Monday, 23 October 2017

When suicidal thoughts arise - SOS to Sai

God is always close

It was the summer of 1957. India, as a country was seeing a great many changes in its internal political map. The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 was in full force now and the boundaries of several states were being redrawn and the states were being reorganised on linguistic lines. It was a time of tremendous change especially for those people who were serving in government offices and administrative roles. A plethora of transfers, promotions, reassignments and marching orders were being issued and a lot of people were getting displaced. Among these thousands was one illustrious government servant who had served India well during the Second World War and the decade following that.


He had given his body and mind, blood and sweat in the service of his country but did not seem to be recognized for the same. Dozens of officers far below him in rank and junior to him in service had been promoted while he had been neglected and relegated to the background. He felt let down and dejected. Adding to his despondency was the fact that he was lonely in his Bhopal home as his wife was away - at her native village along with her parents. It would have been good had he remembered his God or his wife’s God - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - in such a scenario. But somehow, when one is drowning in a sea of sorrow, one is unable to remember anything or anyone. All one wants is for the comforting embrace of death to get away from the situation! Unable to bear his sorrow, he decided to end his woes by literally biting the bullet! Walking up to his bedroom drawer, he pulled out his service revolver and walked out into the living room. Steadying his grip on the gun, he ensured that it was loaded. Just to ensure that the weapon had the capacity to wipe out all his sorrows he even test fired it. He had no fear about the sound arousing the neighbours. It wouldn’t matter in a few moments anyway. Mentally seeking forgiveness from his wife, he placed the barrel of the gun to his head.
The division of India into states before the reorganization came into effect.

“DON’T SHOOT!”
Swami shouted in His room in Kodaikanal as He collapsed and slumped on the bed. Swami Satchidananda (a monk from Swami Sivananda ashram, the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh) had accompanied Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to Kodaikanal and was witness to this strange incident. Till then, Swami had been reclining comfortably on the bed. He had suddenly stood up and shouted in His native tongue Telugu before collapsing back on the bed. As Satchidananda rushed to His bedside, he noticed that Swami’s body had turned stiff and near-lifeless. From his experience of staying with Bhagawan, he knew that Swami was off on a ‘transcorporeal journey’. But what was the situation this time and which devotee was being saved? Had Swami taken over some calamity on to His body? Only time would tell - that too if He willed it.


The weakness of wanting to commit suicide


Atma Hatya is the Sanskrit term for suicide and it directly translates into “killing of one’s soul (Atma)”. Strange isn’t it? Lord Krishna in the Bhagawad Gita said,
“The Atma cannot be pierced by weapons, burnt by fire, moistened by water or dried by the wind ( नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः ।
न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः ॥)”
Why then is suicide called Atma Hatya and not Deha Hatya? We find the answer in what Swami once told a devotee who confessed of being plagued by thoughts of committing suicide. (This is recorded by Smt. Karunamba Ramamurthy in her book, Sri Sathya Sai Anandadayi.)


However difficult life is, try to be its master and not its slave. Every human being has a preordained life span. It is like staying in a leased house. Before you actually vacate the house, you have to find another one to move in. Similarly, before leaving one body, God selects another body and a span, depending upon the karmic debts. In case death is inflicted arbitrarily, you are denying yourself a chance to work out your karma as early as possible and reach a permanent abode. In suicide, you are stranded midway. It would be a frightening state of affairs for you. There is no vacant space in nature. God has filled the space with spirits and many other invisible entities. When suicide is committed, they show up and terrorize you.

Hence, do not destroy the life that God has given you. Lead the life you have got righteously. The person who faces the trials in life calmly and always remembers God will one day, definitely, get His grace. Do not doubt its veracity. Face these tests with faith in Him.”



We do not realize that by depriving the soul of the opportunity to work out it’s karma through a body, we are harassing it and ‘killing’ its progress. It is not an escape route because karma has to be worked out - without exception, either in this life or another. The rationale for that also has been clearly explained by Swami during His discourse on the occasion of Guru Poornima in 2002. The Jagadguru touched upon  the issue of suicide and said,


Man has death but the mind has no death. Whatever he does during his lifetime are imprinted on his mind and get carried over to the next birth. None can understand the nature of the mind. Some people think that suicide is the only way of putting an end to all their troubles. They think, ‘It is the mind that is responsible for our suffering. Let us put an end to it.’ It is the worst of sins. The mind cannot be killed like that. One should never entertain such low ideas. One should be prepared to face any difficulties with fortitude and strive hard to sanctify one’s life.


