Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Articles

  Anil Kumar's Sunday Satsang at Prasanthi Nilayam
January 6, 2002

Anil Kumar Sunday Talks - 06.01.2002

Happy Sankranti or Pongal


Sai Ram to Everybody!

With Pranams at the Lotus Feet of Bhagavan,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Spiritual Implications of Sankranthi

Welcome back to this Sunday morning’s session! I'm extremely happy to greet you all with a Happy Pongal, or what is also called ‘Sankranthi’. The festival ahead of us is called Sankranthi or Pongal. Having had Christmas and having had a lovely New Year celebrated in a new, spiritual way - welcoming the New Year with Akhanda bhajan right from morning till evening at the Divine Lotus Feet - basking in love in the immediate Presence of Bhagavan with this especially unique style this year 2002, we are now heading for Sankranthi or Pongal festival.

Let my talk to you be about this Pongal or Sankranthi, which falls on the 14th of January. The festival extends from January 11th till 14th; it is a three-day festival. So some of you may be wondering why I have chosen to speak about it right now. No, Sankranthi is not a festival to be celebrated in a day. It is a season, something like Christmas season. Though 25th of December is the day of Christmas, we really observe the whole month as Christmas season. I think you all agree with me that the whole Christmas season is full of festivity, gaiety, festoons, celebrations, what not. Likewise, this is Sankranthi season, the season of Sankranthi. It is not only a day-long celebration. Therefore, I thought it necessary to speak about it this morning.

What is Sankranthi? What is all about it? All the following thoughts are collected from Bhagavan’s discourses, given on various occasions, especially during Sankranthi. They’re not given in a chronological order, but I'm trying to explain the inner significance as expounded by Bhagavan Baba.

Bhagavan Baba wants every one of us to observe all festivals not as rituals, but as a celebration with spiritual implications. A ritual is mechanical; a ritual is routine; a ritual is monotonous; a ritual is repetition; hence, a ritual is boredom. But when a ritual turns into something spiritual, then that spiritual aspect is something novel, evergreen, fresh, heart stirring, surprising, which is quite new. Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us observe every festival in a spiritual way, rather than bringing it down to the level of a mere ritual.

So, in order to understand the spiritual implications of Sankranthi, I want to draw your attention to certain important points. This is a season, a very special season, with a special way. After all, you may say, “But the whole year is sacred; so, why this month?” No, no, no! It is just as we have our own preferences: we have winter; we have summer; we have rainy season; we have harvest season. We have different seasons, each possessing their own charm and their own beauty. We have different dresses and saris of different colors. Well, I may like a blue suit to be worn on a special day. Or, I may want a biscuit-colored suit to be worn on another special occasion. We have many special occasions, so we have got special dresses for each – an example, the jogging suit, yes, for jogging, the track suit, why not? So we have got our own preferences, our own choices.

Like that, this Sankranthi is a special season, which is unique, one of its own kind. This is a period meant more for spiritual activity, more for spiritual exercise, or what you call sadhana. People start doing sadhana during this season. They begin sadhana in a particular way, enter onto a new path, a new spiritual path, or they receive a new spiritual directive or instruction. We start making a new spiritual endeavor, a new spiritual attempt, from now on. So, this is the time to begin at least.

Years have passed by. So many years we have spent; birthdays have been celebrated annually. We have been felicitated, receiving gifts of trinkets. But what is it that I have done for my soul? It is my body that celebrates the birthday. It is my mind that is happy about my birthday. But how about my soul?

So the thing to be done for the soul, the celebration of the soul, is this Sankranthi festival. Sankranthi activity is a spiritual activity for the soul, while the rest of the activities that we do are for the body and the mind. Therefore, we pray to God especially during this season of Sankranthi.

Lead Me from Darkness to Light

“O God, lead me from darkness to light!” From darkness to light: what is this darkness? The darkness of ignorance; the darkness of innocence; the darkness of identification; the darkness of the identification with the mind; the darkness of pleasure; the darkness of power and pelf; the darkness of positions; the darkness of tinsels and trash; the darkness of gossip; the darkness of pride, pomp, advertisement: “O God, help me to come out of this darkness of ignorance, so that I would come into the light of brilliance, the light which is radiance, the light which is effulgence, the light of wisdom, the light of Self-knowledge, the light of awareness, the light of alertness, the light of wakefulness. The light - that is the delight! That is my first prayer.

The second prayer during Sankranthi, which is a spiritual prayer for the soul, is this: “O God, help me to travel from untruth to Truth: Asato Maa Sad Gamaya.” The first prayer is “Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya: Lead me from darkness to light.” The second prayer, “Lead me from untruth to Truth“ is “Asato Maa Sad Gamaya.”

