " athato " , is interpreted in many many ways by scholars and visionaries. They run to volumes. But what is first needed is karma jijnasa , interest in action, later dharma jijnasa, interest in discrimination, and finally bramha jijnasa , interest in divinity.

I give simple examples for you to understand this. Suppose you want to eat coconut chutney. What do you do first? You should procure all the material necessary for its preparation. This is karma jijnasa . You should grind all the material so procured nicely. This is dharma jijnasa . You have to keep it on the tongue to decide the taste and to know if anything else should be added to it. This is brahma jijnasa. This means mere karma jijnasa is not enough. You need at the next stage, dharma jijnasa and finally, you develop interest in Brahman, brahmaÂ≠ jijnasa. The wisdom so gained must be practised and experienced. You should share the bliss with others.

Q215) Swami! We do both good and bad deeds. Don't our good actions nullify the evil effects of our bad actions? Don't they at least balance each other? In other words, will our good actions cancel the bad effects of our misdeeds?

Bhagawan: Since you are a Commerce student, you have put this question. All your thinking is along the direction of credit and debit. But, God, you know, is a super divine accountant. His balance sheet is not of your type. He will make you face the consequences of your actions, good for good actions and bad for bad actions. He will not add or subtract any of the consequences of your actions.

A small example I give you in this context. Suppose you have some seeds of both thorny plants and fruitbearing trees. When you sow them, what will happen? The seeds of the thorny plants will germinate into thorny bushes and the seeds of the fruit bearing trees will germinate into fruit bearing ones respectively. Germination will never happen contrary to this, will it? The same is the case with your sinful deeds and the meritorious.

You must have seen persons who vow to offer ten. thousand rupees to Lord Venkateswara if they win a lottery for ten lakhs. Can't they understand that God who can give you ten lakh rupees doesn't expect your ten thousand rupees? They don't think reasonably and logically. People think according to their worldly standards. But, Swami wants you to spiritualise your worldly actions as well.

Q216) Swami! Is it not enough if we are good? How can we know God?

Bhagawan: Remove one " o" from 'Good'. If that extra " o, " prakrti or body feeling is given up, it becomes God. You know the letter " W" . It is double 'you', i.e., the individual soul jivatma and the cosmic soul, paramatma. It is the illusion, maya that prevents you from knowing the unity of the two. If you repeat " my" a couple of times, it will sound like " maya" . .

It is the feeling of 'mine' and 'thine' that is responsible for all the misery of the world. You are least disturbed if your neighbour's car is damaged. But if there is a slight scratch on your own car you are very much worried and disturbed. If your neighbour sells or disposes of his house it matters nothing to you. But if circumstances force you to dispose of your own house, you will feel very very sad. Why? The feeling " this is my house" , makes you feel sad. This feeling of 'mine' is maya if this is gone, you will experience unity in diversity .

Q217) Swami! It is said that we can't escape from the consequence of our actions Why do we find some wicked people happy in spite of their treacherous deeds?

Bhagawan: Here we should note one important point. You say some wicked people are happy. They may do all the misdeeds smiling, . but later they have to cry and suffer. Some actions give results immediately, some take some more time, while others a long time. I give you a small example. If a blade cuts your finger, your blood gushes out immediately. This is an action that gives result from the cut immediately. To draw milk from the udder of a cow it takes some time . This is the second category of action. It takes food a few hours to be digested. This is the third category of action.

If you sow a seed, it takes a long time to germinate and grow into a plant. So also your actions give results at different points of time. It is all a question of time. One must necessarily face the consequence of one's own actions without fail.

Q218) Swami! Since all forms and names are divine, what is the need then for the Lord to incarnate in human form?

Bhagawan: You do not know until I tell you that all forms and names are His. You need to be told of the divine nature i.e., sat, being, cit, awareness, and ananda, bliss. This is the purpose of incarnation. God in human form is the embodiment of love. He teaches and makes everyone experience love.

Though flowers, thread and a needle are present,

don't you need someone to make a garland?

In spite of gold and pearls being available,

Shouldn't you have a goldsmith to make a chain?

The wick, container and oil will not give light

unless you light the lamp, will they?

Avatar, God incarnate, sets an ideal for the entire humanity. There is nothing He needs in this world as everything is His only.

Q219) Swami! We feel that life is going on and on. But it sounds purposeless and aimless. Kindly tell us about the purpose of life.

Bhagawan: 'Yecat inundi vaccitivo acati keguta naijamu pranikotikin', (Telugu verse). It is necessary that you should go back to the place of your origin. Truly, you should know that you are from God and you should go back to God.

A pot, a slate, etc., can be made out of clay. Suppose you have a pot. After using it for sometime, you drop it by accident. It falls to the ground and breaks into pieces over which several automobiles pass crushing the pieces further. Then, what happens? You get the clay back again. So earlier it was clay and at the end it is clay once again The pot also is made of clay. Similarly, you are from God, bound to God and are God as well. Realisation of this truth is the purpose of life.

One example. Any letter you post should have two addresses, one to whom you have written, another your own address, so that if by any chance, it doesn't reach the addressee, it will come back to you at least. But, if the addresses are not written it will go to the dead letter office Similarly, you should know where you come from and where you go from here.

Merging in God or to be one with reality, or total identity with God is the ultimate aim of life. " punarapi jananam punarapi maranam punarapi janani jathare s'ayanam. " (Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam). After all, the whole thing is a cycle of repeated births and deaths. After death one has to go back to the womb of the mother and be born once again. It is only life after life. But spirituality helps you, so to say, not to be born. Having died, you don't have to die once again by having another birth. You take medicine so that you don't have to fall sick once again. Death should take you to immortality.

One more example. Once a prisoner was released after the completion of the prison term. The jailor said to him, " Pack your baggage and leave!" The prisoner in reply said, " Sir! Why the trouble of taking the baggage? Anyhow I will come back soon. " It implies that he will commit some crime again and is prepared to put himself behind bars. Our life should not be like that. It should be like the newspaper. Today's newspaper is not read tomorrow. Why? Today's newspaper is tomorrow's waste paper. Always remember that you are from God, in God and will be back to God.

Q220) Swami! I find many people sad. People who are rich and in a high position also are sad. Why? Please tell us what we need to do ?

Bhagawan: There are two reasons for this. People are sad thinking of the past. Don't you know that the past is beyond recovery? Having walked all along and passed by several things, why do you need to look back? Past is past. Don't brood over the past. The second reason for sadness is worry about the future. Where is the guarantee that you will survive until your plans are realised? Do you know what will happen to you in the next moment? What is destined and bound to happen will happen in its own course. Everything goes according to God's will. Why do you worry? The future is uncertain. Suppose you go on accumulating money with the idea of educating your son and sending him abroad, where is the guarantee that he will study well? So don't think of the past and future. Live in the present and be happy. This is not the ordinary present. This is omnipresent.

One simple example here. In the past it was a tree. In the present you have a seed of that tree. In the future it grows into a tree. So the present is the result of the past. It is the foundation of the future. Keep this in mind. Then, , you will never worry and feel sad.

There is another reason for sadness. Unlimited desires also are responsible for your sadness. For example, if you drop a piece of cloth, it falls down. Why? Due to its weight it falls down, doesn't it? But if it is cotton, it never goes down, instead it goes up. Why? Since it is light in weight it goes up, the man on the moon loses his weight. Having been a householder for fifty years you should be totally detached. A grhasta, householder, should become a vanaprastha, recluse and finally, a sanyasi, renunciant. If your desires are less, you will be happier. " Less luggage more comfort make travel a pleasure" , is the slogan of the railways.

The more you love God the more will you be happy. For this, faith is necessary.

Where there is Faith, there is Love.

Where there is Love, there is Peace.

Where there is Peace, there is Truth

Where there is Truth, there is God.

Where there is God, there is Bliss.

It begins with faith and ends in Bliss.

Q221) Swami! How am I to know that I am nitya, eternal? I undergo difficulties, I notice many changes all around. How can I feel that I am eternal?

Bhagawan: A simple illustration. There was a poor villager who had a wife and a son. He found it difficult to make both ends meet To improve his lot, he went to another town leaving his wife and son behind to do some business there.

One day he had a dream; in which he was a rich man and had five sons. After some time, he woke up. When he returned to his native village, he was informed by his wife that his only son had died as he couldn't bear separation from his father. This man stood unruffled. Then his wife asked him, " Are you not sad over the death of your only son? What has happened to you?" The poor villager replied, " I know the tragedy. But I am at a loss to know for whom I should cry. Should I cry for the loss of five sons in the dream there or for the death of the son here?" Similarly, you should know that one is a day dream and the other is a night dream. One doesn't exist, when the other is present, but you are present in both the states. You are the experiencer in the waking and dream states.

Then what is the difference between the day dream and the night dream? The day dream is bound by

factors such as the kaya, body, kala, time, karya, action, karana, reason, and kartavya, duty. Suppose,

you have gone to Guntur, and you know when, why, how. You went by bus, which took ten hours to reach your place, to share with your wife all your experiences as part of your duty. But, in a dream these factors do not exist. How do you travel, and how long does it take to reach your place, while your body remains lying in the bed? Like this, there are differences between the two states, but you are present in both. So you are nitya, eternal.

Q222) Swami! God is the creator. He should have created only happiness. Why did he create difficulties and troubles? Pardon me, Swami, for putting this question.

Bhagawan: Without difficulties you can never get happiness. 'Na sukhat labhyate sukham'. You do not get happiness out of happiness. No hardships end up in hardship. Without difficulties, you will never know the value of pleasure.

For instance, you are spending your time in this airconditioned room. If the value of airconditioning is to be known, what you should do is to come out and go round in the open space in bright daylight. Even a mother would not be able to love her child, if there is no death in her family. Here is an orange fruit. This has an outer bitter skin. But within it you find sweet juice. So, both good and bad coexist. The bitter skin protects the inner sweet juice. Does it not? Another thing you notice is, a thing that gives you happiness now may make you unhappy later. Similarly, an unhappy thing now may make you happy later.

So, nothing gives you absolute happiness or unhappiness. See, a woollen coat in winter makes you happy, but in severe summer it makes you unhappy. Does it not? So also a heater in winter makes you warm and happy. But, in summer the same heater makes you very uncomfortable and unhappy. Does it not? Therefore, happiness and unhappiness depend on the time, circumstances and position. Pleasure is an interval between two pains. Pain is an interval between two pleasures. If you think of the difficulties and the intensity of suffering in times of sadness the pain doubles. In bad times, you should think of those days and moments when you were happy . Then, the intensity of suffering decreases.

You should face all the difficulties as tests of God. A devotee should welcome troubles which are the tests of his devotion and faith. How do you expect a student to be promoted to the next higher class without facing a test? Otherwise, he has to remain in the same class. Can a doctor diagnose his patient's disease, prescribe medicine and treat him without testing? How do you expect crude gold to shine unless it is burnt, hammered and polished so as to be shaped into an ornament? But, if you set some precondition that the gold should not be hammered or burnt and yet you want a shining jewel, will the goldsmith ever be able to make it?

You also know how you get sugar. The sugarcane must be crushed and the juice must be heated and processed so as to make sugar. Otherwise, it is impossible to extract sugar. You know how an earthen pot and a slate are made : The clay must be burnt repeatedly in order to transform it into a pot which you lift and carry on your head. Before the clay is made into a pot, it is trodden and trampled by anybody and everybody. The pot does deserve a place over our head because the clay has allowed itself to be burnt and processed. So, you should not be afraid of difficulties in life.

In the epic Mahabharata, Kunti prayed to Krishna to give her sons and herself more and more difficulties so :that they, can think of Him unceasingly and fervently. Hence, both good and bad are created by God for your redemption and liberation.

Q223) Swami! From where has evil come? Do you say that the mind is the source? Then, what is it that transcends both, good and evil? How is evil to be eliminated? . Swami alone can explain this with felicity, None else can. Kindly enlighten us.

Bhagawan: Evil is not related to the mind. Rather it stems from samskaras, previous accomplishments.

The mind is full of thoughts. That is why it is said, sankalpavi kalpatmakam manah, The mind is essentially determinations and negations. Being hard like wax, the mind softens with a little heat. In that state anything and everything sticks to it. When wax is thrown into fire, it melts completely. Attachment and hatred stick to the mind only when it is in the soft state. When the mind is melted away, nothing sticks to it. Then how does the mind melt away completely? Even as fire melts away wax completely, jnana, supreme wisdom, melts away the mind..

Atma is beyond good and evil, and nothing can touch or injure it. Being a witness, Atma transcends duality. Notice this little example. The lotus flower blooms in water and mud. Without these, there is no way it can exist. But, neither water nor mud sticks to the lotus. Mud represents samskaras of past lives, and water, the fruits of present actions: The flower of the soul is beyond past and present.

Desires which are bounded by time constitute nerpu (Telugu), skill or craft, while Divinity mined from the recesses of the heart is kurpu (Telugu), arrangement or synthesis. In other words, nerpu is pravrtti, outward oriented, and kurpu is nivrtti, inward oriented. If 'nerpu' is a matter of the mind, ' kurpu ' is a matter of the heart. A small example. For irrigating the fields, an etam or waterlift is used. It bails out water. A long wooden beam is laid across a well with a heavy stone tied at one end with a rope, and a bucket hanging from the other end. When the bucket goes down deep into a well or a canal, it gets filled with water. At that time, the heavy stone goes up as in a seesaw or a balance. The stone represents desires, and hence the heaviness. This is nerpu or previous accomplishment. But, the bucket is not like that. It sinks deep into the well of the heart, and fills itself with the water of divinity. This is kurpu . Are there any games without a ground to play them in or a song without a rhythm to it! The bird comes out of the egg, and the tree from the seed . Likewise the nature of atma and humanness are reciprocal, and supplement each other. Then, not taking note of evils is the way to do away with them. Consider them illusions. That would be fine.

CHAPTER IX Scriptures and Baba Ramayana

Q224) Swami! Kaikeyi had sent Rama to the wilderness on the eve of his installation as the crown prince. What was Rama's attitude to her? Generally, it would be one of hostility, wouldn't it?

Bhagawan: Rama is the embodiment of Dharma, the embodiment of Tranquility. Under no circumstance did he hate Kaikeyi. It was only after bowing down at her feet that he left for the forest accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Longing for the dars'an of Rama, Bharata too proceeded to the forest, accompanied by feudatory kings, the army, citizens of Ayodhya, and the sages. Falling at Rama's feet, he sought to be pardoned, and prayed to Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule the Kingdom. Kaikeyi stood pitiably to one side. Rama surveyed the gathering. Right away Rama addressed Bharata with these words: " Bharata! Has mother Kaikeyi arrived? Where is she?" Turning to her, Rama bowed at her feet. Her words, like the prelude to a great drama, had inaugurated the mission of the incarnation. Had she not expressed her desire as she did, the events of the Ramayana would not have taken place. She auspiciously initiated the work of the Divine Master Plan. Rama, indeed, knew this. Then, what scope is there for hostility and hatred?

Moreover, in this context, Rama had to uphold another dharma as well. At the time of Kaikeyi's wedding with Dasaratha, her father, the king of Kekaya had made known his desire: " O King Dasaratha! You have contemplated marriage with my daughter, Kaikeyi, in order to have progeny. Then, it is her son, who should become king, your successor, shouldn't he? Is this acceptable to you? If your queens Kausalya or Sumitra give birth to sons, Kaikeyi's son would lose the right to kingship, wouldn't he?" King Dasaratha listened to this wish, consulted Kausalya and Sumitra in the matter, apprised them of the implications, and won their approval. Then, Kausalya remarked: " Swami! After you had promised that Kaikeyi's son alone would become king of Ayodhya, even if we were to conceive and give birth to sons, they would never act contrary to their father's word of honour. None assuredly would be born in our dynasty but those who accept respectfully the fulfilment of their father's wishes. " Accordingly, for Sri Ramachandra the practice of dharma and the fulfilment of his father's wishes were supreme. Therefore, Kaikeyi's wish is lawful and righteous. This was not unknown to Rama.

Q225) Swami! Is it right on the part of Rama to kill Tataka, a woman?

Bhagawan: Rama embodies Dharma. Along with Lakshmana, He went to the forest led by Visvamitra only to destroy the demons. Defiling yajnas and yagas and killing great sages, these demons turned hermitages into cremation grounds. In fact, the very purpose of Visvamitra's request to Dasaratha, viz., sending Rama and Lakshmana to the forest, was the destruction of the demons. The sage, if he so desired, could have himself put an end to the demons. But, as he was under the vow of yajna, he was prohibited from resorting to violence. Moreover, the mission of the incarnation of Rama awaited fulfilment. Everything has to proceed according to the Master Plan. The actions of the demons were extremely cruel. In order to wipe out this pitch of cruelty and to protect dharma, the demons had to be destroyed. Tataka may be a woman. But, her actions were demonic, weren't they? Therefore, killing Tataka was just, and fully in consonance with righteousness.

In this matter, whether the agents of wickedness are men or women is immaterial. What is crucial is the usefulness of their deeds. Because of his unrighteous conduct, Vali the king of the monkeys, though a male was not spared, was he! Tara did advise Vali: " Lord! Sugriva was only a few days ago mortally wounded and fled. How come he is now brave enough to challenge you? He has the support of Rama, don't you know? Rama is, indeed, no ordinary man. Though you are very valiant, Rama is bent on assisting Sugriva and killing you, because of your unrighteous deeds. Seek refuge at Rama's feet!" Vali paid no heed to her words, and fell a prey to Rama's arrow. Thus, the primary criterion is restoration of Dharma. Gender is irrelevant.

Q226) Swami! Pardon me and treat this question as arising from the influence of modernity. Our society regards Sita and Rama as the ideal couple. Now, kindly do not get angry, Swami! Please! What happiness was there for this couple? Only troubles, for sure! How can this be ideal matrimony?

Bhagawan: That ideal can be put in a nutshell. Not once did Sita transgress Rama's command; likewise, not once did Rama oppose Sita's wish. This is ideal matrimony. You may have in mind the abandonment of Sita on the report of a washerman's words. Is it not possible that, in the kingdom there may be others besides the washerman who entertained doubts about the chastity of the virtuous Sita? Those were the words uttered by the washerman. Many others may have felt the same way. The episode of Sita's ordeal by fire serves only to proclaim her chastity to the world. Rama knows all things. He is omniscient.

Q227) Swami! Millions revere the illustrious characters in the itihasas of Bharat, for these have stirred their hearts, inspired their devotion, and offered them refuge. When, taking pity on us, you explain these figures, they appear so novel, and awesome. They come alive, swaying our hearts with their nobility and majesty. I have a question. At the end of the Great War, Lakshmana proposes to Rama that they should settle down in the golden Lanka Kingdom saying, " Bharata is ruling Ayodhya, elder brother! Let us make this charming Lanka our permanent abode!" Is Lakshmana infatuated by riches and pomp?

Bhagawan: Not at all. Kaikeyi desired that Rama should be sent to the forest. There was no need for Lakshmana to accompany him. Voluntarily Lakshmana gave up royal pleasures and luxuries, and left behind his noble wife, considering serving Rama day and night his chief duty. Therefore, Lakshmana stands as a symbol of total surrender. This proposal of Lakshmana to rule Lanka is significant for it had occasioned Rama's response, a clear message to humanity. Rama countered Lakshmana's suggestion with these words: " janani janmabhumis'ca svargadapi gariyas , mother and motherland are greater than even Heaven" . Even if your mother is ugly, does she cease to be your mother? Just because she is beautiful, does a stranger become your mother?

Lakshmana's suggestion bore fruit as Rama's vitally patriotic message to the world. Is it not Lakshmana's proposal, " Ramachandra! Now you can rule golden Lanka, can't you?" that prompted Rama to hold up an ideal for the world to emulate? It happened just this way, and not as though Lakshmana was ever infatuated by riches and luxury.

Lakshmana's devotion to Rama is unbounded. Once, Lakshmana saw at some distance from their hermitage a column of dust rising to the sky. Lakshmana climbed a tree close by, and noticed far away Bharata at the head of an army with its four units infantry, cavalry, elephants, and war chariots . He said to Rama, " O elder brother! Not content with sending us to the forest, Bharata is coming even to this place contemplating harm to us and bringing along all four arms of military might. " Rama gently remonstrated Lakshmana for his remarks and explained that Bharata was coming in a procession with a prayer to Rama to take back the kingdom. In this situation, you may get the impression that Lakshmana is quickly incensed. Such a conclusion is not fair. To pray to Rama to take back the kingdom, could not Bharata come alone? Why should he be accompanied by a huge army with its four arms? This is what roused Lakshmana's suspicion, and not his hasty judgement, as you may suppose. But that was not Bharata's fault either. When he set out to pray to Rama to rule Ayodhya, the rishis, the armed forces, and several leaders followed him for the dars'an of Rama. Thus, Bharata is not to blame. Today, it is very necessary to appreciate rightly the characters drawn in our epics and puranas, their motives, the wellsprings of their action, as well as their grandeur, solemnity and generosity. You should not ascribe your attitudes to those characters.

Q228) Swami! I do not know anything about Satrughna, except listing him in the names of the brothers: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. Kindly narrate to us at least one episode concerning his character.

Bhagawan: Satrughna was distinguished as much for his valour as for his righteousness. His devotion to the master was of an extraordinary order. His fraternal love was exemplary. You know well that Lakshmana's name stands next to Rama's. That is why their names are treated as a compound word, " RamaLakshmana" . Similarly, Satrughna was always by the side of Bharata such that the expression " BharataSatrughna" gained currency. Just as Lakshmana served Rama with unswerving devotion, even so did Satrughna serve Bharata.

