The venue for the evening session was ‘Sai Anandam’ in Singapore, adjacent to the Pillay residence, and one of the 17 ashrams around the world.
It was 4:45pm in the evening, and one could hear divine music wading out of the ashram, into the street, welcoming every devotee, who was eagerly rushing inside to experience divinity!
The resplendent hall was beautifully decorated, and the atmosphere was electric. The hall was filling up quickly, and it was evident that everyone had turned up in their best finery, to celebrate the arrival of their Lord dearest, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! The meticulous detailing and high standard of organising, a familiar feature associated with this dynamic group of devotees, was evident in every aspect. This is also reflective of the tremendous love each one of them espouse in their hearts for their Sai ma!
Swami arrived at 5:15pm and signalled Sri Sumeet Tappoo to sing. A musical and devotional rendition of soulful Bhajans followed, which transported all gathered to a blissful realm.
Sri Ravinder Singh, who Swami fondly refers to as ‘General’, welcomed everyone, and also introduced the three speakers for the evening.
Young Ryan, a dynamic 22-year-old was the first speaker. A few minutes into his talk, one could see the young speaker had a very mature head on his very young shoulders. The special bond he shared with his beloved Sai, was clearly visible. He spoke from his own experience; his journey from being a self-centered, stubborn and selfish boy, to the time when he made his connection with Swami while at Cambridge, UK, and has since progressively allowed Swami into every aspect of his life. This had helped him navigate through the treacherous minefield of youth hood. It was quite apparent to all that what Ryan was describing as he narrated his own experience, had in fact encapsulated everything that Swami has been telling us. To hear it from an eloquent 22-year-old, made the moment most inspiring.
The next speaker was Sri C Sreenivas, who, alluding to Swami’s subtle form, said, “We live in a world where seeing is believing. But when a blind girl succeeds in her life’s ambition to scale Mount Everest, it turns this adage on its head, thus teaching us that believing is the first step to faith!”
He then spoke of the recent Sach Bharath award, bagged by Sri Sathya Sai Sanjeevani Hospital, where among the jury, which comprised of a diverse group of accomplished individuals, was Dr Kanoria, the President of ASSOCHAM – The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India and Vice-Chairman, SREI Infrastructure. Though Dr Kanoria had not met Swami, in his speech he said, that truth and dharma were the panacea to the problems of today. He went on to say that the one person who has brought reverence to all aspects of our lives, has been Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba! Hearing Dr Kanoria speak that day was an elevating moment for Sri Sreenivas.
“Swami works in ways that are incomprehensible to the human mind. Only have faith in Swami.” Sri Sreenivas also added that he had great hope in the younger generation present there. What their parents had done was commendable, but what they are going to do in the future will be amazing!
Sri B N Narasimha Murthy was the next speaker, who vividly recalled the day, April 24, 2011, when Sri Sreenivas and he were seated in the bhajan hall at Prasanthi Nilayam. They were both shattered! Swami drew them both to Him at a very early age, and since then, they have only worked for Bhagawan. Both felt all was lost that day! They never imagined they would ever be present in a hall like Sai Anandam in Singapore! He said, “Unless one lives for the Avatar, one will not understand the Avatar.” Complimenting Ryan, he commended his eagerness to pursue a greater connect with Swami. “Today, all of us in this room, have not come on our volition, but as part of His will and master plan.”
Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse followed next. “The one who has given up his ego, is dear to God. The one who has given up his anger, will never be sorrowful. The one who has given up his desires, will always have abundance of everything. The one who has given up his greed, will be always happy.
Today, Swami’s heart is filled with great joy, like a gardener who is seeing the plants grow, the flowers bloom, and spreads the fragrance all around. His heart is filled with tremendous joy when he sees his garden bloom. Ever since Swami came to Singapore three years ago, He has been guiding, motivating, encouraging the devotees, and more importantly the children of the devotees to learn this path of love, this path of service, and to walk on the path where Swami has left His footprints of love and service. Today, when Swami heard the young boy speak such truths which are not understood even by great yogis and mahatmas, what does it go to show? It is not the number of years we spend in the company of a great person that makes us imbibe his teachings, but even for a moment if we, with all our mind, all our body, learn one truth from the master, then the rest of our lives will be spent in greatness. It is not the quantity of time that one spends with the Avatar that matters, but it is the quality of time that we spend that is more important! How well we have utilized the time is what will matter in the end. One who has no ego, no desires, no greed, no anger and whose heart is filled with only love, will see the whole of humanity as his own.
