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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
April 1, 2001

The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar on

April 1st, 2001

Two Topics:

Pranayama and Ram Navami


Sai Ram

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Pranayama or Breathing Exercise

I have two pieces of paper with questions on them here on the table in front of me. As you anticipate and expect answers, it is my duty to respond. The first question is: "Can you talk briefly on what Swami spoke about last Wednesday?" The second slip has the same question. Though there are two pieces of paper, the question is one and the same. So I will proceed to answer with my immediate response.

Breathing exercise is something special. It is unique and it is also spiritual. Before I go into the details, let me make one point clear. Breathing exercise is called Pranayama. Prana is life. The breathing process is the life-sustaining principle. It is the respiratory process, the process of breathing in and breathing out, the process of inhalation and exhalation. Pranayama refers to the breathing process.

Before I speak to you about Pranayama, let me make it very clear at the outset (and I'm not tired of repeating it many times) that everything which I have been speaking here is based on Sai teachings, His message and His literature. Nothing is my own and nothing is fabricated because I am not capable of it.

Bhagavan said very clearly in the Dhyana Vahini, which His own composition, that Pranayama or breathing exercise should only be done under the care, guidance and supervision of an expert, a realized soul, or a highly experienced person. If we try it out on our own, or go to a person who himself has no idea or spiritual upliftment, we will end up in the hospital. We will ruin our lungs and we will get a nervous breakdown. Ultimately, one may also turn mad or go insane. So, Pranayama, or breathing exercise is such a scientific, technical, and sensitive process that it needs an expert for guidance.

In the Dhyana Vahini, Bhagavan says that instead of Pranayama, there is a very easily available process 'right at your doorstep'. It has no restrictions and regulations. It has no time limitations and no dietary regulation. It has no space and time barriers. It can be done anywhere, any time and any day. It is the easiest and most convenient method, not requiring supervision and guidance. It doesn't need an expert, money or training. That process is Bhajans, the repetition of God's Name, the chanting of God's Name, the singing of His Glory. It is so comfortable, so easy and so cheap to do. You donít need to invest or involve yourself with people. Plus, as it is not strenuous, you donít need to pass through any stress or strain. And the result is guaranteed!

However, our ego will not like such simple, easily available things. The ego or mind has the tendency to achieve. The mind always wants to achieve and be special. The mind expects to be unique. It is like this: If I'm ordinary, my mind is unhappy. If I'm simple, my ego is affected. I want to be something admirable; I want to be something unique. I want to be special. I want to be chosen and have preferential treatment.

This is nothing but vanity and puffed-up ego. If we go about with that attitude, we may be far away from true spirituality for a couple of lives to come! In fact, spirituality means to be ordinary and simple. Spirituality is simplicity. Spirituality is a preference and not a choice.

Choice or Preference

What is choice and what is preference? Choice and preference - though they look like synonyms, they are neither synonyms nor anonyms. There is a subtle difference between a preference and a choice. Here is a simple example: "I prefer coffee. But even if you offer me tea, I donít mind." This is preference. Or, "I prefer vanilla ice cream. But even if you offer me chocolate, it doesnít matter. I can certainly go along with it." So, preference means that you prefer something. But when it is not available, you will still remain happy and adjust to what is available.

Choice is something different. "I want coffee." "Sorry, Sir. It is not available." "Thank you." "Sir, would you like to have tea?" "I'm sorry, no." So with a choice, you are not happy with the substitute offered, whereas with a preference, you are happy even with the alternative. I think this is clear.

So, spirituality is preferential, but not a choice. Choicelessness is religion. "I want everybody to recognize and treat me as special and unique." This is irreligious. This is not spiritual. Mountains never say, "We are special." Even though you may call them special, they will never say, "I am special." The ocean will never say, "I am extraordinary." The sky will never say, "I'm unusual." The wind will never say, "I am exceptional."

Try to be exceptional, unusual, and unique. This is nothing but vanity. It is nothing but the manifestation and expression of ego. Until it is gone, we are not even in the nursery school of spirituality. We are not even at the kindergarten level yet. extraordinary." The sky will never say, "I'm unusual." The wind will never say, "I am exceptional."

Try to be exceptional, unusual, and unique. This is nothing but vanity. It is nothing but the manifestation and expression of ego. Until it is gone, we are not even in the nursery school of spirituality. We are not even at the kindergarten level yet. extraordinary." The sky will never say, "I'm unusual." The wind will never say, "I am exceptional."

