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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
August 26, 2001

The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar on August 26th, 2001

Inner Significance of Onam Festival and The Story of Onam



My friends! There is a request from a section of this audience. They want me to appraise them with certain details connected with a festival that weíll be celebrating quite soon. The name of the festival, which falls on the 31st of this month, is called Onam. I understand that it is going to be a three-day celebration. Of course, Bhagavanís discourse will be there on the day of Onam. That is the 31st. Mostly the residents of Kerala celebrate this festival of Onam. Kerala is a state in India. I'll explain certain things for the benefit of those who do not have any idea of this story. The story is long and the inner significance is more important to us than the characters connected with it.

The celebration of Onam Festival indicates four important points. It is the occasion of sacrifice, the spirit of surrender, devotion, and totally subduing or killing the ego. The annihilation of ego is the very purpose of the Onam celebration.

All these four features are very much reflected in one great emperor named Bali. It was done this way: God came to him in a human form, as the Incarnation named Vamana. Vamana came down to earth to demonstrate the noble qualities of Emperor Bali. These four qualities were brought out through this story and thus the world could know the purpose of the celebration of Onam Festival.

The beauty of it is this: God Himself came to Emperor Bali and asked for the donation of three feet of land. Three feet! This is rather amazing and unbelievable. Why did God ask for three feet? Is this not funny and absurd, as the whole world, the whole creation, is His and all belong to Him? It appears to be rather ridiculous! It so happened that God could occupy the whole universe, from the top to the bottom, in just two of His footsteps. So there was no place for the third footstep. Hence He put His foot on the head of Emperor Bali!

That is the story. My friends, my idea is not to narrate the whole story in detail. Also, I'm not an ideal storyteller. (I know my limitations!) Bhagavan Baba will present it with an in-depth meaning and significance, which is applicable to our daily life.

Emperor Bali demonstrated to the whole world the significance and the importance of this festival, Onam. This fits in well with the subject of this morningís talk, Ďdirection, vis-a-vis destinationí. This is the point: there is an inner significance when God asked for three feet from Emperor Bali. Let me put it in terms of Bhagavan Babaís discourses, as I am familiar with discourses He delivered on previous occasions of Onam.

I would like to draw your attention to these points along this line of thought. I'm very fond of comparing Bhagavanís discourses with that of a diamond, which has so many facets. Bhagavan interpreted the symbolism of three feet in so many ways. Each explanation is totally new and different from those given in earlier speeches.

Surrender of the Physical Consciousness

There are three levels of consciousness. We will call this ĎB-M-Ií: 'B' is for body consciousness, 'M' for mental consciousness or psychological consciousness, and 'I' for intellectual consciousness. (Not 'B' for biscuit, I'm sorry!) (Laughter) The first one is physical consciousness. It is the functional part, meaning as the body acts and executes. You feel when anyone touches you, you hear when anyone talks to you, and youíre able to see when there is any scene in front of you. As you know, the senses of cognition, perception, and understanding are the five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. This is what we call physical consciousness. It is the operational and functional aspect of the total human personality. So, of the three feet that God asked for from Emperor Bali, the first one to be surrendered to Him was the physical level of consciousness. One has to surrender, sacrifice, and give up this first level of consciousness.

What is this surrender and how is it to be done? What are we doing now? At present we think that the body acts, as it is gifted to enjoy and experience the world. I see, I hear, I touch, and I smell, thinking that I am just the body. The identification with the body is what is called 'physical consciousness'. When this is surrendered and sacrificed to God, it happens that you rise above the physical body.

For your information, Bhagavan said that the one who goes by the dictation of the body is an animal. An animal acts according to the whims, fancies, likes and dislikes of the body. When I show green grass to the cow, it is attracted and comes close to it. When a dog sees any food, it runs toward it. So, the one who is carried away by the body and senses is an animal. (That is Bhagavanís definition, please pardon me if anyone is offended!) (Laughter) We may be an animal by temperament. But, of course, no one can differ publicly! Still, no one would like to call himself an animal.