Three years ago when I told C Sreenivas that we are going to start a hospital and it should be ready within a year, he went all out to work for it. He did not know how it will happen, for he had nothing with him, but Swami. This hospital did come up within a year. There were a few days to go for the inauguration, but the hospital had a long way to go, for it to fully function. As you all know, building a hospital is not as easy as building a home. There are many systems that need to be integrated. Sreenivas was a little worried, and asked Swami if we could postpone the inauguration by a month. I told Sreenivas, ‘If it was your child being operated on the day of inauguration, without which, he may, or may not survive, would you come and bargain with me for more time? Would you not do everything possible to put that child on the operation table?’ He understood what I was saying in one sentence. As long as we feel we are serving somebody else, there will always be a difference of them and us. But if we think we are serving ourselves and our own people, we will plunge into action immediately.
I have been worshiped as omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. I have heard many speeches by people on the podium. I am only pleased when what I teach is being followed. You don’t have to come and tell me ‘Oh Swami! You are so great for the love and service’, as it is my nature to love and serve. You don’t go to a mango tree and say ‘Oh you are a mango tree, how nice!’ The mango tree knows it’s a mango tree. A teacher derives great joy when his students understand the lessons, appreciate, and benefit from it. There is greater joy for the teacher.
Yesterday, all devotees were known by Sai Baba. Today, when Sai Baba is not in His physical form, He will be known by His devotees. By your good deeds the world will recognize your Master! I do not want praise or expensive garlands. All I want is for you to put atleast some of what I have taught into practice, and become good examples.
People may ask why is Swami aggressively pursuing the education and health mission. ‘Why this sudden expansion and growth? Can’t He slow down a bit?’ All these questions come to the mind that is selfish. As long as you think you are doing it for others, you will ask these kind of questions. Would you ask these questions if you were doing it for your own self or for those you love? I want to serve as many people, as fast, and as well as I can! Till there was the body there was the limitation, like any other physical body would have. It needs to sleep for so many hours, it needs to eat, it needs to rest.
But now, that I am beyond the limitations of time, space and circumstances. I am ready to work any number of hours. My work will only be slowed down because of you, not because of Me! Likewise, I need instruments who are totally like Me, hollow from inside, no blockages of ego or attachments or negativity. They are just open to My love, and allow My love to flow through them to quench the thirst of those who need it badly. Those who have known me or those who have been blessed to have known me, they have a greater responsibility!
One day a boy asked, ‘Swami you are the Avatar. Then why has the whole world not come to you, or believe that you are the Avatar?’ I said, ‘Bangaru, I have kept it a secret. If I were to tell I am the Avatar and I am here, and then, when the whole world comes here, where will you go and sit? Therefore to bless you specially, I have willed that all should not know about Me, just a few.’ And the same continues even today! All will not know who Swami is. All will not understand who Swami is. Only those who have the humility to accept Swami, and the open mind to accept that He can come in a hundred ways, they alone will understand what the truth is! For the mind that is clogged with arguments and reason, there is little scope to understand any truth. Seeing me in each one, serving me in each one, is the truth. Everything else is secondary!”
Since there was some time left, Bhagawan opened the floor for some questions. Below is the highlight of some of the Q&A from the session.
Devotee: Dear Swami, how much ever we participate in satsang and bhajans, we only understand theoretically. But the practical understanding or the understanding in the mind does not happen. How do we get the calmness and perfect state of devotion?
Swami: Unless you start putting into practice you will not experience anything. Many people stand on the shores and say ‘Teach me how to swim, and only then I will jump into the water. This will not work. You must jump into the water even if you have the fear that you may drown. Only when you jump into the water you will learn to swim. Any amount of theory is not going to help. Take the plunge and know that the lifeguard Swami is with you, and will come to your rescue when you need Him! Do it with that faith! Most of us do not practice, we only think of the New Year resolutions, ‘that I will go and practice this and that’, but all this hardly lasts for a few days. God should be like hunger! You should keep experiencing the hunger! Until the hunger is satisfied don’t give up. You should be hungry to become divine!
Devotee: Swami, I would like to ask about the four Yugas. What is the reason you created the world, such that spirituality will decline and God comes back into the Sathya Yuga to uplift it?