Satrughna bore immense love for Rama. Here is an instance. Along with Bharata, Satrughna returned to Ayodhya. This incident took place when they left the kingdom of Kekaya, their maternal uncle. Learning that Kaikeyi was responsible for sending Rama to the forest and for planning Bharata's coronation, he was heartbroken. He also came to know that it was the evil counsel of Manthara that made Kaikeyi ask Dasaratha to fulfil the two boons. Enraged, he cast a look of unbridled wrath at Manthara who happened to be passing that way. At that hour Manthara was very happy. News of the crowning of Bharata, her Queen's son, had sent her into rapturous joy. Satrughna saw her walking all smiles, dressed in very rich finery, and sporting a variety of ornaments. Striding towards her, he gave vent to his anger by kicking Manthara in the waist. She fell down and her necklace of diamonds and pearls scattered on the floor shone like stars in the sky. Meanwhile, Bharata arrived on the scene. He said, " Dear brother! Treating women cruelly like this, Rama does not approve. Actions like yours do not, in the least, please Rama. Calm down. " Such was Satrughna's love.

Q229) Swami! In the Ramayana, the role of Hanuman is very prominent. He is the best example of dasyabhakti, devotion of loyal servant, one of the nine paths of devotion. We are so fortunate to hear from you about the devotion of Hanuman. Would you kindly tell us how modern youngsters can emulate his example?

Bhagawan: Hanuman is known for physical strength, intelligence, perfect character and scholarship. Yet, do you know what he said when he entered the court of Ravana. While introducing himself, he said, 'dasoham Kosalendrasya, I am a servant of Rama'. The position of a servant of Rama was a matter of pride and prestige for Hanuman.

Rama asked the vanaras as to who among them could cross the ocean and go in search of Sita. One of them said that he would be able to cross 10 kilometers, another said 40 kilometers and so on but none could say he could jump s'atayojana, 100 kilometers across the ocean. Then Rama asked Hanuman, " Can you do it and successfully return after finding out where Sita is?" Then Hanuman replied, " Yes, I will. " Then Rama asked, " Hanuman, you have had no experience of jumping across a vast sea. You have never seen Sita earlier to identify her now. Then how do you say so confidently that you can cross the mighty ocean in search of Sita in Lanka, find her and then return?" Hanuman replied, " Swami! Would you not give me the needed strength, capacities and abilities to fulfill the mission you have assigned to me and then command me to fulfill it? With your blessings and invincible will; wouldn't I accomplish what I am supposed to?" Such was the intensity of his devotion.

Youngsters should follow God's command unhesitatingly. They should never doubt, question, disobey, or criticise it. Strict obedience to the divine command is called surrender. When you develop this kind of surrender to God, you are bound to succeed.

While crossing the ocean, Hanuman displayed courage and valour par excellence due to his deep devotion to Rama. Mount Mainaka prayed to him to rest on his peak for some time on the way to Lanka. Mainaka wanted to take this opportunity in order to express his gratitude to Vayu, the wind God, father of Hanuman, who had saved him earlier. But Hanuman, politely rejected the offer, telling him that he wouldn't rest until he had completed the work assigned to him by Rama and that he would oblige Mainaka on his return from Lanka. He, thus, gave top priority to Rama's mission.

It was the confidence born out of his devotion to Lord Rama that made him cross a vast ocean. Following His command he won the grace of Rama. Normally, a monkey is noted for its unsteady and wavering mind, but by surrendering to Rama, Hanuman's mind became absolutely steadfast, fixed firmly in devotion to his duty and that is exactly why he is worshipped today as Hanuman.

At the time of his coronation towards the end of the epic, Rama was distributing gifts to all His subjects. But he did not give any present to Hanuman. Then Sita softly asked, " Lord! Have you forgotten Hanuman? How is it that you have not given him any gift?" Then Rama smiling said, " Sita! It is true. I want you to present him any gift of your choice" . Then Sita gave Hanuman her own diamond necklace. But Hanuman started biting every diamond in the necklace, breaking it off, bringing it close to his ear and then dropping it on the ground. Watching this, Sita said " What! Hanuman! You have not given up the habit of a monkey. What are you doing with the diamond necklace I presented to you?" Then Hanuman said, " Mother! No doubt; you have given me a most precious diamond necklace, but I want every individual diamond of the necklace to resonate with the sound of my Lord Rama's name. So, I am testing every one of the diamonds by breaking it first keeping it close to my ear to find if the sound of the Lord's name is heard. I am throwing them out one after another as I don't hear His name in any of these. " Nothing in this universe is more precious than the sacred name of God, Rama.

The whole assembly was adjourned for the day. Rama was retiring to his bedroom and Sita was following him. Lo and behold! Hanuman too was making his way towards the bedroom. Rama then said, " Hey Hanuman! What are you doing here?" Hanuman said, " Lord! Sita is following you. So I am also coming to you. " Rama said, " Anjaneya! Look! Sita has vermilion, on her forehead that qualifies her to get into my bedroom" . At this, Anjaneya left the place and returned after some time. He went round all the shops, collected kumkum, applied it all over his body and returned and stood in front of Rama. He said, " Oh Lord! Just for the simple reason that Mother Sita has a dot of kumkum on her forehead, you qualified her to enter your bedroom. Now; here Look! I have this sindura all over the body. What do you have to say now?" That was the standard of his devotion and the determination to be with God always.

On another occasion, the three brothers of Rama met, discussed for some time and distributed among themselves all the duties they had to do personally in attending on Lord Rama. Hanuman noticed all this and finding that he was left out with any duties to his lord, he softly asked them, " Sir! When the lord yawns, there is a need for someone to click fingers and make a snapping sound befitting His royal status, we do not know when he would yawn, so I should be with him throughout" . So, Hanuman had to be in the company of Rama while his brothers could attend on him according to duties they had taken upon themselves at different times. Thus, Hanuman was the very personification of humility, devotion, discipline and surrender.

He had all the purity to be with God. He did what he thought and said. In him there was perfect harmony of thought, word and deed. He decided to go in search of Sita, he said so, and started at once. His decision, declaration, and implementation were in total agreement and unison. This is what is meant by " The proper study of mankind is man. "

Manasyekam vacasyekam karmanyekam mahatmanam is the unmistakable feature of a man of character: unity in thought, words, and deed. But manassanyat vacassanyat karmanyanyat duratmanam, in a wicked person there is disharmony. What he thinks, says, and does are never in agreement with one another.

Hanuman said to. Rama on another occasion, " Oh Lord! If I view you as my 'King', I am your 'servant'. If I consider myself a â 'jiva;' an individual entity, you are my â 'deva, ' God. If I am atma, conscience, you are 'consciousness.' As both of us are only one, aham brahmasmiâÄù So by embracing dasyabhakti, the path of a loyal servant's devotion with intense steadfastness, Hanuman passed through these three stages and ultimately experienced unity with God. When he felt that he was a servant of Rama the King, he was passing through the state of dualism. When he found himself as an individual, with Rama as his God, it expressed qualified nondualism, and finally when he found unity with God, he experienced nondualism.

In Lanka having entered the palace of Ravana, Hanuman had to see many a woman fast asleep, as he had to identify only Mother Sita. Such was his reverence for every woman as if she were his own mother. This was the crest or crown of his character. Hanuman was the embodiment of devotion, the personification of humility and the very symbol of sincerity and obedience. All youngsters today should take him as their ideal.

Q230) Swami! Ravana was the grandson of Pulastyabrahma. He was an ardent devotee of Siva. He was a great scholar in all the Sastras and the Vedas. Above all, he was a valorous warrior and an expert in archery. Such a person was reduced to total ruin. What could be the secret behind his fall?

Bhagawan: Viewed spiritually, Ravana's destruction at Rama's hands teaches you that in spite of your physical strength, the strength of your intelligence, the strength of a large army, the strength of your wealth, the strength of your deep penance, if you become a victim of desire of a low order or lust, you will ruin yourself totally.

There is another inner significance to this event. At the gate of Vaikuntha, heaven, were two guards by name Jaya and Vijaya. They were discourteous to two sages, Sanaka and Sananda who came to visit Lord Vishnu. They cursed the two gatemen and consequently they had to leave Vaikuntha. Then, they prayed to be pardoned and begged them to suggest a way out. As atonement, the sages counselled them to opt for three births as rakshasas, living in utter hatred of Lord Vishnu and dying at His hands, paving thereby the way for their early return to heaven. Thus, Jaya and Vijaya were reborn as the rakshasa brothers, Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu, Sisupala and Dantavaktra, Ravana and Kumbhakarna, spent their lives in bitter enmity with Vishnu, and died at His hands: This enabled them to reach their original place in Vaikuntha.

Ravana's acts should be viewed in this context. If he entertained any bad motives in abducting Sita, how is it that he did not touch her all through the period of her stay in Lanka? . Unless he abducted Sita, Rama wouldn't fight with him. So, to fight Rama in open battle was the only way for Ravana to die at his hands. The climax of the Ramayana, the victory of Rama and the death of Ravana, indicates how Ravana's heart pined for his lord, Rama.

Q231) Swami! Vibhishana was a rakshasa, yet he was a devotee of Rama. Kindly tell us about Vibhishana?

Bhagawan: Vibhishana's case is one of unique devotion to Rama. God is unconcerned with your position, property, scholarship, caste and creed. What God expects and receives from you is only pure love. With devotion, you can achieve anything in this world. Only this kind of devotion transformed

A monkey known for unsteadiness intoHanuman, worthy of worship,

A bird known for flipping looks into a Garuda, vehicle of Vishnu,

A bull into Nandi, the vehicle of Siva,

A peacock into the vehicle of LordSubrahmanya, and

A lion into the vehicle of Goddess, Durga.

What is special here is that these animals and birds, by their sheer devotion and love of God, could give up their innate qualities and transform themselves into vehicles of Gods, and are now worshipped along with Gods and Goddesses.

Similarly, Vibhishana, though a Rakshasa himself, was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, and hence, he deserved His grace. He repeatedly advised his elder brother, king Ravana, not to abduct Mother Sita, and later on, not to wage war against Rama. He also warned Ravana and predicted dire consequences he would have to face if he persisted. Yet, Ravana didn't pay heed to his words of devotion and wisdom and the rest is the story you all know. Ultimately, Vibhishana forsook his brother, Ravana, and sought refuge in Rama. This is an instance when a devotee leaves his own brother if he stands in the way of the onward journey to God. In my opinion, Vibhishana is greater than Bhishma. Being a man possessed of wisdom, penance, devotion, determination and expertise in warfare, Bhishma even after knowing full well that the Kauravas were doing unlawful, unrighteous and mean acts, still remained with them as chief of their army, during the Kurukshetra War. He couldn't help the pious, righteous and noble souls, the Pandavas.

Hanuman, in his search for Mother Sita entered Lanka, stepped into the bedroom of Vibhishana, and saw him immersed in chanting the holy name of Rama. He made Vibhishana aware of his presence by making loud sounds. Vibhishana opened his eyes and saw Hanuman over there. After they had acquainted themselves with each other as devotees of Rama, Hanuman asked Vibhishana, " Oh King! You say you are a devotee of Rama. You do japa, repeat His holy name. But it is not enough. Besides, chanting His name, you should also participate in His karya, His Divine mission. Have you ever visited Sita? Have you made any attempt to set her free? In what way have you helped Rama in His mission? Don't you know that chanting His name and contributing to His mission are complementary to each other and should go together? You have not informed Rama of the whereabouts of Sita! Have you made any attempt to set her free? In what way have you helped Rama in his mission? How do you call yourself a devotee of Rama then?" Since that day, Vibhishana became a part of Rama's divine mission.

Q232) Swami! The part played by women in the great epic, the Ramayana is very prominent. They have been all ideals for womankind even to this day. Swami! You are matchless in explaining subtle things like this. Would you kindly tell us about the role of women in the Ramayana?

Bhagawan: The welfare and the progress of mankind is the main objective of the Ramayana. Every female role in the epic contributes to that objective, though in varied ways.

King Dasaratha had three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. They moved very intimately with one another like sisters. They married Dasaratha only to beget children and fulfil his wish. He performed putrakamesti yaga as advised by his preceptor, Vasishtha and received yajñapayasa, sacrificial 'ricepudding' from the presiding deity, and handed over the prasadam to his three wives. He wanted them to partake of the prasadam after their 'head bath'. The second wife, Sumitra, kept the gold cup with the prasadam by her side, and started thinking like this to herself: " The son to be born to Kausalya would be the future king as she is the eldest queen. The son to be born to Kaikeyi also has a chance of becoming the king. According to Dasaratha's promise, that was the condition of their union. In either case, my son has no chance, but to serve one of the two brothers whosoever becomes the king" . In the meantime, a kite dived from above and snatched away the gold cup with the prasadam inside. Sumitra was terrified. She knew the consequences of King Dasaratha's coming to know of this incident. She also knew that the family preceptor Vasishtha would be totally upset over this. She felt very sad over losing her share of the yajnapayasam. Then the other two queens, Kausalya and Kaikeyi, consoled her and gave her half of their own shares of the prasadam. While Kausalya begot Rama, and Kaikeyi, Bharata, Sumitra gave birth to the twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. Lakshmana followed Rama like his shadow, while Satrughna was always in the company of Bharata. The three queens lived like sisters without any differences among them. Sisterly love and affection is the lesson for the world.

Besides these, we come across in the Ramayana, three more women who also played their roles very well. They were Tataka, Ahalya and Sita. They symbolise three attributes of beings. Tataka stands for tamoguna, Ahalya represents rajoguna, while Sita is the very embodiment of sattvaguna. Here, Rama's killing of Tataka means his total uprooting of tamoguna, bestial temperament. Wickedness and demonic qualities are tamasika in nature. Ahalya was the wife of sage Gautama. Disobedience is rajoguna . Emotion, passion, etc are rajasika in their expression. Ahalya disobeyed Gautama and so she was cursed. Rama cleansed her of her rajoguna by making her free from the curse. She lay stupefied as a boulder for years together, but a mere touch of Rama's feet rejuvenated her. Rama accepted Sita who was the very embodiment of sattvaguna (piety, softness, goodness, and calmness). He married her. It means he accepted sattvika qualities.

The very word â 'stri, ' woman has three elements: 'sa', 'ta', 'ra'. 'Sa' indicates sattvaguna, 'ta' reflects tamoguna and 'ra' denotes rajoguna. Every woman has all these three qualities. The sattvika qualities in a woman are peace, forbearance, compassion, charity, kindness, composure, and so on. The rajasika qualities in women are her sentiments and passions, readiness to sacrifice life for the family, etc, while the tamasika qualities are her shyness, reserve, humility, etc. The Ramayana, thus, conveys a message through the role of every character.

Q233) Swami! Would you kindly tell us how Mother Sita could become the noblest of women, and remain an ideal to the entire womanhood for centuries by undergoing many difficulties, trials and what not, being the divine consort of Lord Rama.

Bhagawan: It is said that the Ramayana is Sitayas'caritam. The Ramayana is the history of Mother Sita as well. Sita was the daughter of Bhumata, Mother Earth, and was also Kalyanacaritra, a character reputed for bestowing welfare.

During Sita's svayamvara (trial of suitors to win Sita's hand), it was Lord Rama who alone could lift and break the Sivadhanus, the bow of Siva. The king of Kosala, though mighty and strong, couldn't lift the bow. Ravana, matchless valour and strength, couldn't even move it. Three thousand servants and ninety elephants brought the Sivadhanus to the court from King Janaka's shrine. How could Rama lift the bow, draw the string, and then break it?

Rama was one hundred per cent pure magnet. That was why He could handle the mighty bow. Sita was also a pure magnet. During her childhood, while she was playing with a ball one day, it so happened that the ball rolled underneath the Sivadhanus. Then Sita went there, easily lifted the bow, put it aside, and got her ball back in tact. This magnetic principle is in every one of us. When an ant starts crawling on your leg, your head will come to know of it, and even while you are talking with someone, your hand will pick it up and remove it instantaneously and involuntarily.

A magnet, if it is rusted and dusty, will not draw a piece of iron. An iron piece or bar due to its long association with a magnet also becomes a magnet. This is the meaning of the Vedic verse, brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati. The knower of the Brahman becomes finally Brahman Himself. You should see that the iron of life should not be rusted by worldly desires: Otherwise, life ends up in ruins.

Sita was highly intelligent. On the eve of leaving Ayodhya, following His father's command, Rama said to Sita, " Sita! Since I am going away to the forest, my parents will be left with none to serve and console them. Why don't you stay back in Ayodhya and serve them until I return?" Sita responded slowly but surely like this: " Swami! When your Mother Kausalya wanted to follow you, you told her to stay on at Ayodhya and serve your father, Dasaratha. You also told her about scriptural injunctions that command a wife to serve her husband. Now, contrary to what you have told your mother, you want me not to follow you and stay behind. Evidently, you have one dharma for your mother and another for me. Swami! Is this justified?"

Then Rama said, " Sita! You will have to eat only green leaves in the forest. You won't have delicious food for a long time. You can't wear costly saris and jewels in the forest. Sita! Won't you find it difficult to live under these conditions?" Sita answered; " Oh! Dear one! Why should I need all those comforts, which you don't get there? When you don't want any of these things, I too don't want them. I only want to be with you and serve you till the end. " Rama asked another question " Sita! You know a forest is full of wild and cruel animals. Are you not afraid of them? Can you stay there?"

All these dissuading words of Rama were employed to persuade Sita not to follow him but to stay back. This she understood, and finally said: " Swami! So long, I was under the wrong impression that my father got me married to a brave and chivalrous man and not to one who behaves like this!" This silenced Rama, and He couldn't speak any more. Ultimately, Rama permitted Sita to follow him to the forest. This was the intelligence and skill of Sita in the art of conversation.

Sage Vasishtha, the preceptor of the royal family, wanted to crown Sita in the place of Rama who was to go to the forest according to his father's command. Sita said, " O Learned Sage! What is it that you are talking about? Do you ever find moonlight existing separately from the moon? Can the two, the moon and the moonlight be separated from each other? Is not Ramachandra a moon and am I not the light to follow Him wherever He goes? Can I exist without Him?"

This was the character of a pativrata, a chaste woman dedicated to her husband. It has already been noticed that Sita was highly intelligent. At the time of her wedding, she had to garland Lord Rama. As you know Rama was ajanubahu, a very tall person. Being shorter, how could she garland Him then? On this auspicious occasion, Lakshmana bent down at this very moment to touch the feet of Rama. Rama too had to bend and lift Lakshmana, touching his shoulders. Sita took full advantage of the situation and immediately garlanded Rama. Lakshmana is Adisesha, the sevenhooded serpent supporting the earth and on him Vishnu reclines. He also lifted that little portion of the earth where Sita was standing in order to raise her height.

In India, at the time of the wedding ceremony, there is the custom of the bride and the bridegroom pouring talambralu, sacrificial yellow rice grains on the head of each other alternately. Rama was the son of the emperor, Dasaratha and Sita was the daughter of another emperor by name Janaka. So, instead of sacrificial rice, they used pearls for this ritual. Sita held in her palm some pearls to be poured on the head of Rama. Since her palm looked like the petals of a rose, the pearls too looked red in colour. When she poured these pearls on the head of Rama, they started shining like diamonds as Rama was wearing a white turban. In the process, a few pearls fell on the ground. These were neither red nor white in colour and were not at all beautiful and attractive.

There is an inner significance behind all these details. The pearls, which fell on the ground and were not attractive, represent tamoguna or the trait of passivity, dullness and gluttony while the white and bright pearls shining like diamonds on the head of Rama symbolise sattvaguna (piety, calmness, equanimity). The pearls that looked red in colour in the palm of Sita represent rajogu a (emotion, passion). In other words, one who is with God Rama (purusa) is sattvika symbolised by the white colour; one who is with prakrti, nature, is rajasika symbolised by the red colour, and one who is neither with God nor with nature is tamasika.

Take another instance from the Ramayana. In the Asokavana in Lanka, Anjaneya felt very sad on seeing the plight of Sita, who was grieving over her separation from Rama. He revealed his identity to her by showing Rama's ring and then told her that he would carry her on his shoulders to Rama and thus rescue her. Then Sita said, " Anjaneya! I am pleased with your devotion to Rama. But you have forgotten one fundamental dharma. If you carry me on your shoulders, and take me away from Lanka without the notice and permission of Ravana, will it not amount to abduction? If I allow you to do so, what is the difference between you and Ravana? Ravana too did the same thing in bringing me over here without the knowledge of Rama and he came in disguise. What selfrespect will I have if I allow myself to be carried by you? Shall I get a good name? Lord Rama Himself should come here, punish Ravana for the mistake he committed. Rama has, of necessity, to defeat and destroy him first. Then He should take me away from here in His vehicle most gracefully. This is what I wish. " 234) Swami! Ravana's abduction of Sita is a very heartbreaking episode in the Ramayana. How is it that Sita wanted a golden deer, which is quite an unbelievable phenomenon? How strange is it that Lakshmana who was directed to guard her couldn't ultimately prevent the abduction. Would you please explain the significance of this episode to all of us who are otherwise thoroughly confused about its inner meaning?

Bhagawan: The abduction episode conveys many secrets. An incarnation of God or an avatar always sets examples for others to emulate. Every action of His is very subtle and has lots of things to teach. These subtleties are not easily understood just by going through the book.

Having left her father, Janaka, who was an emperor, having sacrificed all the riches, comforts, and conveniences due to a Queen, having left her fatherinlaw Dasaratha who was also an emperor, Sita decided to lead an austere life and followed Rama to the forest. She had overcome kama, desire and so she could be near Rama. But her fascination for the 'Golden deer' means that she had given in to kama which was the cause of her separation from Rama.

So, where there is kama there wouldn't be Rama. Where there is Rama, kama can't exist.

