With Pranams at the Lotus Feet
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I am so happy to be amongst the Sai members of this study circle group, and I wish you all a happy Pongal!
Last week we just started to know the inner significance of Pongal. I covered at length last week the ritualistic aspect and the festival aspect of it. This week I would like to deal with the remaining part, concerning Sankranthi and its celebration.
Sankranthi inevitably falls on 14th of January every year. There will be no change of date, you can take it from me. Any festival dates you may need to know. But this festival, Sankranthi, is on 14th of January without fail. What is it for? Why is it celebrated? Why is it important? This part of it has yet to be covered and is the topic for this week.
Sankranthi is a festival of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving: we thank God for all that we have and for all that He has given -- the harvest, the rain, the milk, the food, the comforts and conveniences, pleasures, joys and more. It is all an occasion to thank God.
My friends, very often it is mistaken that we need to thank God when we are affluent, when we are wealthy, or when some more money is added to our wealth. No! If we just are to look into Sai literature, wealth has different dimensions. Wealth does not necessarily mean currency.
Dharma: Dharma means the quality of our life. Dharma is such a word in Sanskrit, which has so many shades of meaning. We have to go by its context. In translating Dharma, I often go wrong and happily submit myself for correction by Bhagavan Himself, much to your amusement. (Laughter) This happens every time.
Dharma has varied meanings in Sanskrit. Therefore, Dharma in this context has to be taken as ‘quality of life’. What does ‘quality of life’ mean? Trees, animals, birds, bees, all have their own quality of life. We human beings also have our quality of life, which is the human way of life (though we find in some humans the inhuman way of life).
When they are inhuman, perhaps they go back to their earlier births, the previous account of animal life. Darwin’s theory of evolution says that the animal world evolved into the human society or human race and is technically called ‘homosapiens’. ‘Homosapiens’ are human beings.
Therefore, O God! I thank You for having given me this birth of a human being and this human life. Nara means human. This is human life (Nara). However, if I act like vaanara (monkey) well, woe unto one’s own self. So, we are maanava, human, but behave as a daanava, (demon). Well, it is a pity, the life that is demonic.
So God, I thank You for having given me this life of maanava (human or Nara), which is a wealth all by itself. It need not necessarily be an entry that finds a place in our passbook at State Bank or Canara Bank (local banks in India). It is in our passbook of the human heart. How far are we humans?
Jnana means wisdom. Wisdom is wealth. Knowledge is not wealth. A computer has much more knowledge than all of us. The computer can retain the information that the human brain cannot. Man has excelled himself in inventing the computer. You can feed the entire library into CD’s today. The human brain is no longer required. We do not need to be good at mathematics; calculators are enough. The only thing is that we are not asking the machines to lead our lives! That is the only difference. (Laughter) Of course, there are robot scientists too, but we have certain reservations.
Therefore my friends, Jnana or wisdom is not knowledge. The wisdom that distinguishes right from wrong, truth from untruth, what is to be done and what is not to be done is viveka (or discrimination). This is also wealth.
Prema is the wealth of Love. Bhagavan said, “I am the richest man in this world.” “O God! How can You be richest? I see You in two or three pairs of red robes, that is all. (Laughter) You wear the same dress in all seasons. I also know that You do not eat much, except a spoonful of ragi malt. You live in a very small room. In addition, You do not have any bank account in Your name. O God? How do You call Yourself richest?” And Bhagavan says, “I am richest of all because of Love. Love is My property.”
Then there is liberation. Only a human being can work for liberation. An animal cannot work for liberation because it has no intellect and no sense of discrimination. It has mind, but not intellect. It can think, but it cannot discriminate. It can feel, but it cannot use discretion. It can act, but it cannot judge. So judgement, action, and discrimination are the features of an intellect. Man is endowed with this intellect. Therefore, man can work for liberation or freedom from bondage. This is a beautiful gift of life, which is again a wealth.
To sum up: “God, I thank You! This Sankranthi is a thanksgiving function and a thanksgiving occasion. I thank You for giving me Dharma, this quality of life; Jnana, wisdom; Prema, Love; Moksha, liberation. You have given me these forms of wealth, for which I am ever, ever grateful to You, my Lord! “
My friends, most of you know the following. But for the sake of newcomers, I repeat myself: I humbly submit to you that whatever I speak, what all that has been noted here on the board, these are all from Bhagavan’s Divine Discourses only. I cannot take credit for anything. That which you do not understand, I can certainly take credit for that! (Laughter) But Swami’s sayings are very well understood. I may be clever enough to make it misunderstood or even never understood at all! (Laughter) For Swami puts most complex things in the simplest possible style.
