Pious and noble rishis of the past gave so many Names to God. Keen to experience Divinity, they sacrificed everything worldly and material, and did intense penance. Induced by his inner feelings, each sage ascribed an attribute or form of his choice to God and then gave a name to God appropriate to his conception. God is actually both Formless and Nameless – all the descriptions of God are due to the rishis of old. However, Names of God like Brahmanandam have nothing to do with worldly or physical descriptions. They transcend all these and relate to a superior plane. In this plane, God is beyond all normal and conceptual description. He is the Supreme One beyond all duality, and is described as:
God alone is entitled to all these glorious Names.
The all-comprehensive nature of God’s Name
Once, sage Narada came across young Dhruva, who was undertaking an intense penance to propitiate Lord Narayana. Narada said, “Dhruva, you are so young. Is it possible for you to undertake such an intense penance? How are you going to contemplate on God? In what form will you meditate on Him?” In this manner, Narada asked many questions.
Dhruva smiled and replied, “O sage, the idea that I should do penance was planted by Him. The seed of thought becomes a sapling due to Him. The sapling grows into a giant tree because of Him. And He it is who also makes the tree to bear fruits. I have no doubt that the very same God will take care of me. I have not studied the Upanishads or other sacred texts. I know only the Name of God.”
Narada asked, “What Name will you chant?”
Dhruva thought for a while and replied, “I shall chant: Gopijana Vallabhaya Namaha.”
Here, the word gopi does not just refer to the gopikas of Brindavan. Gopa means the Earth, the Vedas, the Word, and cows. The root word for all these four words is Go. Gopis are those who worship and take care of these four sacred entities. They worship the Earth, foster the Vedas, are true to their word, and also protect the cows. In essence, the gopikas of Brindavan did all these. God does not have any names per se, but various names are given to Him.
Dhruva said to Narada, “I am one among the gopis. I am a part of the Earth, a part of the Vedas, etc. In short, I am one among the many created by the Lord. Who protects and sustains the many? God. That is the One I am worshipping with this chant.” Swami said the other day,
You will recall that kleem means earth, krishnaya means water, govindaya means fire, and the other two words mean respectively air and space. These five words thus symbolise the five elements, which are the very personification of God. Thus, even a chant of the names of any one of the five elements amounts to calling out to God. All five words mentioned are also the Names of God, and there is no particular need to chant the name Krishna, Vishnu, or Siva. It was only after the emergence of sects like Vaishnavites and Saivites that the fashion of chanting particular names like Vishnu and Siva emerged. This practice not only narrowed one’sperspective about God but also promoted unwanted controversies. God does not have any specific name.
Become free from desires and attain Perfect Happiness
Tasmai Namah. This is short salutation hails God as: “O God, the Embodiment of Supreme Happiness!” When are you truly happy? You feel that way when you are free from all worries and anxieties. God has no desires and that is why He is always happy. Try to be like that, free from desires, and you too will always be happy. It is desires and worldly expectations that destroy happiness. To achieve permanent happiness, you must be totally free of desires. You may or may not believe this: Swami has no worries whatsoever and is therefore always in a state of bliss. Swami has no thoughts relating to Himself. However, because He has come with a physical form and on account of His contacts with people, He might, at times, appear to be concerned and worried. But truly speaking, Swami is beyond both desires and worries. He wants nothing for Himself from anybody at any time. What He wants is only your welfare and that is the feeling dominant in Him all the time.
The true meaning of Self-satisfaction
Suppose you want to eat a fruit. Do you want the fruit for your sake or the sake of the fruit? No. You want the fruit because you wish to enjoy it. You are attracted by a nice piece of textile. Do you want it for your sake or because you wish to give some satisfaction to that cloth? Obviously, the latter is not true; you want the cloth for your sake. It is the same with food. In this manner, every desire you have is for the gratification of your own self. There is something in you that drives you, and that driving force arises because you are either consciously or unconsciously seeking satisfaction for yourself. However, in almost all these cases, it is the lower self that is involved; that is why one describes all such actions as selfish. In spirituality, one must focus on the Higher Self; all actions must spring from the desire to satisfy this Higher or real Self. This is true Self-satisfaction. Actions aiming at satisfying the Inner Self are not selfish in the worldly sense because they are far from worldly desires and petty expectations.
