Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Why being spiritual requires one to be environment-friendly

Nature is divine... Our nature is divine... See the connect? (Pic of Sri Sathya Sai in the sylvan settings at Kodaikanal).
A mouse trap in the house

There is a popular story of the mouse trap in a farmhouse. A mouse saw it through the crack in its hole and got very worried. It ran all around the barn shouting,
“There is a mouse trap in the house! There is a mouse trap in the house!”
However, none of the other animals and birds cared about what appeared to be the end of the world for the mouse. The hen, pig and cow actually told the mouse not to bother them with its flimsy problems. That very night, the trap clicked shut and the farmer’s wife went to discard the dead mouse. But in the darkness, she didn’t see that it is a venomous snake that is trapped and thus got bitten! Though the farmer administered her with first aid, she came down with a high fever.
To help her recuperate, the farmer culled the hen at home and prepared chicken soup. Days passed, the lady didn’t recover and the farmer’s house was filled with kind and worried neighbours. Now, to feed them all as an expression of gratitude, the farmer butchered the pig and made stew. In spite of the doctor’s best efforts, the farmer’s wife succumbed. The cow was slaughtered for meat to feed all the guests at the funeral! The mouse survived and wondered how things would have been different had the barn cared about the mouse trap in the house.

This story made me pause and ponder about how connected the universe is. However, since it did not indicate the basis for the connect, it felt like a random story constructed to inspire a point. Therefore, I ended with the thought,
“Interesting indeed! But this is probably just a story.”

The connection became evident only when I came across the 40th Birthday discourse of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

A toe-crushing story with far-reaching implications

Here is another story now.

The little finger on the right hand got to know that the little toe on the left foot had suffered a crushing blow. It did not bother about the toe because, c’mon, why should that problem which was so far away affect the little finger?

As time passed, the neglected toe grew from bad to worse. The injury got infected and, in fact, became gangrenous. The gangrene spread from the toe to the foot to the leg. Finally, the badly infected leg affected the body itself which died. When the body died, the little finger too suddenly found itself in the throes of death. Before it knew what was happening, it too died.

That is the story of connectedness with an evident basis of connection. The story was inspired from Swami’s statement in His Birthday Message.
“When a thorn pricks your foot, you get tears in the eye, for, they are of the same body. So too, when a worm is crushed, your heart must react to its pain.”
School biology teaches us that a cell is the smallest structural and functional unit of life. Though it can function independently and has it’s own life cycle, it is always a part of a tissue. The tissue too has its unique function, purpose and existence but it always is part of an organ. Once again, the organ is an individual in every sense and yet, it is always a part of an organ system like the circulatory system, digestive system and so on. Even the systems are not completely independent because they come together harmoniously to form the organism.

Here is puzzling question. Why do we assume that the organism is a completely independent unit? Going by how it is built, is it not logical that the organism is probably the ‘cell’ of the Universe?

Swami had expounded this in a practical manner long before the actual theory was published in 1979. 
That gives us the basis of the connectedness. We are independent yet connected to each other the way cells in a body are!

The Vyashti to Parameshti journey

During His Divine Discourse on the 27th of April 1999, Swami dilated on the cosmic connection.

“Though lakhs of years have passed since the advent of man on this earth, yet he does not know his real Self even today. The entire creation has divine origin, and the Creator is God. He willed: ‘Ekoham Bahusyam’ (I am One, let Me be Many), and the creation manifested by His Will. Srishti (creation) has its origin from Parameshti (supreme power). Samashti (society) is a limb of srishti. Similarly, Vyashti (individual) is a limb of Samashti. Without Srishti, Samashti has no existence, and without Samashti, there can be no Vyashti.

Since man has limbs such as hands, feet, head, etc., which constitute his body, likewise man is a limb of society and society is a limb of creation/nature (Srishti). Man is therefore not separate from Samashti, Srishti, and Parameshti. All human beings are just the limbs of the same body of God.”

