From ancient times to today humanity cannot live without worship.
The ways and methods of spiritual worship are different but the
joyful peace in mind what one can receive from that is in core the
There is a question arises. Our generation of human beings live
at the same time with Avatar, present incarnation of previous Gods
in different countries, in different times. As Swami, so His
devotees honour and worship the ancient Divine incarnations. Swami
modestly advices us to see one and the same God within, what is the
basis of Atmic reality. But who is leading and guiding humanity
today? It is not only Swami in his material form, but also His
expanded Cosmic form, it is the Divine energy what shines through
every His word, what shines through every devotee who shares his/her
experiences. It illuminates through Sailogram (developed by
Sailoptics team) and Swami's holographic and other pictures created
with love by His devotees. Here Swami's Divine energy is entwined
with faith of his devotees. It illuminates through His
manifestations... It illuminates everywhere in the Nature. This
illumination is as a call to look into own Self by the help of the
real Divine power and vision.
This illumination or Divine shining is real. Recently I
removed Swami's pictures from my flat and carried to the hall where
a seminar (two days) about human values was. My flat became cold
and uncomfortable not only for me. All who visited me during these
days were surprised and asked what has happened, why in my flat was
such unfriendly atmosphere? The door to the rooms where the pictures
were, was shut and they did not know about absence of Swami's
How can our generation to worship Swami, a real living Divine
incarnation? Probably our worship should be directed on spiritual
development of inner knowledge of the Atmic unity. This knowledge is
the basis for development of all humanity and also the single
persons who are carriers of eternal spirit, where all good or bad
that is made by them you will leave a no erasable trace.
Swami has properly analysed and described modes of worship in
His work "Sathya Sai Vahini" in the frame of Vedas and different
Below are excerpts of Sathya Sai Vahini. Chapter "Modes of
Worship" contains the most clear explanation about different methods
of worship than the other scientific sources. He stresses the role
of idols, mantras, rituals and gives a pictorial conclusion that all
modes of worship will become into one in Unity of Atmic reality.
The Veda is the most ancient as well as the most lasting
knowledge (or Sastra) discovered by man. That is to say, man has not
invented it; he has only recollected it in the serene silence of the
soul. So, the Veda can lead man into the Vision of the Truth,
unreachable by the senses and unrelated to the material world. It is
inaccessible to human reason because it is transcendent.
Supreme Lord is All-seeing; He is the Person on whom all the hymns
of the Vedas converge. The Vedas enable man to get the vision of
that Lord and those who have earned that Vision are the Rshis. As a
result, the Supreme Lord Himself is referred to as the Great Sage (Maharshi)
in the Brahma-Sutra. Among the 108 Names of Siva, the Supreme Lord,
we find Maha-rshi and Mukhya-rshi (the Chief Sage, the foremost Sage).
Even the Veda is personified and referred to as Rshi, for the same
reason. Brahmam (the Vast Expanse) is another word which denotes the
Supreme Lord as well as the Veda. Hence, all acts, undertaken with
no other desire than the attainment of Brahmam, are also known as
Brahma activity - Brahmayajna. A Rshi yajna is a sacrificial act -
with no desire to earn the fruit ensuing therefrom - designed to
gain the Vision of Truth.
The scriptures distinguish the Divine Body and the Material
Body, which each entity and being possess. The Divine Body of every
one cannot be cognised by the senses. When an oblation is given to
it, it becomes sanctified. The Aahuthi is trans-substantiated into
The oblation or Aahuthi is thus described in the Veda. The
offering and offeree become one through the acceptance. (The Attha
and the Adya). Who in this case is the offeree, the acceptor? It is
Agni, the Divine Power inherent in Fire, in the Sun, in the Warmth
of the Vital Air that sustains Life. When with the recitation of the
appropriate ceremonial formulae, material oblations are placed in
Agni with the phrase Swaaha, it is not a mere exclamation; it is
expiation; it is realisation of the prayer, which the ritual
The sacred ceremonies and rituals which the Vedas expound
confer joy not only on the participants but on the entire world and
even on worlds beyond. The Supreme Lord who is the source of Bliss,
is known in the scriptural text as Yajnaanga (having the Vedic
ritual as His Limbs), Yajna-vahana (using the Vedic ritual as His
Vehicle). When Godhead assumes Form the first manifestation is
Hiranyagarbha (the Golden Womb). This too is embodied Bliss, having
as vehicle the Bird with wings of Beauty, or Garuda. The Supreme
Lord is also known as Vrsha-ratha, He whose chariot is the Bull, the
symbol of Dharma (Righteousness). This is the reason why in temples
we find the bird Garuda carved or kept as an idol before the shrine
of Vishnu and the figure of the Bull or its idol placed before
shrines of Siva.
