|Date: 23 May 2002||Occasion: Summer Course||Place: Prasanthi Nilayam|
A tree can be fashioned without any twist and turn,
A stone can be fashioned without any defect.
Can we fashion the mind, without any defect?
The word of Sai is the word of truth.
Embodiments of love!
Our warden has asked me to talk about the three akashas (infinities). That which cannot be seen by the eye, that cannot be heard by the ear, and that cannot be expressed by words characterizes the realm of akasha. It cannot be comprehended by the mind either. The sun and the moon, the clouds and the stars belong to the realm of akasha. There are three akashas: bhutakasha, chittakasha, and chidakasha.
The bhutakasha envelops the visible and the invisible phenomenon. For example, some stars are visible in the sky; but there are many more that remain invisible. The distance between the earth and the sun is about nine crores and eleven lakh miles. The bhutakasha spreads over an extent that is impossible to calculate. The sun is a star ,and there are countless other stars scattered in the cosmos. They match our own sun in size. Since they are so far away, they appear like tiny stars to us. Each star shines with the splendour of the sun. The light of these stars travels at an incredible speed of 16,000 crores of miles per second! There are other stars whose light has not yet reached the earth.
The light emanating from the stars is stupendous in its intensity. The brilliance cannot be withstood by anything or anyone on the earth. Our sun imparts only a portion of its radiance to earth. Neither the huge stars nor the sun and the moon are capable of generating this effulgence on their own. There is a fundamental power that is the basis of all this. It is the basic illumination from which the rest of the brilliance originates. This primordial power is that of the Atma. It allows the stars, sun, and moon to shine.
All these mentioned above are encompassed in the bhutakasha. What is chittakasha then? Since everything that is visible is bhutakasha, it cannot be argued that those invisible belong to chittakasha. There is a power that is invisible, silent, imperceptible, and eternal. This power is the chittakasha. In it is reflected or imprinted everything that is seen is bhutakasha. The span of the chittakasha is very small and subtle. On the other hand, the gross and visible bhutakasha spans a terrific extent. Yet, the entire contents of bhutakasha appear in the chittakasha as small blips! For example, you see a huge mountain. When you close your eyes after seeing it, you will be able to visualize the image of the mountain from the chittakasha. Similarly, the stars and sky and all that is seen are permanently etched on the chittakasha.
The exact physical extent and dimensions of the bhutakasha have not been estimated to date. But something can be known of the chittakasha. The entire visible creation is stored in chittakasha in a subtle form. Every form and sound in the chittakasha is a reflection of some entity in the bhutakasha. Bhutakasha is physically perceptible. That which is mentally perceptible is chittakasha.
The third is called chidakasha. It is also called Atma. Atma has no form. It has no movement. It is without any attributes, ever effulgent, eternal, victorious, pure, unsullied, and everlasting. He who has seen this chidakasha is one who has had the experience of Atma. No educational qualifications, scholarship, or special abilities are required to see chittakasha. On the other hand, none can see even the reflection or shadow of chidakasha, however strenuous the effort.
The distance of several stars from the earth is measurable. But there are many more stars that are so far away that they are beyond any human estimation. Scientists have made several attempts to investigate such a phenomenon. They attempted to reach the chidakasha with their scientific examinations. All their efforts can take them at most till the chittakasha, and not a step more. Chidakasha couldn't be adequately described even by the Vedanta. Science also fails in its efforts. However, pointers are to some extent available from Vedanta on chidakasha. The reflection of bhutakasha is chittakasha. That which reflects chittakasha itself is chidakasha. The relation between the three is explained as follows:
1. The one you think you are is bhutakasha because it contains all that you see, hear, and experience.
2. The one that others think you are is the chittakasha, because it reflects in your mind's eye whatever you contemplate on.
