Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Divine Discourse at Shivarathri
Prasanthi Nilayam, 23 February 2009
Bharat (India) is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great name and fame in all the continents of the world.
This is the land of valorous people who vanquished the foreign rulers in the battlefield and attained independence.
This is the land which excelled in music, literature and other fine arts.
Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh, boys and girls, it is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage.
Embodiments of Love!
We are spending nights daily ever since we are born, but not all those nights can be termed as Sivarathri.
People meditate upon, sing, and listen to the glory of the divine name and experience the divinity of Lord Siva. Since the whole night is spent in meditation and singing the glory of the divine name of Lord Siva, this night is called Sivarathri. Not only this night, whenever you spend the entire night meditating upon the divine name, that night is also Sivarathri. Lord Siva is not a separate Avatar.
Vishnu and Siva are beyond description
In fact, Hari and Hara (Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva) are beyond one’s contemplation. They are beyond the physical body. Many people contemplate upon them as Avatars with a physical body and worship them in a particular form. They develop a deep urge to visualise them in a particular form. But who is it that ascribed those forms to Divinity? Surely, they did not incarnate in those forms. Some painters like Ravi Varma who, based upon certain descriptions in the sastras and Puranas, painted them in a particular form as per their imagination. That is all! In fact, Vishnu and Siva are not limited to a physical frame. They are beyond description. They are formless and attributeless. God is attributeless, unsullied, final abode, eternal, pure, enlightened, free, and the embodiment of sacredness (nirgunam, niranjanam, sanatana niketanam, nitya, suddha, buddha, mukta, nirmala swarupinam).
God is formless and attributeless
Devotees are also accustomed to contemplate upon and worship those forms since millennia. They wish to visualise God in those forms. God is beyond description and is not limited to a particular form. No painter, however great they may be, can ever paint the picture of God. How can a painter paint the form of God, who is formless? However, God assumes different forms as per the wishes of devotees. Whoever wishes to visualise God in whatever form of their liking, God manifests in that form. It is for that particular moment only. It is not permanent.
All forms attributed to God are only temporary. Divinity is beyond name and form.
Once Goddess Lakshmi came to Parvathi and wondered:
Oh, Gauri! You are very young and Sambasiva is old;
He has matted locks and wears a tiger skin;
He rides a bull and is constantly on the move;
He is adorned with snakes;
How did you court Him?
Don’t you know all this?
He has no house of His own and sleeps in the burial ground.
Parvathi was deeply disturbed by these remarks and approached Lord Siva and asked, “You do not have a house of your own. You do not belong to a particular caste or lineage. Further, you are androgynous (ardhanaareeswara). How then can you call yourself God?” Lord Siva replied that God is beyond names, caste, and lineage. He turned to Lakshmi and asked, “Oh! Mother Lakshmi! Are you aware of your own husband’s antecedents? He is constantly on the move to protect His devotees and has no time for food and sleep. If at all He settles down to take food, at that moment some devotee like Droupadi prays, “Oh! Lord Krishna! I am in great trouble. Please save me.” Immediately, He rushes to rescue her, leaving His food. Thus, He is constantly on the move to protect His devotees like Narada and Prahlada. How then did you court such a Lord, who has no time even for food and rest?”
The formless God manifests as per the wishes of the devotees
Siva then clarified that God has no name and form; He is changeless; He has neither birth nor death, neither beginning nor end; He is eternal and the embodiment of Atma (Atmaswarupa). He also emphasised that it is illusion to ascribe a name and form to God. The formless God manifests with a particular form and name as per the wishes of the devotees, to fulfil their aspirations. God is formless and attributeless. It is the devotees who attribute some names, forms, and attributes to God and feel satisfied. All names and forms are evanescent and false (anithya and asathya). The only eternal and true form of God is Atma.
Everything in the world may change; but the Atma will never undergo a change. The entire universe is contained in the Atma. This is also called divine consciousness or Atma or Brahman. People misunderstand this eternal truth, ascribing several names and forms to it. When the formless God assumes a form, it is natural for human beings to meditate and worship that form. People derive great satisfaction and experience bliss by doing so. It is alright as long as that form remains. Once that divine form ceases to exist, what will you do? The happiness and bliss derived from the worship of a particular form of God are born only out of your illusion.
