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The All, In All
Ayn Rand, Editor of the magazine, Objectivist, writes: "Conventional morality does not teach or show the child what kind of man he ought to become and why. It is only concerned with imposing a set of rules upon him - arbitrary, bewildering, contradictory, and more often than not, incomprehensible. The child grows up with nothing but resentment and fear, for any concept of morality. Ethics appears to him only as a phantom scarecrow demanding the drab performance of dry duty. The examples set by adults are not meaningful enough to point the proper yardsticks of behaviour." No wonder the children are attracted towards Baba who bestows pure love upon those who seek it. "The Americans come to Me since they do not know a mother's love," said Baba one day.
"Baba is Siva and Sakthi, Father and Mother." Velury Sivarama Sastry states thus: "No one can understand, but everyone can benefit from Him. Science cannot define, logic dealing with cause and effect cannot grasp. Its pristine glory is unique. It overshadows the fleeting shadows. Only the wise and the pure in heart can abide in it. Matter seems less material, mind less mental, only Atma prevails. Each one sees an aspect of its innumerable facets. Enough, if we know a little but we never have enough. This is so near us and yet so far away. The love that Sai manifests pales into insignificance the love of every mother in the Universe, gathered together." Sivarama Sastry is no ordinary observer; at the age of 16, he rose to fame, as a prodigy, a poet of dazzling merit. He was one of the few prodigies that have blossomed. He was an outstanding scholar, critic, and teacher, versed in the intricacies of Yoga, Tantra and Vedanta. He wrote bold and brilliant treatises on the Adhyasa Conception of Sankaracharya and the Integral Yoga of Aurobindo. Universities competed with each other in honouring themselves by including his name on the Boards of Studies in Sanskrit. At the ripe age of 75, he came to Baba, enjoying close contact for more than 6 years, before he dropped, like a ripe fruit from the Tree of Life. Sastry attained renown as a writer who weighs every word of his in the super-'selectronic' balance of Truth. So, when he says that the Love of Baba as a Mother supersedes the love of all mothers, he must be speaking with genuine sincerity.
Therefore, the Mother Festival, or Dasara when it is celebrated in the immediate Presence of Baba, is supremely sanctifying. During this Nine Day Festival of the Mother, the first three days are devoted to worshipping the mother as Guardian, the next three days Mother is worshipped as Provider and, during the last three days Mother is worshipped as Teacher. Victoria Mills addressed Baba significantly. "This is your Dream. Mother! A dream of purple flowers and blue skies; a dream of pleasure, a dream of pain, a dream of bodies moving in the passing hours, a dream of minds churning desires - in Thy Love, let us Live again."
Dasara is the occasion when the Mother as Baba, or Baba as the Mother provides us various inducements to progress spiritually. Sanathana Dharma of course, has the entire armoury required to conquer the foes on the path, and help us march towards the final triumph. One day is spent in celebrating the Annual Day of the Hospital, so that the vehicle of the Soul may be kept trim and efficient, to enable it to cross the ocean of duality and merge into the One. On another day the distressed and the destitute are given clothes and feasted. Baba has assigned to each one of us a role to play, designed and directed by Him, on the stage of life. On some days the compositions of the great singers of India are sung granting to the listeners a state of unclouded exaltation. On other days we get a chance to witness plays based on age-old tales of gods and goddesses full of ecstatic incidents enacted by little children, and so they can taste Innocence flowing from innocent lips. These plays are written by Baba Himself, and so they convey to us the lessons He prescribes for the cure of our mental ills. We are inspired to preserve, despite odds, the moral ideals in the confusing conflicts of our lives. On the stage and the screen away from the Nilayam, we only see crime, perversion and pollution dramatised, whereas in the Abode of Peace everything is designed to elevate, sublimate and save. There are musical recitations, and expositions of philosophical parables and mystery tales. Discourses on Veda and Vedanta are given by pundits, who had believed that they had comprehended what is beyond comprehension, until they met Baba!