There is another lesson in this episode. Rama commanded Lakshmana to take care of Sita during his absence. Lakshmana was supposed to be there near Sita in obedience to His command. But Lakshmana could not bear the accusations of Sita and the evil motives she attributed to him. So, he left the place in search of Rama whom Sita feared to have been in danger, when she heard what she took to be the shouts of Rama, " Oh Sita! Oh Lakshmana!"

On learning about Subahu's death, Ravana commanded Maricha to assist him in his vengeance against Rama. Preferring to die at Rama's hands rather than at Ravana's, Maricha disguised himself as a golden deer, thereby giving temporary success to Ravana, and to Rama's master plan, himself being killed by Rama in the process. It was only then that Ravana came and kidnapped her finding her alone.

Therefore, the point is, in one sense Lakshmana was responsible for sitaviyoga or separation of Sita from Rama. Lakshmana repented till the end of his life his neglect of the duty Rama assigned to him. Here we can also see the master plan of Lord Rama. Maricha and Subahu were the Rakshasas who fought Rama, and in the process; Subahu got killed at Rama's hands, while Maricha escaped and conveyed this message to Ravana. It was Rama's plan to spare one of the two Rakshasas, at least for the time being, so that the news would reach Ravana and enrage him further against Him, so that a battle between the two, Rama and Ravana is assured.

In fact, you will also notice that earlier sage Bharadvaja who could foresee coming events extended hospitality to Rama and his retinue, Sita and Lakshmana for some time, and directed them to advance farther into the forest. Had they continued to stay for a longer period of time in his hermitage, Ravana could not have abducted Sita. There wouldn't have been a war and the consequent death of Ravana. Bharadvaja knew full well that Rama was God incarnate, yet he directed him to proceed further paving the way for the execution of the divine master plan, viz., the killing of Ravana. This was the Divine master plan. Thus, all the episodes in this great epic convey many human values besides revealing the secrets of the Rama avatar.

Q235) Swami! Lord Rama was the very personification of satya, truth, and the very embodiment of dharma, righteous conduct. He was verily the incarnation of the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God Vishnu himself. Rama was very compassionate and he was the refuge of the forlorn. Then how is it he sent Mother Sita into exile paying heed to the words of a washerman? Does it not go against dharma and satya, the basic qualities Ramachandra is said to embody?

Bhagawan: It is your ignorance that makes you find fault with God. No one has any authority to doubt or question the ways of God. He is selfless and whatever He does and says has a meaning, and conveys a message. He is an ideal to the entire humanity. God is perfect. All His Divine deeds are meant for the welfare of mankind. Our epics cherish these ideals as human values.

You should recognise the basic truth that Rama was a king. He was prepared to sacrifice everything to uphold dharma in His kingdom. He was even prepared to sacrifice His consort Sita in protecting Dharma. This incident of Sita being sent away because of suspicion has fulfilled two objectives: first, to this day Rama is being revered as an ideal ruler; secondly, the world has come to realise the chastity of Sita.

You should also remember another point here: at the time of taking the wedding pledge, Rama solemnly declared to do everything together with Sita as expected of a householder. But in respect of matters concerning rajyapalana, ruling the kingdom, He would act only as a king, independent of all other relationships and considerations. So, Rama never said that He would follow Sita in matters pertaining to His reign. So, it was not a mistake or a lack of compassion on the part of Rama in this regard. You have misunderstood the whole episode. You don't know the reality. Whatever Rama did, it couldn't but be dharma.

Q236) Swami! Kaikeyi, so it goes, loved Rama more intensely than even Kausalya, his own mother How is it then that she could ask such a boon to be granted to her by King Dasaratha that resulted in Rama's exile for fourteen years? Was it not her mistake?

Bhagawan: Pleased with Kaikeyi's services to him, Dasaratha had already granted two boons to Kaikeyi of which you are aware. Dasaratha had told her that she could ask for the fulfilment of the boons according to her own wish at any point of time she would like to choose. He did not himself specify the time. It only meant that she could ask for anything at any time. So, it is the mistake of Dasaratha to have given her a blank cheque like that, authorising her to ask for anything at any time. On the other hand, had he asked her to let him know at the time of his conferring the boons what exactly she would do with them, we would have every reason to find fault with Kaikeyi for demanding such a treacherous thing. Now, it must have been very clear to you that you have to blame Dasaratha and not Kaikeyi for sending Rama to the forest.

Q237) Swami! Although Manthara and Surpanakha are the two minor woman characters in the epic, the Ramayana, both of them appear crucial in leading to major developments. What lessons should we learn from these two characters?

Bhagawan: In the Ramayana, Manthara symbolises anger and Surpanakha represents desire. Rama and Lakshmana were playing with a ball during their childhood. As ill luck would have it, the ball hit the hunchback Manthara. All the children playing with Rama and Lakshmana saw this and laughed so loudly that she felt terribly upset and humiliated. She thought that it was Rama who had thrown the ball intentionally and had hit her. Since that day, she grew revengeful towards Rama and was looking for an opportunity to retaliate. This made her speak all kinds of falsehood to Kaikeyi, on the day of the coronation of Rama ultimately leading to Kaikeyi's demand for Rama's exile and Bharata's coronation.

Surpanakha, sister of Ravana, saw Rama in the forest and was very much attracted by his personality. She prayed to him to marry her. Rama gently and softly sent her away telling her that he was already married and that his wife, Sita, was also with him, and if she was still desirous of a marriage she could as well approach Lakshmana and marry him. Accordingly, Surpanakha approached Lakshmana with a similar plea. Lakshmana then cut her nose and ears and turned her away. Returning to Lanka, she said to her brother Ravana, " Oh! Brother! I have no words to describe the beauty of Sita. What a charming woman she is! I feel a king of your stature and splendour alone should have Sita as his spouse. After all, Rama, a mere human being, doesn't deserve her. Brother! You should win her hand somehow or other" .

Then Ravana put her a question, " Sister! When your nose and ears were being cut off, what were you doing? Did you simply keep quiet, without resisting?" Then Surpanakha replied, " Brother! What else could I say other than keep silent at that moment? Brother! Believe me or not, I was lost totally watching the majestic beauty and divine personality of Rama all the time. I did not know what was happening. "

Therefore, it should have been very clear to you by now that Manthara's anger was responsible for Rama's exile. The death of King Dasaratha was a consequence. This was the sequence of events that followed the anger of Manthara. Then, how about Surpanakha? Her desire to marry Rama, which was not fulfilled, the humiliation she was put to at the hands of Lakshmana, and her report to Ravana extolling the beauty of Sita ultimately led to the abduction of Sita separating her from Rama. Was it not her desire that proved to be the main cause of all these events? So both the characters speak about the tragedy that would befall anyone who falls victim to anger and desire.

Q238) Swami! Kausalya is celebrated as the mother of Rama, and Kaikeyi has become notorious for being instrumental in sending Rama to the forest. However, we do not know much about Sumitra. Kindly describe her nature to us.

Bhagawan: Sumitra is a distinguished woman, eminently virtuous. When Rama left for the forest, Kausalya was wailing inconsolably. Then Sumitra went to her side saying, " O Elder Sister! Why do you lament? Is it because your son Rama had left for the forest? Is not my son, Lakshmana, by his side, under no compulsion at all? Why do you still lament? Were Rama to remain here, he would be King only of Ayodhya. But living in the forest, he has become the King of the entire Bharat. I am pleased with my son Lakshmana, dedicated to the service his brother. I have two sons Lakshmana and Satrughna. While Lakshmana is serving Rama, Satrughna is serving Bharata! How blessed am I! Wherever Rama is, that place is verily Ayodhya!" So did Sumitra rejoice at her great good fortune. Such is her nobility, such her purity.

Q239) Swami! You have shown to the world that the Ramayana presents the ideal of true brotherhood. Would you kindly tell us about this aspect of the Ramayana that indicates what brothers should be like?

Bhagawan: There is a secret behind the advent of every incarnation of God. God descends on earth as a human being to demonstrate how everyone should behave and conduct himself in this world in the ideal way. One such is Rama's way of dealing with his brothers. It is supreme love that existed among the four brothers, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. But, today we don't find such supreme love among brothers, but the kind of love that takes them to the Supreme Court over property disputes. We can't describe in words how furious Bharata was on coming to know that his mother Kaikeyi had been responsible for Rama's exile. He couldn't control his anger, and was even prepared to behead her. That was the intensity and magnitude of his love for his brother. Satrughna followed Bharata like a shadow. That was the unbreakable tie of love between them.

You know pretty well how Rama and Lakshmana were inseparable since their early childhood. They had always been together. You know what happened when they were infants. Rama was made to rest and sleep in a cradle, and so Lakshmana was put in another cradle. The two babies started crying nonstop. The three queens Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi could not make them sleep or stop crying. When Sage Vasishtha came there, the queens reported the matter to him. Then Vasishtha advised them to place both the babies in the same cradle. The moment they did so, they stopped crying and fell asleep. That was the inseparable, intimate association between the two brothers right from their early infancy.

You will also notice the anguish of Rama when Lakshmana fainted on the battlefield. He said, " In this world, you can get anything back if it is lost position, property, friends or even a wife. But one can't get back a brother once he is lost. " Referring to his brothers, Rama said, " Bharata is the greatest of them all. He is reigning the entire kingdom from Nandigrama, keeping my padukas on the throne, repeating my name, only supporting himself on tubers and leaves like an ascetic and most anxiously waiting for my return. " We can understand here two kinds of devotion; one is Lakshmana's devotion to the form of God, sakarabhakti, and the other is Bharata's devotion to the formless aspect of God nirakarabhakti.

When they reached Panchavati, Rama wanted Lakshmana to build a small hut for them on a spot of his choice. Lakshmana fell at the feet of Rama and started shedding tears. Then Rama asked him, " Brother! Why are you crying? What has happened? Have I said anything that has made you cry?" Then Lakshmana said, " Rama! You want to have a hut at any place I decide. Do I have a preference, or a choice or a will of my own? Your wish is mine too. I know only how to follow you and act according to your command.âÄù Such should be the loyalty, sincerity, intimacy and affection among brothers. This is the ideal that Rama set before you.

Q240) Swami! Do you feel that during the time of the Ramayana, there were no feuds? Sending Rama to the forest and crowning Bharata are not these plain and simple politics? Is there justice in the way Rama killed Vali? Is not abducting Sita heinous? How then can the Tretayuga be called flawless? Kindly forgive me for putting this question out of my ignorance and for crossing my limits out of my presumption. Favour us with your views on these matters.

Bhagawan: Upholding dharma and satya, and demonstrating to the world a new ideal was the purpose of the incarnation of Rama. All the events in the Ramayana illustrate this truth. Consider the very first episode of Rama's arrival in the forest accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Remember that Bharata's objective in visiting Rama in the hermitage, along with the citizens of Ayodhya, eminent sages and the four arms of the militia is to welcome him back to Ayodhya. In this concourse was Jabali. In the conversation with Rama, he said, " O Rama! Unable to bear the prospect of separation from you, Dasaratha passed away. Now you are no longer bound by the words of your father who had sent you to the forest as Kaikeyi desired. Lord! You yourself should rule Ayodhya. " Ignoring these words, Rama turned to Bharata and remarked, " Bharata! By admitting Jabali and such others into the court, our father's reputation was tarnished. You should not allow him access. For me nothing is greater than honouring the word of one's father. King Dasaratha, Dasaratha the husband of Kaikeyi, and my father Dasaratha are not different from one another. You may think that our father's death was brought about by separation from me. That is not correct. The aged parents of Sravanakumar died lamenting the death of their son felled by an arrow let loose by our father. The curse of that aged couple led to his demise. My duty is my foremost concern. " Jabali intervened with the words, " O Ramachandra! Your dedication to Truth and Righteousness are well known all over the world. I spoke these words only in an attempt to bring you back to Ayodhya" . Thus, in the matter of Truth and Righteousness, Rama's resolve is adamantine. Rama put these ideals into practice as a stern discipline, and proclaimed them to mankind.

You referred to Rama's killing Vali. As he lay dying, Vali questioned Rama, " O Rama! You shot an arrow at me from behind a tree? Is this fair?" Rama replied, " You are a monkey and I am a King. The chase is part of the nature of kings. They may hunt animals in the forest and kill them. Therefore, how can I be faulted for directing an arrow from behind a tree?" Vali questioned again, " Rama! You sought the assistance of Sugriva, my younger brother. So, you decided on killing me. Is this just? Had you approached me, I myself would have rendered you all assistance, would not I? Compared with my strength, Ravana's is no equal. Then, Sugriva's strength does not count. " Rama replied, " O Vali! I understand Sugriva's distress. Like me who am separated from Sita, Sugriva too is anguished by separation from his wife.

The root cause of my friendship with Sugriva is the similarity of our condition. It is said, fighting, matchmaking and friendship should be between equals. " Then Vali observed, " O Rama! You may well be king of Ayodhya, but this is a forest. Are we who roam freely to be punished right here?" Rama gave a fitting reply, " My younger brother, Bharata, the ruler of Ayodhya, resides in Nandigrama, and holds sway in my name. All this area is our territory, and mine is the responsibility for opposing and punishing unrighteousness and protecting righteousness. Therefore, you deserve to be punished. "

Noticing that all his questions were fully answered, Vali finally objected, " Sri Rama! We live here according to the moral code of the monkeys. Your human moral code does not apply to us. Is killing me a righteous act?" Silencing Vali forever, Rama gave an apt and straightforward reply, " O Vali! Even while claiming to be a vanara (monkey), you spoke of righteousness. So long as you are ignorant of righteousness, your behaviour need not be questioned. But you have chosen to speak of righteousness, haven't you? Don't you know that the wife of a younger brother is equal to one's own daughter? Is not your action unrighteous? When you know what righteousness is, how can you fail to know what unrighteousness is? Therefore, you deserve to be punished. " In this manner, it is Rama who had made known to the world both the practice of righteousness and the importance of teaching it.

What remains then is your question about the abduction of Sita. Even this is proof of God's compassion. Cursed to be born a demon, Ravana abducted Sita in the mode of a devotee turned enemy, vairabhakti, thereby begging Rama to kill him with His own hands and ensuring Ravana's return to Vaikuntha into the presence of Vishnu. That he should die at the hands of Rama was his sole yearning. Such a noble love of God also is righteous. You should have an understanding capable of properly grasping the subtleties of dharma and appreciating their inner meaning.

Q241) Swami! We hear that the Ramayana shows us ideal figures even among enemies. Rivals never gave up certain values. Would you please tell us how enemies reacted towards each other in an ideal way?

Bhagawan: The Ramayana is another name for idealism. It shows the ideal way in which you are expected to live and to realise the divinity within you. The Ramayana clearly explains the proper relationship that should exist between one individual and another individual, between an individual and his native land, and finally, between one country and the entire world. Enmity might crop up at any time for any reason. But, even as rivals you should maintain certain values.

On one occasion, some of the Rakshasas advised Ravana in this fashion: " Oh King! We are Rakshasas, kamarupa , capable of assuming any form of our choice. Why don't you go to Sita in the form of Rama and be accepted by her?" Ravana replied, " What hopeless creatures you are! You are utter fools. In the form of Rama, how can you be as lustful as to run after a woman who is someone else's wife? Can kama exist where Rama is? Rama has one wife, uses only one arrow to kill the enemy and keeps to the word given (one wife, one arrow, one word, truth). Don't you know these sacred and noble qualities of Rama?" He praised the great, matchless and noble character of Rama who was his rival. Now, you also notice the generous and noble gesture of Rama too. When Ravana was on his deathbed, Rama sent his own brother, Lakshmana, to Ravana to learn from him rajadharma or righteous laws governing the administration and the people. Ravana was a great devotee of Siva with rich administrative experience.

Vibhishana, the only surviving younger brother of Ravana, was not prepared to perform the funeral rites after the latter's death. Then, Rama ordered him to perform the last rites and even went a step further. He said that He Himself was ready to undertake the last rites for Ravana if Vibhishana persisted in refusing to do so.

You will also notice in the Ramayana how Vali died, shot by an arrow of Rama. Before dying, Vali placed all his doubts before Rama, got them clarified and finally died at the hands of Rama saying that it was his great fortune and merit to have been killed by Rama. Vali, though an enemy, praised the noble qualities of Rama. These are some of the ideals upheld by opponents in the great epic, the Ramayana.

Q242) Swami! Speaking of the Ramayana, is there a mention of things resolved by God's grace and God's grace alone? How did the characters manifest this in the course of the narrative?

Bhagawan: Roughly, the Ramayana speaks of three things: papa, s'apa, and tapa, sin, curse, and suffering. Of these, two can be set right only though God's grace. What are those two? Sin and curse. In no other way can these be expiated. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, knew that Sita was kept a prisoner in the Asoka garden and also that Ravana made her quake with fear. But, she could not set her free. In spite of realising Rama's divinity, Mandodari could offer no solace or happiness to Sita. This was only because she regarded Sita as an ordinary woman. This is sinful. Ahalya presents an instance of the second kind. Transgressing discipline, she became a victim of Gautama's curse: Release from both sin and curse can be had only through the grace of God. The third is misery or agony. Sabari tried to meet Rama. She spent long years thinking of Rama. Her desire to see Rama directly with her own eyes subjected her to extreme anguish. Such anguish is, indeed, penance. In this way, the Ramayana speaks of sin, curse, and suffering. One should grasp subtle secrets like these.

The demon Subahu attempted to harm Rama and Lakshmana with the help of fourteen. Which are these fourteen? These include the five organs of action, the five organs of perception, the mind, the intellect, the inner consciousness, and egoism. In that hour, Rama ordered Sita and Lakshmana to remain inside the cave. What is meant by the cave? The impregnable human heart. Thus are to be appreciated the subtleties of dharma.

Q243) Swami! Were the Ramayana and the Adhyatmaramayana written with different purposes? Many are the versions of the Ramayana. How are devotees to receive them? They are given to the repeated recital of the part called " Sundarakanda.âÄù Bhagawan, why is this so? By your grace, their authenticity is not in doubt. I wish to learn from your lips.

Bhagawan: The Ramayana came into existence to enable man to follow the dharmas set forth as ideals, and to lead pure lives. The Adhyatmaramayana is intended to open up to mankind the experience of the divine Atma within man. In other words, Ramayana is for man, Adhyatmaramayana for the mind. Since then, a series of Ramayanas have been composed by devotees and named after them. These include Tulasiramayana, Mollaramayana, and Kambaramayana. The theme of all these is Rama Himself! 'Purana' is but the story of the Lord, the perfect Man, and traces his career.

As for " Sundarakanda, âÄù it is full of 'Sundara, ' beautiful, descriptions. Very charming are the sketches of the splendour of Lanka. Hanuman's leaping across the ocean, the Asoka pleasure garden, and the grief of Mother Sita. As the soka, grief, of Sita came to an end in the Asoka, 'no grief, ' garden, devotees consider the recital of Sundarakanda helpful in alleviating suffering and dispelling misery.

CHAPTER X Scriptures and Baba: Mahabharata

Q244) Swami! Today's atmosphere is, indeed, nightmarish. There seems to be no end to injustice, disorder, unrighteousness, and falsehood. Forgive me, Swami, if my question is not proper. Kindly clarify my doubt. How much justice did prevail in the Age of the Mahabharata? Besides serving poisoned food to the Pandavas, setting fire to the house of lac, and attempting to murder them in other ways, the Kauravas denied them their rightful share of the kingdom, not even five villages, not so much space as the point of a needle. How much of the moral code or the law of the time had the Kauravas followed? How little peace was ever there in that yuga?

Bhagawan: The distinctive dharma of the Dvaparayuga is not fully found in that yuga. The beginnings of Kali, its mode and behavioural style, are already noticeable. For the wicked conduct of the Kauravas ; Sakuni is largely responsible. Heeding his advice and egged on by him, they behaved in the way they did. Undoubtedly, launching themselves on unrighteous paths is the fault of the Kauravas. Remember, all this took place in the kingdom of Dhritarashtra, the blind king. Blindness is but the failure to recognise Satya, Dharma, Santi, and Prema. Walking along the main streets one day, Dharmaraja saw a farmer transporting bags of paddy in carts. He asked the farmer, " Sir! Why are you carrying paddy in bags? You can as well leave it in the fields, can't you?" The farmer replied, " O King! A few days ago, our paddy was stolen from the fields. That is why we are pouring it into bags and moving it into our homes. " Dharmaraja noticed there the signs of the approaching Kaliyuga. On another occasion, he noticed a woman walking brazenly in the main street and conversing with a man uninhibitedly, without in the least feeling shy. He thought, " Oh! The Kaliyuga is at hand. " Another day he observed the citizens hanging iron lumps at the entrance to their homes. He asked them, " What is this?" The people replied, " O King! Now that so many thefts are taking place, there is no security for our belongings, our ornaments, and our food grains. That is why we are using these lumps called locks. " Thus, even in the Dvaparayuga, the symptoms of Kali were in evidence.

Q245) Swami! We lack adequate knowledge of many important things. We have only a partial view of divinity. Hence, we tend to ignore the reality and are prone to doubt divinity. It is our misfortune that we find fault with God too, and attribute human fallibility to him. In the Mahabharata, it appears that Krishna was very partial to the Pandavas and so he did many things unbecoming of God incarnate in order to defend them. We may cite such instances as the killing of Dronacharya, Bhishmacharya, Saindhava and a few others. We pray for your comments on these misconceptions of ours and enlighten us.

