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  Prof. Anil Kumar speaks to Southern California Young Adults
April 23, 2000

April 23, 2000

Ebell Theater

Santa Ana, California

Youth are youth – whether they are American or Indian. And Indian youth are not, in any way, different from American youth. The Indian youth want to be Western. The Indian youth are very anxious to step out of the country and go abroad and find green visas or something like that. The brown fellows are after green cards! (laughter) So Indian youth are no different. They are very crazy too. American youth are, in no way, superior or inferior. Youth are youth after all!

So what does Swami expect from us?

  1. One should always talk less and work more. First use discipline. Is it possible to talk less and work more? Why not talk more and work less? You have been doing that. What is the harm? You cannot afford to work less in America. [If you do so] they’ll remove you from service. So you’ll have to work. Yes, that I can understand. But Bhagavan Baba wants us to talk less. Why? So that we don’t waste our energy; so that we don’t lose our memory. Our memory power will increase by talking less; we will save energy. We would not indulge in gossip or vain and useless talk; spread scandals or rumors; carry tales, exaggerate, underestimate or speak lies. These are the sins that are likely to be committed by excessive talk, by too much talk. Am I clear? He tells the college boys repeatedly, and on the other hand, He is very serious also [imitating Swami], “Oh you’re talking too much; go and sit back! Go!” It is very important that youth should talk less and work more.
  2. Bhagavan wants us to love our country – whichever country we belong to. Patriotism, nationalism … very important.
  3. Respect your parents. Respect elders.
  4. Have some scriptural background. If you are Christian, go through the Holy Bible. If you are Hindu, go through the Bhagavad Gita. Have some scriptural principles in life.
  5. Spend some time with God. Never miss your appointment with God. If you have an appointment with your superiors or bosses or your doctor, you never miss your appointment. Similarly, never miss your appointment with God. Hold on, because God will be waiting, “This fellow is going to think of me” – “What happened here?” So never miss your appointment with God. That is what Baba says.
  6. Cultivate the habit of service – right from the beginning.
  7. Next, concentrate on work, not on salary. If you go by your salary [and] pay packet emoluments, you’ll land nowhere. Cultivate the work culture. [The] commitment [should be] to work, not salary. Love the work more. Develop skills [and] techniques. [These are] more important than salary. Bhagavan cautioned students of the MBA class who change from one company to another, just because the other company gives ten rupees more. Swami says it is very bad. Never change your loyalties. Never change companies like that. Hold on. Cling on. Loyalty is more important. Loyalty is the real royalty in life. You feel very royal when you are loyal to the royal within. Be loyal to the royal within! Don’t go on shifting jobs like that. That is what Swami says.
  8. Then, Bhagavan wants us to be extra careful in our relationships with the opposite sex. He believes in absolute segregation of men and women. No mixing at any stage, whatever it may be. He wants us to conduct ourselves in a disciplined way, particularly in our relationships. Swami wants us to treat all ladies as our sisters and they should treat us as their brothers. That’s all. Relationship between brothers and sisters is the only thing that should prevail.

In case of any organizational matters, we should go to the elders and get their instructions. We should seek their guidance and follow. There [should be] no rebellion, no questioning, no independent movement. There is nothing like other states being separated as in Soviet Russia. ‘United’ States of America! You should stand united. No movement, no organization, no unit can declare independence. We all function under one Sathya Sai banner. That’s all. So we have to be guided by the seniors and then carry on life.

Work culture, respect for parents, service, motivation, loyalty to the company, never missing an appointment with God, the spirit of patriotism, discipline – these are the principles that Bhagavan wants us to cultivate right from this stage of youth.

Am I clear, Sir? Am I clear to you all? Your faces don’t seem to approve of what I said. [If I had said] “Question your parents! Fight the elders! Do it your own way!” then you would’ve clapped, I think. You would’ve cheered me! (laughter) But that’s not it. Truth may be bitter, but Swami wants us to learn in a tough way. It may not be palatable; yet in the long run, you will be benefited. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

YA : Some of the Young Adults are now finishing college, and they’re looking at careers and jobs and employment. How would they know that they are going to the right company so that they don’t shift, like you were saying?

