|Prashanthi - The Pathway to Peace|
"From the unreal, lead me to the Real
This longing of the human heart, verbalized in this form more than a thousand years ago in the Brihadaranyeva Upanishad, has stirred into agony millions of every continent through the million year of human history. At various stages of human evolution man has grasped in his despair the hand extended by quacks and pretenders, maniacs and morons who have exploited him to the verge of extinction. Luckily for him, in many lands and at frequent intervals, saints and sages, teachers and poets, mystics and masters journeyed into realms beyond the boundaries of 'reason' and gained the awareness of the Real, (which is the Truth of what appears as unreal) the Light (which hides under cover of what appears as darkness) and the Immorality (which wears the mask of continuous death).
These messengers of Truth have served as Light beacons for pilgrims, trekking away from themselves, towards the One whose many they are. When they reach the One, they realize that they were always there, at Prashanthi Nilayam, the Home of Supreme Peace.
Man is now moonstruck; he is enslaved by monstrous machines; he is fascinated by the prospect of wholesale suicide. His head is swollen with the poisonous vapor of ego, so much that it is about to burst. Love alone can cure the malady. Love alone can still the storm. Love alone can encourage the nations to cease growling at each other.
The All-merciful God has come in human form as Sathya Sai Baba to confer Prasanthi on all hearts by lovingly weeding out the thorny bushes of lust, anger, greed, pride and hatred. He is the Embodiment of Divine Love and can be known and adored through Love alone.
- N. Kasturi
The Road to Prashaanthi
me the road to Prasanthi"
His tongue was dry, for he had asked thousands more the
They had misled him to into many an alley blind,
His head was free of ego cargo;
There was a glint in his eye
Show me the road to Prasanthi
I was happy, for he knew what he could get
"Show me the road to Prasanthi"
O The agony of his lips,
"Why seek a road," I asked him.
I told him, "Dear Friend, you are already there!
You are the Sathya of the Sai,
Know this, you have reached Prasanthi
-N. KasturiKNOW THE TRUTH THROUGH ENQUIRY.
Our task Too
This description of His task is a reminder to us that we too have a similar task before us, for we are but the echo of the Divine, of all that He proclaims. We too have been assigned a mission and have an unfinished task to complete, a destination to reach. Swami's objectives are in fact guides for all persons seeking Prashanthi.
(1) We have to adhere to non-violence in thought, word and deed; we must be cheerful so that we might spread cheer. We should not carry into the company of men, faces darkened by gloom, unlit by smiles and bitter with envy and spite. Soft and sweet speech alone is the worthwhile sadhana, says Swami.
(2) No sensitive individual can stand by which folded arms, when a companion loses control of himself and rushes headlong towards a crash. It is our duty to help. Swami wants us to be equipped not only with medical materials for 'First Aid', but even more essential "First Aid" kits of wound bandages and balms of sympathy, courage consolation and counsel. "When God has incarnated as man in order to rescue, re-form and rehabilitate man, why do you hesitate and refrain?" asks Swami.
(3) When he is seen filling empty hands with boons and making barren hearts bloom, we must yield gladly to the urge which prods us to imitate Him. Let us discover what others lack. Food? Freedom? Fun? Sight? Insight? Silence? Let us assess our own resources. When we are reluctant to share the riches we hoard and the skills we parade, we are holders of stolen property in eyes of God. How can we uplift ourselves, when we are unwilling to jettison the junk we hold so dear?
Even time can weigh heavy, when it is not spent to spread joy through light. Swami has declared that miracles (Chamathkara); induce transformation (Samskara) which manifests as Paropakara (service) which cleanses the mind so effectively that it disappears. That even heralds the Vision of the Supreme (Sakhathakara) in fact, each of us in entrusted with this body-mind-intellect mansion of marvellous mystery, so that we can march, steady and straight along the corridor of time, through the horizons of space, to the savior and the source. We are all cells in the body of the One. How then can one cell be happy, when another is hurt, when another is tortured or strangled or silenced? The Universe is a living system with a flow of Will that courses through it, much as blood through the body or sap through the tree.
Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, befriend the lonely, nurse the sick, lead the blind, lift the lame, guide the lost, lend your tongue to the dumb, smoothen the wrinkles of the old -these acts of service can draw the dew of Divine Grace down on you. Let a hundred desolate faces bloom when they imbibe the sunshine from your looks. The recording Angel will, then, as Swami says, get your name entered besides Abou ben Adam, as one whom God loves.