Bhagawan: God is faultless. He is pure and unsullied. It will be the worst of sins to attribute any kind of mistake to God. Every inch of God, if it can be put that way, is selfless and whatever He says and does is for the welfare of humanity. He gives and forgives. He doesn't want anything from anybody in return, nor does He keep anything in this world that doesn't belong to Him? May be due to the effects of Kali, you see people with narrow, selfish ideals that are responsible for physical and mental agitations, and disturbances everywhere. Man today has no trace of gratitude left in him. He has gone even to the extent of ignoring his parents. He has grown demonic in his behaviour. So, it is difficult for him to recognise God.

The Kauravas were wicked and spent their lives in injustice, untruth and unrighteousness. They were full of hatred and jealousy. Out of greed and envy, they did many cruel things like poisoning the Pandavas, setting their house on fire, making them play dice where they cheated, only to end their own lives. So, they had to be checked and controlled. You know, a diamond cuts a diamond. You can remove a thorn only with the help of another thorn. A simple example here will make this point clearer to you. When thieves run away with valuables through the back door, to catch them you also should go through the back door. You just can't say in such a moment, " What! I am the owner of the house. I can only go out of it through the main door and not the back door. " So, the back door is the only way for you to catch the thieves. Is it not so? Similarly, to catch the Kauravas, who trod the wrong path, you had to go by the same route. Krishna did exactly the same thing in order to protect the Pandavas and bring about their ultimate victory. There was little trace of selfishness in Krishna.

Q246) Swami! Krishna made Dharmaja utter the lie " asvatthama hatah, " Asvatthama is killed, adding in a low tone, " kunjarah, " the elephant. This led to the death of Dronacharya. Was it proper on the part of Krishna to make Dharmaja tell a lie like that?

Bhagawan: This is a foolish question. As the facts are not known to you correctly, you think like that. Here, there was no mistake on the part of Krishna and there was no mistake in Dharmaja too. It was entirely the fault of Drona that was responsible for his death. Dharmaja said loudly " asvatthama hatah, "

Asvatthama died and also said softly " kunjarah, " an elephant by name Asvatthama died. Dronacharya did not listen completely to what Dharmaja had said. He heard only the first part " asvatthama hatah, "

Aswatthama died. Out of his attachment to his son, Dronacharya died immediately on hearing the first part of Dharmaja's statement. He died of the shock. His attachment was the only cause of his death. So the fault finally lies with Dronacharya, not hearing patiently and completely what Dharmaja said. How do you accept that Dronacharya, who loved Arjuna more than his own son, could be prepared to fight and kill Arjuna? Being a teacher and a Brahmana for that matter, should he fight like that? So, the mistake was Drona's only.

Q247) Swami! In the Mahabharata, it is a pity to notice the killing of youngsters like Abhimanyu and Ghatotkacha for no fault of their own. It is justifiable if bad people are killed or punished. But, how can we account for the death of these youngsters?

Bhagawan: The answer is very easy and simple. A small example I give you here to, , make you clearly understand the answer to the question. When there are a large number of mosquitoes in your house, what do you do generally? You spray some kind of insecticide like Flit all over the house or use DDT, to kill the mosquitoes, don't you? You have to notice one point here. Due to spraying poisonous insecticide, all the mosquitoes die. After all only one or two mosquitoes must have bitten you, not all of them. But, all those mosquitoes that have not bitten you also die in your operation. Similarly, in a war some innocents also die. This is natural.

Q248) Swami! We hear that Arjuna was the only one capable of breaking open and emerging victorious from the Padmavyuha, the lotuslike military formation or manoeuvre, set up as a death trap. But, Abhimanyu knew only how to get in and not how to get out of it; a fact that resulted in his death. There are some stories heard about this episode from the Mahabharata. It appears that when Narada was describing the whole manoeuvre to Abhimanyu who was still in the mother's womb, Krishna prevented him from teaching the unborn baby the way out of the Padmavyuha! What are your comments on this story, Swami!

Bhagawan: The ancient literature of Bharat has many secrets to be unravelled and grasped. So, many subtle points are not known to everybody. They show the goal and the way of life. They remind you of the duties, responsibilities, and obligations you owe to the society you live in. They point out your mistakes as well so that you may correct and rectify yourself and thus experience the divinity within. Every episode or anecdote in the epics or in the religious texts in story form has a message for you.

Arjuna had, to his credit, many titles like Savyasachi, Phalguna, Partha, Vijaya, etc that are much higher than our modern Padmasri, Padmavibhushan and other honours. Arjuna's surrender to Krishna was total. This was the reason for his acquiring the skill to manage to come out of the impenetrable Padmavyuha. The word 'Arjuna' means whiteness or purity and it was the purity of his mind and heart that gave him the needed capacities.

But things were different in respect of Abhimanyu. He was challenged to fight and proceed to the battleground at a time when his wife, Uttara was pregnant, His father Arjuna was not at home and his uncle Krishna was away. Abhimanyu had much abhimana, attachment to his wife and his father. This attachment trapped him in the Padmavyuha and as such, he couldn't come out of it and ultimately died.

Similarly, the whole world is a Padmavyuha. Our life is a Padmavyuha. Man is caught in this Padmavyuha and his sense of attachment and possessive instincts will not release him out of it. Since he had abhimana, he bore the name Abhimanyu.

Q249) Swami! It is said that Draupadi laughed at Duryodhana in the Mayasabha, which made him revengeful and highly furious and which ultimately led to the Kurukshetra war. Will you kindly bless us with your special interpretation?

Bhagawan: These are words of those who do not know the reality. Draupadi was not an ordinary person. She was a queen, known for her chastity. She was the wife of the great Pandavas. It is ridiculous to say that she laughed at Duryodhana in the Mayasabha. You are mistaken if you think so. She was not of the type to laugh at people. Those who don't know what had actually happened think like this.

On that day after taking a head bath, Draupadi was drying her hair and was about to come out of the palace through the main door. It was at that time that Duryodhana fell down mistaking the place for open ground when there was water. Watching, this, the maidservants started laughing at the ludicrous, sight. As Draupadi was coming out just then, Duryodhana saw her and mistook that she was laughing at him. In fact, she did not laugh at all. So, it was the fault of Duryodhana to think so.

There was no flaw in Draupadi. She never raised her voice at any time. Contented with whatever she had, she was never tired of serving the Pandavas under any circumstances. She was the noblest of them all. It is your foolishness to think that she laughed at Duryodhana or at any other person.

Q250) Swami! Krishna was surrounded, by eight consorts and is stated to have been associated with 16, 000 Gopis, cowherdesses. It is very disturbing and embarrassing to hear of Lord Krishna's many wives. Kindly enlighten us on this matter.

Bhagawan: This is what you have learnt from movies, isn't it? Krishna of the Bhagavata was totally different from what you know about Him. It is because of such perverted and distorted versions that the number of atheists has been on the rise day by day and devotion is declining. The eternal, nondual and divine truth is viewed from the ephemeral, worldly norm and perspective. This is the unfortunate situation of the modern times. The scriptures want you to consider the world as a divine manifestation, but to take God too in a worldly way. God is free Himself, and it is only He who liberates you from bondage to the world.

Tell me, who were the eight consorts of Krishna? Every human heart is a lotus flower with eight petals. These eight petals are the eight consorts. In the human body are the six mystic chakras. The one at the bottom of the backbone is muladhara and the sixth on the top of the head is called sahasrara. Kundalini ascends from muladhara to sahasrara, in the state of samadhi. Now, the sahasrara chakra is compared to a thousandpetalled lotus. Each of the petals has 16 shades or faces. Thus, they add up to 16000 representing the Gopis whom Krishna is said to have been associated with.

Actually, Krishna was a young boy while he was in Brindavan. All those Gopis were elderly married women. They played with Krishna , as they would with their own children of the same age group. To those Gopis everything looked filled with Krishna. The kumkum they put on their forehead was blue. They wore blue bangles and blue saris. Every article they used was blue. Why? The reason is, Krishna was blue in complexion. In their devotion to Krishna, they excelled Narada and all the other celestial singers. The Gopis had more intense love for Krishna than for their husbands. They remained in , a state of joy and ecstasy singing His glory all the time. They grew immensely restless when they had even a momentary separation from Krishna. When Krishna left for Mathura, the bodies of the Gopis appeared as though they were burning and writhing in unendurable pain, due to separation from their beloved Krishna. They blamed and accused Akrura of taking him away from them. Theirs was the bliss of atma or sprit. Your feelings are worldly, physical, and narrow. Therefore, you view the sublime from the standpoint of your own sense perception. Truly speaking, none can estimate the standard, the depth, and the level of devotion of the Gopis. Their devotion to Krishna ever remains immeasurable and unfathomable to the ordinary mortal.

Q251) Swami!. Radha was an ardent, intimate and ideal devotee of Krishna. She represents ananyabhakti, infinite devotion, matchless and unconditional, and as we hear you speak on Radha bhakti we get lost in the ecstasy of devotion. Would you please tell us more about Radha's bhakti?

Bhagawan: Textual knowledge can't confer devotion. You can't get it from any Guru. No friend can make a gift of devotion. It should be born in one's own Heart. It can't be stuffed into your heart. The devotion of the Gopis was pure and selfless. It was steady, unshakeable and unwavering. Radha was the most prominent among them. She felt herself one with Krishna, tadatmya, total identification. Radha had only Krishna trsna, thirst or desire for God, and not lokatrsna, worldly desire.

One day Krishna went to a nearby place in his vehicle along with Rukmini. All the inhabitants of the place gathered there and gave them a tumultuous welcome exceedingly jubilant

Rukmini noticed Krishna gazing intently at a person to her side. That person too was casting looks on Krishna. Krishna slowly and softly said, " Rukmini! Do you know Radha? She is an ardent devotee of mine" . Hearing this, Rukmini got down from the vehicle and rushed close to Radha and after exchanging pleasantries, invited her to spend some time with her in the palace in Dwaraka. Accordingly, on the following day, Radha went to Dwaraka. Rukmini received Radha at the main entrance and escorted her into the palace. Radha stayed with Rukmini in the palace for some time talking about Krishna and singing the glories of Krishna. They began sharing the joys of their experiences with Lord Krishna. Rukmini served hot milk to Radha so that she could be with her for some more time and talk a little longer about Krishna, as she would sip the milk slowly. But, Radha gulped the whop cup of hot milk at once. All the same, the conversation went on for some time and then Radha left the palace for her village.

Krishna returned in the evening, very much tired. He said to Rukmini " Rukmini! Look ! I am very tired and exhausted; I have a burning sensation in my feet, it is unbearable" . Rukmini noticed some blisters on His feet and wondered how and why such a thing happened to Him. Krishna then said, " Rukmini! You served very hot milk to Radha this afternoon when she came to visit you in response to your invitation, didn't you? Radha drank the whole lot at one gulp. As my feet are located in her heart, the hot milk spilt on my feet and so you now find blisters there where I feel the burning sensation" . This was the level of Radha's devotion.

One day to test Radha's devotion, a Gopi gave her a pot with holes to fetch water from the river Yamuna. Radha didn't notice that. She was constantly repeating the sacred name of Krishna as she was dipping the pot in the river. With her every utterance of Krishna's precious name one hole after another got cemented. The pot never leaked and Radha brought home a pot full of water. That was the height of her devotion!

In the very name 'Radha ', 'R' , signifies 'Radha ', 'A' is ' Adhar or foundation, 'D' signifies ' Dhara ' or continuous, uninterrupted flow and the next 'A' means ' Aradhana ' or worship. Her devotion was unflinching like a dhara, continuous flow like oil.

As Radha repeated the name of Krishna, Krishna also thought of Radha repeatedly. This is the link and the intimacy between a devotee and his or her personal God or Deva.

Q252) Swami! We have now understood from your divine message that the Pandavas could face problems and withstand troubles and tensions because of the infinite grace of Lord Krishna. It is most gratifying to note God's concern and love for His devotees. Kindly give us a notable instance.

Bhagawan: Yes, Yes, and Yes. This is the truth of truths. It is not wholly correct to say that God loves. No.

God is Love,
Love is God,
Live in Love.

How? You may at the most love one or two. But, if you become love, if you are love itself, it becomes infinite and you love all. So, don't become a lover but be love itself. You can realise God only through love, as He is the embodiment of love. You can see the moon only through moonlight. Similarly, through love, you experience God who is love and thus enjoy bliss.

The Pandavas could face all difficulties because of the blessings of Lord Krishna. It was their unconditional love for and surrender to Krishna that made them accept every dangerous situation or every challenging moment as His will and blessing. Krishna was ready to do anything to save them from all kinds of disastrous situations.

The Pandava brothers along with Draupadi and Kunti were in exile. One evening, Dharmaja and Draupadi were taking a stroll in the forest and saw a big fruit lying on the ground. They thought that its size was so big that it could be divided among all of them for their dinner. Draupadi went close to that big fruit and tried to pick it up, but in vain. Then Dharmaja assisted her in lifting the fruit, but met with the same result. Both of them were exhausted. In the meantime, finding that Dharmaja and Draupadi had not yet returned, Bhima and Arjuna, one after the other, went in search of them and located them. They too extended their helping hand in lifting the fruit and failed. Finally, after some time, Nakula and Sahadeva joined them and all of them together could not move the fruit. Then, they noticed something moving just under their feet. It was all black hair spread wide on the ground like a carpet. They lifted their heads, looked around and noticed that these long hair were those of a sage seated in penance at a distance. The sage was none other than Romarshi. ( 'Roma' means hair, and 'Rishi' means sage).

The sage was just about to open his eyes. He was doing penance for a long time for this fruit which would make him free from thirst and appetite: The Pandavas happened to be there near the fruit and were trying to take it home. They felt guilty and were afraid that the sage might curse them. Draupadi immediately prayed to Krishna wholeheartedly seeking His divine intervention to save them

Krishna appeared in front of her, enquired about the problem, and said, " Look Draupadi! It is true that I come to the rescue of my devotees, but am also a rshimanasasancari, dweller in the hearts of devotees. What you have done is wrong. Romarshi did great penance for this fruit which you wanted to take away. In a fit of wrath, if the Rishi curses you, how can I help you?" Then Draupadi fell at Krishna's feet and said, " Oh Lord! We are left with none. But for you, we wouldn't have survived like this. We admit our mistake. Please pardon us and save us from the danger of the sage's curse" . Then Krishna said, " Alright!. But, note one thing. Act strictly according to my instructions. Now, I will go and be with Romarshi and begin conversing with him. You come there exactly ten minutes later. "

Krishna went to Romarshi, who received Him with all devotion and sincerity saying, " O Lord! It is we who should come to you. All our penance and austerities are meant only to reach you. How shall I estimate my good fortune now? The Lord himself has come to see me!" Krishna started talking to him and spent ten minutes, when the Pandavas arrived there. Then Krishna prostrated in front of every one of them including Draupadi : Watching this, Romarshi concluded that these Pandavas before whom even Krishna prostrated must be Rishis of the noblest and highest order. Then Romarshi too prostrated and did namaskar to the Pandavas as Krishna did. Thus, his anger was pacified. He cooled down. He couldn't curse those whom he had reverentially greeted.

This anecdote speaks volumes of the unfathomable love of God for His devotees and of the extent to which He would go in order to protect them. But, it is needless to say that the devotee should also be worthy of his compassion.

The Mahabharata War was going on. Bhishma took an oath that he would kill the Pandavas the next day. Draupadi was griefstricken on coming to know of this oath of Bhishma. She prayed to Lord Krishna in anguish and the Lord took pity on her. Out of compassion, He visited her that night itself. It was almost late in the night. On the battlefield, in a tent lay the aged Bhishma, greatly disturbed. He was restless and couldn't sleep. He was feeling repentant over his vow because the Pandavas were on the side of justice and righteousness. He began pacing up and down outside the tent, engrossed in deep thoughts of regret.

Krishna walked towards the tent where Bhishma was staying. He signalled to Draupadi to fall at the feet of Bhishma. She exactly did so. Noticing that it was a woman who touched his feet, Bhishma blessed her with the words, 'dirghasumangali bhava, May you have a long happy married life.' As he bent down to see who had touched his feet, he found Draupadi there. He was taken aback. A big question arose in his mind. How could he kill the Pandavas. having just now blessed Draupadi with a long happy married life?

Bhishma saw Krishna standing there on one side, and said, " Lord! This is your master plan. Things happen according to your divine will. You can do and undo things. We are only instruments in Thy Hands. Lord! What is the bundle you are carrying? You have wrapped something in cloth and are carrying it. May I know, my God, what it is you are carrying?" Krishna said, " Bhishma! This is a late hour of the night. You are an aged warrior. You must have been very tired and trying to rest. I didn't want your sleep to be disturbed by the sound of the footwear of .Draupadi. Therefore, I wrapped her sandals in a piece of cloth and carried them and that is what you have seen" .

This is what bhaktaraksana, safeguarding and protecting devotees is. God will go to any extent to fulfil His promise. There is no doubt about it.

Q253) Swami! The incarnation of Krishna is called the perfect incarnation. Then, how is the incarnation of Rama to be viewed? What is the difference between the Lord's two incarnations? In offering them worship, is there a difference of rank or status? Kindly oblige us with a clarification.

Bhagawan: Rama referred to Himself as Dasarathatmaja, son of Dasaratha, and declared Himself to be a human being. The very purpose of the Lord's descent as Rama was to present the Ideal Man, and to demonstrate the sacredness of humanity. Even so, there were not lacking many who knew the divinity of Rama. All the great sages understood this great drama being enacted then. Vasishtha confided to Dasaratha: " O King! I have not come to your court merely to be your priest. The Lord is soon to take birth in your family. I have joined the court to enjoy to my heart's content. His pranks, His amusements, and His sweet speech. As for Visvamitra, he taught Rama and Lakshmana the powerful charms of bala and atibala, gave them an inexhaustible quiver, and as a benefactor of humanity initiated them into the Gayatri mantra. He knew full well the nature of the incarnation of Rama. Other great sages like Agastya, Bharadvaja, Matanga, and Sarabhanga were fully aware of Rama's divine identity. It was Sarabhanga who directed Rama and Lakshmana to Sugriva then residing in Kishkindha, adding that he would help them in the search for Sita. Accordingly, Rama and Lakshmana proceeded to Kishkindha. Sugriva and his retinue noticed them from a distance. Sugriva who had earlier run a way unable to bear Vali's blows suspected that Vali might have sent someone to attack him again, and was terrified. He sent for Hanuman and ordered him to discover the truth. Following Sugriva's command, Hanuman approached Rama and Lakshmana in the guise of an old Brahmin. With due respect and decorum and apt choice of words; Hanuman, indicated his true nature and background. In return, he came to know how and why Rama and Lakshmana arrived in Kishkindha. You may ask me why Hanuman had disguised himself as a Brahmin. If he appeared, he thought, as the monkey he was, they might not heed his words. However, he had given them the facts, hadn't he? There is no hidden evil design in this. Rama often referred to himself saying. again and again, " I am a man, " " I am the son of Dasaratha" , and so on, pointing out thereby the new ideal for man.

But with Krishna, it is altogether a different story. Saying, mamanusmara yudhya ca, Thinking of me, fight; manmana bhava madbhakto madyaji mam namaskuru, Keeping me in your mind, become my devotee, offer sacrifices to me, bow down to me; yogaksemam vahamyaham, I look after their welfare; Krishna unmistakably affirmed in the Gita His divinity in a variety of contexts. These are the specific differences between the two incarnations. Men should conduct themselves in the path of Rama and lead their lives as Krishna had instructed. All names belong to the Lord as do all forms. There is no place or thing in this universe that is not divine. Therefore, you may worship in any way you wish, when you do so wholeheartedly, with a broad outlook and wide sympathy. Whatever the course of the river may be, its destination is only the sea. In this way you should understand that all forms of worship and spiritual exercise reach the one God.

Q254) Swami! All your discourses are valueoriented and nectarine. We notice today 'gratitude' a noble value, totally missing. How do our ancient epics depict this value?

Bhagawan: The Ramayana depicts this noblest value, gratitude, in an excellent manner. Samudrudu (Ocean God) owes his existence to Sagara, a King of the Surya dynasty. Rama was also of the same dynasty. So, Samudrudu was very eager to express his sense of gratitude to Rama by participating in the mission of rescuing Sita.. The opportunity to serve Rama came his way when Hanuman was proceeding to Lanka in search of Sita across the sky and over the mighty ocean.

Samudrudu approached Mainaka and said, " Look, Mainaka! You are a mountain hiding yourself in the sea. I am sure you haven't forgotten the old days when all the mountains had wings and could fly anywhere and everywhere till Indra had clipped their wings in response to the prayerful calls of people for help. Do you remember that you alone were saved from this disgrace because of the intervention of Vayudeva, windgod to help you out? Well, his son, Hanuman, is now passing this way to Lanka over the ocean where you are lying. Now is your opportune moment to express your gratitude to his father. Please pass on to him the secret of killing Lankini. Lankini is the female demon guarding the entrance of Lanka. The secret is that if anybody slaps her on the cheek, she will have an instantaneous death. She knows that she will die in this way when a monkey finds its entry into Lanka which will soon be followed by the fall of Lanka and the death of Ravana. "

Mainaka accordingly took the opportunity and rose from the sea and prayed to Hanuman, " Oh! Lord! Your father Vayudeva helped me, or else I would have lost my wings. Hanuman! Please take rest here. Have some fruits and then proceed. Let me also tell you how to kill Lankini, the demon guarding the gate of Lanka. Slap her on the cheek. Only then according to a curse, she will die" Hanuman said, " Mainaka! I won't eat, drink, or take rest even for a moment until the task assigned to me by Rama is completed. However, I appreciate your gesture of gratitude. " Thus, both Mainaka and Samudrudu expressed their gratitude. They are the ideals for everyone to emulate.