Try to be exceptional, unusual, and unique. This is nothing but vanity. It is nothing but the manifestation and expression of ego. Until it is gone, we are not even in the nursery school of spirituality. We are not even at the kindergarten level yet. Only the one who is simple, ordinary, and common is fit to enter into the gates of the school of spiritual learning.

There are Three Steps in Breathing Exercise

Therefore, my friends, I donít want to evade the question about proper breathing techniques. Let me tell you what Bhagavan said in His Wednesday talk. He said this: "In breathing exercise, in Pranayama, there are three steps. The first step is inhalation - you breathe in. The second step is to hold, arrest, or stop your breath. And the third step is exhalation or breathing out."

So we have three steps: Inhalation, holding the breath, and exhalation. Purakam - you inhale; Kumbhakam, you stop or hold it. Rechikam, you exhale. So, Purika, Kumbhakam, Rechakam are the three Sanskrit words for the breathing process.

Donít worry about these words. They are not important. The essence of beautiful things can never be conveyed adequately with words. The most special things can never be expressed in any language. Language and words are inadequate to convey the depth of feeling. When words fail, emotions begin. When language flops, sentiment expresses. When expression fails, experience manifests. So let us not worry about the words, the juggling of words. The content is more important.

So, what does Bhagavan say about that? The time that you take to breathe in must be the same time as you take to arrest or hold your breath. And the time that you arrest or hold the breathing process - when you stop the air flowing inside - that time should be the same as the time you take to exhale. It means that all the three steps (the inhalation, the retention and the exhalation) must take the same or equal time. For example, if you take a couple of seconds for inhalation, you should take the same time (a couple of seconds) for retention and again the same time (a couple of seconds) for exhalation. This is called the control of breath or Pranayama.

I think that this is clear, isn't it? Please let me know. I now have completed thirty-nine years of service as a teacher. If I fail in my duty as a teacher, then life is not worth living! If it is a case of failure, perhaps I can try to be a better teacher in the next life! (Laughter)

Pranayama Helps Spirituality

Another point in Dhyana Vahini is this: Bhagavan mentions how Pranayama helps you spiritually. Bhagavan explains very clearly that by doing this controlled breathing exercise - that is, by controlling your breath as described above - the thought-flow is arrested and controlled, and it finally stops. When the flow of thoughts stops, the mind disappears. When the mind disappears, I become egoless. Mind is ego. Mind is thought. When thoughts are gone, there is no more trace of ego. So, I am egoless, I am in a 'no-mind' state. It is not a 'never-mind' state! (Laughter) I am in a 'no-mind', egoless, thoughtless (or thought-free) state.

Then what happens? First, it becomes easy to concentrate. Then, it becomes easy to contemplate. And finally, it becomes easy to meditate. So, concentration, contemplation and meditation are the three steps you can reach and achieve through the help of this breathing exercise. Thus, spirituality - meaning, concentration, contemplation and meditation - becomes easier.

As you do the breathing exercise of Pranayama as explained by Bhagavan, we should concentrate on the tip of the nose. When you concentrate like this on the tip of the nose and practice the breathing exercise of Pranayama, you can easily concentrate and more easily contemplate.

Then Meditation Just ĎHappensí

Meditation 'happens'. Please understand that 'happening' is different from 'doing' and different from making any effort. So, meditation just 'happens'. You can't 'do' meditation. You need not make any effort to meditate. Meditation is a 'happening'. It means that when once you concentrate and then contemplate, meditation just 'happens' spontaneously. This means that when once all the ingredients are mixed, for example, when the sugar and the flour are mixed, the sweetness will naturally 'happen'. Sweetness will appear in the mixture. You taste sweetness there. You didn't add or mix in sweetness separately. Sweetness is the final result. Am I clear? Similarly, meditation is the ultimate result. Meditation just 'happens'.

So, meditation is a 'happening'. However, when you think that meditation is an act or that meditation is an effort, it becomes a business. Meditation is a business if it is done out of your own effort. Thatís the reason why we find advertisements in metropolises advertising, "Meditation classes for 30 days, only $100". Oh, I see! Meditation is so simple, and only for $100 within 30 days! Then all sages, saints and aspirants, who spent decades and decades in seclusion, must have been dunces! They must have been fools to remain in solitude and live only on tubers and leaves and fast for prolonged periods! (Laughter) No, you cannot buy meditation for $100 in 30 days.

My friends, that which is sold and that which is linked with money is idiotic. That which is connected with position and that, which has got to do with vanity, pomp and show, is utter stupidity. It is never religion. Let us not call it 'religion' or 'spirituality', for heavenís sake! All the ideas we find in the world, we are bringing them to the spiritual field also, and thereby polluting it.