Never consider the physical body as permanent
The physical vestures last for a particular period and then cease to exist. Divinity takes different forms later. For example, you are now attached to this physical body. You worship this body and derive great satisfaction and bliss thereby. But, after sometime, this body may disappear like the earlier Avatars. Then you should not feel sad. When the divine Atma embodied in this physical body reaches its eternal abode, it is a matter of joy, not sorrow. In the Thretha Yuga, the Rama Avatar came. He went into exile in the forest and destroyed several demons, including the great demon king, Ravana. Finally, having fulfilled His Avataric mission, He went into the Sarayu river and disappeared. The same is the case in the Dwapara Yuga with Lord Krishna, who left His mortal coil after having been hit by the arrow of a hunter in the forest. Thus, the physical vestures are always temporary and untrue.
Meditate upon Divinity, which is true and eternal
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 Atma, Is verily God Himself.
Hence, never consider the physical body as permanent. The bodies appear according to the time and circumstances. Once the prescribed time is over, they just disappear. Even the experiences gained by the physical body vanish. Considering the physical bodies as true, if you wish to have the vision (darshan) of Lord Krishna of Dwapara Yuga now, how is it possible? As long as He walked in that body, He appeared in Mathura, Brindavan, Gokul, Dwaraka, etc., and made people happy with His sight, touch, and conversation (darshan, sparshan, and sambhashan).
Take the example of an electric bulb. Each bulb has separate wattage, which remains for a limited period of time. The Avatars are also like these electric bulbs. Over a period, God has incarnated as several Avatars. You should not be attached to the physical form of a particular Avatar; rather you should be attached to Divinity as the formless, attributeless Supreme Self (Parabrahma), which manifested as different Avatars in different ages.
You were born as a child and grew up as a boy, youth, and an elderly person. All these different stages in life are for a limited period only, but you, the individual, are there in all the different stages. Avatars come, fulfil their mission, and disappear. Therefore, you must meditate upon Divinity, which is true and eternal.
There are three aspects in spiritual practices: concentration, contemplation, and meditation. At the moment, you are fixing your gaze on this form; that is concentration. When this form moves away after sometime, you still look at this form with your mental eye; that is contemplation. As a result of this exercise, this form gets imprinted in your heart permanently. That is meditation. As you go on meditating thus, the form remains in your heart permanently. At present, you are confining your spiritual practice to concentration and contemplation only. These two stages are only transitory. It is true that the first step in your spiritual practice is concentration. Concentration has to be transformed into contemplation and later into meditation. In this final stage of meditation, you will continue to visualise the form of God even if you close your eyes.
The ancient sages adopted this form of meditation. That is why God manifested before them whenever they wished, talked to them and fulfilled their desires.
The formless, attributeless Supreme Self (nirakara, nirguna Parabrahma) is changeless and eternal. It represents the ultimate reality. It is known by different names like Rama, Krishna, Sai, etc. Do not make any distinction between the names, for it is beyond names and forms. Install that ultimate reality on the altar of your sacred heart and constantly meditate upon it.
Some people tend to misinterpret the Sastras and Puranas to suit their convenience and selfish ends.
A small story. Once an impostor posing as a renunciant stood before a house and begged for food saying, “I am hungry, please give me food!” The housewife heard his plea and came out. She told him, “Sir! Please go to the river and have a bath and come back. Meanwhile, I will keep the food ready for you.” The impostor quoted a line from the Puranas, “constant chanting of the name of Govinda is as good as taking a bath (Govindeti sada snanam).” The housewife immediately realised that the person standing in front of their door begging for food was not a true renunciant and replied, “Dear Son! Constant chanting of the name of Govinda is as good as a meal (Govindeti sada bhojanam). You may go.”
It is said that the face is the index of mind. It reflects our inner thoughts and feelings. If the so-called renunciant in this story really believed in the glory of the divine name, he should have taken a bath before asking for food. He was lazy. He wanted food to satisfy his hunger but was reluctant to take a bath before the meal. Never believe in such impostors.
Some people sit silently, closing their eyes. They say they are doing meditation. That is not meditation. They may be sitting silently, but their mind may be wandering thinking about all and sundry. Only the stage wherein the mind is unwavering and firmly fixed on the higher reality can be called meditation. Meditation is the stage next to contemplation.
