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Swami teaches....Part 5

Link to Swami Teaches....Part 4


Sai Ram

Light and Love

 

Preface

    Swami indicates the significant role of His Teaching to the students - seekers of truth and to all others who are interested in their spiritual development. Let His words be as a preface to the subsequent Swami's lesson for devotees and followers "Swami teaches...".

     All of you have great love and adore Swami but that love and adoration are of no use if you ignore the teachings of Swami. Even if you do not adore, if you believe in the truth of the word and enforce it in your daily life, Swami's grace will always be with you in your life. It is no use if you simply utter the name of the Lord and do not follow the good things that go with the Lord. It is just like uttering the name of penicillin when you are running a high temperature. Only when you take in the penicillin will the temperature come down. When you are hungry, the hunger cannot be satisfied by uttering words like potato and Chapati. If you eat them, it will be satisfied. It is no use if you only read or listen. You must try to remember the teachings, put them into practice and judge for yourself how far you have acted according to the word. 


Elementary Knowledge about Vedas
 

    Swami teaches... (27 January 2005)

 

    Standing on the seashore, one can see only the waves on the surface and not the pearls lying deep below. Only the brave one who can dive deep into the ocean will be able to gather the pearls and not others. Likewise spiritual knowledge is not easy to get. The Vedas are the guidelines for spiritual seekers.

 

    The Vedas are the recordings of sages to whom the mantras were revealed. They proclaim the transcendental Truth which is not changed by time or place.They indicate the means to prosperity and security for the denizens of the three worlds.

    The Vedas have been declared to be infinite and hence beyond the comprehension of common people. In the beginning there was only one Veda. To study it considerable time and effort were needed. Vyasa divided it into different parts to enable people to study as well as practise the teachings of the Veda. Out of the countless number of hymns, Vyasa gathered some Rks (hymns)  and compiled them in the Rg (Rig) Veda, collected some yajus to form the Yajur Veda and some Samans to make up the Sama Veda.

   The Rg Veda is mainly devoted to hymns in praise of various deities. The Rks of the Rig Veda are ecstatic effusions from the spirit of man extolling the delight derived while contemplating the orderliness and beauty of Nature outside them.

   The Yajur Veda consists of mantras for worshipping the deities. It consists of two divisions - Krishna Yajur Veda and Sukla Yajur Veda - which are based on two traditional distinctions.  Adherents of the Sukla Yajur Veda are largely confined to North India, while Krishna Yajur Veda has its adherents mainly in South India. The mantras of the Yajur Veda are used in the performance of yagas and yajnas and in doing acts of charity.

    The Sama Veda is the precious verbal treasure which enables to praise the Creator and His Creation in song.

   Each Veda has three sections: Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.

   The Vedic mantras were utilised in yagas and yajnas (ritual sacrifices) for promoting the wellbeing of society and the world. The mantras which form part of the Karma Kanda (the path of rituals), were regarded as conducive to the promotion of general well-being and happiness.

    The great sages who listened to these mantras as revelations from the Divine found the key to them in eight basic letters. All the Vedic mantras with their musical rendering were remembered by reflecting on the eight letters: "A, Ka, Cha, Ta, Tha, Pa, Ya, Sa." The great seers fostered the Vedas by the use of these letters.
 

    The Vedas developed under nine heads: Sruti, Anuswara,Trayee, Aamnaayam, Samaamnayam, Chandas, Swaadhyayam, Gama and Aagama.
 

    1. Sruti refers to the process of learning, the Vedas from a preceptor by practising the precise manner of chanting the mantras and thereby acquiring proficiency in the recitation of the Vedas.

The sounds have to be reproduced exactly as taught by the preceptor by listening to him with intense earnestness. The Vedic mantras are thus learnt entirely by listening.

    2. Anuswara refers to the practice of repeating the mantras learnt from the preceptor, contemplating on them and preserving them in their purity by constant recitation.

    3. Trayee.  Originally only three Vedas-Rg, Yajur and Sama Vedas were considered Apourusheya, without a human origin (that is, emanating from the Divine). Because of their Divine origin, the first three Vedas were called "Trayee" (the Triad).

    4, 5. Aamnaaya refers to constant contemplation of the root syllable "Na." Acquiring knowledge of the Vedas by this practice has been described as Aamnaaya and Samaamnaaya.

     6. One meaning of Chandas is that it is knowledge which should be guarded in secret and propagated with care. The Vedas are also described as Chandas. The entire Sama Veda consists of Chandas.

     7. Swaadhyaayam refers to the process by which the Vedas have come down from generation to generation, through father to son, in genealogical succession. Acquisition of Vedic knowledge was not through books. It was transmitted from preceptor to disciple over the years.

    8, 9. Gama and Aagama are the names given to the inhaling and exhaling of the Lord's breath which were the origin of the Vedas. All in all, the Vedas represent the emanations from the breath of the Lord.

 

    Each of the Vedas had several saakhas (branches) and upasaakhas (sub-branches). Out of the 20 branches and 21 sub-branches of the Rg Veda, only three have survived today. Likewise out of
96 branches of Yajur Veda only two have survived the ravages of time. Sama Veda, which had 1000 branches, retains today only three branches.