Given this clarity, it is not surprising that the Paramatma goes to great extents to save the Jivatma from the pain and ignominy of Atma Hatya or suicide. It was one such cascade of compassion of Bhagawan Baba that was revealed by Swami Satchidananda in the presence of Baba Himself on the 29th of June 1957, on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Tapovana (Meditation grove or Vatavriksha) in Puttaparthi. He narrated his first hand observation of the ‘trance’ that Swami had gone into at Kodaikanal that summer.


An astounding story of grace


Swami was rigid on the bed for about an hour after which He returned. Sitting on the bed, He looked around at those who were seated by His bedside, praying to Him. He smiled at them and said that He urgently wanted to send a telegram to an address in Bhopal. In the meanwhile, at that very address in Bhopal, something interesting had occurred in the hour that Swami had travelled out of His physical body.


The government officer had placed the revolver to his head and was about to pull the trigger, when he was rattled by loud knocking on his house door. Before seeing who it was, the officer ran into the bedroom and put the revolver on the bed, covering it with a sheet. Quickly wiping the sweat off his forehead, he adjusted his lineaments and opened the main door. To his pleasant surprise, it was his college mate with his wife! There was also a porter carrying the metal trunk and holdall of the visiting couple. They entered the house and soon, the friend began to reminisce the happy times of the past. The college chum was very boisterous and demonstrative in his affection for the officer. He seemed to have just the qualities that would remove the officer’s melancholy and give him the tonic that would cure him of despair.


The officer responded to the treatment and became quite normal, very soon. He even smiled and laughed at the jokes of his old friend, and as the conversation proceeded, all thoughts of suicide melted away. The lady too joined in the talk, but, when they discovered that the mistress of the house was away, the visitor put on an air of profound disappointment and said that he would prefer to stay with another friend. In spite of the appeals of the person whom he had saved, the friend departed forty-five minutes after he materialised, with the lady, the porter, the trunk and the holdall, thus drawing down the curtain on an excellent dramatic performance!


After seeing them off, the officer hurried into the bedroom; he was stunned to find that the revolver was not there nor anywhere in the house! Who could have removed it? He locked his house and ran in hot haste to the address to which the college-mate said he would be going. He got his doubt confirmed; there was no one there; the three visitors had melted into thin air, with the trunk and the holdall!
Swami had left behind His physical frame and materialized three different ones simultaneously to save a devotee
from the terrible act of suicide. 
That was precisely the moment when the Lord had sat up on His bed in Kodaikanal and dictated the message to be sent in the telegram,
“Don't worry; the revolver is with Me. Baba.”


This was definitely not the first time when God was pulling a devotee away from suicide. During His Krishnashtami discourse on the 16th of August 1987, Swami narrated an episode where Lord Krishna had saved Arjuna from committing suicide.


Once Arjuna was in a greatly despondent mood. He was disgusted with life and wanted to
commit suicide that very night. The All-Knowing Lord Krishna, decided to avert this. He went to
Arjuna's residence and told him that he wanted to discuss some urgent matter with him and
therefore he wanted to dine with him that day. When Subhadra (Arjuna's wife) and others were
engaged otherwise, Krishna called Arjuna to a private chamber. As soon as Arjuna was inside,
Krishna bolted the door. He then took firm hold of Arjuna's feet!


Arjuna immediately burst out:
‘Swami! What unworthy act have I done? Why are you acting like this?"
Krishna said:
"With all your titles and achievements, it is utterly unbecoming of you to entertain thoughts of suicide. You are foremost among the Pandavas. You acquired the Gandiva (from Shiva) alter going through severe penances and ordeals. You should be the master of your senses and not their slave. Today you have been overcome by your mind and your senses. This is unworthy of you. Give me a pledge that in no circumstances in the future will you think of suicide. Your life is
mine and my life is yours. The divine is the indweller in all beings. Hence I am present in all
beings. If you contemplate suicide, you will be guilty of attempting on the life of your dear
Krishna."
Arjuna said,
"Swami ! I was ignorant of the subtle truths you have revealed. Please forgive me. Henceforth, in all my life I will not think of any such act."

In this manner, Krishna, in His love for the Pandavas, was prepared to go to any length and do
even menial act to protect them.