Secondly, Sankranthi is another occasion when we pray for God's benediction, for God's blessings. This is an occasion to thank God and an occasion to pray. These two are necessary. People go on praying, but they forget to thank. That has become the ultra-modern fashion. People are not grateful. They go on getting and forgetting. But our good Lord goes on giving and forgiving. Therefore, this is an occasion not to forget, but to remain grateful, very grateful.
“Swami, I am very grateful to You”. ”Why?” “Bhagavan, I am grateful for all the physical excellence You have given to me – yes, for the sound physical health that I have. Well, I may not be very strong. I may not be a weight lifter or a boxer. Yet, I have a satisfactorily acceptable level of good health. Occasionally I am bothered by sporadic cold and fever. But rest of the time, I am quite fine.” There are many people who are physically not well or not healthy.
For our health, we should pray to God because health is not totally in our hands. You can take care of your food and your physical exercise, but total health is in His Hands. In spite of all our efforts to take care of our health, a direct ticket or a passport may be issued. (Anil Kumar is implying that one’s time on earth may end at any moment.). Anything might happen by way of earthquakes, accidents, and kidnapping or even abduction! Though you may say, “No, I do exercises regularly,” yet God may say, “Let Me do this exercise - to take you away!”
So my friends, though we can take care of our physical health, yet the final success of those efforts is in His Hands. So we pray to God for our physical health, for our physical requirements, for physical pleasure and for physical comforts.
“God, I pray for my ethical progress.” Ethical means Dharmic progress, so that I may undertake certain activities of charity, service, etc., that will make me rise above my ego self. I have been self-centered so long and led a wretched life. Let me lead a life that is really ennobling and sacred. Ethical life calls for sacrifice, concern for others, and not merely self-centeredness. “O God, I pray so that You may help me to progress along ethical lines.”
Regarding financial needs, though it is said, “Money is not everything” or “Man does not live by bread alone”, yet bread is also necessary. Therefore, finances are necessary. However, it is not the be-all and end-all. Bhagavan said two words to remember. One is ‘Nasti’. If anyone says, “I want money,” upon genuine grounds and proper verification if you find that he is in need of your financial help, you should never be in a position to say, “Nasti”, meaning, “I don’t have money.” You should be able to help the other man if it the need is genuine because otherwise, I am afraid that all people may start giving, and thereby improve the art of begging, which art is already there. So, let me not be in that pitiable condition to say, “I have no money (‘Nasti’).” We should give to the other man when he is in dire need of money.
The second word is ‘Dehi’. This means let me not get into that position so as to stretch my hand in front of everybody, begging for money. These two are important: Nasti, “I don’t have money”, when others ask you; and dehi, “I want money from you.” So, one should not have these two in one’s life. They are curses. So, “O God! I pray to You to make me financially sound, so that I don’t have to stretch my hand in front of anybody; nor let me say, “No” to anybody, when I really want to help other people.
About the spiritual aspect: “God, I pray to You for my spiritual advancement.” On the spiritual career, there are many obstacles, not only one or two. When we want to go to a bhajan, a friend will ask us to join on a weekend boating trip. Why not go boating? Or sometimes an invitation will come to stay at Holiday Inn, or go to a family get-together. Why not? Particularly when I want to do a spiritual activity, some obstacle gets in the way. I want to go to nagarsankirtan tomorrow. Well, I don’t wake up at all. It is enough if I get up by darshan time (Laughter), let alone nagarsankirtan.
Well, I do not want to eat tonight. Baba said that after 50, one should eat only once a day. Why should I eat twice? So, from this day, let me eat only once, and then at nighttime just have milk. However, by the time we go to the canteen, or by the time we go to our residences, we smell delicious items and are tempted to eat. My resolution will come into effect from tomorrow only (Laughter), not necessarily from today! So, there are so many obstacles. “God, only You should help me to cross these obstacles, so that I will be able to go along my way spiritually.”
About moral values, we want to compromise our values when it comes to our own case. If anyone is absent for darshan, I immediately say, “Don’t you know why you have come here? Don’t you know that you should be present here for darshan? Are you here simply to loiter around and sleep?” But suppose if I do not attend darshan, I have some excuse like, “I am very much tired.” (Laughter) That other fellow, too, is also equally tired!
That is why certain statements of the following kind have come into circulation: “The Devil quotes the scriptures.” Or, “Those who condemn others must be condemned first.” I have no business to condemn, criticize or point out to anybody their faults. Let me see my own mistakes. It is immoral to find out others mistakes. It is moral to find out my own mistakes. Only then there is scope for me to correct myself. This is really progress.
Therefore, Sankranthi is an occasion to pray for the special blessings of God, so that we can advance physically, ethically, financially and spiritually, along with improving the moral aspect of life.
