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Date: 26 April 1965  Occasion: Upanaya Ceremony Place: Prasanthi Nilayam

The basic hypocrisy

 Divine Discourse
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

This day as well as yesterday, pandits spoke to you about Sanathana Dharma (the Eternal Religion, Eternal Righteousness) and its greatness. I too shall speak only about that, for, there is nothing more important than that dharma for material and spiritual happiness. Sanathana Dharma calls on you to revere the acharya (teacher), for he is seeking to save you from disaster, the flood of birth and death into which you are slipping, through ignorance. Eetha, or swimming, you have to learn to escape from the swollen river; the Gita or the Lord's Teaching you have to learn to escape from the swirling torrent of birth death. The guru points out the guri (goal) to you; he reveals the Atmathathwam (the Atma Principle). A man struggling in a bog cannot be saved by another who is also caught in its slime. Only one standing on firm ground can pull him out. So the guru must have a secure footing, above and beyond the slush of samsara (objective world). The rishis (sages) struggled with themselves and elevated themselves into the purer regions of thought, to discover their own truth. They felt the thrill of that discovery and sang of the freedom they gained. These songs serve as signposts and all who derive benefit therefrom have to acknowledge the debt. How to repay the rishi-rna, the debt of the rishis? By study, by reflection on what they have sung of their liberation, by practicing the sadhana (spiritual exercises) they adopted, by proving them right out of your own experience.

There are also three other rnas, or debts, mentioned in the scriptures: pithr-rna, mathr-rna and Deva-rna, the debt of the father, of the mother, and of the Gods. Once there was a great sage named Uddalaka, famous for his scholarship. He had a son, Swethakethu, and a daughter, Sujatha. Among his disciples was Kahodaka, a young man who was well behaved, virtuous, devoted to the teacher, and earnest in his studies. Bu he could not keep pace with the other bright lads, so became the target for taunts. The guru loved him all the more on account of this. Sympathy with his lot grew into grace; grace resulted in the guru offering his own daughter in marriage to Kahodaka! While Sujatha was enceinte, Kahodaka recited the Vedas as laid down in the disciplinary rules, but within hearing of the child growing in the womb. It heard the recitation but, since it was already aware of the correct pronunciation of every syllable, whenever Kahodaka spelt a syllable wrong, it squirmed in distress. So, when the baby was born, it had eight bends, crooked in eight places, in fact! Naturally, he was named eight bends, or Ashtavakra.

When Ashtavakra was still in the womb, Sujatha had persuaded her husband to seek some monetary help from King Janaka to relieve their dire poverty, and when Kahodaka went to Mithila, in the midst of a big yaga (sacrifice) that the king was celebrating, he had to stay on till it finished; later, he was forced by circumstances to join a competitive disputation with a celebrated scholar called Vaandena and accept the terms laid down by the challenger, namely, whoever gets defeated in argument was to be thrown into the sea.

Meanwhile, Ashtavakra, in spite of his physical deformity, became an erudite pandit, full of intricate scholarship, even while in his teens. His father's fate was kept from the lad by both Sujatha and Swethakethu for many years, but, one day, he was taunted by someone as one who was ignorant of his father's fate, and the sad tale was revealed to the son. Immediately, he proceeded to Mithila and sought entrance into the audience-hall of King Janaka. The guards laughed when he wanted them to report to the King that a Vedic scholar eager for disputation with the court pandits had come. They slighted him for his tender age, but he said that age was no criterion. At last, he pleaded that his deformity, at least, entitled him to hospitality and sympathy.

Janaka was struck by the boy's persistence and courage; he ordered him to be admitted and arranged the disputation the boy sought! If I start telling you the absurd questions that the court pandits teased him with and the replies with which Ashtavakra sparred them with, it will take so much time that perhaps we will have to sit beyond Sivarathri even! Janaka tried his best to dissuade him; he told him that he was too young to risk death in the sea. But Ashtavakra argued that Atmavidya (knowledge of Atma) does not take account the dehathathwam, the physical principle of the body. Vaandeena entered the fray with the deformed lad resplendent with spiritual scholarship; to the great astonishment of all, the boy gained the upper hand; the aged pandit squirmed under the questions; he failed; he had to be thrown into the sea; the deformed son of Kahodaka had triumphed over the victor who had consigned his father to the waves. The mother was delighted that her son had discharged the debt and retrieved the honor of the line.

The father must encourage the son by example more than precept. Prahlada told his father that only the parent who directs his progeny to God deserves obedience and respect. All others are, so far the sons are concerned, human ogres like Hiranyakasipu. Some parents are sorry that their sons are coming to Puttaparthi and dread that they would start doing puja (worship) or japam (soft prayer) or namasmarana (repetition of God's name) and give up the habits of smoking or drinking or gambling, which they have learnt from their fathers! Such do not know the value of sathsanga (company of the good), for peace and happiness. They fail to equip their children or themselves with armor against the blows of fate or fortune.