3. The one you really are is the chidakasha or the principle of Atma, your true nature. It is Divine Bliss.
Bliss, I, reflection of Divinity, and Atma all are mean the same. 'I' is related exclusively to the Atma. 'I' is a single lettered word. The Vedas declare " Ekam sat vipahraha bahuda vadanti". 'I' is the truth. It is interpreted in several ways by scholars. I may call "Anil Kumar", and the reply comes 'I'. I may call "Girigaru" --once again the reply comes from the other side, 'I'. In this way I may call out the names of several lakhs of people; the reply is always 'I'. This unity in diversity is 'I'. It is the Atmatatwa. It can't be explained as being the sky or earth etc. It is so infinitely expansive that it has no measure at all. Scholars therefore say, "Akasam gaganam sunyam." There is nothing but empty space in which you may see a few stars and clouds. But to what extent can you see them? Only up to a certain distance. Anything beyond that is invisible to your eyes. That which can't be seen but only visualized is chittakasha. 'I' also cannot be visualized. None can give its true meaning.
However, Vedanta always propounds unity in diversity through all its teachings. For instance the phrase "Aham Bramhasmi" translates to 'I am Brahma'. The word Brahma follows the single letter 'I'. Any other word has to follow Aham. Without the letter 'I', the word Atma can't appear. Brahma is originated from 'I'. Therefore, the letter 'I' signifies the primordial principle.
Vedanta advises that though one may have read scriptures and texts, one should still make every effort to find out their true nature. One should repeatedly ask oneself, "Who am I?" This question cannot be answered with your scholarship or practical applications. When asked "Who are you?" you reply, "I am Anil Kumar". To whom is the name "Anil Kumar" given? Your parents have given that name to your body. What was your name before you were so christened? There is no answer. Therefore all names are only given; none of them were born with you. They were all added to you at the time of your birth for identifying you in this material world. They don't establish your true identity. Atma has no fixed name. It is its own identity. It has no other form.
Bhutakasha and chittakasha can be discussed and studied up to some extent. However chidakasha has no form or attribute. What form and name can you assign to the formless one? It is therefore its own identity. No one is able to comprehend the true meaning of the word 'I'. 'I' should not be confused with ego. Ego has form, but not 'I'. Vedanta describes 'I' by negation. It is not ether, ego, sound, or any such thing.
A master once asked his disciple to find out who he really was. The next day, the disciple appeared and said, "Sir, I've found the answer. My name is Ramaiah."
The master once again asked him, "Who are you?" After further enquiry, the answer came, "I am the son of Mallaiah, and my mother's name is Pullamma."
These are all names of various bodies. None of them is your true identity because names relate to the body. They are useful for you to introduce yourself in the physical world. Only one name was born with you and not given. It is 'I'. Atma, 'I' all mean the same. Make efforts to realize the nature of 'I'. There is nothing else you need to know further. There is no need for you to say, "I am Ramaiah" when announcing your true identity. 'I' is itself enough. No other words need to follow 'I' to reinforce your identity. 'I' is unique and always single. Realising this is the secret contained in all of Vedanta.
Chidakasha has nothing to do with reflections, reactions, and resounds. It is beyond all three. It cannot be identified or comprehended with any name or form. At one point of time, in Uttar Pradesh, there was a bangle seller on the banks of river Ganges. One day, a radiant form emerged from the Ganges and asked him, "Sir, will you please sell me some bangles?"
The bangle seller complied, and taking out some bangles for her size, made her put them on. The form said, " I don't have the money for this bangles with me. However, I will give you an address and directions to reach the house. Go to the person and collect the money from him. He is my father."
The bangle seller then asked her, "Madam, what is your name? I will need to identify you at your house for collecting the money." The form replied, "You can tell them that my name is Ganga" and then vanished.
As directed, the bangle seller reached the house and told the owner that he had come to collect the money due to him from his daughter Ganga to whom he had sold some bangles. The astonished owner replied, "I am not even married. How can I then have a daughter and how would she buy bangles?"
The bangle seller replied, " The lady was certainly telling the truth. How else could I have discovered and found my way to your house? She even identified your name for me. Is this your name or not?" The person agreed that it was so.
