Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba, Thirupathi, 5 April
Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust
The New Year which you have called in today with the exit of
the old year, has an auspicious name, Subhakrith. Your arranging
this festival is honour of Saint Thyaagaraaja on this day is
indeed an auspicious way of welcoming the auspiciously named New
Year. I congratulate you.
I am coming often to inaugurate the festival for I feel it is a
part of the task for which I have come. I may tell you that I am
coming today straight from the very region where Thyaagaraaja
lived out his life.
I find that you in this holy town Thirupathi are not all imbued
with devotion to the deity who has made it His home, Shrinivaasa.
Most of the people here live on the Lord's bounty or 'property' or
'charity'. The income from the shrine of the Lord is utilised in
running colleges, hospitals and in various other ways. That is to
say, it is making the lives of many thousands happy and contented.
I do not blame them for living upon the income of the Lord, for,
what does He want it for, if not for the needy and the hungry? But
let Me add a warning. If it is eaten in excess, calamity will
intervene. Eat as much as you deserve for the toil you have put
in, for the hunger you have acquired by your exertions in a good
cause. What is the toil which entitles you to consume the property
of this shrine? What is the exertion which the Lord approves? Only
spiritual toil and spiritual exertion can entitle you to the
sacred share; only Dhyaana and Naamasmarana, steeped in the thrill
Idol Worship is not a Sign of Barbarism
The true culture of India is a structure that is built on four
pillars - Sathya, Dharma, Shaanthi and Prema (truth, virtue, peace
and love). Every one of you must be aware of this fact. If you
are, then you will not be attracted by cultures that are built on
less durable foundations. The culture that has to be protected by
the bomb cannot claim Prema as one of the pillars on which it is
erected. Bhaarath is a land where since millennia people have been
praying for and toiling for the peace and happiness of entire
humanity. They never prayed for success in the wicked race for
Do not swallow without discrimination the criticisms hurled
against you that you are uncultured barbarians, worshipping stocks
and stones. Idol-worship is not a sign of barbarism. No, it is as
significant and meaningful a rite as the Kumkum dot on the
forehead of the bride. The idol is revered as the Swaruupa (living
form) of the Lord, He who pervades everything everywhere is
invoked and visualised in the idol and approached reverentially by
the cleansed mind, anxious to efface itself in the eternal and the
universal. This attitude is called Prapatthi - surrender for
Install Truth in the Shrine of your Heart
Without this attitude, worship becomes empty and vain. It is no
use deciding just now, when you are listening to Me, that you
would cultivate faith and fortitude; and not put that resolution
into action after you leave this place. Bhakthi is not measured by
the outward signs of tears and exhilaration. It is an inner
revolution, a transformation of all values and outlook. You may
have heard the story of the woman who was shedding profuse tears,
apparently of exultation, during a Puraanic recital. The
Bhaagavathar was overjoyed that day, for he had succeeded by his
touching exposition in evoking response from at least one contrite
soul. At the close of the day's session, he congratulated the old
lady on her Bhakthi and offered her the coveted first spoonful of
holy Theertha (consecrated water) as a tribute for her Shraddha
and Saadhana (faith and spiritual effort). But the lady denied all
claims to devotion and said, "I do not know what that thing called
Bhakthi is, nor the other things named Shraddha and Saadhana. I
shall tell you why tears fell from my eyes. That thick black
string with which you have tied that palm-leaf book put me in mind
of the string round the waist of my departed husband; he wore a
black string, long long ago." Mere external signs mislead the
observer, but they cannot mislead the Lord who is the
ever-present, ever-vigilant witness.
Bhakthi will foster Prema, because it is born of Prema itself.
At present, this land is full of factions and rival groups; all do
not pull together and to the best of their ability and capacity.
That is why it has become necessary to ask the help of other
countries and peoples and borrow funds and burden ourselves with
interest payments, etc. There is no co-operation and willingness
to sacrifice self-interest for the sake of the community or
country or humanity. Every village is riven by partisan groups.
I shall tell you what happened in a village of this type. One
section had specialised in acting the drama, Lankaadhahana
(burning of Lanka); but the other section decided to enact the
story of king Harishchandra instead. For the role of Chandramathi,
the queen, they had to select a person from the Lankaadhahana
group because they had no substitute actor at all. The scenes were
following one after the other. All went well until the prince died
of snake bite; then the mother refused to weep! The "son" belonged
to the opposite group. So vengeance was taken on Chandramathi by
Harishchandra. He rained blows on her being so callous; the drama
sped along in another course, the course of hatred and faction.
Yearn for Illumination of your inner World
Thereupon, the Anjaneya of the Lankaadhahana group brought
things to a climax by jumping on the stage in his role with a tail
burning at one end; and he set the theatre on fire to the delight
of his henchmen and the consternation of his rivals! You must put
on play either Harishchandra or Lankaadhahana; it will end in a
holocaust if you play both together on the same stage. Rather,
prefer Harishchandra and reject the playing with fire. Install
truth in the shrine of your hearts and that will engender the
wholesome habit of brotherliness among all men.
