Loving Sai Ram and
greetings from Prashanti Nilayam. We are passing through troubled times,
with violence dominating the news in many places. In Iraq of course,
gruesome atrocities have become so common that as far as the Media are
concerned, they have stopped being news. Then we had the multiple bombings
in the suburban trains in Bombay that killed nearly two hundred and
wounded many more. Right now, the situation in the Middle East is hotting
up badly, making everyone very worried. And as if all this is not enough,
there is the daily quota of violence all over the place, in slums, in the
ghettos and so on, apart from what is called Maoist violence in India ,
which rages unabated. Just a couple of days ago, nearly forty tribals were
massacred and in the process, a six-month old child was mercilessly thrown
into the fire. It is very painful to mention all this but we have to draw
attention to the ugly to stress how casual and sometimes even indifferent
we are to the beautiful.
Violence is nothing new; it has always been there from times immemorial.
Man having evolved from animals, has a natural tendency to violence
inherited from animals. However, God in His Mercy has given man many
tools, using which man could check and keep violence under control. But
unfortunately, he does not appreciate the power latent in him and seldom
uses those tools. To make matters worse, man constantly uses his wonderful
brain to invent new methods of inflicting devastating violence in very
If you think about it, the anatomy of violence is really strange.
Religion, they say, is often the cause of conflict. So it seems, but have
you ever wondered why it is that Christians are fighting Christians in
Northern Ireland ? To those who are not Christians, this would seem
absolutely strange, and yet there it is, this conflict, still to be
resolved satisfactorily. Then again, to non-Muslims, it seems strange that
Shia Muslims are fighting Sunni Muslims in many parts of the Middle East .
If you look further, you will find that all these conflicts originate
because people try to differentiate themselves, unnecessarily, one might
add. Once they start this process, then all kinds of self-interests creep
in, causing problems. Just to give an example that borders on the
ridiculous, we would like to briefly narrate the story of a dispute that
arose about eighty years or so ago in Chennai, then Madras.
To Westerners, Hindus might seem to be one homogenous block but that is
the view from outside. As in other communities, despite the Vedas and all
that, Hindus too easily fall a prey to the disease of unwanted
differentiation. Thus, as if the so-called caste distinctions were not
enough, there is a divide that separates those who worship Vishnu as the
Supreme God and those who claim that it is Siva who is the Supreme God. If
you think this is pretty bad, hold on to your chair! Among the followers
of Vishnu or Vaishnavaites as they are known, there are two sects, and
they distinguish themselves by the way they wear the caste mark on their
foreheads. There is the northern branch that wears it one way and there is
the southern branch that wears the caste mark with a slight difference.
Now there is in Madras a temple of Krishna , managed by Vaishnavaities.
Krishna being an incarnation of Vishnu is a natural favourite of
Vaishnavaites, though it must be added that He is also equally adored by
Saivaites or the followers of Siva. Now this temple in Madras had an
elephant, very much like our beloved Sai Geetha. The more prosperous
temples in South India all have or least used to have, elephants that
participated in and lent colour to various festivals.
Getting back to this temple in Madras , the question arose as to what type
of caste mark should adorn the forehead of the temple elephant. The
Southern brand of Vaishnavaites said it must be according to their style
while the Northern brand said no way. The argument between the two sects
in the Temple Management Committee became so fierce, that the matter went
to Court – this, by the way, all happened when the British ruled India .
The lower Courts could not settle the matter and the litigation slowly
wound its way up the legal ladder until it reached the Federal Court .
None of the Courts could arbitrate in a manner acceptable to both parties.
And do you know what happened after that? An appeal was made by the
aggrieved party to the Privy Council in England ! Imagine that!! The legal
body of the House of Lords in England was called upon to arbitrate in a
matter involving the caste mark of an elephant that was the property of a
Hindu temple in faraway India ; and by the way, these Lords hardly knew
anything about Hinduism! Today when we recall that story, it all seems
pretty amusing but the fact of the matter is that when two people, groups,
communities or races get involved in a dispute, they can become very petty
and quite mean. This is the starting point of hardening of positions,
which later, in many cases, leads to violent conflict.
