January 22nd, 2006
“There Is Only One Religion, the Religion of Love”
With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,
I wish to talk on the subject, “There Is Only One Religion, the Religion of Love.” Before I actually go into the details of the talk, let me say one thing in the light of what has happened yesterday. No one ever dreamt, no one ever imagined, no one thought that Bhagavan would be leaving. It was darshan time and as usual, religiously and meticulously, we all assembled in the Mandir. Bhagavan's car started speeding up towards the Sai Kulwant Hall where we were all comfortably seated. But the car went round and round and round; we did not know the reason why.
Then the car was turning to the left side and then to the right side; it was as though the tires could not decide where to go. The steering seemed to have gone mad -- where to go, in which direction to turn? It seemed a dilemma for all the gadgets in the car, most confusing, at the same time creating thrilling excitement for all the devotees gathered there. When the car turned towards the left, the wheels in the left direction, people thought, ‘He is coming this way.’ Immediately the tires turned towards the right side. Then people thought, ‘He will be going to the right side.’ But He passed through the centre, neither right nor left.
For the second round, He went over to one side; then the boys had Him. The tires started drifting right and left, right and left. Suddenly Bhagavan left. And when He left, we thought that He left only to come back in a short while. So we were all waiting, thinking that He would just go around and come back. We waited and waited; then we came to know that He had left for Bangalore, so arathi was given. Later, when a few people were found still waiting, we were suddenly informed that Swami was expected at around 7:30 in Whitefield, Bangalore. That was what happened.
As a result of these recent events, I knew that I would be facing many questions from all my friends. I have a weakness: I do not avoid people. I have another weakness: I like to talk to people. I have yet another weakness: I like to be among people. I consider that I am a very, very ordinary fellow; nothing special about me. We attribute special-ness to others. We attribute greatness to others; but in reality, all are ordinary. The one who considers himself extraordinary, pity him; he can never be truly spiritual in his lifetime. No one is extraordinary. Therefore my friends, I was just thinking, ‘What answer is expected from me about Baba's comings and goings?’ There are some people who think that I know when Baba will be leaving. But I am as innocent of that knowledge as they are.
Bhagavan did not inform anybody. The driver himself did not know. Later, on enquiry, we came to know that two of the people who attend on Him left later by car with the luggage. Later (whether this was a joke or the reality, I do not know) one of His attendants was quoted as saying that he always keeps one extra suitcase of his clothes and an extra shaving set so that he can go and join Swami any time he is called to do so. When he sits in the car with Bhagavan, he doesn’t know which way it is going, towards Bangalore or the Mandir, or wherever.
My friends, one lesson is quite clear from this. What is it? Nobody knows anything about Swami’s departure or arrival. If we think somebody knows, this is our error. No one knows. Some people say, “So-and-so said that Swami is leaving tomorrow.” Or, “He will never leave for at least a couple of months.” If anyone comes here with a group from their country – the group may number in the hundreds, all expecting Baba will be here -- well, you may see Him leaving the Mandir for somewhere else that very day! We have had repeated experiences of this nature, but still we expect, speculate and imagine that we have some idea as to what Bhagavan will do. Worst of all, we share the same disappointments with others when He does not conform to our expectations.
So my beloved friends, meeting here with me almost every Sunday, I can only tell you to share this with everybody. Nobody knows Swami’s program. This is first and foremost thing that we must understand. Secondly, some people start asking me, “Why has Bhagavan left so suddenly? Why all of a sudden?” Some people say that He left because of some Super-Speciality Hospital anniversary there in Bangalore. Some say that some marriage is taking place. But these are all our imaginings. People said earlier that the hospital anniversary was to take place on the 19th and Bhagavan went there to attend that gathering, the news of which also appeared in the newspapers.
Newspapers are perfect for sharing news because newspapers are always after some sensation. But actually we know that nothing of that sort took place in Bangalore, nothing of that sort. Why? Because we are not in the habit of celebrating anniversaries. No anniversary of any institution is celebrated; that has not been the practice. But because we know the 19th happens to be the day of the Bangalore hospital's inauguration, well, we think it could be quite possible that Swami went there.