 

    What is meant by Veda?

    1. Eruka (awareness),

    2. Thelivi (intelligence) and

    3. Viveka (discrimination).

    Ones who wish to develop discrimination should be deeply interested in the Vedas.

    The Vedas have emphasised that a human being will be truly human only when he/she lives upto human values and practises the life according to the eternal human values. 

 

    The Vedas have a universal outlook, embracing all that is noble and sacred. They have taught the principle of samatwa (equality) in respect of everything. They have proclaimed the concept of oneness. They taught to face joy and sorrow with equal serenity. The quintessence of the Vedas is the glorification of sacrifice as the supreme virtue. (Sacrifice means something more than giving up of wealth, gold and material objects. Evil qualities like hatred, jealousy, wrath and malice which have become ingrained in person over many life-times should be discarded). The highest knowledge is understanding the value of sacrifice. It is the greatest means to realise the Divine.

 

    The Vedas have been mainly concerned with the Pravritti Marga (the Path of Action). All the different branches of knowledge - physics, chemistry, botany, economics, music, etc. are covered by the Vedas. These are concerned with the external world. Hence the Vedas have been considered dualistic.

    The Upanishads have taught the Nirvritti Marga (the Path of Knowledge) by going within oneself. This means that, Upanishads have been concidered non-dualistic.

    The Upanishads declared that the nature of the Supreme can be grasped only by the Path of Knowledge. Knowledge is of two categories:

    1. Para Vidya (the Higher, the Supreme  Knowledge). Only Knowledge relating to Moksha (Liberation) constitutes to this category.That knowledge is found in Vedanta. The Upanishads come at the end of the Vedas.

    2. Apara Vidya (the Lower Knowledge).  All that is learnt by the educational process today falls in this category. Knowledge relating to Dharma, Artha and Kama comes too in this category.

 

    It is only when you understand the essence of the Vedas as expounded in the Upanishads and put into practice the message of the Vedanta, you will realise the true meaning of Advaita (Nondualism). (Reet's compilation from: Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 22.  "Message of the Vedas," Chapter 29 and "Karma, Upasana and Jnana," Chapter 30. Sathya Sai Baba. Vidya Vahini Chapter I, p. 2).
 

   Related contributions:

   Swami teaches... Principal Positions of Vedas (4 January 2005).

   Swami teaches... Vedas and Vedanta - Sacred Light for Jnanis (20 january 2005). 

 


Swami teaches... (26 January 2005)

    Bondages and Power of Devotion    
 

     
    A person is subjected to three kinds of bondages in life: bondages derived from the past, those arising in the present and those created for the future.

 

    The three primal qualities - Asti, Bhaati, Priyam (existence, expression, and utility) - are qualities to all things, while names and forms are varied.

    When names and forms are ignored, one can perceive the divine nature of everything. "Meditate on the divine essence of everything", advised the gum. Following his advice, the person meditated on "Sat-Chit-Ananda" and in due course merged in the Divine. There is no point in dwelling on the past and gloating or grieving over what is dead and gone. It is futile to think about past successes or failures, pleasures or pains. The past should not become an incubus on the present. As regards the present, one should act on the principle that he should conduct himself towards others in the manner he would like them to behave towards him. You cannot expect courtesy or regard from others if you don't show courtesy or regard to others.

 

    Persons with a narrow, self-centred outlook are prone to express doubts about the powers of the Divine. To correct such tendencies one should listen to sacred sayings, ruminate over them and lead a righteous and godly life. To be concerned only about one's own happiness or comfort and be indiffernt to the happiness and needs of others is a form of selfishness which creates bondages in the present.

    Bondages for the future are created by your actions in the present. When you entertain bad thoughts and indulge in wrong actions, they lead to bad consequences in the future. Peace of mind is lost and one is caught up in perpetual worry. The way out of this vicious circle is to turn the mind towards God and refrain from causing harm to others.

 

    When a person is ill, the physician prescribes not only medicine for the disease but also a dietary regimen to be observed strictly. Likewise, for the diseases arising from mundane attachments, in addition to the prescribed drugs - the Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga margas (paths of selfless action, meta physical wisdom, devotion and inner communion) - qualities such as forbearance, calmness, fortitude, love and compassion have to be cultivated as dietary regimen. Without these qualities, the spiritual practices alone will be of little avail. When the two are combined, like the positive and negative ends in an electric cell, the disease gets cured.


    One who is engaged in the battle of life, needs the armour of spirituality. With it, he/she can face any situation anywhere.  As long as rice is covered by husk, it cannot be consumed. Likewise, man cannot experience bliss until he gets rid of the cloak of ignorance. He must develop the quality of forbearance. Through forbearance and sadhana (spiritual efforts), gradually the shackles resulting from past actions must be broken.


    The tendency to cavil at the ways of the Divine will gradually wither away. One will begin to appreciate the lessons to be learnt from every day-to-day experience. For instance, when a beggar comes to your house and says, "Please give me food," you should not turn him away as a mere beggar, but regard him as a messenger of God. When he is begging for food he is indirectly conveying a message: “I am today begging for food because in my previous birth I did not offer food to those who begged for it. Please see that by turning me away without food, a similar fate does not overtake you in your next life."

