Concentration of mind on the divine is real sadhana

Listen to the discourse

Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Divine Discourse
Sivarathri, Prasanthi Nilayam, 19 February 2004.

Nachiketa, son of Vajasravas, prayed to Lord Yama to teach him Atma vidya. Then, Lord Yama said, “Oh, the son of immortality! Listen. First establish your link with the source from which you have come into the world.” He also advised Nachiketa that since the body was perishable like a water bubble and the mind was fickle and unstable, he should transcend both and realise the fundamental truth.

The Lord of Kailasa has manifested his Divine form with the crescent moon adorning his head, the cool water of the Ganga flowing between the matted locks, with his radiant eye in the middle of the forehead and the purple neck gleaming like the sheen of a blackberry. He wears serpent bracelets and a snake belt, his entire body is smeared with Vibhuti, his forehead is adorned with a Kumkum dot, his ruddy lips glow with the juice of the betel, diamond-studded gold earrings dangle from his ears and his whole swarthy body glows with divine effulgence. (Telugu poem)

“Nachiketa! You need not search for Lord Easwara, for He is very much present in you”, said Lord Yama.

Comprehend the transcendental reality

Dear students and devotees!

You have to understand the true significance and philosophy underlying the festival of Sivarathri. First realise that you are not the physical body which is perishable and impermanent. You have to look at this objective world with jnana chakshu (the eyes of wisdom), not with charma chakshu (physical eyes). The animals, insects, birds and beasts look at this world with their physical eyes. If you also look at this objective world with physical eyes, then what is the difference between you and other living beings? If you remain at animal level, then how can you realise your true nature? You have to comprehend the transcendental reality which is beyond the body and the mind. This is possible only with the help of jnana chakshu (eyes of wisdom). The body is like a water bubble. It will disappear one day or the other. You are not the body that has birth, growth, decay and death ultimately. Therefore, Lord Yama exhorted Nachiketa to realise the atmathathwa that has no birth and death.

Then, the question arises as to what is the Atma? The Atma is formless, infinite, indescribable and immeasurable.

Nirgunam, Niranjanam, Sanathana Niketanam, Nitya, Shuddha, Buddha, Mukta, Nirmala Swarupinam (Atma is attributeless, pure, final abode, eternal, unsullied, enlightened, free and embodiment of sacredness).

Such an atmatattwa is immanent in every individual, nay, in every being in the form of consciousness. Your life as a human being will acquire a meaning and purpose only when you realise the conciousness. Enquiries relating to worldly matters are meaningless and an exercise in futility. Lord Yama exhorted Nachiketa to realise that principle, having realised which he would have realised everything else. The body has birth, growth, decay and death. But the Atma is not subject to all these changes. It is the eternal witness of everything in the universe. You have therefore to realise the atmatattwa. Thus taught Lord Yama to Nachiketa.

The Atma is eternal without birth or death. It has no beginning, middle or end. It is omnipresent and eternal witness. (Telugu poem)

Look! Several electric bulbs are shining here. Though the bulbs are of different sizes, colours and capacity, the electrical energy manifesting as light through them is one and the same. Similarly, the same divine power is present in every living being and makes it function. That is atmatattwa. I often refer to the terms Sathya (Truth), Dharma (righteous conduct), Santhi (peace) and Prema (love). Sathya is the electricity, Dharma is the wire through which the electric current passes. Santhi is the bulb and Prema is the light. If you want to attain atmananda (atmic bliss), you have to follow Sathya and Dharma. That is why the ancient culture of Bharat laid great emphasis on Sathyam vada (speak truth), Dharmam chara (practise righteousness). In contrast to this noble principle, what is happening today? Sathyam vadha (truth is being killed) and Dharmam chera (righteous conduct is being imprisoned). No, No. This is not humanness. Speak truth and observe righteousness.

Lord Yama told Nachiketa, “This human body which is like a water bubble is bound to burst one day or the other. Therefore, realise that atmatattwa which is real and eternal”. You can recognise that atmatattwa, not by your charma chakshu (physical eyes) but by jnana chakshu (eyes of wisdom). Then, the question arises as to what is Jnana (wisdom)? Is it physical knowledge or secular knowledge or knowledge relating to the objects of Nature? No, none of these. Experiencing the principle fo non-dualism is true wisdom (advaita darsanam jnanam). Atma transcends the name and form. Lord Yama, therefore, exhorted Nachiketha to attain atmajnana.

Today, people are going mad in search of spiritual knowledge. They adopt umpteen number of practices and bodily postures and call it spiritual sadhana. But, none of these can help to attain Atmajnana. What is important is prema (love) which is the undercurrent of all forms of spiritual sadhana. Realising the perishable nature of this deha (body), one has to realise the indweller (dehi), who is none other than the eternal Atma.

