Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
December 8, 2002

The Sunday Talk Given by Anil Kumar

My Personal Experiences
Part Two

December 8th, 2002


Sai Ram.

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Sharing Some More Experiences

Today I’ll divide my talk into two sections. In the first section, due to the request of some friends, I’ll share with you more of my experiences. In the second part, we’ll have questions and answers.

It was back on the 25th of October that I shared with you Part One of my personal experiences. I thought that was the end of the matter. But I have received a series of letters and demands, (Laughter) saying that you want to know more of my personal experiences.

Really, I love to do it, except for the simple fact that I'm afraid that people may mistake this as some sort of advertisement or publicity-seeking, which I'm totally against. But because of the spiritual pestering from my friends, I’ll share certain experiences with you this morning.

As I said in my last lecture on October 25th , I was in a period of ‘exile’, receiving total silence from Bhagavan, without any recognition of this human being by the name of Anil Kumar (Laughter). For seven to eight long years, I was non-existent, a non-entity, and almost in a vacuum wherever I sat. It went on for a very long period - from seven to eight years. Later in the talk on October 25th, I mentioned how things went following this long period of waiting.

Very Busy Teaching Students

During that long period of waiting, certain things happened mysteriously, which were not understandable, beyond all explanation and expectation. It was the year 1975 when I was very, very busy during the summer teaching. I was preparing students for the medical entrance examination, which is an annual feature. During this period, we make some money too – unaccounted for, so it is all the more welcomed! (Laughter)

I was extremely busy preparing students until 10 o’clock at night. The program commenced at 6:30 in the morning, and went on until 10 PM. It depended upon the star value of the person, the magnitude of attraction and presentation, to the taste of the students. Depending upon the demand, you would be given as much workload as possible. There were times when I taught for 13 hours a day because the star value was such.

An Interview Conducted By Rotary International

Here it was the last hour, around 9.45 PM or so. Suddenly, I received a message from some of my friends, asking me to appear for an interview at 10 o’clock in the night. What interview I did not know. I said, “I shall meet you afterwards.”

But they all went and met the Principal, C.V.N. Dhun, of a reputed college by the name of Ravi Tutor College at Guntur.

The Principal himself came and said, “I could not risk my reputation when your friends came here. Better you cancel this class and oblige them.”

Then I asked my friends, “What is it that you want of me?”

They said, “An interview is going on. You should appear for that interview.”

”What interview? What am I supposed to do?”

They did not tell me. They pushed me into a big building very close to this college. Finally I found out that it was an interview conducted by Rotary International, which selects a team of five every year to go abroad to study the social and educational aspects of that country. The visiting team is called the Group Study Exchange program, GSE. Under the GSE program, five are selected every year -- one representing agriculture, one representing engineering, one representing medicine, one representing education, and so on -- one from each walk of life. Except for the condition that you cannot be related to members of the Rotary Club, it is an open competition.

Well, I didn’t have face powder; I had chalk powder instead, having taught until 10 o’clock that night. You can imagine me - my personality - at 10 PM: totally tired, after having taught 13 hours that day. As I could not say ‘no’ to my friends, somehow I went inside. My turn was last, as interviews had started at 8 o’clock. Good! I could say ‘goodbye’ to them and run away from there!

Well, when I went in there, the President, who happened to be a doctor, a secretary, and a senior lawyer said, “We don’t have to ask you any questions.”

“Then why did you call me for an interview?” (Laughter)

They said, “It is just a formality. Our children are your students, so you were selected at the regional level.”

I simply laughed at them, “Oh, things go like that? Okay!”

The next morning, they sent me an application form to fill out -- selection first, application next -- just the reverse order. (Laughter) That’s how Sai started working in His own way.

Going To The Final Interview At Hyderabad

Then I was to appear for the final interview in Hyderabad at the Riggs Hotel, one of the prestigious hotels in those days. Later, many other costly hotels were built. But in those days, Riggs was the costliest.

Somehow I was tempted to attend the final interview that included contestants from three states. The interview spread over five days. Many people attended. Somehow I simply decided to attend the interview. But I had no time to prepare or read anything because of my tight schedule, teaching botany to my students and preparing them for the medical entrance examination. The number of seats that my students would get would decide my fate for the next year. (Laughter) Therefore, I had to be very, very careful, and highly competitive.

As I sat in the train, which was speeding up towards Hyderabad, I saw many youngsters preparing for the interview. I found out that I was the only married man with four children, while many of the others were eligible bachelors. Anyway, I was just relaxing because there was no investment. There was neither profit nor loss. Since I had not prepared for anything, there was nothing to lose!

Having just come into the Sai fold, being in that fresh period, I was humming Sai bhajans, as most of us do. I never realised that I would be disturbing some of these people who were preparing for the examination. (Laughter) One or two got down from their berths and gave me some books to prepare with. (Laughter) They did not ask me not to sing. In a polite, refined, cultured way, they wanted me to read instead of sing. (Laughter) Maybe it was for two reasons: my voice was not that good, and they could not concentrate.

Then I realised my mistake and said, “What are the books you are giving me?” The title of one book was “India, Who is Who?” That book is published every year. It covers all the latest developments in the country, plus national and international coverage of personalities figuring in the newspapers, particularly on the front page. Expecting that questions would be asked on this, some people were preparing. As one chap completed reading that, he passed it on to me. Another man gave me “Manorama”, which also covers all the latest developments.