We can only pray to Swami. Certainly you will get an intuitive feeling or hear an inner voice. Suppose there are two jobs – one that pays you more and another that pays you less. But Baba might tell you to take the job where you are going to be paid less. Why? Because in the long run, you will be benefited. That which is not necessarily based on your choice, that which is not necessarily based on your preference – that is the inner voice which tells you in clear, unambiguous terms about how we should act. [On the other hand] the mind will prompt you on both sides; it will be dual – “Take it; why not this, why not that, why not next.” That is the mind prompting but the inner voice tells you clearly, "Do this, not that.” Am I clear ?

YA : How do we feel close to Swami? How can we maintain that closeness? What can we do that will make Swami very happy?

Very good. Very good question! My friends, I am not given to flattery. I am telling you very honestly. At all the centers that I visited — Houston, San Antonio, LA — I have seen many devotees listening to Swami’s bhajans as they drive their cars. Bhajan is the point of contact between devotee and Swami. That is the cell phone — "Hi Swami!" (laughter)

(Prof. Anil Kumar begins to sing the bhajan “Eka Baar Kshamaa Karo Sai Merey Baba Shri Sathya Sai”)

Bhajan is the cell phone contact you have that will make you feel the nearness to Swami. Am I clear? Bhajan is very important. You may be in Prashanthi Nilayam but if you don’t sing bhajans, then I don’t think you have that phone contact — only physical contact during darshan. But if you sing, He is always by your side. He said so long ago…

Madh Bhaktaa Yathra Gaayanthi Tathra Thishthaami Naarada

Naarada, the great singer, asked the Lord, “Lord what is your address? I have heard it is Kailash, I have heard it is Paradise, I have heard it is Heaven.”

The Lord said, “No, no. They are my branch addresses, my branch offices.”

[Naarada] “O Lord, then what is your real address?”

[Lord] “My real address is this… Madh Bhaktaa (where my devotee) Yathra Gaayanthi (sings my glory) Tathra Thisthaami Naarada (there I install myself). I install myself wherever my glory is sung.”

Bhajan is the best contact. It is most essential. I don’t know whether I sing well or not. If anyone says, “Anil Kumar, your voice is not good”, then I would tell them, “I’m sorry, it is not meant for you. It is for my happiness. If you are disturbed, please step out. You have no business [to complain]. I sing for my happiness. I am not an artist nor am I a professional, and I am not singing for your compliments. No!” (laughter)

It is the spirit that is more important than the tune, the beat and the tone [which is mere] vanity. However, in group singing, in a community, it has got to be perfect. When you are a lead singer, you have got to be an expert. But left to you, [you can] sing anywhere. God can listen to any kind of tune. When the baby cries, in what tune does the baby cry? The mother is not mindful of that. The mother will not expect [the baby] to cry in a particular beat, in a particular tune. The mother responds immediately. You asked, "How to please Swami?” By following His teachings. "I am the Truth, I am the Life, I am the Way" – that is what Jesus said. So too, by following Swami’s teachings, we can please Him.

YA : The mind is often troubled by guilt and sadness at not having lived upto Swami’s expectations. How does one treat such feelings?

Very good. Let me repeat again for the benefit of those who might not have heard what he just said. When we fail to follow Swami’s teachings, there is a sense of guilt in our minds. We feel very sad and grief stricken. At these moments, what should we do? Is that right? I have not passed the TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] test! (laughter) I think I can follow though. Now the answer is so simple. If I really repent from the bottom of my heart for all my trespasses, for all my failures – then I will not repeat the mistake again. Once I feel very bad about what I have done, when I feel very sorry and pray for forgiveness, then the Lord is there – “Kshamaa Moorthi Sai Baba” [Sai, the Embodiment of Forgiveness].