It is most unfortunate: “O God, I'm considering this life as permanent. O God, I do admit that everything belongs to me. What a fool I am! Now I recognize my error. O God, please forgive me that I think that this whole life is permanent and eternal and that power will be seeking me, position will be with me and properties will follow me. Forgive me that I have been craving for recognition, name and fame all over, O God.”

“O God, kindly forgive me for this because I have had faith in untruth all along. Position, life, influence, power, properties, relationships - that is all untruth. God, I have not known this till now. Now I pray to You, O God, to help me come out of this untruth of delusion, this untruth of illusion and mistaken identity, so that I will get back into that Truth of Eternity, the Truth of Immortality, the Truth that is with me, the Truth that: what I am, really I am. I am the Truth. So God, help me to know that I am the Truth, that I'm eternal and immortal.” That is my second prayer.

My third prayer to God during Sankranthi is: “O God, I think that my life may end sometime. Life may come to a full stop someday. Therefore, I am so busy with sensual activity. I spent time in the world drinking, eating, talking, dancing, merry-making, and what not because my life may end at any moment. No, no! God, help me to know that life is really one of continuity to Eternity. Life is one of continuity to Eternity: it is not a short-term affair, not just a gap or a mere span of time, not just a period of years. Life is continuous and eternal. It is an endless journey; it is a pathless land. It is Infinite. But I have been thinking that this life is short. But that is certainly untruth. So Bhagavan, help me to come out all of this nonsense!”

“O Baba, help me to come out of all this foolishness that birth and death are there for me.” I'm beyond both birth and death. I have neither beginning nor ending. After all, the beginning or ending relate to the body only. It is the body that is born; it is the body that dies. But I am neither born nor would I ever die. I simply change my dress. That doesn’t mean that I'm dead and gone. Whenever I change my dress, it doesn’t mean that I die or that I'm dead. No! Death is the dress of life.

“God, help me to come out of this nonsensical idea of death. Let me come out of this stupidity of the fear of death.” I'm such a fool because I have fear of death or fear that I may die someday. No, no, no! God help me to welcome death as the dress of life. Let me welcome death as the dress of life, because I'm simply moving from one chamber to another. If an 80-year old man were to be again youthful, he would not cry; he would welcome it!

Similarly, when I'm to take another new body, when I'm to take a fresh body, it is like a fading flower or a dropping fruit being born again as a young bud ready to blossom. Exposed to the radiance of sunlight, which is a welcoming thing, a joyful thing, a thing of dance, death is also a celebration. It is not melancholic, no, never tragic. It is only our misunderstanding the situation that gives the problem. “Bhagavan Baba, during this period of Sankranthi, let me give up this idiotic idea of death and fear towards death, so that I could realize that I'm immortal and eternal: Mrtyor Maa Amrtam Gamaya.”

My friends, these are the three important prayers that we have to offer, that we have got to repeat during this season of Sankranthi, it being the beginning of all spiritual pursuits and paths. In other words, during this period of Sankranthi, we develop a new attitude to sanctify our life. We have got an attitude so far to glorify our life. We have got an attitude so far to make our life remembered, recognized, facilitated, and appreciated. No, no. “My God! Please help me to sanctify my life, to make my life sacred, not glorify my life.” No, no my God! I'm not such a fool as to want to glorify my life. God, please help me to sanctify my life, so that my life from now on and hereafter would be sacred.

Sankranthi is the climax of what we have been doing till now. We have been following different paths of devotion till now. I don’t think that anyone would say that he has not followed any path till now. The pathlessness again is a path. (Laughter) Yes! “I'm not doing anything” is also an act of doing because you have determined not to do. So, each one of us is always, most necessarily, in one way or another traveling along the road, pilgrims walking on and on.

A Call for Surrender

So, this Sankranthi takes us to the top of our pilgrim travels. During this season, what is to be done? Sankranthi wants us to surrender unconditionally. It is a call for surrender. “God, I have been praying to You for my health for so long. Oh Bhagavan, I have been praying to You for a better position. Swami, I have been praying to You to give me a beautiful house - one which no one has so far! (Laughter) I have been praying to You so that I could dominate everybody. Swami, I'm tired of all those desires. I'm tired of all these prayers that I have been offering to You. For my glory, for my selfishness, I have been, Baba, an ego incarnate!” (Laughter) It is pride personified; the body, just bestial.

“O God, now I realize during this Sankranthi, no, no, no! I do not pray for any worldly things. I don’t pray for my health, position or power. I don’t pray for my children, no, no, no, no! O God, Bhagavan Baba, I pray that I learn to pray from now on. Prayer is a learning process, or else prayer is just an appeal or a memorandum. Prayer is an appeal, a request, a memorandum or a plea. No, no! What is real prayer?