There is also another episode in the Ramayana. Vali abducted Sugriva's wife, Ruma. Rama killed Vali and restored to Sugriva his wife and kingdom. In order to express his gratitude to Rama for all this, Sugriva offered to provide an army of vanaras, monkeys, to Rama on his march to kill Ravana and other raksasas and rescue Sita. But as illluck would have it, he was delayed in his mission. Rama sent Lakshmana to remind Sugriva of his promise.

Full of fury Lakshmana went to Sugriva. Watching the seriousness of the situation, Sugriva sent Tara to speak to Lakshmana. She said, " Swami! This is the rainy season, and, it is coming to a close very soon. By the time you go back, you will find three crores of monkeys ready to assist you to fight the rakshasas in Lanka. My husband, Sugriva, has not forgotten the promise given to Rama. He is not ungrateful to Him. Swami Lakshmana! Don't you know how a couple feel sad because of separation from each other! You have been seeing your brother Rama feeling sad due to separation from his consort Sita, Our position was also like that till recently. We felt miserable because of separation from each other. Only now, by the grace of Rama we are spending our time together happily. This does not mean that we have forgotten the promise made to Him. Sugriva is not of that type. " These words of Tara pacified the anger of Lakshmana.

Sugriva stands for gratitude. It is the worst of sins to forget the good done to you. A dog is a good example of gratitude. If you give a morsel of food to a dog, it will never forget you. Should you not be grateful to Swami, who is taking care of you, as we say like the eye your eyelid every moment of your life? Swami never wants or expects anything from you. These values I have spoken of are for your own good.

Q255) Swami! Pardon us for misunderstanding the scriptures. We feel that certain statements are contradictory to each other, and we are at a loss to know what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. One scripture says 'brahma satyam jaganmithya, ' â 'God is truth while the world is illusion'. You said, " There is no maya. " How are we to understand the scriptural statement in the light of what you have told us about maya? Moreover, the same scripture says; 'sarvarn visnumayam jagat, ' â 'The whole Universe is Divine.' Then, what and where is delusion or maya! Of the two statements, contradictory to each other, which one is true?

Bhagawan: Both the statements are equally true though they seem opposed to each other. The whole mistake lies in your understanding or rather your misunderstanding. They apply to your own mental state; your experience determines your own level of understanding the truth.

Here is an example for you. Suppose I ask you " When did you come?" your reply would be, 'Just now. Swami!' Isn't it? Analyse your answer. When you said, " I have come just now" , what is it that has come here? Your " I" , does it refers., to yourself or to your body? You have identified yourself with your body. You think, you are the body. So, the one that has come now is your body (you are the bodyfeeling). Later, you start complaining, " My leg is paining" , " My head reels" and " My hand shakes" . Examine these statements clearly. You say " my leg" , " my hand" " my head" and so on. Now, put a question to yourself, " who is this my?" When you say, " This is my hand" , it means you are different from your hand. You are different from the limbs, senses, etc. You are the owner or master and all the rest are instruments. In these statements, you indirectly or unconsciously convey that you are .not the body. Earlier, when you said, " I have come now" you meant the body and now when you say " my leg" , " my head" , you mean you are different from your body.

Similarly in sadhana when you view from body identification from the dualistic standpoint, the first statement, brahma satyam jaganmithya , is true (body identification I have come now). But, when you speak from the atmic view, spirit, or nondualistic approach, your second statement that you are different from your body (my leg, my hand, my head. etc) is true.

So, the truth conveyed in 'sarvam visnumayam jagat' holds good. You have to understand the statement in this sense. You should never consider the statements of our scriptures as contradictory to each other. They are stated to meet the needs of people of different mental levels.

CHAPTER XI Scriptures and Baba: Bhagavata

Q256) Swami! After listening to your divine discourses and sweet conversations, we realise that what we heard till now from other sources were distorted versions, misrepresentations, and wrong interpretations of facts concerning Lord Sri Krishna. You reveal so many inner secrets and subtleties. We pray to you to tell us some more details about our Lord Krishna.

Bhagawan: The divine miracles of Krishna are most wonderful, mysterious and inscrutable. Each of them has a meaning and a message, conveys an ideal to uphold, and is full of nondual and absolute bliss.

You know how His foster mother, Yasoda, fondled and caressed Krishna. All the womenfolk from the neighbourhood complained of His stealthily snatching away butter from their homes. Yasoda said to Him, " Oh Krishna! Why do you eat secretly from other people's homes? See! How they are complaining? Don't you like the butter in our home? Why don't you eat our own homemade butter? How is it that you find the butter of other houses tastier than ours?" Krishna said, " Mother! I never went anywhere. I never ate any butter from anybody's house. You look into my mouth and smell it, if I have eaten any" . While he was talking like a tiny tot in all innocence, Mother Yasoda was lost in a state of bliss with beatific smiles beaming on her face. One day she couldn't control her anger on listening to the complaints against him. So, she decided tie him up to a pole. But, is it ever possible for you or anybody else to bind God? 'She was frantically searching for Krishna all in vain. She noticed the footprints of Krishna with curds and butter on them. Then she decided to follow the footprints and ultimately caught hold of Him. Here is an important point for all of you to carefully note. Yasoda could trace Krishna by following His footprints. Similarly, you can be close to God if only, you follow the path of His divine command. So, I keep telling my students, " My life is My message. " Repeatedly I also tell them, " Follow the master, your God. You can reach God through love as He is love. " This was the message of Krishna.

One day in an attempt to catch Krishna, Yasoda was holding butter in one hand and a stick in the other, hiding it behind her back so that Krishna would come near her drawn by the butter giving her a chance to beat him with the stick. Similarly, I have in one hand the butter of education offered in our institutions and a stick of vigorous training in the other: As they come here for education, I train them to become the ideal youth of our society. This is my Master plan.

One day Krishna noticed a woman drawing water from a well. She filled up two pots and was trying to carry them on her head, one on top of the other: She was finding it difficult to balance one pot above the other all by herself. She said to Krishna, " Krishna! Will you please help me? I'll lift one pot myself and place it on my head and you please put the other one on top of it. Then it will be easy for me to carry the waterpots and go home from here. " Krishna said, " No, I won't do it" . The woman, however, managed with great difficulty to help herself and returned home. She saw Krishna standing there willing to help her. She said, " What, Krishna! When I asked you a few minutes ago to help me in putting these pots on my head to bring them home, you did not oblige me. Now, without my asking you for help, you are ready to help me. Well, I don't understand you. " Then Krishna replied, " Look! I don't put loads of burden on anybody at anytime. I will relieve you of the heavy weight of the load you are bearing now and make you feel light. Do you understand me?" From this illustration you can understand the secret of divinity that helps you to get relief from your burdens. " That's why I say, " Come here with headloads of problems, difficulties and anxieties. Unload them here at My feet. Be light and go back with ananda. "

This is how every episode in the Bhagavata conveys a message. Though Sage Vyasa composed as many as eighteen puranas and the celebrated epic Mahabharata, besides compiling all the Vedas, he had no peace of mind until he wrote the Bhagavata as advised by Sage Narada. Bhagavata teaches man the nine paths of devotion. We should read and listen to the various stories narrated in this immortal book.

In fact, the very word 'Bhagavatamu' has an inner meaning; 'Bh', denotes 'Bhakti', 'Ga' denotes 'Jnana', or wisdom, 'Va' denotes 'vairagya' or renunciation, " ta' denotes' 'tattva' or Divine principle, 'Mu' denotes 'Mukti' or liberation.

Bhagavata is not merely Bhagavata Katha, story of God. It means 'bagavatam' (Telugu) meaning, 'We shall become good'. You should know its inner meaning; conduct yourselves accordingly, and work for your liberation.

Q257) Swami! Bhagavata, besides extolling God and His divinity, also deals with the greatness and nobility of His devotees Watching devotees shedding tears in ecstasy on listening to your discourses on Bhagavata has been our experience. Would you kindly tell us, Bhagawan, the essence and the main principles embodied in this text to be followed by both youngsters and us adults, for our benefit?

Bhagawan: There is always an intimate relationship between God and His devotees. God makes His devotees realise and experience His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence through His divine miracles. The Divine and the Devotee are interdependent and one is meaningless without the other. Therefore, Bhagavata, while praising the glory of God, also speaks of the devotion, the spirit of surrender, the nature of the spiritual path and the sense of detachment of the devotees also.

Bhagavata proposes the doctrine of devotion with which action must be performed, thereby leading to wisdom. No intermediary can stand between God and the devotee. They are directly connected with each other. It is only your devotion that makes God confer grace on you. It can also be said that the culture of Bharat has these three main components, bhakta, bhagawan and bagavatam. God is the only refuge of a devotee. He is his wealth, life and everything.

The young boy Dhruva wanted to sit in the lap of his father. But his stepmother did not allow him to do so. He returned home heavy hearted and after informing his mother, decided to go to a forest and do intense penance. In the thick forest, unmindful of the heat, cold and rain, he undertook penance. God was pleased with him and manifested Himself before him saying that He would grant any boon he wanted. Dhruva then said, " Swami! I want you!" God responded thus: " Dhruva! You wanted one thing for which you did all this penance and now you are asking for another thing. Initially you wanted the boon to be granted to you so that it would entitle you to sit in the lap of your father. But, now you say a different thing, that you want Me. Have you not heard that your thought, word and deed should be one and the same manasyekam , vacasyekam , karman yekam mahatmanam. A noble man should see that there is harmony in thought, word and deed. First, get your desire fulfilled. Rule your kingdom for some period of time and discharge your duties in the years to come. Finally, I bless you such that everybody will remember you after you leave the earthly scene. You will remain the only glittering star eternally fixed in its own home in the sky. " This is what is meant by " The proper study of mankind is man" .

Prahlada, in spite of being thrown down from a mountaintop into a raging fire, or made to drink deadly poison, or trampled under the feet of a huge elephant, or drowned in a turbulent ocean, did not even for a short while stop chanting God's name. He went on singing His glory unceasingly. He did not pay heed to the teachings of his gurus, Chanda and Amarka. He even went a step further when he said to his father, " You could conquer the whole world. You could control the movement of stars and planets, the sun and the moon and all others. You could control all the five elements, but you couldn't conquer your inner foes!" When his father, Hiranyakasipu asked him where God was, he said, " You don't doubt his presence at any point of time anywhere in the universe. God is everywhere!" Hiranyakasipu asked, " Prahlada! Is your God present in this pillar?" Prahlada replied, " Yes. " When Hiranyakasipu broke the pillar, as you all know, from there sprang up the Lord in the avatar of Narasimha.

Here you should know the inner meaning of this momentous event. A pillar is an upadhi, a vesture or body. 'Breaking down the pillar' means 'giving up the bodyattachment'. So long as you have the body attachment, you will be full of ego, pride, possessiveness, jealousy, etc., which will blind you to the omnipresent Divinity. Prahlada's unconditional love of and surrender to God was total.

Gajendra, the king of elephants, was caught by a crocodile, and couldn't come out of the river. Gajendra struggled and exerted all his strength to come out of the jaws of the crocodile, but without any success. He came ultimately to a stage when he was left with no strength and energy of his own to continue the struggle. He cried out in a fervently prayerful voice to Govinda, his saviour, " Oh God! You are my only refuge, my only succour. I don't know anyone and you alone can save me from this inextricable predicament. Who else can come at this hour to my rescue? Oh God! Save me, save me, save me!" It was then that he was saved from the jaws of the crocodile.

You should know the inner meaning of this whole episode. The river is your life. The crocodile represents your desires and senseindulgence. Gajendra, is the jiva, individual. He initially caught hold of a tree tightly with his trunk and prayed. God did not respond. It was only when he loosened the grip and lifted the trunk upward and prayed to God wholeheartedly for his rescue that God saved him. You should take this episode as another instance of unconditional devotion or surrender. Sri Mahavishnu, the Lord sending his wheel called Sudars'ana killed the crocodile and saved Gajendra. 'Su' means 'Good' and 'dars'ana' means 'looks of grace' (compassion). So, it is His grace that saves you and not your strength, power, wealth, etc. God reacts only when you surrender to Him absolutely.

Similar was the situation of Draupadi when she was humiliated and sought to be disrobed in the open court. She held her sari tightly with one hand and prayed to God, trying to save and protect her modesty. God did not react. It was only when she joined both her hands in namaskara later that Krishna saved her.

It means that the ten fingers of both her hands were brought together when she was praying to Krishna. The jnanendriyas, five senses of perception and the karmendriyas, five senses of action represented by the five fingers of each hand have to be surrendered to God by joining both the hands while we pray to God. God never favours partnership. He never accepts part-time devotion. A devotee should think of God and sing His glory everywhere all along and not merely when he is in distress and difficulties. A child will never leave its mother alone even if she beats it. It hugs its mother all the more strongly when it is beaten. Similarly, there is every need for you to cling to God and grow ever more in faith when you face difficulties. Man's adversity is God's proximity. Man's calamity is God's opportunity. You are not at all a devotee if you run away from God or lose faith in Him because of the difficulties you encounter in life. Like this, the entire Bhagavata is full of such episodes elucidating the sincerity, steadfastness, unflinching faith, total surrender and deep devotion of certain devotees of outstanding stature while at the same time glorifying and extolling the grandeur, love and compassion of God.

Q258) Swami! Sage Vyasa composed both the Bhagavata and the Brahma Sutras. Which is superior to the other?

Bhagawan: Look! I will give an example from your own college students. You are studying B.Sc. here. You opted for the Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry group. Of these three, which one is superior to the other two? To get the degree you must necessarily study all the three subjects, should you not? Similarly, you should study the Bhagavata for bhakti (devotion) and Brahma Sutras for jnana, wisdom. Both jnana and bhakti are equally important.

Q259) Swami! There are two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata besides the eighteen puranas. The puranas deal with various appellations and attributes of God in story form, which constitute a major part of Indian mythology. They convey to the entire humanity a universal message on all aspects of life. Kindly tell us the main principles embodied there in for us to practice in our daily life.

Bhagawan: Sage Vyasa who composed all the eighteen puranas conveyed their essence in two sentences. â 'Paropakarah punyaya' and â 'Papaya parapidanam.' It is also said, 'Paropakarardham idam s'ariram, ' the body is not given just to eat, sleep, drink and die. The body is not given to us just to be selfish. God has blessed you with a body to serve others. After all, what is there to be so attached to and possessive about this body? It is nothing but horribly foul and dirty faecal matter, urine and blood. It is purely temporary and with this body do you want to get everlasting results? How is it possible? How can you experience eternal bliss with the body?

Youth passes off like melting ice, clouds and mist. So, the body is like a water bubble. It is designed and

gifted to render service to the poor and needy and definitely not merely for food and drink, because birds and beasts, flies and insects also secure food and drink. What is so extraordinary about you? It is enough if you don't harm anyone else. It is the greatest help you can do. Vyasa said, serving others is punyam, or merit. It means you shouldn't hurt anyone by thought, word and deed. Then what is papam, sin? Harming others in anyway is sin.

There is another meaning to this Paropakarah punyaya (the ordinary interpretation being service to others). Param means God. Upa means near and karah means joining. Paropakarah means coming close to God. Therefore, the greatest help you can do is to take others close to God and yourself coming close to God. This is possible through good deeds and good thoughts. Then the second statement papayapare padanam (in the ordinary sense it means that harming others is sin) also has another meaning. Param = God, Pida = One God viewed as many. The sum and substance of the statement is that it is a sin to think of one God as many. It amounts to thinking of plurality or multiplicity in the divinity.

There is only one atma spirit/soul in everyone. But if you fragment it into pieces and experience diversity, it is a sin. I very often tell my students that the essence of all the eighteen epics is " Parpakarah punyaya, " Hurt Never Help ever ' papayapare padanam'. These two are enough for practice in your daily life, and achieving liberation.

Q260) Swami! How should we view the Epics and puranas in our spiritual path and spiritual life?

Bhagawan: Our epics and puranas teach us many aspects of life. They speak of human values, refer to the divinity within you, and teach you the way to lead an ideal life, show you the purpose and goal of life and explain in clear terms through many anecdotes the culture of Bharat. They also clearly indicate the fall of man if he doesn't follow dharma or the basic human values. They emphasise the need to follow and uphold dharma for both the individual good and the social. They explain vividly your true nature, which is atma itself. But today, we have people who wrongly interpret them, give distorted versions and not their real inner significance. So, none of you is taking advantage of the teachings of our epics and puranas.

In fact the epics are the records of our, history and culture. They are the lights of wisdom and spiritual awakening. They connect the jiva, individual with the deva, divine. Each text is a bridge for travelling from the shore of this world to the other shore of God. Each text shows how God incarnated in human form and demonstrated to the entire mankind how life could be led in an ideal way, Himself being the director and playing the roles perfectly.

For example, in Maharshi Valmiki's epic, the Ramayana, Lord Rama knew full well that he was God. Sages like Vasishtha, and Bharadvaja knew that Lord Rama was the incarnation of God Vishnu. But he behaved all through the Ramayana like a human being. He cried for Sita because he could not bear separation from her. The Ramayana teaches how man should behave as a son; a brother, a husband and a ruler. Its teachings also include certain norms regarding friendship and teacherstudent relationship. Truth, dharma, obeying father's command and the principle of monogamy are the lessons of the Ramayana. This is the very objective of the Ramayana and the secret behind God's incarnation as Rama. The text teaches some of the fundamental and timeless human values to the entire race of mankind. The Ramayana shows how a person like Ravana with all his excellence in scholarship and penance, with his absolute command over his people and the splendour of his wealth ruined himself as he fell a prey to kama. This is the lesson of his life.

Then the Bhagavata show's distinctly how anger ruins atma. A person loses his selfrespect and wealth and spoils all his tasks on hand because of his hot temper. He becomes physically weak and mentally agitated due to anger. Characters like Kamsa, Sisupala, Jarasandha, and Dantavaktra lost their value, name and life due to anger. They developed hatred towards God and being overpowered by their own ego, they lost their mental balance and consequently faced miserable death.

The other epic composed by Vyasa, is the Mahabharata. The Kauravas were hundred in number. They had physical prowess, large manpower, kingdom and whole divisions of army and intelligence. But what happened to them at the end? Not even one of the hundred survived the battle of Kurukshetra. They left behind their bereaved and bewailing parents. There was none left to perform their funeral rites. What a pitiable state of things it is! Why! At the root, it was greed that was responsible for such a great misfortune. The Kauravas refused to give even half the kingdom that by right belonged to the Pandavas. Later on, they refused to give even five villages to the five brothers. This was the height of their greed. The Kauravas made repeated attempt to kill the Pandavas. That was the intensity of their greed.

While the Ramayana teaches how dangerous kama, desire and anger are, the Mahabharata shows how total destruction is the result of greed. One may have umpteen virtues and merits, yet just one evil like desire or anger or greed is enough to bring about one's fall as has been narrated in our epics. You have to draw lessons out of the episodes narrated in the epics and puranas or the itihasas of our land.

CHAPTER XII Scriptures and Baba: Baba

Q261) Swami! We takesumptuous meals twice a day. Again, we take heavy breakfast, evening tiffinand several cups of coffee now and then during the course of the day. Still, we feel weak and exhausted. You don't take anything except one or twospoonfuls of food. But you work and strain yourself a lot. You walk miles in a day. How are you soenergetic?

Bhagawan:This is divinity. You deriveenergy from the food you eat. If you take less food, you become weak. But, theenergy of Swami is not derived from food. I don't take any breakfast. I justdrink a glass of water at 10.00 in the morning. I eat very little. I do nottake curds, ghee, sweets, ice cream, oily or spicy stuff and the like. My foodis a poor man's food, ' ragi ', millets. You have seen me not taking anythingin the evenings for the last one year. I do so much work. I personally lookinto every minute detail of the institutions here: educational, hospital, mandir, besides the current water project. I have direct contact withevery devotee. No one stands between. Since there are no secrets, I have nosecretary. It is all a connection of only lovetolove and hearttoheart. Forthe work I do, it is estimated that I need 1500 calories of energy. But thefood I take has hardly 200 calories. Then, where from do I get the energy Ineed? It is not from food. Know that I am energy, nay, its very source.

Physically, I am 70. Yet, I cansee even an ant from a distance. I don't wear glasses. You people beginwearing glasses from 40 years of age. I can hear any sound, even theslightest, and my teeth are very strong and sharp. I don't have even a singlegrey hair. I feel like walking more and more. But it would put you all toinconvenience as many follow me wherever I go. I attend to my personal work.You may wonder how my senses are so sharp.

What is your prayer before youtake your food? You pray to God who is in the form of Vaisvanara and to whomfood is offered as he digests, assimilates, and supplies the essence to thedifferent parts of your body. Therefore, the food you all eat comes to me andI am in you. Just examine why your senses are weak. The answer is simple, viz., misuse of senses, selfishness, and narrowmindedness. There is not aniota of selfishness in me from top to toe. You are mine. My only concern isyour welfare and spiritual progress.

Q262) Swami! I beg yourpardon for asking this question. While I am afraid to pose the question, I amalso very keen to know the answer from you. Since you are our mostcompassionate God, I have made bold to ask you this question. Swami! You talkto some devotees as soon as they come here, whereas you don't talk to someothers who have been here for a long time. How are we to reconcile these twofacts?Bhagawan:There is nothing wrong in askingany question in your search for truth. It is not good to entertain any doubts.All the more so, in respect of God.

You should always believe inone thing: whatever happens to you, it is for your own good. Only God knowswhat, when, how, why and to whom anything is to be done. You don't understandthis. Every action of Swami will help you. Swami may talk to some immediatelyand may not do so to some others for a long time. This is a matter of time, according to you. But Swami is beyond time and space.