Sometimes we feel irritated when we find certain things happening around us. After all, the mind craves power. As we want worldly power there in the world, so we want spiritual power here in the spiritual realm. That desire for power is still there. It is only really the canvas (the realm of the world or the realm of the spirit) that changes, but the painting (the desire for power) remains the same. Therefore, we unfortunately remain unchanged forever and forever!

"I want to be special there in the world and here in the field of spirituality. I want to be something great there and here." Your greatness is what is important to you, but not what you actually accomplish (how you may change or improve). Therefore, in spite of our prolonged periods of stay here, we do not notice any improvement nor do we achieve any peace of mind. This is because our target, our objective has been only for position and power. It has been only for wealth, fame, popularity and influence. Therefore, the worldly scene or ways are just applied or transferred to the spiritual field. And hence, there is the same experience and there is no transformation at all.

Breathing Rates Are Linked with the Life-Span

Therefore, my friends, Bhagavan made a few remarks the other day, commenting on the breathing exercise. In the course of His Wednesday talk, what did He say? We can live long if we control our breath. Our life span increases by breath control. Those who breathe slowly live long. He gave examples. Those who breathe very fast, their lives are cut short.

Take the dog as an example. A dog that runs fast is gasping for breath as it busily runs along. Some people are like that, even without having any business to do. (Laughter) They appear to be busy, but they have no business to do at all. Please take it from me. They find themselves busy and they look so busy because they find happiness in appearing 'busy'. They find themselves special in giving that 'busy' appearance.

But let us look at Baba. Who can be busier than Swami? Can anyone be busier than Bhagavan? But does He look busy? No, He is very leisurely, very calm and totally relaxed, as if He has no work at all to do. But in fact, He symbolizes all work. He is all work on two feet. His life is all work, but He is utterly relaxed.

He is not bothered by anything. He is totally free from worry and anxiety. He even says, "I donít know what worry is! I want to taste it. How does worry look? How does worry taste?" Yes, thatís what He says! So my friends, to be relaxed, don't gasp for breath. When breathing becomes so fast, life is short. On the other hand, the snake breathes very slowly, 'dead slow'. Because of that, the snake lives for 100 to150 years! So, the advantage of Pranayama or breathing exercise is that it helps us to live longer.

Some people apply Sai teachings as they like, for their own convenience. Everyone starts quoting Swami: "As Swami saidÖ" "He also saidÖ" So, let us know in full what He said. Fragments cannot be the whole. A segment cannot be the total. A piece cannot be the whole. So let us have a holistic view, an over-all view, the totality, and not a fragmented or a segmented view.

Long ago Swami spoke of another point, and as I am I teacher, I must tell you. What did Bhagavan say? "Do not wish for a long life. It is not important. Electric poles have a very long life. It is not Deerga Jivitam, prolonged life, but Divya Jivitam, Divine life that is important."

The Holy Bible says that thorny bushes and cacti are useless, whereas a lily blossoms for a day and then withers and falls down by evening. Or, a jasmine flower gives us a beautiful fragrance, which is more beautiful than all the cacti and thorny bushes around.

So thatís all with regard to the breathing exercise. I appreciate your questions written on pieces of paper like this. I appreciate you and thank you very much. The questions you ask are very helpful for me because my memory will then go back to Sai literature and I recall what He has said on earlier occasions. I try to bring back to memory all I read in His books. So you are helping me remember. Thank you very much.

Symbols and Symbolism

Tomorrow is the great festival of Sri Rama Navami. It is an important festival. I know that I'm speaking to an audience of mainly foreigners, who are not totally and completely familiar with the story of the Ramayana. Some may have some idea of the story. My job here is not to describe or narrate the whole story. No, I'm not a storyteller. Even if I tried to do that, I would be a very poor performer. Grandmothers are the best storytellers. I think I still have some more time to grow in senility! (Laughter)

As you listen to Bhagavanís discourses delivered earlier on the occasions of Sri Rama Navami, you will notice certain Vedantic philosophical ideas expressed. I want to share a few of them with you this morning.

A national flag is just a piece of cloth. Thatís all. But we honor that piece of cloth. We salute the national flag. It symbolizes the nation, so we salute it. Similarly, a currency note is just a piece of paper, whether it is a $100 note, a $500 note, a Rs. 5 note or a Rs.100 note. Currency is just paper. But the paper has a value.

