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March 19th, 2006

“Spiritual Vaccination”


Sai Ram

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Inquiry is the Spiritual vaccination

I have collected some practical hints which we will discuss point by point so that they are easy to practice.

We are given a vaccination so that we do not fall victim to an epidemic. When you visit a country where there is yellow fever, you should be vaccinated for that. Similarly, we should have a spiritual vaccination.

What is that vaccine? How does it help us? We have to be vaccinated so that the duality does not affect us, so that we do not get caught in the cobweb of duality and illusion.

What is that vaccine? The vaccine to be given to us is ‘inquiry’, which will make our body free from the attack of epidemics like illusion, dualism, mistaken identity, and attachment.

Secondly, some people ask, “What is it that I get by reading the Holy Scripture? What is it I get by listening to some talks? What is it that I get?”

It is very necessary! Even in a market, if you buy two articles, one article is free. (Laughter) If you get one operation, the other will be free. That is the modern trend today. So I can understand people asking, “What do I get?”

detachment is happiness

Here is the answer that the scriptures give us. By repeating His Name (namasmarana), by meditating on Him, by reading the scriptures, we get detachment or vairagya. How does detachment help me? Will detachment help me to be happy? Will detachment make me blissful? Why do I need detachment? I will use some answers taken from Ramana Maharshi’s Divine talks.

The answer by Maharshi is this: Detachment is not going to confer happiness. The other name for detachment is happiness itself. Detachment means happiness. Detachment is not going to confer happiness on you; detachment itself is happiness.

Next question is, “How do I get it?” The answer by Ramana Maharshi of Arunachala is this: By acquiring that wisdom or the knowledge of the Self, you’ll be detached and that detachment itself is happiness.

realising the eternal self WITHIN IS the purpose of life

Somebody asked Ramana Maharshi, ”What is the purpose of life?” A very good question! If that question is put to a little boy, he will say that the purpose of life is to have one or two sweets, (Laughter) or an ice cream right now. The child is very clear about the purpose of life.

Some mundane worldly people are also very clear about the purpose of life. “I want to be qualified; I want to be employed, I want to be rich, I want to be successful.” We are very clear about worldly life. But spiritually, what is the purpose of life?

Maharshi answers thus: While being alive, while in this body itself, if you understand the immortal nature, the eternal spirit of the Self, you have served the purpose of life. Spiritually, the purpose of life is to know the permanent, eternal Self, while in this body.

Some people say, “Swami, I want to die for You.”

Baba said, “I want you to live; you don’t have to die for Me. I want you to live.”

Therefore my friends, the spiritual purpose of life is to know the Self while alive, while in this body. After all, whether we want it or not, whether we are willing or not, we are sure to leave the body–only the date is unknown. The password of the computer is known to God. He doesn’t tell us. If the password is given to us, we can easily manipulate things. He won’t do that. Cyber crimes are not possible with the Divine computer! It is protected by the best anti-virus. (Laughter)

utilise the temporary to experience the permanent

The body is temporary; the body is sure to vanish. It is sure to die some day; but within this body there is one thing that is permanent, immortal, and eternal. That is the Self, or the spirit, or consciousness, or Atma. To experience that which is permanent, while alive in this body that is temporary, is the purpose of life. The body is a temporary thing to be used to know the permanent thing.

How is it possible? How does a temporary thing help you to know a permanent one?

Baba gave an example: You have an iron safe or an almirah. So the safe is made up of iron; but inside that safety locker, you have costly jewels, diamonds, gold, etc. So the case is made up of iron, which is of lesser value than the expensive gold and diamonds inside it. See this! One is a cheap, iron case; the other is the most valuable jewellery. Similarly, our body is an iron case. But inside this case is jewellery, which is consciousness, which is eternal. Realisation and experience of that consciousness is the purpose of life, as Ramana Maharshi tells us.

What is the path? Here it is clearly stated that there are two essentials for any spiritual seeker:

1. Vairagya, or renunciation, detachment;

2. Inquiry or vicharana or mimamsa.

What happens in the process is our next question.

observe your thoughts to still the mind

I have many thoughts. I should observe or be a witness to my own thought process. My friends, I am sharing with you the quintessence of the message of Ramana Maharshi.

Maharshi says, “Do not identify with your thoughts. Be a witness or an observer of your own thoughts.”

How is it possible? Does it seem silly? No! It is possible. Now a thought has come to my mind; do I know or not? I know. Immediately the next thought comes. Do I know about it or not? I know. A thought comes: ”What is the canteen time?“ I know. ”What is evening darshan time?“ I know. ”It seems Swami is going out now to attend some marriage,” another thought, which I know. So, I know my thoughts.

Anyone who says that they do not know their thoughts, please raise your hand. All of us know our thoughts! Therefore Ramana Maharshi says, “Stop! Watch your thoughts. Be a witness to your thoughts.”

One after another, thoughts come fast. Observe your thoughts. Once you observe your thoughts, the thought process slows down. When the thought flow is slow, it takes you to another stage where eventually there will be no more thoughts.

So according to Ramana Maharshi:

1. First step is observing our thoughts;

2. In the second step, thought flow slows down;

3. In the third step, we reach thoughtlessness or the thought-free state.

That is called meditation or samadhi. So meditation is not thinking of any object. Meditation is not concentration or imagination or speculation. Meditation is not entertaining another thought. We are already burdened with thoughts. Why should we add extra thoughts in the name of meditation?

Some people say, “When I sit in meditation, I get some cool breeze.” I see. Without meditation I get cool breeze by switching on my fan! (Laughter) Why meditate?

Some people say, “When I sit for meditation, I see some gold colour.” Please walk under hot sun and close your eyes. Aha! You will get the gold colour. These so-called things that we claim to have experienced in meditation are all a game of the mind.

I am quoting Ramana Maharshi. Don’t fight with me as I cover these steps. (All of us are very proud of our achievement in meditation.) Some say, “Meditate here, as Swami comes here,” as if He is not there already! (Laughter) Some say, “When I sit for meditation, Swami will come there.” Oh! Where does He come from? Have you pulled Him and put Him there like a dot, or vermilion, or vibhuti?

