|Date:25 Dec 1999||Occasion:Christmas||Place:Prashanti Nilayam|
Glory of Womanhood
At the time of birth all human beings are pure and unspoiled.
It is only the environment and company that pollutes the human mind.
Follow the dictates of your conscience.
Love and equality are the birthrights of man.
(Poem in Telugu)
At the time of birth, the human heart is pure, selfless and steady. But with the passage of time, man loses his purity on account of his association with various individuals. The environment and company are mainly responsible for the good or bad in man. A piece of paper does not have any smell of its own. But if the same paper is used to pack pakodas or dry fish or jasmine flowers, it produces the smell associated with them. That is why it is said, "Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are." As is your company, so you become. So, man should always join good company. Man can attain exalted position only when he joins good company. Man is good by birth, but ruins himself because of bad company. Today man is not making any enquiry as to what is good and what is bad. Such an enquiry is very essential before making friendship with others. The Vedanta declares:
Nirmohathve Nischala Tathvam
By good company, attain detachment (from material desire).
By detachment, attain freedom from delusion.
By freedom from delusion, attain a steady mind.
By a steady mind, attain freedom from bondage.
You can have sense control only when you join Sathsang (good company). 'Sath' is that which is permanent. In this world, everything is transitory. Only Divinity is permanent. Your feelings will become noble and immortal only when you associate yourself with God. First and foremost recognize the fact that bad company is the root cause for man's downfall. Man wants to accomplish various tasks, but is inhibited by the sense of fear lurking in his mind. It is only the association with God that will make man fearless. Every flower that blossoms will not grow into a fruit. Every fruit that the tree bears will not become ripe. But every ripened fruit is bound to fall down from the tree. The same thing can be said of human life too. Man develops desires and indulges in malpractices which will ultimately lead to his downfall. Man has invented various wonderful gadgets, which can even take him to the moon, but the most wonderful and mysterious of all machines is the human body itself, which is God's creation. God has created this machine not merely for eating, drinking and making merry. All these are common for animals also. This being the case, what is so unique about human birth?
Deho Devalaya Prokto,
Jeevo Deva Sanaathanaha
Body is the temple and the Indweller is God.
You may own a car, but it will be of use to you only if you know driving. Otherwise it may prove harmful. Likewise, you should know how to make proper use of your body, which can be compared to a car. Such a body should not be misused. Today man is deceived by attachment. He is unable to realize the sacredness of human body. He is indulging in worldly pleasures just as the birds and beasts do.Human body is gifted to experience divine love, not to indulge in mean acts. Truth, righteousness, peace and love are the forms of God. Birds and beasts have only love, but not the remaining three. One having all these four qualities alone is a true human being. Man should make proper use of the body. Only then his life will find fulfilment.
Embodiments of Love!
Of all the gifts of God, Time and Love are the most precious. Man has to make proper use of time in order to experience Divine love. But today everyone, be it a student or a householder or an ascetic, is wasting three-fourths of his time in worldly pursuits. Then how can he expect to have noble thoughts! He is unable to undertake any sacred activity as his mind is clouded with ego. The Bhagavad Gita declares: "Karmanyevaadhikaarasthe Maa Phaleshu Kadachana - Man has a right over action, but not on the result." So perform all your activities without expecting any reward. Duty is God. Divinity will manifest once you perform your duty with sincerity.
It is a mistake to consider yourself a devotee if you undertake service activities expecting something in return. You have to render service with the feeling that God is present in all. Realize the truth, "Isavaasyam Idam Jagat" (God pervades the entire universe). You may say that you have done rural service or served the flood victims. But these cannot be termed as service in its true sense if you have the feeling that you have served others. Serve with the feeling that you are serving God, for God is omnipresent.