On the Mantap or sacrificial enclosure at one end of the Auditorium, the adoration of Vedapurusha, the Deity extolled in the Vedas continues for seven days without break. The Fire is adored as sacred, for it ignites and illumines; it destroys and purifies; it burns and burnishes; it spreads and shines. It moves fast from one victim to another. So, it is praised and fed with hymns of praise. The Sun is the giver of life and energy; it nips a day off from our allotted span of life, with every sunset; so, it is worshipped by continuous prostration, repeating each time, hymns of extolment. Others can visualise God in expansive Banyan Tree, timeless, self-propelling through roots dropped from every branch, providing shade and shelter for bird and beast and conferring beauty and health to the entire region. Hymns are also uttered to the Spirit of Trees.
Some of us prefer as the symbol of God, neither Fire, nor Sun, nor the Living Laborious Brother called Banyan Tree, but the Linga. During Dasara, a pundit can be seen on the altar at the Auditorium shaping 1000 Lingas every day, and after worshipping them with utmost devotion rolling the black clay back into a ball, for use the next day! The permanent static base, pure existence, is Siva. Its projection as dynamic energy is Sakthi. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi used to write an O at the beginning of the letter he sent to People, says Yogi Shuddhananda Bharathi. Maharshi explained it as the Lingam, the Symbol of the Ultimate Principle which is beyond the triple entities of Life, World and God!
Others might be thrilled by more elaborate representations of the Might, Majesty and Magnificence of God. For them Baba arranges Puja for Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi with flowers, incense, camphor, sandal paste, silk and gold. A few might be elated by the recital of the most mystic sound Om, with all its undertones and hidden possibilities. This joy persuades us to take the first step in spiritual endeavour (Sadhana) facilitating our pursuit till the goal is reached.
Baba Himself announced, on the Opening Day of Dasara, "To celebrate Dasara at Prasanthi Nilayam is indeed a rare chance, replete with wonder and joy, ensuring peace by the extinction of the six inner enemies." His Mission is to put mankind again on the rails of peace and joy. So, when the Hon'ble Minister for Transport, Andhra Pradesh, announced that he would shortly initiate steps to improve the road to Prasanthi Nilayam and make it a tarred high way, Baba said "The body looks forward to a smooth drive over a tarred road, but the heart prefers the road of tranquility and humility, so that it may reach the Goal, God, and merge in that Ocean of Glory. I am more interested in that Road. I am not enthusiastic about tarring the road, for, that would make even the little discipline of "slow and careful driving" superfluous for people coming here! Life is not all smooth sailing. It is full of ups and downs, sharp turns and sudden diversions. India has always taught the first lesson in safe travel, here and hereafter: "Start early; drive slowly; reach safely!"
Since thousands of devotees had to sleep under the sky, piling their belongings around their beds, the rains that poured during three nights caused a great deal of discomfort and dislocation. Referring to these, Baba said, "Some people came running to Me saying, 'Swami! Stop the rains!' Well, getting a little wet is a trivial bother, when compared to the benefits of timely rains. The Vedapurusha Yajna is celebrated to persuade the Gods to shower rain, that is its raison d'être as the Vedas assert. While the rite is on, the rains have come: it demonstrates that the Pundits did the Yajna on strict Vedic lines. The rains will ensure a good harvest and prosperity for the countryside."
On the 20th of October, 1969, the valedictory Rite of the Yajna was performed. Baba created a nine-gemmed necklace for the Chief Priest who officiated; he was a scholar in Vedanta and Vedic Grammar. During the Abhisheka or ritual bath of the Image of the Previous Incarnation, the Sai Baba of Shirdi, Baba created a sparkling eight-starred jewel of gold and placed it on the forehead of the silver idol; it stuck! Dr. S. Bhagavantham and Mr. Tideman Johanessen who were among the audience wondered at this: How could gold stick on silver, without adhesive? Baba knew their thoughts. He told them a few hours later, without their asking Him or anyone telling Him, "If I can create the jewel, can I not make it stick, too? When you doubt one incident, you start doubting all. Accept Me for what I am. Then, no doubt can interfere with your faith."