Because I was sufficiently matured, I told these gentlemen, “I understand your problem. I am disturbing you. Don’t worry. I have nothing to read because I have never read anything along these lines to prepare for an interview. So why should I read them now? Either “India Today” (a popular national magazine), India yesterday or India tomorrow, India is India. I have no time to read. Please leave me alone,” I said. (Laughter) They were happy with my silence.

Anyhow, a cardio-paediatric surgeon, a doctor by the name of Balakrishna Murthi, who deals with the heart ailments of children, was sitting just opposite me along with his daughter. His daughter was staring at me, I didn’t know why. I told her and her father, “I'm not a mad person. (Laughter) I'm not going to bite you. After all, I'm just humming some Sai bhajans. Don’t be afraid of me.” They just laughed

Little did she realize that after three or four years, she would become my student. Now she’s happily married and settled in the USA. Even to this day, whenever they happen to see me, they laugh wholeheartedly recalling my comments that I was not a madcap. So, that was the situation.

Nothing To Lose Or Gain

Another gentleman, an elderly man, very well known to me, came and said, “What is it you are doing? Why don’t you read? I appeared for this interview last year and the year before last. I was not selected. It calls for preparation. Then why are you doing like this?”

I told him, “My sister lives in Hyderabad. They sent an invitation, asking me to attend their house-warming function, which I could not attend because of a busy medical entrance coaching program. Now, in the name of this interview, as a plea, I’ll go and have nothing to lose or gain. Sir, please busy yourself, I pray that you be selected.” And thus I silenced him.

Then I got ready to appear for the interview. My wedding suit was still so nice in those days (Laughter). I picked up that dark blue-coloured suit with an orange-coloured shirt, a dark blue tie with stars on it, and well-polished shoes with spray applied. I then went to Hotel Riggs, where I was to appear for the interview.

The Questions Put To Them

Many youngsters, after completing their interview, were talking among themselves about the questions they were asked. Because of curiosity, I wanted to know the questions, though I had no answers for any of them.

It was the year when India launched a space research project called “Arya Bhatta”, which landed a space satellite. People were asked some questions relating to “Arya Bhatta” -- about the launching of this satellite by Indian scientists. I was wondering, “If that question was asked of me, what answer would I give?” A nice big zero! (Laughter)

Some other gentleman was asked a question about a treaty between India and the Soviet Union. This was a time when India and the Soviet Union had entered into an agreement. “India, being a non-aligned country, how was it that it could enter into a treaty with the USSR?” That was the question. I didn’t know that there was an agreement at all, let alone justifying it! (Laughter)

It was also a time when a very big person, a big black marketer, was arrested. There had been a thorough search all over the country. Ultimately, the government succeeded in arresting him. Some questions were asked about that. I didn’t know such a gunda (bandit) existed, nor did I know about the subsequent arrest of that person.

It was also the time of a national emergency declared by Indra Gandhi, who happened to be the Prime Minister. There were some questions on this. “India, being a secular, sovereign, democratic republic, how could a state of emergency (which is not a democratic act) be declared in this country?” Well, emergency or non-emergency, I wasn’t bothered because I just did my duty. I'm the least affected, being a teacher, by emergencies. Maybe those in the field of politics are affected by an emergency. But most of us are employees. We are not at all affected. So there’s nothing to worry about. But I had no answer, if the same question were asked of me.

I prayed a silent prayer to Baba: “Swami, see that I'm not exposed to such questions.” (Laughter)

“Swami, Save me From Insult!”

My second prayer was this: “Let them not ask certain questions of general knowledge such as, ‘What is the capital of Norway, of Sweden, of Denmark, of Guatemala, or of Argentina?’ (Laughter) I may not have immediate answers.”

“Once they know that I am a student of biology, don’t have them ask, ‘Name a frog without a tail. Name the frog with a tail, with a head, and without a head.’ Finally, lifting their eyebrows, I'm afraid they may say, ‘What kind of teacher are you if you do not know these things?’ My job would be in disrepute. I would be defamed, and I’d feel personally insulted if such questions were asked of me.”

“Swami, save me from that insult and save my job as a professor, so that we will not be a laughing-stalk in the sight of the public, particularly the members of the interview board.”

Anyway I went and sat relaxed, cross-legged, with my arm on the chair behind, totally free, because I had nothing to lose and nothing to gain. (Laughter) I was fully aware that I was speaking in the Divine Presence of Baba, not only there, but here in your hearts, too. And everything is subject to verification at any moment because Bhagavan is a silent listener to every one of our conversations. I have had many bitter experiences too, in this regard. (Laughter) He gives no scope for any exaggeration or under-estimation, but only statements based on facts and not fiction.

All Questions Centred Around Sai Literature Only

So, in full understanding of this, I'm telling you -- believe me or not – all the questions were centred only on Sai literature! (Exclamations of “Oh!” from the audience, and applause) That’s all! In my bio-data, there was no mention of Sathya Sai Baba -- nothing whatsoever! Yet all the questions were on Sai literature.

That period I was fresh to the Sai movement, and was very familiar with Sai literature. Going around to every village (in Andhra Pradesh state) in those years, I was quite conversant with the teachings of Sai. So I could answer every question. I think you’ll be interested to know some of those questions. They will be of interest to every one of you.