Many Christians and Catholics wear a chain with a cross. That cross has a value. It may be made of wood, silver, gold or diamonds. If you are a 'posh' devotee, you go for diamonds. If you are an affluent devotee, youíll go for gold. But a cross is a cross. The metal or gems may be different, that's all. Your vanity will choose which metal or stones. So when we come across a cross, we bow before it.

The cross is a symbol of the crucifixion. The cross symbolizes the agony and suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ for all of humanity. He was the only Son of God, who died on the cross to relieve and redeem the entire humanity. The cross is a symbol of adoration. The cross represents devotion. The cross is that to which we offer our obeisance, salutations, and humble prayers. However, the cross is only a symbol.

Similarly, the story of Rama is full of symbols. It is full of values portrayed by different characters acting in different roles. If we take it only as a story, we are not benefited. Bhagavan tells us repeatedly, "If you take Ramayana as just accidental or something historical, you will not be profited." But you will be benefited if you take the Ramayana as an epic. It is value-based, which means that every character has a value.

Rama Comes to Restore Dharma

Let me speak of certain characters here. I will not go into the depth of the story, which is not that important right now in this discussion. Rama is the main character, as the name Ramayana tells you. Rama is the name of God, the Lord Incarnate. As per the Scriptures, the Lord incarnates from time to time for the restoration of Dharma or Righteousness. He does not come for the establishment of Dharma because Dharma cannot be established.

Some people say that Dharmoddharana is 'the establishment of Dharma'. No, Dharma cannot be established. Dharma is inborn. It is a natural trait. Dharma is spontaneous. Dharma is latent and immanent. It is not transported, imported, or manufactured. One is born with it. How is this?

The Dharma or property of fire is to burn. I am not putting the burning quality to the fire. No, you do not have to add it. The fire does not have to acquire it. It has not undergone any training to get the capacity to burn. Burning is the very nature of fire. So, to burn is its Dharma. Ice is cold. The coolness of ice is not acquired nor is it inherited or taught. It is its natural quality. So, Dharmoddharana Dharmoddharana means 'the restoration of Dharma' means 'the restoration of Dharma' and not the establishment of Dharma. I think that I am clear.

Now Bhagavan adds another point. It is necessary to read Sai literature to compare with our other Scriptures because Swami takes us a step beyond, where all the other interpretations have stopped and all human thought has come to a standstill. As Bhagavan is the latest Avatar, coming in the 'Computer and Space Age,' He will not give you the 'dead' past. The past is dead and gone. The present is alive with life. The future is unsure. Therefore, we are living with the Avatar in the present, which is Life itself.

What does He say? When Dharma is not practiced, God incarnates to remind people that Dharma has to be practiced, and not merely propagated. Today we find religion is being propagated and publicized and made into a business. Religion has become commercial. Therefore, what is needed today is the practice of religion. So the emphasis of Bhagavan Baba is on practicing the principles of religion, not merely propagating them. In that line of thought, we can look at the main character of the Ramayana, Rama Himself.

God incarnated in the form of Rama. All characters, all different roles in the Ramayana are the symbols or the signs of certain values. Let us not think from the perspective of history. No, no! This story is not merely a connection of incidents and accidents - please do not believe that! The characters symbolize certain values. God incarnated in the form of Rama to practice and demonstrate the possibility of the highest of virtues in human form and conduct.

Rama is a Presence, Not a Person

Let me concentrate on a few points along this line of thought. Rama is not just a person. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate the birthday of Rama, called Sri Rama Navami. Let us celebrate it in full awareness of the birth of Rama, who is not outside us, but rather is within us. Rama is in every one of us, men and women alike. The classification of men and women is based on gender, but Rama represents the Spirit. Rama is awareness. Rama is consciousness. Rama is cosmic and Rama is universal. Rama is not merely a personality. Rama is a presence, not a person.

If you take Rama as a person, it is a drama. But it is not a drama. He is a presence! In what way is Rama a presence? Bhagavan gave a series of discourses on this aspect of Rama being in everyone as consciousness, as awareness. He gave a beautiful name to that Spirit, Atma Ram. Atma RamAtma Ram. Atma Ram. Atma Ram means Rama in spirit, Rama as consciousness, Rama as awareness. So tomorrow, when we celebrate Ramaís birthday, we have to be aware of the basic fact that Rama is in every one of us, deep in our consciousness as the one universal and cosmic Principle.