These are all things we feel proud of, and it is shameful that we share thus, feeling we have achieved something. We have achieved madness, according to Ramana Maharshi’s literature.

true meditation is crossing the barriers of thought

While in meditation, whatever you imagine, whatever feelings you have, whatever responses you get, they are all the gimmicks or the game of the mind. True meditation is beyond the mind. What is the mind? Mind is apart, without time. True meditation is crossing the limitations of time and the barriers of thought.

Therefore, my friends, thinking of an object, repetition of His Name, and concentration on a single form will all help us initially to concentrate, which is not wrong. Concentration is good.

Let me give you an example as given by Baba: You want a rose flower, so what do you do? You go to the garden. In the garden there are so many flowers and plants, but you want a rose. What do you do then? You go to the rose plant, avoiding the rest of the plants. Standing in front of the rose plant, you cut the flower. That is followed by smelling it, or wearing it on the head, or whatever you may like to do with it.

So, there are several steps:

1. Avoiding all the plants, thinking only of the rose that you want to select;

2. Standing in front of the rose bush and cutting the chosen flower;

3. Smelling the fragrance of the flower.

That’s the example Baba gives frequently whenever He speaks of meditation. There are three steps in meditation too.

First step in meditation is concentration

The first step is concentration. Is it necessary? Absolutely! If you want to have a rose, you cannot go to the bookstore and ask for a rose! The sevadal will give you the necessary treatment. If you go to the canteen and ask for a rose flower, they will tell you that they are not sold there for eating purpose. If you want a rose flower, you should go to the garden or to the flower market.

Similarly, you should concentrate on a Name and a form. You can concentrate on any chosen form. It is your choice: Jesus on the cross, Krishna with flute and melody, Bhagavan Baba, Shirdi Sai or Sathya Sai. Any form that is dear to you, concentrate on that. That is the equivalent of going to the flower market or going to the garden.

concentration leads to contemplation -- contemplation leads to meditation

Secondly, you look for the rose plant, avoiding all the rest. ”Oh! Rose plant is a bush. It is a shrub, not a tree. It is small and beautiful with some thorns and leaves that are edged like a saw.“ You think of a rose flower more and more to identify it, to go near to it, isn’t it? So, all your thoughts are now focused on the rose plant. This is called ‘contemplation’.

Concentration takes us to the next step of contemplation. Spiritually, I concentrate on the Name and form. In the second step, all my thoughts will be around it. For example, I concentrate on Jesus. I think of Jesus’s love. I think of Jesus’s sacrifice. I think of Jesus, the saviour. All my thoughts are around the chosen Name and form. That is the second step called ‘contemplation’.

In the third step, there will be no Name and form; there will be no more ruminating on the quality or the nobility of the Name and form because the mind is non-existent. You are not there to think or to do anything. When you are not there, there is nothing to do. In the absence of mind, in the thoughtless state, nothing can be done. That is called ‘meditation’.

Coming back to the rose example, once you cut the rose flower (representing meditation), the leaves and the branches of the rose bush (representing contemplation) do not bother you. Similarly, the rest of the plants and flowers in the garden (representing concentration) do not bother you. Therefore my friends, concentration takes you to contemplation, and contemplation takes you to meditation. That’s what Bhagavan Baba says.

In one sentence, the thoughtless state or the no-mind state is meditation, according to Ramana Maharshi. How do I know there is no mind? How do I know that there is mind? This ‘I’ is ego; ego is the mind. As long as you want to know, you cannot know, because this ‘I’ is the mind. I think I am clear.

Who is to be known? Who is the knower? When these questions stop, that is meditation or samadhi. Therefore my friends, withdrawal of the mind, manolaya, or annihilation of the mind, manonashana is the sign of true meditation.

Here is a simple example: As a Sathya Sai devotee, you have Baba’s picture. You look at His picture and worship it. That is concentration.

In the second stage, you think of His Love, His sacrifice, His universality, His broad-mindedness and His message. All your thoughts centre on Baba and His grandeur and Divinity. That is contemplation.

In the third step, you do not see the photo; you do not know that you are sitting there. There will be a state which cannot be reported. You forget yourself. You are lost; you are engrossed.

For example, sometimes while playing, children suddenly sit and start staring. What is it they are doing? They go on looking into the empty air, not doing anything. It only indicates the withdrawal of the mind. Similarly, when there is no thought; that is what is called meditation. This agrees with Bhagavan Baba’s approach to meditation, which I wanted to share with you this morning.

identifying a true guru

Somebody asked Maharshi how to identify a guru, a preceptor. There are many people who say that they have this guru, that guru, etc. These are people who believe that they should have an account in multiple banks. They believe in depositing some amount in all banks. Similarly, some people believe in visiting all gurus. How to identify a true guru? Who is a guru? This is a question put to Ramana Maharshi.

You feel calm, quiet, pure, and steady in Guru’s presence

These are the points that I want to share with you. These will be of help to every one of us on the spiritual path.

First point, a guru is the one in whose presence you feel calm, quiet, pure, and steady. If you feel these four in the presence of anybody, then he is your guru.

Usually we are not calm in everybody’s presence. In the presence of some people, the calmness vanishes. We can never be pure in front of some people because they encourage us to be impure. We can never be steady because the other person is a source of constant nuisance and disturbance. So it is not possible to remain pure and steady in front of everybody.

Therefore, the first sign of a guru is that you feel calm, peaceful, quiet, and sacred in his presence. We experience peace in the presence of Bhagavan Baba. Take some pictures or a video of people entering the security gate. Later take a video or photos of the same people sitting in the hall at the time of darshan, when Swami’s car passes by. Nobody can recognise their own photograph!

While entering Prashanti Nilayam with heavy luggage, people are not sure of accommodation or anything. They come with the luggage of worries and the baggage of problems and anxieties. Life is a question mark, as seen on their long Shakespeare faces. (Laughter) Anybody will be afraid to talk to them at that time because their faces are so tense.

At the time of darshan, if Swami’s car passes by, things change. Even a fellow who rarely smiles, or does not know how to smile, starts smiling when Swami passes by. Colgate dental cream with all the teeth flashing! Why? You do not know that you are smiling. What you know is a long, worried face, a burdensome life. That’s normal behaviour.