Baba, let me learn how to pray to You now. Jesus taught us how to pray. Christ the Lord taught us how to pray. Bhagavan, You also taught me how to pray. I pray in such a way that I pray for that which is acceptable to You. I have nothing whatsoever, Swami. “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Whatever pleases You Bhagavan, please grant me. Whatever is good for me Bhagavan, let me submit to Your Hands.

I don’t ask You to give me that and this. I pray that I should be a collector of Your Mercy. You make me a collector. Or else next month, because of my wrong instructions, comfortably and nicely I may find that I will be dismissed. By merely asking without deserving, I'm facing danger; I'm facing accidents. So I don’t ask God. “You know everything. What is it that I should ask for? What is it that You do not know? Do to me what is good for me. Do for me what You think is best for me. I won’t ask anything.”

This is called ‘Atmanivedanam’ or ‘call for surrender’. “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God, let Your Will prevail. I have no preferences, Swami, because You know what is best for me. You know and You’re interested in me. Like a fool, I'm simply carried away by the whims and fancies, the vagaries of the times and the people. No, no!

So that all the spiritual exercises could be internalized during Sankranthi, let us know that all spiritual exercises have got to be internalized. Unfortunately, we have not done so. If I had really internalized spiritually, I would never tell anybody, “I did so many yagas and I did so many yajnas. I repeated God's name 1,000 times or 3,000 times,” as if it is a cricket score.

“O Baba, I repeated Your name three crore times as a donation to You!” (Laughter) He’s a real madcap, there’s no doubt about it. You sing the glory of Baba neither as an act of charity, nor as an act of vanity, nor for publicity. You do it for your own bliss; you do it for your own happiness. You do it for your own peace; you do it for your own comfort. That’s all. It is not a charity unto Bhagavan Baba!

Let me know how to change my attitude, how to change every activity, so that it would be internalized. Every festival has got an internal, inner significance, which, when understood, makes the spiritual activity really fruitful, meaningful and purposeful. Otherwise, it is just foolishness. That’s all. So let me internalize so that I'll develop unconditional surrender, so that I would accept whatever comes along the way in my life. Ungrudgingly and uncomplainingly I invite the Lord to serve me whatever is kept in store for me. That is the special prayer that we have to offer, that we have to do during this season of Sankranthi.

Sugarcane is Our Life

Bhagavan Baba gave us a beautiful example. Sugarcane is here. The sugarcane is like our life: The sugarcane has got knots here and there. The knots here and there are the problems, the difficulties, the obstacles, the opponents, and the enemies that we have in our lives. So, sugarcane is life with the knots of problems.

Then this sugarcane has to be crushed. This process of crushing means to get over the problems, to win over our enemies, to resist our difficulties, to be courageous during calamity, to be brave during tragedy. Tragedy or comedy, I'm unruffled. Obstacle or opposition, I'm not ruffled. No! This sort of process is crushing, crushing. It means that we will be ready to face anything, ready to face and overcome all.

So, the sugarcane of life has got many knots or problems. By crushing the sugarcane, we try to overcome these problems. By that crushing process, we get the jaggery or the sugar that is so sweet, which represents the bliss of life. This bliss of life is not available near the bus stand or on the street, readymade. The sugar has to be obtained only by crushing the sugarcane. Crushing is a process of breaking down resistance. It is a process of courage, one of conviction. It means one is brave enough to face all problems. Life is made sweeter by this crushing process. The knots of the sugarcane are the obstacles, while the sugarcane itself is life.

Dear Fellow Devotees!

Let us pray for problems, which might come in the way of our life. “O Bhagavan, see that I don't have any problems!” If you pray like that, the whole life becomes a problem! (Laughter) Yes! Why? Because when you have no problems, you don’t have any pleasures either. As Bhagavan often says, “Pleasure is an interval between two pains.” Therefore, I invite Bhagavan, but I pray for only one thing:

“Swami, it is not to make me free from problems, no! It is not to make me blissful throughout my life, no, no! Bhagavan, I only pray for one thing - that I will never lose faith in You so that I’ll always have the courage to face all the different problems, ups and downs, and bumps and jumps of life. That is our prayer.

New Aspirations

The third point is that Sankranthi is a season when people have new aspirations and new goals. Shall I start a new business? Yes, this is the best season. I’ve got new projects? This is the best season. I have new plans? Yes, this is the best season. We begin new projects, new plans, new aspirations, and new goals, as this is the best season. “Why, sir?” If you start during rainy season, the next day will be a holiday. (Laughter) Yes! If you start during summer, the next day you’ll be tired. This is the best season, when you’ll be bubbling with activity and dynamism. Therefore, this is the best season to begin all activities.

