Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 3, Issue 2, February 2024)
Everything is Brahman
Bhaja Govindam - Part 2
The scriptures say that one should start spiritual practices early in life so that one can use the body (which is especially strong in youth) in the service of God and the senses for the contemplation of God to attain God. “Start Early, Drive Slowly, Reach Safely,” says Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, emphasizing to focus on God early in life. He says that the youth are the future of the Sai organizations and future citizens of the world. So, they should be men and women of character. They should roar like lions and assert their Godhood.
Fixing the Mind on Swami
Included in this issue is a beautiful divine discourse that Swami delivered on July 28, 2007, where He emphasizes that everything is divine and that the way to realize that truth is by practicing the five human values –Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Right Conduct), Shanti (Peace), Prema (Love) and Ahimsa (Nonviolence). He says that it is the mind which is responsible for our bondage or liberation, depending on whether we turn it toward the world or God. Swami further assures that if one remains steady and keeps the mind still even for a short period of 11 seconds, one can attain Self-realization!
Swami also teaches us how to be happy and peaceful–“Bend the body, mend the senses, and end the mind.” Good company is what helps in this process, as elaborated in last month’s editorial, Ladder to Liberation. Swami promises that if one takes time and thinks of Him, He will appear before us and talk to us.
Further elucidating this truth, in this issue, Bhagawan’s letter to Charles Penn states that one experiences the presence of God when the name is remembered and the form is recollected. The name and the form of God are inseparable, and one should be steady in this sadhana of contemplation to win peace in life.
This issue contains a heartfelt sharing by Ms. Ellesha Wanigasekara from the USA on how she overcame all her troubles using the name and form of Swami as a sword and a shield, with ‘the army of God behind her.’
Taking the One Step Toward Swami
Inspired by Swami’s promise to respond to every step taken toward Him, the devotees from Australia have embarked on a wonderful initiative called ‘1 Million Steps To Swami’ (1MSTS). It was launched on April 24, 2023, and concludes on November 23, 2025, Swami’s glorious landmark 100th Birthday. Swami says that one must think of God always, at all times, and everywhere (Sarvada Sarvakaleshu Sarvatra Hari Chintana). The participants or sadhakas take over 1,000 conscious steps daily while thinking of Swami, singing bhajans, namasmarana (reciting God’s name), listening to discourses, etc., for nearly 1,000 days to reach a total of a million steps toward Swami. One could also listen to podcasts or the Geeta Vahini Satsang that our Young Adults have actively engaged in, while walking, jogging, or running. The steps taken to conduct service activities like serving flood victims, distributing blankets, etc., may also be counted toward the goal.
Ms. Linda Fonseca, who started her spiritual life as an SSE student in Venezuela, is another contributor to this issue. She highlights how she experienced Swami’s presence everywhere and at all times. “God listens and shows His presence when we practice patience and perseverance,” she concludes.
Similarly, the article by Ms. Faith Hollander Braverman illustrates how the yearning of the heart always draws divine grace. She narrates her unique, memorable experiences in the early years of her visit to Swami in the 1970s, when she took one step toward Swami, and Swami took a hundred steps toward her.
The ultimate goal of all sadhana and Satsang, of course, is to realize one’s innate divinity and the divinity of everything that exists. One should remember the teachings of the great Advaitic master, Adi Shankaracharya, who summarized all the scriptures and Vedanta into a pithy phrase, ‘Brahma Sathyam Jagan-mithya, Jeevo Brahmaiva Na Paraha.’ (Brahman is the only truth; the apparent, seen world is illusory; there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and the individual Self (Atma).)
Explaining the Same Eternal Message in Different Ways
Swami explains this message in the 1973 Summer Showers through the Bhaja Govindam shloka:
Here, the important thing is to realize that there is only one Reality and that is Vishnu–in us, in everyone else, in everything, and in all places. Here, Vishnu does not refer to the deity with four arms but the eternal, all-pervading Reality called by numerous names like Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Mother, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and so on. We also call it Brahman or Atman, the Supreme consciousness or Self.
People try to search for God in temples and distant places. The scriptures advise us not to ‘seek’ God but to ‘see’ God in everything. In the scriptural text, Vishnu Sahasranaama (1,008 names adoring Lord Vishnu), it is clearly stated that the whole universe is nothing but a manifestation of the all-pervading Brahman. It is sheer ignorance to go in search of God in places outside. The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18: 61) delineates the correct address of God:
ishvarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-deshe arjuna tishthati
bhramayan sarva-bhutani yantrarudhani mayay
The Supreme Lord dwells in the hearts of all living beings, O Arjuna.
According to their karmas, He directs the wanderings of the souls,
who are seated on a machine made of material energy.
Swami, too, gave me the same answer when I asked Him for God’s address, saying that the heart is God’s dwelling place. He operates everything by His power. We are all puppets, and He is the puppeteer. Swami illustrates this by the incident of Queen Draupadi in Mahabharata. When Draupadi called Lord Krishna for help while she was being publicly dishonored, there was a delay before Sri Krishna came to her rescue. The reason was she called Krishna as Dwarakavasi (resident of Dwaraka) instead of calling Him Hridayavasi (resident of the heart). Hence the delay in response.