Consider for example the sacred epic Bhaagavatham, which speaks of the intense love and devotion of Gopikas for Krishna. Bhaagavatham Chadivithe Baagavataam in Telugu means 'If we study Bhaagavatham, we shall become good.' That is to say, Bhagavatam confers goodness on all. It contains the essence of all Vedas. The five letters 'Bha,' 'Ga,' 'Va,' 'Ta,' 'Mu,' stand for Bhakti (devotion), Jnana (wisdom), Vairaagya (renunciation), Thapas (penance) and Mukti (liberation) respectively. This sacred epic describes at length the Gopikas yearning for Krishna when He left Gokulam for Mathura where He was actively involved in running the kingdom. The Gopikas were unable to bear the pangs of separation from their dear Lord and were anxiously waiting for His return. The entire Gokulam bore the look of a barren land. There was no dearth of food and comforts in Gokulam yet the Gopikas did not enjoy any of them as they thought life was not worth-living without Krishna, whom they considered as their very life breath. They became weak both physically and mentally as they were unable to bear the pangs of separation. Krishna, being aware of the Gopikas plight, summoned His friend Uddhava and asked him to proceed to Gokulam to console the Gopikas and pass on His message to them. Uddhava was one of wisdom. He knew that Krishna was all pervasive. As per the command of Krishna, He went to Gokulam and convened a meeting of Gopikas and Gopalas to convey Krishna's message. He told them that they should not limit Krishna to a small physical frame thinking that He was present only in Mathura. He tried to explain to the Gopikas that Krishna is God Himself and that He is omnipresent. He advised them that since Krishna was omnipresent, there was no need for them to feel sorry that He was away.
Since the Gopikas had totally surrendered themselves to Krishna, they were not in the habit of looking at or talking to a stranger. Their minds did not agree to a direct conversation with Uddhava. So, they took a bee as an intermediary and talked to him through the bee. Having been used to worship Krishna's beautiful form, they could not readily think of Krishna as a formless entity. Hearing Uddhava's preaching, they laughed mockingly and said, "Do you practice what you preach? You are enjoying the proximity to our Lord Krishna, but are telling us to experience His attributeless and formless aspect. We don't want your preaching or philosophy. Bring Krishna and show Him to us." They would not talk directly to Uddhava, they were only addressing the bee. They said, "Krishna has stolen our hearts. We have only one mind and that has gone with Him to Mathura, we do not have another mind to listen to what you are preaching."
The declaration of the Gopikas that they had only one mind made Uddhava recognize the one-pointed devotion of Gopikas. He realized that the pure, unsullied and eternal divine principle can be attained only through fixing the mind on God. The Gopikas continued the conversation and said, "We want to see nothing but Krishna's beautiful form; hear nothing, but His melodious singing on flute and experience nothing but His Divine Love. We have cried for Krishna so much that our eyes are swollen and there is not a drop of tear left in them. How can the ship of your message sail in the barren lands of our hearts! So take your ship and go back to the place you have come from. We are not interested in the formless aspect of Divinity. We want to see the enchanting form of our Lord." Hearing the words of the Gopikas, Uddhava realized that he was not one of wisdom, as he had considered himself to be, but one of ignorance as he had under-estimated the love and devotion of the Gopikas for Krishna. He stopped preaching and tried to hand over a piece of paper to the Gopikas saying that it contained Krishna's message for them. He wanted them to read it. They refused to accept the letter saying, they could not read it as they had no knowledge of Akshara (alphabet). But their minds were merged in the Akshara Swarupa (immortal form) of Lord Krishna. Uddhava was a bit angry with the Gopikas, thinking that they had no respect for even Krishna's message. Then one of the Gopikas started explaining, "There is no point in accepting Krishna's letter as we, being illiterate, cannot read it. There may be one or two amongst us who can read. But we are afraid that our tears may drop on the letter and make it unreadable. There is another reason too. Our whole body is heated up on account of separation from Krishna. So, it is possible that the letter may get burnt to ashes if our hands were to touch it. You are unable to understand our plight."
They sent a message to Krishna addressing the bee, "O bee, why don't you go back and tell Krishna that He should look at us at least once? Can you not tell Krishna to illumine our dark hearts with the resplendent form of His? Our life has become like a dried tree. Please tell Krishna to put some life into it?" Radhika prayed, "O Krishna, we are anyway going to die because of separation from you. Please allow us to be with you at least in your next incarnation. If you take the form of a tree, allow us to be the creepers that will twine around You. If you assume the form of a flower, let us be the honey bees hovering over You. If you stand like Meru mountain, let us be like a stream flowing across You. If you become the mighty ocean, let us become the rivers that will merge in You." (Poem in Telugu). Thus, the Gopikas always craved for the Divine proximity. That is the sign of true devotion. Truth philosophy comprises of establishing a relationship between the individual and God. The Gopikas never gave scope for narrow individual feelings. They aspired for the intimate relationship with God.