How shall I begin? “Lord, I pray to You. I submit to You so that You’ll give me success in every plan that I begin, every project that I undertake, the new business I start, the new political party I start, yes, and the new targets I have fixed for myself. Please bless me, O God, so that I’ll be victorious in this life. In this game of life, I want to be successful, so please bless me. Hence, this is one aspect of Sankranthi - the beginning of new plans and projects.

Sankranthi has got a special significance from the point of astronomy, from the point of planetary conjunctions. You may be wondering why this man is speaking of astronomical calculations in a space age, in an age of electronic gadgets. Why do we still speak of that? With all science, we have our own sentiments. With all science, we have our own feelings, our own pride, our own prejudices. And therefore, now I speak on the planetary conjunctions, the astronomical calculations, of Sankranthi.

What is the specialty now? During this season, the sun travels towards the north. To a student of science, I may look like a totally ignorant, rustic fellow because actually the sun would never move. It is only earth that moves. “How is that this man is speaking that the sun moves?” No, no! I said it is only a zodiac system. The zodiac system speaks of certain centers, the zodiac or planetary system, which have planetary conjunctions; all this is called astronomy. We interpret like this from that point of view, though scientific experience is different.

A tank of water is steady (without ripples), but when you pelt a stone, it becomes unsteady (full of ripples). Now, is the tank steady or unsteady? It is both steady and unsteady. It is steady so long as you don’t interfere. It becomes unsteady when once you interfere. Am I right? When you drop a stone in a well or when you throw a stone into a tank, there will be ripples of water all around. That is unsteadiness. So there is unsteadiness in steadiness and there is steadiness in unsteadiness. Duality is the beauty of life. Duality is the glamour of life. Duality is the flavor of life. To understand non-duality is the purpose of life. To experience non-duality is the purpose of life. It is the goal of life. That’s what Bhagavan says: “Unity in diversity.”

The Sun Represents Our Intelligence

So, during this season, the sun travels towards the north side. Why not south? Why not? (In the recent times, as a result of modern education, we have learned to ask, “Why not?” but not, “Why?”) “Why not to the south?” “No, my boys!” Here one point is told: “In the northern direction, there are the Himalayas. The sun travels towards the northern direction where there are the Himalayas.” Oh, I see. What shall I do now? If sun travels, it is his job! If sun travels or if he doesn’t travel, it is his job, after all! What does it matter?

I'm not referring to the sun as any planet, no! The sun represents our intelligence. “Chandrama Manaso Jataha, Chaksho Suryo Ajayata.” I'm able to see, to have vision, because of the presiding deity of our vision, which is the sun. If the sun’s grace is not there, we’ll be totally blind. “Why? How do you say that? The sun is there and I see here, so what is it?”

A simple example: A blind man has eyes, but he cannot see, whereas I have eyes and I can see. Both of us have eyes. So a blind man has eyes and a normal man has eyes. One cannot see, whereas the other one sees. So, it is not the eye that sees. We are mistaken. It is the seer that sees. The process of seeing is called ‘vision’ and for vision, the sun is the presiding deity. Why? Without the sun, everything is in darkness and you don’t see anything. But we want only ‘sons’ to give us problems, and we forget the real ‘sun’.

So the point is, the sun represents our intelligence. The sun stands for selfless activity. The newspapers say, “So-and-so has done so much for this place.” But the sun never gave any newspaper advertisement or TV telecast or radio broadcast. (Laughter) The sun never asked for knighthood to be conferred on it or ‘Bharath Ratna’ (an honorific title in India) at least to be given to him, though he does almost everything. The sun god sustains the whole living world, the whole organic world. There would be no food and grain if there were no sun. No seasons would be there if there were no sun. There would be no life without the sun.

So, in other words, the sun stands for selfless service. We just ignore the sun. We walk alone, but the sun is not bothered. “You’re a fool, so please go! I'm not bothered.” If you wish, say to the sun, “Thank you.” If you don’t wish him thanks, so many buffaloes also pass by the same way. (Laughter) Yes.

We are Buffaloes and Donkeys!

I remember in our college days, there was one principal by the name of Dr. T. S. Paulus. While he was coming to the college, he noticed one thing, which he wanted to share with the boys. There at the college assembly he said, “The Andhra Christian College where I served has a strength of 5,000 students, with six post-graduate courses there.”

While speaking, that Dr. Paulus said, “While I was coming in the car to the college, I saw a couple of buffaloes passing by, a few donkeys passing by and few students of our college, and I did not find any difference!” (Laughter) He only meant, “Why don’t you say, ‘Hi, how are you? Good morning.’ Why don’t you say that? Are you a buffalo or a donkey?”

