Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sri Sathya Sai is the Sanathana Sarathi but are we ready? A story in Surrender

“Sanathana Sarathi” - the origin of the term

100, Wilson Gardens, Bangalore is a very special address, because Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has written more than two hundred letters to the owner of this home! This address on the 9th Cross Road was home to Sri Vithal Rao (the father of Prof.Jayalakshmi Gopinath who served as warden to the Anantapur Girls’ College for decades), one among the foremost and earliest devotees of Swami. Early in 1958, Swami had secretly started off from Puttaparthi to visit this dear devotee.

Though the whole visit was a top secret, there was a spy, a little girl, waiting outside, at a distance from this house. She had been given a few Rupees as a tip from Prof.N.Kasturi and had been  employed to espy on Vithal Rao’s house. She had been instructed to inform him as soon as Swami arrived because he lived only a couple of streets away from Sri Vithal Rao. The girl did well to earn her tip and within a few minutes of Swami’s arrival at Sri Vithal Rao’s residence, Prof.Kasturi strode up to the door with a smile plastered on his face.

Swami leafing through the pages of an issue of Sanathana Sarathi. Of course
this is decades after Bhagawan started the magazine in 1958.
“Wait! Wait!” exclaimed Sri Vithal Rao in shock and dismay as he opened the door. This was to be a secret visit of the Lord and he did not want to receive Swami’s wrath for a ‘leak’ that he had not initiated. However, Swami walked up to the door and seemed very happy to see Prof.Kasturi. Placing a hand lovingly on his shoulder, He said,
“There is work waiting for you at Puttaparthi. A monthly magazine will be starting soon. Guess how it will be named?”
“Swami... er... The Godward Path?”
“Karma Dharma?”
“Prema Yoga?”
“No... I have decided to call it Sanathana Sarathi.”

It was the 32nd year of Advent and in keeping with His promise that the first 16 years of the Avatar’s life would be dedicated to leelas (playful sport); the next 16 years to mahimas (glorifying acts); the next 16 years to Upadesh (message), Swami had decided to start a magazine to which He would be the chief contributor!

That was the first time ever in the history of mankind that the term had been used. Thus was born the Sanathana Sarathi.

The Chariot for the journey called life

The word ‘Sanathana’ means ‘Eternal’ while ‘Sarathi’ translates into ‘Charioteer’. In the first chapter of the Gita Vahini (and on many other occasions also), Swami has compared the human body to a chariot that has been gifted to the indwelling soul to complete the journey called life. But the chariot by itself cannot move. It needs to be yoked to a horse called the mind. That is why Swami says that only human beings are capable of realizing the Divine and achieving the purpose of life - because they have a mind which can move the body towards God. Animals do not enjoy the luxury of the ‘mind-horse’ and hence, they do not have the choice of spiritual evolution.

Mana Eva Manushyanaam Karanam Bandha Mokshayoho” Swami thunders in many discourses. He says that the mind alone is responsible for both - bondage and liberation. And that is because the mind is no ordinary horse. It is a wild horse which can take the chariot in any direction. Thus it becomes very important that the reins controlling this horse be in the hands of an able charioteer who guides the chariot perfectly, the way Lord Krishna did for the warrior prince Arjuna. It also becomes important that this charioteer be there to handle the different chariots (bodies) that the soul would have to use to complete the journey. Thus, we need not just a Sarathi but the Sanathana Sarathi to ensure that we achieve the Ultimate in life.

We can emerge successful in this Karmakshetra (field of action) and Dharmakshetra (field of righteousness) if we surrender the reins of the chariot of our life into the hands of the Lord - just like Arjuna did. 

A little boy’s experience in horse-cart riding

I vividly remember reading an anecdote about a little boy who went riding in a horse carriage with his father. It was so inspiring and educative that I wish to relive that as though it were an experience in my own life. Here goes...

“The most wonderful part of my childhood was going for horse-cart rides with my father. He would come home from work and ask me whether I would like a quick ride in the cart. I would run excitedly and jump into the carriage. I loved going around in the the horse-cart and today, I decided that I would sit in the driver’s seat.

My father just smiled and sat beside me. As he made a clucking sound with his tongue, the horse started off into a trot. The reins were in my hand and the feeling of power and control was just amazing. This was the first time I was driving the cart and it felt so awesome. I could use the reins to gently whip the horse, prodding it to run faster. In no time, the trot had transformed into a gallop and the wind in my face was making my heart erupt in joy.

But then, controlling a galloping horse is not an easy task. Soon, my little palms was beginning to hurt. The horse was running off the road, into the meadows where it saw lush green grass. I tugged hard at the reins to keep the horse on the road but all my efforts were of no avail. I was simply no match for the powerful horse. One tug from the horse and my palms were cut and bruised. Tears now flowed from my eyes but the horse showed me no mercy. This was turning out to be my worst horse-cart ride ever.

That was when I turned to my father. He no longer had a smile on his face and he offered to take the reins into his hands. I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to show my father that I was in control. But that was far from the truth and father knew it. It was only a matter of time before the horse took complete control and I began to experience the bumpiest ride of my life. That was when I let go of the reins and cried out,
‘Father, help me...’

In an instant, father took hold of the reins and gave a powerful tug. The horse seemed to get a rude shock but it understood that it was no longer in charge. Very soon, we were back on the road. Holding the reins in one hand, my father caressed my bruised palms. He told me to sit back and enjoy the ride. He would tend to my wounds as soon as we were home.

