Sai Baba Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Sri Sathya Sai Baba Divine Discourses


The Love of the Gopees

Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba, Krishna Janmaashtami, Prashanthi Nilayam, 12 August 1963
Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust

Kompella Subbaraaya Shaasthry spoke about the coming on earth of the incarnation of Krishna and read extracts from the Bhaagavatha describing the antecedents of the birth. All of you enjoyed listening to him, though many of you are listening to the story for the hundredth time; the story of the Lord does not lose its sweetness when repeated. Jnaana, Yoga and Karma (knowledge of supreme self, meditation and selfless action) are, each one of them, hard to go through, but like chutney, which is salt, chilly and tamarind in the right proportion ground to a paste, Bhakthi which is Jnaana, Yoga and Karma in the correct proportion, is bound to be appetising to all tongues.

The grace of the Lord is a subject dear to every one. It is a subject that is within the grasp of all. The Lord also can be addressed by any name that tastes sweet to your tongue or pictured in any form that appeals to your sense of wonder and awe. You can sing of Him as Muruga, Ganapathi, Shaaradha, Jesus, Maithreyi, Shakthi, or you can call on Allah or the formless, or the master of all forms. It makes no difference at all. He is Sarvanaama and Sarvaswaruupa (all names and all forms). He is the beginning, the middle and the end; the basis, the substance and the source. So, any story that brings into your consciousness, His glory, His grace and His beauty must perforce appeal to you.

Every Thought sets up a Function, agitating all around

Believe Me, all Vriththis (mental modes or functions) are A-nithya (impermanent). A Vriththi is a circle, like the circle that emanates from the place where a stone falls into the still water of a lake. The water gets agitated and the circle affects the water up to the farthest end. Every thought acts like the stone on the stillness of the mind; it sets up a Vriththi. It agitates all round. The Pravriththi maarga (path of attachment) multiplies these circular waves and seeks to create further and wider agitations. But, the Nivriththi maarga (path of detachment) aims at stilling the waters. No agitation at all. Preserve the calmness, even the level. Keep the agitating thoughts away.

Concentration on the name and form of Krishna tends to calm the waves of Vriththi. When E. M. Forster came to India, he was for some time with the Thakore of Rajkot and when he found the Thakore of Rajkot engaged in Dhyanaam (meditations) before the image of Raadha-Shyaam, he wondered at first what it was all for! The Thakore had no wants to fulfil. What could he pray for? One day, he asked the Thakore, "Why?" He replied that Krishna was for him the embodiment of Prema, Soundharya and Aanandham (love, beauty and bliss), and so, when he meditated on that form he was filled with love, beauty and joy. The senses, intellect and emotions, all get purified and clarified by dwelling on the pure and the splendid. Forster was induced to try the first steps and though he found it rather difficult at first, the thrill engendered by the strange calm egged him on to persist. He found Dhyaanam, good and useful.

Krishna's Pranks reveal His Divine Essence

Krishna was only few weeks old, when a certain ascetic came into the house of Nandha; Yasodha was having the baby in her lap. Of course this is an incident not found in any book; I have Myself to tell you this. The maids ran in, for, they were afraid the child might start weeping at the sight of the uncouth individual. He walked in nevertheless, and Yasodha found that when he was sent away, the baby raised a cry; not when he was approaching! The Muni also announced himself as having come to see Krishna Paramaathma (Krishna, the supreme self), a name that was new to the entire family. No wonder, the baby cried when that distinguished visitor was asked to go! Devaki had been given the vision of Krishna being the Lord Himself, but, this Muni had discovered the arrival of the Avaathar, by the grace of the almighty. It was Baaba who had invited the Muni for His Dharshan.

The replies that Krishna gave when the Gopees complained to His mother about His mischievous pranks and thefts of milk, butter, etc., also reveal, by the inner meaning they convey, the divine essence that He was.

"Why did you drink the milk from the pot she was carrying?"
"She was taking it to be offered to God; perhaps, God might have drunk it up."
"Where had you run away?"
"I was always with you, is it not?"
"Why do you hold that butter pot in your clasp?"
"So that others may not eat it!"
"Why do you put your hand into that butter pot?"
"I am looking for a lost calf."

These were the types of answers He taught them with. He was the Ancient One, in the new garb. His words came from the beginning of Time.

Raadha's Prema was pure without Egoism

The Raadha-thathwam (principle) is also a deep, inscrutable one. She was ever in the contemplation of the Lord and His glory. She too saw the child Krishna as the divine manifestation, separate from the human form. Yasodha one day was searching for Krishna who had strayed away; she sought almost everywhere and at last, she went to the house of Raadha. Raadha just closed her eyes and meditated on Krishna for a while and when she called "Krishna," Krishna was there. Then, Yasodha shed tears of joy. She said, "I love Krishna as a mother; I have a sense of egoism in me that He is my son and that I must save Him from harm and seek to give Him guidance and protection. Your Prema is pure; it has no egoism prompting it."

The Gopees had that one-pointed Prema (love), unwavering, clear and pure. The relationship between the Gopees and Krishna as depicted in the Bhaagavatha has been unfortunately judged by persons who have not regulated and controlled their Vriththis. This subject is beyond the comprehension of such people. Only Brahmachaarins (celibates) of the most ardent and ascetic type like Shukha Maharishi who described it to king Pareekshith and in recent years, Raamkrishna Paramahamsa, can appreciate that relationship and pronounce upon its uniqueness. All the rest are apt to see in it only the reflection of their own failings and their own feelings. The language of Samsaara (worldly life) is the only language they know; the regions of Thuriya - beyond the regions of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep - to which those experiences relate, are not within their reach. So, they drag the subject down to their own level and claim that they have mastered their mystery.

