The Sunday Talk Given by Prof. Anil Kumar
“An Ideal Home”
November 26, 2010
With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of our Beloved Bhagavan,
This morning we are discussing Swami's views on an ideal home, family, and housewife, and how a husband should behave towards his wife. In other words, we are going to discuss an ideal family and the ideal relationships that should prevail at home, as explained by Bhagavan Baba on different occasions. Perhaps it is time that we think along these lines today. Recently, in the Convocation Address on 22nd November Bhagavan said, “The family today has lost its balance. There is no peace or harmony at home.” Therefore my friends, it is necessary to know Baba's views on these relationships.
an ideal home
First of all, what is a home? What is an ideal home? We all would like to have a home to live in. Everyone would like to acquire and build a home. It is a milestone in everyone’s life. What is an ideal home according to Baba? We think that the ideal home is one which is a multi-storey building, with very good furniture and carpets, electrical fittings, electronic gadgets, many bedrooms and many central halls. Some of us even brag about the quality of the wood and flooring. These are the points of our self-glorification, how we want to impress everybody with the way our home has come up. But what is an ideal home according to Baba?
Usually there are two types of homes constructed. You will all agree with me when I say that a home built on sand will soon collapse. You may have read in newspapers that multi-storey buildings have collapsed. Yes, you just read about it in the newspapers! So, a building built on sand cannot be strong enough; it is sure to collapse. But a building built on a strong foundation of rock and big boulders will stand for a long time.
It is not the cement that matters. Bhagavan tells us that it is not the amount of iron you use for the construction of your house, nor the cement or sand, or the proportion with which you mixed these to lay the beams and the slabs. Baba wants us to build our homes with the sand of good words, with the cement of good actions, and with the iron of good company: satsanga–the iron of good company, sand–the good words that we use, and cement–our good actions.
These are the components—the gravel, sand, cement, iron and wood necessary for the construction of any building. So good actions, good thoughts, good words, good deeds and good company, they are the needed ingredients.
Therefore my friends, physically, let us build a building in the normal way with all of the sand, cement, iron, silt, gravel and all that; this is okay in a normal, physical way. But let us have the spiritual awareness that this house is built out of good actions, good thoughts, noble deeds and good company. That is the spiritual implication.
Baba says, “Build an ideal home, then I will come and visit you. An ideal home of this nature, of perfect harmony in thought, word and deed, full of good company, good thoughts, noble actions and sacrifice, that ideal home is not yours; it is My home. You do not have to invite Me because I am already there.”
Therefore my friends, let us have ideal homes of good thoughts, good actions, good deeds, sacrifice, and good company. That it is an ideal Sai residence, an exemplary Sai home or shelter for all of us to live in. That's how Swami explains houses.
an ideal housewife
Then what is Swami’s view of an ideal housewife? A housewife is very busy, even more so being a modern housewife. Why? Because she has to attend to her children and all of the duties at home, see that her husband leaves home for his office on time, maintain the prestige and the dignity of the whole family, and maintain the cleanliness in the home. She has so many household responsibilities, more so in the case of working women. They have to go to the office and do their work outside, besides the normal housework. In this way, a woman does much more than a man.
The role of a woman in the family is definitely much more than that of a man. Man is only a breadwinner, that's all. All the rest is shouldered by the woman or housewife. What does Baba say about it? Sometimes in society at public places and in gatherings, women join together and talk. They go on comparing their jewellery, their residences, their status, their so-called dignity; or they go on talking about their properties. But Baba gives a caution to all women: do not go beyond your means. Do not go beyond your means!
Do everything within your limited means, within your income, within your budget, within the money allocated for that purpose. You should not be one of vanity. All this vanity, show and pomp should be given up immediately to find peace at home. There should not be any vanity or show. So Swami tells all women: do not run after publicity, do not be a showpiece to everybody. Just work everything out within your budget, within your means.
charity begins AT HOME
The second thing is that in today’s modern times, women want to take up some public services. They want to have some kind of involvement in women’s organisations or some place in the women’s liberation movement. In some places, women even question male chauvinism and domination; in other places, people fight for equal rights.
I am not here to blame them. Modern women are highly educated. In some cases, they are more competent than men. Their level of concentration is better than men. The latest public examination results say that girls secured a higher percentage of marks than boys. The first ten ranks are earned by girls. So I don’t question their mental calibre. I don’t doubt their academic excellence. There is nothing wrong in that. Women should be given all preference; I don’t doubt it. But here Baba gives a direction to women. Take care of your home first: take care of your husband and your children. Take care of your home first! Charity begins at home. You cannot do public service while ignoring your own family. This is the second caution given to women by Bhagavan Baba.
