“Live and Live for What?”
Welcome back to this Sunday morning’s session! Thanks to Swami for making it possible to meet this morning, after a gap of about three weeks, I believe.
Well, this morning’s topic is this: “Live and live for what?” Why should we live? For what should we live? What is the purpose of life?
In fact, life is to be lived well. It is not mechanical. It is never routine. It is not monotonous. One has to live life well and this life has got to be lived by action or work. Work or action is prescribed for us during this lifetime.
You must notice that Bhagavan always wants everyone to do some work or other. He doesn’t want anybody to be idle, irrespective of his or her age. Many aged people over 80 years old are working here in the Sri Sathya Sai General Hospital. Yes! Why? Because as you work, you forget your age. It is the work that makes you feel young. Yes! That is the secret of being young. So my friends, those of us who want to be young—I think that includes all of us—do work or activity, which is prescribed by the scriptures and also by Bhagavan.
Bhagavan says: “Laziness is rust and dust.” A person who is lazy, yes, he rusts and is full of dust. “Empty mind is a devil’s workshop,” goes the proverb. If the mind is empty, the body is not indulged in any activity; with no action to perform, then the mind is a devil’s workshop. Therefore we have got to do something or other.
While laziness is rust and dust, Bhagavan says, “Realization is rest and best.” In realization only will you find the rest, and this is the very best thing to be sought after in this life sojourn. The same thing is conveyed in the fifth chapter, second sloka of Bhagavad Githa: that laziness is rust and that realization is best. It also certifies the same as Bhagavan said, that we have got to ‘do’, that we have got to ‘work’, that we cannot afford to be lazy.
My friends! There is another book written by Adi Sankara, who is the highest intellectual of mankind and the greatest of all. He is the emperor of non-dualism, the emperor of the kingdom of non-dualism, the advocate of the philosophy of non-dualism. He wrote a book named Viveka Chudamani. He says to beware of laziness. Never be lazy because laziness will put you to ruin. Yes, you will ruin yourself by being lazy.
Now here it is clearly said, my friends, and I want to bring to your attention one point. Some people just go to the canteen, eat well, come for darshan, go for lunch, have a good nap, then afternoon darshan! Good! This is followed by tea, bhajan, and dinner. “What are you doing?” “I don’t know.” (Laughter) “What should you do?” “I don’t know!” (Laughter) “Is it good to be like that?” “I don’t know.” (Laughter) Yes, why not? I'm not committing any sin, after all. I'm not committing any mistake, after all. I eat and go for darshan, that’s all.
My friends! This is a wrong notion. You are mistaken. By simply idling time, by simply sitting like that, you can’t call yourselves religious or spiritual. Why? Inaction means no action, or inactivity. That is described as moodhathma, foolishness, in Bhagavad Githa. I'm not bringing in a new meaning. You are Dr. Fool, having a Doctorate in Foolishness: Moodhathma. And Bhagavad Githa also calls him midhyachara - pretentious religiousness. He pretends to be religious, but is not actually religious. So, inaction is condemned by our scripture. The scripture wants us to act, Scripture wants us to work. Why?
For your information, in Bhagavad Githa, the third chapter called “Karma Yoga”, it explains clearly the need, the necessity, purpose, goal, aims and objectives along the path of action, which we call Karma Yoga in the spiritual path.
By working, by karma or activity, what will happen? All the evil traits, all the bad qualities, which have occurred over the past several lives, are wiped out - are totally gone. We have certain attributes and certain qualities from the past lives which express themselves.
Sometimes you find in the newspaper, a top officer stoops down to the level of corruption. A king, a Prime Minister, or a President stoops down to the level of bad conduct. Why does it happen? We can’t brand him ‘bad’, no, no, no! It is due to previous lives: the features, characteristics and attributes of the past lives are brought forward in the present life and express themselves by our actions, words and thoughts. So, this karma yoga, the path of action, is prescribed to us to be totally free from the effects of the past.
A simple example: Here is flooring. The flooring is rough. This rough flooring can be made smooth by polishing again and again and again. After all, a rough surface polished repeatedly shines like a mirror. A mirror, where you can see everyone’s reflection, shines, . Why and how? By constant polishing. Don’t you think so?
Similarly, constant polishing, which is nothing but continued, sustained, involved, dedicated, committed, total, 100% activity, which has got to be selfless and desireless, will help us to shine like a mirror. Such that all the roughness of the past - all the rough surface, which is nothing but the evil qualities of the past lives - is totally gone. This, in Vedanta philosophy, is called ‘vasana’. Vasanas are the qualities of the past lives.
Students of commerce and finance will know well that in a balance sheet, the last column at the bottom, the balance, will be brought forward to the next sheet, is it not? Similarly, the balance of the past life is brought forward to the present life. This is commerce in spirituality - they go well together! So my friends, action, karma yoga, will help us to be free from vasanas or the evil tendencies of the past life.
