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The Sugar and the Ants
Many a Sadhaka and seeker has announced the deep desire that he should remain an ant, tasting the sugar, that is God, grain by grain; he does not like to become the sugar, which does not know how to taste itself. When some one prayed to Baba that He reduce the number of days when He is away from the Prasanthi Nilayam on tour, He replied, "Yes; you think it is more appropriate that the ants come to the sugar but, consider this; how can the poor, the sick, the aged, the infirm, for whom I have come, travel to Prasanthi Nilayam? I must go near them and speak to them, so that they may make their own homes and hearts the Nilayams of Prasanthi." This then is the reason why Baba moves, wherever Mercy takes Him and Agony draws Him.
As described in the First Volume of this Book, Baba returned from Badrinath on the third day of July, 1961. Speaking about the journey to Badrinath to a gathering at Bukkapatnam near the Nilayam, Baba said, "We saw thousands of old and decrepit men and women, besides others stronger and younger, braving the cold and hunger, the storm and rain, the risky landslides on the road, trudging along regardless of cost and distance, to get a glimpse of Narayana installed there. When in Ayodhya, I could see and sense the constant recitation of Rama-Nam by almost all people there. I am often asked where Dharma has taken refuge in this Iron Age. Well Dharma is still flourishing in the hearts of these thousands, I reply."
Baba left for Mysore City during the month-end, for the devotees there wanted Him to be with them for Guru Poornima, the Full Moon dedicated to the worship of one's spiritual preceptor. That evening, He reminded a gathering of 20,000 that Mysore was famous for the fragrance of its Sandalwood and the musical attainment of its people. "But, I want the fragrance of Prema to fill each act of yours; I want the harmony and melody of music to permeate every sprout of thought, every tendril of emotion, every bud of speech. The Guru is adored in India as the physician who corrects vision with the medicated unguent called Jnan: he cures other diseases too, diseases which afflict the mind and warp the judgement, like the jaundice of malice, the anaemia of envy, the fever of greed and the paralysis of hate. You must seek a Guru who can diagnose correctly and prescribe both the drug and the regimen; you should submit to both with care and faith. If a human preceptor is not available, prayer will induce the Lord within to awaken and guide."
Referring to the panic that was fanned by the astrologers of the East and West over the 'ominous' conjunction of eight planets between the 2nd and the 5th days of February, 1962, He explained that they would only 'appear' as conjoined along a line and that there was no reason for fear. "Many are advising you to win the favour of the Gods so that they may spare you from calamity; many are collecting funds to perform rites which can ward off the fire and fury which are predicted. I do not object to prayer, or to the rites, for they are good in themselves, apart from the planetary phenomenon. But, do not be misled into inviting terror into your hearts. There will be no convulsion in Nature, no tornado or torrential flood, no damage to earth or sky! The only calamity that will take place is the forfeiture of deposit money by a number of defeated candidates, contesting the General Elections that month!"
During the fateful week, Baba was a tower of strength for millions in panic. He allayed the fear aroused by the soothsayers of many lands. Lavagnani, the Mexican Astrologer, quoted by the Illustrated Weekly of India, wrote, 'It may be particularly unsafe on those first days of February to travel, either by air or sea, and even in some places, to sleep in a house.' An Indian astrologer with a vast American clientele wrote, "A very severe type of earthquake and severe cold waves will happen as a result of the February' 62 combination." Civil strife, racial tensions, military crises, political upheavals, famines - these were predicted by popular prognosticators, both "scientific and unscientific" in almost all lands. Many people came over to Prasanthi Nilayam, to be in that Haven of Peace during the critical week.
Experiencing His Love and Grace that gave courage and strength, many devotees were tempted to believe another and smaller group of astrologers who drew other conclusions. Bellairs of Johannesburg said, "The planetary situation may refer to the coming of the New World Teacher, either His Birth, of His Entry into His Ministry." There was also the widely publicised statement of A.N. Chandra: "This unique configuration may even indicate the Advent of a Great Religious Leader, who will bring solace to the distressed and harassed people of the modern world." They knew that the New World Teacher had come and had entered upon His Ministry; they knew that Baba was granting solace to the distressed and harassed people of the modern world. He was, in fact, announcing it, as the task for which He has come!
