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Way to Liberation

We wish everyone a happy and holy New Year filled with love, peace, and bliss. Marking the transition to a new year is a tradition but Swami reminds us that every moment is new, and every second is new. Since New Year’s Day is an occasion to celebrate and sing His glories, thinking about Him every moment is the best way to welcome the New Year. Swami says that the day spent singing His glories, remembering Him, and telling His stories is the ‘real day,’ a day well spent; all other days are wasted ones.

We are the most blessed and fortunate in the history of mankind because we enjoyed and continue to enjoy the wonderful Darshan of God. In prior Yugas, people had to practice great austerities for long years for a momentary glimpse of God. Dhruva did penance for so many years for a glimpse of Vishnu. Shabari waited decades for a glimpse of Sri Rama. But we enjoyed so many Darshans of Swami and continue to receive His blessings through many photos and videos that He has gifted us, which no other Avatar left behind.

Just viewing His picture itself is having His Darshan. We are really blessed to have heard His name and to have seen Him. Most of all, we are fortunate to have heard His universal and eternal message because every word of Swami is the essence of sacred scriptures. He is the source of all knowledge. He is everything. We are mere puppets playing our roles according to the strings He pulls.

He assured us: “Mee intane ventane jantane kantane untanu - I will be resident of your home, accompanying you and be your eyes guiding you. Further, He promised, “I am there with you, inside you, beside you, above you, below you.” He is omnipresent. More and more people around the world are experiencing His glory and love in various ways since He left His body.

In order to experience Him and express our gratitude, we should practice His teachings. Swami implores, “If you really love Me, practice My teachings.”

Let us dive deep into a song that Swami Himself wrote - Sathya, dharmamu, shanthi, premalatho nee nithya jeevana yatra saginchu (Proceed with your daily pilgrimage of life, abiding by the principles of truth, right action, peace, and love). Swami not only composed it but also sang the song which consists of nine stanzas. This is a very appropriate song to begin the New Year with because it describes how we should lead our lives based on human values. In this beautiful song, Swami gives us the quintessence of Vedanta and how to reach the goal of life namely, liberation itself. Everybody makes resolutions on New Year’s Day. Let us make ours based on the fundamental principles espoused in this song.

Stanza 1

Sathya Dharmamu Shanthi Premalatho
Nee Nithya Jeevana Yatra Saginchu (Jeeva…)

O Jeeva (Embodied Soul)!
Carry on your daily life’s pilgrimage with Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Right action), Shanthi (Peace) and Prema (Love) as your companions/guides.

Yathna Prayatnamul Maanava Dharmamu
Jayapajayamulu Daivaadheenamu (Sathya Dharamu…)

Man’s duty is to put forth effort after effort.
Success or failure depends on God’s will.

This stanza encapsulates the essence of the song. Swami says that our life is a pilgrimage that we should complete by practicing the values of Sathya, Dharma, Shanthi, and Prema. He says very beautifully, Yathna Prayathnamul Maanava DharmamuOur duty is only to put forth the effort, and sincere effort.

In His writings in Prema Vahini, Swami notes that there are three types of people that can be recognized among those who seek to do good deeds and tread the path of self-realization.

  1. Those who are too frightened by troubles, losses, and difficulties to begin the endeavor. They are of the lowest type.
  2. Those who, after having undertaken the journey and gone some distance, are depressed and defeated by obstacles and disappointments and give up in the middle. They are of the middling type.
  3. Those who steadfastly adhere to the path with calmness and courage, whatever the nature of the travail, however hard the road; these are, of course, of the highest type. This steadfastness, this faith, and constancy is the characteristic of the devotee (bhakta).

That is why Swami says, “Effort and sincere effort is our duty.” But we must remember, Jayapajayamulu Daivaadheenamu—success and failure are in His hands. Some people think incorrectly that surrender means Swami will take care of the effort too. Swami did not say that we should surrender our effort. He only said to surrender the results of our effort. We must make a sincere effort and surrender the results to Him.

That is why Jesus also said, “Ask and it shall be given.” Let us go on asking. “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” We should go on knocking till He opens. He is so kind. But we need to have intense faith. He wants to see how sincere we are and how earnest our prayers are. That is why we should continue our efforts with determination.

Stanza 2

Bhakthithoda Bhagavanthuni Dalachuchu
Nithya Dharmamulu Nirvarthinchina
Atti Janakunaku Rajayogamuna
Andaraani Mokshambu Andene (Sathya Dharma…)

King Janaka attained the unattainable Moksha (liberation) by carrying out his royal duties, duly contemplating on God with devotion.

In this stanza, He gives the example of King Janaka, the father of Mother Sita. Janaka is also called Videha, the one who does not have body consciousness. Swami says he attained the highest goal—Moksha, liberation, by discharging his daily duties, while always remembering God with devotion.

This is the simplest path to our liberation. Bhagawan Baba says the mind should be saturated with thoughts of God while the hands should do God’s work – head in forest, hands in society. If we do that, He says, the results are assured.