Abhayapradayaka - The bestower of fearlessness


When Swami asked for the telegram to be sent to Bhopal, Swami Satchidananda expressed a doubt whether the postal authorities would accept the message for transmission, for it spoke of revolvers, which come under the Arms Act. Others too supported him and there was some argument on the pros and cons. Swami wanted that it should go quickly to Bhopal and alternative words to bypass the rules were discussed. Swami Satchidananda suggested the word, 'instrument' for 'revolver' and Swami agreed that it would convey the meaning intended as far as the recipient was concerned. The wire went quick and fast, to Bhopal, a thousand miles away!


By this time, the officer had returned home after his fruitless search for his mystery friend. He sat at home, turning over in his memory the stunning events that had happened that day. As he was lost in thought, there was another knock on the door. He opened the door to find a postman with a telegram from Kodaikanal. The telegram read,
"Don't worry; the instrument is with me - Baba."
Tears immediately welled in the officer’s eyes. He knew that his wife’s Swami was his Swami too even though he had not called out to Him. It had been very cowardly on his part to attempt suicide instead of being brave and facing the challenges of life. But when the Abhayahasta of Sai was there to protect him, how could fear win?  


When one is suicidal, it is extremely important to hold on to one’s faith and not lose heart. Why should one lose heart when it is the hearth to the Master of the Universe? Swami advises in the Dusshera discourse on the 4th of October, 1970,
When you get, in spite of best efforts, ugly, harmful ideas of hatred or anger, or animalism, you
must infer that they are due to faults in food habits, or in the company you keep, either with
friends or books or films or other forms of entertainment. Keep away from such and pray to God,
your guardian to save you from the fall, towards which you are heading. Ideas of suicide, let me
tell you, are born out of the most despicable form of cowardice. Do not allow them to affect you;
be bold; so bold that you are determined to brave out any calamity that may assail you. When
you have God installed in your heart, who can lead you to destruction?


The human body is the greatest gift that a soul can achieve. Jantunaam Nara Janma Durlabham (Among all beings, the human birth is the rarest) it is said. What a colossal waste it would be to destroy that very human body, having got it after 84 lakh other births? The human body is so precious that Swami created three different bodies - of a classmate, his wife and a porter - in order to save one body. The magnitude of compassion of God cannot simply be fathomed.


An act only possible for the Avatar...
The grateful officer immediately wrote a letter of gratitude to Swami. That letter arrived to Kodaikanal after four days and was read out aloud in Bhagawan’s presence. Swami Satchidananda was a witness then also and that was how he got to know the story in it’s entirety. Narrating this to the gathering at the Vatavriksha, he said that this incident is much stranger than the Parakaya Pravesam extolled in Puranas. Parakaya Pravesam is entering into another body which is existing at that time. But, this is Kaya Srishti, the creation, at the very moment of willing, of three bodies and making the bodies act their roles of existing individuals, correct to the minutest detail of voice and inflection, gait and gesture, idiom and idiosyncrasy, and the recitation of incidents and anecdotes relating to decades past when they were both students of the same college! This, concluded Swami Satchidananda, is possible only for an Avatar.


Parting thoughts


It is evident that Swami is totally against the act of suicide, nay against even the thought of it. In fact, He doesn’t want us to entertain even thoughts of any kind of self-injury. Planning to destroy or even punish the inert body for the vagaries of the mind is ineffective and foolish as stated by Him in His Dusshera discourse on the 20th of October, 1982. That is the reason Swami is categorical even about acts like fasting which should not be done with wrong ideas and objectives. He says,
Upavasa (Upa-near; vasa-living) means ‘living in the proximity of God’. Periodical fasting is prescribed to help your digestive system overhaul itself and get much needed rest. Vows, vigils, fasts, and all kinds of voluntarily imposed or involuntarily suffered hardships are to be looked upon as promoting spiritual strength, not weakening your physical stamina. Gardeners dig around the roots, and clip the wayward twigs only to make the plant grow fast into a trim and tall tree. Some people, however, fast on Monday for Shiva, Thursday for Me!, Friday for Lakshmi, on Saturday to propitiate Shani and so on! These misdirected aspirants spoil their health and well-being by overdoing the vow of fasting. When thoughts of food bother you, and pangs of hunger disturb you, then, it is much better to eat than fast. Remember the purpose of fast is to spend time in the contemplation of God and not to punish the body by giving up a meal or a series of meals.”