From Mysore, Baba went into the Wild Life Sanctuary, called Abhayaranyam, (the Forest where there is no Fear). Baba loves to meet the denizens of the forest for they too are His children, creeping, crawling, trailing, walking, flying, from birth to birth, towards His Feet. Before a fortnight was over, He was at Hyderabad for a short visit and from there, He motored 600 long miles to Udumalpet to bless a hospital and a college. Returning via Madurai, He reached Ootacamund, the crest jewel of the Nilgiris, Queen of Indian hill stations, where are preserved still, both simplicity and spiritual sanity. They had Baba with them on the Krishna Janmashtami, the Birthday of Krishna, who is adored and loved in India by every mother and child in the land, by every scholar and savant, by every philosopher and pundit, by every seeker and saint. Baba told the gathering that Krishna was the very embodiment of Prema, that the word meant "He who attracts, draws the mind towards Him." He reminded them that whoever adores Krishna must cultivate this Love. Krishna also means, "to plough, to plant and grow," so, every person who reveres Krishna must plough the field of his heart, remove the weeds of passion, sow the seeds of Love, and foster the plants with vigilant care, until the blossoms of Seva (Loving Service) yield the fruits of Ananda.
Dasara, 1961, which came soon after was memorable for many reasons. On the very first day, Baba gave a glimpse of His Glory when He announced, "You have read that the Lord saved Droupadi from humiliation. Gajendra from that quagmire, Arjuna from defeat, Ahalya from petrifaction, Dhruva from ignominy, Prahalada from annihilation. You do not know of countless other acts of Grace. Similarly, for every act of Grace which you know this Form has done, there are thousands you do not know! Rama was the embodiment of Sathya and Dharma; Krishna, of Santhi and Prema. Now, when skill is skipping faster than self-control, when science laughs at Sadhana, when hate and fear have darkened the heart of man, I have come, embodying all the four. I have come equipped with such limitations as will help you to contact Me and derive benefit from My coming. I manifest such powers, as will help Me to confer the benefits I have planned for you the boons you deserve. In a short time, within years, the number of which can be counted on the fingers of one hand, you will see here the suffering, the aspiring and the inquiring, from every part of this world. The number will be so large that the sky alone can be the roof to shelter them." Another day, 21st October, He announced that the Mission of the Revival of Dharma for which He had come has begun. "Until now, it was in the preparatory stage; from now on, the work will proceed without slackening speed. It is now for you to share in this campaign for the liberation of man from ignorance. In no previous era have men got so many and so clear intimations of the Advent of the Avatar, as now."
On 23rd November, 1961, during the Birthday Celebrations, the book, "Sathyam Sivam Sundaram" written in English, of which this is the second part, the first full-length biography of Baba, was reverentially placed at His Feet by me, whom He graciously chose as the instrument for that task. Baba said, "You might wonder why I permitted the publication of a book on My Life 'Ramayathi-ithi Rama' (He who gives joy is Rama). The joy surging in all devoted hearts is the joy that pleases the Lord. The joy of the Lord is the reward that the devoted heart seeks. I responded to the prayer of devotees and allowed him to write it. The title, 'Sathyam Sivam Sundaram' speaks of Me as immanent in every one of you. For, Sathyam is Truth; you resent any imputation of untruth. The real 'you' is Sathyam. How then will you accept any other appellation? So too, you are Sivam; joy, happiness, contentment, auspiciousness. You are not Savam; dead, miserable, weak; you are Sivam. Again, the real 'you' is Sundaram; beauty, harmony, melody, symmetry. You resent, and very naturally, when you are described as 'ugly'. You are the Atma, which is entangled in the body, a wave of Sathyam, Sivam and Sundaram, playing on the Ocean of Sathyam, Sivam and Sundaram, which is the Lord. Getting to know Me, through this Book, or, more clearly through the Book of your own experience, is part of the destiny of mankind today. Each one of you has to be saved, and will be saved. I shall not give you up, even if you keep afar. I shall not forsake even those who deny Me, I have come for all. Those who stray away and those who stray away will also be drawn near and saved; do not doubt this, I shall beckon them and bless them." Do we need any clearer intimation than this about His Grace and His Divinity?