The Gayatri mantra develops the dhee sakthi, or power of discrimination, so its consequence will be the giving up of evil company and the seeking of kindred souls. If sathsang is not available, you can keep company with your own higher impulses and noble thoughts. Dive deep into your own divinity. The crocodile is happy and unharmed, it is undefeatable in the depths of the lake or river. Once it sprawls on land, it becomes the plaything of man, an easy target for death. The depths: they are your refuge, the source of your strength. Do not stray into the shallows or the sands. You know that the garuda bird feeds on snakes. Well, once the garuda went to Kailasa Mount to pay respects to Siva, who wears snakes on His head, arms, wrists, neck, waist, and ankles. When the snakes saw garuda, they were unafraid; they even dared put out their forked tongues at garuda and challenged it to come near them. That was the extent of the courage lent to them by the place where they had established themselves, So, establish yourselves in the Atma; no worry or grief or pride can harm you then.

Several types of prema (love) were spoken about today, but, all types are based on the 'I' feeling; it is like a drama in a film story, a plot within a plot. You must feel that all this is just a passing show, that you are the central figure, the only figure, the entire figure. Thathwam asi (that thou art). That is this. The external world is fundamental. One is really Brahmam, appearing as many. Thwam is you, yourself. And, what does the experience of all the sages tell them? What is the profound discovery embodied in the wisdom of the Vedas? Thath is thwam, thwam is Thath; there is no second, there is only One.

If you act or feel or talk contrary to your nature you demean yourself, you deny your reality. The Brahmathathwam (Brahman Principle) is vimalam (pure), achalam (unshakable); be pure and unshakable. It is thrigunarahitham, devoid of qualities (dull active or balanced); it is pure consciousness. You too must not be agitated by the storms of feeling or the fog of dullness and sloth. Play your role, as a puppet does; the unseen Director unfolds the drama, which He has willed.

Once it happened that a village drama, Harischandra, was put on boards, with Harischandra and his son, Lohithaksha, selected from one of the two rival fractions and Chandramathi being acted by a man from the other! Lohithaksha fell dead, bitten by a cobra, as required by the drama, and Chandramathi, the mother, had to wail. Everyone expected the actor to do that very realistically; but, since the boy belonged to the rival party, Chandramathi refused to weep! This led to a minor riot; the 'puppets' had deluded themselves into attachment. They had failed to remember that they were acting 'roles'. This is the basic hypocrisy; claiming to be a character in the play but not speaking the lines, not exhibiting emotions, not going through the movements, and not making the role a success. Many pandits claim to be exponents of the Vedas and Sastras, but it is not what they teach that tells but how they live. Many sing the glory of the Lord, but few live in His constant Presence and in the constant awareness of that glory that fills the Universe. "Udipi Krishna", they sing --but they don't make their hearts Udipi, so that Krishna may come and be installed therein.

There are certain special hours when you have to perform sandhya and repeat the Gayatri. This is very good discipline. Just before the sun rises, the morning rite has to be gone through. Jonnalagadda Sathyanarayanamurthy described very poetically the calmness, the color, the eloquent silence of those hours, the waking birds and flowers, the earth that thrills to the touch of dew--that is the time when you too should acclaim the rising sun with the Gayatri. Yesterday, one speaker described the Gayatri as equal to Ramanama; today, another Sastry said it was the elaboration of Krishnanama and the Bhagavatha; I ask you to fix your mind on any name of the Lord that brings up into your consciousness the Glory and the Grace of the Lord. Also, train your hands to do acts that serve the Lord, which shines in every being. All men are He; He shaves as the barber, He makes pots as the potter; He starches and irons clothes as the dhobi (washerman). He prompts, He inspires, He devises, He fulfils. You take a sheet of paper on which My Form is printed, as Myself; you revere It; you fall to the ground before It in reverence; why cannot you then revere all human beings, believing that I am in each of them, in an even clearer Form?

The Gayatri is a prayer for the development of your intellect, so that you might reach this Vision. So let Me advise the elders who are here, this. You have brought your sons or grandsons or wards here, to My presence, for Upanayanam and Gayathri-upadesam. You are happy at their fortune; but they will repeat the mantra only if you also repeat it, sincerely. And it is good for you also. Repent, therefore, that you have given up taking that priceless drug; start the sandhyavandanam (morning, noon, and evening prayers) from today. Learn it from your son or grandson, keeping aside your sense of superiority. When you have the royal road to reach the Goal, why scramble through thorny jungle tracks? Do the sandhya as prescribed, and you will find a calm descending inside you, a calm that will not be shaken by any storm. You need not flee to a Himalayan valley; you can make your heart that Valley, by the discipline of the sandhya.