If you take Krishna to be a gopala (cowherd), a man of the world like others, then for you he will be just a cowherd! You too climb only up to that stage. You have to take it in the yogic sense that “go” in gopala means living being, so gopala means “He who protects, guides, feeds, and fosters the living beings”; that is to say, “He who is the protector and preserver of beings.”
You will have noticed that Uddhava, who looked upon Krishna as his guru, benefitted more than Arjuna, who looked upon Him as (a friend. If you have faith that He is God, He will be God to you; if you dismiss Him as mere man, He takes on that role and becomes useless for you. Search for Him with the heart, not with the eye for externals. The superpower has to be sought in the super-state itself, not in the lower states. Then, if you have the eyes that are fit to see and the wisdom to understand, you will find Him.
Various people have various methods of worship as well as objects of worship. Vishnu, Shambhu, Sharadha, Allah — are all different degrees of human understanding of the One Unsolved Mystery, the Fathomless Infinite and Absolute. Do not seek variety, seek unity. Do not enter into quarrels about higher and lower; when the same person is honoured by different titles, why should you quarrel over the superiority or inferiority of the title. They all fall short of His Total Glory.
Karma is needed to realise the Truth
Your attempt should be to attain and become the Eternal and the Truth). Truth is that which is the same in the past, present, and future, the same in the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep stages, and which is unaffected by qualities of sloth, passion, and serenity. Again, the Name is greater than even the Named, for the Named may disappear, but the Name will continue and will evoke the Form of the Named.
There is no need to exhaust yourselves in the search for the Lord; He is there like butter in milk, like the chicken in the egg, immanent in every atom of creation. He does not come from somewhere or go somewhere else. He is there, here, everywhere. From the atom to the great, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, He is everything.
To realise this grand Truth, spiritual exercises or spiritual activity (karma) is needed. That is, karmayoga, karma performed with this end: “karma done in an intelligent manner (karmasu kousalam).”
A millionaire may have various vehicles — cars, coaches, etc. — in plenty. But for his health’s sake, the doctor advises him to walk a few miles every morning. Otherwise, he will fall ill, the doctor says. So also, for removal of the disease of ignorance, one has to do virtuous action (dharma-directed karma).
The oil in the lamp is the fat derived from the actions of previous ‘lives’. The stronger the flame, the brighter the light and the sooner the oil is used up. Do vigorous karma, exhaust the effects of the past, and be free from the weight hanging round your neck. There is more joy in the doing of karma than in the fruit it may give; the pilgrimage is often more pleasurable than the actual experience of the temple to which the pilgrim went.
Make spiritual effort as natural as breathing
It was mentioned in the Gita that you should not care for the fruit of your action, but I say now that you may value the result of your actions to a limited extent. That advice was given according to the conditions prevalent then and the delusion that Arjuna suffered. Since it will increase your Bliss (Ananda) and give greater strength to your spiritual practices, I say now that so far as spiritual practices is concerned, you can do them with a keen eye on the Ananda that you will ultimately derive.
It was mentioned now by the Principal of the Markandeya Sanskrit College that I was born like Janaka, as the result of some balance of karma! I have no balance of karma to work out! I am unaffected by karma, as already mentioned in the Gita. The Supreme Power puts on the cloak of deluding power (i.e. comes in human form) in order to fulfill the purpose of contacting and protecting humanity. I have no desire, and thus no binding karma. Only you have the desire, aim, and wish that drag you along various paths. For Me, your Ananda is My Food, your elation is the swing on which I sit, your activity is My Playground.
There are three kinds of karma: natural action, like breathing, which has to be done; action done with intent, like the combination of wick and oil in the burning lamp; and action done without intention to gain the fruit of consequences, where there is neither oil nor wick and so no burning at all. Breath control and yoga (divine communion) must become as natural as breathing and so automatic; that is the summum bonum of spiritual discipline, the state of innate spiritual discipline.
I make people mad about God
Learn from childhood the recitation of the Name and prayer and the practice of silence. Let children contemplate the beauties and the magnificence of God’s handiwork and be filled with mystery and awe. Do not count and calculate what the Puttaparthi Sai Baba gives. I do not give in order to attract you to Me; I give only to fill you with Bliss (Ananda). Showering Ananda, that is My task. I do not want you to extol Me; I shall be satisfied if you rely on Me. The mysterious indescribable Super-power has come within reach. It will never engage Itself in any task without fruit.
I bring tears and I wipe tears, someone has sung. Yes, I bring tears of joy into your eyes, and I wipe the tears of grief. I am said to make people mad and also to cure madness. Yes, I make them mad about God and about the spiritual discipline needed for that. I cure the madness that makes people run frantically after fleeting pleasures and fall into fits of joy and grief.