"You complain that God is hardhearted; that He does not respond to prayer, or give signs from His portraits, or speak from 'nowhere' to assuage or assure; but let Me tell you, God is Love, Love is God. When there is no response you have to infer that the cry from your heart is insincere, it is mere play-acting. It is set to a pattern, addressed to someone alien to you, someone accepted by you as a far away tyrant or a taskmaster. Know that God is your nearest and dearest kin."
On the 21st, when Baba was on the floral Jhoola, a number of poets recited the poems that He 'painted' in their hearts - Deepala Pichayya Sastry, Begum Tahira Sayeed, the writer, Vidwan Rama Sarma, Vidwan Seshama Raju, and others. They were in a multitude of languages, English, Urdu, Kannada, Sanskrit. Baba advised them to see the handiwork of God, the greatest Poet of all, in every grain of dust, every twinkle of light, every drop of rain, every whiff of air.
"Great poems deal with the eternal thirst of man for God; they are rich in the ambrosia that quenches that thirst. They satisfy and build up strength to laugh at life's fortunes. Without spiritual Sadhana, the expansion of the consciousness, the broadening of sympathy, the sharpening of vision, the deepening of contacts with the springs of wisdom within oneself and within others, poetry is but a purposeless, pallid pastime."
The 7th of November will be remembered as a landmark in the history of the Women's College at Anantapur for on that day amidst colourful scenes of Grace and Glory the Vice-president of India laid the foundation for a magnificent building. Dr. S. Bhagavantham welcomed the Vice-president Sri G. S. Pathak, as well as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh Sri Khandubhai Desai who laid the Foundation Stone for the College Hostel, and said, "I have considerable experience in raising Colleges, all over the country; I am wonder struck when I consider how within a year and a half, this College has gone ahead, with 300 students and the full complement of a library, laboratories, ancillaries and a gas plant too!" Baba says that no task on which He sets his Heart can fail. His will is supreme.
Dr. V.K. Gokak said, "At a time when disorder has become the order of the day, this College will transmit, under the guidance of the Master, the Lesson of Order." The Vice-chancellor of the Venkateswara University said, "The Sathya Sri Trust managing this college has a symbol which reveals the core of Indian culture, the kinship and closeness of manifold philosophies, religions and ideologies formed by the aspiring mind of man." Sri Khandubhai Desai also appreciated the symbol, as a sign of genuine secularism, "Secularism does not mean irreligion; it means real religion. And real religion recognises all faiths as facets of the Truth."
The Vice-president said that the Day was a Day of Devotion and Delight for him. "I am happy to find that the Trust has taken note of the need of the nation. The next generation has to be shaped straight and strong, so that it efficiently bears the burden of this vast country. We want disciplined, enlightened people to assume national and international responsibilities." Baba spoke of His Resolve to establish such Colleges in every State of India, "My Sankalpa, plan of action, is to provide youth with education, which, while cultivating the intelligence, will purify the impulses and emotions, and equip them with the physical and mental disciplines which can awaken the springs of calmness and joy in their hearts. Their higher nature has to be fostered and encouraged to blossom by means of study, prayer, Sadhana, contacts with sages, saints and spiritual heroes and heroines of their land; they have to be led on, to the path of self-confidence, self-satisfaction, self-sacrifice and self-knowledge." Baba blessed the College with these words, "May this College educate generations of noble mothers who will live Dharma, raise heroes surcharged with dedication to God and Devotion to Truth."
November 23 is the Birthday of Baba. But, as Baba told Penn in one of His transoceanic lessons, "It is not My Birthday that you celebrate. It is your own." And again, "My mission is to raise the consciousness of man to a level at which the neither rejoices nor mourns over anything. In that supreme state, one is going through rebirth and re-death each moment, for these acts are one and the same, emerging from the formless into form, merging from the form into the formless. Then, there is no success or adversity, no joy or pain. When the devotee attains this Oneness, his journey towards Me ceases for he will be with Me endlessly."