Then, why should we work? How to go about work? How does it help me? A simple example: A young man joined the army. When you join the army, you’ll be given intensive, rigorous training to begin with. This young man was through with this rigorous training. One day he felt so badly that he was completely out of moods. He started thinking of his wife, children, parents, friends, and relations. He was totally upset because he was in the army, not with his family.
The next morning, the Major General saw this captain with a morose face or a castor oil face. (Laughter) He called him, “Hmm. Your face is not cheerful! ‘Face is the index of the mind,’ goes the proverb. Looking at your face, I can say what’s happening in your mind.” So similarly, this Major saw this young soldier with a serious face. He thought something was wrong with him.
Hmm! He called him, “Come on! Look here, young man! By evening 4 o’clock I want you to dig a pit, six feet length, three feet deep. Six by three. The pit should be ready by 3 o’clock, OK?” In the army one has to do or die - no other option. So this man said, “OK, Sir!” and he started doing it - a six by three pit. It was ready by 3 o’clock. The Major came and said, “I'm so happy! You have done it exactly the way I wanted you to do. Now, fill it up! (Laughter) Please, you have to fill the whole pit now.”
Then he started filling up the whole pit. He was feeling so badly. “Oh God, how unfortunate I am that I'm working under a commander who is a madcap! (Laughter) He wanted me to dig it this morning and he wanted to fill it up this evening. What is wrong with him, I don’t know. I may also turn mad some day!” He was feeling so badly, but he had to do it. So then he filled the pit and said, “Sir, I did it.”
The Major said, “What were you thinking since this morning?” “Thinking? I'm very busy in doing! No time to think because you wanted me to get this pit ready, six by three. How can I think? I'm so busy! And if I don’t finish, I’ll be shot by you, Major, I know. (Laughter) So I'm afraid for my safety and security, and therefore I was so busy.” “Oh-ho! Then, while filling the pit, what were you thinking?” “No, no, no! I'm very busy filling it up; only then I can relax.”
“Oh, that’s why I wanted you to do it. That’s the reason why I wanted you to do it. As you do some work sincerely and totally committed, you will not have time to think of anything else. As you do not think anything, you are free from all guilt - the mind is free from all guilt. The mind is free from all sin. The mind is in a thoughtless state.” I think I'm clear. Therefore, by being active in the field of action, Karma Yoga, the heart is pure. This is what is called, ‘chitha suddhi’. ‘Chitha suddhi’ means purity of heart.
One day some person asked, “Bhagavan, Your colleges are really very funny.” “Very funny? Why?” “Boys have to get up at 4:30 in the morning. They have to attend Suprabhatam (a hymn of awakening the Lord) and that is followed by Yoga asanas. That is followed by jogging and then some breakfast. And they have to be ready there at the college by 8:15 sharp. And that will keep them busy till 2:30. And by 3 they must be here for darshan till 6 o’clock. After 6, there’s just one-hour gap. Then dinner and they have to switch off the lights by 9:30. If it is a festival time, You know what it is. Boys are so busy, so busy that they have no time! No time to stand and stare, no time to gossip and to indulge in vain talk. Why, Swami? Why do you keep the boys so busy?”
Why just the boys? All of us are also busy because to have darshan, we are awake right from 5 o’clock for darshan lines. And after darshan, we are busy there, joining in the queue for breakfast. And then right from 11:30 or 12, we sit there to get the tokens, first line, second line, so on. (Laughter) And then after we pick up the tokens, we’ll have darshan, join the queue for tea, and again for bhajan. And after that, meditation - separate lines again.
Swami! We are very upset with this! Running, running, running all the time. Why? (Laughter) Standing in the queues four times, five times. Life has become a queue, so even if there is nobody, still I feel like standing in a line because life has become a sort of repetition. Life is a repetition. (Laughter) I'm afraid even at home, I may stand behind my children because I'm used to standing in a line! (Laughter)
Why should it happen - why? After all, He can say, “All of you can be here at 2:30 for darshan. All of you can be here at 5:30 for bhajan” He can say that. Why hours and hours of waiting - what’s all this? My friends, there is a reason behind it. Bhagavan does not do anything without a reason. He can just put on a written board, “Darshan at 3:30.” We can sleep till 3:20, and come at 3:30! (Laughter) Yes! But He doesn’t say that. Why?
While waiting for Him, standing in the queue, squatting on the ground, receiving the token line, we go on thinking of Him, “Oh Baba, let me get first line, Swami!” (Laughter) “Oh Bhagavan, at least let me get first line in the evening! At least second line, so that I can try to show some kind of gymnastics. Oh Bhagavan!” So during our waiting, we think of Him. We think of Swami - how to get first line, yes, when to get first line, and what letter is to be written, whether all points are included or not - because, I'm accountable to the better-half at home! So I'm so busy writing the letter. I'm so busy planning and scheming how to be close to Him - let Him see me. There are some people that will peep through between the two necks of the people in front. (Laughter) Why all this? To draw His attention. Let Swami see me. Oh-ho, fine!