So, we are buffaloes and donkeys if we don’t thank the sun god, who gives the light, who gives our food, who is responsible for our heat, or else we are finished! Without the sun, the whole universe would be a cemetery or a graveyard! So, the sun stands for selflessness, egolessness. The sun never says, “I did this, I did this!” No!

And also the sun sheds light on all equally. There is no sunlight in India exclusively. (Laughter) Nor does America have the patent on sunlight! Nor is sunlight an incorporated corporation. Sunlight cannot be monopolized. There is no copyright on sunlight, no, no, no, no! Sunlight is equally for everybody. This lesson of equality we have to learn from the sun; this egolessness and selflessness we have to learn from the sun; and also the sun is tireless – sun never takes a holiday.

Like Bhagavan Baba, “Koti Surya Sama Prabha”: God is equal to one crore of suns - not just one sun, but one crore of suns. So also like the sun, Bhagavan Baba takes no rest. He works without resting; He works unceasingly; He works throughout the day. Sunday is a holiday for all of us, but that makes Him all the busier on a Sunday! The hill resorts offer a vacation to all of us, so let's go to Darjeeling, Mussorie and Nannitol in the North; or let's go to Ooty or Kodaikanal in the South. Going to a hill station is a vacation for all of us, but our God gives five discourses a day when He goes to Kodaikanal! Work, more work, all work, that’s all! That is the timetable of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. So He’s the model. There are nothing like mean or low feelings. All are alike. So my friends, our sun represents these values.

So, when our intelligence or buddhi (mind is related to the moon, while intelligence is related to its presiding deity, the sun), when this buddhi or intellect or intelligence travels towards the north, well…why not? Traveling towards the north is the godward journey. For example, if you go this way, you reach Anantapur. But if you go that way, you will reach Hyderabad. No, I want to go to Anantapur; so I will go this way. Well, there is no other way for you. Anyway, you have to proceed in one way or the other.

Therefore, the northward journey means going in the godward direction. It means that you are turning towards God. Why? There are the Himalayas in the north. “The Himalayas? What do you mean?” The Himalayas stand for purity. They are white and pure. Plus they are so cold, full of ice and snow. So they are cool and steady. Even if I stand in front of Himalayas and say, “You foolish Himalayas! What is it, after all? Do you think you’re so great?” They’ll simply smile at me. So the Himalayas represent peace. The Himalayas will never move; they’re never shaken. They are steady. That is the human heart.

So the intellect is the sun, while the human heart is the Himalayan range. Moving towards the north means moving in the godward direction. That is the significance of Sankranthi. In Sankranthi, the sun moves towards the north, meaning the human intellect moves towards the north, signifying going in the godward direction. There one finds the Himalayas, which symbolize purity, coolness, peace and steadiness. I think I'm clear.

Now, when once my intelligence moves towards this peace, then that gives me an experience of the Divinity within. There lies the heroism in life. “Are you are hero?” “Yes!” “Why?” “I have murdered five people.” “No, no! You are a zero!” “Are you are a hero?” “Yes, I have acted in fifty films.” “No, no, no, there are many more heroes. Sit down.”

So, who is the real hero? A real hero is the one who has experienced Divinity within. So this travel northward makes you really a hero in the film of your life. Then you are a hero in the drama of life, a hero and a victor, triumphant in this game of life. That is the indication of the sun moving in the northern direction.

Sun Enters into Capricorn

The next point is that there are certain houses in terms of the zodiac system. The zodiac - I'm not referring to zodiac neckties of Great Britain. Zodiac neckties we have enough. This is zodiac points: there are several houses and the sun shifts from one house to another house. There are 12 months in a year. The sun shifts from one house to another in the zodiac system.

Now, the sun shifts during this period into a zodiac sign, which we call Capricorn. Capricorn is the 12th house of the sun. The sun moves into this house, Capricorn. The sun moving to this house, or any shifting of sun from one house to another house, is called ‘Sankramana’. ‘Sankramana’ means the sun’s entry into each house of the zodiac. As the sun enters from one house to the next house, this shifting from one house to another house is called ‘Sankramana.’

During this Sankranthi season, it is named ‘Makara Sankramana’. Makara Sankramana refers to the zodiac sign of Capricorn. ‘Makara Sankramana’ means the sun enters into this Capricorn zodiac sign during this season. I think I'm clear. ‘Sankramana’ means the sun is entering into one of the houses of the zodiac; ‘Makara Sankramana’ means it is entering into the twelfth house of Capricorn.

Now this Capricorn happens between two months: one is Margasira (December) and the following month is Pushyami (January). I have given their equivalents also: December is Margasira; Pushyami is January. So this sun entering into Capricorn happens between these two months.