The bangle seller argued, " If all this is true, the lady certainly was not lying." The house owner didn't even know that he had the amount with him. He searched in his locker and was astounded to find the amount there exactly as predicted.
This person was an ardent devotee of mother Ganges. He was thrilled and told the bangle-seller, "Sir! I worship mother Ganges. She is my patron deity. I have offered myself to her and have hence chosen to remain unmarried. I am eager to see the sacred spot where you saw my mother Ganges. Let us go!"
The bangle seller obliged and soon both arrived at the banks of the river. The bangle-seller ardently prayed, "Mother! You appeared to me and took the bangles. You guided me to your devotee's house to take the payment. Will you not appear again and show me your form? I have come to you with gratitude to tell you that I have received the payment due to me."
A voice replied, "Here is the blessing that I confer for your gratitude," and a hand emerged from the river, with the newly bought bangles adorning it!
The devotee saw the hand and was ecstatic. He exclaimed, "Mother! Won't you show me your true form and sanctify me?" He kept pleading and praying.
The voice replied, "Son! I cannot show any form to anybody. That is because I do not have a particular form. All forms that you can see are God's forms only! God can appear in any form that a devotee prays to Him to appear in. God Himself has no specific form or attribute. I showed you my hand filled with bangles just as a proof that I have indeed bought the bangles, and you must pay the bangle seller."
The devotee saw the hand; he was thrilled at the grace conferred on him and said, "Mother! I have seen at least your hand and have been sanctified! I don't want anything else in life". He fell into the Ganges and breathed his last.
Divinity always assumes the form that a devotee visualizes and prays for. None can actually fix and estimate what Divinity looks like, because there is no form at all! Ramakrishna Paramahamsa too had a similar experience. He was staying at Kamarpakur. He was gripped by a strong desire to have darshan of the Goddess Kali. Unable to bear the pain of separation anymore, he attempted to commit suicide by jumping into the Ganges. Surprisingly, however far he walked into the river, he found that the water came only up to his knees! He prayed, "O Mother of the universe! Why are you testing me so? Why don't you reveal your form to me? Why don't you allow me to merge in you? I am unable to bear this tortuous pain."
The mother Goddess replied, "Son! I can show you my form if I had one in the first place! I have no form for you to see. My only form is that of Atma. You can see any form that you think of. All the forms that you see are products of your illusion. None of them can be taken to be the true identity of Divinity."
You say that Rama or Krishna or Sai Baba, etc. have appeared before you. Several people make such claims. These are all figments of one's illusion (bhrama). As long as you have bhrama you will be far away from Brahma (Divinity). On the other hand if you have realized Brahma, bhrama can come nowhere near you. The need of the hour is therefore to overcome this illusion. Get rid off the body attachment. Cultivate attachment to the Atma instead. Your true identity is Atma. It has neither a name nor a form. It is the embodiment of bliss. Atma is therefore described as;
Nityanandam Parama Sukhadam Kevalam Gnanamurthym
Dwandwathetam Gaganasadrusham Tatwamatsyadi Lakshyam
Ekam, nityam, vimalam, achalam, sarvadi sakshibhutam.
Eternal bliss, supreme happiness, wisdom, non-dual, ethereal and ultimate, the single one, eternal, pure, immobile and eternal witness --these are the various names and descriptions of the Atma. However, it has no form. Hence, do not aim to see the form of God. Instead consider all the forms that you see to be that of God. Do not fix various forms as unique to God.
The feature of bhutakasha is that it encompasses the sun, the stars, and all the galaxies in it. Don't take these to be the permanent attributes of God! They will all perish someday, pass on, or change forms. They will withdraw themselves and disappear from creation itself at some point of time. There is only one thing that will always be with you, in you, around you, above you, and below you and that is bliss.