Therefore, my friends, surrendering and sacrificing the physical level of consciousness means that one should rise above or go beyond the body. It only means that he should not come down to the level of an animal. It also implies that he should be totally free from bestial temperament or animal nature, which we call darkness or tamo guna. Tamo guna means dullness, inertia, laziness, and passivity.

I'm not using so many words to exhibit my vocabulary! No! I know my shortcomings. I use so many words just to try to reach you somehow, in order to make you understand the spirit of what I mean. I'm sure that youíll pardon me, as Iíve been struggling to make you understand everything.

Emperor Bali sacrificed the physical consciousness first, in order to be free from animalism. Why only him? We should also sacrifice it! Nobody would like to hold onto his animalism, no! Nobody would like to continue to be animalistic. Let us be free from that bestial temperament. Physical consciousness has to be surrendered.

Surrender of the Psychological Consciousness

The second footstep that Emperor Bali surrendered was the psychological consciousness. This is the second level of awareness or consciousness. Let me surrender and sacrifice this. What are we doing now? Because I identify with the mind and think I'm the mind, the result is the birth, growth, sustenance, improvement, and increase of the feeling of ego within me. I become more and more egoistic day by day. Yesterday 40%, today 60% and the next day 80% -the ego is growing more and more like that. I become proud and egoistic. It is a disease. We have to pity egoistic fellows. Thatís all. But let us not be angry with them. You donít fight with a paralytic fellow, do you? Do you fight with a fellow who is bedridden? No, you donít. Similarly, we donít have to fight with an egoistic fellow. There is something wrong with him. He has identified himself with the mind and he has not grown beyond it. Psychological consciousness is the root cause for ego, pride, pain, pleasure, jubilation, and also for humiliation. So, the mind is responsible for the bumps and jumps in life.

First God asks us to sacrifice physical consciousness so that we will be free from animal traits. Next God asks us to surrender psychological consciousness so that we will transcend and grow beyond the mind. Then we will not be egoistic or proud.

My friends! Scriptures clearly tell us this. You may do any number of acts of charity, scholarship or ritual. Nobody will say not to do it. But the main cause for rebirth is ego. One takes life after life, continuing the cycle of birth and death, again and again. Why? Only because of the ego. That ego is nothing but psychological consciousness, small 'I'-ness: "I am that. I am this. I belong to that country. I earned that degree. I am in that position."

That is a deadly disease, oh yes! Cancer is not as dangerous as ego. Cancer will take some time, but ego will kill you like a slow, slow poison! Then you are finished! Cancer finishes off our life here, but the ego will take care of the coming life also. We will experience total ruin. So, one has to rise above the psychological consciousness. This is the second footstep that Vamana wanted from the Emperor Bali.

Surrender of the Intellectual Consciousness

The third footstep that God wanted from him was the sacrifice of intellectual consciousness. This also has to be surrendered and given up. What is this intellectual consciousness? It is the feeling of a separate entity: "I'm a separate individual or personality. I have my own individuality." The feeling of separateness, having a separate form and name, creating the idea of individuality and the totality of the personality, is what we call 'intellectual' consciousness.

A drop feels separate from the ocean. It thinks, "I'm the drop. I'm shining so brilliantly in the morning sun, like a pearl on the waxy coating of the lotus leaf! I'm something distant, separate, and unique." This is what is called intellectual consciousness, a feeling of separateness. One fights to be an entity and struggles for individuality. One feels, "I donít want to be branded a common man. I donít want to come in the queue! Let me have a separate entrance by which to come!" Oh! Do hell and heaven also have separate entrances? (Laughter) "I donít want to join the mainstream, no! There is a seat reserved for me and a gate meant for me. There are only a few people who I will talk to. I belong to one race and one tribe." Ugh! This is horrible! This sort of intellectual consciousness also should be given up.

Surrender of the Past, Present, and Future

On another occasion, Bhagavan said that the three feet to be surrendered were the past, present, and future: You have to forget the past. Donít worry about the future. Leave the present to God.