The 1969 Birthday was marked by another event, namely, the 3rd All-India conference of the Office Bearers of the Units of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. The delegates were happy that the Conference was to be at the Nilayam, in the very Centre of Prasanthi (Higher Peace) and the Host was no less a Person than Bhagavan Himself. At Madras during the First Conference Baba had allowed the delegates to share His Gracious Presence during most hours of the day. At Bombay, during the World Conference, Baba moved around the Hostels where the delegates were accommodated and was present at the Dining Halls on most of the days. Besides Baba had invited them to Dharmakshetra and He took groups of them round the building explaining to them the significance of the numbers of steps, pillars, concrete wind-cups, etc., to the happy edification of the uninitiated. The number was nine, multiples of nine, adding up to nine, as was necessary in a building that symbolised Sathya - Truth, or Brahman - the ultimate Truth, whose numerical symbol is 9. Now, the Third Conference was being held in the lap of Prasanthi Nilayam, under the loving and watchful eye of Baba Himself.
The Conference began on 20th November, with more than 2,000 delegates from all the States of India, and also representatives from Ceylon, Australia, Fiji, America, Europe, and Africa. The Presidents of the Organisations of each State gave short summaries of the various lines of activity in their area. It was a heartening and instructive recital, for each State could contribute some fruitful ideas of service and Sadhana to the rest.
Baba explained that the Sai Organisation is unique in more respects than one. It does not seek donations and patrons. It works under a Master who is present everywhere at all times, and so the Organisation is only a name for a group of people who carry on work that would win His grace, in a spirit of worship. There is no scope here for malingering or personal rivalry or the virus of vanity or envy. Baba said, "These are associations of aspirants. Pay attention to your duties and responsibilities; do not infect yourselves with caste affiliations, or personal prejudices or political predilections. I can see you through and through, wherever you are! Do not carry your head high and taunt people. Stoop, so that you can lift the burden on to your shoulders; serve, so that you may be an example and an inspiration. Follow, so that you can lead seekers into the heart of God. Be humble, be cordial, with all. Devotion should not be publicised. It does not end with the acquisition of a badge which decorates that shirt. It is a secret gain, a precious boon."
While the Conference was considering the recommendations of the four subcommittees which dealt with Organisational matters, Spiritual activities, Publication of Sai Literature, Mahilavibhag (Women's section) and service activities, Baba counselled that devotees should not seek concession and exemptions from participation in the activities set out by the Samithis, but, on the contrary, look forward to the chance provided by the Sai Organisations for Sathsang. It was resolved that members must attend at least sixty percent of such meetings. It was also emphasised that there must be unanimity in the choice of Office Bearers. The Office Bearers should behave as Torch Bearers, reflecting in their behaviour the light of His Wisdom. "The Sai Organisations should try to reduce and remove the hurdles and handicaps in the way of spiritual progress, its members should be ennobled by tolerance, truth speaking and compassion, and saturated with love for all. Whoever neglects his parents and allows them to languish in poverty or sorrow does not deserve to be a member. Carry the message of self-realisation through the Sadhana of service, among the women, the youth and the children. Encourage the formation of active groups of women, who will take up the teaching of children, develop Seva Dals."
Addressing the Valedictory Session of the Conference on the 22nd of November, Baba said, "Let Me end on this note: Do not doubt your destiny: it is to merge in the Highest Wisdom, Power and Love. Do not waver or stay away. At every step, inquire, discriminate, search for Truth. Be self-reliant, bold and free. Know that you are the instruments of God in a Divine Task and so there is no justification for weakness or vacillation. Be an example to others in humility and devotion. Do not scatter advice, without the authority of practical experience. Love, co-operate, serve. Your Office is a call for spiritual exercise, a reminder of your being under My care and direction."