As Swami said at one time, most people are like Alsatian and Pomeranian dogs. Suddenly at the time of darshan when Swami’s car passes by, the person becomes so happy. You may wonder what happened to him? That is the sign of a guru. He makes you calm, quiet, peaceful, and sacred.

Guru communicates with you in the same wavelength

Secondly, guru is one with whom you can communicate on the same wavelength. If a man burdened with problems comes to Swami and Swami talks to him about immortality, Brahman, Atman, liberation, that fellow will consume poison and commit suicide. Finished! What he needs now is different.

A fellow who is retired with all his children well settled has nothing left to enjoy. What happens if Swami speaks about all worldly things like personality development and career development to him? He has got only one career, the career to be carried over to the next life.

Baba speaks of that which is relevant to you at that point of time. When Swami speaks to students, He doesn’t speak of Bhu loka, Bhuvar loka, Svarg loka, subtle body, or the astral body. Swami tells them how to be punctual, hard working, honest, disciplined, and devoted. These are things students should learn.

On the other hand, if He tells me what discipline is at this stage, well...leave alone being disciplined! It is a waste of time because I cannot change now. Better luck next life. We are all ‘settled fellows’ (settled in our ways)!

Some people ask me why Baba spends most of His time with youngsters. “Why does Baba talk to students and not to us?” The answer is simple: When He talks to students, there is a hope of some transformation someday. If He talks to us retired people, it is a waste of time because we are waiting to come to a halt, that’s all. It is not a long journey any longer.

Therefore my friends, Baba talks to people about what is relevant to them. Suppose He calls some elderly people; what does He talk to them about? He tells them about detachment. Understand that nobody will follow you; understand that your property will never follow you; understand that all these people do not belong to you; understand that you came all alone and are going all alone; understand that God is with you and in you. You are already sixty or seventy. You are not going to live for seventy years more to try again. Within this short period, understand how best you can utilise this time.

That’s how He speaks to elders, whereas to youngsters He speaks about patriotism, nationality, and culture. When He talks to young boys or kids of primary school, He talks to them about ice cream, fountain pens, etc. This is the ability of a guru.

So, how to identify a guru? A guru is one with whom you can communicate on the same wavelength. You can tune to His thought process. He can come down to your mental plane. That is the quality of a true guru and our Bhagavan is a true guru.

you are speechless in the presence of a true guru
Another quality of a guru is that mind and speech come to a complete stop in His presence. Mind comes to a stop and you are speechless in the presence of a guru. Normally you feel like talking to everybody; but when Swami stands in front of you, you are dumbfounded. If Swami asks what you want, you are speechless, you are blank.

In fact, at home you started with a memorandum, with a speech, with a demand, two letters, one written by your wife, one written by you. (Laughter) When He actually stands in front of you, both the letters are forgotten. (Laughter) You’ll get it when you go back. Why? You can’t help it. Mind’s fuse is gone, the power is cut, and speech lost its quality of communication.

The mind vanishes so you cannot communicate or do anything except watch Him. This is the sign of a guru. You ask anybody who got an interview. The moment he comes out from the interview room, ask him, “What did you ask?” Everybody will tell you that they wanted to ask many questions, but could not ask any. (Laughter) Why? Mind is gone, finished. It is now under remote control. Swami will operate it. He will stop it there.

“Did Swami say many things?”


“What did you ask?”

“I did not ask anything.”


“I could not.”

“Why? What happened to you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Now you are talking with us; why you did not talk there?”

“I don’t know.”

This is the quality of a guru, according to Maharshi.

a guru attracts you like a magnet

So, the quality of a true guru is to make you speechless, to make you grow beyond the mind. In this context, I would like to talk about another important aspect here. Just as a magnet attracts iron filings, a guru attracts you. There are some people who say that wherever they sit, Swami passes by that side. Poor fellow, maybe he escaped from a lunatic asylum!

Rather, it should be put this way: “By Baba’s mercy I could sit on the side that He passed by. Due to His grace I could sit there along His path, across His path.” That is the way of putting things, rather than saying that wherever you sit He comes by that side, making yourself superior. Then we’ll come to you, why go to Baba? It’s wrong. You are not attracting Baba; Baba is attracting you.

Please understand this. It is the magnet that attracts the iron, and not vice versa. The same iron, when it is away from the magnet, is full of dust and rust, and loses the property of being attracted by the magnet. The magnet can no longer attract that iron because it is full of rust and dust now.

Similarly, within Prashanti Nilayam, we are iron pieces without rust or dust. When we cross the gate of Prashanti Nilayam, we are the same iron pieces with rust and dust. That’s why some people wonder why they are unable to continue in the same way or be as happy outside Prashanti Nilayam. The point is whether here or outside, you are the same man. The same man is happy here and unhappy outside. Why? It means that we have to reform and transform ourselves.

The quality of a guru is to attract. Some people are curious so they ask me, “Is Swami going to Kodai?” Who am I to say? Am I His spokesman? Has He any spokesman for that matter? If He says that He is going to Kodai, it means He won’t go. Oh yes, that has happened several times. Who are we to convey His programme? Will He allow anybody to guess or speculate? No! But wherever He goes, people follow Him.

Suddenly when He starts travelling, hundreds of cars follow Him. How these fellows know, I wonder! Suddenly Swami turns and asks, “How do these people know?” (Laughter) How am I to answer that question? “Swami, I do not know.” Oh!

So first know that you do not know. (Laughter) My question is how did they know? “They know because I made them know,” says Baba.

You do not know because you think you know. When you think you know, you will never know. But when He makes you know, then you know everything. That’s why without any advance notice, He starts moving fifty cars. Who told those fellows? That I really wonder! He will help them to know. They will know somehow or the other.

Similarly, my friends, let us know at this moment that it is Baba who is attracting us. We are not attracting Him.

a guru is compassionate

On the other hand, some of us disturb Him, some of us irritate Him; but out of His mercy He permits us to be here and have His daily darshan. That itself is a proof of His infinite compassion.

Let me give a simple example: Suppose you have a helper or a maid at your house. You ask her to do something and she does not do it. You remind her everyday, but she doesn’t do it. Finally you’ll ask her to get out, is it not? But Baba is managing with all of us, who may never do whatever He says!

Somebody asked Swami, “Why are You not talking these days?”

He said, “It’s a waste of time.”