The third guideline Swami gives to women is that there is nothing greater than taking care of your husband and your children. Nothing is greater than that! Therefore, to a housewife, to a married woman, the greatest and most important thing is to attend to her husband and children.
work with namasmarana is worship
This is the next point Swami makes to women. Sometimes women at home feel badly that they do not get to go to the temples, or have time for prayers, or time to do any spiritual practise. They may feel that they are not free to go around anywhere at anytime because of family responsibilities and their children. But Baba tells them—and all women please note this point—do your work at home while singing the glory of God; do namasmarana, sing some bhajans, praise His glory while attending to your work. Let Swami’s name go on and on in your tape recorder. Let the tape recorder play Swami’s bhajans. When you listen to that, you also start singing while you attend to your household work. There is no sadhana greater than this. When you do your work with bhajans, with namasmarana, that work is transformed into worship and you don’t need to do any other worship separately. That is what Baba has said.
EVERY ACTION IS SPIRITUAL
Then what else does Swami say to women? “You have to clean the floor: take the broomstick and sweep it and then mop the floor!” Women do that. Swami says, “Oh women, when you sweep the ground, when you mop the floor, understand that you are not only removing the dust, you are not only removing all of the dirt and dust, but you are also removing the dirt within, the dust within, the bad qualities within.” So externally you are cleaning the house, while internally you are cleaning yourself. Therefore, the physical activity of cleaning the ground has a spiritual implication of cleaning one’s own heart.
Who can give spiritual explanations to these mundane, domestic activities other than Baba? Therefore my friends, my intention is to let you know how Swami spiritualises our lives, how Swami divinises our lives. Spirituality and religion cannot be restricted to a day like Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. No! Every moment is spiritual; every action is spiritual. That’s how Swami explains it.
expansion of love is life
Here in India, particularly in North India, most of the people eat chapattis. First, a small amount of water is added to flour. Then they go on expanding it, and finally put it on the pan to fry with just a little oil; that chapatti made of wheat flour is very healthy! So the wheat flour just gets expanded into a triangular or circular shape called ‘chapatti’. Swami says that as you make chapattis, the wheat flour expands; this is the physical experience. But as spiritual awareness, it is not only the wheat flour that expands into a chapatti; you also have broad-mindedness or expansion of love within your heart!
Expansion of love is life; contraction is death. So, as you make chapattis, understand that you are broadening your heart, that you are widening your understanding so that you become broad-minded like the chapatti. That’s how you can spiritualise making chapattis.
cut the bad qualities within you
Then Swami speaks of vegetable cutting. Women at home cut vegetables to make a curry. Swami says not to do it mechanically. Don’t take it as monotonous and boring. Don’t make it simply a repetitive act. No! It has a spiritual implication. You take the knife and cut the vegetables into pieces, right? You fry them and make it into curry, am I right?
Similarly, as you cut the vegetables, understand that you are cutting out the bad qualities within you like desires, ego, avarice and anger. So many rotten ‘vegetables’ are inside and these vegetables have to be cut out or removed totally. So externally you cut vegetables for cooking, while internally you cut to remove any rotten, spoilt ‘vegetables’ like anger, avarice, greed, lust and all those things.
See that! What a wonderful explanation it is! Then what is the knife with which you cut these vegetables? Spiritually, that knife is the knife of wisdom. With the knife of wisdom, exercising discrimination, you cut off all these bad qualities within you. That’s the explanation.
The process of cooking is sadhana
Then what do the women do next? After cutting vegetables, they wash them in water. They wash them thoroughly. What is that water spiritually? That water is love! They clean them, cleanse them and then what do they do? They keep these cut vegetables on the fire and boil them; that is the normal cooking process. But what is this fire? The fire of knowledge! The fire of awareness! Therefore, the cooking process is the process of awareness, the process of discrimination and removing any bad qualities.
To repeat, when we cut vegetables, we cut out our bad qualities. With the knife of wisdom, you cut these vegetables. Then while washing the vegetables outside, wash within yourself with the water of love.
Do you have anybody who explains cooking spiritually like Baba? Nobody! It’s an open challenge! Nobody has ever explained cooking spiritually like Baba, because He is the Avatar of this Golden Age. Baba of the Golden Age brings philosophy to your doorstep. Baba brings religion right into your kitchen. So apply this to your daily life activity and situations.
I don’t know how many of you eat rice, but there are some rice-eating people here. What do women do? They take the rice, and remove the small, small stones and pebbles. While cleaning rice, they keep the rice on a broad tray like this. After removing the small, small stones or pebbles, the rice is clean, and only then they boil it. That is how the rice is cooked. Just as you remove the small, small stones out of the rice, you can remove the small, small bad qualities from within you. Just as the rice is free from little stones, your heart should be free from any little pebbles of bad qualities. That’s what Baba says.