There were 12 members of the Rotary International -- past district governors, who asked these questions, one-by-one. It was something like Abhimanya surrounded by so many people in Padmavyuha (a formidable military formation) – such was the interview hall.

“God Is One And The Same”

The first question asked was this: “India is thickly populated, not only with people, but also with many gods. How do you justify the number of gods and the number of people there are in your country?” That was the first question.

The answer was quickly available from Sai literature, which Bhagavan prompted from within. What did Bhagavan say in this direction? “There may be many different names and forms of Divinity, based on our likes and dislikes and on our whims and fancies; based on our intensity of devotion and on our concentration. The names and forms may be varied, but Divinity is One and the same. You may give Him any name, but God is One and the same. You may think of any form, but He’s the same.” That’s what I said, just as I also quoted Bhagavan’s famous poem:

Flowers are many, but worship is one.

Forms are many, but God is One.

Cows are many, but milk is one.

Jewels are many, but gold is one.

Paths are many, but goal is one.

I repeated the famous quotation, and they seemed to have been satisfied.

“It All Depends On You”

Then came the second question: “If God is the same, why is one God so tall, like Rama, while one god is so short, like Ganesha? (Laughter) Why should there be differences in the height of the gods, if all are the same God?”

The answer was also available from Sai teachings. I remembered very well Bhagavan saying that you get your dress stitched according to your measurements. You don’t wear the same shirt as the one worn by King Kong! (Laughter) No! Or you don’t give your shirt to that boxer man. A shirt for a thin man cannot be given to a fat man. You cannot wear a shirt stitched for a fat man because three of you could fit into it! So, a garment or a dress is made as per your measurements.

Similarly, depending upon your choice, depending upon your temperament, depending upon your background, your level of comprehension, understanding and experience, the deity is designed in that form. Some can easily concentrate on Rama. Some can concentrate on Krishna. So it all depends on you. That was the second answer.

“You May Give Any Name Or Form”

Then came the third question: “If that’s so, why should there be so many names? How can there be Siva? How can there be Rama, or Krishna, or Durga, or Lakshmi? Why so many names? Why?” That was the third question.

Bhagavan had given an example: It seems on one day, a hotel-keeper and a medical shop owner both got headaches on the same day. The medical shop fellow went to the hotel for a cup of coffee. The hotel-keeper went to the medical shop for a pill or a tablet. So he had faith in the tablet. This other man had faith in the cup of coffee. Both of them had a total cure of their headaches.

Similarly, you may give any name or any form to God. Water is called neeru in Telugu. In Sanskrit, you may call it vaari; in Hindi, paani; in Tamil, tanni; but the water, H2O, continues to be the same.

That’s the example given by Baba, which I could also give because of His Divine Grace.

Vast Spiritual Literature

Then there was a question like this: “India, being the land of rich spiritual cultural heritage, how is it there is illiteracy? How is it there’s poverty? How is it there is corruption? Why? What answer can you give?”

There was an answer, which I thought of at that moment. What did Baba say? “Where do you find the doctor? You find the doctor where there are patients. So, you get what you really seek. There are several countries that have sought physical comforts -- countries that want a daily life full of comfort and conveniences, luxury and extravagancy. But Bharath has always been in search of God. This country has always been in search of the experience of Divinity. There has been a constant search for this by sages and saints, seers, aspirants and seekers.”

“There is so much spiritual knowledge today. In addition to four Vedas, you have 108 Upanishads, 18 epics, Brahma Sutras and Yoga Vasishta. So much vast spiritual literature has grown in this country because of the selfless service and the penance undertaken by sages in those days for the welfare of mankind. They prayed for the progress of mankind without any trace of selfishness. So, spirituality has grown here, not the electronic gadgets, not the physical, mundane comforts and requirements.” That answer seemed to have satisfied those people.

50% Answered

Then came a final question, which was really amazing -- nay, unbelievable! “Who is the Prime Minister of Israel?” (Laughter) This question had nothing to do with the questions asked before. Well, I had to put on a blank face. I fully realised at that moment that Bhagavan was telling me from within, “All these questions I made them ask you. Now you tell how much you know! (Laughter) Come out of your emptiness and nothingness. I am exposing you now.”

“Swami, it is a serious test! I am not such a fool to think that it is for my glory. I'm not so stupid to think that I am a wise man. No! I know every second that You have been prompting me.”

Then immediately I said, “Sir, I know Goldameir has been the Prime Minister of Israel until now. Now she is out of power. A man has come in her place whose name I do not remember.” (Laughter) Then one of the persons said, “50% answered. You can go.” (Laughter)

My situation was like a child in elementary school, who runs out of school hearing the final bell, carrying his bag of books, running happily! I was so happy and gay, dancing, coming out of the interview hall because nothing had happened to me. Nothing happened to my prestige whatsoever. Then I returned home happily, not expecting anything.

There was some pressure from my friends, who were asking me to find out the results. I was afraid to find out the results because I was not prepared to accept failure. Success I didn’t expect. There were no expectations at all. I thought to myself, ‘Let things come in their own time, but let me not advance it.’

I said, “I'm not going to find out. No!”

Why? Because I had made no preparation, no investment and no training.

“Leave me alone,” I said.

I Stood First!