My friends, whatever we do, wherever we are, wherever we stand, our only thought is ‘Bhagavan, Bhagavan, Bhagavan’. Whenever two people meet, they talk about it. (In a depressed voice,) “Well, I have been here for the last one week. He did not look at me.” (Laughter) “I have been here for two months; He did not look at me.” “Oh, you are my senior then! Good to see you!” (Laughter) So, there is only a constant thought of Bhagavan. If it is darshan at 5:30, we go there – finished! Something like an airport, like Kennedy Airport. It’s not like that.
My friends, waiting for God is meditation. Waiting for God is religion. Waiting for God is sadhana - the spiritual practice. Waiting for God is penance. Waiting for God is prayer. So, two bhajans and two darshans will keep us engaged for eight hours. Eight hours we are doing penance. Eight hours we are prayerful. For eight hours we are deeply religious. For eight hours we are intensely devoted. What more sadhana could there be than this? So my friends, unknowingly we are put on this rigorous, intensive training of spiritual practice or yoga by Bhagavan Himself, out of His infinite Love.
So the point is, when I do something - if I do work - I’ll have purity of heart, chitha suddhi. When the heart is pure, what happens? Devotion develops. When the heart is full of maneuvering and manipulations, always thinking of the downfall of the neighbor, always thinking of the evil of others, then the mind is so impure and polluted, it is impossible to develop devotion. We don’t remove all the evil qualities all by ourselves. We don’t do it. Further, we add manure to it also! We help bad qualities to grow. Left to ourselves, we are not prepared to be free from bad qualities, no! Because such qualities are so tasty, very delicious! (Laughter) We feel very comfortable with jealousy and anger!
Therefore, my friends, Bhagavan has given this surgery to us. This surgery, this painful operation, is waiting and waiting and waiting, so that the heart becomes pure. Then only heart is free, chithi suddhi. You’re mentally pure. Even if you try to get up, someone will tell, “Kurcho! Sit down!” (Laughter) It means, “You have to think of Me for some more time!” “Kurcho! Sit down! You need some more time to think of Me.” So, we are given an opportunity to think of Him more and more. This is the secret behind waiting and also behind what we call the craving or yearning to have a glimpse of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I think you’ll agree with me.
Therefore, my friends, when the heart is pure, having been involved in total work, we develop bhakthi or devotion. And when bhakthi or devotion is there, then there is ample scope to have jnana or wisdom. Jnana or wisdom is possible when there’s devotion. Devotion exists in a pure mind. The pure mind is a state that you reach by hard work or action or karma yoga. This is very well indicated in the 6th chapter of Bhagavad Githa, in the third sloka.
Bhagavan, without mentioning Bhagavad Githa; Bhagavan, without mentioning the Holy Bible; Bhagavan, without quoting Quran; Bhagavan, without mentioning verses from Dhamma Pada or Guru Grandha introduces all the theories, the entire ideology, into our daily life. The entire ideology, the quintessence or summery, the essence of the scriptures, is put into practice right now. That is the Prasanthi way of life. The Prasanthi way of life keeps you engaged throughout, so as to have a pure mind and be devoted thereafter, finally acquiring jnana or wisdom, as is told in the Bhagavad Githa.
Now, how shall I work or do karma yoga? I am a Seva Dal man. I'm working in the stores. I'm working in the canteen. I'm working in the college. I have my duty there at the hospital. We are working at different places. Back home I'm the Convener. Back home I'm in Seva Dal. At home, I'm a Bal Vikas guru. We have got our own individual responsibilities. How are we to do our duty?
A simple example: I'm a Seva Dal man. Suppose a devotee comes here for the first time. He does not know where to sit. He goes straight to the verandah because even in a temple we go like that. The man goes straightaway there because he’s visiting this place for the first time. Usually what we do is we run, jump at him, and pull him, as if he’s ready to commit some murder or something like that. Or, as if he’s a terrorist, the brother of bin Laden or the elder brother or Omar! (Laughter)
I’m very sorry - we are not supposed to do like that. It is not karma yoga, no, no, no, no! Karma yoga is the way in which one should to do one’s work - respectfully, reverentially and in all humility. So that is karma yoga. Work reverentially, respectfully, prayerfully. Talk obligingly, and then this karma or action becomes karma yoga; otherwise, it is just karma. ‘Karma’ is only action. ‘Karma yoga’ is spiritual action. Action becomes spiritual if you are respectful, if you are loving, if you are caring, if you are prayerful, if you are obliging. So that is what is said: Work reverentially.
Swami tells this point in His discourses - whenever we begin our daily work, we should salute, we should pay our homage, we should pay our obeisance to our work and start doing it. Thasmai Namah Karmani: “I bow down to this mission, to this work, to this task, to this assignment given to me. Oh Lord, I bow down in all humility so that I’ll be able to do it in a most sincere way.” So, discharging work calls for reverence and respect.