Finally my friends, Baba makes a very encouraging statement to all women. What does He say? He says, “Don’t think of it as domestic work, don’t think of it as household work, and don’t think that you are a cook. No! All your household duties are spiritual. The whole of domestic work is spiritual. The entire kitchen is full of spiritual work. The whole process of cooking is sadhana.” What a beautiful statement it is! Nobody needs to be frustrated because of tiresome, laborious, mechanical, and routine work, continuously in the kitchen. No! It is not mechanical work; it is spiritual work. So the household work is spiritual if it is done with awareness. That’s what Baba says.
qualities of an ideal householder
Then Swami speaks of the master or husband, how he should be and how he should behave. The master of the house, the head of the family, the man, how should he behave? Let us question ourselves. Are we behaving properly? You call yourself the master, but you are not a master; you are a slave, a slave to all bad habits. Being a slave, you spend time in bad company. You and I are not true masters.
Swami wants a husband to be an ideal master, an ideal husband, an ideal householder. How to be a householder? What are the qualities of a householder? Baba tells us these things, my friends.
We often only think that Baba materialises vibhutti, rings, watches, and chains. Yes, He does! But He gives messages also. These gifts are given to individuals, but His message is for the entire humanity. His message gives a direction and reminds you of your duties and responsibilities. So Baba’s views on a housewife and on a householder are important. What does He expect of a householder, the master or husband? What are the qualities he should have? Swami explains point-by-point.
The first point is that the master of the house, the head of the family, the man should be equal to everybody. He should love everybody, and have equal care and concern for everybody. He cannot show feelings like ‘mine and thine’, ‘my people’ and ‘your people’. No! He should be equal to everybody. He should be caring and loving towards everyone. That’s the first quality of the master or head of the family.
Secondly, being the husband and the master of the house, he should behave politely and respectfully towards his parents. Elders are there in joint families: mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandfather and grandmother. In joint families, so many people live together; so I should be respectful towards my parents, so that my children will learn how to respect me tomorrow. I should correct my children, I should train my children. I should love my children, but I should be serviceable and respectful to my parents. So a householder should know how to behave towards youngsters, and how to treat elders. That’s the next quality Baba speaks about.
A householder should have consideration for all creatures. Some have pet dogs, some have birds, and some have pet cats. He should understand that we all belong to the whole universe. The whole world is our family. Be considerate towards animals. They belong to our family and we belong to their family. Have love towards plants; love plants and do some gardening! Love flowers, love Nature. That is the quality of a householder.
Also, people may seek your help: a man who wants food may come to you. A man who needs your help may come to you. Therefore, understand that you should be very considerate, that you should be serviceable; that it is your duty to give relief to a person who is suffering. You should be of help if a person needs you at that hour. This is the next quality of a householder.
Swami also wants for us to have some scriptural knowledge in all our families. If we are Christian, go through the Bible; if Muslim, read the Quran; if you are a Hindu, definitely read the Bhagavad Gita every day. Scriptural knowledge, scriptural awareness, scriptural dictates and scriptural commands must be followed. Scripture throws much light on our families. This is the next duty of every householder.
behavE appropriateLY ACCORDING to our age
We should also learn how to behave appropriately according to our age. At the stage of being unmarried, celibate or brahmacharya, you are expected to study. You are expected to complete your education. You are expected to be skilled and talented. You have to equip yourself with an education, focusing your attention on that. After this comes grihasta, the married state, being a householder. At that stage, one should have the qualities of a householder. The third stage is the recluse or vanaprasta: a retired person who will simply distribute work and supervise, leaving time for constant contemplation of God. The final stage is that of renunciation or sanyasa, where one has no thought other than the Divine. These are the four stages in the life of everyone: first, brahmacharya or celibacy; second, grihastha or householder; third, vanaprasta, meaning a recluse or retired person; and fourth, sanyasa or total renunciation.
So let us behave as our age demands. You cannot expect me at this age to go around with a walking stick, wearing shorts, whistling, or looking at all the girls; you don’t expect me to act like that! You expect me to behave in a mature way, in a responsible way. So everyone should act appropriate to his age. Then only will he be respected. Then only will the dignity of the individual be maintained. Then, as a householder or master of the house, you should love everybody. Love your wife, love your children, and love your relations. Be of help to them, be of service to them. This is very important.
THE four goals of life
There is every need to put under check the eight forms of ego–what we call ashtamadha, the ego of beauty, the ego of family and the ego of scholarship. There are eight types of expressions of ego. As a householder, we should keep that ego always under control or check.
As the householder—and we are all householders or members of a family—we should all be experts in achieving the four goals of life. There are four goals of life or purusharthas. What are they? Dharma or righteousness, artha or wealth, kama or desire, and moksha or liberation. These are the four fundamental things to be acquired (chaturvidha), the four purusharthas or forms of pursuits or goals in life.
What is the first one? Dharma! Righteously, you should get the second one—namely, artha or wealth. You should have money earned by following the rightful way, by being honest: dharma–artha, dharma–kama. With this rightfulness, with this right conduct and right attitude, you should get your desires or kama fulfilled. Finally, you will have moksha, liberation. These are the four pursuits of life.
