Selected Discourses on “God is”, “I am I”, and “Love All Serve All” God is



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I Am I
I Am I, I Am Atma
Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Christmas Discourse

Prasanthi Nilayam

25 December 2009

The sun appears serene and peaceful,

The days have become shorter, and

The cool wind is blowing.

(Telugu poem)

This festive season brings all prosperity to the people filling the granaries of the farmers with the newly-harvested grains in plenty. Not only the farmers, all people in general feel happy and enjoy this season. People attribute their happiness and prosperity to God.

Where is God? God is everywhere. He is omnipresent — in you, above you, below you, and around you. He has no particular name or form. Neither has He birth and death. Only when there is birth will there be death also! Hence, God has no birth, no death! He is present in every living being as Atma Swarupa (Embodiment of Divine Atma). Man today is unable to realise that Atma Tattwa (Atma Principle).

Bharat is a sacred land. It has given birth to many noble souls and chaste women.

This land of Bharat has given birth to many noble women, like

Savitri, who brought her dead husband back to life;

Chandramati, who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth;

Sita, who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed,

Damayanti, who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity.

This land of piety and nobility attained plenty and prosperity and became the teacher of all the nations of the world

Because of such women of chastity.

(Telugu poem)

Sri Rama released Sita from the captivity of the demon Ravana, who confined her in Lanka for ten months. Rama took her into His fold after putting her to the test of fire. The fire god presented her before Rama, saying, “Oh! Rama! Sita is a great woman of chastity. She is so much devoted to her husband that she did not look at the face of even one male in all these ten months.” Sita came out of the fire unscathed, and the fire god himself attested to her chastity. One can imagine how great and noble she was! Can there be a parallel to such women in any country in the world?

The country of Bharat (India) is situated in the middle of the seven seas. Every man and woman in this country has to conduct themselves as Purushotthama (noble male) and Pativratha (chaste woman) respectively. No wonder several Avataras (incarnations) took birth in this sacred land. Great men and women and noble souls may be born in any country. But Avataras took birth only in the country of Bharat.

Today, people aspire for everything in the world except God. People leave even their motherland in quest of wealth and money. This is not a positive development, especially for the Bharatiyas (Indians), for they are expected to rise above the desire for money. God is one who always gives; He never takes. God desires only love from us, nothing else. The country of Bharat is so noble and sacred, but the people of this country are leaving, seeking greener pastures elsewhere. However, those with a pure and unblemished heart are sticking to their native country.

What God expects from His devotee is only a pure and sacred heart.

People ascribe different names and forms to God. In fact, God is only one. He is beyond all names and forms. He takes on a name and form according to the wishes and aspirations of a particular devotee. When you contemplate on the form of Jesus and wish to see Him in that form, He manifests before you as Jesus.

Sarvatah Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvatah Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Tishthati (with hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe). God is present in every human being, nay in every living being. Daivam Manusha Rupena (God is in the form of a human being). That is why human values are considered to be so sacred and important. It is not enough to simply have a human body. In keeping with the human form, one should also cultivate the human values of sathya (truth), dharma (righteousness), santhi (peace), prema (love) and ahimsa (nonviolence).

You should not tell a lie under any circumstances. If you adhere to truth, righteousness will follow. Where truth and righteousness go together, there peace will be. Where there is peace, there will be love too. There can be no place for violence when there is love. Unfortunately, today there is violence everywhere due to the absence of love among people. Whomsoever you come across these days, there is unrest and unrest. People perform japa (chanting of God’s Name) and tapa (penance) to obtain peace, but there is no peace anywhere. Wherever you see, only pieces, pieces, and pieces!

One has to develop love in order to get peace. First and foremost, one has to develop love. “Love is God, God is Love.” “Truth is God, God is Truth.” Truth and Love are the embodiments of Divinity, verily. Though God is one, people ascribe different names like Rama, Krishna, Govinda, and Narayana to God. The different names and forms ascribed to God are the outcome of the imagination of poets and painters. For example, Ravi Varma portrayed God in different forms based upon his imagination. But God cannot be limited to a particular name and form. All names and forms are His, and He transcends them too! God is immanent in all living species including the human beings. The entire creation is the manifestation of Divinity.