This is a recurrent theme in many of His other discourses too. Among the many other implications that the message has, one thing becomes very clear - that serving the society and the environment is an absolute necessity for one to be spiritual or devoted to God. Not serving society or ignoring the environment calling them ‘worldly’ or ‘non-spiritual’ is ignorance and foolishness. It is akin to the little finger not being concerned about the palm or hand of which it is an integral part. If the little finger seeks to serve the body, it has to love and serve the palm and hand. If the devotee seeks to love God then society and nature too have to be loved and served.

And that is why being spiritual requires us to be environment-friendly. That is why the Indian culture (and many other cultures too) worshipped nature as God. That is why it makes absolute sense for an ashram like Prasanthi Nilayam to hold an international Go-Green conference.

Let us protect and show love to Mother Earth and Father universe.

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  1. Sairam Aravind. Thanks a lot for providing thought provoking inputs on relationship between individuals, soceity, Creator GOD from many angles interspersed with Chinna kathas and links to SWAMI's discourses. Environment and pollution are the most talked about topics these days with efforts to make a plastic free world. Enjoyed every bit of your narrative. Thanks once again.

  2. I agree with this article. I view spirituality as a process of purifying expansion. As one develops spiritually, it becomes tougher to justify living in a manner that is harmful to Nature.
    However, I'm curious about your thoughts on how to enact change in places like India. In my recent visit to Puttaparthi, I was disappointed to find clusters of rubbish dotting the roadside all the way up to Prashanti Nilayam. The sight of the Chitravathi was even more disheartening. In fact, this is a pervasive problem that I observed in all places I visited in India. It seems that the locals either don't have adequate waste disposal systems or have simply become inured to living alongside trash (perhaps the two are linked). I think the problem is particularly intractable since manners of living are often conditioned since birth. Altering this behavior may take generations of effort, at which point the accumulation of negligence may cause irreversible damage. I hope the GoGreen conference will lay a foundation for substantial progress in these issues.


  3. Sairam , thanks brother for writing such a profound article. Toe crushing story deeply emphasis on all parts belong to same body,is well portrayed through your
    analogy.swami used to say manava seva is Madhava seva (service to man is service to God) on many of his discourses.If we are to seek spiritually,then we need to do something good for the society.swami's Life is full of giving, giving& giving alone. Now it time for us to tread on sai's path.Onceagain I thank you for recharging my battery.

    1. Very happy to hear that! Swami has this way of putting the most intricate concepts in the most simple analogies. May our love and adherence to Him grow stronger every passing moment.

  4. Sairam Brother - Thank you so much for gifting us Swami's message & Love. Thank you, Deva

  5. This universe is carefully well created and beautifully crafted by God in such a way that all organisms including the minute of minute matter, are inter-dependant, inter linked and commensurate with each other on their functioning, irrespective of our awareness about their existence, their property etc.

    This is the law of universe, which can't be broken, even if we try, this may lead to catastrophe, which is mentioned in these short stories. So, we need to look all in the universe as our own i.e. as part our body, whether it is living beings or plants or other natural things. Then only we could lead a harmonious life as envisaged by God.

    Now a days, we people are thinking that we are too smart and superior and try to break each and every link. This is only creating a lot of suffering, hardships and negative effects, instead of reaping benefits, which we are really longing for.

    In order to reap benefits we need to harmoniously live with nature which is equal to serving God.

    This articles is scientifically and spiritually thought provoking article and is evident that science and spiritualism are one and the same.

    Great article brother....

    1. Very well summarised! We would be fools to think we can outsmart nature or God. We need to focus more on harmony rather than efficiency as a species.

  6. Like the way you build up the article till you come to the main point. Thank you for a thought provoking article.
    Please do write frequently. Looking forward to more from you.

    1. Thank you. I have recently started vlogging (on YouTube) which takes away some of my blogging time. I will try my best to continue writing as frequently as I can. Hope you have seen my other blog at You can read some more articles there.


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