Give up attachment to body

The body is made up of five elements and is bound to perish sooner or later but the indweller has neither birth nor death. The indweller has no attachment whatsoever and is the eternal witness. Truly speaking, the indweller who is in the form of the Atma is verily God Himself. (Telugu poem)

The true and eternal atmatattwa is immanent in one’s own body. It can be realised only by the jnana netras (eyes of wisdom). You have to gradually give up dehabhimana (attachment to the body) and cultivate atmabhimana (love for the atma). You think you are the body and develop attachment to it. So long as the process of inhalation and exhalation continues in the body, you consider it as yours. Once the process comes to a halt, you will not know what is happening around.

The human body, though of perishable nature, teaches one great lesson, namely, ‘SOHAM’ (you are nothing but the eternal atmatattwa). When you inhale, your breath, you make the sound ‘So’ and while exhaling you make the sound ‘Ham’. The inhaling process represents life and exhaling represents death. If you wish to overcome life and death, one moment is enough. You have to give up body attachment, which I am demonstrating right before you day in and day out. This body which I have taken upon Myself is undergoing several types of suffering. Just as you suffer from physica ailments, this body also suffers. But I do not attach importance to this suffering. Several students and devotees have expressed anxiety and concern that I might undergo a lot of suffering while the Linga emerges from My body. No doubt, your apprehensions are true; but, I do not feel any suffering. In fact, it is only when I identify Myself with the body I undergo pain. Since I am not the body, I do not suffer any pain.

For example, this is a handkerchief (Bhagawan holding a handkerchief in His hands) As long as you consider this kerchief as yours, you pick it up, wipe your face and carefully put it back in its original place. Just because the kerchief is yours, do you accept it if there is dirt on it? No, never. You at once discard it. In the same manner, you should realise that you are different from the body. You should not attach any importance to the suffering of the body. All those objects which you consider as yours have to be discarded one day or the other. When you do not consider something as yours, you do not feel any pain in discarding it. This body underwent several types of suffering, the recent one being a fracture in the hip bone.

The body is after all a conglomeration of indriyas (senses). Whatever has happened is only to the body and not to Me. When you adopt this attitude, you will get peace. For example, when you find an ant crawling on your hand, if you try to scratch it, you will have more pain. After all, why should you have to suffer so much on account of a small insect like an ant crawling over your body? It is only because you are under the illusion that you are the body. The eye sees something. But what it sees may not be real since it is bound to undergo change after some time. What the ears have heard may undergo change after some time. In the same way, the food we eat will also undergo change after a few hours. There is nothing that is permanent in this world. You have to realise this truth. You have to enquire as to what it is that remains unchanged in the past, present and future. If I teach you this simple truth by quoting Sanskrit slokas and mantras, you may not be able to understand. If this is related to your day-to-day experience, you will understand it better.

Some time back, when My hip bone got fractured, I was taken to the hospital. The doctors were planning for performing a major orthopaedic surgery. I told them, “You can do whatever you wish to. This body is yours. I am not the body. I am not under the control of the body. I am I.” The doctors performed a major operation on this body. But I did not suffer any pain. Whatever pain was there, only the body suffered, not Me. If you also adopt a similar attitude, you will not feel any pain. Therefore, reduce your Dehabhimana (attachment to the body) gradually.

Cultivate pure and selfless love

All of you are undertaking some sort of sadhana. What exactly is the real meaning of sadhana? Give up body attachment and try to experience atmic bliss. How do you attain that bliss? It can be attained only through prema (love). If only there is pure love, all your suffering will be removed. Therefore, cultivate pure and selfless love. Supposing, you came across a person on the road who is inimical to you. If you hate him and move away from him considering him as your enemy, the distance between you and him increases further. On the other hand, if you greet him lovingly saying “Hello! how are you?”, naturally he would respond with love. Thus, when you both greet each other lovingly, there will be no scope for hate persisting any more. As is your feeling towards others, so is their feeling. The same idea is contained in the Vedic declaration: Yadbhavam Thadbhavati (As is your feeling, so shall you become). Today, we are directing all our negative feelings on others. We should not however bear any ill-will against anybody. Whatever nagative feelings are there, they are just passing clouds. They come and go. The sun may not be visible when it is covered by thick clouds. The moment the clouds move away, the sun is visible. Similarly, when your negative feelings scatter away, what remains is pure love. You can achieve anything in this world with love. In fact, you can get the entire world under your control through love. People say they are sitting in meditation, both morning and evening. But, what kind of meditation is going on? What benefit are they deriving out of it? How long is its effect lasting? Not even a moment. Remember, all worldly matters are like passing clouds. Therefore, do not enagage yourself much in them.