God has no desires and aspirations. He is selfless. Everything in the outside world is the reaction, reflection, and resound of your inner being. This is a cloth (showing a handkerchief). Strictly speaking, this is not a cloth; it is a bundle of threads. The threads woven together assumed the form of a cloth. Similarly, the thoughts and desires of a human being make the mind. They, in turn express themselves in the form of speech. The words lead to actions through the sense organs. In the process, man entertains certain bad thoughts and feelings.

Why did God give eyes to a human being? Only to see good. Similarly, the ears are meant to hear good things and the tongue to speak good words. The words you speak must always be sweet and soft and never harsh. Thus, you have to consider every limb and organ in the body given to you by God as sacred and make proper use of it. Such a sacred body has to be dedicated to God and none else. God gives you all that is necessary for your life’s journey. You should therefore install God in the altar of your pure and sacred heart.

God is omnipresent. The sky is God and the earth is God. All human beings are embodiments of Divinity. God is immanent in every human being in the form of breath (Soham). Man has to realise this truth. Only when you realise the true nature of God that can you be considered to have acquired jnana (wisdom).

Jnana is not mere bookish knowledge. Several educated people have acquired vast knowledge from textbooks, but who is a jnani (realised soul) in the real sense? Only the person who has realised, “I am not the body, I am not the mind; I am God verily,” is a real jnani.

When you say, “this is my body,” who are you? To whom are you referring? The expression “my body” connotes that you are separate from the body. When you say, “This is my mind,” the mind is separate from you. Similarly, when you say, “This is my buddhi (intellect),” it means the buddhi is separate from you. In all these expressions, what is that ‘my’? That ‘my’ is ‘I’. This ‘I’ is what was referred to by Jesus Christ as the ego, and it has to be cut. That is the real significance of the cross. You cut the ego.

You are bound by two things: ‘I’ and ‘mine’. That is the human bondage. If you can get released from these two bonds, what remains is ‘you’ only. Now you are with the body. Suppose you have to leave the body tomorrow. At that time, who are you and where are you? You do not know! The body is like a dress; a robe. Once you get rid of attachment to this dress, your true nature will be apparent.

The same truth has been explained in the phrase, “the one you think you are, the one others think you are, and the one you really are”. That is the true nature of a human being. When someone enquires who you are, you will answer, “I am so and so.” You will give your name. In fact, that name is given to you by your parents and not by God at the time of your birth.

Suppose you ask God, “Who are you?” He will reply, Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman). Every individual should remind themselves, “I am Brahman, I have no other name.” If someone asks, “What is your name?” you should reply, “My name is Brahman.” If you are constantly aware of your true nature thus, that is Atma Tattwa. You do not have to contemplate on anything else.

Whenever you come across a friend or acquaintance, you greet him with a namaskar. This implies that you are in fact paying obeisance to the Divinity immanent in the individual. Hence, do not entertain the feeling of ‘I’, ‘I’, ‘I’. All these physical bodies are like the roles played in a drama. They change. The world itself is a cosmic drama. You must constantly remind yourself that you are playing your role in the cosmic drama and your real nature is that you are an Embodiment of Divine Self (Atma Swarupa). You have any doubts in this regard? (Swami enquired turning to the audience …). If you are entertaining any doubts, you will be confused.

Unfortunately, today one does not know about one’s own true nature. How then can one know about God? Hence, first and foremost know thyself! Enquire into yourself, “Who am I? Who am I?” you will realise, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma”, “I am I, I am Atma.” If you forget this Divine Self, what remains is ‘deep wine’! Hence, you should become divine.