After the Birthday Celebrations, Baba left for the village of Repalle, in Guntur District, to install a marble idol of His previous Appearance in the temple there. Baba had installed such idols in a few places previously, at Madras and Coimbatore and at the Ayodhya Asram, near Madanapalle. At Madras where he had sanctified the temple at Guindy, in His twenty second year, the Bhaktha who had built the temple washed and worshipped His Feet and wanted an impression of the Feet on a piece of silk cloth in Sandal paste. Baba said, "I shall give you the Feet of 'Sai Baba', My previous Body!" and lo, the Impression that the silk cloth received from those lovely tender Feet of His was that of a pair of Feet nearly double the size of Baba's, and definitely that of a person above sixty years of age! The silk cloth with the sandal paste impression that He gave so miraculously to prove that He is "the same Baba come again" is there, inside the shrine at Guindy, for all to see!
No wonder the people of Repalle were elated when Baba agreed to instal Himself in the temple they built; no wonder, too that hundreds of thousands converged on that place to get the Darsan of Baba. The idol had to be brought to the bungalow where He stayed, for, the roads that led to the temple were too thickly packed. While the initial rites were gone through, Baba created a charming little golden idol of Sai Baba and placed it on the head of the idol. Late at night, when the roads became negotiable, the idol was taken into the temple. Baba placed the golden statuette in a cavity on the floor and, over it, He wanted a marble slab to be drawn. The idol was installed on the slab. Thus, the mysteriously created golden image became the unseen but potent source of Grace in that temple just as the Linga which Sankaracharya placed was the source of the potency of Narayana at Badrinath! Baba reminded the thousands who had gathered to listen to His words: "This idol is only a container; the thing contained is Sai Thathwa, which is the Divine Essence. Pour that Essence in this container, it is called Sai Baba. Pour it in another; it is Srinivasa, Shiva, Krishna or Rama.
"You should now infuse the marble with your faith and devotion and make it live; having installed Sai in your village, instal Him in your hearts, on the altar of Prema, for Sai is Premaswarupa. Sai is not a temple dweller; He dwells only in hearts." Baba by His Sweetness and universal Love entered the hearts of all the thousands who milled around Him for Darsan. Many who could then touch the hem of His silken gown will remember it for years!
From Repalle, Baba went to the town of Eluru, where at the Githa Bhavan, He had to instal two life size marble idols of Radha and Krishna. He was accorded a reception, which Baba felt was too extravagant. He chided the organisers, "Whoever has heard of the Master of a household being received into His home by His children, with fireworks and flags, poetry and pomp?" Baba created for the rite of installation, the nine gems, as well as a mystic cryptogram on metal which can ward off evil forces from the eight directions. He said that Radha and Krishna formed the Prakrithi-Purusha Duet, Creation and the Creator, Patent and Latent. Radha is the Adhar (basis) for the Dhara (continuous stream) of Aradh (worship). That is to say, Radha is the created universe which has to be used by man for discovering the Divinity immanent in it, the Divinity that is revealed as beauty, truth and goodness, as Sath Chith and Ananda, as Sathyam, Sivam and Sundaram.
Back in Bangalore in December, Baba inaugurated a Society of Sanathana Social Workers. He said, "The word, Sanathana, in the name of your Society has brought Me here today. You are all Sanathana, eternal, though you believe you are Nuthana, new. In India, the science of recognising the reality of man, his glory, his divinity, has been taught from ancient times. Only those who have learnt this science deserve to be children of this land; the others, though they are born here, are essentially aliens."