I do not think that I have successfully drawn the picture of sun. This is only a symbol. Well, you find sun god traveling in two directions. One, he travels southward. After that, he travels northward. The southward journey of sun from house to house, depending upon months, as per the zodiac system, is called ‘Dakshinayana’, southward journey of sun.
And this, Dakshinayana (southward journey of sun) period, is meant to express our gratitude to our fathers, forefathers, to whole family and progeny. That is what is written here. We express our thanks to all our pedigree, the family, fathers and forefathers. We have to remember them in our gratitude. The properties, the personalities, the life in general, they are all because of our parents and grandparents. This period of Dakshinayana, during which sun god travels in the south, is also called ‘Dhanur Maasa’. And this period ends, today.
And from tomorrow, onwards Uttarayana begins i.e., sun god traveling towards north side begins.
This northward journey is very precious and very auspicious. It is very special. Why? It is the time to begin any spiritual activity or sadhana. For those of us who have crossed over age 60 or are nearing 60, it is time to remind ourselves that Uttarayana is the time to start some spiritual activity at sometime or other. Eating, drinking, and talking, well, we have all been spending quite a lot of time doing these things during Dakshinayana (the southward journey of the sun). Enough is enough. (Laughter) All these kinds activities - loitering, yearning, worrying, being anxious and tense, amassing wealth, power, or position, such tinsel and trash, all should come to a stop. It is time to travel northward, beginning from tomorrow, by starting a spiritual activity, doing something very important which will take us to heights. Like what?
Swadhyaya means the study of the Self. Swadhyaya is the study of the Self. We have studied about everything in the world, but we have not studied anything about the Self. An engineering student studied about engineering. Medical students studied in depth medical sciences. We studied for Ph.D., DSC, and any number of degrees that would extend by a couple of lines as a suffix to our names! We have got any number of branches of study. But this is the time to study about the Self. That is what is called Swadhyaya.
do you mean by Self-study? What shall I study now? Any scripture of any religion
will speak of the Self only. The Bible, Koran, Guru Grandh (the scripture of the
Sikhs), Dharma Padda (scriptures of Buddhists), and Bhagavad Githa, they all
speak of the Self. Therefore, it is time to start an in-depth study of our
scriptures. We can use our own scripture, the one that we believe in, not
necessarily something alien to us or something new to us. Swadharme Nidha Nam
Sreyah means ‘the path in which you have been treading’. This path will be
very, very helpful to you. Para Dharmo Bhayavah means that the different
path about which you have no idea, or which your fathers and forefathers never
knew anything about until now, Bhayavah - it will be full of fear. So, go
forth in your own way.
That’s the reason why all devotees that come to Bhagavan from different faiths say this: That a Christian becomes a better Christian, a Muslim becomes a better Muslim, a Buddhist becomes a better Buddhist and a Hindu becomes a better Hindu. So, follow your own scripture, do Swadhyaya, the study which speaks of the Self.
About pilgrimage: This is the time when we go on a pilgrimage to a holy place. That we have already done by being here! The best of the pilgrimage centers that we can ever think of today in the world is Prashanti Nilayam and we are here (Applause). It is really God's Grace and God's Will that we are here during these auspicious days of Uttarayana. A million-dollar profit! How lucky we are, really! Most of us do not know that it is so precious and important. Most of us do not know that it is particularly auspicious that Baba brought you here because you all have been the chosen children of our Lord Sai (Applause). So this is the time to make a pilgrimage to different holy centers, which is something that you have already done by being here!
Observing spiritual activities like daily prayers, meditation or daily worship is a spiritual activity or what we call sadhana. This is the time to do that.
So my friends, the two phases or the two paths of the sun’s journey, one southward and the other northward, is significant as follows: The time of the southward journey of the sun is for the human life, the parents and grandparents, while the northward journey of the sun marks the time to be spent for the life hereafter. That is the spiritual essence and significance of Sankranthi.
Now, by all this, what will happen? By all this activity, what is going to happen? The human heart is kshara sagara. Kshara means saline, saltish. The human heart today is saltish, highly saline, meaning totally polluted. If another man is happy, I am unhappy. (Laughter) If Swami talks to somebody other than me, I do not feel like eating. (Laughter) If somebody gets an interview, I would skip my sleep that night. (Laughter) Therefore, this has been the way. Even if I do not get profits in my business, I wish my neighbor should have total loss! (Laughter) So the human beings here are full of pollution, jealousy, envy, and unhealthy rivalry. In this rat-racing age, in this age of fast life, we compete in a vulgar, unhealthy way. We have made everything competitive.
are competitive, even in front of God. For example, when Swami is talking to
this man, some other man from behind jumps over him, as if this were a circus or
something similar to that. (Laughter) We are very clever - clever enough
even to make the holiest of things into the nastiest of things ever possible.