The realization of that Principle is the real birthday of Ramachandra. Any day it can happen. We don't have to wait for that particular birthday of the year. How does it happen? That is our question. Once I realize that Rama is my consciousness, that Rama is my awareness, that day is Rama Navami, the celebration of Ramaís birthday. When will it happen? How does it happen? And how is it possible to recognize it? How to realize and experience it? These are the important questions, which come to our minds immediately if we are really serious about it.

Life is a Celebration

However, many people donít have time to go that deeply into the subject. Let us celebrate outside with all the festivities and gaiety, with all the preparations at home! Yes, with all the cookies and the distribution of sweets, let it be a grand celebration!

But the true celebration is something within. Life is a daily celebration, not merely on Sri Rama Navami. Every moment is a celebration. Every day is a celebration. Sri Rama Navami is not a special festival. Every day is a festival. Every moment is ecstasy. So, life is music and life is a melody. Life is a celebration. Life is joy and life is a dance. That is Sri Rama Navami.

The very meaning of Rama speaks of cheerfulness. The very meaning of the word Rama is blissfulness. So the one with a serious face is unfit to celebrate. The one who can never smile is a misfit in the story of Rama. So we should not be unfits and misfits. We should fit exactly!

When can you be happy? When can you be blissful? How is it possible that Lord Rama could be happy? Why? How could he be happy? Why can't I be happy? Rama could be happy. He could enjoy a blissful state because of total detachment and total renunciation. Renunciation is Vairagya and detachment is Upeksha. That is the key to being blissful. Attachment is misery, whereas detachment is bliss. Attachment is bondage, while renunciation is bliss. So, the secret to being blissful is to be totally detached and completely renounced. Only then we can be blissful. That is the secret behind being in a blissful state like Ramachandra.

In support of this statement, I can give one example. I wonít go into the details of the story with all the slokas or names of the characters. The narration of this story, supported by Sanskrit slokas, may help me to look scholarly. It may help me to make everyone of you believe that I'm a scholar. But my effort is not to be scholarly. My attempt is just to make you experience the Sai message, to make you taste the sweetness of Sai philosophy. It has nothing to do with me.

Rama's Coronation Is Announced

In this story, it was announced just one day before that Rama was going to be coronated and he was going to be the king of this kingdom. All the people wanted him as their king. Why? His father, Dasaratha, was advanced in years and was losing his memory.

In those days, people had some sense to retire. (Laughter) Now no one wants to retire because they want to leave the world with 'state honors'. Thatís the reason why the political field today has become what Samuel Johnson spoke of in his English literature long ago. I will just quote Johnson. Please donít blame me! They are his words.

Johnson is a most wonderful writer of English literature. What did he observe? (If you don't like his comment, go and pull on his collar, but don't attack me!) "Politics is the last resort for scoundrels."." (Laughter) That is what Johnson said. Please go to his grave and bring him back to life, if you can. Thatís the reason why I said that, in those days, people had some sanity. They had some sense to say, "I am old, too old to continue in this position. Let me retire."

So the father, King Dasaratha, was tired and wanted to retire. He announced that Rama was going to be the future king. Everybody applauded happily because they knew the qualities and qualifications of Rama. There was no election and no contest. Everyone knew of his fine qualities. No one could excel him in virtues or good character. Rama has always been the very symbol, the perfect personification of good character. Nobody could ever challenge his integrity.

So, nobody challenged Rama. Today, if we look at our Parliament during the sessions on TV, we must feel ashamed. We may feel, "Are these the people we elected?" But we should know that when Rama was announced as the future king, everybody applauded and all were cheerful and happy about it.

Rama is Blissful in all Circumstances

On the next day, just before the coronation, Rama was informed, "You are not going to be the king. You shall go to the forest and live there for fourteen years." As the poet describes it, and as Bhagavan tells us repeatedly, the smile on Rama's face remained the same. He was so happy in the evening, when it was announced that he would be the future king. Yet the very same smile was there the next day when he was told to go to the forest for fourteen years. It was the same happiness. That is the secret of success. That is the secret of a blissful state of mind. Only the one who is detached can be blissful.

Supposing you say, "Anil Kumar, you passed in the examination." I will be very happy. I will give you sweets. If you are not happy with that, I will give you a Coke or a Sprite. But, on the other hand, if you say, "You failed in the examination," youíd be lucky if I didn't slap you! Why? It is because I react to the situation. I become tense and am tossed around by circumstances A totally detached man will never react or be affected. Circumstances, objects, people or any situation will never influence him. He is (and remains) unaffected.

So, the very name of Rama speaks of bliss because of his total detachment and complete renunciation. Thus the Sri Rama Navami birthday celebration represents the cultivation of this detachment. We should be detached from desire, power, kingdom, conveniences, and comforts. We cannot find a better example than Rama for this.