So once we pray for His forgiveness, the Lord is there because He is giving and forgiving. So, naturally He will forgive us. Because if He won’t forgive, then He would be a dictator. But God is not a dictator. Does your mother not forgive you? Then why wouldn’t the Divine Mother, Mother Sai? But the sense of guilt is a negative attitude. Give up this sense of guilt. Even if you have committed a mistake…Finish! There ends the matter. The sense of guilt will affect your competence, the sense of guilt will affect your efficiency. The sense of guilt will make you meek and weak in life. Give that up! Be free! Above all, be cheerful! Keep smiling. That is very important. Never shape your face like that. (Prof. Anil Kumar makes a very serious face) That is most ungodly and irreligious, I tell you! Those people whose faces are serious, it is better we keep away from them. Consider them as untouchables because God smiles. Those who are cut off miles and miles from smiles, woe unto them. Let us smile. In the latest discourse, Bhagavan said, "Under all circumstances, at all points of time, no matter what it is, keep on smiling. Keep smiling." You know, in this land of America, everyone smiles. I need not especially speak about this. I have not met any Americans with long faces; they smile and they make others smile too.

YA : How important is the involvement of everyone in the Young Adult group, and also what does Swami say should be the focus of the Young Adult group?

Community service. There are so many service programs. You just sang bhajans. That is service. Those who are strong should serve the community. Those who can sing should sing bhajans. Service is the one thing that brings everyone together. Service to the old people at the home for the aged; we can visit hospitals. Help people. Not only that – a word of solace, a word of compassion, a word of forgiveness, a kind word, a good gesture, a word of appreciation – "Ah my boy, do well. It doesn’t matter, you're smart enough!” That is service. Service is not necessarily distributing food to thousands of people, though they are not hungry! (laughter) Service does not mean distributing sweets to diabetic patients! (more laughter) A kind word, a compassionate look, an attitude of forgiving, an attitude of giving. Yes, that is service. These are the things that we should cultivate.

At the individual level, suppose we find a person who is depressed. Depression and frustration are common among youth everywhere – there in India and also here in America. Depression, frustration, disappointment. Well, if we go and tell them, “Don’t be depressed. Don’t be frustrated. Baba cares for you. Baba will look after you because He has declared, 'Why fear when I am here.' Yes, have more faith in Him. He is God, the Lord Himself. He will never allow this boat of life to sink. No! You will sail and you’ll never sink. You will flourish! You’ll never perish." That is service. If a person is in depression, speak some encouraging words to him. In times of failure, stand by him.

But, above all, in the name of friendship, never get into bad company. If you don’t find good company, then live by yourself. You may be good, but if you are in bad company, sooner or later you also will become bad. Here is a simple example: When sand is in the company of air, it goes up. But when it is in the company of water, it goes down. Similarly, when you are in the company of good, you are noble. In the company of bad people, you turn wicked and cruel. So avoid bad company. Bhaja Saadhu Samaagamam – Always be in good company. Tyaja Durjana Samsargam – Run away from bad company. Smara Nithyam Ahoraathram – Think of the Divine, day in and day out. That is what Baba tells us. Kuru Punyam Ahoraathram – Do good service, day in and day out. Nithyaanithya Vasthu Viveka – discriminate between what is permanent and what is not. Who is your real friend? Not David, not Daniel, not Nelson nor Mandela! (laughter) Who is your real friend? God is your real friend. Why? He will not disown you, He will not disappoint you, and He will not give you up at any point of time. He cares. He consoles. He cajoles. He has every concern. Who is your friend? The correct answer is, “God is my friend, not so and so.” Am I clear?

YA : Could you share an example where Swami was your best friend?