Once Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was walking through the market place, chanting the divine name. In fact, he was dancing in ecstasy. Some people on seeing him thought he was a madcap. They snatched away his mridanga. But, he did not resent for this. He started chanting the divine name while beating the cymbals. The irate onlookers took away the cymbals also. Even then he was not bothered. He thought perhaps God did not like his beating the cymbals. He resolved not to touch the cymbals which he tought were not to the liking of God. He consoled himself saying whatever musical instruments were taken away from him, were not to God’s liking. God’s will prevails ultimately. Such was his faith. From then onwards, he gave up all worldly attachments and concentrated on prematattwa (principle of love), which none could take away from him. One has to aspire for that which cannot be taken away by others. That is pure love. A printed matter on a piece of paper cannot be separated from it. Likewise, your heart should be like a pure white paper and love the printed matter. These two are inseparable. Cultivate such love.

Love is your sole refuge wherever you may be, in a forest, in the sky, in a city or a village, on the top of a mountain or in the middle of deep sea. (Telugu poem)

Wherever you may be, divine love will protect you always. Cultivate such type of love. That is the real sadhana. Sadhana is not something that is associated with dhana (money). Sadhana stands for salokya, sameepya, sarupya and Sayujya (perception of the Divine, proximity to the Divine, identity with the Divine, merger with the Divine). Unfortunately, today people do not understand the real meaning of sadhana.

Students! You are reading big books written by elders. However, mere reading will not help. When you read a pustaka (book), whatever is contained in it will enter your mastaka (head). This means both the pustaka and mastaka become one. You should not stop at that, Whatever has been stored in the mastaka must get into the heart, where it will remain for ever.

Embodiments of Divine Atma!

Atma is divine. Never forget this aspect. Some people find happiness in physical sadhana. But, the pleasure they derive out of it is only physical and temporary in nature. All that is associated with time is bound to disappear one day or the other. You have to attach yourself to that which is permanent, eternal and real. God’s love is beyond all description. It is supreme. On the other hand, the physical love is momentary and is associated with physical relationship. Whatever is associated with the body comes and goes. But, pure and selfless love which emerges from the heart comes and grows. You have to cultivate such love. It will never diminish. You need not have to beg for this from somebody. You cannot purchase this from the market either, since it is not a saleable commodity. God is the only source from whom love flows. It is available only in His shop. Therefore, find out a way to reach Him. Unfortunately, today people do not aspire to acquire such pure love in spite of being very near to the source of such love. They do not even realise that this invaluable gift is available right in front of them. People crave for worldly favours and objects, thinking there is great happiness in possessing them. No. They can never give real happiness. The happiness arising out of worldly things is only momentary. Only God’s love is eternal principle. Therefore, love such Divine Love. You cannot get it from anywhere else except from God.

God has neither birth nor death. He has neither beginning nor end. He is present in all beings as the eternal witness. (Telugu poem)

Renunciation leads to liberation

God’s love is the only truth. It will never change. Worship such changeless Truth. Seek refuge in that Truth. That is the only real sadhana for attaining liberation. What is meant by ‘moksha’ (liberation)? Is it living in some palatial building with air-conditioned rooms, located in heaven above? No, not at all. To get rid of moha (attchment) is true moksha (liberation). You have to give up body attachment in the first instance. Once you get rid of body attachment, you will naturally develop vairagya (renunciation), which will ultimately lead you to liberation. Love is the only path that can lead you to liberation.

You might have heard the story of Mandana Misra, a scholar of great repute. His wife, Ubhayabharathi, too, was a great scholar. When Adi Sankara was proceeding on his victory march, he met Mandana Misra and entered into a scholarly debate with him. It was decided that Mandana Misra would take to sanyasa if he was defeated in the debate. Ubhayabharati was chosen to be the adjudicator of the contest. Will anyone accept such a proposal wherein the rival’s wife acts as the adjudicator? But Adi Sankara had no hesitation to accept her as the adjudicator, for he knew that Ubhayabharati strictly adhered to the principle of truth in letter and spirit. She was impartial in her judgement and declared Sankara to be the winner. Mandana Misra took to sanyasa in accordance with the terms and conditions of the debate. Ubhayabharathi, being his ardhangi (better half), followed suit.