There are two types of jobs. Some people feel, “Swami, my job there in the college is my work and Seva Dal duty is Your work. It means when I'm a Seva Dal, that is Swami’s work, while my job in the college is my personal work, OK? This is swakarya, ‘my own’, whereas Seva Dal is Swami’s karya, the work of Bhagavan.”
Please understand, me friends, let me be very, very clear. There is nothing like ‘my personal work’ and ‘Swami’s work’. There is nothing like swakarya and Swami karya, no, no, no! Everything is Divine. Everything is Swami karya. Everything is spiritual. Nothing is worldly; nothing is yours; nothing is personal. Everything is spiritual. Let us be very very clear about this.
Somebody said, “Swami, I'm not able to visit You a number of times because I don’t have casual leave. So I have got to be on duty, on my toes, all through. My job keeps me like that. That is my professional obligation and I'm not able to pay repeated visits to Prashanti Nilayam.” Baba said, “No, no. Your work in the office is also My work.”
Another example - one grand old lady came to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and said, “Oh Swami, I have no peace at home.” Oh.” Paramahamsa said, “You are not an exception. No one has any peace, don’t worry.” (Laughter) “No Swami, you should give me some solution. You cannot simply say that. Please tell me how to be peaceful.” Then Paramahamsa laughed and said, “Why don’t you have peace of mind, Granny? Please tell me.”
And the same lady went on telling, “I don’t have peace of mind because during my younger days I was so busy with my children - educating them, cooking for them, taking care of the family. And also I had been bearing the burden of the family because my husband was successfully irresponsible. (Laughter) So I have had no peace of mind as a youngster. And today I have no peace of mind because all grandchildren are around me. I have to take care of them now. And grandchildren take extra liberty. They don’t come with any penal code. They cannot be punished. Grandparents cannot punish grandchildren except in fondling and caressing them - the conscience won’t accept punishment. So I'm very busy taking care of the grandchildren, Swami, so I have no time to worship. I have no time to meditate. I have no time to pray. Swami, what shall I do?”
Paramahamsa laughed and laughed and said, “Look here, don’t worry. When you give a bath to your grandson, feel that you are giving a bath to Lord Krishna Himself. When you are feeding your granddaughter, feel that you are offering food to Lord Krishna Himself. When you sing some lullaby, some song, to make grandchildren go to sleep, think that you are singing melodiously to Lord Krishna Himself. Then the family duties become spiritual.” Family duties also become spiritual. There is nothing like sitting in the temple, sitting straight, no, no! You’ll have neck sprain - that’s all. Or back pain.
It is the spirit that is more important, not sitting in an
idle way. It is the spirit that matters more. Bhagavan gives two examples: One
example is that of a driver - a truck driver or a lorry driver. In India you
must have noticed that before the driver starts his steering, he does
namaskar (prayer or obeisance) to the steering wheel and only then starts
driving. Please note it. And a dancer, before he or she starts dancing, will
bend down and pay his or her respects to the ground, and only afterwards will
start dancing. The tabla player and the mrdanga player also bow
down to those instruments and then only start playing. Why?
“Oh God, I offer this to You. I pray for your blessings. I'm driving so that I’ll be safely back at home tonight. I pray so that people won’t need to see me in the hospital because of any accidents.” Or, “Oh God, I'm going to dance - let everybody be happy and let me be pleasing unto You. Let this make You happy, Bhagavan.” So the dancer bows down reverentially. So, whatever we do, it should be offered to God. These are the examples given by Bhagavan, very eloquently explained in 30th sloka of the third chapter of Bhagavad Githa.
Then I should give you another point. Bhagavan said clearly these points. What are they? The same thing is mentioned in the 11th chapter, 55th sloka of the Bhagavad Githa, ‘Viswarupa Sandarshana Yoga’. What is it? “My mission, participating in My mission, is karma yoga.” I'm doing Seva Dal duty. Yes! I'm giving security service. I'm asked to sweep that area. I'm asked to take care of the slippers here. Whatever it may be, my dear chap, big or small, low or high, whatever it may be, any act you do is My mission, is karma yoga.
“What is My mission?” It becomes Your mission when I offer it to You. Whatever job I do, whatever little work I do, when once I offer it unto your Lotus Feet, that becomes Your mission. If I don’t offer it to you, then that becomes my mission, my headache, my pain, my insult, my shame, my humiliation, or whatever. It may be a success or a failure, but just let everything be offered unto God so that it becomes His mission. That is called karma yoga.