Swami: Sathya Yuga or any other Yuga are like classes in a school. You have to upgrade from primary to secondary school, and from secondary, you go to college. While you might have passed and gone to college, there might be people who are still in primary or secondary school. So for some, Kali Yuga continues even in Sathya Yuga and for some, Sathya Yuga is there even in Kali Yuga! Hence, don’t depend too much on the external time factor. The important aspect is ‘what are you within?’ For a man who is asleep even at daybreak, it is still night. Therefore, all these Sathya Yuga, Kali Yuga etc are not external, but internal. But yes, there is a time factor that binds the universe and at different times, different things happen. Different flowers bloom during different seasons. All do not bloom at the same time. Similarly, each Yuga has a characteristic and Sathya Yuga is a time when things are more easy to do. In broad daylight it is easy to drive fast. In every Yuga a master comes to guide. They say when a disciple is ready, the master comes. He may come as Jesus or Sathya Sai Baba or He may not even come in any form, just a voice from within. In any which way, you must take guidance and go forward.
God descends to help man ascend. Don’t worry about what is coming next. One may be indoors, when things are happening outside. So first awaken yourself from within. Swami was there with you, is with you, and will continue to be with you as the innermost divinity. Contact Him and you will be out of this whole calculation of Yugas and times. That is what I am here to tell you. The time, do not wait for it to happen. The time is now and it’s here!
Devotee: How does a person lose his body consciousness if all the time he is suffering pain and the body is diseased. How can he think that he is not the body?
Swami: When you sleep do you remember that you have a body? You wake up, and only then do you realise there is a body. The body cannot realise unless the mind is connected to the body. When one is watching television, you tune to a certain channel like the cartoon channel and see people dancing. When you tune to a music channel, you see people singing. Likewise, your mind is the tuning instrument. If you tune it to the body, it will experience everything the body experiences. But if you tune the mind to the fact that you are not the body, you are God, you will continuously remember that you are God. Immediately, you will lose your body consciousness. You will not experience any pain. If you ask the doctors, there are many here, those who were serving Swami in Prasanthi Nilayam – Swami’s body too went through the cycle of disease and decay, but Swami was full of bliss. When I said I have no suffering, I was not uttering a lie just to pacify the devotees. I meant what I said. When I said I was not suffering, I tuned myself to the higher divinity and therefore I was not thinking I was the body. I never suffered, as the body suffers. If you continuously chant and tell yourself that you are Divine, you will not experience anything of the body; just like you do not experience the body when you go to the state of sleep, because your mind is not connected to the body! That is the state of trance, the state of communion with God that does not make you experience any pain related to the body. Failure does not mean you cannot succeed. It only means that enough effort has not been put to succeed.
Devotee: Swami, a lot of emphasis is given to the Gayathri Mantra. How much of our time should one dedicate to the Gayathri Mantra?
Swami: Gayathri Mantra is like a medication. If you are sick what do you do? You go to a doctor. The doctor will suggest a medicine, and you will be cured. But, the medicine also comes in dosages. If it is a small child, half a pill is given. For a slightly older child, the doctor will give one pill based on the sickness and age of the patient. Gayathri Mantra is also like a medicine. If you take it in the right proportion, it will definitely have the right effect. It will purify the intellect. It will make it divine. It will make you think and speak in a Divine way.
The sound ‘Om’ is the beginning of all creation. When there was nothing, the first sound with which the vibrations started was ‘Om’. This ‘Om’ represents the beginning, middle and end of everything. You begin the Mantra with this, and pray to God who has the nature of the Sun, full of brightness, to illumine your mind, and make it wise. If you understand the meaning of the Mantra and chant, it should remove the darkness of ignorance, that you are bound by this body. You are Divine. You are Atma Swaroopa. You are none other than Divinity itself. The Mantra should give you, this jnana!
Gayathri Mantra is a prayer to the Lord, to heal you. People ask me if there a magic number that one should chant for the Gayathri Mantra? It depends on how sick you are! Until you are cured, you must take the medicine. It is important. Take in any form or any name. Gayathri Mantra is very potent mantra. But the way drugs are manufactured, you can chant from the Quran, sing the Bhagawat Gita, or whatever takes you to the level of awareness of wisdom. Until you are cured of this disease of samsara, you should take the medicine. Whatever gives you peace! Pick a form, pick a name. And what is the sign that it is working? You will be less worried, less afraid, more joyful, more peaceful. Everything negative should disappear, and all that is positive, should get enhanced.
After this powerful Divine Discourse and Q&A session, Mangala Arati was offered to Bhagawan and Prasadam was distributed.