A small example: you may have scored first class marks in the half yearly examination, but you will not be eligible to get a degree. It is only after passing the final examination that you become eligible to receive a degree. Contemplation and meditation are comparable to the half yearly and final examinations. Thus, spirituality represents a higher stage in life. Today, people are engrossed in the pursuit of physical and worldly objects, forgetting moral and spiritual goals. How then can they attain spiritual progress? If one wishes to have a spiritual experience, one has to acquire the necessary strength to face the final examination.
To say that this is my body, my house, my property, etc. represents the physical aspect. When you say, “this is my body,” it means “my” is separate. That is, you are separate from your body. Similarly, when you say “my mind, my intellect, my subconscious mind,” etc., it means they are all separate from you. Hence, your true nature, “I”, is separate from all of those. You have to sacrifice all the fruits of your actions (karmas). That means that you have to “perform all actions in a spirit of surrender to God (Sarva karma Bhagavad preetyartham).” Only then will you become immortal.
If you wish to attain the true and eternal state, you must realise the Atma Principle (Atma Thathwa). Only the Upanishads delineate on the Atma Principle extensively and not the epics like Bhagavatha and Ramayana. The same Atma Principle, that is, the Supreme Reality, incarnates from age to age to restore dharma whenever it is on the decline, as stated in the Bhagavad Gita:
Oh Arjuna! Whenever there is a decline in dharma and rise in adharma, I incarnate from age to age for the establishment of dharma.
Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanir Bhavati Bharata,
Abhyutthanamadharmasya Tadatmanam Srujamyaham.
Peace brings love
Install God on the altar of your sacred heart and meditate on Him constantly. In spite of sorrow, difficulties, calamities that you may encounter, hold on to Him firmly. They trouble your body, not you; for, you are separate from your body. The body is like a box in which the mind, intellect, subconscious mind, and sensesare packed.
We cultivate qualities like anger, jealousy, envy, pride, etc. due to our contact with the outside world. Only when we get rid of these qualities do we enjoy peace. We have to start our spiritual practices with truth (sathya) and righteousness (dharma). When truth and righteousness go together, peace (santhi) will reign. Peace brings love. Where there is peace, there cannot be hatred. When we develop hatred against someone, it means the spring of love is dried up in our heart. When there is love in our heart, we do not get angry, even if someone accuses us. Normally, we do not care for anyone when we are angry.
Many people speak ill of Me, accuse Me, and even heckle Me, but I am not disturbed. I am always happy and blissful. That is real love. Where there is anger, hatred, and jealousy, it means that there is no love. Hence, we should always follow the motto of “Love All, Serve All!”
The basis for following this principle is truth and righteousness. Always speak truth and follow righteousness. As against this principle, people are now lecturing so much about dharma without themselves treading the path of dharma. Dharma cannot survive in such circumstances. It is said, “There cannot be a greater dharma than speaking truth (Sathyannasti paro dharmah).” Sathya and dharma are like the two hands, two legs, and two lips in a human body. Only when the two lips work together can a human being speak. Similarly, only when sathya and dharma go together does peace reign. Where there is no dharma, there love cannot be. Thus, sathya and dharma are the basis for all other values like peace (santhi), love (prema), and nonviolence (ahimsa).
(Bhagawan sang the song, “Prema Mudita Manase Kaho …” and continued His discourse.)
Do not indulge in excessive talk
Embodiments of Love!
Always meditate on the divine name —don’t not just contemplate, meditate. Meditation should be with love for God. Without love, your meditation will not achieve the desired result. Your love for God should be continuous through day and night. It is possible that when you pray to God to fulfil some desire and things go contrary, you may get angry and develop hatred against Him, but that has nothing to do with spirituality. Your innate nature and love for God should never undergo a change. You should continue to attach yourself to the divine name. That is real meditation. When you are in deep meditation, nothing in the external world should be visible to you even if you open your eyes.
You also need to be careful about your speech. Too much talk is very bad. Do not indulge in excessive talk. Try to mend your nature. Observe silence as far as possible and be quiet. Talk as much as is needed. Just answer to the point. If you talk more, you will be branded as a chatter-box. Too much talk is not good, even from the health point of view. This is very important, especially in the case of children. You have to keep your mind steady right from the young age. What is important is not studying textbooks but steadying your mind. Textbooks you can always study; in the classroom, in the hostel, etc.
Are you all happy? (All the students in one voice replied that they were happy.)
Be always happy, happy, happy!