“Meditate on Me; think of Me.” How do you meditate? When do you meditate? We meditate in a special room, bolting the door from inside; but we think of the washerman and also the coffee, whether it is hot and ready in the kitchen. This is not meditation on God; this is ‘kitchen meditation’! (Laughter) Or it may be ‘dhobi meditation’, ‘washerman’s meditation’. If you think of the office work - what is to be done from 10 o’clock, it is ‘office meditation’. You cannot call it ‘meditation’ in the true sense of the term. “Think of Me.” Think of Bhagavan, earning the results as you do. “You just think of Me, so that you’ll be most successful.”
For your information, I can tell you one example. A television artist came from Australia to Puttaparthi. The television artist, who was an announcer, spent a long time here, and was exhausted when she left. Once she returned, she reported to the station director straightaway after landing there. That gentleman said, “Now your program starts, so go to the studio.” This poor, tired lady went to the studio straightaway. (This is a recorded story, for your information.)
There she was interviewed by a number of people, while it was being telecast. She was not prepared. She went there straight after reaching Australia. Many people started asking all sorts of questions. What to do? There it is clearly said that while she was answering, Bhagavan Himself whispered all answers into her ear. Bhagavan Himself gave her all the answers to those questions put to her. Why? Because she had been thinking of Bhagavan. If she thought of herself only, she would have given some wrong answers and she would have been in trouble. When she thought of Swami, He gave her all the answers - Ta-da! She went on giving answer after answer. See that?
So, meditation, thinking of Bhagavan, guarantees success. Yes! So, “Think of Me” - that is called dhyana yoga. Working for Him is karma yoga. Thinking of Him is dhyana yoga or meditation.
And then, “Be devoted to Me.” I love Him. If you love Him, it is called ‘bhakthi yoga’. Furthermore, you are not attached to the world; you’re attached to Swami. You are attached to Bhagavan. That is called jnana yoga.
The titles seem to be bombastic and classic and very high-sounding, but it is there in reality in all of you, beyond a doubt. You would not have been here if these things are not in you. They’re always in you. You are all here for Swami, karma yoga. You are thinking of Swami, dhyana yoga. And you love Him, bhakthi yoga. Also, you are not bothered by the rest of the things of the world. That is jnana yoga, that’s all. We are only giving some technical terms to our way of life here.
And then, how should we live our life? Nirvayra Sarva Bhootheshu. You should not have any vayra, enmity or animosity, towards anybody. Nirvayra means ‘good will to all’. So you should not have any kind of hatred. As I walk, I love everybody. I serve everybody without any ill will, without any preference, without any options, without any reservations. I'm open to everybody. Nirvayra Sarva Bhootheshu. Yes!
Swami puts it this way: He says, “Love all, Serve all.” That’s what Bhagavan says. “The best way to serve God is to love all and serve all.” That is the aim. That is the purpose and goal of karma yoga, the path of action.
Then some people may say, “Well, I'm very safe. I'm very comfortable. I'm not involved in any job here. I have not got myself enrolled in any task or assignment. I'm comfortable.” No, no, no! The Githa clearly says, 3rd chapter, 4th sloka: “Without action, you will not attain moksha.” You will not attain moksha, liberation, if you don’t work, if the body is not put to work. The whole world is the field of action, karma kshetra. And you are to work as an expert, karma yogi. A karma yogi is an expert in the field of activity in this world, which we call karma kshetra. That’s very clearly said in Bhagavad Githa.
My friends! Now here lies the difference. A man of religion does work, and a man who is not religious also works. Yes. You do work and I also do work. What is the difference? The difference is this: a wise man is not using worldly parlance and is not from worldly parameters. A wise man is a man of religion. A wise man is a man of God. A wise man is godly. So if a wise man does any action, if he does any activity, it takes him to liberation. The action, the karma of a wise man, takes him to moksha or liberation. On the other hand, the karma of an ajnani, an unwise man, a worldly man, a temporal man, a physical man, a mundane man, if he does any action, it takes him to bondage. So, a spiritual man does action for liberation, whereas an unwise man will get into bondage when he acts. That is the difference. Why?
What is the difference between a wise man and an unwise man?
How am I to know if he’s wise or unwise? It is very simple. Swami said this. Do
you say, “I have done”? There are some people who say, “You know, I have done
this.” Oh-ho! If you say, “I have done such-and-such”, this is what we call
‘doership’. “I am the doer; I have done.” So that kartrutva bhava, or
doership feeling, is an unwise tendency. Thus let us not say, “I have done,” no,
“He made me do so. He prompted me to do so. He willed that I should do.” Let us put things like that. Let us learn the language and pick up the spirit behind this. If any one of us says, “I have done, I have done,” he’s still in the kindergarten or even nursery level. He’s yet got a long way to go.
A simple example: Why I don’t blame anybody for anything. Long back, in the year 1980, I received a telegram from the World Council saying, “You are appointed as the Zonal Convener of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations.” Being young at that time, I was very enthusiastic and very much surprised. I came straight to Prashanti Nilayam.