“Ah! So? If it enters, what happens?” There will be the resplendent beauty of nature. The whole nature dances a celestial dance, a cosmic dance, a universal celebration, with beauty, enthusiasm and activity all over; with richness, affluence, milk, grain, and food everywhere. Nature is full of offerings. Nature is full of stuff to give to its own children. So, it is resplendent with the beauty of nature. When the sun god enters into Makara or Capricorn, called ‘Sankramana’, happening during the season between Margasira and Pushyami (December and January), this period is resplendent with the beauty of nature.

We Are Happy During This Season

How do you say? Margasira this month, December, as declared by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, is so dear to Him: “Of all the months, I'm Margasira,” said Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Why? We are happy during that season, so He’s happy. Bhagavan says, “If you are happy, I am happy.” We are happy during this season, so He’s happy.

Why are we happy? It is the season of harvest. It is the season of food grains. Our granaries are all full. All our granaries are full of food grains, so anyone would be happy. If all our granaries and kitchens are empty, you cannot be happy. If there’s no food available, if there is rationing for grain, you cannot be happy. If there is a shortage of food, you will never be happy. This is the time when you have food plentifully in abundance. Therefore you are happy.

Plus the weather is so cool and pleasant. Those of you who have stayed here in the summer, particularity in Puttaparthi, will find what summer is here! (Laughter) You are almost living in a frying pan! Your life is almost a blasting furnace! But during this Sankranthi season – ah – it is cool and pleasant, so we are very, very happy.

When our brothers and sisters, coming from foreign countries, go with their candles, singing Christmas carols, walking along the way with the cool breeze as we meet the dawn, as the birds make their humming sounds, perching on the branches of the trees across the way…ah, what beauty it is! The daffodils smile at you and the roses invite you. The dewdrop tells you how fresh you can afford to be. The chill and cold make you feel delighted, make you feel like dancing and merry-making, like celebrating and enjoying a banquet. It makes you feel like togetherness, like entertaining friends and guests. This is the beautiful season, one that is so cool and pleasant.

Also, this is the period when we can take rest and enjoy because the grain is there and is fine. Nature is beautiful. It is time to enjoy. I cannot enjoy other seasons because of the rain or severe heat. This is the period I don’t need the air-conditioners to be put on. Even if there is a power breakdown, I am not disturbed as it is quite cool enough. So this is such a beautiful period. Therefore it is called ‘Makara Sankranthi’, when the sun enters into Capricorn. So, Sankranthi is a period of festival.

A Very Holy Period

Also, this is a very, very holy period. Therefore it is called ‘Uttarayana Punyakala’. ‘Punyakala’ means a period of merit or a period of virtue. ‘Uttarayana’ means traveling towards the north or traveling towards God. So ‘Uttarayana Punyakala’ means the 'most auspicious time’ is that when we think of God, which is ‘Makara Sankranthi’ or Uttarayana Punyakala. Mind turned godward, mind turned inward in deep contemplation, mind attuned in deep concentration, mind plunged in deep mediation on God – all this is meritorious time. It is really a blessing and a benediction. That is what is called ‘Uttarayana Punyakala’.

Now, ‘Kranthi’ means ‘change’. This festival is called ‘San-kranthi’. Why ‘Sankranthi’? ‘Kranthi’ is ‘change’, so ‘Sankranthi’ is a sacred change. The change should be sacred. Let us say that you find me along the way. You have observed me over a period of time. Tomorrow, when you see me with a cigar, when you see me with a bottle, you will say, “Hey! What a change in you, Anil Kumar!” This is not a sacred change. It is a shameful change! (Laughter) It is a change in the direction of shame and humiliation or of being and feeling insulted. So, a change should be towards sacredness. That is what ‘Sankranthi’ means: a ‘sacred change’. ‘Kranthi’ means change and ‘Sankranthi’ means sacred change.

Moreover, this is the season when we wish for health and happiness. Many of us don’t fall sick during this season. We fall sick during rainy season, due to bacteria and viruses. That is their good period because there is a lot of stagnated water then. We are very healthy now. So this is also a period of health and happiness.

Rather, to put it this way… (There is a long pause while A.K. writes on the board.) Please bear with me as I haven’t lost my teacher’s habit of writing on the board! (Laughter) What to do?

Yes. So the sun god travels towards the north, there where you find the presence of the Himalayas. I think I'm clear. (Laughter) So, our intelligence moves towards the north, where there is peace, serenity, and steadiness. This northern movement is named ‘Sankramana’, which means a sacred change, when one enters into Capricorn or Sankranthi. That is the meaning of this period.

Rangoli Design

Also during this season, some beautiful practices or traditions are followed. What are they? Now during this period, there is a special practice. If you watch in front of the houses in towns and villages (rarely in cities, unfortunately), even to this day, you will find special drawings made with rice flour, what you call ‘rangoli’. Rangoli is a special design or a special drawing in front of every house.