After a month, the results were announced. I stood first on the list of people selected to go to Southern Indiana in the United States that year. I have been to a lot of places in the United States: (in Indiana) Brazil, Corydon, Alora, Columbus, Indianapolis, New Albany, and Terrehaute. All those places I have visited under the courtesy of the Rotary International.

After my return home, I received a letter stating: “You are to attend a meeting where you will be given some training before you go to the United States. We will give you some training on how to answer questions, how to meet people, and on certain requirements.”

Suddenly, on the day of the training, the college where I was working was to have the College Annual Day Celebration. I went to the Principal, Dr. Isaac, at that time, and told him, “Sir, kindly grant me leave on that day, so that I can attend the training before I go abroad.”

That man immediately said, “Who are they to give you training? I will give you training here!” (Laughter)

“Sir, when they are spending their money, how can you give me training here?”

He said, “Nothing doing. It happens to be the College Anniversary Day. Therefore, I cannot grant you leave.”

I said, “The College Anniversary is not based on me, Sir. The college has 5,000 students and 300 faculty members . I don’t think that anything would happen if I go on leave.”

He said, “Nothing doing!”

Then I returned home and prayed to Baba, looking at His picture: “Baba, You are really fantastic. You made me stand first in the list, and now I am the last to go. Whether I can go or not, I do not know. But anyway, it is a question of Your prestige and Your Name -- nothing to do with me, please remember! (Laughter) Because You selected me, alright, You take the credit or discredit. The whole world knows that I had not made any preparation. So what do I care about it?”

College Anniversary Is Postponed

The invitations for the College Anniversary were ready and sent. Refreshments were also ready. Students were given badges. All the preparations for the College Annual Celebration were ready. Collector Chandrayya, an IAS officer, was to be the chief guest.

Please believe me. This is subject to verification because I'm giving the date and also the names of the people involved. I'm not here to concoct or fabricate or imagine. I'm against such silly things. I'm giving you all the details, being a student of science. Just 24 hours before the Annual College Day, the Principal, Dr. Isaac, came to me and said, “Anil Kumar, please leave this place tonight.” (Laughter)

I said, “Sir, why do you want me, to go? You said you wouldn’t grant me personal time-off. You didn’t want to give me personal time-off! Why do you want me to go?”

He said, “The College Anniversary is postponed.”

It was a college of 100 years standing. Now it must be 130 years -- one of the oldest premier institutions in the State of Andhra Pradesh, managed and monitored by the Lutheran Church of America. It is a very big college. The College Anniversary had never been postponed in all of its history.

Our Baba is an excellent manager and a manipulator! (Laughter) He had just got the Anniversary postponed for one bloke by the name of Anil Kumar!

The Five Of Us

So, I went there, attended the meeting, and everything was checked for my travel to the United Sates. I met my other colleagues, who were eligible bachelors, quite handsome, occupying very high positions, coming from medicine and engineering fields. I was the only non-gazetted government officer with four children. So, what was to be done?

They were talking among themselves about what they would do in the United States. Finally, one of them ventured to ask me, “Anil Kumar, would you like to have a sip of alcohol?”

I said I would like to have any number of sips of coffee, but not alcohol.

Everybody laughed at me and said, “Five of us are going, but only four will be returning.”

They thought that once I was over there, I’d be finished (Laughter) They said, “Do you eat meat or anything like that?”

“No, no, no, I'm a total vegetarian.”

Just like that, I became an untouchable among the five of us! (Laughter) A Godforsaken creature! Nobody was prepared to talk to me or exchange any views because there was nothing in common.

Once we were there, oh! There were so many things that were served to us! But there was nothing for me to eat. Though I mentioned that I was a vegetarian, what is it that they brought for me to eat ? Boiled potatoes made into chutney, like a paste. (No doubt Anil Kumar means mashed potatoes.)

They said, “This is vegetarian. Why don’t you eat it?”

Ah-re! Potato is no doubt vegetarian, but I don’t eat it that way, made into a paste or gum like that! So I didn’t relish it, but courtesy made me silent. I wore a broad smile on my face, “Fine, fine, this much is enough.”

But smart people they are, the Rotarians! The USA is a great country of hospitality. The United States of America is a country where there is the synthesis of religions. They are ready to invite new ideologies. It is a country of friendship, where the people are full of smiling faces.

They could understand my diet problem, and at the next session, I had a number of things like peanuts, cashew nuts, ice crèmes, cakes, biscuits, and so many such things! While the non-vegetarians had only one or two dishes, I had so many. (Laughter). I was more energetic than all of them, even without eating rice.

Pets Were Pestering Me

All right, I was quite fine. But here’s another thing that I should also share with you, though it is quite embarrassing. I'm not used to pets, like dogs and cats -- no. At the residence of every American, to my surprise, I noticed these pets, these dogs and cats, everywhere. I used to check to see if my room were dog-free or cat-free. (Laughter) Only then would I go into the room!

Unfortunately, at 11 o’clock in the night, I heard some sound -- “Purr, purr” -- like that. (Laughter) What happened? Immediately I got up. I noticed one cat under my cot. (Laughter) I shouted to my American friend. He came in immediately. “Anil Kumar, what happened?”

“Ah-re, what is this cat? Please take it out!”

“No, no, Anil Kumar! It is a Burmese cat -- so sweet!”

