LIFE IS A CELEBRATION
By Prof. K Anil Kumar
Because, I for one, would believe that distance lends enchantment. We feel Bhagavan, we experience Bhagavan, far from the physical proximity. Perhaps the very idea of the Avatar Incarnation as per the scripture is this: to take every seeker from the Form to the Formless state; from the state of attributes, to an attribute-less state; from the finite to the Infinite.
In that context, we can certainly understand that we feel more. Because someone asked me there in San Antonio: “Anil Kumar, how do you feel now being away from Swami?” I said: “As it is with the case of any family; we miss our children when they are far from us and they miss us when we are far away.”
So also God; it is also true with Swami. We feel His presence more and more away from Him. But near Him, there’s every chance of being deluded by the Form of being carried away that He is just a human Form with all the attributes; but to experience His Divinity, one has to be away from Him.
Well he couldn’t identify that God - Bhagavan has come to that garden far away from Shirdi! Then Bhagavan started talking to him like this: “Look here My son; you know why I asked you to get out from here? You fool! You have been thinking that this physical Form is the Divinity! You just think that Bhagavan is present in Shirdi only! But I want you to experience Me everywhere! I want you to feel Me everywhere. That I am not limited to this place alone. That Baba is not limited to this physical frame.” That was the message of Shirdi Bhagavan in those days.
Experience the Closeness
Those of you who are familiar with this episode will surely be convinced of the fact that whether we are near or far does not matter; because God is beyond time and space. God is not a person to be near. If anyone claims that he is near and close to Swami, please keep him away from you. The best service you can do to him is to admit him in a mental hospital. Because no one can be close to God - all are close to God. It is not any exclusive right of anybody; no, all are close to Him. God is not a person to be near. God is not an object to be possessed. God is not a claim. The experience of God is not an achievement. Because some people say that: “I think I advanced spiritually.” He advanced in age – not spiritually. Geriatric problem.
So nobody can say that: “I advanced”. What is spiritual advancement? To be very frank with you; spiritual advancement cannot be measured in terms of degrees or in terms of number of years that one spends in close proximity with God. Spiritual advancement is the realization of the Supreme Self - which is uniform in everyone; from microcosm to macrocosm. The Self is very much the same in every one - that cosmic principle is very much the same in everyone. That is spiritual realization. Bhagavan says: “Do not try to analyze, it is time to Realize.”
We cannot go on experimenting, we cannot go on expressing. That which is given to expression by word is a limitation. Because ‘mind cannot comprehend, words cannot express’ says the Upanishad. So, spirituality is not an expression but it is an experience.
The Greatest Challenge
Life with Bhagavan is really challenging. If you credit me anything for having stayed there so long, I can only tell you; it is not an easy joke! So nice to hear about Him, so nice to experience His miracles. But to stay with Him and to work with close proximity is quite challenging!
So when He said: “I am appointing you as the principal there”, I was so much upset. Thank god I was quite young at that time; nothing happened to my blood pressure. It was afternoon and I was having a nap and tossing on the bed. I thought ‘I cannot run away from Kodaikanal at that moment though I really want to. I cannot jump at the opportunity because I know its implications, ramifications and the threats and the Divine risks and the spiritual danger involved over there.’ So I had no choice; I just kept quiet.
That evening Bhagavan gave a beautiful message. He wanted me to translate. In the course of the talk, He made a reference to a particular situation from the epic Ramayana. Lord Rama started asking everybody: “Is anyone here prepared to go over to Lanka crossing this vast ocean in search of Sita?”
Saying this, when I completed my translation, Bhagavan in His usual style, looked at me and gave a mischievous smile. The whole episode had to be said only in support of my appointment there; because I was in a fix at that moment of time.
So my friends, life is a challenge; meet it. Life there or elsewhere anywhere all over the world is a challenge. People are not prepared to accept that challenge. That’s the reason why we find people being upset at times. I know one elderly gentleman to whom Swami asked “You be the district president of the Sathya Sai Seva Organization.” He said: “Swami I am incompetent.” Swami said: “I know your competence, keep quiet! I know your competence.” So one has to be prepared.