Chha or Chhaadana has as its root meaning another important
aspect of the Vedas - shielding, fostering or promoting, promoting
the welfare, the ultimate liberation of humans engaged in the
unceasing round of worldly affairs. Humans are ever caught up in
activities pursued with the profit available as the purpose. They
have to be moulded as righteous men and women at the same time; the
Tree of Life has to be guarded to offer them fruits and shade. The
Veda has to shield from destruction the activist 'doers' (Karma
lovers) from the evil temptation to court unrighteousness and, the
inquiry-fond thinkers (Jnana seekers) from the evil temptation to
pursue the pleasure-bound senses.
There is a myth about the Vedic rituals, collectively known
as Yajna. Once, Yajna fled from the gods taking the form of a black
antelope; the gods went in pursuit, but they succeeded only in
retrieving its skin. That skin became the Yajna, the symbol of the
rite. The white, dark and tawny colours on that skin represent the
Vedas, Rg, Yajur and Saama, and it was adored as sacred for this
very reason. It was honoured as symbolising the Triple Knowledge,
that is to say, Mastery of the three Vedas. The three colours are
believed to represent the three worlds too and, therefore, he who is
seated on the skin or wears it benefits the three worlds by his
Vedic recitations and oblations.
The master of the ceremonials at the Vedic yajna is
described in the vedic scripture as the "Foetus in the Womb." As the
foetus is safe and secure, with its fingers clasped and body
prostrate enveloped in the mother, the priest initiate must be
enveloped in the antelope skin symbolising Mother Veda. To human
eyes, it is just a skin but during Vedic rites, it becomes a shield.
This is the reason why, before wearing it, the initiate prays,
addressing it, "You are the shield, Charma, shield me as Charma."
Charma since it shields man from grief, injury, and wrong has come
to mean happiness and bliss. Vishnu, the second of the Trinity, is
the embodiment of Bliss. And Vedic sacrifices confer bliss. Vishnu
is praised as Yajna itself (Yajno vai Vishnuh). The Lord Vishnu is
the embodiment of the Triple Veda.
Upasana means the acquisition of the Presence of the
Divine, the achievement of the Bliss of adoration. Vedic tradition
sanctions four paths as legitimate and fruitful to win this
achievement. They are called Sathyavathi, Angavathi, Anyavathi and
Nidaanavathi. We shall consider these in some detail.
Sathyavathi: The scripture
defines the Divine thus: "Sarva Vyaapinam Aatmaanam, Ksheere sarpith
iva arpitham" - The Aatma is immanent everywhere, just as ghee
interpenetrates every drop of milk. When the seeker pursues the
Truth with this conviction urging his endeavour, his sadhana is
called Sathyavathi (Truth-based). "Maaya thitham idam sarvam,
jagadavyaktha moorthinaa," the Lord declares, "In My latent form, I
am in entire Creation, operating the mystery. See in Me all this,
see all this as Me". .
Angavathi: The Universal being
is the Fire, the Wind, the Sun, the Moon and all else. He is the
Breath that sustains life in all beings. He is the Fire that
illumines all. He is the Rain that feeds the plants that provide
sustenance. So, He can be adored either as Fire (Agni) or as Wind (Vayu)
or as Rain (Varuna), as having graciously assumed all those
beneficent forms. This approach through the benign manifestation or
Angas, is the Angavathi path. Anga means a 'limb', a 'fact', a 'feature'.
Anyavathi: Picturing the
many-faceted Divine and symbolising, in perceivable ways, the
attributes that are evidenced in each facet, the seeker endeavours
to acquire the Presence of the Divine. One form of the Divine, the
Omnipresent (Vishnu) is pictured as having the Conch (symbol of the
Primeval word or Sound), the Wheel (symbol of Time) and the Mace
(symbol of Might and Majesty). With the facet to which is ascribed
the power and willingness to overcome obstacles (Vighneswara), the
single tusk symbolising sharpness and concentration is associated,
Iswara or Siva (the facet of disintegration and dissolution) has the
Soola or Trident (symbolising in its three prongs, the Past, the
Present and the Future). Rama, the form of righteousness or Dharma
is always pictured with the Kodanda, the bow which can send the
arrow (will) straight to the target. Krishna, the manifestation of
Universal love, has on His Crown a peacock feather, symbolising the
thousand-eyed glance of Grace. He bears a flute on which He plays
enthralling tunes; the flute is the symbol of the ego-less
desire-less seeker. The facet of Wisdom pictured as the Goddess
Saraswathi, has a Veena in Her hand; the Veena is a stringed musical
instrument, symbolic of heart-strings responding with harmony and
melody, to the gentle touch of the True, the Good and the Beautiful.