Swami said, “What’s the matter?” I told Bhagavan, “Swami, I am appointed as the Zonal Convener by the World Council Chairman.” (Laughter) “Appointed by the Council Chairman? Where is that fellow? Who is he to appoint you? Chi! You are a he-buffalo. Useless fellow! Who is he to appoint you? I have appointed you, do you understand? No one can appoint you. I only appointed you.”
So, let us feel that everything is the gift of God. Let us
feel that everything is an opportunity given to us by God Himself, not by any
human, not by your own accord or will or desire.
So, an unwise man will have the spirit of doership: “I am the doer.” An unwise man will also have that feeling of enjoyership, called bhokthutwa. Kartrutwa is doership; bhokthutwa is enjoyership. What does it mean? “I came with a batch of students. I came with a batch of Seva Dal people. I came with members of our organization. So Swami, you should call me and give me a ring at least, preferably a chain.” (Laughter)
What is all this? “I have brought all the devotees from my place, so You should look at me. Please don’t look at them. You can give them a chance next time. Now I'm very important! (Laughter) I'm the leader, don’t you know that much, oh God?” It means that he wants recognition; he wants name and fame; he wants applause. That’s all ego. Let that ego go immediately. So long as that ego is there, we go away from God. Well, that enjoyership is not the thing to have.
Once upon a time, it so happened that some people who worked
here in Prashanti Nilayam in a medical camp, all assembled on the final day for
padanamaskar. Swami came and said, “Who are you?” They were all there in
their white aprons and coats. Their very dress told that they were doctors.
Somebody said, “Swami, we are doctors.” Bhagavan said, “I know!” (Laughter)
He’ll make you say things and then expose your foolishness! That is the Divine
Romance going on, going on and on for the last 75 years. So, “I know.”
And then He said, “Why are you here?” “Swami, padanamaskar.” He said, “Why?” “Swami, we participated in the medical camp.” Then Swami said, “Are you laborers? Are you labor or casual labor, or do you expect daily labor charges to be paid to you? Do you expect money to be paid for the work that you have done here? No, no, no! You have not done for anybody. Consider this opportunity of work itself to be the reward.”
Work is the reward for work. Please understand this. Let us not think of recognition, appreciation or an interview. To think that these things are the kinds of Grace for the work we have put in is a misconception and it is a wrong idea altogether.
Then, this work - the field of activity, karma yoga, is like a thermometer, as Bhagavan said. Supposing I go to a doctor and say, “Hi doctor, I'm suffering from a fever.” He’ll not give you tablets immediately. He will ask you to sit down first. And, he will note your temperature with the help of a thermometer. The thermometer indicates your temperature. Similarly my excellence in spirituality is measured in terms of my efficiency in the field of karma kshetra, or activity.
To give a simple example: as a lecturer, if I'm a failure there in the college, I’m a pakka irreligious man, a non-spiritual man. As a doctor, if every medicine I give transports every patient to the other world, I'm irreligious and non-spiritual. (Laughter) As an engineer, if I construct a bridge, which will catch the attention of the public on the next day’s newspaper - that the bridge has collapsed, well, I'm irreligious.
So, to be an expert in your own chosen field, to be the best man in your walk of life, is a sign of true religion. It is a sign of true spirituality. Excellence is religion. There is nothing like any bargain or compromise here.
As Bhagavan passes through the darshan lines, among the students He asks them, “Hey! How many marks did you get?” “Swami, sixty.” “Chi! Sixty? What happened to the remaining forty?” Oh-ho! (Laughter) “Swami, I got seventy.” “Seventy?! How about those thirty?” Because, the maximum is one hundred and if it is seventy, thirty are gone. If you get sixty, forty are gone. He says, “You should get hundred-out-of-hundred. That’s perfection.”
So, perfection is religion. Perfection is culture. Perfection is the name of God. That’s why when He materializes a ring and gives it to you, you’ll say, “A-baa! Perfect fit! Even a goldsmith can’t do it that perfectly.” This is the usual dialogue, right? Why? Because perfection is His Name. Baba is perfect and He expects us to be perfect. There is nothing wrong in it. We are imperfect and we are marching towards perfection so we may be perfect someday. Let’s hope so! (Laughter)
And, as we do our work, let us do it with some discrimination. Work has to be done on the grounds of discrimination, discretion and judgment. The third chapter, thirty-second sloka: Do your work with discrimination.
Bhagavan gave a simple example. It seems an active worker of the organization went to the hospital with fruits and sweets. There he saw a diabetic patient and said, “Sai Ram! Have these sweets and fruits.” (Laughter) It is not service; it is a disservice. He doesn’t have to purchase any air ticket to take him to heaven or hell, as the case may be! This worker had no sense of discrimination. He went there and gave fruits and sweets to a diabetic fellow! What is to be done? So, as we do, let us exercise our discrimination.