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self" is the command. "More easily said, than done", shrugs Frued. It is an impossible assignment for many. Why? They ask. "What can I gain from it?" they grumble. The answer is "Your happiness can never be full until he is happy." We and our neighbours are bound not only in space but in spirit. We breathe the same air and drink the same moonbeams. Our health can be worsened by his slovenliness. Until his homage is clean and bright, we cannot claim that ours are clean and bright. So, pay heed to your own need.
Many may demur arguing, "How does my neighbour deserve my love?" Swami says, "the neighbour is given to you as part of a plan which has given you to him as his neighbour so that you can love and serve each other and expand your ego, until it is rendered too thin to be felt. Judge him not, least you be judged by him. "Do not bargain, lest you lose the gain within reach".
Again, let us try to identify this "thy neighbour". He is everybody' without doubt. The Vedas declared that the globe is a family home (Vasudha eva Kutumbakam), a bird's nest (Viswa needam). It is space ship which is the cradle, the arena and the grace of all the countless species of the living cells arising, acting, activating and getting atrophied or absorbed in the Divine. Do line drawn on maps can exclude anyone from our neighbourhood. He may not pray to his God the way you pray to yours but it is the same God that responds to both. Swami says, "There is only one God; and, He is omnipresent". So we cannot deny the love due to the neighbour on the plea that he prays in a language that our God does not know, or appreciate.
(4) When the Avatar is intent on conferring peace and plenty on all who adore Him, we mortals have to grasp the significance of that vow of Providence. Swami says, "All Names are Mine. I reside in all places". Therefore those who adore Him belong to all denominations, creed, and religions. Swami says, "There are no atheists. No one should be labeled as an atheist. For, though a person does not believe in God, personal or impersonal, he cannot live without love, which is God. His love may be directed to himself or another, to a pet animal or profession, to riches or renown. Or it may be directed to God or goodness, service or sacrifice, virtue or values. No one can live long on lies; he has to accept truth, at least the truth of his existence and of his extinction. Therefore, the message that we must translate into our daily life is -Promote peace and plenty, as your share in the Universal adoration to God.
(5) Swami directs every one to sanctify their emotions, impulses and passion and equip themselves with total devotion, Bhakti. What exactly is Bhakthi? Sage Vyasa defines it as joyful involvement in the worship of the Lord. Sage Ganga identifies it with the longing to listen to the narration of God's glories. Sage Sandilya who has authorized a classic text on Bhakthi says it is unhindered ecstasy drawn from the thought of God. Sankaracharya explains that Bhakti connotes the illumination that results from the awareness of one's reality. Sage Narada, the supreme example of devotion, tells us in his book on Bhakti, that it is the quality that induces us to offer all our actions of God. Swami, however, identifies Bhakthi with serenity, derived through the faith that the just and loving God gives us only boons-whether we treat them bouquets or blows. The Bhaktha welcomes good and evil; he dare not even know them as such. He sees, hears and feels only the Grace of God. All that happens to him or from him is either wages or bonus form his Employer and Director. The more we adhere to this serene disinterestedness, this unruffled equanimity, the nearer we approach the ideal of servitude to God.
Swami speaks of the mysterious but momentous kinship between the eyes and the feet. When a thorn pricks the foot, the eye weeps. It blames itself for causing the foot to bleed. "I failed in my duty. I should have been more vigilant and noticed the thorn laying in wait on the track. The foot has no means to look ahead" it laments. Swami advises us to assume the responsibility of for guiding and leading the defectives and delinquents, the wayward and the vacillating, the myopic and the moron, for service to them is service to God. Each of them is a challenge, confronting us and insisting on response. How can any one sleep when men shriek for relief from torture chambers? Or, feast, when children scramble for crumbs? Or sing, when birds are caged? Or play, when lambs are skinned alive? The Buddha announced that he would not wish to be liberated until the lasting living being attained release, for he could not feel free when a brother was in prison.
Swami opens our eyes to the stark truth. During a discourse, at Bombay he said, "When a policeman escorts a criminal, you have to conclude that a criminal too is escorting a policeman". Both are bound; neither is free. The one is responsible for the other. Seva must result in the victory of love over hate, of contentment over greed. Then, the two can escape from bondage and peace will reign.