Bliss has no form. There is only one way to know it. People think that bursting out into laughter is bliss! Even laughter should not be a guffaw. How does Divinity laugh? It is by a delicate smile. No sound accompanies this smile. It is not a guffaw, but it confers plenty of joy to those who see it. Loud laughter is called a "prahasan" while the soundless smile is called "hasan". God always smiles and never laughs. What you see around you is an exercise in histrionics that is passed on as laughter. Seeing this, people imagine that God must also be laughing like this!
There is one aspect that you can use to identify Divinity: gratitude. God is giving you so many things. When you are not well, a doctor comes and gives you an injection. You pay the doctor his fees. Your expression of gratitude ends there. When you are hungry, you tell your mother that you would like to eat something. Your mother gives you some food that you relish with great joy. This itself is an expression of gratitude to your mother. You may be suffering. When someone comes and consoles you and gives you strength, you express gratitude to him. In this way, all help rendered is gratefully acknowledged without fail. This should be the custom. Unfortunately, there is no such tradition today.
God is giving you so much. You are getting free education, free medical aid, and free water. He is talking with you so freely and moving about amongst you so freely. He is giving you everything so 'free'! How do you express your gratitude for all these? You must give up your ego and spread happiness like He does. That will be the right thing to do. As it is said,
That heart that you have given me, O Lord!
I give it back to you, O mighty One!
What else can I offer you, my Master!
Except for my tears of gratitude, O Lord!
Accept them all with my heart.
It is these tears of joy and gratitude that you must offer to God. Without doing this, you will become an ungrateful wretch. You will collapse into the endless cycle of birth and death. Suffering and agony will shadow you. Your tears of gratitude will liberate you from all such problems. You will always be blissful, with cheerful smiles. This is the result of expressing your gratitude to God.
Once, there lived a devotee of Lord Krishna who spent his time constantly contemplating on Krishna's name. But he had a problem! Krishna was depicted in various ways in different pictures. Which form to select while contemplating on Lord Krishna? He could not decide. These photographs are artificially created ones. It is said, "Daivam manusha rupena (God is in the human form)." The crowns and jewels in the pictures are additions provided by artists; they are not His true form. His true nature is that He is ever smiling and is always making others smile! He is always blissful and presents bliss to others. That is the true hallmark of Lord Krishna. "Be happy; make others happy." It is a give-and-take philosophy! Give bliss and accept bliss in return. That is the only true form of gratitude you can express to God.
Without expressing your gratitude, you cannot aim to please God with anything that you may do. You will not attain any happiness in return. When you see your presiding deity, give a smile. Do not stand with a twisted face! With such a serious face, you can never hope to experience bliss. You must always be happy because bliss is your true nature. Always maintain a pleasant smile on your face. You may definitely face some problems and obstacles in life. Grief and sorrow may sometimes assail you. Don't break down and cry. These are things that come and go. They are passing clouds and will never stand permanently to trouble you. Don't bow to them; face them instead. A steady faith in God will give you the satisfaction of being a true devotee.
Today, you worry about your mother and father, kith and kin. How do you expect to attain happiness with so many worries? Who are your parents? They are the ones who gave you a physical body. Whose body is it? It is only a physical entity. Forget the body. Contemplate on Divinity instead. This is true devotion. Forget bhutakasha entirely, though it is what you actually see. Chittakasha can be relied on to the same extent. Once you assimilate everything in chittakasha, you will reach chidakasha. Hence, develop the capability to completely merge in chidakasha.
How will you visualize and merge into chittakasha?
I shall explain it in detail later. In this world, several scholars and experts explain Divinity quite extensively. However, Divinity that can be explained is not true Divinity! These are only descriptions and pointers to Divinity. They can easily make you happy or even delude you. But you must go beyond these and aim to see the reality that is "Tat". "Tat twam asi (Thou Art That)". "Thou" means "this". "That" is "Tat". Both should therefore become one.
In response to Narasimhamurthy's prayer, I have explained the three akashas of bhutakasha, chittakasha, and chidakasha to you. True "akasha" is "hridayakasha (the heart)". Chidakasha is vital and ultimate. Every attempt should be made to know its nature.