This Real Self within is nothing but the Atma, and Brahmananda is Happiness connected with providing satisfaction to the Atma. Apart from the names already mentioned, the Atma is also known as Paramatma, Paratma, Ekatma, etc.
The journey to God must be by way of selfless service to society
You are an individual (vyashti). You are part of society (samashti). And society is a part of God (Parameshti). The vyashti must journey to Parameshti through samashti. The individual must involve himself with society in some manner or the other, and serve it selflessly. If in the name of your individuality you cut yourself off from society and give preference to the pursuit of your personal ambitions etc., you can never become one with God! Such selfishness is contrary to the spirit of unity and Oneness that God represents. He who yearns to experience Brahmananda must first develop Love for God and the longing to become one with God. This longing must be translated into practical terms by first becoming one with society. How do you become one with society? By selfless service. When you serve society in a selfless manner, you will start realising that all are one.
Enlightenment can occur in a flash
The Vedas proclaim,
Vedahametam purusam mahantam
adityavarnam tamasah parastat
The rishis of old declared to mankind: “O man! We have seen God [in man]. He has the effulgence of the Sun latent in him but he lies in the darkness [of ignorance].”
People then asked the rishis: “Where did you see this God? Inside or outside?” To this the rishis replied:
Antarbahisca Tatsarvam Vyapya Narayanassthitah.
God is everywhere, inside as well as outside.
They then added, “Man, there is God in you. You have the effulgence of the Sun, but the darkness of ignorance is eclipsing this radiance.” The rishis saw God everywhere. Since God is Omnipresent, Bliss is also everywhere, since bliss is God’s Form. God has no desires, and that is why the state He is in is described as Supreme Happiness (Parama Sukhadam). If there are no desires, then one can truly experience Eternal and Supreme Happiness, which is what God is.
Absence of desires also makes God the personification of Supreme Knowledge. Supreme Knowledge exists when there is Supreme Bliss — the two go together. Thus, Supreme Knowledge, Supreme Happiness, and Supreme Bliss — all these are synonymous with God. These aspects of God are not the result of causal effects; they are intrinsic to God. The Almighty transcends reason, is beyond causality, and is also beyond both space and time. He is not bound by circumstances either.
Here is an example. You are now here in Brindavan. You are sleeping in your room, and you dream that you are in Calcutta. Why did you go to Calcutta? How did you travel to Calcutta? Who accompanied you? How long did it take you to reach Calcutta? There are no valid answers to these questions because dream is beyond space, time, and circumstances such as one experiences in the waking state.
Suppose you actually want to go to Calcutta. You catch a flight at 7am, and in about three hours you are physically there. At Calcutta Airport you take a taxi and go to a house. What for? To meet your relatives. Thus, in real life, there is a purpose for the travel — you wish to meet your relatives, that is the purpose. The mode of travel is air, and the journey is made in the morning. The duration of the journeyis three hours. The time of departure is a.m. Experiences in the waking state are thus governed entirely by time, space, reason, and circumstances. On the other hand, experiences in the dream state are completely beyond all such considerations.
The dream-state experience illustrates another important point. You are fast asleep at night. At 1:30am, you get up to go to the bathroom. You come back and fall asleep again. The time now is 1:35am. You drift into a dream. In the dream you see yourself growing up, getting educated, securing a job, getting married, having a son and later playing with this son. In the dream, the child cries. With a start you wake up. You look at the clock. It shows 1:40am. In just five minutes of dream, you have experienced so many stages in life that take nearly forty years in real life. In the same way, if you are able to rise to the transcendental state of turiyavasta, you can experience God in just a fraction of a second. You may wonder, “Is this possible?” Well, can anyone explain how it is possible in five minutes of dream to go through what takes forty years in real life? No one can. In the same way, though no one can explain it, it is possible to experience Divinity, literally in a flash.