Most of us suffer because we have our own misgivings and differences of opinion. Most of us have certain people with whom we do not see eye-to-eye. We donít mingle with some people because of the past. (Here are some examples:) "Last year you did not say 'Sai Ram' to me, so this year I wonít say 'Sai Ram' to you!" (Laughter) (Oh! That's a very good equation of balance!) "Last year you did not ask me to sit in an empty place, so today I will not offer you a vacant seat." "Last year when I got an interview you looked full of jealousy, so when you got an interview this time, my eyes were full of jealousy." This is all because of reaction. Thatís all.

We do not have positive relationships. We are jealous of certain people and fond of others. "Last year you were so kind to me, so let me be the same to you this year." "A few days ago, you invited me for a cup of tea, so today why donít you take some time to visit us?" This is commercial, like a business. These types of give-and-take relationships are based on the past. "Our relations were good in the past. Therefore, let me maintain our good relations today also." "In the past, we had differences. So let the gulf increase now!" The past dictates the present. This is very unfortunate.

The past dictates the present and the present is the cause for worry about the future. We have our relatives, colleagues, and devotees everywhere, and that leads to worry regarding the future. "Today you have pushed me. So tomorrow I donít know what you are going to do!" "Today youíre so discourteous, ill-mannered, and indecent towards me, so tomorrow, I donít know, you may remove me from my job altogether!" So, the future is always a threat.

There is always uncertainty about the future, which bothers us and causes expectation. Let us not think of the future. If I get 100-rupees prize today, I will expect at least a 500-rupee prize in the future. Why not? If I receive 1,000-rupee prize today, I will expect at least 10,000-rupee prize in the future! After all, itís only one more zero! (Laughter) So, the future even entertains hope in a positive manner, which may not materialize or become a reality.

The future is also dangerous because it disheartens, discourages, and frustrates one in a negative way. "I may die tomorrow or after 10 years!" Someone came and told me, "Sir, my horoscope says that I will live up to sixty years old." I told him, "Brother, you may die at the age of fifty-five. Why not? Who knows?" He answered me, "Sir, my horoscope, my stars, and planets all say that I'm sure to live for 60 years." That is very good. But after age fifty-five, he might go on worrying, "Oh dear! I am going to die in five years!" He may not live for five years, as the date will be advanced forward due to worrying! (A.K. and audience laughs) If you donít think about the future, things may get postponed, even if it is a negative event like a sad or even a terrible tragedy.

This is the reason why Swami often tells doctors, "You should never tell the patient that his condition is serious." Swami once described and acted this out very nicely in one of His discourses. I'm not simply joking. It is even on a videocassette! A doctor will pick up the hand of the patient, read the pulse rate, and then say, "Hmmm! It is no use. It is finished. He will not survive." The patient will start sinking at that very moment! (Laughter) A doctor should never say that!

Therefore, my friends, worry about the future, whether positively or negatively, is not necessary and will not be helpful. A far-distant hope will take you to a hopeless state and a promise will take you to a state of total denial. Therefore, let us forget about the future. God is there to take care of it.

Then, there is also no point in thinking about the past. One might say, "We were very great in the past. My grandfather had 100 acres of land and my great-grandfather was the king of the whole village. Yet, I'm begging today." (Laughter) Oh, you are begging today, being the son of a landlord and grandson of a king. Why? Please stop that nonsense!

On the other hand, even negative things regarding the past will not help us. "In the past, I was very, very poor. But today I'm comfortable." When I think of my poverty of yesterday, I will not be able to enjoy the richness of today. The remembrance of the past will deny you the enjoyment of the present affluence and wealth. If I continue to think of my ten-day hospitalization of last year, I will continue to worry now until the gates of the hospital are today once again opened for me!

Worry regarding the past or the future is not helpful, whether negative or positive. The present is the fruit of the past and the foundation for the future. Sacrificing and surrendering the three dimensions, the three periods of past, present, and future is the implication of the three feet surrendered to God by Emperor Bali. This is the second interpretation that Bhagavan has given.

