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Name of Sai - The Key to Liberation

What does Aradhana (Divine Adoration) mean? It is not mere offering of worship with the paraphernalia of rituals. Aradhana is unification of the hearts. To attain Oneness through unity is Aradhana. To experience the bliss of the Self is Aradhana. Recognizing unity in diversity is Aradhana.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, May 22, 1993 

As we offer this issue with love and gratitude on the occasion of Aradhana Mahotsavam to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, let us dwell on the glory and power of the Divine name – SAI.

The Vedas describe the primordial sound of Om as the source of all creation. The symbol Om represents the sound aspect of Nirguna, Nirakara Brahman – namely the attributeless, formless God. This is the reality, which is beyond name, form, attributes, time, space, and causation. In the Gospel of John, it is mentioned that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna emphasizes the power of Om and assures that those who chant Om at the moment of death will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death (Chapter 8:13). Also, in the Bhagavad Gita, (Chapter 8:5), the Lord promises that those who think of Him at the last moment of their life will merge with God, realizing their oneness with God.

Jivanmukta (liberated while alive)

In this issue, we include a letter by Swami written to His students and teachers, advising that those who have the name of Sai on their lips will be jivanmuktas – liberated while alive. That is the power of His name. The spiritual seekers all over the world, over many millennia, have found solace in the name of God. People of all faiths and religions – Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and others have found that God and His name are not different, and they attained the supreme goal of Self-realization just by the repetition of the name.

Japa (repetition of Divine name)

This constant repetition of the name of God, or japa, can be done in different ways, with the help of a rosary to keep count in the beginning, or chanting aloud (vachika japa), individually or together as a group. As we progress, the repetition of the name, or japa, becomes subtle. The next stage is called upamsu japa, where we see the movement of the lips, but the repetition is done in silence. Next, it is internalized and becomes manasika japa, or mental repetition of the name, where only the person doing japa is aware of it. Finally, the practice becomes so intense with constant repetition of God’s name that it becomes ajapa japa – the repetition of name continues by itself without even the conscious awareness of the seeker. The greatest example, which Swami often mentioned, is that of Lord Hanuman. Every cell of his body was reverberating with the name of Sri Rama, His beloved Lord.

In this issue, we share the stories of two Sai devotees who practiced the repetition of the name. The more we practice this, the more it becomes part and parcel of our daily sadhana (spiritual practice). In one example, the devotee, without his volition, was repeating the name of Sai spontaneously. Swami teaches us to have “Head in the forest and hands in the society.” Swami said that even though we are in the midst of intense activities at home, at work, at school or in society, we should practice chanting God’s name continuously.

The name of God is powerful by itself. But Swami emphasized that we should not only chant the name but know its meaning and chant it with love for maximum benefit.

Om Sri Sai Ram

He also said that those who chant His name constantly will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. The name many Sai devotees around the world often chant is “Om Sri Sai Ram” – and we will focus on the meaning and true import of this mantra.

In the sacred mantra of ‘Om Sri Sai Ram,’ ‘Om’ represents the attributeless, formless, reality which is the primordial sound. It encompasses all names and forms of God – it is all in one, one in all, all in all, and beyond all. The second word of the mantra is ‘Sri,’ which represents auspiciousness and prosperity. The next word ‘Sai’ connotes the Divine father and mother. It comprises of two syllables ‘Sa’ and ‘Ayi’ – which represent the masculine and feminine aspects of Divine reality, respectively. Finally, the last word of this mantra, ‘Rama,’ consists of two syllables – ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma.’ Swami beautifully explained that these two syllables are derived from two powerful mantras — ‘Ra’ from the second syllable of the eight-letter mantra, Om Namo NaRAyanaya, and ‘Ma’ comes from the second syllable of the five-letter mantra, Om NaMAh Shivaya. ‘Rama’ thus brings together the power of chanting these two mantras: representing the auspicious, all-pervading supreme Divinity. This is the basis for the potency of chanting ‘Om Sri Sai Ram.’

Three Yogas

In addition, Swami explained that ‘Sai’ means mother and ‘Baba’ means father. So, He is our Divine mother, showering infinite love and compassion, and Divine father, constantly guiding and guarding us. SAI also represents the three aspects of spiritual practices – Service (Karma Yoga); Adoration (Bhakti Yoga); and Illumination (Jnana Yoga). Service done selflessly gets rid of our ego and purifies the heart, so that we can experience Divinity. Adoration is the path of bhakti or path of love. Swami said that love is the source, love is the path, and love is the goal. He also said that love is the most powerful spiritual practice that will take us to the supreme goal of life. Love is also the undercurrent of all the universal human values, which Swami emphasized. Finally, Illumination, or the path of Jnana, leads us to realize that we are the Atma (Divine Self), we are Brahman, and we are Divine love. When we perform these three major spiritual practices individually or in combination as integral yoga, our lives get sanctified and transformed.

This transformation also has triple aspects, represented by S-A-I — Spiritual-Association-Individual. First, it brings ‘Spiritual transformation,’ and we realize that we are the Atma and not this body and mind. Then follows ‘Association transformation’ which means transformation in our family, work, society, and nation. And finally, we reach or gain ‘Individual transformation.’ Our heart expands with love and is filled with love. We develop pure love, and we realize that purity is enlightenment. Then, instead of going outwards, we go inwards and See Always Inside (SAI). Our mind and senses take us outwards, away from God and when we go inwards, we go toward God. The great scripture, Kathopanishad says that he who turns inwards is a great hero. Sadhana is thus considered an inward path.

Satchitananda (Being-Awareness-Bliss)

When we do these sadhanas, finally we realize that Sai and I are one. With eyes closed or open, we realize that everything is Brahman and every cell, every atom, every moment is permeated by the Divine — seeing God everywhere and in everything. We realize Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma (Everything is Brahman). We experience ‘BABA,’ that is, Being-Awareness-Bliss-Atma. We know that we are Satchitananda (Existence-Awareness-Bliss). This is the power of the elixir of the Divine name. Many great saints and sages, such as Namdev, Mirabai, Thyagaraja, and great Christian and Sufi mystics attained God-realization by chanting the sweet name of God with love and joy. The Way of a Pilgrim, a spiritual classic, exhorts spiritual seekers to pray unceasingly in order to get completely immersed in God. Then we realize the truth, as Jesus proclaimed, “I and my father are one.”

Repetition of the name not only helps and protects us in this earthly sojourn, but more importantly, it grants liberation itself. Let us take to these spiritual practices and intensify our sadhana so that we reach the goal supreme, Self-realization, in this life itself.

Jai Sai Ram.

It is only when you are happy that you can make others happy. What is happiness? It is union with God. By chanting the name of God, you will experience happiness.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, February 25, 1998