I could now feel the wind in my face again. I realized that I had been so focused on driving the horse that I had missed out the beautiful sights all around. The same meadows that looked like hell for me now appeared like scenes from paradise. I never knew that just letting go of the reins and handing them to my father would give me such comfort and joy.”

Let go and Let God

Swami tells us that we are not just the body or the mind. Every being is actually an ‘MBA-degree’ holder. In other words, every being is a composite of the Mind, Body and Atma. We often mistake ourselves to be the body having a mind and Atma or a mind possessing a body and Atma. The reality is that we are the Atma, having a body and mind!

Giving priority to the body would be like putting the cart before the horse and that would mean absolutely no progress. Man becomes like an animal then, responding only to bodily needs. Allowing the mind to dictate the progress on the journey will lead to terrible ruin because the mind is a good servant but a terrible master! In fact, modern-day problems of terrorism, financial meltdowns, environmental pollution and the like are results of the mind running haywire with greed, desire, anger, lust and jealousy. When the mind is in-charge, one becomes a clever devil. The only way out is to put the Atma above the mind and body.

It is mostly our compulsive obsession to be ‘in-charge’ of our lives that brings bruises and tears in the journey of life. Surrendering the reins of our ‘mind-horse’ yoked to our ‘body-chariot’ to the hands of our Divine Father (or Atma) is the best way to enjoy this journey called Life. In our craze for power and control, we don’t realize that surrendering the reins is actually what empowers us and allows us to enjoy the journey. When we surrender the reins, what looked like hell begin to appear like scenes from paradise!

The problem with us is that we never realize the need to surrender the reins until things go out of control. It is very essential that things go out of our control because then alone will we learn the secret to enjoying every aspect of our journey of life; then alone will we turn to our heavenly father, our Swami, and offer to Him the reins of our horse-cart (body-mind).

One important point has to be noted here. Surrender is not a one-time affair. It is a continuous, life-long effort. We often surrender in times of trouble and tears. God takes over, things improve and we start feeling good. At such times, we try to take back the reins of our lives into our hands! Let us never forget that it was surrender that made us happy and taking back the reins of life into our hands will only lead us back to pain and tears!

For Swami to be the Sanatana Sarathi, our surrender too should be Sanathana (eternal).

This is what Swami so loving emphasizes in the most beautiful prayer of surrender.

The Prayer of Surrender

Swami says,

Why get agitated? Let Me take care of all your business. I shall be the one who will think about them. I am waiting for nothing else than your surrender to Me, and then you do not have to worry any more about anything. Say farewell to all fears and discouragement.

You demonstrate that you do not trust Me. On the contrary, you must rely blindly on Me.To surrender means: To turn your thoughts away from troubles, to turn them away from difficulties that you encounter and from all your problems. Leave everything in My hands saying,
"Lord, Thy will be done. Thou think of it."
That is to say,
"Lord, I thank you, for you have taken everything into your hands, and you will resolve this for my highest good."

Remember that thinking of the consequences of a thing is contrary to surrender. That is to say, when you worry that a situation has not had the desired outcome, you demonstrate that you do not believe in My love for you —you prove that you do not consider your life to be under My control and that nothing escapes Me.

Never think: How is this to end?... What is going to happen? If you give into this temptation, you demonstrate that you do not trust Me. Do you want Me to deal with it — yes or no? Then you must stop being anxious about it! I shall guide you only if you completely surrender to Me. And when I must lead you on a different path than the one that you expect, I carry you in My arms.
What seriously upsets you is your reasoning, your worrying, your obsession, and your will to provide for yourself at any price. I can do so many things when the being, in his material necessities as in his spiritual ones, turns to Me saying, "You think of it," and then closes his eyes and rests quietly.

You will receive a lot, but only when your prayer relies fully upon Me. You pray to Me when in pain so that I intervene, but in the way you desire it. You do not rely on Me, but you want Me to adjust to your requests.

Don't behave like sick ones who ask for a treatment from the doctor, all the time suggesting it to him. Do not do that, but rather, even in sad circumstances, say, "Lord I praise and thank You for this problem, for this necessity. I pray You to arrange things as You please for this terrestrial, temporal life. You know very well what is best for me."
Sometimes, you feel that disasters increase instead of diminish. Do not get agitated. Close your eyes and tell me with faith, "Thy will be done. You think of it." And when you speak thus, I accomplish a miracle when necessary. I think of it only when you trust me totally. I always think of you, but I can help you completely only when you rely fully on Me.

Here is an article which you MUST MUST read if you haven't already:

1. Dialogue on Surrender with Swami. 

For all readers:

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This story is invaluable, the boy in the cart is a perfect teaching examplepointing out clearly& exactly what is expected of us by Swami - our complete surrender without taking back the reign as soon as we feel were are recovered.
    This example is a perfect teaching I totally understand- are you sure you are writing these or merely holding the pen as it were?

  3. Sai Ram

    Swami's messages comes at the right time and you are His instrument.Thanks so much for reminding again thru this article.

    God bless you

  4. Sairam Aravind. Yes the need of the day is ABSOLUTE SURRENDER, but must of us feel that we know better, can handle the situations we are in and when every effort of ours fail then only we turn to HIM and pray saying that HE IS OUR LAST RESOURCE FOR PULLING US OUT OF THE MESS made by us. Introspection, Meditation and Sadhana should lead us to the real I and to the SOURCE from where we came. Best wishes and Love...Madhusudanvithal Nori

  5. Thanks Sairam Brother ! Jai Sairam !!

  6. Sairam brother,I must admit that it so happens that I read ur posts and they relate to the happening of the day in my routine.this seems perfect for me :) thanks much for your posts.


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