Every work must be done to perfection. Swami did not say to do your best only for big things. Even a small act must be done to the best of our ability. Swami Vivekananda said a cobbler who makes the best pair of shoes is as great as the king who rules the kingdom. Whatever work we do, Swami expects us to do our best.

Swami assures us, “Constantly remembering God, do your work to the best of your ability and you will get Moksha (Liberation).”

Stanzas 3-4

Hridaya Bhoomulu Saagu-cheyandi
Mee Manasu Madakaga Gunamule Yeddul
Vivekamanu Chalakolanu Theesi
Vishaalamagu Mee Hrudayamu Dunnudu (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Cultivate the land of your hearts. With your mind as the plow, good qualities as the bullocks, discrimination as the whip, plough the extensive land of your hearts.

Manava dhairyame Manchi Yeruvuga
Premadharale Panta-vittuluga
Bhakthe Varshamu Bhaavame Kalupulu
Brahmaanandame Pandedi Panta (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Man’s courage is good manure. The streams of love are the seeds to be sown; devotion is the rain. Remove the weeds of unwanted ideas/emotions and reap the rich harvest of Brahmananda (Divine Bliss).

In the previous stanza, Swami describes how we can attain Moksha. In stanzas 3 and 4, He discusses Brahmananda, Supreme Bliss. We all want little pleasures (Vishayananda). But Brahmananda is the highest bliss. According to Taittiriya Upanishad, Brahmananda is quintillion times (1018) greater than ordinary Ananda, referred to as manushyananda, which is the happiness experienced by a person who is youthful, physically strong, handsome, intellectual, scholarly, very wealthy, extremely powerful, famous, and endowed with noble character. How do we get Brahmananda? Swami gives us a beautiful metaphor. The heart is like a field. The plow is our mind. The good virtues we develop are bullocks. The whip controlling the bullocks is discrimination. Swami wants us to possess fundamental discrimination Whatever we do, we must ask ourselves, “Is this good; is it for the highest good of society and for everybody?” That is fundamental discrimination. We need to follow fundamental discrimination for our ultimate good and the good of all.

What is the manure? It is courage. Sometimes we get discouraged by obstacles and troubles. We should have the courage that we will achieve our goal with divine grace. And what are the seeds? Swami says love is the seed. Rain is devotion. If we want a good harvest, we must have all these ingredients. The entire harvest is Brahmananda. If we want Brahmananda we need to cultivate our heart with the help of the mind and good virtues, using the whip of fundamental discrimination, the manure of courage, and the seeds of love. The rain of devotion will make the seeds sprout and produce the harvest of Brahmanada (Eternal bliss).

Stanza 5

Prakruti Dharmamu Pattu Vidakandi
Karma-yogame Janma Dharmambu
Smarane Maanava Janma-rahasyamu
Saadhane Bhakthula Saara-lakshanamu (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Don’t lose hold of Prakriti Dharma (natural duty). Karma yoga sanctifies your life. The secret of human birth is Smarana (constant remembrance of God). Sadhana (spiritual practice) is the hallmark of devotees.

In this stanza, Swami is reiterating that we should do our Prakriti Dharma , which is our natural  Dharma. We all have duties as a householder, a husband, a wife, etc.; or, in the workplace as a boss or an employee; or in the organization as an officer or a devotee. Whatever is our Dharma, we must do our duty with utmost sincerity.

Swami says, Karmayogame janma dharmambu, i.e., we must do our Karma or actions as our obligation. From the time we are born till our very last breath, we must continue to discharge our duties. That is why even Bhagawan Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (3:22), “Na me partha asthi karthavyam trishu lokeshu kinchana; Na anavaaptam avaaptavyam vartha eva cha karmaani.” “In these three worlds, I don’t have any work to do but to set an example I do work.” Swami was the best example of this advice. He spent every minute of His time for the welfare of humanity; serving, guiding, and protecting everyone. I remember the time when He had a hip fracture, and we were there with Swami. He had a bundle of letters, and despite his painful condition He still read them, answered them, and showered His blessings in His responses. He set an example for us, showing us how to do work as nishkama karma (selfless service).

Swami says Smarane Manava Janma rahasyamu—remembrance of God is the secret of life. Like Prahlada, we also should constantly remember God. Another great example is Hanuman who exemplified the devotional aspect of servitude toward Sri Rama. Even though he was always doing Lord’s work, every hair of his body was constantly repeating Rama, Rama, Rama. That is real Sadhana (spiritual practice). Remembering Him always and doing His work is real Sadhana.