I said, “No! Burmese or Chinese, I don’t want it here! (Laughter) Please take it out. I can't sleep!”

That was the only problem I had.

I also remember in New Albany something happened. A gentleman introduced me to his sons. “Oh, Mr. Anil Kumar, here is David and Nelson.” All that was fine. Finally he said, “Caesar, come along!”

I thought Caesar was a third son. Caesar was the name of their dog, and he was my size (Laughter) and ready to climb up on me like an expert in mountaineering! I am not Mount Everest -- to be climbed upon! I was very much afraid.

This man said, “Say hello, Anil Kumar! Caesar is very friendly!”

“Sir, I'm not friendly. Please!” (Laughter)

As my legs were trembling, well, the dog came closer and closer, and then started touching me.

“Sir, would you like me alive or not? Please take it away!”

That was my problem, and I didn’t know what to do. I was about to move to the next place -- some other residence. Instead of being curious about the family with whom I was supposed to live, I was curious about the pets there (Laughter) because the pets were pestering me! Well, I had no alternative.

So, helplessly I told the gentleman, “This is my problem.”

Then they started taking care of their pets and made me quite comfortable -- such kind, nice people.

Singing Baba’s Bhajans

Then one day, while speeding along in the car, I was just singing Baba’s bhajans and the American thought something was happening to me. He said, “What’s wrong with you?” (Laughter)

Well, I said, “Nothing is wrong with me. I'm quite hale and healthy, and I hope to live for a couple more years! But the thing is, I'm humming Indian bhajan songs -- Indian hymns or prayer songs.”

The American said, “Would you do it at my residence this evening?”

I had been waiting for that opportunity! I said that I would be happy to and would also give them the English translation to the songs. But only on one condition -- they should invite their friends also. They should not restrict this to only their family.”

He said, “OK. Why not?”

Every day they invited their family and friends in the neighbourhood to come. The result was that 30 or 40 attended the Rotary meetings and 300 or 400 attended my evening bhajan programs! (Laughter) Since that day, I became more and more popular. I was the ‘most wanted’ person – ‘most wanted’ in a desirable way.

Interviewed by The TV People

The TV people and news reporters also interviewed us. My other Indian friends were in search of good cameras and other things. I did not have any kind of desire like that. I had a deep feeling that Swami had sent me and that I should speak about Him everywhere. That was my only mission. I had no other desire.

“How Is It You Don’t Eat Beef In India?”

Some questions were put to us like this: “Why is it that you don’t eat beef in India?”

Well, I could not answer straightaway because there were five of us seated in the television studio. One man said, “We don’t eat beef. Cows are sacred.”

Then they asked another man, “Why are you eating beef here?” (Laughter)

They were all very intelligent fellows. The third fellow said, “Indian cows are sacred, not other cows!” (Laughter)

Then I raised my hand and said, “Sir, I’ll give you the answer. That was just a kind of joke -- that American cows are not sacred, no. Cows are sacred, revered like a mother. There are many we revere like a mother. One is the Motherland, Desha Matha. Another is Mother Earth, Bhu Matha. The third one is Go Matha, the cow, as mother. A fourth is the Scripture, Veda Matha. These four are respected, adored and worshipped like the mother. That’s all.”

“Oh, that seems to be sensible,” someone said.

“How Is It There Aren’t divorces In India?”

Then they asked another question: “How is it that there are no divorces in India? How is it that you live with the same person throughout your lifetime, even though you don’t agree?”

One man, by the name of Raj Kumar, was newly married. He was working in the Union Corporation. He gave the answer: “Why marry a number of times? You have to sit in front of a fire and smoke for long hours! (Laughter) We don’t want that tedious process to happen again and again!” (Laughter)

Another man said, “Marriage is an expensive process. Why pay for it more than once? We don’t want to.”

They all enjoyed these jokes. I said, “Sir, there is an answer. Marriage is only an institution. Marriage is only a vehicle. Marriage is only a transport to move from one end to the other end, to move from one shore to the other -- the shore of life on earth to the shore of life thereafter. I travel by car, but I don’t live in the car. I go across the bridge, but I don’t stay there on the bridge my whole life. So, marriage is an institution -- like a bridge, like a boat, like a ship -- taking you from the shore of this life to the life thereafter, to Eternity and Immortality.”

That seemed to have been satisfactory to them.

“How Is It there Is A God Who Wants Human Hair?”

There was another question, “How is it that there is a god in your country who wants human hair?” They meant Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.

Another person laughed and said, “God can grow hair by Himself! Why does He want your hair?”

A very pertinent question! Bhagavan spoke about this a long time ago. The answer is simple and straight.

Bhagavan said, “Hair symbolizes animality or the bestial temperament, the thamasic quality, the darkness of ignorance. When you remove your hair, when you offer your hair, you make an attempt to be free from the thamasic quality of dullness, of ignorance, of darkness, or ignorance of the Self. That’s why the hair is offered.”

“Secondly, if anyone stands in front of the mirror just combing his hair, everyone thinks that he is a film star -- most handsome, though the next person tells him, ‘You are not.’ It is very different if one is ugly when standing in front of the mirror. So once you offer your hair, there is no more decoration, no more attempt to look handsome. ‘I disfigure myself.’ This is self-effacement. There is nothing like projection. This is the symbolic expression of offering hair to God.”