Ubhayabharathi lived in a hermitage near the bank of the river Ganga. Many women became her disciples. Every day in the morning, they used to go to the bank of the Ganga to have a bath. On the way, there lived a sanyasi, whom people considered as Brahmajnani (knower of brahma). He had renounced the world to attain true wisdom. However, he was very much attached to a dried bottle-gourd in which he used to preserve water. One day he was lying down, using it as a pillow, lest someone should steal it. Ubhayabharathi observed this and asked her disciples as to who he was. One of the disciples said that he was known as Brahmajnani. Then Ubhayabharathi remarked, “Though he is one of wisdom, he is attached to his bottle-gourd which he is using as his pillow.” The so-called Brahmajnani heard their conversation and became angry. When Ubhayabharathi and her disciples were returning from the Ganga, he threw away the bottle- gourd on the road, just to show that he was not attached to it. Seeing this, Ubhayabharathi at once remarked, “I thought there was only one defect in him — abhimana (attachment). Now I realise that he has another defect also — ahamkara (ego). How can one with ahamkara and abhimana be a jnani?” Her comment was an eye opener for the sanyasi. Immediately, he fell at the feet of Ubhayabharathi and prayed to her to teach him true knowledge.

Seeing multiplicity is ajnana (ignorance); seeing unity in multiplicity is jnana (wisdom). Ubhayabharathi imparted such sacred teachings and transformed the individuals. As she understood the principle of unity, she ultimately attained liberation. On the other hand, Mandana Misra could not attain liberation as he was immersed in worldly feelings. Ubhayabharathi started preaching and propagating the path of wisdom. She became the guru of one and all. A true guru is one who dispels the darkness of ignorance and lights the lamp of wisdom. That which remains changeless in all the three periods of time is true wisdom. People accepted Ubhayabharathi as their guru because her thought, word, and deed were in complete harmony. Manasyekam vachasyekam karmanyekam mahatmanam (Those whose thoughts, words and deeds are in perfect harmony are noble ones)

Manonashanam (annihilation of the mind) is what you should strive for. You should have desire for God and nothing else. You should not get entangled in the worldly relationships. That is true wisdom.

The teachings of Ubhayabharathi spread far and wide and she became highly reputed for her wisdom. Even today there are many such people of wisdom. Without men of merit and wisdom, how can there be light in the world? However, wisdom cannot be acquired from individuals. It can be acquired only by developing love for God. A beggar who comes to our doorstep begs for alms saying “Bhavati bhiksham dehi”. He addresses dehi (indweller) and not deha (physical body). In this manner, you can learn profound spiritual truth even from a beggar.

Be a true devotee by fixing your mind on God

One may acquire a high academic qualification such as M.A. and B.A. and attain exalted position,

One may amass wealth, perform acts of charity and attain name and fame,

One may have physical strength and enjoy a long and healthy life,

One may be a great scholar studying and preaching the Vedas,

But none can equal a true devotee of the Lord. (Telugu poem)

No doubt, worldly education is also essential to eke out a livelihood, but it cannot impart true wisdom. Only Atmavidya (knowledge of the Self) can grant you everlasting happiness. However, secular education is also essential to take care of your physical needs. You should not give it up altogether. Worldly education is Negative and spiritual education is Positive. Both are essential for happiness here and hereafter.

Students! You should become masters in both forms of knowledge, secular and spiritual like Ubhayabharathi. But always remember that only atmic knowledge is true knowledge. Once you acquire it, you would have acquired everything else.

Last night, I came to Sai Kulwant Hall at 1 o’clock. It is during this auspicious time that the divine lingas emerge from Kailasa. The lingas emerge of their own accord at the Divine Will. I saw several students and devotees singing bhajans with great devotion. But who are the real devotees? I observed that only a few people were singing with real devotion and a pure heart constantly contemplating on the Divine name. There were thousands of people particpating in the bhajans. But not all of them are real devotees. Their body was present in the hall but their mind was not fixed on God. They were mechanically participating in bhajans. This is not real devotion. Wherever you sit, whether in the prayer hall, or elsewhere, if your thoughts are fixed on God, then you are a true devotee, and you will attain His grace. If you feel sleepy, you can sleep. There is no objection. However, even in sleep, may your thoughts should be fixed on divinity.

Is it not because of your love and devotion towards God that you came all the way to Prasanthi Nilayam to participate in Sivarathri bhajans? I can understand your devotion. A true devotee does not need any conveniences. He does not wish any type of comforts. Wherever you go, keep the mind under your control and direct all your thoughts towards God. That is real devotion. That is what Ubhayabharathi taught to her disciples. If you also cultivate such devotion, your lives will be sanctified. Do not divert your attention on physical comforts. Always chant the Panchakshari mantra, “Om namah sivaya”. If you merely chant with lips it will merge into wordly sounds. On the other hand, if you chant the divine name silently with full concentration of your mind, it will spread all over the world. Chanting of the divine name with full concentration by the mind is real sadhana.

(Bhagavan concluded His discourse with the bhajan, “Hari Bhajan Bina Sukha Santhi Nahi”).