With that preamble, let us come to the central issue. In a sense, all
these conflicts arise from issues connected with identification and space.
People want to cling on to certain identities and demand space for their
identities to flourish. Thus it is that Catholics and Protestants forget
that they both worship Christ and quarrel about their Catholic or
Protestant identity. It is the same when it comes to Shias and Sunnis,
Vaishnavaites and Saivaites, and so on. Mercifully, not all conflicts are
vicious or violent but the point we are making is that humankind somehow
seems to revel in differentiation rather that in seeing unity in
And yet, interestingly, it is not always that such unwanted feelings of
differentiation prevail. For example, during the recent blasts in Mumbai,
people of ALL communities and strata in Society rushed to the help of
those affected. Calamities have their own way of blurring differences. The
question arises: “What is the special chemistry of calamities that makes
people forget their differences?” Ah, that precisely is where Swami’s
profound observations enter into the picture!
Swami often tells us, “You also are God.” What does that mean? It does not
mean that we can wave our hand and materialise Vibhuti and things like
that. It means something totally different. In the Gita, Lord Krishna
declares that wherever compassion, forbearance, selfless love, etc.,
manifest, there shines His Divinity. In other words, God means Love,
something that we remind ourselves of via the beautiful Bhajan Prem Ishwar
hai, Ishwar Prem hai . When there is a disaster and people are suffering,
differences that normally divide humans recede into the background and the
chemistry of compassion and love starts operating.
Perhaps we can now return to our opening remarks. Yes, there is a lot of
anger and hatred but since we are all made in the image of God, there is
also within each one of us, the reservoir of Pure Love. In purely
numerical terms while some may appear to be filled with hate, Pure Love is
locked up in all without exception. That can make an enormous difference,
if what is locked up is released at least in some measure.
This Pure Love that we are talking about is no ordinary love; it is not
the feeling of bodily attachment that we frequently mistake for Love. It
is soft, gentle and compassionate but has power that would dwarf the
staggering forces that operate in the galaxies and quasars in Cosmos.
Just look back to 1940, the year when fourteen-year old Sathya quit home
to dedicate His life to bring Ananda to humanity. He was then a mere
village boy, born in a poor family, and had not even completed school. The
village He lived in did not even have a road leading directly to it. And
now look at that same Puttaparthi. Today when we walk around this place,
we take internet cafes, air-conditioned banks, travel offices and even a
Fedex office, all for granted. Yet, as late as 1968, Arthur Schulman of
Hollywood described this very same place as being 160 km from Bangalore
and ten minutes past the Stone Age. In a few decades things have changed
remarkably. Equally remarkably, things have changed little in
Karnatakanagepalli just across the river. What is amazing is that way back
it was Karnatakanagepalli that was the gateway to Puttaparthi. By the way,
Swami did not implement any specific project to improve Puttaparthi as
such. He did not seek help from either the State or the Central
Government; nor did He ask the World Bank or the IMF to pitch in. It all
happened quietly seemingly all by itself but in reality, it is all due to
the subtle influence of Swami’s Love.
The point we are making is simply this. Even at the worldly level, Pure
Love can work wonders. Think about the Super Hospitals for a moment. Is
there such a hospital in all the G8 countries put together that has
rendered so much service to the poor? In the area of cardiology alone,
nearly twenty thousand procedures have been performed. All this is
happening in a village that till recently was just ten minutes past the
Stone Age. And what do the big cities boast of? Inhospitable hospitals, if
you recall a recent Sunday Special.
We can go on and on but do not have to. The point to realise is that
firstly, Pure Love is incredibly powerful, and secondly this reservoir of
Pure Love is present in each and every one of us, that is right, in all
the 6.2 or so billions of humans living on earth. If the love locked up in
even one million people is released, what a tremendous difference it can
make to humanity!