This made some sense to them. Somehow we came out of that television program and all of them seemed to have been satisfied with the answers. So, we began to disperse back to our destinations.

A Bag Of Pickles

The others, being rich, wanted to stop on the way back and visit London, Amsterdam, and other places with the extra money in their pockets. Since I was a teacher, I did not carry anything at that moment.

I was to visit a close relation there. My father-in-law gave me a big bag of Andhra pickles, hot stuff, to be handed over to her. (Laughter) I was carrying this bag for one month -- a horrible burden! The American brothers were good to me. The sisters over there didn’t allow me to carry anything. They carried all the things for me. It must have been a headache for them to carry this big package of Andhra pickles, such hot stuff. It will help you to land on the moon straightaway -- straightaway, with no expenditure! (Laughter) One mango pickle, one piece is enough -- you can try this afternoon! (Laughter) Of course, you should write your will in advance! (Laughter)

So, I was carrying these pickles all along. But how was I to reach my relatives? When all my friends had dispersed, the Rotary governor, someone named Clark who lived in New Albany, came and said, “Anil Kumar, what are your plans now?”

I said, “I have no plans except to go home.”

He said, “What is this bag?”

“That bag is full of pickles, which I have to hand over to my relations.”

“Where are they?”

I gave their address.

“How do you plan to go?”

International Sai Service

Should I say that I didn’t have enough dollars to get there? Or should I tell them, ‘You fund my trip’? I didn’t say anything.

“I don’t think I have sufficient time to go there. I’ll just bring the pickles back.”

Then he said, “No, no, your tickets and visa will enable you to stay here for some more time. Why do you want to leave like that? No! We’ll see that you get to see your relations there.”

They were staying in Hamden, Virginia. Immediately they made all the flight reservations. My other friends were traveling by the Greyhound bus service. Being sent by Sai International, Inter-continental Sai service, I could fly all the way on Northwest Airlines, without a single paisa (penny) in my pocket, through the courtesy of Rotary International, unasked and unsolicited.

They also telephoned my relations and told them that Anil Kumar had taught them many things about India, Indian philosophy and culture, and that they wanted to visit that country some day. They said that it had been an honour to have me there. They asked my relations to please be there at the airport half an hour before my arrival time to receive me. Then they put down the receiver. (Laughter)

By the time I landed there, my relations were waiting for me as if they were receiving Clinton or Bush! (Laughter) That is the dignity and the position one has with Sai’s Grace, which has impressed me very much.

The College Declared A Holiday

That is how my trip went. After my return, I was obligated to go around to different Rotary clubs in India and share my experiences. Many people don’t do that because they don’t travel everywhere here. But I wanted to go everywhere because that gave me an opportunity to share the Grace Bhagavan Baba showered upon me with everybody, along with spreading Sai’s message everywhere.

It so happened that I was invited to speak by the Rotary Club in Nagpur. Eduljee was the Rotary governor. I addressed Nagpur University and the official Rotary Club and shared my experiences.

I began my return journey. I was traveling by Dakshin Express, which was to connect with another express. Due to my bad luck, Dakshin Express was running late. I could not report to the college in time -- that was the magnitude of the emergency.

The Principal had been very angry with me because I had gone against his wishes. I was expecting that he would be ready with a dismissal letter. I was thinking and praying to Swami, “You have sent me on this trip, so You cannot kick me out of the college, which is my only means of livelihood.”

Having arrived back home, I heard that the college had declared a holiday that day because our students had won the state-level cricket match. I congratulated the students, not for their performance, but for getting the day declared a holiday! (Laughter) I wanted all the players of the college to play like that and win many times so that I could have a holiday -- so I could go on my trips like this, sharing the message of Sai Baba with as many people as possible.


Within the time left, let me cover some questions given to me, as those who have asked questions will be anxious about the answers. I shall try to deal with some of the questions to the best of my ability within the rest of the time.

“What Is The Origin Of The Mind?”

One question sent to me is this: “What is the origin of the mind? The answer is simple. There is no mind, so there is no origin! If there is a mind, you have to trace out its origin. The mind is non-existent. The mind is only a bundle of thoughts. The mind is only a bundle of desires. In the deep sleep state, there is no mind at all. The mind is there in the dreaming state; the mind is there in the waking state. But the mind is non-existent in the deep-sleep state.

When thoughts are withdrawn, when desires are given up, there is no mind. Withdrawal of the mind or annihilation of the mind is called amanaska or manolaya. So, the question of the origin of the mind does not arise at all.

“What is The Significance Of New Moon And Full Moon?”

Another question: “What is the significance of the new moon and full moon?”

Whether it is a new moon, a blue moon, or a full moon, a moon is a moon. (Laughter) The answer is: The moon is the presiding deity of the human mind. That’s the reason why on a full moon day, mad people are full of activity! (Laughter) On the dark night, they will also full of activity. They may even resort to violence. So, the moon controls the mind. The mind and the moon go together.

But spiritually speaking, there is another interpretation. The full moon stands for wisdom, knowledge and awakening. It was on the full moon day that Buddha was born. It was on the full moon day that Buddha was enlightened. It was on the full moon day that Mahaveer was enlightened. Purnima is the full moon day, which is the day of enlightenment. Moonlight is like the awakening of the inner Self. The full moon represents the knowledge of the Self. That is the meaning.

“Has Not My Karma Been Cleared?”