Rama, Krishna, Govinda, etc. are only references to Divinity in the common parlance. An individual is referred to by several names based upon the relationships at the physical level. One person refers to him saying, “He is my son-in-law.” Another says, “He is my son.” A third person says, “He is my brother.” Thus, one gets into bondage as the relationships increase. From where did this bondage emerge? It is all of your own making.

You marry a girl and say, “She is my wife.” But before marriage, who was she? You do not know. After some years when she departs finally, you do not know anything about her. Thus, you do not know who she was before marriage or where she went after her departure. The wife-husband relationship is only in between.

Hence, do not worry about the past. Past is past and future is uncertain. You do not know, you have no knowledge of, either the past or the future; you are aware of only the present. Hence, live in the present. That is the only reality.

(Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the bhajan, “Hari bhajan bina sukha santhi nahin …”)

Who Are You? I Am I

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Prasanthi Nilayam, 20 October 2004

Peace has become extinct!

Truth has become scarce!
Mind is the cause for both,
Oh Valiant sons of Bharat!
(Telugu poem)

Embodiments of Love!

Bharatiya (Indian) does not mean only a person born in the country of Bharat (India). The culture of Bharat is the mother. The country of Bharat is the father. Bharatiya is one who has faith in and lives under the care of these parents.

Several noble souls have taken birth in Bharat, followed the great culture of this country, and set examples to others. Sri Sankaracharya is one such great personality who spread the culture of Bharat throughout the length and breadth of the country and earned eternal fame. Adi Sankara taught the philosophy of monism (adwaita). Three centuries after him came Sri Ramanujacharya, who advocated the qualified monism (visishtadwaita) system of philosophy, which emphasised devotion (bhakti) and surrender (prapatthi) to God. Two centuries after Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Madhwacharya arrived on the scene and propagated the dualism (dwaita) system of philosophy emphasising the devotional path to the people vacillating between several systems of philosophy. However, the fundamental principle underlying all the three schools of philosophy is one and the same, that is, Atma Tattwa (Atmic principle).

The non-dualistic (adwaita) philosophy of Sri Sankaracharya advocates the oneness of the individual soul (jiva) and Brahman (cosmic soul). Qualified monism philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya presupposes that jiva and Brahman are different. Sri Madhwacharya explained that there are, in fact, three concepts, namely, body consciousness (dehatma bhava), individualised form of God (jivatma bhava), and the universalised soul or the Supreme Self (Paramatma Bhava).

Nobody need hold on to a particular school of thought or deride the others. The question of adhering to a particular school of philosophy depends upon the mental framework of the individual. Sri Sankaracharya emphasised that though the cloth is of different varieties, the thread underlying the cloth is one and the same. “The cloth is made of a number of threads woven together,” he explained. One has to recognise the underlying principle behind the three schools of philosophy, namely, adwaita, visishtadwaita, and dwaita.

Ornaments are many, gold is one;

Colours of the cows are many, milk is one;

Beings are many, the Indweller is one;

Nationalities are many, humanness is one.

Adi Sankara had a short life span of 32 years. Though the philosophies advocated by Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, and Sri Madhwacharya acquired different names, namely, adwaita, visishtadwaita, and dwaita, the underlying nature of the three types is one, that is Atma Tattwa. The same can be explained with the example of gold forming the base for ornaments with different names and forms.

Not realising the fundamental unity between the three schools of philosophy, people adhering to the different schools of philosophy derided one another, which gave scope for a number of misconceptions in the world about the country of Bharat. In order to explain the truth Ekatma sarva bhutantaratma (one Atma dwells in all beings), Adi Sankara gave some examples. He took out an ornament and explained that the metal with which the ornament was made was gold, thus going into the fundamental principle. The same principle was explained in a different way by Sri Ramanujacharya, who emphasised that though gold forms the basis for the ornament, since it has assumed the form of a chain, it should be called a gold chain.