The Conference was a baptism of faith for the participants; it revealed to them the Divine Love of which Baba is the embodiment. He was the Person on whom all eyes rested, all ears were focused, all minds dwelt and all hearts poured adoration. He sat among the members of the subcommittees during their deliberations and shed light and laughter on suggestions pompously placed and assiduously argued upon. He moved among the delegates, scattering Grace; He met the representatives, State-wise, for hours at a stretch, and amidst roars of laughter, and brilliant banter, He smoothened rivalry, suppressed factionalism, softened fanaticism, and sweetened bitterness. In spite of being concerned with every detail of diet, agenda, seating, and discussion, He was the very picture of freshness and light. To see Him was to learn the lesson of selfless activity, to hear Him was to yearn for Grace and for the chance to share His Task: to touch His Feet was to change oneself with strength and courage to face the world and its challenges.
The delegates stayed on for the birthday celebration on 23rd and 24th November. "The Day I am born in you as Love, that Day is My Birthday for you." Baba announced on the 23rd. He reminded the 15,000 people who sat before the Nilayam to witness the hoisting of the Flag, that "Here is the Siva Sakthi, born in human form to lead mankind towards Him." When Baba declared that each individual is a flower in the garden of God, drawing strength from the earth and beauty from the sun, one was reminded of the poem sung by Sri Das Ganu Maharaj while expounding the life and teachings of the 'previous body' of Baba: "The Bakul, Lotus, Chamelee, Dawan, Marwa, Panch - such a variety of flowering plants bloom together in a garden and make it grand. All flowers spring from the earth and return to the earth from which they sprang, and after they re-enter, there is no more distinction!"
"Religion is a perpetual encounter of the individual with the Universal, a persistent invitation which insists on acceptance," said Baba. Those who have tasted the sweetness of that Invitation from Baba know that He is the Lord who as He Himself sang in the introductory verse of His Birthday Discourse, "commands the sun to illumine, the stars to lend brilliance to the sky, the wind to blow and bolster life, the rivers to meander murmuringly on, the fire to reduce everything to irreducible ash, and the million species of living things to populate the earth and sea, proclaiming the might and majesty of the Lord." We have heard of gifts being given to a person on his birthday, but, to the Lord who is amidst us, what can we give? Therefore, Baba gives gifts to us, on the 23rd November. We sit in long lines all over the grounds of Prasanthi Nilayam, and he gives each one a packet of sweets, with a loving word or a charming smile as a keepsake forever.
During these Festivals, after every discourse He sings a few Bhajan songs, with which He activates devotion and faith among the thousands. His songs are genuine Muraligana, that is to say, replicas of the magic music which flowed from the Flute of Krishna on the Banks of the Yamuna. The water of the Yamuna forgot to flow and halted in ecstasy, when the Flute conveyed the breath of the Lord to them. It is in the nature of water to flow! So, the Chithravathi at Prasanthi Nilayam has freed itself of water so that it can listen to Baba's voice, without the bother of halting and holding still!
A devotee writes, "In the blissful joy of listening to His melodious Voice extolling the glory and majesty of Divinity one forgets all the cares and distractions of living; one is released from the prison of time and space."
On 31st December, 1969, Baba was in the midst of delegates from all the Units of the Sathya Sai Seva Organisations in Mysore, and called them lovingly as instruments of His Divine Mission of Dharmasthapana. While the Presidents from each District were presenting their Reports, Baba was standing at the farther end of the Shamiana, instead of sitting on the Chair placed for Him on the Dais. In explanation He said, "My place is among you, with you and wherever work lies! Do not believe that I am on a special seat, apart, distant on a pedestal. I am part of you, partner and partaker, inspiring, instructing, when you ask Me or need Me for inspiration and instruction." "Do not exude pride," He advised the workers. "Spiritual pride is the most poisonous variety of pride: it is the highest of hypocrisy. Fear too is spiritual poison, for, when you have in your heart the Person who declares that you need not fear, why should you fear? If you do, your lips belie your heart. An uneasy conscience is a torment."
"If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character," said Baba "If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home; when there is harmony in the home, there will be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation; when there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world... So, be righteous in speech, thought, and action. Avoid all prejudices on the basis of caste, creed, colour, status or degree of scholarship or affluence." That was the directive with which the delegates returned to their place of work.