Another question asked of me is this: “You said,” (he meant me) “the very Darshan of Bhagavan will clear you of your karma. But I'm still suffering from my karma. Has not my karma been cleared?” (Laughter)

That is the question. The answer is this: One will be cleared of karmic effects if there is deservedness, if there is eligibility.

When I look at Bhagavan -- when all of us look at Bhagavan, all of us will not have the same feelings. There are many people who tell me that when Bhagavan passes by, they receive some vibrations. There are many people who tell me that they are charged with energy. There are many people who tell me that they feel a cool breeze when Bhagavan passes by. So, experiences differ based on the nature of the individual, their devotion or path and the intensity of their sadhana.

Therefore, I may not be cleared of karma because I'm not ready. I have not done enough work. Though the teacher is excellent, when the student is not able to follow the lesson, it only means that the student has not done enough homework. The student has not the required foundation to receive and appreciate the knowledge given to him in the classroom, even though the teacher is an expert. In order to be cleared of karmic effects, we should do some homework.

What is that homework? Intense devotion, total faith, complete surrender and the sadhana of service -- these four are sufficient physical practices on the spiritual path. Doing (practicing) these four is sufficient homework for us to get ourselves ready and prepared, so that we can be free from the karmic effects.

“Are Countries Also Bound By Karma?”

Then I received some more questions: “Karma, is it individual? Are countries also bound by karma?”

Perhaps like ‘wholesale’ and ‘retail’? This gentleman must have been a top businessman! (Laughter) Very good!

Kind friends, do not misunderstand me -- I'm just joking. I don’t mean any disrespect to those who have asked these questions. I really bow down in all humility to the people who have asked these questions because they are all spiritual seekers. They are exemplary. They are noble and role models for me in particular because these questions help me to go into detail, into the depth. So, I thank them very much.

The question is this: Are countries bound by karma? In the Holy Bible, there is a mention of two cities -- Sodom and Gomorrah. The inhabitants of these two cities mentioned in the Holy Bible were drowned. The inhabitants were totally punished by God. That’s what the Holy Bible says. When people are unrighteous, naturally the whole place is condemned.

A country is not only a geographical location. A country is not only dust, mud and sand. A country is a collection of people. When the people are unrighteous…For example, just think of Afghanistan, where ancient Buddha statues of 200 or 300 feet in height were bombed and totally demolished by dynamite. So many Buddha statues were demolished there in Afghanistan. What later happened to Afghanistan? You all know that. When people are unrighteous, naturally they will have to face the reaction. That’s the answer I can give you.

“What Shall I Do To Dine With Bhagavan?”

The next question: “What shall I do to dine with Bhagavan? To sleep in the room very close to His bedroom? (Laughter) To go with Him in His car? To have a peaceful end of life, like His mother and grandfather had? “

These are the questions put to me. Here is the answer, brother. Going in His car, dining with Him or sleeping in the room next to Him are all physical activities. You have the driver also in the car. I don’t think the driver is a saint or a sage. There in the dining room, you also find cooks and servers. I don’t think they are saints and sages. I don’t think so. In the building, there is the watchman. I don’t want to bow down to his feet.

So, these are all physical acts of Grace. They are privileges. They are grand, golden opportunities. I don’t underestimate them. But if they lead to pride, if they make you egoistic, if they are acts of publicity or advertisement, they will really take you to doom. No! If these help you to be more spiritual, if these help you to do sadhana with higher, greater or deeper intensity, then that is a boon. But if it turns you into an egoistic man, then that is a curse. These physical acts should take you to a psychological (mental/emotional) level of togetherness with Bhagavan all through your life, wherever you may go.

If you feel that the next man is Baba, it is living with Him. If you offer prayer to God and start eating, it is dining with Him. If you listen to Baba bhajans as you travel in your car, you are traveling with Him. Baba said, “Wherever My glory is sung, I install Myself.” Whenever we sing bhajans, we are with Him. Whenever we think of Him, we are by His side. Whenever we offer food, we are dining with Him. That is the spiritual, psychological, metaphysical, mystical experience one should have or one should crave for. (Applause)

“The Wife Is An Obstacle -- What Should the Husband Do?”

Another question: “The husband is very much interested in Baba, but the wife is not. The wife is an obstacle. So, what should the husband do?” He also has given three alternatives: (Laughter) “One -- should he get divorced from his wife? Number two -- should he continue along the spiritual path? Number three -- should he give up the spiritual path? (Laughter) These are the alternatives – maybe it is like a multiple-choice question. (Laughter)

My friend, this is an exceptional case! A husband finding his wife a problem along the spiritual path is an exception. Usually the husband is the problem for every wife! (Laughter) 90% of Sai devotees are here because of their wives. Let all husbands be ashamed to declare it in public. This humble self (Anil Kumar refers to himself) is also one and the foremost. So, this case is not a matter to be ashamed of. It is a matter to feel proud of.

If the wife is an engine, very good -- the family will be very fine, peaceful and there’ll be no problem. But here is an exceptional case where the wife seems to be the problem. Wife or husband -- one of the two partners will not totally agree with the other. So, what is to be done?

