Monday, 10 February 2014

Mental peace by not being judgemental - a personal lesson from Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Part 1

The problem of being judgemental

It appears as if man is a judgemental creature by nature. Having been endowed with a mind that no other creature in the universe possesses, man seems to engage it constantly to analyse, form opinions and finally pass judgement on almost everyone and everything he comes in contact with. This whole process happens so spontaneously yet unconsciously that if one were to ask someone,
“Are you judgemental?”
the answer would most probably be a negative or a “maybe I am judgemental at times". Very few actually know and have the courage to accept that they are judgemental. All the others either just lie or lack the knowledge. (There you go, I have already proved that I am judgemental!)

It seems to be a very hard task to go about the day without judging someone or something. We have opinions and thoughts about everything in life (almost). If you don’t believe me, try out this simple experiment. Just go to anybody and ask him/her a question. Just ensure that, before you ask the question, you preface the question with the phrase - In your opinion. For instance, if you wish to ask about global warming, don’t ask
“What is global warming?”
The answer that you get might be brief or even non-existent when the person just says,
“I hear a lot about it and I think it is something bad.”
Instead, just change the question to,
“In your opinion, what is global warming?”
Ah! Now you get a lot of words. In fact, there are cases of a person having an opinion about a subject though he/she has no knowledge of the subject! And this can be extended towards people too. We have opinions and pass judgement about people though we have no knowledge about them, their situations and circumstances.

Okay! So we are judgemental. Is there a problem in that? Of course there is. Being judgemental is a sure-shot path to unrest and loss of peace. A lot of energy (physical, mental and spiritual) is wasted and unnecessary conflicts/debates/arguments arise. Recognizing this, the saint, Mother Teresa said,
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

My Master and best friend, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba presents the same in the light of God,
“Sarva Deva Namaskaram Keshavam Prati Gachchati
Sarva Deva Tiraskaram, Keshavam Prati Gachchati.”
(The salutations offered to any/all beings goes to God. The criticism offered to any/all beings goes to God.)
He also goes on to state that if at all you wish to criticize anyone, it would be best to indulge in constructive self-criticism which leads to growth and betterment.

It was via a remarkable sequence of events and an unfolding of a Divine drama that I learned the importance of not being judgemental. The happenings spanned over three days - the 25th, 26th and 27th of September, 2009 - and they give a profound insight on why and how one should not be judgemental.

Beginnings of a drama

Dusshera, the festival marking the victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana, is celebrated annually with great fervour in Prasanthi Nilayam. It is also called Navarathri. (Dusshera signifies 10 days while Navarathri stands for 9 nights). One of the highlights of the Dusshera festival was the Divine Discourse that Swami would deliver on each and every evening, at the end of the day’s proceedings of the Veda Purusha Saptaha Jnana Yajna (a fire sacrifice for world peace that is held for seven days). In 2009, the Yajna began on the 22nd of September. However, even after 3 days of the Yajna starting, Swami had not delivered a discourse! This was quite disappointing for me and, I am sure, for all the assembled thousands in Prasanthi Nilayam. Every evening session used to have 2-3 speakers who unusually spoke for 25-30 minutes (instead of the standard 10-15 minutes). As a result, by the time the speeches ended, it was quite late in the evening. Swami would then ask the students in the bhajan group to sing bhajans at the end of which He would receive Arati, bless everyone and leave the Kulwant Hall premises.

The speeches being delivered were so unusually long that on the third day of the Yajna, Swami asked the final speaker to conclude his talk as it was getting late. Swami lovingly told him that he would give him a chance to conclude on the next day! Sitting in the front lines of the hall and witnessing this assurance from Swami, I could not help get overwhelmed at His love and kindness. At the same time, I was thrilled by the next statement that Swami made. He said,
"Tomorrow, I will speak."
The time was 6:40pm and it appeared to be the only reason why an otherwise ‘eager’ Swami was not delivering His discourse.

On the fourth day of the Yajna, something interesting happened. It was the 25th of September and the master of ceremonies introduced 3 speakers for the evening. I was seated in the second line right in front of the dais. Even as the speakers were introduced, I felt disappointed within. I thought,
“Oh no! Not again! I hope that these speakers realize the truth that everyone here is waiting to hear Swami and not them. They better conclude in 10 minutes so that there is sufficient time for Swami’s discourse.”

The first speaker started off his speech offering his salutations to Swami. It was the same person whom Swami had promised a second innings in lieu of the abrupt conclusion of his speech on the previous evening. I realized that the original number of 2 speakers had been increased to 3 because of Swami’s promise the previous evening. However, the statement from Swami that He would also speak kept me in an anticipatory frame of mind. I was waiting for the speeches to conclude.

Judgemental nature kicks in

Once the first speaker crossed the 20-minute mark, I got a bit irritated. My judgemental mind kicked in automatically. Adding fuel  to this fire of irritation was the fact that the second speaker too proceeded beyond the 20-minute mark! I began to mentally rant,
“This is really unfair for Swami! He had clearly expressed His desire to speak yesterday and none of the speakers seem to care even the slightest for it. They just go on and on in their swollen egos. Why don’t they just stop speaking and allow Swami to deliver His discourse? They claim to love Swami but do not care for His wishes and desires!”