“Waste of time. Why?”

Swami said, “Nobody acts as per My words. Therefore I stopped talking to you.”

“What, Swami, what do You mean?”

“When I talk, when I say something, you should do it. When you do not give value to My words, why should I waste My time? At least I should value My words. Therefore I don’t talk to you.” Am I clear? This is what Baba said.

Therefore my friends, a true guru goes beyond all our limitations and attracts us in spite of our pitfalls and weaknesses.

Meditation is knowing the ‘I’

Somebody asked Ramana Maharshi, “Swami, while in meditation, should I open or close my eyes?” Very good question!

What is the reply given by Maharshi? “Whether eyes are kept open or closed, understand who is opening the eyes and who is closing the eyes. Understand this ‘I’ who opens or closes the eyes. The ‘I’, who opens or closes the eyes, is one and the same. Understanding that ‘I’, understanding who is opening or closing the eyes, is more important than the opening or closing of the eyes.”

I am reminded of a joke by one poet, a good joke by a Telugu scholar. Somebody came and asked him, “Sir, is a dog moving from the right to the left auspicious, or a dog moving from left to right? Which is a good sign?”

The scholar said, “So long as it doesn’t bite you, it is very auspicious.” (Laughter)

So knowing who ‘I’ am is meditation, as Ramana Maharshi said.

a guru Corrects your path

At this moment, I want to draw your attention to another episode from the biography of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji wrote a letter to Kasturba, his wife, who fell sick. She was in a critical condition. But Gandhiji could not go and visit her because he was very busy with the freedom movement. He wrote a letter to his wife who was ailing and sick. What did he write?

”Kasturba, don’t feel sorry that I am not with you. Everything happens as per the will of God. Do not think that doctors can prolong your life. It is God that prolongs your life and not the doctor. The doctor assists him. The doctor is an instrument, that’s all.”

He wrote, ”Kasturba, understand that you are not going to die. It is the body that is going to die. But you are not going to die; you are permanent. Understand that you are not the body. That is the purpose of this life.”

Finally Gandhiji wrote a beautiful message to his wife. ”The purpose of life is to know the imperishable consciousness in this perishable body. Body is perishable; consciousness is imperishable. To recognise this is the very purpose of life.”

Guru has another role also. Sometimes when you are proceeding on one path, the guru asks you to take a diversion. He tells you when it is not proper. Those of you who have gone through books on Swami will agree with me when I say that Baba rectified the spiritual path of several people. Some people were going in the wrong direction. Swami corrected them because He is a guru. So a true guru corrects you and transforms you.

a guru is the path and the goal

Finally it is said that guru is the way and the goal. This is the climax: guru is both the path and the goal. Baba wants us to do bhajans. At the end, He is the bhajans and He is the aim of the bhajans. Therefore guru is the path and the goal.

That is what Maharshi says, and it is very much applicable to our situation. When somebody asked Ramana Maharshi, “Swami, we pray to You for Your grace. When are You going to be merciful to us?” It was a good question and prayer. Some people ask Swami for grace too.

Maharshi replied, “Do you think that you developed an interest in spirituality without grace? Do you think that you could read all these books without grace?”

Baba says, “Without grace, do you think that you have come here on your own? Do you think you can come here without My grace? Can you have My darshan without My grace?”

Therefore, to doubt is ignorance. Without His grace, nothing can happen because it is His grace that has brought us here. His grace has made us eligible to have His darshan. Then why are we craving for grace again? It is only ignorance, according to Maharshi.

Then somebody said to him, “Swami, it is true that I have Your grace; but I want some more grace, some more, extra.” (Laughter)

Ramana Maharshi said, “Can you withstand that? It is a shock. Are you ready for it?”

He said, “Swami, I will meet you later.” (Laughter)

This fellow knows that when full grace is there, he will be no more. He is not prepared for that. He wants to be some more. He doesn’t want the state of ‘no more’. He wants the state of ‘some more’.

Therefore my friends, we should deserve before we desire. If we desire without deserving, we’ll get frightened. We cannot receive that shock because we are not prepared for it.

Preparation is necessary for grace

Enough preparation is necessary to receive all the grace of Bhagavan. Although we want it, we cannot withstand it if it is conferred just like that. We have to prepare. Preparation for abundant grace can be done by means of bhajans, spiritual reading, listening to Divine discourses, etc.

But we think preparation is the end. Cooking is not the end. Once I have cooked all items, can I say that dinner is completed? How? Cooking is over, but completion of cooking is not the end of dinner. I should eat and my hunger should be satiated. Only then is the dinner completed.

Similarly, our reading, bhajans, meditation, prayer, and satsang all amount to preparation, which is very necessary. You should be prepared with a pen with ink in it when you go for examination. If not, then take the supplementary examination later. A doctor should have a thermometer and blood pressure kit with him. If he doesn’t, he should go to the cafeteria and not to the dispensary. So, we should make a preparation to deserve His additional grace. That is what Ramana Maharshi says.

I don’t know if I said it earlier, but I better I say it: We all worship Subrahmanya. We go to the anthill and offer milk. Suddenly out of the anthill, if the snake comes out, we say “Hari Om! We’ll see you next year, not now.” Or we call somebody and kill it. But while it is inside, we worship it. That’s bad. So we are not prepared. “Lord Subrahmanya, You are merciful, You are great! Please confer Your Grace upon us.” But when that happens we say, “I don’t want it. I want it, but not this much please.” (Laughter)

Therefore we have not made adequate preparation to be the recipients of His grace.

a guru CLEARS all doubts

In the same wavelength, I can also tell you another point. When you ask a question, Swami remembers that question and answers it sometime or other. But even without asking questions, all our doubts are answered in His Divine discourses. Am I not right?

At the end of every discourse you meet friends who say, “Sir, my doubt is cleared; my fear is gone. All my worries are gone.”

“How did they get answered? Did you ask Swami?”


So how are they cleared? The Indweller knows all. Therefore in the Divine discourse, all our doubts are clarified. This is the quality of a guru. A question you wanted to ask is answered—unasked, unsolicited.