Life is a challenge; meet it! This challenge, the climax in this pursuit of meeting the life as a challenge, goes to the point of realizing Divinity within - that is the challenge, a spiritual challenge. Bhagavan said so long as you think God is outside you, you have not understood Him; you have not experienced Him. The real challenge is really met with when once you experience Him within. The realization of Divinity within - that is the spiritual challenge. Be that any religion, be that any sect, be that any spiritual path given to anybody, any Guru for that matter will certainly want you to realize the Divinity within - that is the biggest challenge!
Swami’s Challenge to His Students
Late for a Letter
I can also give you one more example. Of course this being a small family, I don’t think anyone would have any reservations or secrecy here. Again I take you back to Kodai Kanal days. I was asked to follow students to be taken to the lake every morning, and bring them back to Sai Shruti. It so happened I was late; all the boys had arrived already. And Swami started joking and the boys were laughing. By the time I reached there, I heard loud laughter! Then I thought: “Entertainment must be waiting at my cost!”
Then I went slowly; and Swami said: “Why are you late?” I said: “Swami: “I am late!” “ I know you are late, I am asking you why are you late? Do you understand my question?” The answer was too personal; I couldn’t respond immediately. I thought: “Silence is golden.” Then immediately Bhagavan said: “I know you had been to the post office!” Everybody laughed. He looked at the boys and said: “Hey boys! Did I not tell you that your teacher went to the post office?” “Yes, Swami.”
Be that as it may, it is a revealing experience that Bhagavan knows pretty well what I did there; I was actually very shocked! This is the challenge to feel. Because the silent conversations, the softest whispers go to His notice; and suddenly He starts telling you everything.
The Embodiment of Generosity
I recall another incident. It so happened that I was traveling with Swami in His car from Puttaparthi to Brindavan. Swami stopped His car at several places and started picking out something from His wallet, giving some currency notes to everybody. I didn’t understand this. But I didn’t have the guts to ask why this is happening. But later softly, finding out the mood of Bhagavan, and the ambience around, I picked up a little courage and said: “Swami, what is it that You are doing?”
He said: “They are all poor people. They don’t even have food to eat, they have to go begging everywhere. The whole family depends on them. So I gave Rs. 500 notes to everybody.” Rs. 500 notes! Costly begging indeed! I said: “Rs. 500 notes Swami!” He said: “It doesn’t matter – I just give it to them!”
There are also some people who donate some ceiling fans. The ceiling fan has three wings. They will have some name written on the three wings of the ceiling fan. And the fan rotates at high speed - nobody can read their name. So they pray for an electricity breakdown so that anyone can read their names!
Publicity is not spirituality. Vanity is not spirituality. Propaganda, aggrandizement, self praise, self-esteem have no place in the realms of spirituality! Self-effacement, humility, obedience, reverence, prayerfulness - they are the qualities of a true devotee. Life is Love, share it! Because Bhagavan is the very Personification, the very Embodiment, the very Metaphor of Love. He shares that Love with everybody.
The Game to Play
Because life is just a play - God’s play! The whole creation is God’s play. Only humans are involved in a game. That of humans is a game; that of the Divine is a play! A child’s play. A child while playing along the seashore, will gather all the sand, make a small hut, smiles and jumps; and immediately kicks it off; and smiles and jumps. Why then? Why now? No one knows. That’s it. Life is a game; play it! That game being dual, make it non-dual - like a play.
Thus speaks Bhagavan; thus advises Bhagavan everyone to view life in the true perspective. In fact, He made the whole definition of spirituality into a single sentence: “Spirituality is a travel from I to We.”
There are three challenging terms. The first term is dependence. All children depend on their parents. Child expects to be lifted by mother; child expects to be escorted by father - dependence. The next stage is that of adolescence. ‘I don’t depend on you’ - independence. So, from dependence to independence. But the greatest is interdependence. Interdependence is the highest state; which is the path of spirituality – interdependence.
The Inner Experience
What is silence? Silence is not refraining from talk. Silence means silencing our thoughts. The stillness of the human mind. Stillness. One goes into the fathomless depths into the interior within - that is silence. Then one can experience God within.
Loneliness and Aloneless
Spiritual life is one of aloneness. Aloneness is different from loneliness. Loneliness is imposed. If I have a bitter tongue; if I cannot talk to you politely, if my talk is not sweet and soft, nobody would like to be near me. So I should lead my life in loneliness. If I am not helpful to anybody; if everybody suspects something harm or hurt from my side, nobody would dare to be near me - naturally I will be forced to get into that state of loneliness.