I give you a simple example here.Suppose a bus starts from here, and passengers start boarding it. What do younotice? The passenger who gets into the bus first goes to the front andoccupies the seat by the side of the driver. The last passenger has to standnear the door. Then, when the bus stops at the terminus and the passengersstart getting down from the bus, what happens? The last passenger standingnear the door gets down first and the first passenger sitting near the drivergets down last. Isn't it so? Therefore, the first becomes the last and thelast the first. The same thing applies to Swami's devotees:

Saint Mrikanda put a similarquestion to sage Narada. " Oh Narada! How is it that so young a boy likePrahlada could see the divine manifestation at an early age whereas we, whohave been doing penance for the last hundreds of years, are doing it in vain?Why should it happen like that?" Narada replied like this: " Oh Saint! Prahladais very young in years, no doubt, but his yearning for God must havebeen for several of his previous lives. This is the result of the cumulativeeffect of his earlier lives of prayerful yearning for God. You may think thatyou have been doing penance for long years. But all this you have done duringthis lifetime of yours only. The body of Prahlada is young but his soul hasbeen pining for God ever since his earlier births. You are old now in age butyour attempt has been short. "

I will give you another example.A young man, with a hammer, wanted to break a stone. Inspite of his twentystrokes, the stone did not break. An old man passing by that side hammered thesame stone twice. It broke! You may wonder how it could happen. The old mancould break the stone that couldn't be broken by the young man. Do you knowwhy? The stone had already received as many as twenty hammer strokes from theyoung man. So the total came to twentytwo strokes, with the old man hammeringit twice. Similarly, the dawn of Godrealization may look early or late fromyour point of view. But the reality is different.

Q263) Swami! We don't find outour own faults. Even if we recognise them, we justify them and because of ournarrowmindedness, we don't understand your infinite love. We doubt and limityour love. As ill luck would have it, you don't seem to look at our faces whenwe sit in dars'an lines and sometimes it appears that you are avoidingus. We are depressed because you don't talk nor do you at us. How are we totake and face this sad situation?

Bhagawan: Believe it or not, from top to toe there is not an iota of selfishness in Swami! Whatever I do and say, it is for your own good. Why am I harsh with you at times? It is my love for you, and in order to check and transform you, I pretend to be harsh and serious. If I don't feel that you are mine, why should I bother to correct you? It is my duty, since you are mine, to set you right when you are wrong.

You feel sad when I don't talk to you because you value my words. Your wavering mind and your shaky faith make you listen to and act according to the words of some irresponsible persons. You are carried away by them. So, there arise some undesirable thoughts in your mind and some unbecoming traits in your behaviour. Therefore, I act as if I am keeping you away from me. Why? My intention is to correct you quickly.

Take one example. When a road is under repair, what do you do? You take a diversion and pass through another route, don't you? Similarly, to bring about reformation in you, very often I pretend to be avoiding you and not observing you. The day you change, everything becomes normal, just as the traffic is resumed soon after the road is repaired. God, out of His intense and infinite love for you, incarnates only to correct and guide you. So, I treat in this manner those people who tread along the wrong path in my 'hospital' of Prasantinilayam. Soon after they are cured and their health is restored, I discharge them, and then establish with them the same old and usual relationship.

I have to reaffirm, reestablish and rejuvenate your faith. I have to lay the proper and strong foundation for you so that you may lead a happy and dharmic life. I have to infuse self-confidence in you so that you don't fall victim to worldly, sensual pleasures. Your prayer may not bring about world peace. See that you don't have bad qualities like greed and violence. This is a tough, rough and difficult path to follow. But you have got to follow it. Tarry no longer and do not allow the bad qualities you have long adopted and nurtured to have a firm grip over you and your life. Do give them up forthwith.

In the olden days when anyone fell sick in Puttaparti, they used to get him treated by a nonmedical, unlettered, unqualified and inexperienced fake doctor. As a result, the condition of the patient often became very serious. Later they began running to places like Anantapur, Chickballapur, Vellore and so on to save the patient. Had they given proper treatment to the patient by a senior qualified doctor, this situation would have been averted. Isn't it so? Some Gurus, selfstyled, who have failed to solve their own problems, go round like beggars, and you run after them. What do you expect from them? Don't give any scope for ego and pride in you. Accept God as your guide and director in your life and follow him strictly.

Q264) Swami! Over the years, we read thousands of books, and heard numerous speeches. But our Swami's speeches are unique, incomparable, deliciously sweet, ever new, and stir our hearts. What is the secret?

Bhagawan: What is natural is necessarily beautiful. What comes from the heart is ever fresh. Jnana is not something to be learnt, say, from books, but experiences to be enjoyed like that of a delightful fragrance.

Now you are considered as individuals, members of a society. Individualism blooms only though teachings, boldly refreshing true and eternal. An individual is more than a form, a shape. He becomes a vyakti, person, when he manifests qualities of the inner self. It is the teachings of Satya Guru that convey to you your divinity and make you capable of recognising it.

Q265) Swami! Your discourses and conversations are full of illustrations, and short and sweet stories. They are simple and easy to understand. They are related to situations from our daily life. They give us immense joy. What is the secret?

Bhagawan: Today, there are very few teachers who know and explain spiritual matters clearly, leave alone their experience. So, their actual meaning and true significance are not conveyed properly. Distorted versions, perverted views, wrong interpretations are often passed on to the general public. Hence, the reality is never understood and experienced, so much so, spirituality to many modern people is nothing but confusion confounded, and full of contradictions.

I give many small examples drawn from your experiences in daily life. In order to win a case in a court of law, should you not have proper witnesses? These examples are given in support of the subject so as to make you understand and remember it easily.

Q266) Swami! Please do not mistake us. Please pardon us for a feeling that comes to us quite often. As we listen to your discourses, we find many repetitions. We feel that the things we have heard and already understood are being simply repeated. What is to be done then?

Bhagawan: You are thoroughly mistaken. It is a feeling of the ego, born of ignorance. You should never feel this way, particularly when you are on the path. Every religion has a spiritual text like the Bible, the Koran and so on. The followers of Hinduism read the Bhagavadgita, the Sundarakanda of the Ramayana, etc., as sadhana. Scriptures remind us of our duties, responsibilities, obligations and aims besides enabling us to spend our time in a sacred way. For spiritual seekers and aspirants, scriptures are the lights of wisdom. Therefore, theists revere and read holy books. You feel that you are hearing the same old messages. But have you experienced them? Have you practised all of them? In fact, these spiritual matters should be repeated time and again until they are practised.

Scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavadgita mention repeatedly and emphatically important spiritual aspects like bhakti, karma, vairagyam and jnana. They direct seekers to cultivate healthy spiritual habits and qualities to attain moksha by emphasising and repeating at several places things like bhakti, karma, and jnana. Don't you know that your dehamata, the physical mother, makes the child repeat Telugu words like amma, mother, mama, uncle, atta, aunt, tata, grandfather, and so on, and teaches him how to speak. So, this Sai lokamata, Sai, Mother of the Universe is Vedamata as well. Sai mata, Mother Sai repeats these fundamentals again and again for the sake of the child.

Often you wear the same clothes. You take food every day. You drink coffee several times every day. In spite of these repetitions, you still want to continue the old habits, and are not fed up or bored. Similarly, you have to hear these spiritual matters repeatedly so that you do not forget them. You should never feel disgusted at any time with matters pertaining to spirituality. Still worse are some people who have a headache or fall asleep when spiritual matters are discussed. But, while the talk is on mundane matters, or people are gossiping, they evince keen interest and follow each word with rapt attention. Such people should note that whatever spiritual sadhana they do is all a waste. A cakora bird may get tired waiting for the moonlight. A koel, known for its melodies, may be exhausted while singing. You may not even relish drinking amrita, celestial nectar. But, in respect of God, no one should ever feel disgusted, bored or tired. This is important for a devotee. A fool like you once asked a purohita, priest, at the time of the marriage of his second daughter, " What, Sir! You are repeating now the mantras you had chanted at the time of my first daughter's wedding!" Mantras don't change from one wedding to another. This is the height of foolishness.

One may read any number of books. One may hear about the contents mentioned in Holy Scriptures. One may give lectures on spiritual topics. Until one takes to practising what one believes in, all other acts are useless. A small story for you to illustrate this. There was once a pandit, an expert in the Bhagavadgita.

He was very poor, and found it hard to maintain his family. He decided to go to the king, give discourses on the Gita and thus please him. He expected the king to reward him profusely for his scholarly presentation. In fact, the king himself was a great scholar in the Gita and he had even experienced the truths mentioned there. But no one knew that the king was well versed in the Gita.

The pandit requested the minister to convey to the king his intention to give talks on the Gita in the presence of the king. On hearing this, the king sent a message to the pandit saying that, the pandit was yet to know the essence of the Gita. After fifteen days, the pandit again approached the king through the minister. But the king turned down his request saying that he, the pandit, was yet to go into the depth of the Gita. The pandit was totally upset and very much disappointed, and returned home. He refused to answer his wife when she asked him for the reason nor his sadness. She, after some time, served him tiffin and tea and softly elicited the reason for his frustration. The pandit said to his wife: " Look! You

know that I am an expert on the Gita. None can equal me in speaking on this sacred book. I got several titles and rewards as well as recognition from the public for my expositions and interpretations of the Gita. But for the first time, I feel humiliated as the king has refused me permission to enter his court and speak. Had it been anyone else, I would have taken him to task" .

Then, the wife said, " Sir! It appears to me that what the king said is true" . The pandit was very angry on hearing her comment. He said, " What nonsense are you speaking? Are you a fool? Don't I know the Gita? Am I not a scholar? What do you mean by saying that the king's remark is true?" Then, the wife politely and respectfully said, " Sir! I am fortunate to have been listening to your valuable discourses for the last several years. I very well remember your saying that in the Gita, God assured His devotee, ananyas'cin tayanto mam, if only the devotee concentrates fully on Him, yogaksemam vahamyaham, God would look after him in every way. You also said that God added, moksayisyamima sucah, God would grant even liberation. But I am surprised to see you trying to approach the king instead of God! Perhaps you believe that God may not keep His promise. Isn't it so?" Similarly, we have today many scholars who can speak excellently on the Gita, . They have no faith in what they say. They merely chant, repeat verbatim, and preach to others. This is not important. One must put into practice at least one or two principles out of all that is studied, learnt and spoken.

Q267) Swami! How nice would it be if we follow your exemplary acts, take your life as your message, do things at the exact and right time! We see you distributing gifts immediately as and when you decide. Kindly suggest ways and means of emulating you.

Bhagawan: You should never postpone doing good things. There should be perfect harmony in your thought, word and deed: This is true human value. I give you a simple example here. When you fire a gun, what happens? The release of the bullet and the sound of the shot occur at the same time. Similarly, your decision and action should take place together, simultaneously.

There is a small episode in the Mahabharata. Once a poor old Brahmin approached Dharmaja with a request to help him, absolutely povertystricken as he was. Dharmaja considered the matter sympathetically all right, but he asked the Brahmin to see him on the following day. Bhima who was also there happened to overhear their conversation. That night he made all the arrangements for decorating the city, Huge platforms were raised and various gifts made ready to be distributed among the poor and deserving. The next morning Dharmaja got up as usual and was surprised to see the hectic activity going on all around the city. He asked Bhima what it was all about, and the reason behind it.

Bhima said, " Brother! Yesterday I heard you asking the poor old Brahmin, who came seeking your help, to meet you today. I was so happy to note that you were so sure of your life. Life is uncertain. But you were so sure about it. This made me happy and celebrate your certainty about life in a big way" . Thus, he indirectly conveyed to his brother that good things should be done immediately.

There is another small story. One day Karna was taking an oil bath. A servant was massaging his body with oil from a gold cup. A poor man came and begged for Karna's help. Karna immediately gave the gold cup he was holding in his left hand. The poor man said, " Oh King! Is it proper on your part to present a gift with your left hand? Why did you do that?" Then Kama said, " It is true I presented the gold cup with my left hand. Had I but taken the time to transfer it into my right hand, I am afraid, my mind might have changed and I might have reversed my own decision. So, without giving any scope for second thoughts I gave it to you immediately even though the cup was in my left hand. " This is exactly what you should do. The moment you think of doing one good act, do it without any loss of time, never keep it pending till tomorrow.

Q268) Swami! Your love is incomparable, second to none: It excels the sky and the ocean in its vastness and depth. You are the very personification of sacrifice. Why are we not able to comprehend it?

Bhagawan: You can bring water from the sea, but only as much as the container you carry. Isn't it so? Your Heart is a small tumbler. How can you carry Swami's love, which is an ocean? How can you estimate it? After all, you are at the physical level. So, you are comparing your body to My body. Then, what about the Heart? You have a very narrow mind. Swami's Heart is as broad as the infinite sky. You may at the most know the present, but Swami knows the past; the present and the future. My car has forward gear and also a reverse gear.

Note: God has the three qualities, akarsana , samkarsana and prakarsana. If I sit in the chair inside the Mandir, you will come near me, have dars'an, and return. But I don't do that. I walk along the lines in your midst repeatedly. You will be very happy if I walk round you. This makes Swami also feel happy. Bliss is my food. Thousands of devotees come to this place for dars'arn. I look after them and providing accommodation and food. They return home full of satisfaction and bliss. They have immense love for Swami.

If you have nigraha, sense control, you will get anugraha, grace. Take a small example. When you go to a goldsmith, what would you do? You give him gold, mention the design of the ornaments of your choice and you note the exact weight of the gold you give, don't you? You don't say, " Do not burn the gold I have given you. I don't want you to hammer and cut it" . But, what you want and expect is the jewel according to the design and the weight given before. I do the same thing here. I make you learn manners, develop good behaviour, and act with discipline. I transform you into most precious jewels.

Remember always that a boy should have good 'behaviour', a man good 'manners' and a devotee 'discipline'. You know the Godrej Company. It is not Godrej that is important. What is important is God raise, i.e., God raises you to a higher level of a life of quality. You must be ready and prepared for it. You call a human being manisi in Telugu. Now read it in the reverse, it becomes 'cinema'. Life should not be artificial like a cinema or movie. With this sort of an artificial life, how do you expect to know and experience Me?

Q269) Swami! You are the embodiment of Love. Invariably your divine discourses are permeated with Love. If we understand even a tiny particle, we will become blessed. Please enlighten us on the place of Love in spiritual terms.

Bhagawan: There is nothing greater than Love. Love alone is life. Love alone is the support of everything. There is no greater sadhana or spiritual practice than Love. Love alone is the destination. Love alone is the key to bliss. " Love is God, God is love" . Of these two, " Love is God" is correct. The nature and existence of God, you have neither known nor experienced. So, to say " God is love" , something beyond your knowledge and experience, is meaningless. But, there is none in the world devoid of love. Man may not have, or be lacking; something or other. One may or may not have education, wealth, and authority. But there is no man or place devoid of love. Love is the foundation of the building called God. Love of God is affirmed, cognised, and experienced by all mankind. From where has this Love arrived? Has it come from outside? No, no. It has come from the self. Love is right within you. Love is the key to all spiritual practices. You chant God's name. Do you chant it without Love? Can you perform japa without Love? Only those spiritual practices you love, you take up. Love is of prime importance in your sadhana. Adi Sankara is the emperor of advaita, and propagated the doctrine of advaita. Even this Sankara composed the celebrated, Bhajagovindam 'Worship Govinda', and warned, Govindam bhaja mudhamate . " Oh! Stupid one! Worship Govinda!" He, thus, pointed out the way to experiencing God's Love. In other words, Love surpasses even the highest reaches of jnana. Man experiences Love in a variety of ways: mamakaram , becoming a slave to attachment through love of worldly things; vatsalyam, developing affection for children and grandchildren; anuragam desire for wife; abhimanam, pride in one's kith and kin; maitri company of colleagues and people of one's own age. Above all, there is Love of God, devotion. Pure, unselfish, and constant love is ideal, transcendental devotion. Being Himself love, God can be realised only through Love. Fill your heart with Love. Life is Love. Share it. Enjoy it.

Q270) Swami! listening to Your conversations, teachings, and discourses is true jnanam. When this is put into practice, this becomes wisdom gained through our experience, and shines as practical wisdom. When, say, will our ignorance be dispelled? Your profound, divine discourses are a feast for our ears, enthusing and inspiring us.

Bhagawan: What use is simple listening? Is merely glancing at cooked food enough? Knowledge gained has to be turned into experience. This jewel of jnana has to be secured with ever so much care, love, and piety. Here is an example. A raw fruit may be thrown away without any loss to it or to you. But what happens when you throw away or let drop a ripe, sweet mango? The fruit bursts and the sweet juice spills to the ground, doesn't it? That is why you have to hold the ripe fruit gently with both hands safely. In the same way, the fruit of jnana is to be secured, leaving no chance for it to slip down.

Ajnana, irrespective of its duration and magnitude, vanishes the moment jnana dawns. Even though ajnana had persisted through many lives, the light of jnana dispels the darkness of Anna instantly. Take this example. Suppose you lock your house and live in another town. More specifically, locking your house in Guntur, think that you have been staying in Puttaparti from six months. As Swami had gone to Bangalore, you leave for Guntur, and reached your house. You open the doors and find the interior dark. This darkness has been there for six months. Now you switch on the light. How long .does it take for the darkness to disappear? Does it require six months? Instantly there is light. Similarly, the darkness of ajnana no matter however long it had been there is vanquished immediately.

Note this carefully. A tree might have grown very tall, and may have been there for a long, long time. But how much time does it take to fell it with an axe? The fire of jnana, the sword of jnana, in an instant, puts an end to ajnana of very long standing.

This ajnana is really darkness, ignorance, illusion, and delusion. You may have your ears pierced with rings, wear bangles on your hands, or have a necklace round your neck. Now, the knowledge that all these are made of gold is jnana. Visualising these as ornaments and noting their names and shapes, their diversity, is an illusion, a delusion. Enjoying gulabjamun, basundi, jangri, laddu and so on as sweetmeats is ajnana; considering them all as sugar is jnana. Remember, cattle feed on grass and you eat rice.

Humanness consists in not permitting reentry to evil, once you know it to be evil. The fundamental recognition that hunger and thirst are common to all mankind is Divine. Thus jnana, as it is Divine, integrates all things. Conversely, by whatever name it is called, illusion, delusion, avidya , bhranti, bhrama, maya, ajnana is the force behind shattering and breaking into pieces, the force of disintegration.

The man who possesses jnana behaves in private as he does in public. He has no use for stunt, exhibition, or hypocrisy.

 

By Questions

Q1) Swami! India (Bharat) is the land of religion and spirituality. All the incarnations have taken birth in Bharat. What is the reason behind this?

Q2) Swami! We find people of every religion following a specific sacred text and a particular path. But in Sanatana Dharma , we have numerous paths, texts, and procedures such as dualism, qualified non-dualism and non?dualism, the nine paths of devotion, the six Darsanas, the four Vedas, numerous Sastras, and so on. How are we to understand these and practice the principles of Sanatana Dharma ?

Q3) Swami! Muslims go to a mosque every Friday to pray ( namaj ), and Christians go to a church every Sunday. Then, how is it that Hindus do not meet in a temple like other religious groups?

Q4) Swami! Since God is omnipresent and omniscient, do we need temples and should we go on pilgrimage to holy places like Shirdi, Puttaparti, Tirupati, and so on?

Q5) Swami! Why did the ancient rishis, sages and saints, choose forests to undertake tapas or penance? Why did they prefer solitude?

Q6) Swami! We don't find any understanding between any two persons, but only mutual bickering and differences. We hardly find any unity or brotherhood between man and man. What is the reason?

Q7) Swami! Hindus are criticised for worshipping idols, trees, etc. Many think that this is all superstition and blind faith. What do you feel about this, Swami?

Q8) Swami! Kindly tell us what is to be done in our country now?

Q9) Swami! Kindly tell us about Vasishtha and Visvamitra the two sages who are very prominent in the Ramayana?

Q10) Swami! Among the sages, how is Valmiki noteworthy?

Q11) Swami! We heard about King Dasaratha, the yoga called 'putrakameshti', and so on. Kindly tell us something about King Janaka.

Q12) Swami'. We hear that Adi Sankara died at a young age. What could be the reason?

Q13) Swami! Tyagaraja, very well known as a devotee of Rama, composed kr tis (hymns in praise of the Lord) which are sung even today. What is special about them?

Q14) Swami! Right now, we are in Kodaikanal. Tamilnadu is known for its renowned devotees. We often hear about Manikya Vachakar and Tiruvalluvar. We want to hear from you about these two illustrious sons of Tamilnadu.

Q15) Swami! God is attributeless. He is above sattvika , rajasika , and tamasika qualities. But, we are bound by these three attributes. How can we realise God, then?

Q16) Swami! We pray to you to tell us about the two aspects of God, with form and without it?

Q17) Swami! Scriptures declare that God is omnipresent; God is everywhere. Kindly explain this aspect of Divinity? How are we to understand this?

Q18) Swami! When the same divinity is present in everyone, why should differences exist? Divinity being the same, why are we so different from each other?

Q19) Swami! It is said that God is hr dayavasi , dweller in our heart. Is it the same heart, which is on the left side in on our chest?

Q20) Swami! Can divinity be probed into? Is it possible to know it by reasoning?

Q21) Swami! What should we do to receive God's grace?

Q22) Swami! Why are we not the recipients of Divine grace?

Q23) Swami! Our fortune is immeasurable, how many people get this opportunity! This is all your grace. But, how are we to preserve this?

Q24) Swami! How does your Grace affect our destiny and our prarabdha , past karma?

Q25) Swami! Can we be sure of God's grace if we do sadhana regularly?

Q26) Swami! We are here in your presence because of your infinite grace and mercy. Your blessings have brought us all here. We bask in the sunshine of bliss bestowed on us by your Divine dars' an , spars'an and sambhas an . Do we still need merit from past lives and the samskaras ?

