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Strength arising from One's own Righteous Conduct is the only Meaningful Strength

Discourse of Sathya Sai Baba during the Summer Course in Spirituality and Indian Culture
held for College Students at Brindavan, Whitefield, Bangalore District in May/June 1974
Published by Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust
Web posted at Jun 20, 2002

Without having any attachment to work and without swerving from the Dharmic path, if you do all work in the name of God, then God will always be with you in good and in bad, in happiness and in sorrow. He will be the witness and a constant companion with you.

It is quite natural that the infinite Parabrahma has a large number of names. It is also natural that one who has so many different forms and names has an infinite number of eyes, legs and heads. For such a Parabrahma, who answers these two descriptions, they have also given the names Pradhamaja and Poorvaja. In addition, there is another meaningful name for Him and that is Suparna. It is essential for us to know the aspect of Brahman who answers such a description. In order that man gets the fruit of the meaning of this description and to put the meaning into practice, to constantly think of this meaning is a sort of natural action.

In common practice we know the nature of the writer who writes stories, books and legends and we know how he works. If a writer wants to produce a story or a drama, he first creates a mental picture and then he starts to write and finally builds a story with the picture as the basis. In the same manner, when God wanted to create the world in His aspect of the Parabrahma, He first created His basis and that basis was the sound. This primordial sound was the first picture which was created and because it represents the sound, it has been called the Vachaspati, Brihaspati, Prajapati and since this is the first aspect of creation it has also been called Pradhamaja.

For Vedas, the first important thing is the sound and so it has been called Pradhama, or the first word has been called Pradhamaja. In the same manner, if we enquire about who has been the basis for this Pradhamaja, we come to the conclusion that it is Prajapati and since Prajapati is the earlier basis than Pradhamaja, He is called Poorvaja. These names, Poorvaja and Pradhamaja have thus been given to the Vedas and we must make an attempt to find the basis for giving these names to the Vedas.

The very first in creation namely Hiranygrabha uttered the very first sound as 'Bhoo'. After uttering this sound, He created the form Bhooradi and so this created earth is called Bhoomi. In the Veda, it has also been referred to as 'Bhoovamu'. This has also been referred to by another name 'Sthirapravaham'. This Boomi or Bhoomamu is called Sthirapravaha because it is a creation which has neither a beginning nor an end. Bhoomamu also means a Mantra which is sacred and permanent. The inner meaning of this word is that Bhoomi is born in the form of the Mantras and the Brahmanas. This is the reason why the Sastras have been creating three different aspects, Mantra, Yantra, and Tantra in man. The Yantra is the body itself and the Mantra is the breath which we take in and give out, the Tantra is the heart inside.

We must understand how one's breath itself becomes Mantra. It is so because we have the word 'Soham' in the breath itself and when we take in the breath and give out the breath, we continuously utter the word 'Soham' and this word Soham means 'I am God', "I am that" and simply means 'Tatwamasi', 'that are thou'. Therefore, this Mantra of breath represents the Swaswaroopa. As soon as one is born and even before one is able to see anything and experience anything, this breath is the very first that a new-born baby will experience. This breath and Mantra tells us the aspect of life and expounds it to the world through the sound 'Koham' which means 'Who am I'? This word 'Koham' comes in the form of a Mantra and takes the form of a question. With the question 'who am I?' everyone begins his life. Because one starts his life with this question in the first instance, Brihaspati can also be called Pradhama. Because Brihaspati and Vachaspati could answer this very first question, they turned into Maharshis. To this question, the answer they gave towards the end of one's life is 'Soham'. If we really understand the work of the Rishis, we will find that these Rishis have raised the question 'Koham' and provided the answer to this question. Because they were able to give the answer to this very basic question they have passed this worldly test.

Life is the very foundation for living and this is a thing which we know. Just as for living, life is the basis, so also for question, Mantra is the basis. Neither creation nor life are in the control of man. Because man is fully in the control of Paramatma, He is also called Prajapati. Such aspects of Prajapati are latent and are contained in man and that is the reason why the sound or speech is latent in man. We have said earlier 'Brahmanam Brahma Vahanam', that is Brahma has the Mantras as his Vahana or carrier. While we perform the Yagas and Yagnas, we come across the statement 'Yagnanga Yagnavahana'. This Yagnavahana has also been referred to as 'Vrishavahana'. This implies that it is a form of Dharma. This Dharma is understood as something which is standing on four different legs. The four legs on which it is supported are Sathya, Yagna, Tapas and Dana, and because Dharma takes these four legs as the support, one also called Paramatma as the Vrishavahana.