The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. Have the firm conviction that God is present in everybody. There is no place where God does not exist. But you cannot see God, so long as there is the sense of 'I' (ego) in you.The Gopikas had absolutely no sense of ego. Their 'I' had merged with Krishna. So long as there is ego in you, you will find only multiplicity. Once you realize that I and You are one, you will find unity everywhere, which is true and eternal.
The old students association of Anantapur Campus - Messengers of Sathya Sai, is celebrating its anniversary today. They are serving the society and spreading Swami's message in accordance with the sacred name of their association. You have listened to the report of their activities. Truly speaking, they have done much more than what was mentioned in the report. In fact, I instructed them to make the report as brief as possible, lest it should be misunderstood as an advertisement of their service activities. They are doing yeoman service to the society. Not only here, but also in various other countries like Japan, Canada, America, Germany etc, they are undertaking service activities, upholding the ideals of Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. They are spending their earnings in service activities. When questioned by their parents, they reply, "Swami has given us free education and free medical care. We owe our wealth and health to Swami. So, all our earnings should be directed for the service of the society. We are not misusing even a Naya Paisa." Thus they are bringing about transformation even in their parents.
You all know that there is a lady doctor, an eye specialist, by name Vansa in our General Hospital. She is a widow. Her daughter studied in our college and now she is living in Australia with her husband. She has brought about a transformation in her husband and as a result, he is also actively involved in various service activities. Both the husband and wife spend their earnings in service of the society. They do not have children. Dr. Vansa prayed to Me that her daughter be blessed with a child. Her daughter said that Swami is everything for her and she does not want to get entangled in bondage by having children. She said that she considers all children as her own. She prayed that she should have the freedom to render service activities to her satisfaction. There are many women who have such noble desires, but among men, we hardly find anybody having such broad feelings. Since ancient times Bharat has given birth to many noble women who set an ideal exemplary character and devotion. You might have heard of Savitri, who brought her dead husband back to life; Chandramati, who extinguished the wild fire in a trice demonstrating the power of truth; Sita, who came out of blazing fire unscathed and Damayanti, who burnt a wicked hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity. All these noble women have brought name and fame to this sacred land of Bharat. Now only Bharat, the whole world will progress because of women of character and nobility. So never look down upon women.
The 75th Birthday of this body is approaching. The Messengers of Sathya Sai have chalked out elaborate plans for the 75th Birthday and have already started executing them. They have purchased 1000 bags of rice for the free distribution of food for 10 days to the devotees during the 75th Birthday celebrations. There are 3000 members in their Organization. Their faith is unwavering and their devotion for Swami is becoming stronger and stronger day by day. They are preparing to distribute 75,000 Saris. They want all the Saris to be of the same design and so they have already placed an order in this regard. Such devotion and sincerity are present more among women than men. In fact, women symbolize Bhakti (devotion) and men stand for Jnana (wisdom). The one with devotion has the right to enter even the inner chambers of the Divine palace, whereas the one with wisdom has the access only to the audience hall of God. You may be aware that kings of yore would convene meetings in their royal audience hall where only men would assemble. Men had no entry into the Anthahpura (inner chambers of the palace). Only the women who symbolize devotion have the access to the Anthahpura of God. What is the Anthahpura? Antaratma (conscience) is the Anthahpura. It is only the devotion, not the wisdom that has the entry to Anthahpura. Most of the men who have assembled here today are here only because of the inspiration of their women. Women are responsible for men to tread along the path of devotion. In My opinion, the Messengers of Sathya Sai should take the lead in spreading the divine message throughout the country. Mainly by the effort of women will the country progress. Not only Bharat, the whole world should progress. The ancient culture of our country should be revived.