Rama Stands for Truth

The next point is that Rama stands for Truth. We also speak Truth, but our Truth is based on convenience and not on conviction. When it is convenient, we speak the Truth. When it is not convenient, we donít mind uttering blatant lies or remaining silent. So I remain silent or indulge in lying when it is inconvenient to tell the Truth. But, when it is convenient and in our interest, we speak the Truth. But Truth is never based on convenience. Truth is based on conviction and never on convenience.

Here is a simple example: Somebody said, "Your father made a promise so long ago. Due to that promise of so long ago, he is ordering that you have to be sent to the forest now. Why do you follow today a promise given by your father to his wife so long ago? It is not necessary. On the other hand, there are some legal provisions." (Attorneys have had enough practice in such cases nowadays in USA! Every attorney is busy there.) You can ask any lawyer and they will tell you that the promise given long ago is not valid today. For example, if you continue to stay in a house for 12 years, you can own it. The owner will have to go away. All it takes is twelve years. So, even promises have got some time factor limitations. "Your foolish father gave a promise long ago, so you donít have to follow it today." That is one legal point.

Then there is a second legal point. What is it? "Your father gave the promise to his wife. But at that time and place, there was no witness there. So, who is the witness now? Where is the witness today? On the other hand, just yesterday, with everybody as the witness, your father declared you as the king! This is the latest, most recent promise, whereas the promise given long ago is very outdated as well as unwitnessed. This recent promise, given only yesterday, is the valid one, not the one made previously, so many years ago."

Any government circular will tell you that any new government order cancels all the previous orders. All earlier orders become null and void. All government orders everywhere are like that. Similarly, the previous day's latest declaration by the king - to have Rama installed as the king - is more valid.

But Rama is not for conveniences. He has no thirst for power. As he has no interest in power, he declared, "Whether the promise was given long ago or not, or whether the latest one is valid and the previous promise is null and void, donít speak of it! Iíll hold on only to Truth. That is all. I will only follow my fatherís command. What he said is Truth. That is what has to be adhered to."

So when we celebrate Rama's birthday, it stands for the determination or pledge to speak Truth and follow Truth, to hold and cling on to Truth, come what may - be it a throne or a forest, comfort or utter discomfort, convenience or total inconvenience. So Sri Rama Navami is the celebration of Truth. Sri Rama Navami is observance of Truth. That is the second point, which I want to bring to your attention.

Rama's Adherence to Dharma

The third point is that Sri Rama Navami, which is the birth of Ramachandra, also stands for adherence to the practice of Dharma or Righteousness, righteous conduct, and established codes of conduct. That means, Rama followed Dharma and Sathya (Truth) as per the Scriptures. Whatever Rama did was Dharmic. It was approved by Dharma. It was righteous. It was never unrighteous.

The same thing is said in the Holy Bible: "I am the Truth, I am the Way, and I am the Life." When the Bible says, "I am the Truth," this is Ramaís same principle of Truth. When the Bible says, "I am the Way," it is this same Dharma. So, Ramaís life was Dharmic. His was a life full of righteousness and righteous conduct.

Some might ask, "Why? How can you say that?" Later on in the story of the Ramayana, Rama sends his wife, his consort, away to an ashram in the forest in order to honor the verdict of public opinion. Fourteen years later, after returning to Ayodhya, when there was a clash in public opinion regarding the purity of his wife, he sent her away, though she was all innocence, in order to honor public opinion. He gave more value to public opinion than to his personal comfort, gain, or security. He valued public opinion and thereby forfeited his wife's company. That is Dharma.

When public opinion condemns you and you say, "Yes, let me bow down to the public verdict," that is Dharma. Praja Vaaka Paripalana Praja Vaaka Paripalana means 'holding on to the public opinion'. So Rama not only followed the father's command, Pithru Vaaku Paripalana. But he also bowed down to the public verdict and sacrificed his personal life and comfort. So, Rama not only stands for Dharma and Sathya, but also for Vairagya or renunciation.

Rama is All Compassion

Rama also stands for compassion. What sort of compassion did he have? The Holy Bible says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Though it sounds simple enough, it is very difficult to love the neighbor. I can love the whole world, but I cannot love my neighbor! (Laughter) The problem is only with the neighbors. I can love people in the West Indies, because they are at a distance in a far-off place. I can love all those from Venezuela because I never meet them. I can love all those from Guatemala because I donít see them.