Then Swami says that none of us should give any room for any kind of ego. No! Because of ego, male domination came into the picture. Because of ego, there is a generation gap in our family. Let there not be any gap. When there is no ego, there is no clash because when there is no ego, there is no difference of opinion; there are no controversies. There will be perfect understanding. That’s what Swami says.
Who is a householder? Baba gives a beautiful definition: an ideal couple, where the husband understands the wife completely, and the wife adjusts to her husband totally. Perfect understanding and total adjustment is present in an ideal couple. This is what Baba says.
husband and wife are branches of two different trees
Now there are two points I want to impress upon you. Before marriage, who is the husband? Who is the wife? Who knows whom? No husband knows his wife before the wedding. No wife ever knows her husband before the wedding in arranged marriages. Where there is dating and romance, that’s a different thing. In arranged marriages, the situation is different. They don’t know each other. She belongs to one family, and he belongs to another family.
Now what does Baba say? Here there is a river that is flowing continuously. Here are the trees on the shore of the river. A branch from this tree breaks and falls down into the river. Similarly, another branch from that tree breaks and falls down into the same river. This branch belongs to this tree and that branch belongs to another tree. Two branches of different trees fall down on the surface of the river and are being carried away by the flowing waters. As the river flows, these two pieces of wood are also flowing, speeding up and going ahead.
Baba says that this piece of wood is the husband, belonging to one tree. And that piece of wood belongs to another family, another tree. Now they are going together because they happen to be husband and wife. So they go together, they travel together. Suddenly what happens? A big wave emerges! A big wave emerges and separates these two branches. One branch goes this way, and the other branch goes that way.
Similarly, husband and wife got together. They live together, but they don’t die on the same day. Their lives do not conclude on the same day. One may die earlier than the other. Then their lives are separated. Branches of two different trees travelling together get separated later on. That is the drama of life: they are together as long as they are flowing, until a wave separates them. Similarly, family life is like a river. The two wood pieces are husband and wife until death drifts them apart. What is there? This truth has to be known from the beginning, so that there is no chance of lamenting later for any kind of separation to follow.
family life is divinely ordained
Then there are some people who say that family life is an obstacle to the spiritual life. Nonsense! Total ignorance! Family life is not an obstacle; family life is not an objection; family life is not a speed-breaker; family life is not negative. Family life is divinely ordained. Family life is divinely planned, willed and executed.
So during family life, we cultivate so many good qualities of understanding, such as listening to each other, working as a team, and respecting each other. Now what does Swami say about it? Here is a big tree like a banyan tree. It’s a hot summer. So we all gather under this huge tree because it is very hot outside. Under this tree we take shelter. After some time, we go away from the tree. Similarly, this tree of life gives shelter to all of us, but we may have to leave at any time, when our life comes to an end.
Not only that, Baba says another thing. This tree that gives shelter to everybody is not proud of anything; it is not boastful of anything. It will never say, “I have given shelter.” But you and I may say, “I am giving shelter to my wife, I am giving shelter to my children.” It is ridiculous!
Because of all these attachments, we are close to misery. Attachment is bondage, attachment is worry, attachment is sorrowful, and attachment is misery. Just as a tree gives shelter for a while but later people walk away from it, similarly, under the tree of my life, wife and children get some shelter before going on their own way. Later they go their own way. I am not expecting anything. This is the spiritual way of looking at life.
Then, Swami gives another very good point. Some people think that they are not able to do sadhana because of their married life. They are wrong. Why? Swami gives this example. I wear these glasses so that whatever I see will be clearer, better than without the glasses. Without glasses, my vision may not be clear. With glasses, I will have perfect vision.
Similarly, family life is like wearing glasses: you have better vision, a better picture of the surroundings, of Nature, of community, of society. Are glasses an obstacle? No! If you need glasses and wear them, you will have better vision. Similarly, with the glasses of family life, let us have a true perspective of the community, of family life.
Let these glasses of awareness take every one of us closer and closer to God. Let these glasses of Divinity help us to see God in our wife, in our children, and amongst our relations. It is upon this spiritual background that peace, harmony, unity and love can be established in every family.
May Baba bless all housewives, all working women! May Baba bless all husbands, the masters of the family, so that every couple can be the ideal Sai couple and every home an ideal Sai home. Let every husband or master be an ideal man. Let every activity done in the family be spiritual.
May Bhagavan help us to build that spiritual home, to get to that stage of spiritual family, to evolve to that level, so as to be role models to everybody in the community.
May Bhagavan bless you! Thank you very much.
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya
Om Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu
Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu
Samastha Loka Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
© Copyright Prof. Anil Kumar Kamaraju, Puttaparthi. All rights reserved.