This kind of thinking speaks of the sharpness of my memory, the alertness of my intellect, though in fact it is not factual. People say, “Why did He leave so suddenly?” My answer, which I want to share with you, which I want to sink into your mind deeply, is this:
Events which happen suddenly are spiritual. Events which happen according to a schedule, according to a program, according to a diary, are human. That which is beyond our planning, that which is beyond our comprehension, that which is beyond our understanding and our schedule is totally Divine.
Let us not say, “Why all of a sudden?” It is because He is Divine. You and I can say, “Tomorrow at such-and-such a time I will be there.” You can say that KLM Airlines or British Airlines are arriving at such-and-such a time. But Bhagavan is the Sathya Sai ‘intercontinental ballistic missile’, whose schedule you cannot predict! You cannot give any time schedules for Swami’s arrivals and departures because He is totally Divine. He is beyond all human planning and scheduling.
The third point or lesson which all of us should learn together is this... My friends, once again I repeat: that all I am saying is said in a spirit of brotherliness, in a spirit of friendliness, in a spirit of collective growth. I do not exclude myself from these lessons. Yes, it is in fact a wavelength I am trying to communicate to you.
The third thing that we have to learn from this is to pray to Bhagavan more intensely than before. Why? Because there is a danger of losing faith or trust. We may lose faith or trust because of these unexpected events, because of uncertain things happening around us. Our faith is shaken because we have become used to a robot's life; we have become used to a mechanical life, a programmed, computerised life and we cannot take in anything beyond that.
For example, I expect a cup of coffee at 5 o’clock in the morning. If it comes at 5:30 am, well, you better not face me! I need all sorts of spicy food; if you present me with just a bland diet, then you better not face me! I am used to a routine, a particular programmed way of life. Any deviation, any diversion, any digression, any alteration, any modification, any change perturbs me and I disturb others also. Because I am perturbed, I disturb you. Outer disturbance is a reflection of inner disturbance. That’s all. So, our prayer should be not to lose faith, not to lose trust because of uncertainty, because of certain things happening which are not our choice or to our taste.
The fourth point which I would beg you to consider is this: As true devotees, we should all learn a most important requisite expected of us all. If we hope to be devotees in future and in the true sense of the word ‘devotee’, the lesson that we have to collectively learn is the spirit of acceptance. Let us learn to accept. We cannot question. The moment we question, it means there is an underlying doubt.
It is doubt that springs up in the form of a question. Questioning and doubting are the two enemies of any devotee. Questioning and doubting will never help us at any point in time. On the other hand, they are contrary. They are contrary to the cultivation of the most fundamental basic requisite of a devotee -- acceptance or surrender.
Acceptance, total unconditional acceptance is called surrender. Some people say, “I will surrender to Baba provided He gives me this.” That is not surrender. It is business; it is a business arrangement. Some people say, “I will accept Baba provided He answers my questions.” This is not acceptance. So, acceptance or surrender means a certain a readiness to face things, to face situations as and when they happen in our lives, moment-to-moment. At no time do we question; at no time do we doubt.
The fifth lesson which I want to draw your attention to is this: Bhagavan, whom we see in a physical form, is on the outside. We see Him moving amidst us. We see Him in His car. We see Him trying to get up and move. We see Him receiving letters. We see Him talking to us in the interview room. These are all physical, outer, external manifestations of the Divinity. The physical outer manifestation of Divinity is the name and form of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba whom we see everyday, day-in and day-out. But this is a preparation only. This is a preliminary state only. This is a primary requirement only. This is only a means, not an end.
Let me be very clear, my friends. We are learning together, that’s all. Whenever I find an opportunity to speak to my friends, I think that I am learning again and again. I try emphatically to fill up my ears with this learning, so that this information, this understanding, will never get erased in the future. It is for that purpose that I grab every opportunity to share with my friends whatever little I know.
Baba, on the outside, is a physical form. This is the first step, which is an elementary thing. Why? You come to see Him because of your love for His physical form. The name and the form that He bears are the centres of attraction. When His car starts, people start running after Him. When He starts moving, people clap because of the physical attraction He has. He is the Divine magnet that attracts everyone. The one who is not attracted by the magnet is like a piece of iron, full of dust and rust. The dust of sensual pleasure and the rust of worldly involvement cover that person, like a piece of rusty, dusty iron. These two will cause that person not to be attracted by the Divine magnet called Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.