When I am totally frustrated, totally depressed – I sing His bhajan. Suddenly I feel very happy. I am no longer disappointed, no longer depressed as before. Even in a discourse meant for boys, meant for youth, I have a lesson to learn. Baba communicates in His own style. God finds his own ways of fulfillment. God’s ways are mysterious, un-understandable, inexplicable, beyond our comprehension. When you go through His speech, discourses, Sathya Sai Speaks, you’ll find a message for you. Then when you listen to some bhajans, He speaks to you. When you go to sleep, He’ll appear in your dream. Those are the moments. Or somebody may come and tell you, “Why don’t you try this? Why don’t you think this way?” He is a messenger of Sai. God will prove every moment when you need Him that He is your best friend.

YA : (In regards to maintaining good company and avoiding bad company)

In bad company, all the latent qualities crop up. In good company, bad qualities within will never unfold, will never manifest. Simple example – these are the examples given by Swami, please don’t mistake me. Anil Kumar is not a student of philosophy. (laughter) Anil Kumar is not student of Sanskrit. No, I am a student of botany. Whatever I speak is only from Sathya Sai discourses. So the credit goes to Swami. If I am not able to convince you, then you can discredit me. That's all. Now if you remove the plant, totally uproot it, then what happens? It will never grow. If [you] remove the green blades – only the leaves – it will grow because the roots are still there. In good company, all the bad qualities are totally uprooted. But in bad company, they are nurtured, they are watered, they are manured and they grow into a gigantic tree – spoiling the whole company and the person himself. Am I clear?

YA : What does Swami say about dating?

DATING ! (laughter) Nobody has dared to put this question to Swami until now. The concept of dating is quite new to Indians, particularly to me. Coming from a joint family, I never saw my wife until the day of the wedding. My parents at least allowed me to look at her on that day! (laughter). In arranged marriages, dating is out of the question. When you have a chance, it is better you put that question [to Swami] because dating is out of context in Indian conditions. But even in the American situation, it is better to be extremely careful. It is better not to do it because when once we get into trouble, it is so difficult to get out of it. “Haste makes waste, waste makes worry, so do not be in a hurry,” says Bhagavan. So don’t be in a hurry. Haste makes waste. Take time whenever such a thought comes, “Why should I not date? Why not? It’s time. It’s time. It’s long overdue!”(laughter) When such a thought comes, don’t act upon it immediately. Take some time so that your intellect, your Buddhi, can decide – is it good or bad? Is it right or wrong? Will Baba approve of it or not? Will my parents be happy about this or not? Will I feel proud of it or not? Should I withdraw or proceed? Take some time. The moment the thought comes, do not act upon it immediately. That’s what Baba tells us. This, I think, you can apply to the problem that you mentioned.

YA : Often times the problem isn’t not knowing what is right or what is wrong; in most cases we know what is right and wrong…

Is it true? He said, "Most times we do not know what is right or what is wrong." Is it true? Please tell me. Speaking lies – right or wrong? Spoiling the other fellow – right or wrong? Beating the other fellow – right or wrong? Don’t you know that ? We all know that! It’s very clear because the conscience will tell you, “Arrre Bluffmaster! You’re convincing the whole world you are a saint, but you’re rogue number one!” The conscience will get you. The conscience will not spare you. (laughter) By your excellence and talents, you may be able to convince the whole world, but the conscience will tell you that you are rogue number one. Take care! You know what is good and bad. To say “I do not know what is right and wrong…” is escapism.

YA : I was saying the same thing. I was saying that we know what is right and wrong. The problem in my mind is having the will power to follow what is right. How does one develop will power?

How does one develop will power? This question has been haunting me right from Dallas! (laughter) People having been asking this question about will power. Do we have will power? Actually speaking, do we have power? We don’t have power. [You might say] “Why Sir, I am very powerful!” If you have power, control your mind…powerless! Control your senses…powerless! So when you are powerless, how can you have will power? Do you have free will? Many people ask me this question. When you are not free, how can you have free will? Why am I not free? The mind thinks things that it is not supposed to. The senses do things of which we are not proud. So I know that I am not free. I am a slave to my senses. I have a monkey mind…what to do? With all these weaknesses, when I am a slave to my body and senses, when I am not free, if I say I have free will – it is ridiculous. Only God has free will because He is the Master, He is the Controller. Then the question is “Sir, if everything is free will, then what is it that I can do?” What you can do is only human effort. Free will is divine. Human effort is in your hands, under certain limited conditions. Am I clear?