Here is another example. You are living in a house. Circumstances arise and you go abroad, locking up the house. You return after spending ten years overseas. You open the lock and enter the house. You then put on the switch. The room you are in has remained dark for ten years but in just one moment, it is filled with light. It took just one second to put the switch on, and ina flash the darkness is removed. In the same way, it does not necessarily take ages for the darkness of ignorance to be removed and for enlightenment to occur. Enlightenment is a process thatis beyond reason and season. Why? Because God who confers enlightenment is also beyond reason and season. Intensely directing your intellect toward God amounts to flicking the switch. When the spiritual switch is flicked, Supreme Bliss can be experienced immediately. Therefore, the realisation of this exalted state described variously as Brahmanandam, ParamaSukhadam, etc., can happen instantaneously, without any apparent reason. To have this experience, you do not have to withdraw to the forest as people mistakenly imagine; it can happen to you right here.
Offer service, and receive love!
Peace is right within you. To experience what is right within you, why think of withdrawing to the forest? Such thoughts are foolish; peace is in one place and you are thinking of looking for it elsewhere. Peace is within you! If you want to discover this treasure within you, then, as Swami said earlier, you must serve others and experience love. If you do so, then you would automatically discover peace. Enlightenment is nothing but experiencing peace and love within, and this enlightenment is nothing other than Supreme Bliss and Absolute Happiness.
With hands and feet everywhere, with eyes, heads, mouths, and ears everywhere,
He exists enveloping all. He pervades through all these means.
Once, Krishna asked Arjuna, “How old are you?”
Arjuna replied,”I am seventy.”
Krishna then said, “Arjuna, do you know My age?I am seventy five!”
For this body also seventy-five is coming! [Obviously, this is a reference to the forthcoming Seventy-fifth Birthday. Perhaps, Swami was dropping a hint to those who forgot that He is none other than Krishna come again!] Bhishma was then one hundred and thirteen. At that age, he served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Kaurava forces in the Kurukshetra war. Can you think of such a thing in this day and age? People lived long those days.
When the mind is not steady but wavering, there are aberrations. Once, Krishna chided Arjuna, “I taught you the Gita and gave you much spiritual advice; but you don’t remembering anything. Do you know why? Because you do not consider My teachingsto be important. You are indifferent to them, and that is why you have forgotten all that I taught you. Had you regarded them as important, you would have remembered all My teachings. You have also forgotten that you and I have been together in many lives.”
Arjuna felt sorry and with humility asked, “Lord, how is it that You remember everything and recall them all, while I am not able to do so?”
That is forgetfulness.
The Real You or the Inner Being
Is ever aware in all states,
Be it the waking state,
Or the dream state,
Or the deep-sleep state.
It knows no forgetfulness.
You, however, are not in the Taraka state, or the one of Perfect Awareness, but in the tamasic state, which is one of torpor.
Arjuna was baffled and asked, “How can that be Lord? I am not all that dull.”
Krishna smiled and replied, “Is that so? Now tell Me; we have been together for so long; can you remember all the events? You do not. But you do remember your birthday, and also the dayof your wedding with Subhadra, even though the marriage took place decades ago. Arjuna, where were you last year on Chaturdasi [fourteenth] day in the month of Margashirsha [approximately, November]?”
A crestfallen Arjuna replied, “I don’t remember.”
Krishna continued, “You can recall precisely the date of your marriage that took place fifty years ago, but cannot remember where you were on a particular day just last year! This reflects the human tendency of forgetfulness, caused by a wavering mind.”
A short time after this conversation took place, the death of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu occurred. But Arjuna was not aware of this. When he returned home, he wondered, “Every evening as I returned from the battlefield, my son used to receive me. Today, why hasn’t he come?” Krishna, who was then by the side of Arjuna, knew even earlier about Abhimanyu’s death but did not reveal it to Arjuna; there was a time and place for everything, and in due course, Arjuna would become aware of the news. In God’s Drama, there is a time and a place for everything.
When Arjuna came to know of Abhimanyu’s death, he could not bear the shock and collapsed. He shouted at Krishna calling Him “Vamsanaasi!” [destroyer of the clan] for not having protected his son. Arjuna continued, “We all are now too old to have children again. With the death of Abhimanyu, our lineage has come to an end, and You are responsible for it!”
Krishna smiled, “Arjuna, your mind is wavering. Right now you are in the grip of grief, and swayed by emotion, are speaking without thinking. But it does not matter; this mood will pass.”