It is all so true. I am not denying it. It is the fact of all facts. Everyone loves to see Him. Everyone loves to run after Him. Everyone prays to have an interview with Him. Everyone would consider it a lifetime opportunity to receive, if possible, a gift from the Divine Hands. Everyone is ready for that. I may be speaking; but suddenly, when I hear somebody say, “Swami’s car is this side”, then the true Anil Kumar will come out. I may be saying, “Baba is cosmic, is everywhere, is immortal, mysterious, eternal.” But when His car is here, I run to Him. That is true. I am not denying it. But it is not the ultimate. It is not the finale, certainly not.
All scriptures voice this fundamental point: The guru whom you see on the outside, the guru who appears different from you, wants you to see Him within yourself. I think I am making myself clear. The guru outside wants you to see Him within yourself.
How is it possible? Is that possible? Why not? You are away from your husband, but he is still there in your mind. You are away from your wife, but still she is nagging you mentally. You are away from your son, but he is still pestering you. You are away from your daughter; still she is bothering you. You are away from your business, but that is still worrying you, appearing in your dreams as well. You are away from the neighbourhood, but yet you will remember all the petty little quarrels which you had with your neighbours from time to time.
All these things are imprinted there in the computer known as the human mind. So, the moment you say about your wife to someone who asks, “How is she?”…”Ah!” You resound with the thought of her. The moment you ask about your husband, you get excited. This only means that the physical level has been taken to the psychological level.
All those we see on television, for example, are not as important as one’s own family members. If I say, “How is Bush, the President of America?” you say, “Oh, he is fine!” So what! So he is fine, so what! But I say to you, “How is your wife?” “Arey, don't you know, Mr. Anil Kumar? She was responsible for my being here! How she manages the house in my absence! Do you have any idea?” You go on speaking eloquently about your life partner, be they the husband or the wife. But about Bush, you just say that he is fine, ok. It only means that the one whom you love is not only physically attached to you, but he or she is also emotionally and psychologically attached to you.
Similarly, when you love Baba more and more, His name and form become imprinted on the paper of your mind. When there is a picture on the paper, the paper and the picture cannot be separated. When a jewel or ring is made of gold, the ring and gold cannot be separated. Similarly, once Swami’s name and form are imprinted on the pure, white, crystal clear, sacred, paper-like human mind, it remains permanent. It cannot be erased.
So my friends, to begin with, we have to travel from the physical plane to the psychological. This is a must, because we cannot remain here (in Prashanti Nilayam) throughout our entire life, impossible. We can not expect Baba to sit there in front of us 24 hours a day. Even here in the ashram we will be separated from His physical presence. We are not always with His physical frame. When darshan is over, when bhajans are over, He goes back to His room; yet still you think of Him. Again He comes for bhajans in the evening. During that gap, He is in your mind. After evening bhajans, He goes back; yet He is in your mind. Am I not right? You fly back over the skies to China or Paris or New York, wherever your country may be. Yet the moment you think of Him, He is there. Am I not right? This is what is called the psychological plane of experience.
We are very, very happy with the physical experience of Him. But this is the first step. The second step is the psychological plane of comprehension, the emotional plane of experience and the sentimental level of love. Because I love my children, the moment I think of them, they begin to appear on the screen of my computer-like mind. Am I not right? So, this is the second lesson.
Baba should help us to reach that level. Baba should help take us to those altitudes, those latitudes, those heights of experience. That is the spiritual level.
What is the spiritual level? One person in a crore or one in a million may be able to experience this. It is not possible for everybody. I don’t say it is impossible. I am only saying it is not ordinarily possible. It may be extraordinarily possible. It may be because of the infinite, munificent grace of Bhagavan that one may be able to reach those spiritual heights.
What is it? Reaching ‘spiritual heights’ really means experiencing Bhagavan Baba in everyone we come across. Whomsoever you meet, with whomsoever you converse, there is a feeling, a conviction that that person, that embodiment, is the personification of Baba. Everyone is Baba Himself!
Experiencing the One-in-the-many is the feeling and experience of a truly spiritual person. I do not know how many people have had such an experience among the many I know. I have not met any so far. But at least there may well be someone. I cannot deny it because spiritual experience is totally individual. Nobody can say otherwise.
Some people say, “I have come to this or that spiritual level - the first level.”
I tell them, “You have not come to any level.” Why? Saying “I have come to that level” is the ‘I’, the ego, speaking. While that ego is there, you are still on the ground floor.
