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SWAMY'S PAGE

SV Swamy

12-2-419/A/23, Alapati Nagar,,

swamyswarna@yahoo.com, swamy@nfc.ernet.in

Mehdipatnam,, Hyderabad - 500 028., Andhra Pradesh, 500 028

INDIA

Phone: 3530710, 3534714

A REVIEW OF "GOD WHO WALKED ON EARTH"

 

Last Sunday, i.e on 16th January, my wife and I went to the temple of Sai Baba at Dwarakapuri Colony, Punjagutta. The temple is very well maintained and there is also a small library in the ground floor. Since this was our first visit to this temple, we were exploring and thus went to the library too. 4 books, all biographies of Sai Baba were on Sale. I am a book lover so I went through all the books. The book, "God who walked on earth" by Shri Rangaswami Parthasarathy was somehow attracting my attention more than the other books. Another gentleman who happened to be there also recommended that book highly. So in spite of some slight reluctance from my wife I bought that book. When I told SAIBANISA, he also told me it is an excellent book. I read that book from cover to cover and finished the first reading by Friday night or rather the early hours of today.

 

I was greatly impressed by the book. The author has specifically targeted the book at educated persons who need to reason out and cross-check facts before they can accept. The author tried to be as objective as possible and brought out the extraordinary spiritual qualities and the powers of Baba. He has not approached it from the positive belief, nay faith of a devotee, since such a person doesnít need any proof and will not accept any evidence to the contrary.

 

I couldnít help seeing a few mistakes in the book, caused by oversight in Proof reading. The name of Radhakrishna Ayi is at some places given as Ramakrishna Ayi. If there are in fact two women devotees with such names I stand corrected. A few typographic errors are also noticed. But in general, the book is very well written and edited. The publisher and printer have done a good job in bringing out the book in an attractive format. Now, the good points.

 

One aspect of the book, which appealed to me, is the comparison, nay contrast that the author brought out between Nana Chandorkar and Mahlsapathy. Both are ardent devotees of Baba. Both are, like many devotees, close to Baba. But what a difference? Nana is like Arjuna of Maha Bharat, who knows that Sri Krishna is God but perpetually keeps slipping into intellectual dilemmas because of his ego. That is probably the reason why Baba made Nana explain a Sloka from Gita and caught him flat-footed. Baba, like Sri Krishna, then explained the essence of Gita to Nana.

 

It is said that after the war, Krishna and Pandavas visited Sri Bhishma who is lying on the bed of Arrows (more about that some other time) to seek wisdom. Sri Bhishma asked Sri Krishna: "When you, the supreme God are here, what is the necessity for a small person like me to teach? Also, I am not in a good physical condition." Sri Krishna replied that when he gave the message of Gita to Arjuna, neither the teacher nor the disciple were in a perfect frame of mind (he probably said that to soothe the feelings of his friend Arjuna). Also, it is not proper for me to praise myself. You are a great devotee who has understood the real nature of Paramatma. So I give you the strength to talk. Kindly give the wisdom to these gransons of yours." Bhishma gives Pandavas the Vishnu Sahasranamam (the one thousand names of God). Is that why Baba also asked all his Hindu devotees to regularly chant Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam or at least the name of Sri Rama?

 

Mahlsapathy, on the other hand did not have any pretensions to intelligence, so called culture, riches etc., and was therefore totally free from ego-created problems. His devotion and faith were rock steady.

Many of us who are educated, especially through the westernised system are in a situation somewhat like Nanaís. Since we think we know, we are prevented from real knowledge. Our bookish knowledge, our worldly stature, our intellectual sharpness etc. also increase our ego and thus build the wall between the Supreme and us. We have to unlearn everything before we can relearn.

 

In Sri Bhagavatham, the story of "Gajendra moksham" is one of the most beautiful and moving. The elephant king i.e. the mind or Jeevatma is caught in the shackles of Samsara because of his ignorance. The crocodile in the lake is probably symbolic though it could be real. The elephant fights for a long time but in vain. Then the ego having been vanquished and because of POORVA JANMA SAMSKARA, he remembers God and prays to him. Once the ego is destroyed, God is able to come and cut the crocodile, i.e. ignorance, with SUDARSANA CHAKRAM. Sudarsana means Good Sight. A clear insight into the nature of ATMA, the transient nature of the materialistic world and the limitations of our petty egos, destroys our AVIDYA and liberates us.

 

Jesus Christ said "Blessed are the poor. The kingdom of heaven is theirs." Mahlsapathy was very poor, like Kuchela of Sri Bhagavatha. More than the riches it is the desire to be rich and the attachment to wealth and worldly possessions that hold the mind in bondage, like the crocodile held the elephant.

 

So detachment, which comes from contentment, is important. True devotion can come only when the ego is annihilated.

 

Till then, we can only pray to Sri Sai Baba to help us to break the wall. If we cannot break it from our side, he can and does break it from his side. In that process, we may get slightly bruised and cry like small children who get hurt. But in the end, Baba never hurts us or tests us more than our capacity and breaks the wall.

 

Om Sri Sai Ram

 

IS MY GOD DIFFERENT FROM YOUR GOD?

Just as a pure white light will be seen as colored when passed through a colored filter, the universal consciousness will manifest in the form of the Ishta Devata of a devotee. Thus there are innumerable forms of God. A group of islands appear separated from each other but are connected to each other through the sea bed or ocean floor, and only the water is giving us the illusion of separation. God the universal consciousness manifests in the form of several Deities, Saints etc., who to our limited vision appear separate. The Maya or our limited perception is what makes us feel that each Deity is different from the other.