When Swami wants to collect a letter from one person, ten people around get up
and He is totally sunk deep in their midst. It is not our mistake. Our life is
full of competition. Therefore, in front of God also we are competitive! That is
the tragedy of our life. We compete to get a train ticket or a movie ticket,
while standing in a queue. So, let me compete when Swami gives darshan,
as competition has become my way of life. That is unfortunate.
So my friends, the heart has become kshara sagara, full of salt. Nothing is sweet there. I am not able to share another’s happiness. I am not able to share another’s grief. I do not respond to another’s pleasures. This has been the sorrowful, pitiable state of my heart. That is kshara sagara, salty water like the ocean. As the statement goes, “Water, water everywhere; but not a drop to drink!” Likewise, the human heart is full of water, salty waters, unfit for human consumption.
That kshara sagara, ocean of salt water, must be converted into ksheera sagara, the ocean of milk. Ksheera is milk. Therefore, when our heart is full of ksheera or milk, it is acceptable because milk is sweet and gives us physical strength. So the heart should also be full of sweet milk, not saltish water.
The purpose of the spiritual practices that are undertaken during the period of the northward journey of the sun god is to convert the kshara sagara into ksheera sagara. If one says that he has been doing meditation, but in fact he cannot tolerate anybody near him, well then, he continues to be in kshara sagara in spite of his sadhana or spiritual practice. Better we advise that man to stop that practice, as it is not helping him to grow in any sense.
Some people put these sorts of questions: “Sir, is there going to be Sivarathri this year?” (Laughter) Forgetting about today, now, and the present moment, they want to know about Sivarathri. Some person asked me this morning, “When do you expect Swami back from Brindavan?” He has not yet gone there, but we are asked when do we expect Him back from Brindavan! (Laughter and applause)
It only means, my friends, that our life is supersonic, electronic, mechanical and monotonous. “What is next? Then next and next?” (A.K. starts snapping his fingers and saying indistinct words super-fast!)
At this moment, God is here and now. Spirituality is the life which is here and now, not tomorrow or the next moment. This very human mind often has become so mechanical, and so it asks, “When He’s going to return? Is there Kodaikanal this year or not?” Why Kodaikanal? Why? Why are you interested?
will never give His timetable. When He starts, we should follow. That is all.
When we say He starts, He will never start! (Laughter) Yes. When
we are sure that He will never go, we find His car already leaving! The
only certainty is uncertainty. We have to love His uncertainty. So, let us not
think what is Baba’s timetable.
“O Bhagavan, help me to enjoy You here and now. Let me enjoy and be benefited by Your Divine Presence here and now.” That is my religion. That is my understanding of spirituality.
Therefore, ksheera sagara implies that all our spirituality and all of our spiritual activity should help us to love other people, to treat everyone equally. If I have some class conflict, which is a vasana about position, like the feeling of being a VIP or a VVIP, that is kshara sagara, full of saltish water.
Ksheera sagara means all are equal. All are one, my dear son, so be alike to everyone. If I treat everybody equally, if I feel that all are important, that everyone is unique, that kind of feeling is there as a product of this ksheera sagara or ocean of milk. Feelings or thoughts such as: “I am superior to you” or “I have been coming here for 20 years, so I am senior to you” are all products of kshara sagara. All such false claims represent the unproductive and spiritually-impoverished stay in kshara sagara, the ocean of salt.
Now, as I told you in the beginning this morning, the intellect is an extra faculty given to man (of course, that includes women also)! (Laughter) I am afraid of Women’s Liberation Movement! (Laughter) As the quota system for ladies as legislators in the Parliament has been increasing day-by-day, if I am not careful, well, I am heading for a grave risk, which I do not want to do. (Laughter) I want an equal number of audience members on this side of the hall also for my talks!
So the point is, the intellect is an extra faculty given to the human race. Without this intellect, he is almost a colleague of animals, almost a beast. Therefore, this intellect is functional because of the sun. According to the shastra or the scripture, every part of our body has a presiding deity. The presiding deity of the human mind is the moon: Chandrama Manaso Jatah. Chaksho Suryo Ajayatah. So every limb, every part of our body has a presiding deity.
intellect shines with all its brilliance. The intellect is so functional because
of its presiding deity, the sun god. It is this intellect that makes me Divine,
which helps me to travel from the human to the Divine. Therefore, man becomes
God because of this intellect. So that’s the reason why people pray to sun in
the morning. They just offer their obeisance. They offer their respectable
salutations to the sun god because Gayathri says, “Dhi Yo Yonah Prachodayat.”