Also, guru is in full knowledge, full awareness of the depth of the subject. I can give you any number of examples. A bishop from the Catholic Church in France came and said, “Swami, You are quoting the Bible freely. Freely You are quoting, without any help, book, or paper, and You are interpreting the Bible in such a way that most of us do not know. We do not know the interpretations of a biblical statement. You are explaining excellently, Swami. It is fantastic.”

I also know of some Buddhists kneeling in front of Swami, saying, “Swami, Buddha’s message is conveyed so much better by You than by Buddhists themselves.” Why? Because Swami personifies all that any sacred text contains. All the holy books contain the essence, which is in a human form, whom you call Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. That is the quality of a guru. I wanted to tell you that.

a guru is in total identification with the self

Another quality of a guru is total identification with the Self. He is lost. Even if He is sitting there amongst you, you do not know what He is thinking. My friends, you may not believe it, but it is true. He is sitting on the chair with a few of us in front of Him. Suddenly He closes His eyes. For half an hour or forty-five minutes, we do not know. Is He sleepy? No. On the other hand, He is waving His hands with His eyes closed for a long time. What is happening to Swami? When some programme is taking place, He seems to be lost somewhere.

This is the quality of a guru. We can understand some of these actions of the Divine personality of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba if we dig into the literature of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or Sri Ramana Maharshi. He gets lost because He is in total identification with His Divinity. So He is not bothered about what is going on. There may be a drama, a dance, or a group singing; but He is beyond these things. He is in total identification with Divine consciousness. That’s the quality of a guru.


Swami does not mince words. He tells you straight, whether you agree or not, whether you listen to Him or not. To a ritualistic person, He says that the spiritual is more important than the ritual. He tells the man who thinks spirituality is reading spiritual books and having scholarship, that experience is more important than all the wealth of his knowledge. He says to the man who works like a machine that work is not the end of life; he should go beyond this activity and cultivate love for God. He tells you plainly and directly, in your own interest, whether it jells with you or not. This is the quality of a true guru. That’s what we find in Bhagavan.

a guru is egoless

Another quality of a guru is absence of ego. Let me give a simple example. Swami asks so many people to speak in His presence. Sometimes it’s boys, sometimes elders. What do they speak? Sometimes the speakers themselves do not know. But what do devotees hear? They are here to hear Bhagavan’s discourses not these boys’ talks.

I always tell my boys, “They watch Swami; they don’t hear you. Just because they are hearing your talks, don’t think that you are great orators, you or me, anybody for that matter. People are tolerating you. (Laughter) People are bearing with you.”

“Pain is an interval between two pleasures. Swami’s darshan is one pleasure; Swami’s discourse another pleasure; pain in between is your talk and my talk. Our talk is the pain. Darshan and discourse is pleasure.” That’s what I tell people.

Therefore my friends, there is no trace of ego in Him. A fellow comes to Him after his talk and asks, “Swami, how did I speak?”

You watch his face as He says, “Nice, nice.”

Is it nice? We know how nice it is. He always appreciates. When a fellow talks, we look at our watches wondering when he will be done. As soon as that man comes to the end of his talk, he approaches Swami and asks, “Swami, how is it?”

“Very nice.” That’s egoless-ness.

There is nothing the speaker could do at his level. He was at his best. Therefore Swami says it was fine. But if you asked any one of us, we’d say that it was not fine at all. ‘We don’t want to see his face next time Swami, please!’ (Laughter)

But He still appreciates, because there is no ego in Him. There are some people who sing songs and play music that is not known in this country. They play some instruments, sing French or German or Japanese songs that we don’t understand. In the end, they all come out smiling and Swami goes on, “Aha! Very nice. Very good.”

Please watch the cassettes and when Thyagaraja or other south Indian music is played, most of our brothers from America, Japan, Germany, and other overseas nations cannot follow it. But if Swami asks how the music was, “Very nice, Swami,” (Laughter) is the usual response. How do you say that it was very nice? They mean, “We could see You for so long, while they were singing. I could see You and that was very nice. ‘Nice’ applies to You, not to the music.”

It does not matter whether it is eastern or western, southern or northern music or literature or language. Swami loves and encourages every form of expression and art because there is no identification with anything but the Self in all.

If I say that I like only Carnatic music, do I imply that I dislike Hindustani music? If I say that I like western music, someone may ask whether I dislike Indian music. So when you identify, when you say, ”I like” -- gone, it is ego! Swami will never say, ”I like” or ”I don’t like.” There is no identification. That’s the quality of a guru.

Love, PEACE, and compassion overflow in a Guru

Love, peace, and compassion overflow in a guru. Whenever a poor man or a beggar approaches, or any student reports that a family member is sick, watch Swami’s face. It is full of concern, and overflows with kindness.

Therefore my friends, these are all the qualities of a guru, as explained by Ramana Maharishi, which are quite applicable to our Jagath guru, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Thank you very much. (Applause)


Asato Maa Sad Gamaya

Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya

Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti


March 5th, 2006

“Questions and Answers”


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday evening, some of my friends met me and said that they would like to have the chance to ask some questions. I don’t know whether they are here or not, but it’s over to you if you have any questions. Are there any questions, please?


Did Baba say, “Give all, take nothing?”

I remember Baba saying, “Leave all your burdens here, take bliss from Me. Take everything from Me.” That is what I remember.


When we start on the spiritual path, we become more body conscious, doing exercises, and so on. Is that attachment to the body?

The question is relating to the attachment to the body. What does Baba say about it?

Attachment to the body is considering that the body is the ‘be all and end all’, that the body is everything and there is nothing beyond. A human life centered on the body, lived for the body, beginning and ending with the body, that is body attachment.

Body attachment does not think of the principle which is eternal, immortal and essentially Divine. Body attachment is limited to food, raiment, and shelter. To have food to eat, a place to live, and clothing, is enough satisfaction. To aim for every comfort and convenience, all luxuries and pleasures, also describes body attachment.

On the spiritual path, one has to grow beyond that, but not to the total neglect of the body. Some people think that spirituality requires us to neglect the body. Certainly not! They are totally mistaken. Looking shabby or unclean, starving the body, these are not signs of spirituality.

One has to maintain the body. The body is a vehicle or an automobile of transport and is an effective instrument gifted to man to realise the ultimate. In other words, the body is a means to an end but not an end in itself. This kind of awareness will help us to go beyond the limitations of the body and beyond the attachment to the body; but we should never utterly neglect the body.