The heart of Uddhava, who was considered one of wisdom, transformed on seeing the love and devotion of the Gopikas for Krishna. He approached Krishna with a prayer that he may be blessed with at least a fraction of their devotion. The Gopikas said they had only one mind and that was centered on Krishna. But, men have many minds! The statement of the Gopikas is in itself the highest philosophy. Swami has already narrated to you the story of Janaka and Gaargi. In the court of Janaka there were very great scholars like Yaajnavalkya etc., and there was a lady called Gaargi. Gaargi put several questions to Yaajnavalkya for which he was unable to find adequate answers. For instance, she asked him what is it that is between the earth and the sky? Yaajnavalkya could not answer. Then she asked him can you name all the substances that are there on the earth and again he had no answer. Then she explained "All that is in fact Akasha (space). All that is on the earth, in between and above the earth is all Akasha only. Ekam Sath Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (there is only one truth, but the scholars call it by many names). We see diverse forms like mountains, lakes, trees, animals and men, but all these differences are only apparent and are in fact forms of divinity only. If you look at the world with material view, you see variety. If you look at it with an understanding of divinity all of it will appear to be the form of God. Yad Bhaavam Tad Bhavati (As is the mind so you become). Allah, Jesus, Zoroashtra all these are names for the same divinity.Today (Christmas) is mainly celebrated by Christians, but do not make the mistake that it is only for Christians. It is a holy and happy occasion to be celebrated by the entire mankind. Get rid of religious and philosophical differences and enlarge your mind (Matha - religion and Mathi - mind). You house the single divinity only in your heart. Then the entire humanity becomes a single race. There is only one religion in the universe and that is divine love (Prema). The one without this principle of love in his heart is not a Christian, Muslim nor a Sikh and is no better than a demon. This principle of complete unity of all religions is now manifested only in Prasanthi Nilayam. Imagine what a phenomenon it is that Christians from so many countries in this world have joined together here to celebrate Christmas. There are people from sixty-four countries assembled here. They are all of one heart. This is true devotion. Swami reiterates it is not a celebration for Christians only but is a holy occasion for the entire humanity. It is the desire of Swami that such differences are completely eradicated.
There are several tasks in front of the Messengers of Sathya Sai. Mere distribution of food, medicines and conducting Bala Vikas programs is not enough. Of course, all these are necessary, but along with all these activities, infusing spiritual teachings is also essential. If the spiritual element of life is lost, life is a waste. Therefore, all of you ensure that your spiritual life is in the forefront of all your activities. These words are addressed not only to the ladies of the Messengers of Sathya Sai. Equally boys and young men should take up similar activities. Girls generally have less freedom than boys. If only women had been given the level of freedom that is allowed for men, the shape of society on the face of the earth would have been changed. They are constrained by husbands, fathers and children from all sides. In spite of severe pressures from all sides they are advancing. On the other hand men have hardly any such constraints. Such persons say 'shut up' to any advice from the wife or 'it is not your concern' for similar advice from parents. Such is their freedom. It is a wonder why people with such freedom do not enter into a spiritual quest or social service. What is the use of your education if you do not use it for the service of society? You might as well throw your books in the fire. It is more important to achieve character (Guna) than to accumulate wealth (Dhana). Wealth is accumulated by so many persons. What have they taken away with them? Nothing. Of course, one has to earn wealth. But, accumulation of wealth should be within limits. All your faculties should be at the disposal of society. Only then your country will also advance. You know very well the kind of unrest that is prevalent all over the world today. Fear and terror haunt you wherever you turn. It is the duty of the youth of this generation to set right this situation. First of all, you serve your parents. Then look after your family. Serve your community. Then you can enter into the service of your country. But, do not be hankering after the results for your efforts. The appropriate reward for all your actions will be granted to you by God. Service to the country itself becomes worship of God.
Students of the Messengers of Sathya Sai!
Swami is pleased with the services that you have performed so far. But, it is the desire of Swami that you should all perform much more. You know how a mother blesses you. It is necessary for you to act in such a way as to get your parents blessings and approval, for after all tomorrow you are also going to become mothers. Serve your parents today so that in turn your children may serve you in times of your need. As you sow so you reap. Persist in divine love. The only worthwhile thing in this world is divine love. Once you obtain this divine love all else in the world is yours for the asking. For this you firstly immerse yourself in social work. The vain desire to obtain higher and higher educational qualifications should be moderated. Equally, you may earn as much wealth as you can, but use it for the welfare of the society. Contemplate on God with your whole mind and heart. Only then will you attain a meaningful goal for your life.
Bhagavan concluded His Discourse with the Bhajan, "Prema Mudhita Manase Kaho..."