Surrender of the Gross, Subtle, and Causal Bodies

The third interpretation Bhagavan gave was this. There are three levels of the gross, subtle, and causal bodies that have to be surrendered. All of us know about the gross body, sthula. A weighing machine (scale) will tell you the weight of this gross body. Sometimes the gross body has to be controlled, as itís a danger if it goes on increasing in size! Then Swami will have to call you, "Hey! Pakoda!" (A pakoda is a plumpish fried potato Indian snack!) There used to be one gentleman with a gross body, arranged in a very funny way. When Swami called him for an interview, that man was walking towards Swami and He said, "Do you see? His body is like a question mark!" (Laughter) There can be any number of jokes about the gross body. The first footstep is to sacrifice the gross body.

The second is the subtle body, sukshma. It is the operational principle, which works from within in a hidden way and lies as an undercurrent, being non-expressive. It is something like the subtle principle of electricity, which is responsible for illumining light bulbs and the function of the mike and all electronic gadgets. Life would be put to danger if this subtle principle expressed itself outwardly. How would I experience electricity working if I put my two fingers into the plug? (Laughter) So, subtle things should be hidden, non-expressive, and in the background or else they become dangerous. This subtle body is the second footstep that God wants to be sacrificed

The third one that has to be sacrificed is the causal body, also called karana. The casual body means the primordial, main cause of lifeís sojourn, destiny, and all that happens in my life. It is the cause for my fate, advancement, success, or failure.

Offering these three - the gross, subtle, and causal bodies - as the three footsteps is another interpretation of Onam given by Bhagavan. The celebration will be really meaningful if we are aware of these facts. It is not only a festivity with balloons and paraphernalia, a gala celebration. We can really enjoy it if we know the in-depth meaning.

The Five Elements in the Body

In His Divine Discourse the other day, Bhagavan referred to three things that should be understood. They are materialization, vibration, and radiation. Baba calls the constitution of the human body as Ďmaterializationí. The five elements, which are earth, fire, water, air, and space, are present in my body in such a perpetration and combination as to build my body. Bhagavan often says, "Everything that is present in the other man is also present in you."

Your body is made up just of the earth, the dust. As the Holy Bible says, "Dust thou art; dust thou returnest." We are born out of this and we go back to it. The body gets decomposed and goes back into earth. Thatís all. It is just the law of Nature. Also, there is water in my body. 90% of my body consists of water. There is water outside, water inside, water in me, and water in you!

Fire is also in me. My body temperature is 98.4, which has to be maintained. If one is ill and has a temperature of 105 degrees, the announcement of demise is awaited. There is also heat within us, which is responsible for the digestion process. It is the grinding mill of all the garbage that goes inside, like ice cream and hot coffee! Air is also in me, as it is present in our breathing process - when I breathe in and breathe out. Anyone who says, "Sir, I have no air in me!" is not a person! Maybe he is an ethereal body, which we would have to be careful about!

Space is in our body. Because of it, different parts within the body are kept as articles are kept in a suitcase. Without space, you cannot fill your suitcase. The body is also like a suitcase, where so many parts are arranged. Of course, the parts can be exchanged today, in the form of transplants. (Laughter) There is even foreign exchange, right?

The point is that all the five elements are in the body, which is materialization. This materialization has to be offered to God. You are not of your own making. You are not even from your parents, but through your parents. That is the correct usage. Parents are a passage for the children to emerge, for the flowers that are children to be born and to blossom in this world, which is a garden of Nature. Baba says this and Kahlil Gibran also

admits it in his book, The Prophet. The Prophet is a beautiful book. All should learn every sentence by heart, as it is full of philosophy and depth. (Of course, he is not related to me, nor am I his sales agent!) (Laughter)

Sacrificing the Body to God

My friends, what does it mean to sacrifice this body, which is God's gift and not of our own making? It means to live selflessly, not to sustain oneself only for selfish reasons. That which is given by God has to be returned to Him. That is the best way. If I rented this mike, I cannot spoil it. I must return it. If I rented this dress from a tailor, I have to return it to him properly. I cannot cut it to pieces and return it, or he will manhandle me and take me to court! (Laughter) That which is taken must be returned intact. When God gave this body, it was pure, beautiful, first-class, and healthy. We will have to pay a heavy penalty if we return it full of leaks and punctures, in an unhealthy, sickly, useless, and in a second-hand state!