The problem with the neighbor is that I have to see him everyday! The problem begins with sharing the daily tap water. Then, because we live in flats and therefore share the same corridor, the problem continues, as we have to move along the same corridor together. So, to "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is the most difficult thing in the world to do sometimes! To love the whole of humanity, in comparison, is very simple and easy!

So my friends, Ramaís compassion is the same thing as forgiveness. Compassion means forgiveness. Compassion is not revengeful. Compassion does not retaliate or react. Compassion forgives. Forgive those who are your enemies, those who want to finish you off or who are ready to attack you. As Jesus Christ said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Jesus stands for compassion. Ramachandra also stands for compassion.

Compassion is a higher step then mere kindness. Kindness is limited, whereas compassion is oceanic. Compassion is felt towards animals, trees, mountains, flowers and all of nature. So compassion is 'all encompassing'. Kindness leads to compassion, and then compassion merges or gets lost in Divine Love. Love is Divine. So, kindness takes you to compassion and compassion takes you to the highest state of Divine Love. Be loving and loved. Love all and serve all. Love is Divine. So, kindness ends in Divine Love and Divine Love begins with kindness. Compassion comes in between these two.

Rama Gives Refuge to the Enemy

Rama represents compassion. Here is an example. Someone from the enemy camp, named Vibhishana, came to Rama and sought refuge in Him. Please understand that he is coming directly from the enemy camp, from the worst of the enemy. That person was the brother of the one who kidnapped Rama's wife. So the very brother of the person who abducted Ramaís wife and took her away in disguise comes to Rama and seeks his refuge and pardon!

So many people there surround Rama. One of them advises Rama, "Kick him out!" This is good advice because this man comes directly from the enemy camp. Another person says, "Kick him out? No! Never grant him pardon. Never trust this man because the war begins tomorrow. He must have come here as a spy to find out our war strategy, to learn what we are planning to do tomorrow, to see our warfare tactics and weapons, to leak out our secrets. Beware! It is all espionage. He has come as a secret agent (CIA or CBI !). So you had better kill him!" But Rama said, "Let him be the worst of my enemies. When he seeks my pardon, I shall grant him refuge."

So, Sri Rama Navami stands for forgiveness, compassion, and love. Divine Love transcends all differences and all rivals. It settles all scores between us. Forgiveness is Infinite. There are no conditions in forgiveness like, "If you join my party, Iíll forgive you." No. It is not like that. Rama's response was, "You seek refuge? Yes!" There ends the matter.

Swami Will Never Leave Us nor Forget Us

Bhagavan always says, "If you say just once 'I belong to you,' I will never forsake you." My friends, those devotees who do not have the good fortune to repeat their visits here frequently, and also those devotees, who are cut off by misfortune, are still in the memory of our compassionate Lord, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Do you know what He says? "I shall not forsake you, even if you forsake me. I shall not leave you, even if you leave me. I will never forget you."

I am a witness to just such an incident: A long time ago, a person came to see Swami. After an absence of 20 years, he was sitting by my side again! Now if I look at my photo taken twenty years ago, I cannot even recognize my own face! In fact I never look at the old albums because I donít want to see my face in those days. Albums are reminiscent and nostalgic, but also sometimes disturbing. They are for others to look at, not for ourselves, believe me!

So when that man came after a gap of twenty years, Bhagavan walked slowly and gently over to him with a sweet smile, like a mother ready to meet her child, her son, after twenty years, with a clear feeling of exploration, exclamation, and ecstasy. There was no hint of seeking an explanation from him.

Bhagavan came close to him and said, "How are you, my child! How are you?" He called him by his name! "How are your sons? Twenty years ago I saw both of your sons, when one was five years old and the other was only three. Today, one is an engineer and the other one is a bank manager. How are you, my dear son?" When Swami tells this to the man whom He last met twenty years ago, talking about his sons today, and speaking to him with the same Love and affection, that is Divinity!

"Swami, some people speak so much nonsense about You. What shall I do? I can close my lips, but not my ears. I can keep my hands still and sit cross-legged. But unless I am deaf, how can I close my ears or stop hearing? People are speaking such nonsense, so what shall I do?"

Do you know what Baba said? He said, "You have ears to hear, but you have also legs to walk out! (Laughter) You can walk out. I have given you legs, so why donít you get up and go? Why do you blame your hearing?"