Thus, I mentally branded all the speakers as egotists who did not care for Swami in the least. At that point in time, I did not feel in the slightest that I was being judgemental and critical. I felt that anybody with the slightest feeling for Swami would empathize and agree totally along my line of thinking. Well, for that matter, will the reader who has come up to this point of the narrative also not tend to agree with me? If not, I am sure that what happened next will surely get you to empathize and agree with me. If even after reading the next paragraph I don’t win you over to subscribe to my line of thinking, I guess this article is definitely not needed for you in terms of the lesson it conveys. You can however, still read it to enjoy a nice story! :)

As the third speaker was speaking, Swami placed His head upon the palm of His right hand and began to look at me. Our eyes met and Swami kept looking at me. I was almost about to get up to ask Swami whether He wished to convey anything. He smiled and looked away. I relaxed my tensed calf muscles. even as that happened, He began to look at me once again. My focus on Him was so intense that I was deaf to whatever the speaker was saying. And then, He signaled to me!

With a gesture of helplessness, shaking His head and hands, Swami indicated to me that He never gets the chance to speak. I was so moved at “His plight”. Though the speaker was speaking, I slightly raised on my knees, folded my hands and gesture-communicated to Swami that He should speak. He again made a gesture of helplessness. My blood was boiling now. I felt that the whole world was so selfish when it came to Swami. By now, almost everyone in the front rows came to know of “Swami’s predicament”. This was evident in what happened after the speaker concluded the talk.

Swami told the students to sing a couple of bhajans after which He received Arati. As is the practice, the prayer for universal peace - Samastha Lokaha Sukhino Bhavanthu - was chanted thrice before the session ended. Swami sat silently, gazing at the audience. Many of the students in the front rows (me included), filled this silence with a plea,
“Swami, you should speak.”
There was no response from Swami and He continued to sit silent. Gathering courage, I got up and walked up to Him on the dais. Surprisingly, Swami did not protest or tell me to sit down. It was as if He was expecting me to go to Him on the stage.

I thought of expressing the feelings in my (and everyone's) heart as I went up the stage...
Folding my hands, I knelt before Him. I offered a prayer on behalf of everyone in the hall,
“Swami, please, speak to all of us Swami.”
Immediately, Swami flared up with irritation. He said,
“It is late already. So how can I speak?”
“Swami, at least tomorrow? There is no need of anybody else. Only you speak - that is enough.”
“How can I? I am presented with a big list of speakers beforehand.”
“Swami, for tomorrow, there is no need to entertain anyone’s list of speakers. You  just speak and that is enough.”
“Tell all this to your teachers (and not to me)!”
I nodded in complete agreement. I turned and pointed out the entire audience to Swami saying,
“Swami all are here only to hear you speak. There are here for you only and not for anyone else.”

At this point, another student, B.Prabhakar, took courage and came up the stage. He said,
“Swami, it is our desire that we hear the ceaseless flow of nectar from your divine lips.”
Swami smiled and patted him.He looked at both of us. He appeared to have ‘calmed down’ as He said,
“See, today my voice is not good. I shall speak tomorrow.”


My mind rushed back to its thoughts and feelings a few minutes ago. I was thinking that it was high time to silence the ‘selfish’ speakers. I wondered who it was that ‘pressurised’ Swami to cede to speeches in spite of everyone’s wishes and His own wish that He speak!I wanted to spoil the ‘speakers’ party’ the next day. There was silence as we sat near Him. I wanted to tell Him that any session becomes complete and fulfilled only when He speaks. In Telugu, the word for fulfillment is Poornam. However, so many thoughts were going on in my head that when I spoke, instead of the words Poornam, I pronounced it as Poornahuthi (the final offering made to the Yajnam.)
“Swami, only if you speak then it becomes Poornahuthi.
Swami smiled and corrected me,
Poornahuthi is several days later!”
So I asked Swami,
“Swami shall we make an announcement that you will speak tomorrow? That will make everyone rejoice!”
"No! I will speak only to the children!"
When I did not get Him the first time, He repeated it for me. I nodded, thinking that, out of His great Love, Swami was not wanting to embarrass those egotists by making their ‘selfishness’ public! It was indeed His great Love. What I did not realize was that rather than preventing embarrassment to the egotists, Swami said that to ensure that I would learn a very important lesson about not being judgemental. And that lesson would inspire me to see God in everyone at a practical level rather than just at a purely theoretical level - a lesson which would explain the significance of Shakespeare’s opening lines in a famous poem. 

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

B. Prabhakar too joined me on the stage after a while! :)
But all that would happen over the next two days. Right now, I was waiting for the session to complete so that I could go and speak to some of the teachers as Swami had indicated. I decided that I would even speak to the vice chancellor and other elders if need be. What did I have to fear or lose? Swami had given me the instruction and I would just be doing His bidding. Knowing that one is doing the Lord’s bidding  is enough to instill absolute fearlessness in the heart.
“Truth has no fear. Untruth and falsehood shivers at every shadow”, says Bhagawan.
In fact, fearlessness is one of the foremost traits of a devotee because it is only God who can confer such fearlessness. That is echoed in 27th name of the Sri Sathya Sai Ashtotram,

Aum Sri Sai Abhaya Pradaya Namaha. (Salutations to Sri Sai whose Grace rescues us from all fears and grants us security from all harm.)

With this resolve to take some of the most important people head-on in a matter which was so important to Swami and all the devotees, I returned to my place in the hall as Swami retired for the day.

to be concluded in the second part posted at the following link:

Mental peace by not being judgemental - a personal lesson from Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Part 2

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  1. yes I agree wholeheartedly , we each are judgmental, knowing it or not its about different things for each individual -according to what we believe is fair or just - I just can't wait for this conclusion- unfortunately that;'s the day of my biopsy que sera.. G

  2. Sairam you are keeping us tensed up, please post it

  3. true that we don't realize being judgmental......

  4. Can't wait to read the second part. Brother Arvind you really keep us on our toes.

  5. u r really blessed to be with swami physically...


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