So a truly spiritual person might be having an experience which is totally individual, which is completely personal, and about which we may not be aware. But with spiritual understanding, a spiritual alertness, spiritual awareness, with spirituality in totality, we will see Him in everyone around us, and see Him in every situation we face in daily life.
When you go to the railway station, if you get a reservation unexpectedly, you treat it as Baba’s grace. When you sit in a train, left all alone with no one to talk to, then suddenly a person comes over to you and says, “Sai Ram! Are you a Sai devotee?” You consider it as Baba’s gesture, Baba’s kindness. When you are standing in a long queue there and a clerk comes over to you saying, “Did I not see you at Puttaparthi? Come right this way, sir.” It is Swami's grace.
Suppose while packing your luggage for the train journey, a shaving set or your toothpaste has been forgotten. It may be quite a silly thing, but they too are very essential. Suppose you forget to pack them in your baggage. Suddenly you open the bag and you find those items. A spiritual person will say, “Baba has put them there. To my knowledge, I did not put them there.” He considers everything as Baba's grace. It may be silly in the mundane world; it may be stupid to a scientific mind; it may be illogical and irrational to a man who has limited himself to his mind.
Spiritual experience is beyond the mind. What do I mean? As long as I speak about my experiences, it may be true/may not be true -- divided by two. Why do I say that? You are able to narrate. You are able to describe. You are able to speak out based on the recording in your mind. But spiritual experience is beyond the mind. When it is beyond the mind, how do you express it? When it is beyond the mind, how do you put it into words? It is impossible. So, all that is said, all that is shared is only psychological, only on the mental plane. But the actual depth of experience cannot be told, cannot be expressed, and cannot be put into words – impossible! That’s the reason why spirituality is an experience, not an expression.
Why? It is a feeling; it is an experience: it is a blissful state. Bliss can only be experienced; it cannot be described. I can say I am very happy to see you. I can say I am joyful to have met you. I can say it’s a matter of pleasure to be with you. I cannot say it is blissful to be with you unless you know the meaning of bliss. You must refer to a dictionary. A blissful state cannot be expressed. A blissful state can only be experienced.
When Swami looks at you, please describe your experience. The smile goes on increasing in its dimensions, with one's teeth more and more exposed, like a Colgate dental cream smile! A gloomy, dark face filled with wrinkles suddenly lights up like a thousand-watt light bulb! That is all and that is everything. It cannot be put within the framework of vocabulary. It cannot be put within the measurement of known human nomenclature. This cannot be put in any language known to mankind because these experiences are of the heart.
That in the mind can be told, but that in the heart can never be expressed. You love your husband; you love your wife. How much do you love? Can you tell me? If you say that you can write about five kilos on how much you love your wife, you are bogus number one.
Political love can be verbalised: “Yes, I love my people.” In reality, you love them while speaking on the platform, provided they vote for you tomorrow! Am I clear? So, all that is artificial. All that is synthetic. All that is diplomatic. All that is hypocritical. All that is expectation, which can be expressed or spoken.
All that is real, all that is true, all that is best known to yourself, is treasured in your heart, which is mysterious. That’s why this expression is quite often used: A ‘mystical experience’ can never be stated, can never be shared, and can never be seen. That’s why it is called ‘mystical’ or ‘a mystical experience’. But as domestic beings, how can we understand with our minds a mystical experience? It is impossible.
Therefore my friends, thinking of yesterday and what Bhagavan did started me thinking about all this. I am happy that I could nicely share all my feelings and all my thoughts, hoping that they may benefit you. Please consider whatever is informative, whichever points are profitable or self-revealing. You may accept some of it, while you may delete some of it, as you do with your computers. In fact, I announced in the beginning that the topic of today is, “The Religion of Love”. All these things discussed till now are full of Love only. They are not spoken out of any hatred; they are not said out of any envy or vice. They are shared out of the depth of Love only. Swami’s ways are very, very strange.
I remember one incident narrated to me by the then-caretaker of Brindavan. His name was Sri Ramabrahman. Ramabrahman, a hefty personality, of very good complexion, looked like a businessmen from Bombay. By virtue of his personality, he happened to serve as the caretaker of Brindavan for thirty long years. He was not a small man. He used to share his experiences every day with me. Of course, he is no more.