Some persons have said in their ignorance that I am divine sometimes and that I become human after that! They say I alternate between Divinity and humanity. Do not believe this. I am always of one reality only. The Lord will never undergo a fundamental change; only the external form may change. The essence will be the same. There will not be any decline in value, like becoming human for some time, etc. The Lord will be characterised by unbounded Love (Prema) and unsullied sweetness.
There are two duties to be done by man; the one along the path of righteousness for this world and the one along the path of Supreme Reality for eternal liberation. The path of righteousness is the left hand, so it can be left. Why, it will leave of itself after the fruit becomes ripe. That is why it is called “left”! Leave it, and do not grieve over it. But hold on to the right, the path of Supreme Reality, for it is “right” that you should do so.
Never hate others or wish evil to them
Finally, you must know how to use the chance that you have got in this life to come in contact with the Lord.
The lamp sheds illumination, but it can be used for various purposes, good and bad; the Ganga is holy but its waters are used for good as well as bad purposes. How you use this chance depends upon your destiny and luck and the amount of Grace that you are able to win. Develop faith; strengthen devotion; and everything will follow. Rama was the representative of Truth (Sathya), Krishna of Love (Prema), Buddha of Righteousness (Dharma). Now it is of all four: Truth, Righteousness, Peace (Santhi), and Love. Sathya is the Dharma, Prema gives Santhi. I command you: never hate others, wish evil to them, or talk ill of them. Then only can you attain the natural form of peace.
The Lord alone is aware of the Plan, for His is the Plan! You see only a part of the play on the stage, so it is all very confusing. When the entire story is unfolded, you will appreciate His Plan, not until then; for that, you have to get behind the screen of deluding power (maya) and contact the Director Himself. While you are an actor on the stage reciting your role, you cannot grasp the inner meaning of the entire play, which has the “world” as the stage and “ages” as the duration.
If, by acting your role well, you develop Love toward fellow actors, that is more important than getting devotion for God. If you acquire peace, that is a more valuable success than acquiring spiritual wisdom. For devotion is the seed of love and spiritual wisdom is the seed of peace. At the least, devotees should behave as if they are all of one family. Take hold of the chance so luckily available for mutual cooperation in worship and spiritual discipline.
All the powers I have are for you
You are My treasure, even if you deny Me. I am your treasure, even if you say No. I shall be affectionate to you and attach Myself to you; I shall take all the trouble to keep My property safe in My custody! That is to say, in the custody of the Lord, by whichever name you may be calling upon Him. All the powers I have are for you: I am just the store, keeping them ready to be given to you, whenever you ask for them. I shall give Prema even if you do not ask, for it is your right to share in it.
Some complain that I did not give them this or that, but that is because their vision is limited to the immediate future or the present; whereas I know what is in store, so I have to safeguard them from greater grief. They even blame Me and heap abuses, but I will not give them up. I am not influenced by anybody, remember. No one can change My course or affect My conduct to the slightest extent. I am the Master over all.
But let Me tell you this. I speak harsh words and “punish” some persons because I have Prema toward them and am eager to correct them and make them better instruments. If they were not Mine, I would have given them up and not cared to take any notice of their lapses. I have a right to chastise those who I feel are Mine. I also know that they still value My Word and that they will feel sad at My being displeased with them. It is due to your wayward mind that you are easily wafted away from Me by some silly persons’ irresponsible words.
Peace can be won only the hard way
I sometimes act as if I keep you at a distance; that is done to reform you quicker. When a stretch of road is being repaired, I go by another detour and do not use that bit of road for some time. The purpose is to let the repair works proceed more quickly, so that I may use that road again.
I have come to set the world right, so I have to collect all those who are ill and treat them in My “hospital”, restore them to sanity, strength and wisdom, and send them back to their stations in life. I must intensify your devotion, reinforce your faith, and rebuild the foundations of your moral nature, so that you can counter temptations with greater confidence. I have come across people who recite a prayer and believe that they are bringing the world nearer to peace with every occasion on which they pray. But peace can be won only the hard way, by eliminating violence and greed from the hearts of individuals.
There are cases when the villager in Puttaparthi, on getting fever, tries all kinds of quackery till it becomes too serious; then he runs madly for doctors and drugs to Bukkapatnam and Anantapur and Chikabalapur and Veilore — until he is forced to sell his land to pay off the loan! If only he had taken resort first to a qualified doctor all this could have been avoided.
So too, do not run after gurus who are themselves suffering from faulty vision and householder’s troubles:
do not beg from people who are themselves beggars. Avoid all pride and competition between one another in the spiritual life. Let each one march at his own pace; only the direction and the road have to be Godward.