Could you please tell us what is the purpose of life? What is the most important duty in the life of every human being?

Two beautiful questions have been put to us. The first part of the question is, “What is the purpose of life?” To a man of mundane interests and worldly pursuits, the purpose of life is to be rich, or to be an intellectual, or to be in a position of authority, or to wield influence in society; if possible, to also dominate in any way possible. These seem to be the objectives of many worldly people.

The purpose of human life is to merge in God

But spiritually-speaking, the purpose of life can be briefly stated like this. To quote Bhagavan, I will give an illustration. The sun heats the waters of the ocean, which in turn become vapour rising to the sky to form clouds. Clouds come down to earth as rain, creating rivers and lakes. The rivers flow continuously, through different areas, and their purpose is to ultimately merge back into the ocean from where they were born.

So the river is brought out of the ocean and the purpose of the river is to ultimately merge in the ocean. Until then, the river is very restless. It flows in different areas and directions, each with its own name, form and taste. But once the river merges in the ocean, it loses its form; it loses its name, and loses its taste. It is as good as the ocean itself. So in the beginning, it was the ocean, now it is the river, and in the future, it is going to be the ocean once again.

The awareness that one is born out of this ocean of Divinity, is leading the life of the river of individuality, and that one has to merge back into the ocean is the purpose of human life. The purpose of human life is to merge in God. Since he was born in God, he has to merge in God. Where is he between these points? He is in God again, but unaware of this. He thinks he is out of God, but he is in God. So he has to merge in God, of whom he is not aware.

Our main duty is to realise the Centre of our Being

And the second part of the question is, “What is our main duty?” The main duty (as Bhagavan said) is to get out of that which we are not. What do I mean by that?

Essentially, we are spirit. Basically, I am consciousness, but consciousness in identification with the body leads away from reality. Consciousness in identification with the mind goes still further from reality; and consciousness in identification with the intellect goes even further away from reality.

So the reality is far distant from us. We have gone away from the centre of our very being. The centre of our very being is consciousness or spirit or Atma. But we have skipped over that centre and are groping in the darkness of the periphery. We are in the periphery of the body, the periphery of the mind, and the periphery of the intellect.

So our main duty is to realise the centre of our being, which happens to be the same as the universal centre. The individual centre is not different from the universal centre. The centre of my life is same as your centre; the centre of our very being is the same as the universal centre.

So our main duty is to be away from that which we are not. In other words, to be free from the peripheral dictates of mind, body and intellect, and to live in the very centre, to be fully aware, to be fully alert, awake to the centre of our very being. This is our duty.

Any other questions? To the extent of my knowledge, I will certainly give the answers and if I do not know them, then I sincerely apologise and will wait for the opportunity to ask Bhagavan for a reply. Till then for as long as promised, and as long as He wills, I will respond to your questions.

The symbolic meaning of the lingam

I want to know about Mahashivaratri and the significance of the lingam materialised by Bhagavan.

This is a question relating to Mahashivaratri (a very important spiritual celebration – ‘the night of the God Shiva’), and the lingam (a small oval-shaped object usually of gold or stone) which sometimes is materialised by Bhagavan.

First point: The meaning of the lingam is a sign or a symbol. The national flag is a sign or a symbol of our nation. Likewise, the meaning of lingam is a sign, a symbol or a mark. That is the first point I want to make clear.

Second point: Lingam means ‘the One who is the origin, the One responsible for sustenance and the One into whom all the created objects merge back’. So the lingam represents three principles: creation, sustenance and annihilation -- birth, growth and death. That is what it signifies.

Third point: Lingam represents the light of knowledge, jyotirlingam. It means the light of wisdom or the light of knowledge.

Fourth point: Lingam represents the Atma or the Self, or we can say Atma lingam. It represents the being. The lingam represents the eternal blissful state of our awareness or consciousness. We are living in a dual world. We are passing through dualistic experiences. But truly speaking, we are non-dual, eternal, immortal and blissful. That’s what we really are. So the eternal, nectarine, unpolluted Self or consciousness is the lingam, and that is termed Sada Siva lingam. Sada means ‘eternal’, Sivam is ‘that which is auspicious, immortal’ and linga is sign or symbol.

Fifth point: Lingam also represents our body. The body is made up of five elements. Water and fire are internal; that is why we have a normal body temperature of 98.4º. When fire is absent, the next step is a gathering in honour of the departed soul. (Laughter) There is fire and water in the body; there is air in our breath. The muscles are the earth; and then there is the space within which the different systems are contained, as we keep our luggage in a suitcase. So the five elements are present in the body. The five elements are Divine, as Bhagavan said the other day. That’s what is meant by Anda-Pinda-Brahmanda lingam. Anda-pinda lingam means ‘the body which is made of the five essential elements’.

The body is composed of limbs and organs. These are called anga. They are all linked. My hand is not different from my head (unless amputated). All are as one, and therefore the body is in existence. The angas (limbs) are connected. That is called sanga. The anga is in perfect harmony or unity in sanga; because of the sanga, there is activity -- the mind thinks, the legs walk. This is all due to the Atma or inner consciousness and is what we call linga. Therefore, there is anga that gets unified (sanga), which leads to the activity of sanga due to the entity linga.

Linga is always upwards, meaning the consciousness is upwards and universal. Our mind is always downwards. That’s the reason why people are narrow-minded. The spirit is never narrow, it is universal and expansive. So linga is always upwards. It is limitless.

significance behind materialistion of linga

Now for the second part of the question about the linga materialised by Bhagavan: Swami said the linga is present in everybody. He manifests that linga from within for us to see that it is there. So our business from now on is to think of linga being present in everyone of us. It is not exclusive; the Divinity is present in every one of us. Bhagavan demonstrates this so that we can see, realise, .and finally experience linga or the consciousness within each one of us. That is the significance behind the materialisation of the linga.

Can you please share some of your experiences about Swami's omnipotence?

Let me postpone this question. I have had a number of experiences and once I go into them, this present opportunity to answer other questions will be lost. I shall certainly cover it, at some time.