Then Bhagavan always tells us, “Do your duty sincerely. Duty is God, work is worship.” Bhagavan repeatedly states these three things. This is clearly stated in Bhagavad Githa: Swadharme Nidhanam Sreyah Paradharmo Bhayavah. “Better to die in doing one’s own duty, rather than doing some other job in fear.”
Suppose I want to be a doctor. So I wear a coat - rather, I steal a coat, if possible from the doctor’s room. I go with that coat and try to give some injections and tablets that are available on the table. Well, Paradharmo Bhayava - I'm fully afraid later because I may be sued, driven to the court, or put behind bars! When you do that which you are not supposed to, if you do that which is another’s job, you’ll be full of fear. Do your own job, Swadharme Nidhanam Sreyah. Do your own job. It’s good. Doing some other job, well, it creates fear in you. That’s what is said.
A simple example: Swami was talking to some person two days back. There was another responsible man, and instead of keeping quiet, he started giving a reply. When Swami’s talking to him, the other man was giving the reply. He immediately said to him, “You shut your mouth. (Laughter) Be silent! I'm talking. Why do you answer?” He’s a responsible man and I'm sure that he will not commit this mistake once again, during his lifetime and in the coming years because he got such a strong dose in front of everybody! When any warning is given, it is given in public. When any rewards are given, they are given in the interview room. This is general, spiritual, dynamics. That’s what He does. So, you do your work, not another’s job.
Suppose Swami asks you, “Distribute fruits.” This I have done
a few years ago. When Swami wanted me to distribute badges to students, I didn’t
know the Divine technology. What I did was, I asked some lecturer, “Come on, you
do it.” (Laughter)
Well, he started distributing, while I was quite happy because I got things done.Then Swami came out, “Why are you here? What are you doing?” “Swami, I asked him to distribute it.” “Oh-ho! I can ask him to do it straightaway. Why did you ask him? You don’t have to ask him; I can ask him. I wanted to give you a chance. You cannot miss the chance like that.” Swadharme Nidhanam Sreyah. Do your own duty; all is safe for you.
And then here also is Niyathan Karma, which means activity or action that you are supposed to do as per the scriptures, or as per the rules of the Ashram, not doing just as you like. What happens is this: Brahma is the Divine; the Divine words are Vedas. Vedas are something like the Sermon on the Mount; something like the Ten Commandments. Vedas are the declarations of God. And Vedas call for action. Action that is selfless is called yajna. Selfless action is called yajna. Yagna does not always necessarily refer to ghee and priests, no, no, no, no! Anything that is selfless, anything that is non-egoistic, is what is called yajna.
Because of this selfless action or yajna, you get timely rains. Out of the timely rains, you’ll have food. This food is supplied to beings, and beings merge in Brahma. This is the circle. God has spelt it out in the Vedas. Vedas has dictated yajnas. Yajnas send rain. Rain supplies food. Food sustains the life of the beings. Then they merge in Brahma. This is the eternal life cycle, a life cycle that goes on and on repeatedly, again and again, in this Cosmos, That is what is said in the 14th and 15th sloka of the 3rd chapter.
“Well, Bhagavan, You are so busy morning and evening! You are very busy. I want to see You at leisure, so that I can ask You now that You are free. Please call me for an interview. (Laughter) Yes. Because You look a little free.”
Swami is never free! He's so busy - He's very, very busy! Why? Right now, He's totally busy, engrossed by that water project, which is to be extended to the city of Chennai, at one time called Madras. That water project is extended to Madras now, and it's going to be a very big project. Some say it will be eight thousand crores in cost. Well, that is such a big project. It is going to involve engineers from all the three states: Bombay, Madras and Hyderabad. The engineers are at work now with all the plans. Do you understand? Engineers from three different states are all working on it.
It is such a big task, but still we find our Bhagavan Baba smiling so easily as He walks by - wow! Well, I can't imagine it. Suppose I have some work – like an important job - to be done by tomorrow. Well, the whole house will be under curfew from today onwards! (Laughter) No one should talk and no one should cut a joke because tomorrow I have some work. This is the human way of functioning. Here Bhagavan, with 8,000 crores worth of project, and with engineers from three different states, is all calm, cool and composed. That’s the reason why He's Divine.
My friends, as you say, Bhagavan does so much work. Why? Somebody asked, "Swami, why do You do so much work? You can have things done by Your Will, Your sankalpa. Why do You do it?” And Baba said, "I do so much work to set an example. You have a Sunday and you have a holiday. I have no holiday; I have no jolly day. I'm very busy every day.” (Laughter) Every day He is very busy. Whether at Kodaikanal or Brindavan or Puttaparthi, always He is very, very, very, very busy.
“Oh Bhagavan, I thought You were a little more free in
Kodaikanal. I came there and to my surprise I noticed that You give five
discourses every day! You are five times more busy there than here. I thought
that, it being a hill station, You would enjoy there and allow me also to enjoy
the hill station. But You are so busy there. Therefore, I'll be returning in
Bhagavan is so busy. He has no rest at all. Why? In order to set an example. God does this to set an example so that humanity may follow Him. God does this so that He will be exemplary to everybody. In fact, He has nothing to seek, no favor to ask. Well, if He does anything for you, He does not expect even thanks from you.