Suparna is a name for Garuda. When we call Vishnu as Suparnavahana, it also means that Vishnu is Garudavahana and in this context, Garuda also means Mantras. The Puranas tell us that while Vishnu was going to the rescue of Gajendra, Vishnu did not take his Vahana and Lakshmi was afraid that here might be defeat for Vishnu because he had not taken the aspect of Mantras with Him. Even in her excitement, Lakshmi realised that there was considerable strength in the Mantras and that Vishnu should not have left them behind but she was rather afraid to tell her husband to take these Mantras along as his Vahana. The poet has described this difficult situation in which Lakshmi found herself in a very beautiful manner. She wanted to move forward and ask a question of the Lord and yet she was terribly afraid that the Lord may not reply and so she was going forward and backward and it becomes clear here that Mantra is a very good support even for the Lord. Without the carrier of the Mantra, even God cannot move forward and this is a moral which has been told to us in the story of Gajendramoksha. We must take the inner meaning and the significance of the stories told in our Puranas. Instead of that, if we simply think literally that Garuda is a carrier and that Vishnu is being carried by Garuda, it is not correct. Garuda stands for Mantra and Dharma stands for Vrishaba and because of this Suparna is a name given to our Vedas.

Yesterday we explained to you the significance of the use of the deer skin in the Yagnas. In the same manner several words are used in the Vedas to signify different kinds of carriers. We should know the significant inner meaning of such words. Because the sacred meaning of the words that occur in our Vedas has not been properly explained by our scholars to the people, it has become the practice for the youth to lose faith in our Vedas and Sastras and to think that they only lead us on the wrong path. This feeling has become common among the youth. This is only a result of the inability on the art of the scholars to explain the sacred inner meaning of the various words which appear in the Vedas. You may be thinking that the Vedas and Sastras simply bind a man to several compulsory duties and that they do not give you any enlightenment. This is not correct. In fact, the Vedas and the Sastras do give knowledge to the ignorant people. One cannot come to the conclusion that our Vedas have told us to give up everything and sacrifice everything and run away from the family and retire into a forest. Our Vedas have taught us to regard all activities and all our duties as Brahman and do the duties that are enjoined on us and be in the worldly life in this manner. This has been taught to us by our scriptures. However much one may be in Upasana, however much one may be after spiritual attainments, it is necessary for one to adjust his Upasana to suit his country and the conditions in which he is living.

The Mahabharata is something which has given us various stories and illustrations about Dharma. The Mahabharata has shown several paths and several illustrations to lift man from the human level to the divine heights and for this reason our ancestors have called it the fifth Veda. On one occasion with a view to attain victory and success in different efforts, Arjuna performed the Aswametha Yaga. According to the tradition, the person who captures the horse in such a Yaga must be willing to pay the money for this or agree to fight and win. After the horse was thus traditionally released by Arjuna, it was captured by one called Maharaja Mayuradhawaja. According to the rules, Arjuna was preparing for a fight with this Rajah. It so happened that this Maharajah was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. When Arjuna met Krishna, he was told that it is wise to first investigate the circumstances under which the horse was captured by the king and only then undertake to fight for the horse. Krishna said that the horse may even be released without a fight. Krishna did not stop at that and he told Arjuna that king Mayuradhwaja was a great devotee and it is not right for Arjuna to go and fight with him. He even warned Arjuna that it may not be possible to attain victory over a sincere devotee of the Lord. Krishna also told Arjuna that Mayura was a very disciplined man. Not only did the king go through the prescribed Dharmic paths but he was also very well versed in the Karmakanda, Upasana and Jnana and was thus a very capable person. When Krishna described Mayura in such glowing terms, Arjuna became somewhat jealous because he always thought that he was the greatest devotee of Krishna and was under the proud impression that there was none greater than him.

However, Arjuna took Krishna and went to King Mayura. On the way, Krishna hatched a small plan. Krishna told Arjuna that it is not correct to go in their normal forms because Mayura may not respect them and so advised Arjuna that it may be better to go disguised as two Brahmins. Krishna said that Mayura will then look after them better as they will then be guests in the house of king Mayura. As these two persons went as guests, Mayura also set aside his kingly status and became a normal householder and received the two persons who had come to his house as guests in the guise of two Brahmins. It is the first duty of a householder to welcome guests without worrying as to who they are. This is our tradition.

In this context, when the two Brahmins were received well and treated well and given ample food, Krishna wanted to further play a small drama. Krishna wanted to show Arjuna that he had unwarranted and unbecoming pride in thinking that he was the greatest of the devotees of Krishna while Mayura was also a great devotee. Just before they started eating their food, Krishna told Mayura, "We are two Brahmins, the second Brahmin is my friend. My friend has a son and we are going round with a view to settle the marriage of his son. On our way, we saw a tiger which swallowed my friend's son but strangely, half the body of my friend's son is in the tiger while the other half is outside. We wanted to release the boy from the tiger but the tiger did not yield. After some time the tiger uttered a sacred cry and said that it is willing to release the body if we are able to feed it with half the body of a person who strictly adheres to Dharma." Krishna then said that he had asked the tiger as to which person is so righteous and the tiger had immediately replied that king Mayuradhwaja was the best person to satisfy her requirements. Krishna then said that they would be willing to eat food and accept the king's hospitality only if king Mayura agreed to give up half of his body for feeding the tiger. King Mayura readily agreed to this as he did not want to displease the guest who were about to eat their food in his house. But Arjuna did not believe these promises and thought that this promise was made only to make them eat the food. It is understandable that Arjuna expressed such a doubt because no one will ordinarily believe such an impossible promise. Krishna was telling Arjuna that Mayura was not an ordinary person and that he would certainly stick to his promise.

Immediately after the food, king Mayura started getting ready to give half of his body to the guests and he had his wife on one side and his son on the other and was preparing to give his body. Even in this act of his, he asked his wife to stand behind him as according to our tradition no wife should see the face of her husband being split into two. He asked his son to stand by his side and asked his wife to stand behind him. Krishna and Arjuna who were in the disguise of Brahmins were seated and the process of cutting the body into two halves with a saw had started. After the saw had split the body to a certain extent, they noticed that there were tears in the left eye. Here we will understand how hard hearted Krishna can be when he puts any devotee to a test although he is a very soft hearted person in the context of the slightest trouble for others. Yet, when he undertakes to put someone to a test he will be hard as a diamond. While looking at this, Arjuna was trembling at the sight of Mayura being cut like this but Krishna said that a sacrifice made with sorrow in one's heart and tear in one's eyes was not good and that he was not prepared to accept such a sacrifice. Mayura immediately said that he was not one who will fulfil his promise with sorrow and tears. To clear this, one has to understand why there were tears only in one eye and not in both eyes. He begged the guests to examine the situation in detail. Krishna wanted to demonstrate the sacredness of Mayura to Arjuna and so involved Himself in all this drama and asked Mayura to explain the significance of tears appearing only in one eye. Mayura addressed Krishna and said that there were tears only in the left eye because the right half of the body is having the privilege of saving the life of the son of a sacred Brahmin guest while the left side would merely be eaten by crows and jackals when it is thrown away and this is the reason for the sorrow and tears on the left side. When the truth was revealed in this manner, Arjuna's heart melted and he realised with surprise that there were such great devotees of the Lord and prayed to Lord Krishna to stop this examination of and the severe test for his sacred devotee. When Arjuna uttered these words, Krishna appeared Mayura in his glorious divine form with all the insignia namely, Sankha, Chakra, Padma and Gada, blessed him and said that he and his children will have Krishna permanently in their mind and said that he brought about this test with a view to showing to the world the great devotion of Mayura.

In this context, it is also necessary for us to understand the meaning of the insignia which were used by Krishna. Youth must also understand the true meaning of the four symbols which we associated with the Lord. Here, Sankha or the conch stands for the Sabda or primordial sound. The meaning of this is that sound generated from the Paramatma and that sound is under the control of the Lord. The Chakra or the wheel represents the wheel of time and the significance of this is that time is under the full control of the Lord. Gada or the mace represents physical strength, Padma the lotus represents the heart of every individual. The meaning of this is that all these are under the full control of the Lord. Our strength should not be regarded as animal strength. All physical strength should be understood as the divine strength derived from Brahman. So also, the time which we spend must be associated with Brahman Himself and the Lotus should be regarded as the Lord Himself. If we develop these ideas, we will be able to live well in the world. The Kauravas were completely defeated and destroyed because they relied on their physical strength and on their strength of wealth whereas the Pandavas were victorious because they relied on the strength of Dharma and on God. Young people should know that the strength arising from one's own wealth and physical prowess is not real strength. The strength arising from one's own righteous conduct is the only meaningful strength.