A long time ago, one gentleman was speaking before Bhagavan. He said, "Baba! I sacrifice my life to You and I am ready to die for You!" Bhagavan is very smart. He ignored the other things said, and only noted these two meaningless and silly statements. He got up and said, "Just now you heard this devotee saying two meaningless and useless statements - that heís ready to dedicate his life to Me and that he is ready to die for Me. I donít want your 'second-hand' body. You made use of your body for your own purposes up until now. The legs have taken you to all the lanes and bylanes, Holiday Inns, and nightclubs. What can I do with those legs now? (Laughter) Your hands were used to earn money, play cards excellently, and take bribes. Now youíre ready to offer those dirty, spoiled hands to Me. What for? I donít want them!"

"The ears that heard gossip, tales, rumors, and scandals are dedicated to Me, now that you are deaf! (Laughter) When they were powerful, you kept them for you. Now that they are useless and you cannot hear, you are saying, ĎO God! Take my ears!í Is it nice to offer such things? ĎAs long as they are useful, let them be with me. But please take them back when they are useless!í "

How ridiculous to do this, in the name of dedication and offering, as an act of sacrifice! You are ready to offer the tongue that sipped bottles and bottles of scotch whiskey (Laughter), hamburgers, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is meaningless to offer a body which is already used, hopelessly sick, and not beneficial to you." Thatís what Baba openly said.

You are not a master of your body. You are a slave of it! Youíre not able to control your sight, hearing, or taste. Then how can you donate or dedicate it to somebody else? Who am I to donate this mike to you? I'm not its owner. It belongs to the office, and theyíll ring my neck if I give it away! Similarly, your body doesnít belong to you. You are a tenant in it on rental basis, so you cannot sell it. If I were staying in a private house on a rental basis as a tenant, would you buy this house if I came to you and said, "Hey! I'm ready to sell it"? If I did this, I would be Cheat # 1! I cannot do it. Similarly, Baba said, "How can you give the body to God, when it does not belong to you in the first place, and you are neither the owner nor the master of it?"

The second statement was: "I'm ready to die for God." Swami said, "One has to live for God, not die for God." (Laughter) After all, one has to die someday or another. It is only a question of the 'Date of Expiry'. Some trains reach before time and some run late, thatís all. All will have to arrive at their station some day or other. So, "I'm ready to die" is bogus, an utterance of total ignorance. Life is God and God is life. Everything else is inert and dull. This body or materialization has to be offered to God by being selfless.

The Effects of Vibrations

The second step to be offered to God is the subtle body or vibration. It is the pulsating movement within the body. Bhagavan told us this in His discourse the other day. He said that when we are in the company of good people, we have good vibrations. When we are in the company of bad people, I donít have to say! This is our experience. We will be free from the effects of vibrations only if we keep at a distance from everybody.

We know about air, water, food, and noise pollution. But let us be aware of 'vibration pollution' also. When a man of the world sits by your side, he goes on telling about his properties. As he describes the rates of interest and as he mentions the principle amount that he deposited in the bank, you start calculating your money also! In the meantime, Swamiís darshan ends! Do you see that? If you are in the company of worldly people, you also become worldly. Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are. Always be in good company and run away from bad company. Thatís what Bhagavan says repeatedly. Give up any bad company because the vibrations will affect you.

Whoever went to the great preceptor Ramakrishna Paramahamsa or to Ramana Maharshi of Arunachala could feel the Divine vibrations there. Whoever sits for morning Darshan can also receive the Divine vibrations as Bhagavan passes by. Concentrate more and look at Him constantly so that youíll receive His vibrations. He doesnít have to communicate, my friends!