Suppose if Swami gives anything, if you say, "Thank you…"
He’ll respond immediately: "Hey! Why thanks? Do you thank your mother? 'Mother,
thank you very much for the nice pudding. Thank you very much for the pie. Thank
you for the donuts. Thank you for this ice cream.’ She'll say, ‘Shut up!’ You
cannot say, ‘Thank you, Father, for the nice pants, the nice shirt, and the nice
cup of coffee.’ Chi, chi, chi, chi! I'm not a third man. I'm not a third
person. Don't thank me, it is my duty.”
So my friends, that is the spirit of karma yoga: not expecting anything in return, not even a word of acknowledgment or gratitude. It means doing everything as one's own duty. Another example: The people from this Anantapur district came here - their leaders - to thank Bhagavan. All the villagers came here. “Bhagavan, we thank You because You supplied water to us." Bhagavan said, "No thanks. I should thank you for giving Me an opportunity to serve you. Why do you thank Me? It is My duty to serve you." That is the spirit of karma yoga.
Such thoughts as - I expect padanamaskar immediately. I expect a letter to be picked up immediately. I expect an immediate interview. I expect all Samathi members to know that I am the best organizer - are really a horrible state of mind. That is a terrible situation, which will never help us to be spiritual, even for hundred years to come, no! Or hundred lives to come. It is only that detached action that will help us to grow and evolve.
Then, here is a short table form. Karma, Dharma, Brahma. These are the words used by Bhagavan. For your information, I'm not a student of Sanskrit or a student of literature. I'm a student of plant science, botany, which I have been teaching for the last four decades. So these are the things that I have collected from Sai literature, not out of my scholarship. These things I repeat in every talk so you don't mistake me to be a scholar or anything like that. These are the words used by Bhagavan: Karma, Dharma, Brahma.
What is karma? Suppose I don’t do action. Non-performance of action takes you to delusion, which leads to destruction, and hence there’s no liberation at all. So, if you don’t do karma, you are deluded and you are bound to be destroyed. That’s all - no liberation. So, what should you do? Karma? It is swadharma: do your own duty.
And what type of duty? Do the prescribed duty as per the Vedas, as per the sacred texts, as per your own scripture. And that liberates you from bondage. And this kind of action is called ‘karma jignasa’. ‘'Karma jignasa’ means ‘interest in the field of action, yearning in the field of action’. The knowledge of action is what is called ‘karma jignasa’. So, in the spiritual path we begin with karma jignasa, with inquiry into what we should do.
Then we go to the next field, Dharma. Dharma means your real nature, your true nature - what is expected of you as a human being. A tree has got vriksha Dharma. Fire has got fire Dharma: it is so hot; it burns. Ice has got its own Dharma: it is so cold. So everything has got its own Dharma or true nature (duty).
So Dharma wants you to feel that every action given to you to do is not service; it is an opportunity, a Divine opportunity as stated in slokas ten and eleven. And as you do it, it is your Dharma. Your duty is to offer it to God, and you should be detached. You should be selfless. This is what is called Dharma jignasa. Dharma jignasa means selflessness, doing with a detached mind, and doing it as an opportunity.
So, karma jignasa, the thought of action, should take you to Dharma jignasa, to what is essential, what is your nature; and then you end up in Brahma jignasa, the thought of Brahma or the Divine. What is Brahma jignasa? Brahma, the Divine, does all this: the entire universe, the planetary system, all works He operates. The entire Nature goes on and on and on in a perfect, regulated way to set an example to all of us: that we have got to be disciplined and regulated and orderly in our own life. And God has nothing to seek other than a word of gratitude, a life of fulfillment from all of us.
God ‘does’, not as His duty. I do my duty without love - it
is deplorable. I do my duty with love - that is desirable. If you do your duty
with love, that is desirable. If you do your duty without love, that is
deplorable. Then there is love without duty - here it is not a duty. It is Love
supreme and that is Divine. So, love without duty is Divine. That is Brahma
jignasa. So let us understand the statement once again: Duty with love is
desirable. Duty without love is deplorable. Love without duty is Divine. That is
Brahma jignasa. That we should develop.
So my friends, Bhagavan does all this not as a part of His duty. He makes all of us not in expectation of anything from us, but because He considers it as His nature. He being the personification, He being the embodiment of Love, He does all that we want, so that we may live up to His expectations.
May Bhagavan bless you, be with you forever and ever more. Sai Ram!
(Anil Kumar closed his satsang by leading the bhajan,
“Chandra Kirana Kula Mandana Ram…”)
Thank you very much, Sai Ram!
We’ll meet again,
same day, same time next week!
Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya
Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki