After spending some wonderful and precious days with devotees in Japan, it was time to head back to Singapore. Bhagawan’s entourage proceeded from the Izu peninsula to Tokyo after breakfast on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 through some very picturesque and scenic landscapes. At some point midway, one could see the gigantic silhouette of Japan’s tallest mountain and the most iconic landmark of Japan, Mount Fuji. Rising 3776 meters above sea level, it was indeed a magical moment to witness the solitary volcano, towering majestically and showing its snow capped head over the clouds, while exuding a sense of transience and purity.
The entourage stopped briefly for an Indian lunch at Kawasaki, a city between Tokyo and Yokohama, before boarding the plane to Singapore. Upon arrival at Changi Airport, devotees from Singapore were eagerly waiting to receive everyone, and usher them to their residences for a much deserved rest.
Wednesday – Singapore – 23 March, 2016 Morning
After a sumptuous breakfast, Bhagawan proceeded to the residence of Sri Thyagarajan and his wife Smt Shantini. It was a small and intimate gathering of young and old.
After a couple of songs, Bhagawan commanded Sri C Sreenivas to address everyone. As always, his talk was inspiring, where he spoke about life’s pauses and pursuits in his inimitable style. “Life is an eternal dynamic movement and we are so busy pursuing all that we need. The greatest blessing in pursuits, are the pauses You have put to life, dear Swami. You have made us realize how important it is to pause in life, and be in sync with the dynamism of the world where we exist. Today, those pause have brought forth magnificent works & meanings to our lives. Little did we realize that post April 2011 when we paused, in the silence of our little minds & hearts, you chose to manifest again to us. We are grateful for that pause, that we didn’t keep our minds & hearts too busy.” He profusely thanked Swami for giving everyone the perspective with which the world should be viewed now.
Sri BN Narasimha Murthy was the next speaker of the morning. He spoke about the thin line between our individual lives and spiritual lives. He narrated a story about Sri Kasturi, grandsire of the Sai movement, who had the fortune to see a panoramic view of how the life of the Avatar evolved; from a young boy to a force and power, that engulfed the whole world. All that we do, which we think is ours, is not ours. Everything belongs to Him. He said the source of all problems in this world is because of ego and attachment, and prayed to Swami to take everyone across to the other side.
Bhagawan began His divine discourse by saying, “Since we have come to Thyaga’s house today, I will talk about Thyaga or sacrifice. Our Upanishads declare, nor by actions, nor by progeny, nor by wealth, but only through sacrifice can one attain immortality. Many people over many years have tried many ways to remain immortal. They thought even after they pass away, if a tomb is built in their name, they can be immortal. But how many tombs do we go and worship, and remember the person for whom it was built. With time everything deteriorates…so a tomb also falls apart. Some thought we can become immortal if we have generations of people following us. But if I ask you all a question, as to how many remember your great grandfather or great great grandfather, not many will be able to answer. Therefore, not by having a family with generations of people, can you remain immortal. The only people who are immortal are those who led a life of sacrifice for the sake of others, and they are the only ones who have remained in the memory of others.
Swami went on to narrate a beautiful story from the Mahabharata, which epitomised the true spirit of charity. The greatness of charity lies in the motive of the donor & not in the sheer quantity being donated. “Yudhisthra, eldest of the Pandava brothers organized a Ashwamedha Yagna in the city of Hasthinavathi, for giving peace & rest to the souls of many departed soldiers. Large scale arrangements were made. Well-versed scholars were invited and the whole city was brimming with light and joy. A lot of people in large numbers were invited for the yagna.”
All the brothers & family members were given certain tasks during the yagna. Lord Krishna arrived late, and asked what work was allotted to Him. Yudhisthra gently submitted to Krishna saying He was the Yagna Purusha, and hence allotting any work would be inappropriate. But on Krishna’s insistence, Yudhishtra asked Him to take a pick of the task which He wanted to do. All the tasks were allocated, except one and the Lord promptly picked the same; to pick up the leftover plantain leaves where food was served.
After the yagna and dinner, Krishna went about doing His task. In a few minutes, he saw a mongoose came inside. The mongoose appeared to be very special, half of its body was of golden colour. The mongoose kept running here and there and started rolling on the plantain leaves. Seeing this, Krishna who knew everything, called the mongoose and asked why it was half golden. The mongoose could talk. It narrated its story. It talked of a time when there was a great famine which had caused devastating hunger everywhere. There was hardly anything to eat and survival for life had become extremely difficult. The mongoose while in search of food had landed in a poor brahman’s house. It had so happened that the brahman and his family had not eaten anything for several days.
The brahman had finished his evening puja and the family had just sat for the dinner. As they were about to begin eating, a very hungry mendicant appeared at his door. He looked emaciated and begged to be fed. The starved brahman asked his wife to offer his share of the food to the mendicant. The beggar ate the food and asked for more. The brahman’s wife then decided to give away her share. The mendicant was still not satisfied. And the son decided to give his share too. The mendicant was still not satiated and he wanted more food. And so the daughter too joined her other family members in this ultimate test of their lives. Finally, the mendicant went away after blessing the family profusely. But by then, the family could hardly bear their hunger, and slowly they died one by one.
The stunned mongoose witnessed the entire episode. Itself about to die, it ran to the kitchen area to grab some leftovers from the plantain leaves. In the process, a part of its body came in touch with the food and to its great surprise, that part of its body turned golden. Since then, the mongoose had been looking for another place, where such a great sacrifice was performed, hoping to fulfil its desire to turn its whole body into a golden hue. However, it had remained unsuccessful.
The mongoose then told Yudhisthra that his sacrifice was not in par with the sacrifice, which was done by the family before they perished! In this way, Krishna conveyed the message to Yudhishtra that his sacrifice was no match to the sacrifice made by that family. “That kind of a selfless sacrifice alone is divine in its nature,” said Swami.
Swami went on to talk about the purpose of our lives, and the direction He is providing everyone. Swami said, “How many people in this world are going around in circles, and thinking they are reaching somewhere, by being busy everyday. There are so many houses and buildings, full of people, life and activity. How many of these activities are with a purpose? Out of the billions of people in this world, it is only to a few that God comes to guide! He wants to be with His best students who will learn quickly, put their efforts, do their homework and come out with flying colours during a test. In your spiritual path of progress towards Swami, as the years pass by, your task will be difficult, that is how we learn, grow & graduate. Take it with joy that Swami is still around, ‘He is still teaching us and wanting us to learn; He is still prodding us to put our effort so we become better than before, until the day He and I become one, and there is no two!’”
Swami encouraged everyone to ask questions, and after answering a few pertinent ones, Swami proceeded to partake His lunch, before heading back to the Pillay residence for a brief rest