Sri Sankaracharyam, while advocating the adwaita philosophy, quoted the Vedic dictum Ekameva adviteeyam Brahma (God is one without a second). Sri Ramanujacharya, however, did not agree with this view. His viewpoint was: how could there be an image (prathibimb) without an object (bimba). He thus explained the oneness of the object and the image, which he termed as visishtadwaita, (qualified non-dualism). Another example given in this context was the sugarcane juice. The juice is extracted from different varieties of sugar cane, and a number of sweetmeats are made out of the juice. Though the juice is one, it has now assumed different forms. While Sri Sankaracharya emphasised the oneness of the sweet juice and the sugarcane, Sri Ramanujacharya dwelt upon the different forms the juice has assumed.

Thus, ever since the times of the three great teachers (acharyas) till today, there are a number of arguments and counter arguments between the three schools of philosophy. But present day students do not have faith in any of these three schools of philosophy. They just brush aside these systems as a figment of imagination.

Sugar made out of the sugar cane juice is the main ingredient for making various sweets. The sugar is sweet. Similarly, Brahman is the source and sustenance for the entire universe. Wherever you look, you will find manifestation of the Divine (Brahman) in ever so many forms. The forms change and are illusory in nature.

Brahman alone is the eternal, changeless principle. That is why Sri Sankaracharya has declared, Brahma sathyam jagat mithya (Brahman alone is real, the world is illusory). All three great teachers, namely Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, and Sri Madhwacharya, propagated the same principle, that is, Atma Tattwa.

The Upanishads declare that the entire universe is permeated by the same Atmic principle. That truth is contained in the Upanishadic dicta, Ekatma sarva bhutantaratma (one Atma dwells in all beings), Easwarah sarva bhutanam (God is the Indweller of all beings), and Isavasyam idam sarvam (the entire universe is permeated by God).

The rain, the water that flows into the river, and the sand in the river that sustains it —all are one and only one. Everything is Brahman. Since every object in this universe is Brahman, nothing can be disregarded or ignored. This principle of Brahman is called “divine” in the English language. But many ignorant or cynical persons take it as “deep wine” and take to imbibing intoxicating substances. Disregarding such perversion, we have to realise that the sweetness underlying Divinity is one only. This oneness in the great culture of Bharat has been propagated since ancient times. In keeping with this great tradition, consider everyone, whether it is an ant or an animal or a human being, as verily Brahman.

Some people may have a doubt in this context whether a human being and an animal can be equated. Yes, as far as the Atmic principle is concerned. However, the behavioural pattern of the animal is different from that of the human being. Considering this aspect, one may conclude that they are different, but the underlying Jiva Tattwa is one and the same. On the basis of this Jiva Tattwa, you cannot differentiate at all between the living beings. Thus, Sarvam Brahmamayam Jagat (the entire universe is permeated by Brahman).

This truth can be explained by a simple example. This is a white cloth and that is a saffron cloth. Though the colours are different, the cloth is one. The cloth may be of different colours and put to different uses, but the cloth is only one and the same. The cloth is the source. One has to recognise the oneness of the source. Once you recognise the source, all differences vanish in no time. Unfortunately, today, we are giving importance to the names and forms, forgetting the basis and source for all names and forms. As a result, we are undergoing innumerable difficulties and sorrows.

Adi Sankara has explained the monism principle beautifully in his famous Bhaja Govindam song thus:

Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam

Govindam Bhaja Moodha Mathe

Samprapthe Sannihithe Kale

Nahi Nahi Rakshati Dukrun Karane.

Oh foolish man, chant the name of Govinda,

The rules of grammar will not come to your rescue

when the end approaches.

If the end approaches, nothing can save you except the divine Name. Therefore, chant the divine Name. Thus, Sri Sankaracharya exhorted, awakened, and taught the world.

Further explaining the sorrows and difficulties faced by man in his life’s sojourn in this objective world and the need to seek refuge in the divine grace, Sri Sankaracharya composed the following stanza:

Punarapi Jananam Punarapi Maranam

Punarapi Janani Jathare Sayanam

Iha Samsare Bahu Dustare

Kripayapare Pahi Murare.

Oh Lord!