Stanza 6

Kashta-sukhamulu Karmalanakandi
Mana Ishta-lopame Kashtamaunandi
Pattuvidaka Aa Paadamu Kolichina
Gattu-jerchuta Tana Paniyenu (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Don’t say that difficulties and pleasures are our Karma (fate). When our desires are not fulfilled, we call it suffering. If you worship His lotus feet with dedication and determination, it is His duty to take us to the other shore of the river of Samsara (worldly life)

We all go through Kashtalu and sukhamulu – difficulties and pleasures in life. Swami says we should not blame Karma for this. Our likes and dislikes are responsible for our pains or pleasures. The objects by themselves are neither good nor bad. It is our attitude towards them that makes the difference. What is good at one time may not be good at another time. That is why Baba says that we should not blame Karma.

Hence we need to go beyond likes and dislikes. The best way to go above all this is by “Pattu-vidaka aa padamu kolichina Gattu-cherrchuta Tana Paniyenu - steadfastly, hold onto His feet and worship Him, then He will take you across the ocean of Samsara.” Swami’s first message was the bhajan “Manasa Bhajare.” “Worship the Guru’s Feet in your heart and He will take you across the ocean of Samsara.” So we should never leave His feet.

Stanza 7

Yedanu Vidadu Yedabaayaledu
Mimmeluchundu Ye Velanu Sai Karunaye Athadu Athade Karunani Karunakai Kaachi Pondandee (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Sai will not leave your heart. He will never desert you. He will take care of you at all times. Sai is Compassion. Compassion itself is Sai. Seek and wait for His compassion.

If we remember this stanza, we will never be unhappy, despondent or depressed. Swami says once we are His, even though we may want to leave Him, He will not let us go. He is also assuring us of this promise forcefully: “Yedanu vidadu yedabaayaledu mimmeluchuntu ye velanu Sai.” (Sai will protect you at all times, whether you are in the sky or on earth, whether you are in a forest or in a town or in a village.) Let us always remember this assurance of Swami.

He declared that Sai is compassion and compassion itself is Sai. But there is a condition “Karunakai kaachi pondandee”–“I will never leave you but you have to patiently wait for my Grace.” He will accomplish the task in His own time. His delays are not denials, although we get impatient with Him. As an example, in June Swami told the parents of a girl that she would get married in December. The family, friends, and all others got ready in December. They were well prepared for the event with jewelry and other arrangements. But December came and went. There was no marriage. Next December came and went, again there was no marriage. Obviously, they were all disappointed, including the girl. Then the girl came to America and after a long wait of 18 years, she did get married in December. Swami kept His word, but she had to wait for 18 years. Most people do not have patience and do not want to wait. Swami’s great Mantra often heard during darshan was, “Wait. Wait. Wait.” We need to wait patiently in order to receive His grace and blessings.

Stanza 8

Ashtasiddula Saadhanendulaku
Adi Vatti Brahmalatho Kattiveyunuga
Dattamaina Ee Jeevitaatavilo
Vatti Naamame Pattapagalau (Sathya Dharmamu…)

Why do you hanker after Ashta Siddhis (the power of eight-fold miracles)? It only binds you with illusory ambitions. In the dense jungle of this life, only God’s name is the bright daylight.

In this stanza, Swami is describing the best and simplest Sadhana (spiritual practice). People resort to Hatha yoga, Kriya yoga, and other practices to get Siddhis (special powers). Swami says that these powers will bind you in delusion. Just remembering His name and repeating “Sai, Sai” will take us to the goal.” If we cry out for Him with sincerity, if we ask for Him sincerely, He will come. Swami says, “Votti naamame.” Just repeating His name will take us across the ocean of life. In the dense jungle of this life, only God’s name is the bright daylight. In one of His letters to students and teachers, Swami wrote that those who have the name of Sai always on their lips will become “Jeevanmuktas” (liberated while alive.)

Stanza 9

Modati Pattunu Vidavabokandi
Aadipattulone Bhakthi Pattandi
Yenni Bhadhala Pondina Bhagavat
Chintana Maatramu Vidakandi (Sathya…)

Don’t give up your first hold. Hold on fast to your initial attitude of devotion. Don’t give up the thought of God even though you are afflicted by ever so many difficulties or sufferings.

This last stanza is very important. Baba advises us to be steadfast in devotion from the very beginning and not let go of our hold.

Life is not easy, but the travails, sorrows, and tests are temporary, and they are meant for our spiritual progress. Swami gives the tests, but He also takes care of us. We should remember Him always and pray to Him in earnest. He listens to every prayer, but He will answer at the right time. In the words of Shirdi Sai Baba, we need to have faith and patience (shraddha and saburi).

We must put God first. SAI: Swami first, All others next, I last. His very name SAI conveys this important message. We should always give the highest importance to Swami and His name, His glory, and His message.

When we call out His name, “Sai Baba” we need to remember that Swami is our mother and father. To attain SAI we need to do three things. “S” for service. “A” for adoration. “I” for illumination. These three paths also stand for Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana. We should perform selfless service and sing His glory remembering His wonderful Leelas. We should also do self-inquiry. Then we will realize SAI—that Sai And I are One.

Let us pray to Swami to bless us so that we can welcome the New Year with dedication and determination to remember Him and do His work.

Jai Sai Ram.