Well, the electric lights have started burning again and I see
you are all satisfied that the line was set right so soon. I know
how greatly you yearned that the illumination of this Pandal be
restored soon and you felt sorry and dejected when you had to sit
under dull improvised kerosene lights. I want that you should
yearn also for the illumination of your inner world, the
restoration of the current to shed light on the dark recesses of
your minds. That is what is called Bhakthi, the yearning for
light, for illumination.
People blame the Lord for all ills caused by their own
extravagance or ignorance. They are themselves to blame for the
sufferings they undergo. Suffering is due to ignorance only. Take
the case of even physical ills and physical suffering. Most
illnesses are due to overeating or faulty eating habits. Mitha
thindi, athi haayi - Moderate food gives immense comfort. The food
must be clean and pure and derived through pure means; and the
strength derived from it must be directed towards holy ends. Then,
living is worthwhile.
Food is the Basis of Man's Character
Remember that Thyaagaraaja kept such rules rigorously in mind.
He never dined outside his home or ate unconsecrated food. Many
thought that he was a conceited fool who was needlessly strict.
But there are subtle influences that pass into food from the
persons who prepare it and handle it and are absorbed by those who
eat it. Food is the basis of character. The state of the mind is
conditioned by that of the body.
I shall tell you now of an incident that happened eighty years
ago. There was a great Yogi, Hamsaraaj by name, at Badhrinath. He
was always immersed in singing the glory of the Lord. He had a
disciple who was equally earnest and sincere. That young man was
pestered for a few days by a dream which gave him no peace. He saw
a fair young girl of sixteen weeping in great agony and calling
out pathetically, "Can no one save me?" The disciple was amazed at
this strange dream; he could not shake off that doleful figure and
that desperate cry from his mind. He recited his woes to the
master. Hamsaraaj, I can assure you, was a true Hamsa (the bird of
paradise). That bird can eschew water from milk. Hamsaraaj, by his
Viveka, analysed the situation and discovered the cause of that
He prodded the young man with such questions as: "What did you
do the first day?" "Where did you go?" "What did you eat?" etc. It
was revealed that he had gone with a friend to a feast and eaten
some Puuris and Chappathis. It was discovered that a poor Brahmin
had prepared the feast. Well, Hamsaraaj sent the disciple to find
out why and with what resources that Brahmin arranged the feast
for the recluses of Badrinath.
Examine the Source of the Food offered
The young man cursed the day when the dream started haunting
him, for he was now being sent by his master on purposeless
errands to investigate irrelevant issues; he wondered how his
Saadhana could be helped by all this. Nevertheless, he went and
pursued the inquiry about the feast and its origins and the
wherewithal out of which it was prepared. It came to light that
the funds were supplied by a sixty year old money lender to whom a
Brahmin had given his daughter in marriage and received in return
a sum of ten thousand rupees. She was now appealing to the holy
men for a bit of human kindness towards a forsaken child.
Hamsaraaj thus demonstrated to his disciple that one should
examine the source of the food, the motives for the gift and the
passions that surge and sway the giver before accepting such an
intimate gift as food.
You may say that Saadhakas alone have to bear such rules in
mind, but tell Me who is not a Saadhaka. All are pilgrims on the
road; some going fast, some going slow, that is all. The goal is
the same for you all, though the roads may be many.
You are all cultured and civilised according to current
notions. Of course, there is a vast difference between the methods
of living now and in the past. Man has travelled far from the days
when he wore the barks of trees or leaf garments. Today is the day
of nylons and georgettes and bush coats. Well. Admitting that all
this is a sign of higher civilisation, should there not be a
corresponding rise in the level of thinking and feeling and
action, in the arts of living together and earning mental peace
and poise? The spiritual life of man must also become more
cultured and civilised is it not? There must be gratitude for the
chance of life, for the blessings of the beauty and bounty of
nature, and a realisation of the more durable values of life.
Attachment to sensory pleasure has to be discarded in preference
to the more lasting joy of inner contemplation.
Prayer can bring about the Impossible
Thyaagaraaja had discovered that joy. He gave expression to
that joy in moving musical notes, in simple sincere words, in
songs that bring tears to the eye and thrills to the heart. The
Raaja of Raamnad, who is the president of this festival, comes
from Thamil Naadu and the Thelugu language in which Thyaagaraaja
sang is strange to him. Yet, he is profoundly affected by the
music; he loves the Krithis (songs) very much. Knowing the meaning
of the songs and the context which begot them so spontaneously and
so sweetly from the sublime devotion of Thyaagaraaja will make you
imbibe the spirit better; the language in which he sang is the
language of the seeker, the Saadhaka, the struggling Saadhaka, and
very rarely, the satisfied sage. You can easily learn that
language, the language of the Saadhaka. Do not keep away from it
because it is not the language to which you are accustomed. There
is no place for hatred in this field, nor between state and state.
This is a sacred task on which the committee has entered. They
may sometimes feel the burden to be too heavy; they may even reel
under the weight of disappointments and difficulties. But I assure
them they have no reason to lose heart. Lord Shrinivaasa opens His
eves and your task is accomplished. And He will open His eyes.
Have patience and wait prayerfully. Prayer can bring about the
impossible. Recite the glory of the Lord and repeat in the cavern
of your heart His name. That will bring success.