But it is not like that in the cities. In the cities, we begin with the newspaper or we begin with the TV news. Start the day with hatred, spend the day with envy, fill the day with pride, and end the day with pills for blood pressure and diabetes! (Laughter) Unfortunately that is the life in the cities, the life that we think we want and about which we feel proud.

But in towns and villages (particularity in 100% of the villages) in front of every house, there will be a rangoli, a beautiful diagram or design with rice flour. Why use rice flour? We have chemicals, so why don’t we use them? Chemicals are useful to manufacture bombs, but not for rangoli! Rice flour is used so that ants will come and eat. You should know that you’re part of life, that you’re a part of Creation, that you’re a unit in this organic life of vitality. In this life, you’re a unit and ants also are units. So let ants come and eat that rice flour. But our mental poverty has gone so low today that instead of the rice flour, we use lime or chalk pieces. We are not even useful to the ants in this world!

So during this season, the villagers set aside this one month for drawing beautiful designs. Even the girls compete with each other. Right from four o’clock in the morning, they start doing it. Of course, the scripture has promised them that, if they do so, these unmarried girls would have handsome husbands. (Laughter) The promise is that unmarried girls will have handsome, well-settled husbands. If the fellow is handsome and useless, no, no! He can remain there in the showcase! He should be earning also.

So, a handsome man, one who will certainly earn his bread, well, any bride will certainly have him. That is the promise given to the girls. Hence, they start designing. Ah-ha! The greater the design, the better the husband! (Laughter) That’s right! What about the bigger the design? Oh! It means the more rich he will be! So, this is one practice that what we find here.

There what they do is (of course, ladies do much better, but anyway let me try…. (Laughter, as Anil Kumar draws a rangoli) Am I doing OK? (The audience answers, “Yes!” as they admire his rangoli drawing, and A.K. laughs delightedly. More laughter.) Now, it is not bad! Of course, I'm glad that my wife is not here so that she would not ask me to do it at home tonight! (Loud laughter) That is the greatest danger! Now, this is the design. So there are many kinds of designs like this made during this month.

Gobbilu: Three Cow Dung Balls

Then particularly on Sankranthi, they make three balls or rounded masses with cow dung. And on the top on this cow dung, they put pumpkin flowers. Is that OK? I think so! The ladies should certify. If they’re kind to me, they’ll say it’s always nice anyway.

Now, the point is that three cow dung masses or balls with pumpkin flowers are kept at the center of this rangoli or design. Why? Why is it done? It is done because as it is told here, this is the symbol of health and happiness. How? We call these three cow dung balls as ‘gobbilu’. Gobbilu are the name given to these three cow dung balls. These balls are made up of cow dung with the pumpkin flowers kept on that. It is called here ‘gobbilu’.

Why are there three balls? One cow dung ball represents Gopala, the protector of the cows. The second ball represents Govardhana, the one who has demonstrated His Divinity to the world. And the third cow dung ball represents ‘go’ or the cow. So, to repeat once again, the three cow dung masses or cow dung balls, each represents something. One represents Gopala, Krishna. Another represents or demonstrates the Divinity of Krishna (Govardhana). The third represents ‘govu’ or the cow that supplies milk for the sustenance of our health and life. So these three cow dung balls represent these three values as a symbol of health and happiness.

The Season of Love and Friendship
Then, the next point is that this is the season of love and friendship. During this season, what people do is they mix jaggery and till (sesame) seeds. Jaggery and till seeds make a sweet mixture. They then start distributing this to everybody. What does it mean? Jaggery stands for love, while till stands for friendliness. So, friendliness and love, jaggery and till, are offered to everybody during this season as a mixture.

Now, everything has got its own inner significance. Take prasadam. Why do we eat that there? Is it that we have no food supply or what? No! You take prasadam because it is sanctified. It has got a special meaning. Similarly, during this season this jaggery and till mix speak of love and friendship.

Gangi Bull

The next thing is that during this season you will find, particularly in villages, one person, a trained man, who is wearing a special dress with a turban. By his side there will be a beautiful, though sometimes quite funny to look at, decorated bull. During this season that decorated bull is called ‘Gangi’. That bull will be by the side of this nicely dressed trainer man.

This man takes the bull house-to-house, singing songs and making this bull dance in front of every house. There were no video games or video parlors as you have today. Those spoil people and ruin their culture and their tradition. See, as this bull starts dancing in front of every house to the tune and to the command of the man who is very well dressed by its side. That speaks of harmony, unity, and fellow feelings. There is a kind of harmony, a kind of togetherness and coordination. There is a sort of cooperation and integration, whereas in modern things, everything moves toward disintegration. So, this Gangi bull dancing in front of every house stands for integration, coordination, and harmony.