Some time later, Abhimanyu’s wife delivered a baby, but unfortunately, it was still-born. Draupadi took the dead child in her hand and said, “Alas, even this child is dead.” Sahadeva was sent to fetch Krishna. Krishna came. Draupadi placed the bodyof the still-born child on a plate, took it to Krishna and said, “O Krishna, have You given us the gift of a dead child?”
Krishna was smiling as usual. It was Krishna’s habit to always smile, no matter what the situation. Others might be worried, anxious, upset, or in despair but Krishna was always smiling. Grief and sorrow could never touch Him; He was far beyond them. Krishna told Draupadi, “This child is the exact replica of Abhimanyu. His eyes are like that of Abhimanyu and so is the face.”
Arjuna could not bear this and shouted, “Yes, the breath too is similar! Abhimanyu is dead and so is this child!”
Krishna smiled and chided Arjuna, “You are a fool, unable to understand what I am saying.” Krishna then ignored Arjuna and continued talking to Draupadi. The latter had full faith in Krishna and His willingness to do anything for His devotees.
In the matter of devotion, women are exemplary. It is the wife that drags the husband to God. God gave the gift of devotion (bhakti) to women and wisdom (jnana) to men. In court language, whereas men can go only up to the Durbar Hall [where the King holds court], women can go to the inner quarters [where women stay]. In the same way, the devotion of a woman can take her right inside God’s heart, whereas such access is not so easy for a man. Why? Because, compared to women, men have less faith in God and correspondingly also less devotion. Women, on the other hand, have total faith. Arjuna did not believe that Krishna would do anything, but Draupadi had full faith that Krishna would restore the dead child back to life.
The Pandava brothers were all seated there, looking totally crestfallen. Meanwhile, Krishna was continuing His conversation. Arjuna was boiling inside but was unable to say anything. Suddenly, Krishna told Draupadi, “Sister, give me the child.” Draupadi did. Krishna patted the child, and the baby began to cry. The Pandavas were stunned; unbelievable, but the dead child had come back to life! They shouted with joy, while Krishna named the child Parikshit (since He had made them undergo His pariksha (test) before giving life to the child).
Arjuna witnessed the miracle. He ran to Krishna, fell at His feet, and hailed Him: “Krishna! Vamsoddharaka!! [Krishna, the Emancipator of the clan]” Krishna smiled, “Arjuna, just a short while ago you called Me the destroyer of the clan and now you are hailing Me as the Emancipator of the clan. How quickly you change! How fickle you are! How your mind wavers!”
If you say yes, Sai says yes.
If you say no, Sai also says no.
This yes and no relate to you,
But for Sai, It is always Yes, Yes, and Yes!
[Applause.] One moment Krishna was called the destroyer and the in the next He was called the Emancipator. These descriptions relate not to Krishna but to the person using the terms. They reflect the wavering mind of man. God is Unchanging and far beyond fluctuations.
Parikshit having regained life, everyone was very happy. All of them were sitting around Krishna. Arjuna moved close to Krishna and gently asked, “Lord, why did You let my son Abhimanyu dieat such a young age? I did not even get a chance to see him before he died. Should death come so early? Could You not have let him live a little longer?”
Krishna replied, “O foolish one! You are determining the age of a person by looking at the present body. This age that you are talking of has no meaning really. Birth and death of the body follow according to the law of nature.”
Here is an example that illustrates how one should understand the so-called early or untimely death. Suppose you go to Kashmir. You may not be aware of it, but Kashmir was the home state of Kaikeyi. While in Kashmir, you purchase some woolen cloth in order to stitch a suit. After return, you put the cloth in a cupboard and forget all about the cloth. Ten years pass and you are about to shift your residence. You are packing things for the transfer of residence, and you discover the woolen cloth that you stored away a long time ago. You regret that you forgot about this nice fabric all these years. That very day, you go to a tailor and ask him to stitch a nice suit for you. Soon, the suit is delivered, and you wear it to attend a wedding party. A buffet dinner has been arranged there. You bend down a little with the plate to help yourself. Suddenly you find that your suit gives way and tears [laughter]. You feel sad. You wonder, “Brand new suit; how can it tear like this?” Yes, the suit is indeed new but the cloth is not new; it is old.