God is so compassionate. He doesnít blame you any time. "Swami! I committed all sins!" "Bhagavan, I did all unpardonable mistakes in the past." "Bhagavan, I was unloyal to You!" "Swami, I am not truthful to You!" "Swami, I trespassed! I disobeyed You!" But how does Bhagavan react? "Bangaru! (an endearing name Swami uses, meaning 'Gold') Past is past. Donít worry about the past. Donít speak about the past. From now on, be a good boy."

Yes, giving and forgiving is Bhagavan Baba, and He is Lord Ramachandra Himself. So, when we celebrate Sri Rama Navami, it is also a celebration of forgiveness. It is a celebration of giving something to others - a celebration of sacrifice, renunciation, detachment and blissfulness.

Even Rama is the Ideal to his Enemy!

Then, another lesson from Rama is how to be an 'ideal enemy'. This demands a lot of specialties. The story is this: the last days were approaching for Ravana, the worst of Rama's enemies. Ravana is about to die. As he lies almost on his deathbed, Rama summons his own brother, Lakshmana, and asks him to go to Ravana, his enemy, who is dying. Why? "Ravana is a senior man. He is a great devotee and great administrator. Learn a few lessons in administration from him. Go to him."

He sends his own brother to his enemy! Yes! We humans say, "When are we going to hear the news of his death? When is he going to be finished?" But here is Rama, who sends his own brother to learn some lessons in political science and administration. Yes, He finds good qualities even in a bad person. In contrast, we are 'so excellent' (said sarcastically) that we find bad qualities even in good people! We are just the reverse. So, Sri Rama Navami is the celebration of finding good everywhere, even in bad things, and of finding positive, even in negative situations.

What about Ravana, his enemy, how did he behave? His own daughter-in-law came and started to cry. "Oh, Uncle! My husband died! The opposite camp killed him. I want to see his dead body." Ravana, the father-in-law, said, "Go there and see the body!" The daughter-in-law said, "But Uncle, will I be safe? I am a beautiful lady. If I go to the enemy camp, what will happen to me? It is midnight!"

What did Ravana, worst of the enemies of Ramachandra, say? "Nothing will happen to you. I give you my guarantee! Rama may be my enemy, but he is not a womanizer! That reputation belongs to me! (Laughter) That has been my role. Youíll be safe in Ramaís camp. You'd better go there." See what ideal teachings are in the Ramayana!

Sathya and Dharma Exemplified

Sri Rama Navami is not an ordinary festival. Bhagavan Baba is Sri Rama Himself. Whatever He speaks is Sathya, Truth. Whatever He does is Dharma, Righteousness. The kind of feeling that He confers and grants us is Peace, Shanthi. The relationship between us is Prema or Divine Love. Bhagavan Baba sets an example of how to lead a virtuous life.

Ramaís life is one of Sathya and Dharma exemplified. So as we celebrate Ramaís birthday tomorrow, we are celebrating Babaís birthday also. Ramaís birthday is not different from Babaís birthday. Ramaís and Babaís birthdays are not different from our own birthday. The birthday of each and every one of us is Ramaís birthday - that is the life of awareness!

In fact, there are lots and lots of things that could be said. But I know that you have to stand in lines for the afternoon Darshan in the hot, scorching sun. You people, who stand in lines and wait for our Lord, are really the devotees, not people like us, who go in at the last moment and occupy the VIP seats. Please take it from me - Swami thinks a lot of you! I'm not exaggerating, my friends. I donít have to exaggerate and I donít have to flatter you.

The Supreme Court Justice came here a long time ago for the Inauguration of the University. Justice Chandra Chud was looking at all the buildings and flats here and said, "Swami, what beautiful buildings are here! They are all around, giving shelter and lodging to many people. They are wonderful buildings!"

Do you know what Baba told him? "Where are my devotees? My devotees sleep under trees. Where are my devotees? They live there in the sheds. They stand in long queues for hours in the hot sun, waiting for Me." Sai is for you and Sai is for me. He is our most compassionate Lord!

May Sri Rama Navami bring us all the noblest and the highest qualities, as they are exemplified, personified, and idealized in the life of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

May the festival be a benediction and a blessing to every one of us. May it take us to great altitudes in spiritual heavens.

May Bhagavan be with you forever and ever more.

Jai Sai Ram!

Anil Kumar ended his talk with a Bhajan.

Om Asatoma Sadgamaya
Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya
Mrtyurmaya Amrtamgamaya

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi

Sai Ram! Thank you very much!

© Anil Kumar Kamaraju 2004 - Here reproduced for personal use of the devotees for the purpose of seva.
Anil Kumar website: http://www.internety.com/anilkhome/ - http://www.internety.com/saipearls/


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