Swami wants us to learn spiritual surrender

We all know that Swami is Brahmanda nayaka. He is able to control everything. All the devotees are praying with heart and soul to see Him walk as He did before. What does He want to teach us? There must be some lesson for us to learn here. Can you please tell us?

The lesson for us to learn is to bear anything that comes in our life with forbearance and patience, ungrudgingly, uncomplainingly, doing our work regularly, happily, smiling, without having a break from our duties. Swami in a wheelchair wants us to learn how to accept things. Let us not fight against things that happen. Once I am reconciled, accepting all, that is called ‘surrender’ in spirituality. So He wants us to learn spiritual surrender. We should learn to accept the reality given to us. But He is beyond and able to carry on.

How about us poor mortals? We should also be able to carry on. But we are disturbed by the slightest deviation from the normal routine of our life. A simple headache is enough to declare curfew at home. (Laughter) A rise of one degree in temperature will see no traffic on the street. A fight at home is enough to apply for casual leave from work. That is our situation.

"I don’t want anybody to watch TV because I have a headache." (Laughter)

"Nobody can go out to have pizza or porridge, a donut, a pie or an ice-cream. Don’t you know that I am running a temperature?" My temperature is a universal problem. My headache is the headache of the world! (Laughter)

That’s how we feel; but here is Bhagavan who is beyond. That’s the lesson we are supposed to learn. Suffer, but yet make everybody happy; accept unconditionally what is given to you. That’s how I see it.

spirit of service culminates in liberation

Baba preaches service to mankind as the highest priority for mankind. Baba also preaches that our ultimate aim is for liberation or moksha. What should it be? Attain moksha or serve mankind?

Your question is very genuine because you are from the land of West Bengal where the Indian renaissance movement took place. This question has two parts, service to humanity and desire for liberation. What should be our priority?

My friend, liberation will take care of itself; let’s not worry about it. Let us serve sincerely. Let us serve without the feeling of ‘I’m the doer’ (doership), or ‘I am the cause’. This ‘I’-ness should go. Let us do it without wanting enjoyment as the reward (enjoyership).

"You know what I have done? Let me tell Swami!"

"You know how things were when I was there. You can see how things have changed now!"

Expectation of credit, felicitation, compliments, appreciation, all reflect the spirit of ‘enjoyership’ or what we call bhogthruthva. I, the doer, is karthrthva. Let us serve by giving up two things: yourself as the doer and yourself as the enjoyer.

"I am not doing anything." Then does that mean you are not ‘doing’? Yes, you are, but only as an instrument in His hands.

“I am not the enjoyer.” Why? The credit or discredit then goes to Him. When I am the doer, I can be complimented or condemned. When I am not the doer, there is no one to receive the compliment or discredit.

So when we do service like this, without being the one who enjoys or the one who is the doer, you realise that God is everywhere. You realise that everyone represents Divinity and that name and form are only signs of identification. Basically, it’s all Divinity. That experience of oneness, universal consciousness which is beyond name and form, is called liberation. Liberation is nameless, formless, attribute-less, eternal, endless and without beginning, the permanent state of consciousness.

A young tender fruit gradually increases in size. When the fruit is fully ripe and ready, it falls to the ground. I just have to stand in front of the tree. I don’t have to pray. When the fruit is ready, it falls on the ground by itself. Similarly when the spirit of service is totally spiritual, Divine, selfless, pure, it culminates in liberation. Service is not at the expense of liberation. Our job is to serve; His job is to give.

Restoring the purity of heart is sadhana

Could you explain the meaning of Baba's words: “a pure heart is all sadhana (spiritual practice)?”

Without any reservation, whatever I communicate or illustrate here is only from Sai literature. I do not give my own opinion or thoughts on the subject under discussion. I am totally free of that; be sure of it. (Laughter) I quote from Swami's literature only.

So, what does Baba say about this? The heart is pure, but it becomes impure. A handkerchief is white when manufactured; but once it is purchased, it becomes dirty and marked with usage. So I give it to the washerman, who washes it thoroughly and then irons it, so that it becomes as white as before.

So the heart is pure, but it is made impure because of ambition, desire, lust and avarice. Due to all these pollutants, it has become dirty. Removing this dirt is through spiritual practice, sadhana.

Therefore, our sadhana is to remove the dirt and stains by washing with soap and water. Soap is the repetition of God’s Name, and the water is love. In that way, all the dirt accumulated because of excessive usage can be removed and the heart brought back to its original white (pure) nature. That’s what is meant by, “A pure heart is all sadhana.”

Never give up the Divine values

Swami's teachings are simple and profound, but sometimes I find when I try to apply them in my life, there is lot of resistance from the world. My heart says to do something which is right, but trying to implement those principles is difficult.

Suppose I am working with a team of 50 or so, and none agree with my point of view. My heart says that it is true, but I don’t have courage to implement or practice it. So what is my duty, in these instances?

A young and enterprising man as he enters the world will face such questions. I can understand your position.

The first point: If the whole world agrees with what you do and what you say, it is no longer sadhana. If everybody says "Good, whatever you say is fine, carry on," it is not sadhana. Doing something in spite of opposition or resistance is sadhana or spiritual practice.

The second point: The values you treasure are Divine. Naturally it is the duty of the Divine to see that others also join you in due course of time. Initially there will be opposition and some kind of conflict; but over time, people will come to agree with your line of thought. Cheap worldly values are immediately accepted, valued, and devalued. They do not retain their value. But the essential Divine values take time for everybody to first accept, and then it takes some more time return to that way of life. Never give up, and Swami will support you.

I will give you one example. I won’t give any names. There was a situation where a lecturer was served a three months’ notice to quit his job. He had to leave, and from the moment the notice was served, people ignored him. People notice you while you are in the notice of Bhagavan. Once away from that, we become non-existent in the sight of fellow devotees. That’s the experience of many people. So this man was served with the three months’ notice to quit. Everybody stopped talking to him and he was totally ignored.

He is still very much here but I am not mentioning his name. Two months passed, two months and fifteen days, twenty days. Everybody started asking when he would leave. Just three days before the last day, he got a letter saying that he could continue on at the university.

That’s what we call Divine intervention. He will never leave you. But our worry and anxiety is to test how strong is our conviction, how committed we are to the values that we cherish. Be patient. Patience, purity and perseverance are the three P’s which will ultimately make you a victor, triumphant. Take it that He is testing you. This is true with many people.

Realise the peace within you

I’m from Australia. I want to ask a question that has been on my mind for a long time. It’s about man torturing his fellow man. We see brutal torture in the newspapers and on television. I don’t feel that single prayers are enough. What can we do to change man’s thinking? Why is torture here on earth?

It’s equally torturous to hear about torture. What can we do about torture, man torturing his fellow man? Let me be very clear, torture does not necessarily mean only that done on the physical body. One can torture another mentally. One can be tortured intellectually. So torture is not only physical; it can be psychological or intellectual.

Suppose you don’t listen to me, so I feel tortured. When you ignore me, I am tortured. When you hit me, that is physical torture, which everybody can see. So torture can have several aspects.

There is torture within every individual. The intellect decides something and the mind does not agree. The senses desire things, but the intellect says ‘no’.

The intellect says, “Go to bhajans,” but the mind says, “Go to the cafeteria.”

The intellect says, “Stay on, Swami may come anytime,” but the mind says, “Have your breakfast. Swami will come later, don’t worry.” (Laughter)

So, my friends, torture is a process going on within every individual. Torture is also a phenomenon taking place between two individuals. Torture is a thing of domination, a process of insult, shame and humiliation. Torture is a sign of ego. Torture is violence and aggression. It is total brutal animalism, bestial.

What can we do? One nation wants to torture another nation; one group wants to torture some other group. It is going on everywhere, from the individual to an international level. What can I do? At least, let me try to live in peace within myself. Do not let me torture myself.

One: Suppose I don’t eat. The world will not suffer, but my body is tortured. You don’t eat; so what happens, you are torturing your body. You don’t sleep; you are torturing your body. So I should not torture my body.

Two: I torture my mind by allowing desires to multiply. Mind wants a bicycle; later it demands a scooter; then it insists on a car at least. Finally it craves for a Mercedes! So by just allowing the mind to behave like that, I am torturing myself. So don’t let me torture myself physically by over-fasting, or by neglect of the body. Don’t let me torture myself because of the vagaries and fancies of the mind, multiplying my desires.

Three: Don’t let me be tortured by the people around me. Sometimes people are also capable of torturing you.

When you are immersed in bhajans, somebody sits by and says, "Do you know what happened in 1980?"

The bhajan is on, so why don’t you keep your mouth shut! (Laughter)

Suddenly when we are sitting with eyes closed, somebody will come and ask, "Did you read this book?”

You go and read, why disturb me!

People want to speak about themselves and what they have done chronologically. "1970 was my first visit; December 15th,1975, my second visit,” and so on.

Ultimately we begin to feel like saying, “Swami, why did you allow him to visit You so many times because he is torturing everybody!”

Blowing one’s own trumpet means you are torturing someone else. The boastful pride and the ego serve as effective implements to torture others.

So let me not torture myself and let me not torture others. Let me live in peace within myself and pray to God:

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu.

Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi.

May all the worlds be happy.

Om…Peace, peace, peace.

‘Let there be peace.’ That is the prayer that we can do at the individual level.

Say ANY NAME OF GOD to pacify the mind

Swami says so many things about the mind. He says the mind functions on several levels and that we can tame it or get over it, and slowly illuminate it. For mortals like us, even controlling some desires relating to the external world is really difficult. How can we do what Swami advises: “Practice slowly and reach that level where you go past the mind?”

The mind refuses to be controlled, just like a child. The mind is a mad monkey, as Swami says. Swami says so many things about the mind, and we say, "Never mind!" (Laughter) But to control the mind, knowing that it is uncontrollable, here is the technique we need:

That’s why Swami says:

Govindethi Sada Jnanam,

Govindethi Sada Japam,

Govindethi Sada Dhyanam,

Sada Govinda Keerthanam.

Oh mind, if I let you go, I know what you will do. You will not leave me till I am miserable.

You will not leave me until I feel absolutely suicidal, totally frustrated, and disappointed.

I know you do that, O mind.

Now I will give you an exercise to engage the mind. First, I will tell you a small story.

A beggar prayed to God. God appeared and asked, "What do you want?"

"Oh God, I have so many things to ask, please give me some time."

Then God said, "Ok, here is a devil. This devil will supply whatever you want, but on one condition: if you no longer make any requests, it will swallow you."

This fellow thought, "C'mon, I can do that. I have so many desires, more than sufficient for the devil.”

So he kept on commanding the devil, "I want food, I want a house," and so on. The devil went on supplying all that he wanted. The list was eventually exhausted. He had everything in this world. Then he started to run and the devil chased him.

He prayed to God, "Oh, God, save me now!"

God appeared and asked what he wanted.

"Swami, the devil is ready to swallow me."

"You wanted this. What should I do?"

“No, no, save me!"

Then God said, "Get a pole and ask the devil to climb up and down the pole until further orders."

Those orders are still in place and the devil is still moving up and down. It cannot travel elsewhere.

The mind is like that. The pole is the body, the devil is the mind. If you say, “So-hum, Hari Om” (or any Name of God), it will not swallow you.

So the best way to control the mind is to engage the mind. If the mind is not engaged, the thought at that moment needs additional energy. Thought is energy. By ruminating over that thought, it draws more energy; it becomes more energetic and causes the body to act. By that stage, we are finished.

So let us not give strength to the thought by ruminating or reflecting on it. When thought comes, say "Hari Om." If thoughts come in between, do it again. In that way we can pacify our mind.

But to control it is not easy. Trying to control the mind is something like trying to contain the ocean in a tumbler. Can you do it? It’s impossible. If anyone says, "I have controlled the mind," don’t believe him. He is a fraud. He doesn’t know what the mind is. Never mind him.

The mind can be engaged; it cannot be controlled. The children are making a lot of noise. When guests come, they are even noisier. (Laughter) We feel very embarrassed; what shall we do? Let them watch a children’s program on television, or some cartoons. They love it and it keeps them entertained. Now, you can talk amongst yourselves. (Laughter) But if you beat the children, it creates an additional problem. They will start crying and get into mischief. (Laughter) You cannot control them by force.

Asato Maa Sad Gamaya

Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya

Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Jai Bolo Sri Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Babaji ki, Jai!



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