Krishna told Arjuna, “Abhimanyu did not die young as you imagine; he was ‘old stock’. In this birth he might have lived only for a few years, but in reality, the one whom you called Abhimanyu was not young at all.”
Arjuna replied, “Lord, I was not aware of such subtleties.”
Krishna smiled, “Yes, My dear son, life and death are both mysteries! You will not be able to understand them.”
Experience God and do not try to analyse Him
It is not possible for anyone to comprehend Divinity. What God does one moment may appear to contradict what He does the next moment. God’s actions are inscrutable, beyond, time, space, and human reason. As Swami often says, “No reason, no season!” It is therefore both meaningless and improper to analyse God’s actions and to interpret them. If God says ‘Yes,’ it shall be so. If He says ‘No,’ it shall be so. That is Destiny! You must accept all this and not argue. To question God’s actions would imply lack of faith.
Suppose right now you go out to the bazaar and tell people there what Swami is speaking about. You tell them that Swami is God. A man in the crowd asks you, “Where is God?” You tell him, “He is there on the stage delivering a discourse.” He argues, “That is not God. God does not exist.” You should then tell him, “If you say that God does not exist, that applies only to you and not to me. For me, God does exist. What right do you have to tell me that God does not exist? To believe in God is my right. If you are destined not to have faith in God, that is your misfortune.” Your faith in God must be strong. If it is, God will surely respond always. If you emphatically declare your firm belief in God, non-believers would automatically shut up and walk away.
You must understand that Creation is full of mysteries. The 11 words starting with Brahmananda are neither praises of God nor descriptions of God. In fact, they are Names of God.
The celebrated Gayatri Mantra has three basic parts.
Om Bhur Bhuvassuvah, Tatsavitur Varenyam,
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi,
Dhiyo Yonah Pracodayat.
First there is praise; next, there is meditation; finally, prayer: adoration, meditation, and prayer. But the hymn beginning with Brahmananda, goes far beyond even the famous Gayatri. The words Brahmananda, etc., have nothing to do with praise; they are the very Names of God. The Gayatri Mantra is the gift of Sage Viswamitra to humanity. It has a basis; it can be analysed; its meaning can be comprehended. But the Divine Principle [to which the words Brahmananda, etc., refer] is beyond human reasoning, human analysis, and human understanding as well.
God knows no sorrow, has no pain, and is beyond thought. Sorrow and grief come only to those with thoughts, while the one without thoughts is always happy. God is beyond thoughts and is therefore always in Bliss. No matter what people tell Him, Swami always responds by saying, “Santosham, santosham” (meaning ‘I am happy to hear that’). That is because Swami is Transcendental Bliss (Parama Sukhadam).
A lady comes to Swami and cries, “Swami, my husband died”. Swami replies, “Santosham”. The shocked lady asks, “What Swami! I am telling you that my husband has died and You are saying You are happy!! Are You happy that my husband died?” Swami replies, “No matter what you say, for Swami it is always santosham, santosham, santosham!”
Once, a person told Swami, “Our people met with an accident”. Swami said, “Chala santosham (very happy)”.
Swami is always happy. What is there to be unhappy about? Whatever has to happen according to destiny, will happen. Why then bother and feel sad about it? Life and death are natural. They are common to all and not meant specifically for this personor that. Therefore, one must calmly face the verdict of destiny and accept with equanimity whatever happens. People suffer not because of destiny but because of desires and attachments. If you have attachments to the things of the world, you are bound to experience joy and sorrow in alternation. Pleasure and pain are an integral part of the dual world.
Everything happens according to the will of God. He gives and He takes back what He wants when He wants. You might have seen railway goods wagons carrying a marking: Date of Return. It means that on the due date, the wagon has to be returned to the parent railway department. The body is like the goods wagon. When it is sent here, a return date is stamped on it though you might not be aware of it. When the due date comes, the body goes back where it came from, that is all. Thus, when there is birth there is also death. The two form a natural pair. So, no one should give way to sorrow on account of death.
There is Bliss in every aspect of life, and God is Pure Bliss. Since God is in you, you should always be happy. You should ever be full of love. Never allow that love to become polluted or degraded into hate.