This means “O God, help my intellect travel along the sacred path. Guide
my intellect to proceed in the right direction. You are the Director. You are
the Guide who will take my intellect along with You in the correct direction.”
Therefore, the sun will guide the intellect so that man becomes Divine.
In this context, I should tell the three words and stages that Bhagavan mentioned: matter, humanity, and Divinity. Matter is the mineral matter - the rock, mountain, sand, gravel, or metal. That is all matter. Next comes humanity - all of us. And finally comes Divinity. So humanity is in between matter and Divinity. Intellect is essential for humanity to have in order to rise higher up, to reach the state of Divinity. Therefore, intellect helps you to travel from padardha, matter, to paraardha, Divinity.
So that is the message we have to catch during this period of holy Sankranthi. This Sankranthi also has something to say about our three epics. The first epic relates to the Bhagavatha. Bhagavatha is an epic that deals with the leelas, the miracles of Lord Krishna and the gopikas. The devotees of Lord Krishna were mostly illiterate. They were milk venders. Many of them were ladies. They are called gopikas.
So, should I be a lady now because Krishna devotees were ladies? So, when am I going to be a lady? That is a foolish question. Here ‘lady’ does not represent gender. A woman does not represent gender, no! Woman represents tenderness, not gender. Tender, not gender. Therefore, anyone with a tender heart is a woman. Therefore, the whole society is feminine. There is only one man: God Himself, called Purusha. So Purusha is God. Alternatively, I can put it this way: Purusha is the Indweller. Pura is the body, be it that of a man or a woman. It is also a dwelling place. So Purusha is the Indweller.
So, this is how Bhagavatha speaks of gopikas. Many ladies (meaning, all the devotees who are tenderhearted aspirants and seekers) approached a sage by the name of Narada. Narada is known among Hindus as a person who encourages conflict or misunderstanding between everybody. However, Narada is not a mischief-monger. Narada has another meaning. ‘Naram Dadathi Narada’ means ‘the one who confers wisdom is Narada’.
So these gopikas approached Narada and prayed to him, “O Narada! O benevolent sage! O wise man! We want you to tell us a correct path to attain Divinity, to reach God, to feel God, and to experience God. Please tell us a way.” In those days, people were good enough to approach wise people. (Because of the non-availability of followers and the non-availability of those who lead, better we do not speak of our present position.)
So, those gopikas approached Narada and Narada told the gopikas, “Look here. All of you should observe a ritual known by the name of ‘Katyayani’. Narada prescribed this Katyayani ritual worship to these gopikas. Why perform this worship? To attain Divinity, to reach God.
Katyayani ritual is traditionally performed during Sankranthi time. What is
Katyayani all about? The following two points are to be noted here. Everyone
should consider God as the Master. There is your husband, whose wishes you have
to follow. Fine. Then there are your children and you have an obligation to take
care of them. Fine. But who is your Master? God. Therefore, everyone should
consider God as his Master. God is the Master of this house. God is the Master
of this life. To have this feeling that God is the Master; this Katyayani ritual
is observed, as advised by Narada to the gopikas.
Bhagavan explains this in a spiritual way. Swami is Swami, do you see? Nobody can imitate Him. How He explains this! Regarding the moonlight, the moon cannot shine on its own. The moonlight is only reflected glory. Due to the sunlight reflecting on the moon, hence we get the moonlight. I think I am clear. However, sunlight is original. Sunlight is natural, while moonlight is only reflected. Therefore, the mind is the moon. The sun is the intellect. The sunlight is the spirit or Atma. So the Atma or the spirit (or Consciousness) is effulgence, radiance and brilliance. The brilliance or effulgence (of the intellect) is the spirit, which is present in the shining of the sun and which is then reflected on the moon (of the human mind).
So Consciousness or Sprit is independent. The sun has no reflected glory. The sun shines on his own, whereas the moon shines because of the sunlight. Therefore, the sun has no Master above him. The Consciousness, the Self, has no Master above Itself.
To put it in another way, at a lower level of the senses, consider the body. The body is controlled by the mind. The mind is controlled by the intellect. The intellect is controlled by Consciousness or Atma. Who controls Atma? It controls itself. It is independent. Therefore, the point is to realize the body-mind-intellect-Consciousness connection. So this is the time to recognize Consciousness or Atma, the spirit, which is the Master of my life.
But I am not feeling all alone. I am thinking that my mind is the master of my life. Therefore, I am very proud of my IQ. I am very proud of my memory. I am very proud of my academic achievements. I am very proud of all that I have because of the feeling that the mind is the master of life. This is a stupid idea.