The reason behind all this is the fact that we are all inherently divine and, as Krishna told Arjuna, harming ourselves is akin to harming the Lord within. In conclusion, here is what Swami told Mrs. Karunamba Ramamurthy about the inherent divinity and even changed a centuries’ old mantra. This is how the mantra is chanted today in the worship at Prasanthi Nilayam, decades after Bhagawan made the change. Over to Mrs. Karunamba Ramamurthy for the concluding thought,

“While performing pradakshinam (circumambulation) we traditionally chant,'Papoham Papakarmaaham’, which means that we are sinners, and thus ask for pardon. Swami warned us not to chant the mantra in that manner, but to chant ‘Prapthoham Prapthakarmaaham’ (I get what I deserve. I shall accept the consequences of my actions). He said, ‘All of you are not sinners, but amruta swaroopas  (embodiments of the nectar of immortality). In our daily deeds we should worship and gain the grace of God.’ Swami then approached the temple priest, Sri Padmanabha Sastry, and instructed him to chant likewise. Swami asked him to learn the mantra first and then teach it to all the devotees in His presence.”



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8 comments:

  1. Sairam Brother, very very very good, thanks because many have very very subtle and hidden this thoughts of suicide, this article of yours has proved what a sin it is even to have such thoughts. Thank you Brother, Baba bless you "The Ganges" of your writing ever flow

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Brother for this loving and enlightening article to have faith and love for Swami, sharing with us Swami's message on His creation, leading one's life righteously, His grace, working out one's karma, mind of man, sin of Atma Hatya, miracle of Swami by transforming Himself into multiple different forms and rescuing the officer. Thank you Brother for sharing with us, the greatest miracle of Swami Krishna saving and transforming His devotee Arjuna with His Love. Thank you Brother for sharing this Loving Swami's Divine message and assurance - To install Swami in our heart with sincere prayers and no calamity shall affect us. Thank you Brother for sharing with us the message of Love and the Upavasa of constantly "Living in the proximity of the God". Thank you Brother for sharing with us - "ABCDEFG."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sairam Aravind, thanks a lot for this illuminating article. Enjoyed reading it, I have read this story earlier, the story can be read any number of times. It is your narrative that gives the story depth and provokes introspection.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sairam brother,
    Sharing my poem here .Thank you for the appreciation.

    Where there is life ,there's hope,
    Even if you feel like you're at the end of the rope,
    Hold on tight don't fall,
    For if there is life you can have it all.
    Hold on tight just wait,
    The river is sure to change its gait,
    Wait for it to flow around the bend,
    The course of your life is sure to mend.
    Hold on tight have faith and pray,
    He will stop the winds that make you sway.
    Hold on tight and remember the times that were good,
    As the wheel will turn as it always should.
    Renew the climb one step at a time,
    Each step will bring to you joy sublime.
    It will fill you with hope for the best,
    And further lighten the step you take next,
    Be calm,be happy and meditate,
    It will remind you of the things that made you feel great,
    With unrestrained enthusiasm do the same,
    And your sure to reach your Hall of fame.
    DON'T think about the world as its only a reflection,
    A reflection of your thoughts,your beliefs and your emotions.
    Renew the climb with all your strength,
    You're sure to complete the entire
    Length.
    Seek help from loved ones be it once or many,
    For they are with us as they are meant to be a part of our destiny.
    So be brave and complete the entire length of the rope,
    For where there is Life there is Hope.

    __Suman Jagdish

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sairam brother,
    Sharing my poem here .Thank you for the appreciation.

    Where there is life ,there's hope,
    Even if you feel like you're at the end of the rope,
    Hold on tight don't fall,
    For if there is life you can have it all.
    Hold on tight just wait,
    The river is sure to change its gait,
    Wait for it to flow around the bend,
    The course of your life is sure to mend.
    Hold on tight have faith and pray,
    He will stop the winds that make you sway.
    Hold on tight and remember the times that were good,
    As the wheel will turn as it always should.
    Renew the climb one step at a time,
    Each step will bring to you joy sublime.
    It will fill you with hope for the best,
    And further lighten the step you take next,
    Be calm,be happy and meditate,
    It will remind you of the things that made you feel great,
    With unrestrained enthusiasm do the same,
    And your sure to reach your Hall of fame.
    DON'T think about the world as its only a reflection,
    A reflection of your thoughts,your beliefs and your emotions.
    Renew the climb with all your strength,
    You're sure to complete the entire
    Length.
    Seek help from loved ones be it once or many,
    For they are with us as they are meant to be a part of our destiny.
    So be brave and complete the entire length of the rope,
    For where there is Life there is Hope.

    __Suman Jagdish

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very very nice article and very nice poem

    ReplyDelete
  7. What an article and what a timely one at that ....I keep checking out for articles in your blog and when I read this, it was really hard hitting...don't know what prompted you to write on this topic

    ReplyDelete

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