Every atom and moment is permeated by Brahman or Atman alone. Swami says in a Telugu poem:
Yeddhi Kaladanuchuntimo Addhi Ledhu
Yeddhi Ledhanuchuntimo Addhi Kaladhu
Unnadhi Okkate Daivambu Yennatikini
Lenidayyanu Vishwambu Kanarayya
What we say exists does not exist.
What we say does not exist, exists.
Realize only one thing that always exists–That is God.
Realize that the universe that does not exist appears real, and all of it is a mere illusion.
Swami also says that if we want to experience the truth that only Brahman exists and nothing else, we need to travel with Him relentlessly with enthusiasm, energy, patience, and perseverance.
The Two Obstacles
Two significant obstacles prevent us from realizing this highest truth–anger and impatience. Shirdi Sai Baba often emphasized the importance of Shraddha (faith) and Saburi (patience) for the spiritual aspirant. Swami also extols patience and forbearance as great virtues.
When one has patience, one does not get angry. Anger leads to delusion and loss of discrimination, which finally leads to complete downfall. Thus, overcoming one obstacle (impatience) and acquiring one good quality (patience) helps us overcome the other obstacle (anger) too!
It should be remembered that the nature of anger could be Tamasic, Rajasic, or Satwic. For instance, the anger of sages is Satwic, because the intention is solely to bring transformation in the subject. It is for the good of humanity, and their anger does not affect them. It is akin to writing on water. The minute the finger is removed from the water, the writing disappears. The passionate anger of an ambitious and worldly person that is tinged with selfishness is Rajasic. This anger is due to ego, pomp, and ostentation. It is like writing on sand, which remains till the wind of divine grace blows and erases it. The demonic anger of an evil person whose goal is to harm others is Tamasic. This anger carries vengeance and hatred, which hurts not only the individual but also their families and society. It is like engraved writing on a stone that remains forever. Such anger can be overcome only by intense effort and the divine grace of Swami. This is why one of the 108 names in Sathya Sai Ashtotaram is “Om Sri Sai Kama Krodha Dhwamsine Namaha.”(Salutations to Lord Sri Sai who is the destroyer of desire and anger)
When we sincerely pray to God, He will destroy our anger, which is detrimental to our spiritual progress. Swami teaches us many techniques to conquer anger and impatience, which is necessary to realize the highest truth. Satsang (company) of good people, places, things, and thoughts helps. That apart, one needs to conduct Self-enquiry into the underlying, unchanging reality. We all go through wakeful, dream, and deep-sleep (jagrat, swapna, sushupti) states. What we experience in one state is not experienced in the other. However, there is an underlying supportive state for all three states, and that fourth state is called Turiya. One should try to identify with this underlying state of Turiya, which is Brahman. Then, one will experience unity in diversity.
Lord Krishna says that true Jnana (wisdom) is to see the unchanging in the changing, Oneness in multiplicity, and unity in diversity.
Development of Equal-Mindedness and Equanimity is the Way to Enlightenment
Achieving equal-mindedness is emphasized both by Swami and Sri Krishna. ‘Samatwam Yogam Uchyate’ (true Yoga is equal-mindedness) and ‘Panditah Sama Darshinah’ (a wise man is one who has equanimity) also reflect the same. Such people see the same divinity in a dog, an elephant, a wise person, and an ignoramus. They see beyond the body, mind, and intellect and see the Self-effulgent Atma.
This aspect of equal-mindedness is emphasized in the Bhagavad Gita in several places. In Chapter 2, speaking of the qualities of a Sthitaprajna (a person of steady wisdom), Krishna explains how an enlightened one sees all pairs of opposites as the same. Also, in Chapter 12, while speaking of the qualities of a devotee, Krishna emphasizes how a devotee treats heat and cold, praise and blame, profit and loss, success and loss, victory and defeat with the same equal-mindedness.
In the epochal letter to His ‘brother’ in 1947, Swami defines what devotion is, according to Him: “Those who are devoted to me treat good and bad and all the pairs of opposites as the same.”
Once we realize that the same Brahman exists everywhere and in everything, there is no question of having anger or impatience. In the famous Ishavasya Upanishad, it is said,
Yasmin sarvani bhutani atmaiva bhut vijanataha
tatra ko mohaha kah shoka ekatvamupashyatah
He in whom it is the Self-Being that has become all existences that are Becomings,
for he has perfect knowledge, how shall he be deluded,
whence shall he have grief, the one who sees Oneness everywhere?
The profound message of this verse is to realize the all-pervading Brahman by developing equal-mindedness and to see unity in diversity. For this, the obstacles of anger and impatience must be overcome.
Katho Upanishad proclaims, “Arise, Awake, and Stop not Till The Goal Is Reached” (Uthistata, Jagrata, Prapyavarannibodhata). The goal of life is to realize Brahman, also referred to as Atman and God. This goal can be achieved in this very lifetime through pure love, intense and sincere spiritual practices, and the boundless grace of God. This boon is promised to each and every one of us by our loving Lord Sathya Sai.
Jai Sai Ram.