Trends in Society

Q27) Swami! Manis not behaving in the way expected of him. He is losing his very humannature. How should he transform himself at this juncture? How about society, if he remains like this, Swami?

Q28) Swami! May be due to theimpact of the Age of Kali, we don't find in these days, any understandingamong the members of a family. Instead, we find differences in many families, even conflicts, complexes, competitions; and sometimes matters become so bad as to drag a family tothe courts. Please suggest a way out of this sad plight, Swami!

Q29)Swami! Today the whole world is strife?torn. We hear of racial discrimination, class conflict, bloodshed, war, and so on. Kindly give some message to thepresent day world.

Q30)Swami! In reality, the entire human race is one and the same, its basic corebeing divinity. Why then do we not react in the same way? Why do we think andact differently?

Q31) Swami! We hear the words, " rajaniti" and " rajakiyam. " Are these, in fact, one and the same? Howshould we name what we see around us?

Q32)Swami! We have people of varied temperaments, views, ideas, outlooks, ambitions and interests. Conflict becomes inevitable. Each one wants things tohappen in his own way. What should we do then?

Q33)Swami! When we say, 'men and women are equal', why then do we find differencesand discrimination between the two sexes?

Q34)Swami! We hear many funny statements in present day society. People speakabout Women's Liberation Movement. Some say that women have not been giventheir due place since times immemorial. They complain that there has alwaysbeen discrimination on grounds of gender and never was a fair deal given to awoman. Women now fight for equal rights with men. We pray to you to describeto us the role of women in our society?

Q35)Swami! A change is very much needed in every field of our activity. Almost allwalks of public life are nowadays polluted, disgusting and disappointing. Howis change to be brought about?

Q36) Swami! We are always in ahurry. We have to rush to so many places to catch up and to keep pace withtime and work. In this type of fast life, is it possible to be spiritual? Canwe hurry here in the spiritual field too?

Q37)Swami! The growing trend today is to earn more and more money. Ego and prideare growing beyond control. Would you kindly give us the solution for thistrend?

Q38)Swami! In an organisation where we have to interact with people, most often wecome across people criticising each other and blaming each other. This is veryfrustrating, and divides people into groups. Sincere persons become frustratedbecause of uncharitable criticism. It looks like character assassination andmud slinging. How are we to take this evil prevalent everywhere?

Q39) Swami! Aswe think of the way in which our life is going, we find it confusing anddisheartening. We also doubt if it is going in the right direction or not. Youare our only refuge. Kindly guide us.

Q40) Swami! How should we conductourselves socially? What are social norms?

Q41) Swami! Many people feel thatthey are too busy to have rest. How, then, is one to take rest?

Q42) Swami! We worry a lot.Sometimes we fall sick also due to worry. What is worry? Please tell us hownot to worry?

Q43) Swami!Nowadays many educated people waste their time, money and energy in towns andcities. Bhagawan, we are eager to know your views on this subject.

Q44) Swami!When we are not happy with the type of education and the money we receive, isit right to feel that they are useless? Should we give up these two? What isthe way out?

Q45) Swami! Ourcountry, Bharat, is famous politically for its secular constitution. But, political parties interpret " secularism" in a variety of ways. Some offerdistorted comments. I pray for your clarification.

Q46) Swami!Today a number of international organisations are striving for peace. It looksas though the guiding principles of these organisations are not focusedproperly. How then is peace to be achieved?

Q47) Swami! Inthis modern age, many of us consider our age?old religious rituals like yajnasand yagas meaningless, ridiculous and outdated. Why has this happened?

Q48) Swami!Kindly instruct us in the main principles making for progress in spheres suchas Science, Politics, Ethics, Religion, and Spirituality.

Q49) Swami! Many speak ofculture? What is the value of culture?

Q50) Swami! Have people comecloser to God in this modern world?

Q51) Swami! How can we come up inlife?

Q52) Swami! Kindly tell us how toachieve greatness in life?

Q53) Swami! What is an idealgovernment?

Q54) Swami! This gentleman is afamous journalist. Many say that he reports well for the newspapers.

Q55) Swami! What is essential forus now?

YOUTH

Q56) Swami! We go to colleges and universities for studies and acquire knowledge. We take up some employment thereafter. We draw our salaries, but, the pity is whomsoever we meet starts saying, " I don't have peace of mind" . Why is this so? What is to be done?

Q57) Swami! Many of us are helpless when we interact with youngsters. They often say, " Don't interfere with Bhagawan: our freedom. We are independent and act in the way we choose. " We find it difficult to convince them about what we think is right, and to guide them in the right direction. What should we do in the present circumstances?

Q58) Swami! What is the ideal ambience of a classroom?

Q59) Swami! Today we find imitation inall spheres of life. In particular, this imitation is very common amongyoungsters. What does Swami say about it?

Q60) Swami! Today many people, particularly youngsters, are wasting their time. Many are lazy, and idle awaytheir precious time. So, in spite of rich resources, the country is notprogressing. Kindly suggest a cure for this malady.

Q61) Swami! Everywhere we hear peoplespeaking of 'brain drain'. Statistics indicate that from year to year thenumber of educated people going abroad is increasing. Is this good?

Q62) Swami! Whatare your comments on brain drain? Many highly educated professionals likeengineers, doctors, computer experts plan to go abroad and settle there forbetter and higher prospects of income and placement in life. This is the causefor worry in many circles, both government and private. What do you feel aboutthis?

Q63) Swami! Modern youth, in the nameof generation gap, are not prepared to pay heed to their elders. Advise andgive us your message.

Q64) Swami! We have on one side ourparents pulling us towards the world and on the other, the divine teachings wehave been fortunate enough to receive from you. We wonder which of the twowill dominate and influence us.

Q65) Swami! We areprogressing in Science and Technology. At the same time, our modern youth arenot able to face life's problems courageously. They are depressed by the slightest problem. They are not able to bear any suffering with patience, andeasily take to drink and drugs. What is Swami's message to our youth?

Q66) Swami! You seem to be very muchupset and annoyed when anything goes wrong in respect of discipline, educational standards and personality development in general. Swami! Youcome down heavily upon students when you see their slackness in coming up toyour expectations and openly reprimand the guilty in public. It is terrifyingto be a witness to this sort of a thing. I get fear?stricken when I think ofyou, Swami, in that mood. How are we to reconcile ourselves to such asituation and take it positively?

Q67) Swami! Today when we meet studentsand ask them what they are doing, we hear them say that they are in thecomputer line or doing an M. Tech. Course. We want to know Swami's views onthis craze for computer studies?

Q68) Swami! What are the qualities of aleader?

Q69) Swami! We often wonder at the wayyou instruct and advise your students. We don't think that we, as parents, canever do this in the same manner as you do. You are great and benevolent, offering free education to our children. You also teach them how they shouldconduct themselves as responsible citizens in society. Your love excels thelove of even a thousand mothers. Your love is an ocean of fathomless depth.Some of the M.B.A. boys of your Institute of Higher Learning are here. Would you please give them a message?

Q70) Swami! Listening to your spiritualelucidation of worldly studies, we are lost in wonder. Our Swami, who bringsinto the open the values of several disciplines, is the World Teacher. Welearn that Swami had given a message to the M.B.A. students. If you considerus fit to receive it, kindly describe the salient points to us.

Q71) Swami! We don't understand whatwisdom actually is. Isn't the knowledge we gain in our educationalinstitutions wisdom? If not, how are we to acquire it easily? Part II Sadhaka

THE OUTER DOOR

Q72) Bhagawan! Should we follow any discipline or regulation in our food habits? Is that necessary for our spiritual pursuit? Sai devotees all over the world are vegetarians because of your teachings. This is amazing. We have none today to tell us matters relating to our food habits. Kindly direct us.

Q73) Swami! In your organisation or your institutions, workers, students, teachers, devotees and doctors wear white dress always. Why? What is the reason?

Q74) Swami! Today Sai devotees are spread all over the world. They range from Heads of Governments to ordinary citizens. As your devotees, they enjoy special respect and esteem in society. What is the key to this?

Q75) Swami! We visit temples religiously. We go on pilgrimage once in a while. We continue to do our rituals and religious acts. But there is no cognisable change in our life?pattern. Why is this so, Swami?

Q76) Swami! Why do we differ? Why does our behaviour vary? What is the root cause behind these differences? How are we to cultivate ideal and good ways in life?

Q77) Swami! Is it necessary for us to observe austerity and follow discipline only inside an asram or in the society outside as well?

Q78) Swami! Some people pose challenges quite unwarranted. Pious and noble people are disturbed and agitated in such situations? What should we do with those who challenge us unnecessarily?

Q79) Swami! We are engrossed in worldly, problems and responsibilities. We get deeply involved in self?centred activities. Yet, we pray to God. In a sense, our minds are fully occupied with mundane thoughts. What is to be done?

Q80) Swami! Today, Sai glory brought almost everybody from all parts of the world to your feet. People from many countries, whose names we had never heard before, are coming to you. People of almost all linguistic groups of the world are here. We have representation from all walks of life. It is unfortunate that we, who have been here with you, find ourselves less devoted to you than your overseas devotees. We see them practice your teachings with much more sincerity of heart than us! Why is this happening?

Q8 1) Swami, devotees come from far off places like Argentina, Philippines, Guatemala, Russia and many other countries from all over the world. Name a country, and its representation is there at Prasanti Nilayam. They go out of this place with heavy hearts, not able to leave you. How should they take it and what exactly do you want them to do in the circumstances?

Q82) Swami! It is our common experience that some of us are quite good for sometime, devoted, disciplined and dutiful especially when we are here in your proximity. Then, why do we change when we are somewhere else? What happens to all that we learn here? Why do we lose sacred qualities like sincerity, devotion and steadfastness when we are away? Kindly pardon our mistakes and let us know the causes of our downfall?

Q83) Swami? We are here by your sheer grace and mercy. You say that you spend three?fourths of your time on your boys. What do you want us to do?

Q84) Swami! How can we develop confidence in ourselves?

Q85) Swami! I am interested in philosophy. Do you advise me to study philosophy?

Q86) Swami! How are we to believe all this is happening everyday in Kodaikanal? Can we estimate our good luck that is responsible for the golden opportunity of sitting at your lotus feet and listening to five discourses a day? How are we to retain this privilege?

Q87) Swami! We have on one side the most invaluable spirituality while on the other, we have also friends and relatives diverting our attention towards the world. No doubt, it is our fault to pay heed to their words. Yet, we face the conflict. What is to be done?

Q88) Swami! It is most unfortunate that there is no tangible change in our lifestyle though we have been here and listening to your divine discourses over the years. We do not know the reason why it is so. Kindly show us the way.

Q89) Swami! Because of wrong direction in our thinking, we feel dejected restless and often fail in our attempts. Kindly show us the way out of it.

Q90) Swami! Nowwe understand that we should also have such intense faith in God. Naturally, our experience will be proportionate to the depth of our faith. Swami! DoesGod also respond commensurate with the intensity of our faith?

Q91) Swami! Inthis Age of Kali, devotion, faith and steadfastness are on the decline. Notonly this, we often find people making fun of devotees and leading a lifeopposed to religious norms. This is a very sad state of affairs. What do youwant us to do in these circumstances?

Q92) Swami! Inspite of a long period of desiring to be devoted to God, devotion somehow doesnot grow as intense as it should. What is essential to develop devotion of the magnitude and intensity expected of a true devotee?

Q93) Swami! Webeg you to suggest to us a spiritual path that can be followed in the presentcircumstances. The situation around us seems to be dispiriting. Kindly give usthe direction?

Q94) Swami! Attimes it appears that others may influence and lead us to a total change inour life style, making us ask ourselves the question, 'Why should not we belike others? For what should we adopt this special type of living?' I amafraid we may change! What is to be done now?

Q95) Swami! Youhave complete faith in us. But, our faith in you is wavering: It is notconsistently steady and deep. Why is this so?

Q96) Swami! We are dissatisfiedand unhappy when our desires are not fulfilled. Why should it happen todevotees?

CHAPITER V

CONCEPTS

Q100) Swami! You stress cittas'uddhi , purification of our heart, but how is one to accomplish it?

Q101) Swami! Now it is clear that cittas'uddhi is lacking in us due to our bad thoughts and bad deeds. We have certain weaknesses, lapses, bad qualities and thoughts. As you have said unless we get over them, cittas'uddhi cannot be attained. The mind gets polluted very often. How is one to control bad qualities?

Q102) Swami! Pranayama , breath control, some say, is important on the spiritual path. Would you please tell us about it?

Q103) Swami! It is said that we carry with us certain traits, vasanas of the past life. Is that true and how does it happen?

Q104) Bhagawan! How is it that we have vasanas, traits of the past life? We are born, we grow and die. The body is bound to weaken, wither, die and decay. How then are our features brought forward to the next life?

Q105) Swami! Three gunas or attributes such as rajas, tamas and sattva are said to bind man. Does a sattvika quality also bind man? Is that also a bondage?

Q106) Swami! We have many qualities ? tamasika, rajasikaand sduvika Do they change at any time? How are we to ennoble ourselves?Sometimes these attributes may be responsible for conflicts with our colleagues in theoffice. What is to be done under these circumstances? Kindly give us asolution to this problem that we encounter everyday?

Q107) Swami! We hear of purusarthas , the fourgoals of life. How are we to achieve them?

Q108) Swami! What is it that we should have in order todeserve your prapti ?

Q109) Swami! What is illusion, maya? Kindly explain.

Q110) Swami! How are we to get over maya or illusion?

Q111) Swami! It is often said and felt that none escapesmaya or illusion. Everyone falls a victim to the influence of maya. So, man isprone to delusion. Then Swami, a person who has known what maya is and has been outof maya, how is it that he gets into the trap again?

Q112) Swami! Illusion is a non?atmic feeling or worldlyapproach. To identify myself with that which I am not is illusion. Truly?speaking, the " I" we often speak of is in reality only atma. Nothing else. How is oneto know this truth, to recognise and experience this truth? Kindly tell usabout this Swami!

Q113) Swami! What is Vedanta?

Q114) Swami, do you view that the three schools ofVedanta philosophy like dualism, dvaita , qualified non?dualism visistadvaita and non?dualism advaita as contradictory to one another? Does oneschool advocate just the opposite of what the other says?

Q115)Swami! One cannot escape from the effects of fate or destiny. Things arepre?ordained, and accordingly events happen in our life. This beinginevitable, we suffer and face difficulties. Would you please tell us the wayout of this?

Q116) Swami! Bhagavadgita wants us to give up thefruits of our actions, karmaphalaparityaga, both good and bad. Since wedo good rarely, there is very little or none to offer you as the fruits ofour good actions. We feel that it is not proper to offer evil or bad to you.What is to be done?

Q117) Swami! All the experiences, which are dual, areobtained due to our mind. Swami says 'Mind is a mad monkey.' Pleasure and painare both due to our mind. How are we to kill the mind ( manonasanam ), annihilate it?

Q118) Swami! Are there any who attained tadatmya with God? We hear that total identification with God is the highest step inspirituality.

Q119) Swami! You are referring to anubhavajnanam , practical knowledge. We think we know many things. Is this not wisdom?

Q120) Swami! When does a devotee get total experience?

Q121) Swami! What is wisdom?

QI22) Swami! In the big human body, where is the sourceof life located?

Q123) Swami! What are the main principles of life?

CHAPTERVI

Parallels and Polarities

Q124) Swami! We hear two terms very often used by pandits: prakrti and purusa . Please explain these two terms?

Q125) Swami! Some worship Vishnu, while some others worship Siva. They don't see eye to eye with one another. There seems to beconstant rivalry between these two groups, the Vaishnavites and the Saivites. Kindly tell us how these two groups of devoteesof God can be united.

Q126) Swami! You repeatedly mention 'love' in your discourses. Why? Don't we have prema , love, within us? If not, how are we to developit? What is the difference between prema , love and móha , attachment?

Q127) Swami! What are brahma, and bhrama?

Q128) Swami! Some say that God has no form. But, we see devotees praying to idols intemples. The Concept ofAvatar, incarnation of God, is of special significance in our land of Sanatana Dharma. But followers of other paths argue that God has noform. We pray to you to clarify this point.

Q129) Swami! We hear of cellular phones and remote controls everywhere. All thenecessities of our worldly existence seem to be from Electronics andComputers, drawing the attention of everyone. How does the subject of Spirituality come into the picture here?Where is the time for it? As if this is not enough, we hear of nuclear testsalso. How are we toco?ordinate and integrate these diverse aspects? Kindly show us the way.

Q130) Swami! Are Science and Spirituality contradictory to each other? We are eagerto know Swami's views on this subject.

Q131) Swami! We experience love in our worldly life. How is it different fromspiritual love?

Q132) Swami! Today everyone speaks of Free Will. Do we really have Free Will?

Swami! In modernsociety, much knowledge is only half?knowledge and partial understanding: Wedon't have a clear picture of anything. We want to know the difference betweenFree Will and Divine Will?

Q133) Swami! Kindly let us know the difference between devotion and surrender.

Q134) Swami! Out of the two, faith and love, which precedes the other? Is it truethat we love if only we have faith or is it the other way round? Kindly tellus about it.

Q135) Swami! We meet many persons who say that they can believe only after goingthrough an intimation of divinity, develop faith only after they experience .But, many also feel that only strong faith gives us that experience. So, which of the two precedes theother? Please tell us, Swami.

Q136) Swami! Is it proper to say that 'I am in God'? Or should I say that 'God is inme'? Which of the two is appropriate?

Q137) Swami! How is it possible not to be attached to the family and to rise abovethe feeling of 'mine' and 'thine'?

Q138) Swami! We come across certain terms used in philosophy and get very muchconfused. For instance, 'conscience' and 'consciousness'. Are they notsynonyms? If not, what is the difference between the two? Scholars, when consulted, add to the confusion. Iam at a loss to know what these two terms 'conscience and consciousness' mean?

Q139) Swami! Almost all of us claim to have immense faith in and intense lovefor Bhagawan. But, we also notice at the same time a lot of ego and pride inour words and deeds. What is to be done then?

Q140) Swami! How can we differentiate thought from intuition? Q141) Swami! We areinfluenced by social, ethical, scientific, economic and political factors inlife. I have one question to ask you. IfI am wrong, kindly pardon me. We hear people speaking about equality andequanimity. How can we achieve them? Some groups in society claim to worktowards these ideals. How are we to accomplish them? Q142) Swami! Excuse me forputting this question. We speak of 'God' and 'demigod'. Are both the same?Please clarify.

Q141) Swami! We are influenced by social, ethical, scientific, economic and political factors in life. I have one question to ask you. If Iam wrong, kindly pardon me. We hear people speaking about equality and equanimity. How can we achieve them? Some groupsin society claim to work towards these ideals. How are we to accomplish them?

Q142) Swami! Excuse me for putting this question. We speak of 'God' and 'demigod'.Are both the same? Please clarify.

SADHANA

The Inner Door

Q143) Swami! Good company is very essential for everybody. Is it assignificant as it is said to be?

Q144) Swami! What is your advice to employees, who struggle to make both endsmeet and wish to follow Swami?

Q145) Swami! You are unique in explaining both the components of our life, the spiritual and the physical. You alone can do it in this world. It is mostnecessary that we mix with people, and sometimes even intimately. We have tointeract with one another in our daily life. How are we to speak, and what isgood for us to speak? Kindly tell us about this, Swami!

Q146) Swami! Is it not a helpto a person if I point out his mistakes?

Q147) Swami! Now we understand that we are mistaken with regard to ourknowledge. You have explained clearly what awareness is by saying that it iscomplete knowledge but not the knowledge of a bit or a piece of anything. Howare we to cultivate this awareness?

Q148) Swami! Now it is clearthat this sort of " awareness" is not available in our educationalinstitutions, that awareness is so very important for all of us. You are theincarnation of God in the present day world. Why don't you, by your grace, grant us this boon of awareness?

Swami! Spiritual aspirantsobserve austerities like upavasa , fasting, jagarana , vigil andconsider them spiritual. We request you to let us know their importance andinner significance.

Q149) Q149) Swami! Some want us to do puja, some suggest dhyana , meditation, a few prescribe parayana , reading of the scripture and some others assure us of good results from japa , repetition of God's name. I am confused about what to do and whichone to follow. Kindly tell me the best among these ways to be followed in my sadhana ?

Q150) Bhagawan! In our namavali , series of names of God, we address God by so many names. We havemore than a hundred names 'astottara ' and a thousand names â ' sahasranama. ' Of these various names, which is the best and the exact name of God?

Q151) Q151) Swami! The Gayatri mantra is being chanted over many ages here in this holyland. But, we hear that women are prohibited from chanting Gayatri and so arenon brahmins. Should we chant that mantra at specific times and not at anytime of our choice and convenience? What is the importance and significance ofGayatri mantra? We shall indeed be very fortunate to hear from your divinelips about this subject.

Q152) Swami! How should we adore you? How should we serve you? We are notable to decide. Kindly show us the way?

Q153) Q153) Swami! Kindly let us knowhow we can achieve anandaprapti , gaining permanent happiness, andremoval of suffering dukhanivrtti .

Q154) Q154) Swami! What is to berenounced? What is to be sacrificed?

Q155) Swami! What is truehappiness? How are we to acquire it?

Q156) Swami! We meet some people who are not happy, as if they are deniedhappiness once for all. Why should it happen like that?

Q157)Swami! You want us to look for unity in diversity. You expect us to be awareof unity in diversity. How is it possible?

Q158) Swami! Is sadhana a must in every day life? Is it compulsory?

Q159) Swami! Muchemphasis is laid on sadhana , spiritual practice. But we find it toughto do any sadhana . What is the solution?