    Today such a spirit of magnanimity is lacking. It is not realised that without largeness of heart and generosity of spirit, all scholarship and spiritual efforts are of no use. That is why the Upanishads declare: “Immortality can be attained only by renunciation and sacrifice and not by
wealth, progeny or religious rites." "Samanvaya"(the spirit of harmony) and "Samarasa" (serenity or a sense of respect for all points of view) are essential for accomplishing anything good in life.


    You must realise, by constant contemplation, that the world is the body of God. And, you are the cell, in that Body. The prosperity of the world is your prosperity; feel so, act in that spirit; think in those terms. That is the real spirituality. The sadhak cannot cut himself away from the world and escape in solitude, for, the world will follow him into the deepest cave or the darkest forest. The sadhak can claim progress only when he has established in himself Faith in the One-ness of Humanity.

 

    The power of devotion and faith has no frontiers. Here is an indirect example for inner contemplation about power of faith and devotion.

 

    There was a woman devotee, who was a worshipper of Krishna. Every morning she used to clean the Krishna shrine in her house with cowdung and throw the remnants of the cowdung outside saying "Krishnarpanam Asthu" ("Let this be an offering to Krishna"). The priest of the local Krishna temple noticed that every morning, after he had washed and decorated the idol of
Krishna with garlands, when he was offering harathi (waving of lights) to the deity, a small lump of cowdung used to fall on the face of the idol. He told the village elders about it. They also witnessed the phenomenon in the temple and sent a vigilance squad to find out who was throwing cowdung at that time.

    In one street a scout found a woman throwing cowdung outside her house, uttering the words,"Krishnarpanam." It was found that at the same time she was throwing cowdung, the apparent desecration of the idol by cowdung was taking place in the temple. The Lord is not concerned as to what is offered to Him. He accepts whatever is offered to Him with a pure heart. In His eyes there is nothing good or bad in itself. When the woman devotee offered the cowdung as Krishnaarpanam (offering to Krishna), it reached the Krishna idol. The village elders went to the lady and reproached her for her unbecoming conduct in offering cowdung to Krishna. They did not consider how the cowdung thrown outside her house reached the temple. The woman pleaded before elders and relations:  "I am incapable of hurling cowdung on the face of my Krishna. I am ready to lay down my life for Krishna." The elders told her to throw the cowdung and not to utter the words "Krishnaarpanam Asthu."

    But from that day onwards, the doors in the Krishna temple would not open however much the priest and others tried to open them. The village elders realised that they had done a grievous wrong to a great devotee and pleaded for pardon from her. That moment the temple doors opened. 

    When one offers everything to God, the Lord submits Himself to the devotee. The old woman who did everything as an offering to Krishna was such a devotee.

    The words "Krishnarpanam" were on her lips all the time. But they were said with deep and genuine devotion. Merely mechanical repetition of "Krishnarpanam" will have no significance. Engaging priests in temples to perform worship by offering money is totally wrong. Such worship is a mercenary exercise and does no good to the persons who get it done. The proper thing is for devotees to offer worship wholeheartedly in their own homes.    
 

    Very often people who experience troubles in life complain: "Why is the Lord subjecting me to trials like these?" The truth is, the Lord neither punishes nor rewards anyone. The devotee has only to do his duty and leave the results to God. If the actions are good, the fruits will also be good. If the actions are bad, the results will be equally bad. Hence without examining the nature of one's actions, there is no meaning in blaming God for what one experiences.

    It is only when you recognise your own faults that you begin to understand the ways of the Divine. What we witness today is the tendency to forget one's faults and go about blaming God for one's sufferings. Every action, however small or trivial, has its reaction. Nothing happens without a cause. Every object has its reflection. The Lord awards fruits according to ones actions. The reason is the stem law of Nature. This universal law operates always at all places and at all times. For instance, if a man slips, he falls to the ground. If a stone is thrown up, it comes down. These are the results of the law of gravitation. Whether he is a millionaire or a pauper, if his foot slips, he falls down. That is how the laws of Nature operate, regardless of the
persons.

    You feel happy when someone gives you something. But you don't feel equally happy in giving to others. Humans desire the fruits of good actions, but will not do good actions. They wish to be saved from the consequences of evil deeds, but will not refrain from bad actions. As you sow, so shall you reap, is a relentless law. (Reet's compilation from: Sathya Sai Baba. Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 20,  "Samanvaya and Samarasa," Chapter 8 and "The Lord and the Devotee," Chapter 9).
 

    PS: I have received the requests to compile a small articles 'Swami teaches...' on different topics. However, I cannot it do by order. As you have noticed, they are far not extracts from Swami's texts but as separate contributions by Swami's Teaching. They are as inner contemplation, dialogue with Swami's texts. I am writing them spontaneously, by some inner request, usually in late evening after work. I do not know, why I feel such strong inner request to write these compilations. Previously I even do not know the topics, Swami's sources for these representations. I am writing as by intuition and there was no scientific explanation to it.


    Namaste - Reet

 


to be continued

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