Within a few days, Baba inaugurated a Mahila Sathsang, under the auspices of the Organisation, and the advice He then vouchsafed to the women workers has far reaching implications. Baba has come to clarify Dharma, mark out the bounds of behaviour, prescribe laws and limits of conduct, so that vagaries may be controlled and sublimated. He said, "Let the Sathsang start with your homes! Let your homes be happy, harmonious, with no friction or faction or frills, fanfare or fanaticism. Let the different generations, living in the home with varying levels of intelligence, experience growth and attainments, earnings, tastes, or prejudices, learn to live together in mutual co-operation, tolerance and loving kindness. Each one of you must do your part in ensuring that your home has the fragrance of a Sathsang, charged with the Sai atmosphere. Learn to put up with different opinions, different temperaments. Develop the desire to understand others, be sympathetic towards them, be happy when others are happy, be compassionate when others are sorrowing. Engage yourselves in Seva - go into the slums, the hospitals and the jails, the remand homes where delinquent children are housed. Seva is better than even Dhyana as a Sadhana. 'Dil me Ram, hath me kam,' Perform your duty, with God installed in your heart."
Mahashivarathri, 1970! A flood of devotees flowed into Prasanthi Nilayam. There was tremendous rush, but, absolute silence. Baba told the young men and women on the Seva Dals, selected by the Sathya Sai Seva Samithis from the different States of India, "You yearn to do some Seva in My Name, don't you? Well I have a thousand heads, eyes and feet! The Vedas proclaim that God is 'Sahasra Seershaa Purushah,' 'He has a thousand heads!' The thousands who have come here, the aged, the children, the diseased, the afflicted - they are all Me. Serve them, you serve Me!" Baba hoisted the flag on the Nilayam, and said that loyalty to higher truths has to be built up from childhood, even through the lessons learnt while in the mother's lap. At noon the creation of the huge stream of Vibhuti caused wonder and amazement, even to those who know that it was part of the Sivarathri Festival. In the evening, Sri Nakul Sen, I.C.S., Lt. Governor of Goa, Dr. Gokak, and Dr. D. Venkatavadhanlu, Professor of Telugu, Osmania University, addressed the gathering.
Baba's compassion led Him to begin His discourse with a Sanskrit verse, meaning, "I am not a human being nor a god or a superman. I am neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya, nor a Vaisya nor a Sudra! Then you may ask Me who I am. Well, I am the Teacher of Truth; I am Truth, Goodness, and Beauty!" During the Discourse the Linga that was growing in the stomach of Baba since about a week announced itself as ready to emerge, and so Baba sat on the chair. The huge gathering sensed the cosmic undertones of the movement and sang with eager excitement a song in praise of Siva, the God represented by the Linga, for whom Sivarathri was dedicated.
Fifteen minutes later, a heavy oval Linga of a substance akin to an opal came up and out; the enormous gathering shouted Jai in adoration and uncontrollable bliss, when Baba held it in His hand for all to see. Throughout the night, the Bhajan continued, the Divine Offspring was placed in full view of all, so that it may inspire them in their Vigil and Fast.
The next day when the Bhajan ended, Baba Himself gave consecrated food to the devotees. He spoke of the Geeta and its Message. He said that the Song Celestial recommended Action, Karma, first; then, in subsequent chapters, it wanted that the Karma must become untainted by any desire for fruits. Later, it recommended Righteousness, Dharma; a few chapters later, it advised that Dharma has to be given up, so that Liberation, Moksha, can be attained. Finally it recommends that the Moksha desire has to be given up, for even that is bound. It declares that one is free, all the time, even when he imagined he was bound. "Awake from ignorance; you know that your bondage was unreal; it was a dream, which was denied when you woke. You are always free, liberated. You are always the Atma that can never change or suffer."
Baba left for Brindavan after a few days, so that He could expedite from there the construction of the college He had planned.