But aloneness is spiritual. Leave me alone! Let me reflect upon Him for sometime. Let me meditate. Let me pray for some time. Let me think of His Form, let me chant His name, let me sing His glory. Leave me alone! That is aloneness. It is for that reason most of the spiritual people would like to be left by themselves. Spirituality is the life of aloneness; not of loneliness.
I should also bring to your attention it is not one of friendship. We cannot make a kind of social contact in the name of a spiritual organization; no! If it is for social contacts and for personal development, for business prospects, it is a sacrilege to the very word religion. Because this spirituality, has nothing to do with friendship. But true spirituality is friendliness.
Friendliness is different form friendship. You can be a friend to one or two; you can be a friend to a group of people but you can be friendly with everybody. You can be friendly with humans, you can be friendly with animals; you can be friendly with flowers, birds and bees, nature, mountains and rocks. Friendliness is Divine; friendship is human and physical. So, if you are to be truly spiritual, let us cultivate this friendliness to be friendly with everybody; rather than crave for friendship. It is not merely being a lover; Bhagavan always says you can love one or two. But you can transform yourselves to Love itself.
Bhagavan gives a number of examples. As you start driving, as you sit in front of your steering wheel, if you close your eyes and think of God, that is meditation. Meditation is not a time bound program. Meditation is not a physical exercise because we find most interestingly some of the news papers coming up with advertisements: “Meditation in thirty days; fifty dollars. Meditation in fifteen days; hundred dollars!” Fifteen days is costlier, you know! Instant meditation! Like instant coffee! Ridiculous! Think of the sages and saints that spent years and years in meditation; are they fools? Don’t they know this instant method of fulfillment of meditation? Meditation is not like that. According to Bhagavan Shri Sathya Sai Baba, life is meditation. Life is prayer. There is no prayer time; whenever you are reverential or surrender the fruits of your action to God; that is prayer.
What is Surrender
“Oh Swami, I shall not take credit for the success. Bhagavan, I am not going to be frustrated by my failure. If it is a success, you are to be credited. If it were to be a failure, perhaps you want to teach me a lesson. In both the ways, I am benefited; I am profited.” That is surrender. The moments of surrender, meaning - the readiness to accept whatever that comes in our way of life; that is surrender.
Many people ask: “What is surrender?” This surrender is not any particular process: “Oh Swami, I am ready; whatever happens, that is your gift, that is Your prasad; that is Your Will, I accept it.” That is surrender. Surrender is devotion, surrender is spirituality.
How to Celebrate Easwaramma Day
I also know full well that two days ahead of us we have the celebration of Easwaramma day, May 6th. From other point of view, it is Mother’s day as well; that falls on May 11th. Bhagavan’s concept of the mother, is quite unique. He says “The very Mother Earth we call this Motherland; no one would ever say Fatherland.” No; this is Motherland! One has to be grateful to this Motherland. Why? You live on earth; you are benefited by the crops, you’re benefited by the metals and the grain available on this Planet Earth. So one has to be grateful to Bhu Mata – Mother Earth.
Second comes the Mother who gave us this physical body. She passes through all the trouble, pain and turmoil, bearing the child for nine long months. She takes care of the child; without any expectation - ready to even sacrifice her life for the future born child. That is Deha Mata; the physical Mother.
So, Bhu Mata, the Earth; Deha Mata, the physical Mother. If we don’t have this body, there is no chance of doing good or bad; there is no scope to enjoy this creation. In fact, the scripture says all the angels in the ethereal form wait to be born as humans on earth. Human life is rarest of all; it’s the noblest of all. It’s the climax in the course of evolution. Naturally, having been given this physical body, one has to be grateful to the physical mother – Deha Mata.
My friends, life is not the process of becoming. Life is the realization of Being. Becoming and Being are different. I get my doctorate, I become a doctor. I get my Master’s degree, I become a Master. Religion is not like that - it is one of Being. So this message of Bhagavan should help to take us to the true essence of our very Being, the very core of our life. Not struggling for becoming. I am extremely happy for having your rapt attention to my talk.
Aum Jai Sai Ram.
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Prof. Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang. Text /Audio downloads