I told you last time that God does not communicate. He only communes. Communication is different from communion. I explained at length what the difference is last week. In one word, communication is verbal, vocal, and expressive. Communion is spiritual, from within. God communes; man communicates. Therefore, let us be aware of the vibrations and the effects of the vibrations. You may have heard of Kirlian photography, which takes the photograph of the aura around our body. The color of this aura speaks of the quality and the psychological behavior of the person.

The third one that Bhagavan mentioned is the causal body, radiation. Radiation is of the Spirit, the Soul, which has to be awakened. One has to be aware of that radiation.

Thus, the interpretations of the three footsteps that Vamana wanted from Emperor Bali are several. First, they represent the past, present, and future; secondly, the physical, psychological, and intellectual consciousness; thirdly, the gross, subtle, and causal bodies; and finally fourth, materialization, vibration, and radiation.

Another representation of the three footsteps, as stated by Bhagavan in His own discourses, is the three declarations of Lord Jesus Christ: "I'm the Messenger of God. I'm the Son of God. I and My Father in Heaven are One." There is also the Persian interpretation, the three levels of perception, which Bhagavan gives: "I am in the Light. The Light is in me. I am the Light." See how Swami makes it general and universal? His discourses that are given on different occasions are not limited to any religion or ritual. They represent universal spiritual content.

Onam is spiritual and not merely ritualistic. It is universal, not limited to a particular religion. Let us celebrate Onam Festival in a fitting way, keeping these ideas in mind, in full alertness, awareness, and realization of the Reality. Bhagavanís explanations are the Truth, giving the inner significance behind the celebration, making it really meaningful, enjoyable, and purposeful.

Spirituality is a Direction, Not a Destination

We studied certain important things in the past. I clearly remember saying one thing earlier: "Spirituality is not an achievement." I spoke on that for some time. The second statement I made was, "Spirituality is not a goal." I would like to share with you another thought this morning on this same wavelength. You may call this a ĎThought for the Dayí It is this: "Spirituality is direction, not destination." Let me share a few thoughts on this with you.

There are many differences between direction and destination. Direction is the heart, the poetry of life and love. Destination is the head, the prose of life and logic. We should also know that the celebration of Onam is a direction towards love, surrender, and sacrifice. It is not a destination at all.

Direction is a living process, which has thrill and excitement. Direction is alive, whereas destination is dead. Destination is a death because the decision has been made and there is no suspense. Direction has an element of your own decision. It is new and not pre-decided. But destination is decided by your parents, the society, the community, or by the order of the day. It is destination if your father says, "I want you to be an engineer" or if society says, "Weíll facilitate you if you occupy a very high position." Direction has to be lived. It is a question of trial, moment-to-moment.

Destination can be known, like information from an airline office or post office. Knowing is destination, whereas feeling is direction. Destination is an object, a thing outside you, like the canteen or a screen. Direction, on the other hand, is the subject within you. (I think I'm clear.) Onam is not an object or a thing to be possessed or acquired, it is a thing to be felt and a subject to be experienced.

Destination represents constant thought of the future: "I must go back to New York, Chicago, Italy, or Argentina (or any country we belong to)." Destination involves the mind as the time factor is involved. For example, the airplane starts at a certain time, so we will arrive at Frankfurt or Kennedy Airport at a certain time. You may be very much worried of the Immigration check because you are carrying gold with you or because you are worried whether your daughter will come and receive you. (Nothing will happen. Just be calm!) On the other hand, direction is of the present moment, the art of living in the here-and-now. Direction is so fresh, while destination is not as fresh.

My friends, may this Onam give a proper direction to our life, so that our life will continue to be active and dynamic, full of equal-mindedness. Life is really enjoyable. Life is a dance. Life is music. To enjoy life, live in the present and really concentrate on it. This is the meaning and the purpose behind the celebration of Onam.

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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