Then Baba goes further and tells us that this Gangi bull in Sanskrit is called ‘pasu’. It means it is a bull, an animal. This bull you must have noticed in any Siva temple. Please go to any Siva temple anywhere in the world. You’ll find the bull (Nandi) looking straight at Siva. That’s all. The bull will have the two eyes centered on the Siva Linga, looking on Siva only.

Thus, this bull represents concentration, continuous concentration. He is one in deep meditation. In that way we worship bulls so that at least we’ll have the same concentration, one-pointed concentration, in order that our life, which is pasu or almost that of an animal, will start growing and marching toward the ‘Pasu Pathi’, who is God Himself. So, from ‘pasu’ to ‘pasupathi’, from the animal stage to the Divine life, that is the inner significance of this, along with generating fellow feelings and harmony.

Celebration of Harvest

The tenth point is this: This is the season of the celebration of harvest. As the grains are harvested and returned home, as the houses are full of milk and curd, plenty and prosperity, we celebrate all of this. How do we celebrate? We mix rice and jaggery and then feed all the cows with this mixture of rice and jaggery. This is a practice in Tamil Nadu in particular. This rice and jaggery mix is fed to all the cows on the first day - that is, on the twelfth of this month.

On the 13th, the second day of the festival, they just spread this rice jaggery mix all over the fields, all across the agricultural land, thanking Mother Earth for the harvest. And on the third day, they start cooking the rice and jaggery for themselves and celebrate blissfully by eating and partaking that sweet.

In Tamil Nadu, this preparation is called ‘Mattupongal’. ‘Mattu’ stands for the cow and ‘pongal’ means the preparation. So ‘Mattupongal’ is a special preparation where you have the rice and jaggery mix, specially cooked and distributed; first fed to the cows; second day, spread along the field; and third day, partaken and distributed as holy Prasadam. So, this is the message of ‘Mattupongal’ of Tamil Nadu.

Then Bhagavan goes a step further and gives another meaning of Pongal. ‘Pongal’, what do you mean by that? Baba is the presiding deity of all the knowledge and of all the languages. Somebody asked me, “Sir, does Bhagavan know all the languages?” I said, “How is it that you do not know till today?” (Laughter) Why do I say that? Whether it is a group from Japan, a group from Germany, or a group from France, they’re granted interviews day-after-day, but there is no translator. These people who go do not know any Indian languages. As they come out of the interview room, we find them dancing, jumping, floating, but not walking. (Laughter) Why?

Swami knows all languages, as He’s the Mother of all the tongues. So, all mother tongues are known to the Mother of mothers, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore, He knows all mother tongues. (Applause)

Therefore, this is a celebration of the harvest season, where Mattupongal, which is a special preparation and offering of rice and jaggery, is distributed to everybody.

My friends, I should also draw your attention to certain important points that Bhagavan wants us to know during this season. We may have to cultivate all this, yes! This is the point. (I was thinking what is it that I'm likely to miss? Good! If I leave out one or two points, I fail to be a successful teacher. OK?) Now, this is the point, so please listen to me.

Creator and Creation

As I said, you find a decorated bull, Gangi, with a well-dressed trainer. They start singing and the bull starts dancing in front of every house. What is the song about? The song is about Rama and Sita. This charmer or trainer goes on singing about that happy wedlock, the happy wedding of Rama and Sita. Why? Sita symbolizes Nature, while Rama symbolizes the Creator. Sita is the Creation and Rama is the Creator. So, the Creator plus the Creation is equal to Rama plus Sita. That is equal to holy wedlock. So, the holy wedlock, the spiritual matrimony for the welfare of the entire mankind, is the wedlock between Rama and Sita - Rama, being the Creator and Sita, being Creation Herself. Together they make life enjoyable, blissful, plentiful and prosperous, going hand-in-hand.

Friends! I take leave of you with this simple note that festivals are not celebrated in a mechanical way. Festivals are not to be celebrated by merely purchasing new clothes for the occasion, or by drinking and dancing. Festivals are celebrated in order to march on and on, from one step to another step, from one step to a higher step, along the spiritual ladder. They are for our own advancement, for our own progress, and for our own inner spiritual evolution.

May Bhagavan be with us and help us in this spiritual travel, in this spiritual journey, higher and higher day-by-day, so that we all prove to be heroes by realizing and experiencing the Divinity within.

(Anil Kumar closed his satsang by leading the bhajan, “Jayaho Jayaho Gopalana...”)

Happy Pongal / Sankranthi to everybody!

Thank you very much!

Om Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor Maa 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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