Every day he would come to the bungalow where I stayed and share with me one or two miracles with which only I am alive here to narrate. I am alive here today because of the number of experiences he narrated to me; else I would have been long lost in time. He used to give me some kind of boost, some kind of encouragement in moments of frustration, when I was all alone in Brindavan as the principal of Bhagavan’s college there. Initially I was there for six long years as the principal. I felt like running away everyday. That’s a different story.
Returning to this story of Ramabrahman, which is very important. In those days, you see, they used to lock up outside when Bhagavan was inside His house. I think I am clear. The moment Swami retired, they bolted the door, locked it from the outside and the key was either with Ramabrahman or his wife, no one else.
Ramabrahman told that one day Swami left Brindavan for Puttaparthi. Therefore they locked the house, bolting the door. They checked the lock to see that it was nicely secured, so people like me would not go on pulling it. They ensured that it was safe, like a wall clock pendulum locked inside its case. So, they locked it well. Then Ramabrahman went to the market just behind Swami’s bungalow to purchase some provisions.
After some time, he suddenly saw a man running towards him. Ramabrahman said, “Why are you running? What’s wrong?”
“Sir, Swami is already there in front of the bungalow. He wants you to come there.”
So Ramabrahman ran after him to find Swami standing there in front, tapping the door. Here is the conversation that was going on:
“Open the door,” said Swami.
Inside the building was Ramabrahman’s wife saying, “I won’t open the door.”
“Open the door.”
“I will not.”
“Swami wants you to open the door.”
.”No, no! Swami left for Puttaparthi already. It is some impostor. I am not going to open.”
In the meantime, Ramabrahman arrived and said, “Oh fool, I will identify the person as Sathya Sai Baba! Open the door!”
Then she opened the door, which had been bolted from inside.
This story he narrated many times, telling that Baba’s departure and arrival may happen unnoticed. No one knows. This is what Ramabrahman told.
Another time Ramabrahman narrated another interesting event. They used to live inside Brindavan whether Bhagavan was physically present or not. One day, Ramabrahman heard some sound near the window.
‘What is happening? What is that sound?’ He opened the door and he opened the window. What did he see? He saw the trunk of Sai Gita (Swami's pet elephant) coming in through the window. So Ramabrahman, being well-built (quite a bit larger than anybody else), opened the window further and saw Sai Gita outside.
Then he called out, “Swami, Sai Gita has come!”
Baba said, “I know.”
Then Swami came down, opened the door and touched the trunk of Sai Gita. He started telling everybody there, “I left Puttaparthi for Brindavan yesterday and Sai Gita, the elephant, could not bear the pangs of separation, so she started running throughout the night all along the way to Bangalore. She is now waiting for My darshan!” For that reason she was standing at the window.
This beautiful incident that Ramabrahman narrated to me conveys the simple truth that one must be so attached to Him. The elephant could run away after Him, but not the human mind. An elephant mind in an elephant body -- so attached to Him that she could run after Baba all that way. But this is not the case with the human mind. I don’t know whether to call it evolution or revolution…I don’t know. This is an incident Ramabrahman narrated to me which happened there.
Once Swami left for Brindavan. Now we have got phones, so people started telling at what point He was on His journey. So, all the students were relaxing. Somebody started washing their clothes; somebody went to the store to buy some important things they required.
But suddenly the seva dals start moving. What happened? Swami is returning! He left one hour ago. How is that He is coming back? Yes, He came back!
Looking at everybody, Baba said, “When I left an hour ago, I saw boys crying for Me. Boys wanted Me to stay for some more time. When they were crying, I could not bear that sight; therefore I decided to come back.”
All these things I am telling you, my friends, only to let you know that we do not know the rationale behind His actions. Trying to explain them, trying to put them into the framework of our reasoning and scientific temperament, is foolishness. Let us not entertain such a thing.
We can only pray to Bhagavan that we accept readily what ever He does. Bhagavan says that we should not lose trust because of things that He does, or because of the things spoken about Him. These events will never change Him. That could be our prayer.
I pray to Swami to bless every one of you. Thank you for your attention and time. Sai Ram!
Anil Kumar closed his talk by singing, “Jai Jai Prabhu Giridhari Natavara Nandalala”.
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya
Om Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Babaji Ki Jai!