What is the role of a Guruon the spiritual path?

Q160) Swami! We feelthat results are delayed in sadhana : We do not get quick results, atleast according to our expectations. What do you say, Swami?

Q161) Swami! Are youpleased with our dhyana , meditation?

Q162) Swami, how manythings should we study and learn in order to take to sadhana, spiritual path?How many details should we know from the sacred texts to start our sadhana ?

QI63) Swami! We areindeed very fortunate to have been listening to you. We are in a blissfulstate. You alone can answer our questions like this, out of your infinite compassion for us. None can do that. Swami, pardon me for this question. It isnow very clear to us what enquiry is. But why am I unable to do so? Why is mymind not steady? Is it the nature of the mind to waver? Is it the naturalquality of the mind to remain unstable and unsteady that prevents me fromconcentration on enquiry?

Q164) Swami! Now weunderstand from your divine discourse and by your grace how important devotionis. But, faith is the base of devotion. How is one to cultivate faith, Swami?

Q165) Swami! Why aresome people not devoted to God? Devotion, it seems, has no place in theirlives. Would you kindly tell us the reason?

Q166) Swami! Kindlygive a direction to our spiritual pursuit? How should it continue? Like theflow of a river? What are the restrictions to be observed?

Q167) Swami! Why and how do we get evil feelings such as jealousy, envy, pride, egoism, attachment and so on. How are we to get away from these evil feelings?

Q168) Swami? How wonderfully in simple terms and in such an easy way you have explained profound things. What is the way to immortality, the ultimate goal of life?

Q169) Swami! How long does sensual pleasure last?

Q170) Swami! How are we to lead a detached life? We are hurt when our belongings, positions and wealth are withdrawn. Please tell us how not to be hurt though these are taken away from us.

Q171) Swami! How are services rendered today helpful in future?

Q172)Swami! Is there death? Are there a heaven and a hell? What is life?

Q173)Swami! Man's greatest fear is the fear of death. How is he to overcome this?

Q174) Swami! How can we realise the divinity within us?

Q175) Swami! How are we to attain bliss?

Q176) Swami! Many spiritual practices are suggested, such as, namasmarana singing the glory of God, dhyana, meditation, puja, etc. But, still total satisfaction is not derived out of any of them. We are not able to practise and follow continuously even one of them. Dissatisfaction over not being able to succeed and frustration about not getting the rewards for the little we do, are overpowering us. Why is it happening like this? Kindly show us the way.

Q177) Swami! Many spiritual paths are mentioned by diverse traditions and religions. How far can these paths lead to experiencing divinity? To what extent are their spiritual exercises to be adopted? From the description of some of these, success in one lifetime appears impossible. On the other hand, worry that no spiritual practice is undertaken plagues us. Is there no way out for us? Kindly grant us peace.

Q178) Swami! When we get wisdom based on our practical knowledge, discrimination and determination, will it stay with us permanently or is there any possibility of our losing it by chance leading us back to ignorance again?

Q179)Swami! Is bodily feeling an obstacle to spiritual progress? The bodily feeling doesn't seem to leave us anyway. Kindly tell us what we should do about it?

Q180) Swami! How are we to grasp easily the purpose and aim of life?

Q181) Swami! What is meant by 'quest for truth'? How are we to go about this noble task?

Q182) Swami! Nowadays?even devotion has become a matter of convenience and business, and is expected to yield quick results. Isn't this wrong in the path of devotion? Are cunning and craft fruitful in devotion?

Q183) Swami! Renunciation, we feel, is the most difficult thing. We have so many attachments and it is not easy to give them up. Kindly suggest an alternative!

Q184) Swami! Many different types of sadhana are suggested and prescribed for seekers and aspirants. They are very confusing and the situation of the present day seekers is that they have almost forgotten what a spiritual practice is. Most often having taken one path, many drop out or discontinue. Why? Kindly tell us the truth of the matter?

Q185) Swami! We are not able to meditate. We do not know the procedure even. What are we to do?

Q186) Swami! My mind is not steady. How am I to do bhajans? Without steadiness of the mind, what for are our bhajanas?

Q187) Swami! Some people are not putting in enough effort in matters of spirituality. They are lazy. Is it proper to be so?

Q188) Swami! Some say that satkarma , good action is enough; some argue that puja is essential, but some hold the view that atmavidya is the only way to liberation. How are we to coordinate and integrate these three? Are these not contradictory to each other? Why should these three be prescribed?

Q189) Swami! We want to know how a true experience can be communicated.

Q190) Swami! What is the cause of agitation? How are we to get rid of it? What changes are needed to be free from agitation?

Q191) Swami! We have been thinking that all things can be achieved through Self?confidence. In your discourses today you mentioned Self?protection and Self?punishment also. Kindly explain these.

Q192) Swami! In the classes, we have learnt about self-awareness. How can our tendency be changed? Kindly teach us the appropriate technique.

Q193) Swami! How are we to realise the existence of divinity, and by what intimation are we to cognise it? Swami is pleased to refer to it in the charming phrase, " Constant?Integrated?Awareness" . How are we to achieve this Awareness?

Human Values

Q194) Swami! Very often, you keep referring to HumanValues. Restoring these values is, indeed, a task this avatar had set foritself. Kindly enlighten us on how we may cognise their importance.

Q195)Swami! Why do we need human values? What is their role in our lives?

Q196) Swami! How can weacquire human values?

Q197) Swami! Now weunderstand that the defect of teaching lies somewhere in our schools, collegesand universities. Education is certainly not imparted in these institutions the way you are teaching.Where does the fault lie in our educational system?

Q198) Swami! To whatextent are parents responsible for the degradation of values among children?

Q199) Swami! Pricehike is a common experience everywhere. People find it difficult to make bothends meet because of spiralling prices. We are eager to know Swami's views onthis issue of rising prices.

Q200) Swami! You knoweverything. It is very true that we as parents must be blamed. You havepointed out exactly where our mistakes lie. However, today we do not seechildren respecting their parents. They do not follow instructions. They aremost ungrateful. Kindly tell us how children should conduct themselves in thepresence of their parents and how they should treat them.

Q201) Swami! We know thatwe should cultivate good qualities right from our childhood. But, now, at this hour, how are we to cultivate them?

Swami! Many people emphasise theimportance of character. But, they interpret character in many different ways.So, what exactly is character? Let us know from you.

Q202) Bhagawan! We are indeed very grateful to you for telling us so clearly and vividly the way we should view life in general. What are those essential qualities you wish we develop?

Q203)Swami! We have to work for our own moksha. But, how can we develop spiritually the basic human quality? Will spiritual awareness help us to be more human and ultimately experience the divine?

Q204)Swami! Our ancients gave top priority to satya, truth. It is not so now. Is satya so very important?

Q205) Swami! We do not have a precise idea of what dharma is and we are not able to conduct ourselves according to the little knowledge we have. Scholars expound dharma in a variety of ways. They designate one thing as dharma in one context and quite another in a different context. This adds to our confusion. Swami! Kindly explain dharma to us

Q206) Swami! Transformation of Man, how does this come about?

Q207) Swami! How are we to comprehend the three?fold path, karma, bhakti and jnana ?

Q208)Swami! It is said that we cannot escape from the consequences of our actions. It means we are responsible for both the good and the bad we experience. The fruits of our actions, thus, are inescapable. Then, how does devotion to God help us? Why should we be devoted to God at all?

Q209) Swami! God is omnipresent. There is no place or object or person without divinity. All names as you have said are His . You have also said that all forms are His. In such a case how are we to comprehend, visualise and experience God.

Q210) Swami! God's creation is absolutely good. Then, from where do we get anything bad in life? When there is nothing bad in your creation how can there be bad actions at all? Or do you say that there are both good and bad in your creation? Kindly clarify this doubt.

Q211) Swami! Pardon me for asking this question. At an advanced stage in our life when somehow our memory fades, we will not be able to remember all that we should. What is to be done?

Q212) Swami! What are the sources of our peace, happiness, wealth, comforts and convenience? How do we get them? Why are some denied these most coveted things?

Q213) Swami! You tell us that we are not mrnmaya (dust thou art), but cinmaya ( you are awareness). Therefore, we devotees, should know that we are not simply the body, but awareness. You also repeatedly say, " You are God. " Then, when I am God, aham brahmasmi, why should I pray? Where is the need for all this spiritual exercise, then?

Q214) Swami! By now we have known about divinity very well. What more do we need in this world?

Q215) Swami! We do both good and bad deeds. Don't our good actions nullify the evil effects of our bad actions? Don't they at least balance each other? In other words, will our good actions cancel the bad effects of our misdeeds?

Q216) Swami! Is it not enough if we are good? How can we know God?

Q217) Swami! It is said that we can't escape from the consequence of our actions Why do we find some wicked people happy in spite of their treacherous deeds?

Q218) Swami! Since all forms and names are divine, what is the need then for the Lord to incarnate in human form?

Q219) Swami! We feel that life is going on and on. But it sounds purposeless and aimless. Kindly tell us about the purpose of life.

Q220) Swami! I find many people sad. People who are rich and in a high position also are sad. Why? Please tell us what we need to do ?

Q221) Swami! How am I to know that I am nitya , eternal? I undergo difficulties, I notice many changes all around. How can I feel that I am eternal?

Q222) Swami! God is the creator. He should have created only happiness. Why did he create difficulties and troubles? Pardon me, Swami, for putting this question.

Q223) Swami! From where has evil come? Do you say that the mind is the source? Then, what is it that transcends both, good and evil? How is evil to be eliminated? . Swami alone can explain this with felicity, None else can. Kindly enlighten us.

Ramayana

Q224) Swami! Kaikeyi had sent Rama to the wilderness on the eve of his installation as the crown prince. What was Rama's attitude to her? Generally, it would be one of hostility, wouldn't it?

Q225) Swami! Is it right on the part of Rama to kill Tataka, a woman?

Q226)Swami! Pardon me and treat this question as arising from the influence of modernity. Our society regards Sita and Rama as the ideal couple. Now, kindly do not get angry, Swami! Please! What happiness was there for this couple? Only troubles, for sure! How can this be ideal matrimony?

Q227) Swami! Millions revere the illustrious characters in the itihasas of Bharat, for these have stirred their hearts, inspired their devotion, and offered them refuge. When, taking pity on us, you explain these figures, they appear so novel, and awesome. They come alive, swaying our hearts with their nobility and majesty. I have a question. At the end of the Great War, Lakshmana proposes to Rama that they should settle down in the golden Lanka Kingdom saying, " Bharata is ruling Ayodhya, elder brother! Let us make this charming Lanka our permanent abode!" Is Lakshmana infatuated by riches and pomp?

Q228) Swami! I do not know anything about Satrughna, except listing him in the names of the brothers: Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. Kindly narrate to us at least one episode concerning his character.

Q229) Swami! In the Ramayana, the role of Hanuman is very prominent. He is the best example of dasyabhakti , devotion of loyal servant, one of the nine paths of devotion. We are so fortunate to hear from you about the devotion of Hanuman. Would you kindly tell us how modern youngsters can emulate his example?

Q230) Swami! Ravana was the grandson of Pulastyabrahma. He was an ardent devotee of Siva. He was a great scholar in all the Sastras and the Vedas. Above all, he was a valorous warrior and an expert in archery. Such a person was reduced to total ruin. What could be the secret behind his fall?

Q231) Swami! Vibhishana was a rakshasa, yet he was a devotee of Rama. Kindly tell us about Vibhishana?

Q23 2) Swami! The part played by women in the great epic, the Ramayana is very prominent. They have been all ideals for womankind even to this day. Swami! You are matchless in explaining subtle things like this. Would you kindly tell us about the role of women in the Ramayana?

Q233) Swami! Would you kindly tell us how Mother Sita could become the noblest of women, and remain an ideal to the entire womanhood for centuries by undergoing many difficulties, trials and what not, being the divine consort of Lord Rama.

Q234) Swami! Ravana's abduction of Sita is a very heartbreaking episode in the Ramayana .How is it that Sita wanted a golden deer, which is quite an unbelievable phenomenon? How strange is it that Lakshmana who was directed to guard her couldn't ultimately prevent the abduction. Would you please explain the significance of this episode to all of us who are otherwise thoroughly confused about its inner meaning?

Q235) Swami! Lord Rama was the very personification of satya , truth, and the very embodiment of dharma , righteous conduct. He was verily the incarnation of the omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent God Vishnu himself. Rama was very compassionate and he was the refuge of the forlorn. Then how is it he sent Mother Sita into exile paying heed to the words of a washerman? Does it not go against dharma and satya , the basic qualities Ramachandra is said to embody?

Q236) Swami! Kaikeyi, so it goes, loved Rama more intensely than even Kausalya, his own mother How is it then that she could ask such a boon to be granted to her by King Dasaratha that resulted in Rama's exile for fourteen years? Was it not her mistake?

Q237) Swami! Although Manthara and Surpanakha are the two minor woman characters in the epic, the Ramayana, both of them appear crucial in leading to major developments. What lessons should we learn from these two characters?

Q238) Swami! Kausalya is celebrated as the mother of Rama, and Kaikeyi has become notorious for being instrumental in sending Rama to the forest. However, we do not know much about Sumitra. Kindly describe her nature to us.

Q239) Swami! You have shown to the world that the Ramayana presents the ideal of true brotherhood. Would you kindly tell us about this aspect of the Ramayana that indicates what brothers should be like?

Q240) Swami! Do you feel that during the time of the Ramayana, there were no feuds? Sending Rama to the forest and crowning Bharata ? are not these plain and simple politics? Is there justice in the way Rama killed Vali? Is not abducting Sita heinous? How then can the Tretayuga be called flawless? Kindly forgive me for putting this question out of my ignorance and for crossing my limits out of my presumption. Favour us with your views on these matters.

Q241) Swami! We hear that the Ramayana shows us ideal figures even among enemies. Rivals never gave up certain values. Would you please tell us how enemies reacted towards each other in an ideal way?

Q242) Swami! Speaking of the Ramayana, is there a mention of things resolved by God's grace and God's grace alone? How did the characters manifest this in the course of the narrative?

Q243) Swami! Were the Ramayana and the Adhyatmaramayana written with different purposes? Many are the versions of the Ramayana. How are devotees to receive them? They are given to the repeated recital of the part called " Sundarakanda.âÄù Bhagawan, why is this so? By your grace, their authenticity is not in doubt. I wish to learn from your lips.

Mahabharata

Q244) Swami! Today's atmosphere is, indeed, nightmarish. There seems to be no end to injustice, disorder, unrighteousness, and falsehood. Forgive me, Swami, if my question is not proper. Kindly clarify my doubt. How much justice did prevail in the Age of the Mahabharata? Besides serving poisoned food to the Pandavas, setting fire to the house of lac, and attempting to murder them in other ways, the Kauravas denied them their rightful share of the kingdom, not even five villages, not so much space as the point of a needle. How much of the moral code or the law of the time had the Kauravas followed? How little peace was ever there in that yuga?

Q245) Swami! We lack adequate knowledge of many important things. We have only a partial view of divinity. Hence, we tend to ignore the reality and are prone to doubt divinity. It is our misfortune that we find fault with God too, and attribute human fallibility to him. In the Mahabharata, it appears that Krishna was very partial to the Pandavas and so he did many things unbecoming of God incarnate in order to defend them. We may cite such instances as the killing of Dronacharya, Bhishmacharya, Saindhava and a few others. We pray for your comments on these misconceptions of ours and enlighten us.

Q246) Swami! Krishna made Dharmaja utter the lie " asvatthama hatah, " Asvatthama is killed, adding in a low tone, " kunjarah, " the elephant. This led to the death of Dronacharya. Was it proper on the part of Krishna to make Dharmaja tell a lie like that?

Q247) Swami! In the Mahabharata, it is a pity to notice the killing of youngsters like Abhimanyu and Ghatotkacha for no fault of their own. It is justifiable if bad people are killed or punished. But, how can we account for the death of these youngsters?

Q248) Swami! We hear that Arjuna was the only one capable of breaking open and emerging victorious from the Padmavyuha, the lotus?like military formation or manoeuvre, set up as a death trap. But, Abhimanyu knew only how to get in and not how to get out of it; a fact that resulted in his death. There are some stories heard about this episode from the Mahabharata. It appears that when Narada was describing the whole manoeuvre to Abhimanyu who was still in the mother's womb, Krishna prevented him from teaching the unborn baby the way out of the Padmavyuha! What are your comments on this story, Swami!

Q249) Swami! It is said that Draupadi laughed at Duryodhana in the Mayasabha, which made him revengeful and highly furious and which ultimately led to the Kurukshetra war. Will you kindly bless us with your special interpretation?

Q250) Swami! Krishna was surrounded, by eight consorts and is stated to have been associated with 16, 000 Gopis, cowherdesses. It is very disturbing and embarrassing to hear of Lord Krishna's many wives. Kindly enlighten us on this matter.

Q251) Swami!. Radha was an ardent, intimate and ideal devotee of Krishna. She represents ananyabhakti, infinite devotion, matchless and unconditional, and as we hear you speak on Radha bhakti we get lost in the ecstasy of devotion. Would you please tell us more about Radha's bhakti?

Q252) Swami! We have now understood from your divine message that the Pandavas could face problems and withstand troubles and tensions because of the infinite grace of Lord Krishna. It is most gratifying to note God's concern and love for His devotees. Kindly give us a notable instance.

Q253) Swami! The incarnation of Krishna is called the perfect incarnation. Then, how is the incarnation of Rama to be viewed? What is the difference between the Lord's two incarnations? In offering them worship, is there a difference of rank or status? Kindly oblige us with a clarification.

Q254) Swami! All your discourses are value?oriented and nectarine. We notice today 'gratitude' a noble value, totally missing. How do our ancient epics depict this value?

Q255) Swami! Pardon us for misunderstanding the scriptures. We feel that certain statements are contradictory to each other, and we are at a loss to know what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. One scripture says 'brahma satyam jaganmithya, ' â 'God is truth while the world is illusion'. You said, " There is no maya. " How are we to understand the scriptural statement in the light of what you have told us about maya? Moreover, the same scripture says; 'sarvarn visnumayam jagat, ' â 'The whole Universe is Divine.' Then, what and where is delusion or maya! Of the two statements, contradictory to each other, which one is true?

Bhagavata

Q256) Swami! After listening to your divine discourses and sweet conversations, we realise that what we heard till now from other sources were distorted versions, misrepresentations, and wrong interpretations of facts concerning Lord Sri Krishna. You reveal so many inner secrets and subtleties. We pray to you to tell us some more details about our Lord Krishna.

Q257) Swami! Bhagavata, besides extolling God and His divinity, also deals with the greatness and nobility of His devotees Watching devotees shedding tears in ecstasy on listening to your discourses on Bhagavata has been our experience. Would you kindly tell us, Bhagawan, the essence and the main principles embodied in this text to be followed by both youngsters and us adults, for our benefit?

Q258) Swami! Sage Vyasa composed both the Bhagavata and the Brahma Sutras. Which is superior to the other?

Q259) Swami! There are two great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata besides the eighteen puranas. The puranas deal with various appellations and attributes of God in story form, which constitute a major part of Indian mythology. They convey to the entire humanity a universal message on all aspects of life. Kindly tell us the main principles embodied there in for us to practice in our daily life.

Q260) Swami! How should we view the Epics and puranas in our spiritual path and spiritual life?

Baba

Q261) Swami! We takesumptuous meals twice a day. Again, we take heavy breakfast, evening tiffinand several cups of coffee now and then during the course of the day. Still, we feel weak and exhausted. You don't take anything except one or twospoonfuls of food. But you work and strain yourself a lot. You walk miles in a day. How are you soenergetic?

Q262) Swami! I beg yourpardon for asking this question. While I am afraid to pose the question, I amalso very keen to know the answer from you. Since you are our mostcompassionate God, I have made bold to ask you this question. Swami! You talkto some devotees as soon as they come here, whereas you don't talk to someothers who have been here for a long time. How are we to reconcile these twofacts?

Q263) Swami! We don't find outour own faults. Even if we recognise them, we justify them and because of ournarrow?mindedness, we don't understand your infinite love. We doubt and limityour love. As ill luck would have it, you don't seem to look at our faces whenwe sit in dars'an lines? and sometimes it appears that you are avoidingus. We are depressed because you don't talk nor do you at us. How are we totake and face this sad situation?

Q264) Swami! Over the years, we read thousands of books, and heard numerous speeches. But our Swami's speeches are unique, incomparable, deliciously sweet, ever new, and stir our hearts. What is the secret?

Q265) Swami! Your discourses and conversations are full of illustrations, and short and sweet stories. They are simple and easy to understand. They are related to situations from our daily life. They give us immense joy. What is the secret?

Q266) Swami! Please do not mistake us. Please pardon us for a feeling that comes to us quite often. As we listen to your discourses, we find many repetitions. We feel that the things we have heard and already understood are being simply repeated. What is to be done then?

Q267) Swami! How nice would it be if we follow your exemplary acts, take your life as your message, do things at the exact and right time! We see you distributing gifts immediately as and when you decide. Kindly suggest ways and means of emulating you.

Q268) Swami! Your love is incomparable, second to none: It excels the sky and the ocean in its vastness and depth. You are the very personification of sacrifice. Why are we not able to comprehend it?

Q269) Swami! You are the embodiment of Love. Invariably your divine discourses are permeated with Love. If we understand even a tiny particle, we will become blessed. Please enlighten us on the place of Love in spiritual terms.

Q270) Swami! listening to Your conversations, teachings, and discourses is true jnanam. When this is put into practice, this becomes wisdom gained through our experience, and shines as practical wisdom. When, say, will our ignorance be dispelled? Your profound, divine discourses are a feast for our ears, enthusing and inspiring us.