And if I feel that intellect is the master of life? Well, I think you know what decision I have taken in my life! “I have taken a correct decision, which has given me a beautiful turn in my life.” This means that I consider my intellect very sharp. I feel that I am intellectually alert, unique and great, which is again a wrong idea because the intellect has a master above it.
Therefore, the body has a master, which is the mind. The mind has a master, which is the intellect. The intellect has another Master above it, which is the Consciousness or Atma or spirit. And this spirit or Atma has no master above it.
So this state of realization, this state of fruition of endeavor, is what is called ‘Katyayani’. This Katyayani mode of worship is observed by aspirants to realize that the Consciousness is the supreme Master, who controls, governs, encompasses, embraces, and engulfs the whole universe and the entire Cosmos, individual as well as collective.
Now comes the next epic: Mahabharata. Mahabharata also has its own place in this festival of Sankranthi. In Mahabharata, there is a great character, a character by the name Bheeshma, who exemplifies the qualities of sacrifice, penance, supreme peace, wisdom and renunciation. Bheeshma stands for sacrifice (thyaaga), wisdom, (jnana), spiritual discipline (yoga), and devotion (bhakthi).
Bheeshma is a representative of shantha bhakthi, the path of devotion that is known for peace. Because most of us don’t have that shantha bhakthi, if anyone sits close to us, we say “Hey, grrr!” (Anil Kumar uses a gruff voice.) Ours is a restless devotion. (Laughter) It is not shantha bhakthi, possessing the abiding supreme peace.
Bheeshmacharya, who had taken care of all of the Kauravas and all the Pandavas, sacrificed his own life: He remained a celibate. He remained as a renunciate and an ascetic throughout his life.
Now that Bheeshmacharya has got a capacity to withdraw from the body whenever he wishes. Nobody can kill him. He can withdraw from the body on his own, as and when he likes, as and when he prefers, as and when he chooses to withdraw from the body. How could he attain that? He could attain that because of thyaaga (sacrifice), jnana (wisdom), bhakthi (devotion) and vairagya (renunciation). So, jnana, vairagya, yoga, thyaaga, these qualities will help not only Bheeshma but also everyone of us withdraw from the body as and when we like, as and when we choose. The timetable will be under our control, if only we have these four.
Now, Bheeshmacharya, this man of renunciation and supreme sacrifice, this senior-most supreme commander of the army, waited for 56 days on a bed of arrows on the battlefield called Kurukshetra. He was not on a U-foam bed or a My-foam bed, no! (Laughter) Not on any mattress, but on a bed of arrows he waited for 56 days!
Why did he wait? He waited for this ‘Uttarayana Punya Kaala’ (the meritorious time of Uttarayana), which is the sacred day of Sankranthi to begin. Because if one leaves this body on this sacred day of Uttarayana Punya Kaala, if he leaves at this auspicious moment, he will not be born again. He will not return to this cycle of birth and death.
Bhagavan cautioned as follows: This does not mean that everybody should attempt to commit suicide and leave his body on that day! (Laughter) Do not think that just because it is a holy day, let me take some gamacyin or potassium cyanide and say, “Holy day! O God, Moksha!” No, no! If a person commits suicide, he will have a thousand more lives (rebirths). (Laughter) He will not only have the next life, but a thousand lives more. He has no freedom to die. It is not in his hands.
Therefore, the point is that Bheeshma waited for 56 days for this auspicious moment of Uttarayana Punya Kaala, the Sankranthi day, when the sun enters into Capricorn (also called ‘Makara Sankranthi’) to give up his life, in order that he would not have to be born again, thereby avoiding getting into the repeated cycles of births and deaths.
Here is one example that Swami gave. There was an emperor from the State of Maharashtra by the name of Sivaji. This Sivaji happened to be the disciple of a great preceptor, whose name was Samardha Ramadas. Samardha Ramadas, being an ascetic and a preceptor, had no property. His disciple, Emperor Sivaji, wanted to reward him. So he sent gold, diamonds, and so on to his guru as an offering. The fellows brought gold and diamonds and said, “Sir, these are the beautiful gifts that our emperor presents to you.” And this teacher, Samardha Ramadas, said, “You give all that to a person who has nobody to take care of him.” Such a person is called ‘anatha’. Anatha means the neglected, forlorn and uncared for. “You give this to a person who is anatha, forlorn, who has nobody taking care of him.”
They said, “You’re beggar number one! Why do you say like
that? (Laughter) Have you anybody to take care of you? Our Emperor has
sent these gold and diamonds to be given to you because no one takes care of
you. You are anatha, you have no natha or master to take care of
Then he said, “No, no! My God, Ramachandra, Sri Rama, is my Natha, my Master. And my Master Rama has no other Master. So Ramachandra is anatha, beggar number one!” (Laughter) Yes. We all have somebody to take care of us. However, God has nobody to care of Him!