People wax eloquent about Swami’s Love but it is equally important to
realise that that same Love is immanent in each one of us. May be our
attachments and self-interests would limit the amount that we can release
but if we really feel for the problems of humanity, it is quite feasible
to harness this Love for solving many problems that afflict Society today,
including that of violence.
Take the case of poverty. Just about a year ago, there was a lot of hype
in the Western world about making poverty in Africa into history. One year
later, it would seem that the progress is quite disappointing. Mass
poverty and gross injustice are the real weapons of mass destruction. They
may not destroy in one second, as a hydrogen bomb would do. But they would
bleed Society in slow and most painful steps that inflict horrible
violence on the hapless and the unfortunate, rather than on those who are
responsible for wealth and justice asymmetry. If violence must be
contained then extreme asymmetries must be avoided. And if these
asymmetries to be avoided, people must stop thinking in terms of
parameters that divide. Instead, people must think in terms of factors
Unity: that is the key factor. We may differ in terms of the colour of our
skins, the religions we profess or the languages we speak. Yes, these
differences exist. But is that what we should focus on or what unites us?
Why don’t we all speak as the children of one God? In the Organisation,
sad to say, despite all the Bhajan singing, speech making, etc., a large
number of grass-root devotees complain about lack of internal unity.
Indeed, even Swami has been forced to speak out openly about this lack of
unity on many occasions.
Unity cannot drop like Manna from heaven. Unity between individuals will
happen only when there is unity of thought, word, and deed in individuals.
So, as they say, we must all go to the drawing board, and do what it takes
to follow Swami’s teachings seriously. When we are perfectly tuned to
Swami, His Love would find expression in the fullest measure. We are not
saying that devotees lack Love. What we are implying is that we must
magnify that Love a million fold, so that its full power can be unleashed
for solving the problems of humanity.
OK, we all do that but will that stop violence in Bombay , Delhi , London
or wherever? Not right away may be, but if we all make strenuous and
serious efforts to enable the power of Love to manifest on a large scale,
then a turn-around is possible. Mother Teresa was a human but her
commitment was so strong that the Love that she showed did make an impact.
Nelson Mandela in South Africa faced a delicate situation when apartheid
ended. The black community that for over a century was victimised badly
was all poised for revenge. But Nelson Mandela defused the tense situation
with his approach of Truth and Reconciliation, shaped not surprisingly by
the ideas practiced by Gandhi earlier in that very same land.
Speaking to students once, Swami said that if we have the deep faith that
God is really within us and set out to do good, the Power of God will
carry that mission to great heights. That is the message we must take to
heart. At a time when there is so much suffering, anything we do, however
little it might be in worldly terms, must be done with an intense Love for
Swami, unshakable faith in His Grace, and an unstoppable flood of
compassion for those who are served. That would then make Sai Love visible
everywhere so that people at large begin to understand the power of Divine
Love and start using that as an option for settling differences and
It is not enough to simply say that Pure Love is very powerful; we must
demonstrate it even as Swami has been doing. May be we cannot attain the
heights reached by Swami, but certainly, we can try to reach the heights
set by humans.
Violence arises from the pollution of the human Mind. If that pollution
has to be cleaned up, it can be done only by Heart; the Mind cannot do it.
And the clean up becomes faster when millions of Hearts fuse into one!
It is time we start appreciating the incredible power of Pure Love. It is
time we make it manifest to suffering humanity in some convincing measure,
so that mankind would seek solutions via Love rather than hate and
Do you agree that it is about time all of us together, did something
really which makes evident to the world of Swami’s Love? Or do you feel
that violence will only increase and become worse and that humans cannot
fix it? Why don’t you write and tell us what you feel?
Jai Sai Ram .
With Love and Regards,
Source: Sai Inspire 23rd July 2006