Seekers meditate on these pleasing Personifications and the
significance of the symbols of their attributes and adore the Divine
in the Delight that wells up in their hearts.
Nidaanavathi: This path is slow
but progress is always achieved when each step is successfully
negotiated. "Sravanam (Listening to the Glory of God), Kirtanam (singing
joyously His unique graciousness), Vishnoh smaranam (keeping in
memory and recapitulating always the Majesty and Mercy of the Lord),
Paada sevanam (Aspiring to fall at the Feet of the Lord), Archanam (offering
prayers to the image or idol of the Lord), Vandanam (offering
gratitude for blessings received), Dasyam (Surrendering to the Will
of the Lord), Sakhyam (Confiding completely in Him), Atma Nivedanam
(Dedicating thought, word and deed to Him), Thanmaya-aasakthi (Longing
to merge in Him) and Parama-viraha-aasakthi (Agony at the slightest
separation from Him)" - these are the eleven stages which the seeker
has to pass through to win the final Consummation in Bliss. Hence,
the name for this path is 'slow and sure' (Nidaana).
These four paths (Sathyavathi, Angavathi, Anyavathi and
Nidaanavathi) are each one progressively more commendable than the
previous ones, as far as simplicity and practicability are concerned.
They award, in the end, Oneness with the Universal Will. Of the
various other Upasanas or Sadhanas which are mentioned in the sacred
texts and practised by seekers, Pratheekopasana (Idol adoration) or
Prathiroopopasana (Image adoration) is included under Angavathi
Upasana. "Sarvathah paani paadam thath, sarvathokshi Siro mukham" -
"Everywhere His Hand and Feet, everywhere Head and Face". The Lord (Madhava)
has His Hands everywhere, for He is in all. He sees through all the
eyes. He thinks, plans and resolves in all heads. He eats through
all mouths, hears through every ear. Through one Form, you can adore
Him as all Forms. This is the highest ideal - He is latent in all
beings; He operates unseen in and through all. This is the
Prathiroopa-upasana, worshipping Him as present in each.
(In His book Swami describes many other upasanas (the
acquisition of the Presence of the Divine) described in sacred texts.
Among them are:
community, in worshipping the Lord, adopt a Vaishnavite slant. Idols
of Vishnu, with the traditional equipment of the Conch, the Wheel,
the Mace and the Lotus, are found in Jain temples). The Jains have
as their mantra:
Salutations to the great heroes (Mahavira) who have conquered
Salutations to the Siddhas (those equipped with supernatural
Salutations to the great Masters of Spiritual Wisdom,
Salutations to the great Teachers who transmit the wisdom,
Salutations to the good persons of all lands.
This five-fold adoration helps remove the evil effects of all
sinful acts. The Jains declare that when one merges in this
universal adoration, one is liberated and attains Moksha.
Sikh-upaasana: The Preceptor
(Guru), who reveals the Atma and makes one conscious of Its
Existence as one's Reality, has the highest place in this system of
worship. The collection of the teachings of the Gurus - referred to
as Granth Saheb - is extolled and revered by the Sikhs. It is
derived from the spring of Bharathiya spiritual traditions. Its
ideas form the very core of Bharathiya cultural traits.
Christ upaasana: Lord Jesus is
the Saviour. Man is by nature prone to fall into sin, knowingly or
unknowingly. Jesus shed his heart-blood on the Cross to free man
from sin and cleanse his soul. Follow this Lord and his teachings
contained in the Bible and worship him - this is Christ upaasana.
Sing his glory and adore him through hymns - this is the mode of
worship which this Upaasana envisages.
khaidaa mey ho, Pygambar mey bharosa." Acquire self-confidence and
place all burdens on God; have implicit faith in the Power of God
every moment of living; recognise it at every step; - these are the
rules for meaningful life. One has to evidence one's rectitude in
the Durbar of the Lord, when one lays down his body. So, one has to
follow the straight path laid down by the Lord until the very end.
For this, the Holy Quran is the guide; it has to be revered and
observed down to the very letter. This is the spiritual instruction
to be observed in this Upaasana.
All these upaasanas reveal that, since man initiated his
age-long inquiry into his own truth, he has accumulated, especially
in Bharath, a vast spiritual treasure which can save him from sorrow
and bondage. The treasure is so vast and so deep that it has
survived the passage of centuries as vast and as deep as ever it was,
unaffected by the emergence of different modes or the influx of
other forms of worship.