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Nayana, not Ayana
Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba, Prashanthi Nilayam, 14 January
Shaastry spoke in detail of the importance of the Uttharaayana day. The day has an outer and an inner significance, the inner having greater value for spiritual progress. I do not attach much value to the outer meaning: the sun taking a northward direction from today; the six months from now on being holier that the six that ended today and therefore, as Shaasthry said, the Uttharaayana better suited for Saadhana. Man's life must be a perpetual Saadhana; any day is a good day for starting Saadhana, whether it falls in the Dakshinaayana or Uttharaayana (southward or northward movements of the sun). One need not wait for the sun's to turn north. The months and the Ayanas (sun's passage towards north and south of equator) are all related to Prakrithi (objective world), and so they have only relative value.
Uttharaayana is a quality of the Nayana (the eye); it is matter of Dhrishti - attitude, point of view. It is not an Ayana (half-year term). When your Dhrishti (sight) is on Brahman, it is Uttharaayana; when it is on Prakrithi, it is Dakshinaayana. When you have developed Utthamaguna (excellent quality), every day is Uttharaayana whatever the Panchaanga (almanac) may say. When you have fever, the tongue will be bitter; when you are healthy, you know all tastes. The bitter tongue is the Dakshinaayana, the sweet tongue is the Uttharaayana. To associate it with the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn is just a convention.
Avathaar comes for the Protection of all with good Virtues
The astronomical Uttharaayana comes to you whether you strive for it or not; it is part of the law of nature. But for the real Uttharaayana, you must make efforts, tremendous efforts. Know that there are only two entities: the substance and the shadow, (or rather, only one, and its appearance, produced by ignorance), the Aathma and the An-Aathma - the seer and the seen, the rope and the snake. When this knowledge becomes part of the mental make-up, it liberates you from Maaya and you see Kailaasha at the end of the Uttharaayana Yaathra (northward journey). Like Kailaasha, that stage is all light, all white. The path is straight and hard but the goal is glorious; it is nothing less than illumination. It is when people forget this goal that the Avathaar comes to save them.
The Avathaar comes when there is yet a remnant of good men, yet a trace of Dharma; for what is the use of a doctor when the patient has collapsed? When a large number of good men are afflicted with the fear for the survival of goodness, then the Lord incarnates to feed their drooping spirits and revive faith and courage. "Parithraanaaya Saadhoonaam" in the Geetha does not mean the "protection of Saadhus or ascetics;" it means the "protection of all who have Saadhu virtues;" 'Saadhu' means 'good.' Good virtues might be found even in animals and insects and worms. He will guard and guide even such. He comes to promote Dharma; and virtue is the foundation of Dharma.
The worldly outlook will deceive you and land you in grief. You do not know which articles will satisfy your inner cravings; you try to possess whatever attracts your eye. When you crave for the thought of the Lord and the company of the godly, then you are in Uttharaayana. Bheeshma too was in that mood. He prayed
"Asatho maa sath gamaya" - From this transient world of decay, lead me to the everlasting world of bliss;
That prayer and that yearning of Bheeshma gave him the vision of Krishna when he passed away. That was the real Uttharaayana for him.
Use the Body well for the Purpose given
Jeeva (individual) and Deva (divine) are two rails along which the engine Manas is dragging the coaches of Vishaya Vaasana (attachment to sense objects) along. Each coach contains the items of luggage each one has, viz., Buddhi, Anthahkarana (intellect, inner senses), etc. Aathma is the driver of the engine; if the coupling with the engine is not well connected, the coaches will be left loose on the line. Faith and Shraddha (trust) are the couplings; see that they are fixed tight. They do not fix themselves, remember. You have to use the strength and the intellect awarded to you. Grace will be granted only then. Spend the Shakthi (energy) you are endowed with; then pray for Raamashakthi. Raama or the Lord will then bless you; if you ask for one, He will grant you a hundred. This is the Karmadeha (the working body) given to you; use it well for the purpose given.
I see many people here who have come in the special buses which take them round to many holy places. I shall tell them some words: When you reach a holy place you should entertain only holy thoughts. On seeing a doctor, you remember your illness; when you see a lawyer, you wish to consult him on some problem of property or personal spite; when you see a temple, you are reminded of the force that animates the universe. Your tour should not be a Vinodha-prayaana (travel for amusement) but a Viveka-prayaana (travel for using discrimination) for you. Do not use such pilgrim buses for going on picnics; do not seek to purchase vessels and clothes and rarities in the shops of the towns you visit; pay attention more to the need for filling your minds with holy experiences over which you can ruminate after returning to the quiet of your home. When you are in the Kshethra (holy place), think of the Kshetherajna (divine dweller of the place).
Move in the midst of the sacred and sanctifying
Load your bus with thoughts of the glory of God, not with tinsel and tin cans. Again, do not get involved with the bad traits that may be found in the places to which you go. Seek the company of the good, move in the midst of the sacred and the sanctifying. That is what you go so far for. The shelves of the hospital are full of all types of medicines: pills, poisons, powders, emulsions, lotions, mixtures, etc. You should ask not for the sweetest or the most attractively packed drug, but the drug that you need for the illness you suffer from. So too, let the holy place have a thousand other attractions; do not run after them. Concentrate on the thing you have come for. The Bhogi (enjoyer) and the Rogi (the sickly) should be transformed into the Yogi (contemplative saint); take the drug from the dispensary which will make you that.
Become also fit for the vision of God that you seek in the temples. Go humbly, with Prema in your heart for all creation; take the Hrudhayapushpa (heart-flower), full of the fragrance of Prema, the Mano-phala (mind-fruit) uncontaminated by the pests of greed and egoism; become sweet in word, deed and thought so that you can dedicate yourself to the service of God's plan.
A person with faith in God will not be moved by panic, as some people are, at the approaching Ashtagrahakoota (conjunction of eight planets). I assure you there will be no extra danger to the world as a result of that conjunction. No additional calamity will happen; why, the A-shaanthi that now exists will even become a little less! When the Avathaar has come, why fear like this? Why dread imaginary dangers?
One more thing: you will have seen the announcement that you should not bring to Me fruits, flowers, etc. Some of you, I know, are sad that I have announced so. But let Me tell you: Come to Me with empty hands; I shall fill your hands with gifts and grace. If you hands are full, what am I to fill them with?