My friend, the answer is simple. If one is totally worldly and if the other is totally spiritual, we’ll be nowhere. But in co-existence, one takes care of the family, while the other takes care of the spiritual end. The wife taking care of the family is the root. The husband thinking of God is the fruit of the same ‘family tree’. The one (wife and mother) thinking of the family is the root, while the other (husband and father) thinking of God is the fruit of that same tree of life. So, let us not consider the life partner as an opposition party leader! (Laughter) Certainly not! Certainly not!

To give you my own tale -- for 25 years, I went around the whole state of Andhra Pradesh. I visited thousands of Sai centres -- at least thrice on the average -- spread over those 25 years. My wife stayed back at home, taking care of the children, my in-laws and my parents, ours being a joint-family (an extended family, all living under one roof together). Suppose that she had also become a competitor. What if she had said, “If you go towards the north, I’ll go towards the south! (Laughter) If you go and start addressing people in the east, I’ll have audiences in the west.” Then the children would be on the streets!

Therefore, it is the pure and logical dynamics of life that one will be at the ‘grass roots’ while the other will be ‘in the air’. It happens like that. Nowhere do the husband and wife agree 100%. They may agree before TV news reporters. (Laughter) They may agree for the television reporters, but not in reality. The family ‘Korean War’ certainly happens once in a blue moon, without which there is no melody in life at all.

Let us not worry if the wife is not sailing along with the husband, or if the husband is not sailing with the wife. The husband will make the wife follow him one day. Just as husbands are following their wives, in such cases as this one, the wives will also follow the husbands someday. It all depends upon one’s own life example.

For example, in a crisis, if the husband is peaceful, the wife will learn from him. If the wife is peaceful in the worst moments of life, the husband will learn from her. By our example, we can certainly carry on with the other life-partner without any sense of opposition or critical attack.

“Are All The People I See False?”

Another question: “I am a teacher of yoga. I know God is One. But do you think all the people I see are false? Do you think it’s all maya, illusion? Do you think they don’t exist? Do you say it is all a dream?”

The answer is simple: Yoga is a connecting link with God. The meaning of ‘yoga’ is ‘connecting or uniting with God’. So when you are connected with God, you experience Oneness. You experience unity. You’ll see God everywhere -- in the animals, in plants, in mineral matter. Everywhere you will experience God.

It will be just as Jesus Christ said, when He saw a dead, stinking dog on the street. Everyone said, “Burn it! Take it away!” Jesus smiled and said, “How bright the white teeth are! How bright are the white teeth of that dead dog.”

It means you’ll see the best in the worst. If it is the true path of yoga, you’ll see unity in diversity. Yoga should give you unity. But that does not mean in practical life we can be untidy, no! In our practical life, diversity is there.

Suppose a student comes to me and says, “Sir, please teach me.”

I cannot tell him, “You are God, I am God. So, there’ll be no class today!” (Laughter)

Suppose a patient comes to a doctor and says, “Sir, I am suffering from excruciating pain.”

Will the doctor say, “You are not a patient and I am not a doctor. You are God and I am God. So there is no question of surgery!”

It is all nonsense! From a practical point-of-view, there is diversity. From an ideological point-of-view, there is unity. Ideologically, let us experience unity. Spiritually, let us experience unity. Physically, let us operate at the level of diversity. It is necessary to be practical, to be fundamental, to be realistic. That is the best answer I can give.

“Can I See Baba In Different Forms?”

There is another question from Canada: “Can I see Baba in different forms?”

Why not? Baba appeared in the form of a postman. Baba appeared in the form of a watchman. Baba appeared in the form of a monkey to His sister. Baba appeared in the form of a cat. Baba appeared in the form of a bird. Baba can appear in any form. Why do we go to that extent? All forms are Baba’s only. We should pray and try for that experience -- for the awareness of that experience.

Why should He appear in a separate form? All forms are His -- it only appears to be many. It is something like a person in the midst of several mirrors all around. That experience of seeing the One in the many (forms) is the culmination of spirituality.

“What Are The Steps To Merge In Him?”

Next question: “What are the steps that I should take to merge in Him?”

There are not many steps. No! The steps are of our own making. The steps are created in our own imagination. Merger happens at once.

What are the steps that you should take to mix sugar into a glass of water? How many steps are there? No, no! One spoon and stir it – you get immediate results!

Similarly, for an aspirant to merge with God, there are not many steps. Use a spoon of viveka or discrimination, plus a spoon of vairagya or renunciation – totally stir this, which is the process of sadhana. That is enough for total merger. There are no steps. “How many lives are required? How many years are required?” No, no, no, no! Merger is immediate, all of a sudden, instantaneous, spontaneous and natural. It happens in a moment!

Merging is our original state. We only got ourselves separated. In fact, we were all One, but we became separated. Example: here is fire. Out of this fire, many sparks and pieces come. The pieces at a distance turn black and become coal. So, originally it was fire. But at a distance, it becomes coal.

Similarly, originally we were One, but later we got separated. To know that we are One (though appearing in different forms) is called realisation. Realisation is nothing but thinking of our original Oneness -- getting back to that original Oneness or unity with God. The reason that we separated from that Oneness is only due to having taken a name and form. That is the secret of merger with God.

I should not detain you further. I beg your pardon for keeping you for extra time this morning because of the tempting questions. I hope you enjoyed those questions too!

May God bless you!

Sai Ram!

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyormaa Amrtam Gamaya

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

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!
Jai Bolo Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Ji Ki Jai!

Thank You!

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