Every Godward Step makes you shed all Attachment

As a matter of fact, the Inner Eye, the Inner Senses are needed to grasp the meaning of this relationship. Oruganti has shown that it has eluded the grasp of most interpreters, for it is closely allied to the Adhwaithic experience of Nirvikalpa Samaadhi (the superconcious state where there is no mind) itself. The mind has to be the master, not the slave, of the senses, if the interpretation has to be just. Thoughts, wishes, deeds and feelings - all have to be purified of the desire for gain.

Ahamkaara (egoism) itself must lose all its hold on the interpreter, as it did on the Gopees. Prema towards the Lord such as the Gopees had, should make a man strong, not weak. In fact, the Gopees were not weakened by their love; they were rendered tough. Raamakrishna too exhorted his disciples, like Narendhranaath, to grow strong, with the cultivation of Prema towards the Lord.

Every step taken towards the Lord makes you shed bit by bit all attachment to the world. How then could the Gopees retain their physical awareness? Dhruva went into the forest to get from the Lord the boon of sitting on the lap of his father, a very ordinary wish of a plainly earthly type. But as he advanced in Thapas, that wish disappeared form his mind and his mind was elevated to great spiritual heights. How can one who has tasted Amritha (nectar) be eager to taste water? Or, crave for Tamarind fruits after tasting Kharjur (dates) and having it in his possession? Every craving will be sublimated into the higher realms of pure consciousness, the moment one enters the spiritual field.

The Gods came to the World as Gopees

And then who are these Gopees, according to the Bhaagavatha itself? They are the demi-Gods who wanted to share in the glory of the Avathaar and who came down to the world as witnesses and sharers in the divine Leela (cosmic sport). They came for a purpose; they are not ordinary village folk, who could be dismissed as a crowd of voluptuous women. They saw in every gesture and gait, every word and phrase of Krishna the divine, not the human at all. They had no occasion or chance to be agitated by a secular Vriththi (thought wave); all Vriththis were awakened by divine promptings and urges. Like the magnifying glass which catches the rays of the sun and directs them all to one spot, thus concentrating the heat on one point and helping it to ignite, the hearts of the Gopees collected all the Vriththis and concentrated them and caused the illumination and the flame. The flame burnt all dross; the illumination revealed the truth. All other interpretations are to be laid at the door of either ignorance or scholasticism, the pompous pride of mere book learning, which scorns the exercise of discipline.

Meaning of Krishna's Theft of Butter

Krishna is condemned as a thief who stole butter from the cowherd maidens; but, the butter represents the Bhakthi of the heart that is got after the process of churning. It is a question of a symbol being taken as literally true. He is Chiththachor (the stealer of hearts). The thief steals at night, in the darkness, without awakening the master; but, when this thief steals, the master awakens; He wakes him and tells him that He has come. The victim is left supremely happy and satisfied.

Every Gopee had the highest type of Bhakthi in her heart. They saw only Krishna wherever they turned; they wore on their foreheads blue Kumkum, in order to remind themselves of Krishna. There were many husbands who protested against the colour of the Kumkum, but they dared not wipe it off, lest harm should befall them and the sacrilege recoil on them alone.

Here Baaba who had filled his hand with petals of Mallika (jasmine) flowers pulled apart by Him from garlands given to Him, showered the petals from one palm to another and they fell in a cascade of blue gems. Even the gems they preferred were of this type, blue, like Krishna. He showed the astounded gathering the gems He was referring to. Each gem had Krishna's form in it, beautifully clear.

Do not have Pride in your Attachment to God

There was a Gopee named Suguna. One day, when Krishna was with Sathyabhaama, He pretended to have severe stomach ache and in spite of all the remedies that she tried she could not afford relief. Of course, it was all acting, superb acting such as the paralytic stroke I had for a week previous to Guru Pournami recently! Even Rukmini was not admitted into the house by her to inquire about Krishna's health. But, Rukmini found Suguna pining outside the door in great agony at the illness of the Lord. She gave her the articles and asked her to go in. Krishna welcomed Suguna and made her sit at His Feet and ate the fruits she had picked up from Sathyabhaama's own garden and suddenly, the ache had gone. It was her agony at the Lord's condition, her simple sincere devotion that was so effective.

There should be no artificiality in your attachment to the Lord, no affectation, no pride, no egoism left, to soil the freshness of the flower you offer. Sathyabhaama protested when Krishna accepted the fruits, for, Krishna had brushed them aside as tasteless when she had herself offered them as the precious product of her assiduous gardening effort. They were tasteless, since her pride had entered into them now. When the simple rustic Gopee picked them from the ground and saturated them with her devotion, they became tasty and attractive for The Lord, who cares for the Bhaava (inner feeling), not the Baahya (outer show)!

The only Prema that will not allow pride and envy to interfere with its purity is Prema towards God. I know that many of you, who know that I have been taking only a cup of buttermilk daily for the last two months, are genuinely grief-stricken, though I have been talking to you that no work of Mine has been stopped or delayed as a result of what they call My "reduced intake of food;" that is a sign of their Prema but really, I live on your Aanandham, not on this material food at all. I wish that you realised this and stopped worrying or weeping.

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