I am caught up in this cycle of birth and death time and again;

I am experiencing the agony of staying in the mother’s womb.

It is very difficult to cross this ocean of worldly life.

Please take me across this ocean and grant me liberation.

In this context, one has to analyse what is it that is subject to birth and death again and again. The body (deha) undergoes this cycle of birth and death, but the Atma is eternal. As long as the Atma remains in the body as the Indweller, there will be consciousness in the body. The moment the Atma leaves the body, it becomes insert (jada). This phenomenon is called death. Unable to realise this truth, man subjects himself to sorrow. Birth and death are only for the outer form, not for the Atma.

A short story in this context. There was once a philospher-son, who was learning Vedas. By the time he completed his Vedic learning, his mother completed forty years of life. She left her mortal body in her 40th year. The son was deeply immersed in sorrow. His guru called him and tried to counsel him explaining, “Whom do you consider as your mother? The body? No, this is not your mother. You are wailing over a dead body, which your mother has left. In fact, the body is right before you. Why should you have to weep? The power of consciousness (chaitanya shakti) has left the body. It means that power of consciousness represents your father and mother, not the forms and attachments to those forms. No doubt, it is true that relationship does exist with the physical form for sometime. But thereafter, the body ceases to exist. When you realise the truth, you will understand the futility of the relationship with the physical body.”

The objects may be different, but the source and sustenance for the objects is only one. The same source assumes different names and forms. One should not develop dependence on the names and forms, which are subject to change. This simple truth, based on the Mooladhara Tattwa, has been explained by different people in different ways as high sounding philosophy. This has given scope to some misconceptions to a certain extent. In fact, the underlying principle behind the monism philosophy of Sri Sankaracharya and the qualified monism philosophy of Sri Ramanujacharya is one and the same.

Embodiments of Love! Students!

Today, we are taking very lightly such a great and noble philosophy. Sri Sankaracharya’s philosophy is profound in nature and explains the great truth in simple and beautiful poetry. Any amount of explanation will be insufficient to bring out the underlying philosophy in full measure.

Sri Sankaracharya also wrote a great commentary (bhashya) on Bhagavad Gita. In this commentary, Adi Sankara has explained that there is monism (adwaita) in duality (dwaita) and dwaita in adwaita. Further, the qualified monism philosophy (visishtadwaita) contains both adwaita and dwaita concepts as well. Therefore, all three schools of philosophy lead to the same goal, and their underlying meaning is, Brahma sathyam jaganmithya (Brahman alone is the truth and the world is illusory).

The whole world appears as containing innumerable names and forms. One should not be enmeshed with these names and forms. It is only when the names and forms are set aside and the underlying source is identified that it is possible to recognise the truth. And that truth is Tattwamasi (That Thou Art). That is, Prajnanam Brahma (constant integrated awareness is Brahman). That awareness is Ayam Atma Brahma (This Self is Brahman). When you analyse the aphorism Tattwamasi, it will lead you to the awareness “I am That” and “That I am.” When you are able to realise this truth, you will find that the principle “I” underlies everything in the universe as the principle of unity. We have to recognise that “I” principle, which is universal.

It is a futile exercise to get into arguments and counter-arguments over this matter and waste one’s time. The only aspect you have to realise is “I am Brahman.” When somebody questions you who you are, the proper answer would be “I am I,” “I am the word, I am the form, and I am the name.” This “I” represents and explains everything. When somebody questions who you are, do not reply by quoting your name. The name represents the name given to the body. You are not the body. Hence reply, “I am I.” Everyone should strive to attain that state of unity.

The Vedantic concepts lead to endless arguments and counter-arguments. Do not enter into them. Always be under the awareness “I am I.” This “I” principle is beyond names and forms. It represents the Brahma Principle (Brahma Tattwa), which is one without a second entity.

When somebody enquires who you are, you reply, “I am I.” Similarly, when you ask someone who he is, his reply would be “I am I.” Thus, all are “I am I.” It is only when you think “I am not I” that there will be several questions.

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