I will tell you in this context something that had happened. Well, I was going through some crises, some mental problem and some personal problem. Well, Swami was passing by and I simply said, “Maaku Dikku Evaru Swami?” “Who will take care of us?” I said it softly because I know the risk involved. (Laughter) Right! I thought that sufficient precaution was taken. However, this word got into His ear. He passed by, turned back and asked, “What did you say, repeat! Repeat!” (Laughter) “Who will take?” “Keep your mouth shut! I am here to take care of you. Nobody is here to take care of ME! (Laughter and applause) And I am here to take care of you.”
So, who is anatha, the forlorn, with no Master above him? It is God Himself. We have Him as our Master. So, that is the saying of Samardha Ramadas. “When Rama is my Master, I don’t need YOUR gold or YOUR diamonds,” he said.
Swami said something great about Samardha Ramadas. Samardha Ramadas concentrated on Ramachandra deeply for a very long period. After many long years of deep penance and meditation on Ramachandra, he started to feel that he was Rama Himself. While he was walking along the roads, he used to walk like that. (Anil Kumar imitates someone walking confidently.) Only the bow and arrow were missing, that is all! (Laughter) Walking like that, he used to say, “I'm Ramachandra.”
People thought something was wrong. However, they also thought he would not declare himself as Rama unless he had discovered something special in himself. Otherwise, he will not behave like that.
Somebody brought a dead parrot to him. “Swami, this is a parrot. Take it.” He asked this question, “Who killed this parrot?” “Swami, You only killed it.” Oh-ho. “If you are really Ramachandra as you declare yourself to be, bring this dead parrot back to life.” (Anil Kumar snapped his fingers.) And Samardha Ramadas, holding this parrot, prayed to Ramachandra and then let it fly off - it came back to life again! That is the story of Samardha Ramadas, so wonderfully narrated by Bhagavan Himself.
Sankranthi is also special for another reason. This is the day when Adi Sankara, (Shankaracharya, the great) took to ascetic life. He decided to totally renounce, to become a celibate or sanyasi, on this day of Sankranthi, which is so precious a holy day.
Then this Sankranthi is also called ‘Pongal’, particularly in Tamil Nadu. What do you mean by ‘Pongal’? Bhagavan, being the Master of all languages, plays with the words. Pongal is a Tamil word. Now He takes the Tamil word ‘Pongal’ and puts it into Telugu and gives a different meaning. ‘Pongal’ becomes ponguta, meaning surging up. ‘Ponguta’ is Telugu word; ‘Pongal’ is Tamil word. Bhagavan has used both words. (Laughter) And I have no words to describe the mystery behind it all! (Laughter) I have just no words.
So, ponguta means surging up. Suppose you boil milk, what will happen? It surges up. Similarly, Pongal symbolizes the surging up of noble, Divine and spiritual ideas. So this Pongal should help you to develop this surging up of noble ideas. Bhagavan says that Divine thoughts will happen on this day of Sankranthi.
Then He gave another meaning: Samyak + kranthi = Sankranthi. That is the etymology of the word ‘Sankranthi’ Etymologically, ‘samyak’ plus ‘kranthi’ is ‘Sankranthi’. What do you mean by ‘samyak’? ‘Sa’ means that which is auspicious, that which is sacred. ‘Kranthi’ means ‘time – the past, present and future. We pray for good and sacred times, so that we all have a happy spiritual time ahead of us, starting from tomorrow, the day of Sankranthi. That is the meaning. In this way, the whole year following Sankranthi will be peaceful and the whole period will be sanctified.
Because of this samyak-kranthi, kranthi, the time that becomes samyak, sacred, will help us to develop in three steps. The first step is Love. I love, but I love myself. That is all. Thank God there are people who do not love themselves. (Laughter). I love myself. Anything that happens to me makes me happy. So this is a beginning point, and it is called swardha or selfish love.
Then there is the second state of mutual love. That is called parardha. I love you because you are useful to me. (Laughter) You also love me because I will be useful to you. The third one is supreme Love. This is also called samardha. I love for Love’s sake. My Love is unconditional. My Love is selfless. That kind of Love is called samardha. And during this Sankranthi season, most of the auspicious activities like housewarming functions, marriages, thread-ceremonies, etc. are performed.
That is in brief the inner significance of Sankranthi, which I wanted to share with this august assembly this pleasant morning.