And then strong will… instead of saying strong will, let me say determination. Strong determination. Swami says, “Dedication, devotion, duty, determination”. This determination should be strong. Simple example: If you get a job where the salary is three times more than this one, you are determined to work more. Aren’t you? You have determination with respect to money. If any fellow says you are bad, you are determined to finish him off! (laughter) So you have determination in these aspects. When you want to have pizza, you go to the hotel! Why not? When you want to have a weekend in Hollywood, why not? Universal City, why not? (laughter) So for everything else, we have determination; but when for God, we lose determination – meaning we are not particular. That is the tragedy. You’re determined to pass the exams. You’re determined to do your task. You are determined to complete the project. But I don’t determine to follow God – meaning I don’t have that attachment towards God. That is it. Is that all?

YA : Can you give an example of how Swami interacts with the students and teaches them?

Swami interacts with students and teachers in various degrees. He tells some boys, “You are not behaving properly.” He tells some boys, “You’re talking too much”. He tells some boys, “I’ll kick you out.” I have a good example that I’ll tell you about. Not these bad examples – [these are] only to let you know that He knows us through and through. [This example] came recently, just hot, hot! (laughter)

Swami came walking in the veranda and suddenly looked at one student. He called that boy.

Swami: “Ayyo paapam [poor fellow], what a pity it is. You have no parents.”

Boy: “Yes, Swami.”

Swami: “Your brother is irresponsible.”

Boy: “Yes, Swami.”

Immediately, Swami looked at me and said, “I know everything, but I’m asking this boy these things only as an excuse to talk to him and to let all of you know that I know everything”. Therefore, He finds some excuse or the other to talk to people.

Another example: In Kodaikanal, the boys were seated like that (Prof. Anil Kumar demonstrates how the college boys were seated). By a wave of His hand, He materialized a chain for one fellow by name Rakesh [who hails] from Kerala. We were feeling very bad. (laughter) The next day, He materialized a ring for him. Same fellow…A RING! Chain yesterday…ring today! [I thought to myself] “O Swami! What is this? What has happened to You? You can give me one chain after all.” On the third day, He materialized earrings for that boy. Earrings! A boy wearing earrings! (laughter) “Swami, are You confused? Is he going to wear earrings now?” Rakesh just kept it. On the fourth day, another pair of earrings to the same boy! “Is he going to open a jewelry shop?” (laughter)

I felt very bad, very jealous – “O Swami, you have no sense of proportion. You should give one gift to each one of us. That is perfect socialism!” (laughter)

Then He asked me to get up and translate. He said, “When I am giving these gifts, some of you are jealous…. I know what to give, when to give, and why to give. Some people are doubting why I gave earrings to that boy. I know their monkey mind. Do you know why I gave two pairs of earrings to that boy? He lost his mother long ago. His father is an irresponsible fellow. He is a drunkard. This boy used to sit there in the corner with a long face – crying, shedding tears. He lost his mother. I called him and wanted him to call his father. I gave them an interview and I made his father promise Me that he will not drink; that he will take care of the family. That fellow has two sisters. His mother’s last wish was to make earrings for the two daughters. His mother is no more. I am his Mother. Therefore, I gave these earrings. You don’t know this and you question Me!”

That’s what He said. “Swami, I shall not question You!”(laughter)


We’ll close with this song,
Eka Baar Kshama Karo Sai Merey Baba Shri Sathya Sai…”. [It’s a] lovely song.

(Prof. Anil Kumar and all the Young Adults sang the bhajan. At the close of the bhajan, Prof. Anil Kumar was visibly moved.)

God bless you all. Thank you.

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