WHY DO WE GIVE ARATI?

 15/01/2000, 21:20 hrs.

A few minutes ago, my wife, who is a staunch Sai devotee was playing a cassette of Sai Arati. The music was excellent and soothing and I too was enjoying the lyric, the tune and the voice of the singer, who could convey a sense of devotion to Sai. Arati is performed regularly in all Hindu Temples and the same custom has been introduced in Shirdi too. The question arose in my mind, like so many questions keep arising like waves in a turbulent sea. The question is: " Why do the priests / devotees offer Arati to God?" I got a few answers out of the possible many. I want to share the answers with all Sai devotees who may like to add the many other answers for my enlightenment.

 

  1. The first is of course to do with light. Many temples in India are dimly lit and Arati gives an opportunity to get a better view of the God. Thus the light is physical and the devotion it evokes in the mind of the devotee helps kindle the spiritual light.
  2. While Arati is performed with many types of lamps, camphor is the most common ingredient in all temples. Camphor has excellent medicinal properties; especially it protects against many diseases in a hot climate that pervades most of India. The camphor and other aromatic substances purify the atmosphere and when the devotees place their palms over the Arati and bring the palms to their eyes and nose, they absorb the medicinal benefits. This is born out by the books on Homeopathy.
  3. The camphor Arati, especially is very short lasting and thus it signifies the short span of human life and the physical, sensual pleasures which come of attachments caused by AVIDYA or AGNANA. Thus Arati inspires the devotee to seek God who is permanent.
  4. "Make hay while the sun shines" is a popular adage. Since the Arati is short lasting, it compels the devotee to focus his attention on the God.
  5. Bells are usually rung while the Arati is being given. The rhythmic sounds of the bells have a nice soothing calming effect on our mind which helps in seeing the real God in the physical image.
  6. In many temples, the Arati is also accompanied by chanting of Vedic Mantras or beautiful songs, which extol the virtues of the presiding deity, especially the all-pervasiveness. These again reinforce the devotion and help the devotee in his / her chosen path to reach spiritual enlightenment.

 

There could be several more possible reasons and the origins of this excellent practice are lost in antiquity. I will be grateful if Sai devotees could shed more light on this subject.

 

Why should we read "Sri Guru Charita"?

One well wisher has asked me this question. I thought that I will try to answer this question through this page. Of course, what is written here need not be accepted by anyone in toto. Please feel free to differ and offer your perception. I am probably one of the several blind men trying to describe an elephant.

I believe that, as long as one lives, one learns. In fact, I feel that the very purpose of being born on this earth plane is to learn and that too to learn pretty fast. The lessons to be learnt are very hard, but one has had a lot of preparation. Just like no student is admitted in a degree program, unless he meets the minimum qualification prescribed, one is allowed to take birth in a particular family or environment because he or she has, in the previous birth, learnt the lessons, to a minimum standard. This accumulated experience in fact is what constitutes one's karma, which by the way includes Poorva Janma Punyam and Papam. So the very fact that one has taken birth, especially in the human form on the earth means one has come a long way in his spiritual evolution and that he has now qualified to progress further.

Taking the analogy of this earth being a spiritual class room a step further, we all know that, when one joins an University or college, one has to register for a particular programme, containing some specific subjects and has to study under qualified lecturers, readers or professors. Suppose the candidate has finished his M.Sc or M.Phil and now wants to do Ph.D. He will now be required to register himself with a Guide, who himself is a Ph.D. He now concentrates all his intellectual and practical experimental (call it experiential) faculties in studying the intricacies of a specific problem and if his work is of sufficiently good standard, he will be given his Ph.D, after he satisfies his own guide and a body of other highly qualified professionals.

Guru is like a Professor who takes a handful of Ph.D. Scholars and guides them. 'Sri Guru Charita' is one of the very few treatises which extol the need for a Guru. Every one needs a Guru, especially when one has reached a fairly advanced state of spiritual growth. In the lower levels of education , one learns from many and one can even pass the examinations by mugging up, through study guides or even by guessing the correct answer in an objective examination. But no one can do his Ph.D. by such methods, especially if the University has any reputaion worth its name. One of course need not bother about the institutions and the Gurus who dish out Ph.D degrees for money. They are the false Gurus. Sat Guru is like a good guide in a reputed college. He will be kind, loving and yet firm. He may appear to be harsh, or even dictatorial at times. But he knows the manifest and latent capabilities and the limitations of his student, even better than the student himself. So he tries to push his student to the limit so that the student finishes his work at the earliest and reaches the goal. He does it not for his own benefit but for the benefit of the student and the society. Sri Guru, Adi Shankara, Sai are all Gurus of the highest order. They are demanding but they are like Nobel Laurettes! Every one can't get the privilege of being tutored by them. How many Arjunas are there who are fortunate enough to be taught the Divine Knowledge by the God himself?

What after the student himself gets his Ph.D? Is it the end of the journey? No. One does post-doctoral research or continues with the guide on more advanced topics of research. He now helps the guide in guiding other research scholars. Eventually he himself becomes qualified to become a Guide. But no student, however much he may have progressed will ever forget his guide, who helped him reach the position he now occupies. Sir Issac Newton is reported to have said," I am a pigmy. I could see farther than the giants because I was standing on their shoulders." That shall be the attitude of a true student who has shed one's ego.

I welcome your comments and perceptions on this subject.