At Bangalore, as well as later, at the Prasanthi Nilayam, He assured people that the Ashtagrahakoota, or Conjunction of Eight Planetary Bodies which by its imminence was darkening weak minds with clouds of fear, boded no ill. He said, "No additional calamity will come about, consequent on the conjunction; in fact, the confusion existing now will become a little less! When the Avathar has come," He asked, "why shiver in dread, at imagined dangers?" "Believe Me" He declared, "nothing will happen; no, there is no danger at all." And, as Baba willed, nothing happened.
On the holy day of Sivarathtri, 1962, which fell on the 4th March, Baba advised the thousands who had witnessed the emergence of two golden Lingas from Him, "Why do you discuss and debate among yourselves about My nature, My Mystery, My miracle, My reality? Fish cannot gauge the sky; the gross can grasp only the gross. The eye cannot see the ear, though it is so near. When you cannot reach down to your own reality, why waste time trying to explore the essence of God? You are like a Telugu audience sitting through a Tamil picture or a Malayali sitting through a Japanese picture. The nuances, the subtler significances, the deeper meanings and interrelationships, the inner patterns of the fabric, are beyond your understanding. Sit through the entire film; master the language and the technique; watch earnestly and vigilantly and try to imbibe the meaning of every gesture, act and word; then, you may know Me, a little."
Festivals at Prasanthi Nilayam afford the people the chance to hear the discourses of Pundits learned in the science of spiritual disciplines and to meet brothers and sisters who have experienced Baba's might, majesty, or mystery. They return to their homes, full of the inspiration derived from the soul-strengthening discourse of Baba, wiser, sadder and often purer in habits and mental impulses. Many among them stay on for the chance of the precious interview with Baba. Therefore, Baba is engaged for hours on end, morning, noon, and evening in calling in and conversing with the thousands who keep on at the Nilayam, until they are thus favoured and blessed. It is a clear sign of His Grace that He thus keeps Himself busy with our petty trivialities and pestering desires, though in the discourses He gives, He is advising man to give up the demeaning attachment to the physical and the secular. He knows that longer exposure to His Glance and Grace will wean us away into Sadhana and success.
Baba left for Thirupathi, after most of the people praying for interviews had been satisfied. It was the Thyagaraja Festival that drew Him there. Had not Thyagaraja, the singer-saint (born 1847) appeared in a dream and directed Sri Nagarathnamma, his incomparable disciple, to proceed to Venkatagiri so that she can have Darsan of "the Lord whom he adored?" Nagarathnamma had gone wondering who the Lord was; she saw Baba there!
That explains Baba's statement in His Discourse, "I come often to this Festival, for I feel it is a part of the task for which I have come." "Thyagaraja had given up attachment to sensory pleasure; he had discovered the supreme joy of inner contemplation; he expressed that joy in moving musical notes in simple sincere phrases in songs that thrill the heart and illumine the intelligence. Thyagaraja knew the secret of surrender. Without surrender, man can have no liberation. Cross out the I, and you are free. How to kill the I? Place it at the Feet of the Lord, saying, 'You', not I; and, you are free from the burden that is crushing you."
Dasara, 1962! On the 29th September, the First Day of the Ten Days' Festival, while hoisting the Prasanthi Flag on the Nilayam, Baba declared, "At Prasanthi Nilayam, every day is a Festival Day: every moment is a holy moment." As the saying goes, 'Nithya Kalyanam, Poccha Thoranam' (Perpetual Festivity, perpetually Green). During that Dasara Baba inaugurated, in clear unmistakable ways, His task, which He defined as "Vedasamrakshana, Vidwathposhana and Dharamasthapana". All three are interdependent; the Vedas are the basis of Dharma; the Vidwans are the instruments; Dharma is the panacea for the illness of mankind. In the Githa, Lord Krishna has affirmed that He embodies Himself and incarnates among men in order to fulfil the task of Dharmasthapana. The assurance then; the fulfilment now! Let us keep our eyes open and bright, to bear witness to the wonders of the Advent.