I have two or three things to share with you in relation to the Sports Meet that we had on the 11th of this month. Let me tell you one or two miracles that happened because you will be very much interested to know this. We find anything happening to another man a miracle, forgetting that our life is full of miracles. Every life is a miracle. Every individual is a miracle, but we can understand this clearly only when it happens to others. When it happens in one’s own life, we tend to ignore it or take it as an accidental coincidence. That is the tragedy.
Most of you must have watched the event in which the boy from Brindavan Campus was doing some stunts on a go-cart, coming at a terrific speed. You must have noticed that it had hit the wall there - ta-da! And the honorable Minister Uma Bharathi on the dais, said, “OHHHHHH!” We too wanted to say that. However, because we are watchful of the Divine presence, we controlled ourselves and said it within ourselves instead. (Laughter). If we also shout, people will doubt our devotion. Therefore, we have to be spiritually cautious! (Laughter)
Bhagavan said yesterday evening, “The whole go-cart should have been broken into pieces. The boy should have faced multiple head injuries. Nothing happened because I was there on the dais, taking care of the boy there.” (Applause)
Anil Kumar cannot keep anything to himself. (Laughter) British Broadcasting Corporation is called BBC. Anil Kumar Broadcasting Corporation is ABC! So successfully broadcasting over last two decades, I will continue to do so till the last breath of my life. Yes! This has been my job and I will continue to do it. (Applause)
Also, a second thing that I want to bring to your attention is the following. Most of the girls from India will have long hair, braided into a plait. Yesterday you must have seen two girls on motorcycles jumping. There was a big wheel-like thing, burning full of fire, which they had to jump through. Plus we had a terrific breeze yesterday, so the fire was coming from all sides. This girl with long hair, shaa-daa! She could just jump through like that.
Swami said, “They wear silk saris, plus they have long hair. So anything could have been burnt. You think Sai Baba is sitting on the dais. What am I doing? Protecting My children there on the field.” (Applause) That is what Bhagavan said: “Protecting My children there.” Swami, yes, You alone can do it! Or else, who can ever think of doing such things?
I can tell you there is another fellow from Vijayawada. His name is Sai Krishna. He was practicing jumps on the trampoline. You must have seen there in one corner, there were the cubes. Then one fellow started jumping, ta-ka ta-ka, just as in the Olympics. And this fellow fell from at least from 15 feet high, ta-da!
He was taken to the hospital and people thought he must have had multiple fractures in this region. However, after taking some X-rays, they only noticed a slight scratch there. (Applause) That is Sai! Sai-scratch! We know people sustaining multiple fractures by falling in the bathroom! (Laughter) This fellow fell from 15 feet, but nothing happened except for only a scratch. That is Sai Baba! That is Sai Baba, please understand! (Applause)
And I should tell you another thing: A girl from Anantapur had some pain. However, with all that pain she prayed to Bhagavan and participated on motorcycle stunt. Because of this pain, later she went to the hospital and it was reported that she had some fracture. Still she could do the stunts. Any fracture will certainly give us excruciating pain. But bearing all that pain, she could still perform her stunts. That is the power of Sai. (Applause)
This is the climax. Because I heard this from Bhagavan, straightaway I wanted to share it with you. The Honorable Minister who came yesterday as the Chief Guest was the Honorable Uma Bharathi. She is a Central Minister, in charge of Sports and Youth activity. All of you must have noticed that she was brought there on a wheelchair. We only know that. But Bhagavan told this yesterday afternoon, when I was there with Him. Perhaps He knows whom to tell! (Laughter) So, what He said is this:
Bhagavan was so gracious towards her. She attended the only morning session because this Minister had to go back to Delhi and therefore she could not stay for the afternoon session. So Bhagavan was so compassionate and gave her an interview. She was taken into the interview room. Bhagavan spoke to her and then she came out of the interview room walking straight, no more in the wheelchair! (Applause) That is the power of Sai Baba.
Also Bhagavan, by the wave of His hand, materialized a small silver cup or something like that with a lid, full of sacred vibhuthi, which will never get exhausted. Akshaya means ‘that which will never get exhausted’. So He materialized that vibhuthi for her.
She landed there in Delhi and went to the Prime Minister straightaway, “Here’s prasad for you from Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. (Applause) And the Prime Minister was so happy. “Thank you very much for giving prasadam at the right moment!” Do you know what that moment is? Newspapers will tell you. (Laughter) At the right hour, Swami has sent this prasadam.
All these things Bhagavan told us yesterday. I have been waiting for an opportunity to meet you and share this happy news with all of you.
Let me conclude by wishing you all a Happy Pongal!
May Bhagavan bless
(Anil Kumar closed his satsang by leading the bhajan,
“Kshirabdhi Sayana Narayana...”)
Om Asato Maa Sad
Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Jai Bolo Bhagavan
Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan
Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan
Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!