Monday, 20 July 2015

Desirelessness is the only way to be one with God

A desire nearing fulfillment?

It was the June of 2010 and we had just moved into our new home at Puttaparthi. A fortnight before, I had left for Mumbai seeking Swami’s permission to get my parents to settle in Puttaparthi post my father’s retirement from work. The relocation and resettlement had happened quite quickly, considering the fact that my father retired on the 31st of May. That is a story in itself and I will resist the temptation of going into it right away. But I must mention that it had all begun on the return flight from Pune to Puttaparthi after the visit to Hadshi, when Swami had asked me (about my parents) in the aisle,
"When are they coming here?"
“Swami, after father's retirement in May, they will come and settle down here itself.”
Swami nodded saying, “Santosham”. I continued, “One more thing, Swami. Mother keeps crying out ‘Swami’, ‘Swami’, ... Please grant her namaskar once when she comes to Puttaparthi. Once You speak to her, she will be so happy.”
He nodded in agreement. But then He responded with a question of His own,
"She keeps telling ‘Swami’, ‘Swami’... What about you?"
I was dumbstruck. I mumbled and fumbled a bit and said,
"Swami, You know what I feel. You are most important for me."

{For those who are interested, the entire 5-day trip to Hadshi and Mumbai has been captured in a serial blog of 11 parts. The link to the first part is given below. Each part has the link to the subsequent parts.

My parents were now settled along with me at Parthi. My desire was that Swami should grant us a family interview. I felt that would be the ultimate fulfilment for me because, in my opinion, Swami had granted me every ‘chance’ except that of a family interview. Though I never asked Him directly for the same, I always made it a point to ‘remind’ Him that my parents had arrived and settled at Puttaparthi. Nearly nine months of ‘labour’ after the first time Swami enquired about my parents arriving to Parthi, I felt that the date for my ‘deliver’ance was due! It happened on the 16th day of June, 2010.

The Governor’s visit

It was the day when the Governor of the state of Andhra Pradesh, ESL Narsimhan, had visited Puttaparthi. Before the evening darshan session, he visited the Super Specialties hospital. I thought it would be of archival interest to take pictures of the Governor’s visit to the hospital. However, it was easier thought than done. The Governor’s security team did not allow me to go through with the plan and, after taking a few pictures, I was stuck outside the hospital. Nothing I said helped my cause.
“I am a mandir photographer...” I said.
“Show us the badge which says so?”
How was I to make the security personnel understand that Swami’s smile of approval was my badge and that there is nobody who is formally appointed as a ‘mandir photographer’? I just shook my head in disbelief and walked away.

The Governor with the Director of the SSSIHMS, Dr.Safaya, in the main dome of the hospital in June 2010.
“Well, I never am keen on running behind anyone other than Swami”, I told myself, “and I have no regrets about not being allowed to photograph the governor. The focus for me (and my camera) is actually Swami!”
Within the hour, I was back in my room in Prasanthi Nilayam. It was before the evening darshan that I received a request - could a picture be taken of the Governor seeking Swami’s blessings? I smiled to myself and went to the Sai Kulwant hall with the camera. The Lord is the fruit and the world, its shadow. Chasing the shadow never yields fruit, but getting hold of the fruit also brings along the gift of the shadow!

I seated myself in the front of the bhajan hall near the interview room door, opposite to which the Governor was seated. As soon as Swami arrived, he got up and offered his devotion to Him. He bent and touched Swami’s feet and prayed for blessings. I took photographs and returned to my place once Swami went into the interview room. This is the point at which the actual story begins.

The Governor humbly bows and offers prostrations at the Lotus Feet of his Swami. 
Swami’s casual query

I continued to sit in the bhajan hall. After a short while, Swami came out of the interview room and into the bhajan hall. He called Sri Sai Surendranath (of the Green Benz story fame) and asked him,
“When is Vijayadashami?” (Vijayadashami is the final day of the Dusshera.)
“Swami, it is on the 17th of... either September or October...”
“Is it not just a few days away?”
“Swami... 17th September maybe...” (It was actually on 18th October).
Swami nodded and then moved ahead. He saw me and asked me something.

It must be stated here that by 2010, though He could speak aloud, Swami often spoke in whispers only. He seemed to smile and enjoy the predicament of those He was speaking to who would struggle to hear Him. When He felt it necessary, He would speak loudly of course. (Looking back at that today, I feel it was Swami’s hint to all of us that if we cannot understand His silence, we will not be able to understand His words. That hint was being delivered because very soon, we would have to be hearing Him speak to us from within our hearts. That would take place in silence alone; ‘Sailens’ rather!)

As an adaptation towards understanding the ‘whispering’ Swami, most of us would concentrate intently on His lips. It was easier to lip-read Swami than to hear Him. On many occasions, many of us got the right message by lip-reading Swami. He too would smile in joy when we got it right. (It was the Divine Mother encouraging Her primary-school child to understand better the spoken-language of the Divine - silence. All of these were preparation for the times to come.)

So, when Swami looked at me and spoke, I began to focus intently on His lips. I could clearly make out that He was asking,
Amma Naana vachara? (Have your mother and father come?)”

I was thrilled! My prayers seemed to be bearing fruit and I was about to win the blessing of a family interview,I thought!
“Yes Swami”, I replied, “They are here from two weeks...”
“Yes Swami...”

Little did I know that I had totally misread Him!

Lakshmana’s oneness of thought with Rama

In His Ramakatha Rasa Vahini (the nectarous flow of the story of Rama), Swami narrates of the deep understanding and sync that Lakshmana had with his brother and Lord, Sri Rama. The episode takes place when Ravana’s sister Surpanakha tries to lure Rama and Lakshmana with her magically obtained beauty and charm. When the brothers refuse, the ogress Surpanakha sees Sita, Rama’s wife, as the root cause of Rama’s refusal. She rushes to slay Sita and ‘free’ Rama from that ‘bondage’. Lakshmana has come to the forest leaving behind his wife in the kingdom of Ayodhya so that he can act as a bodyguard for Rama and Sita. Yet, he does not move towards Surpanakha because he does nothing without Rama’s command. That is when Rama just raises the four fingers of his right hand towards the skies. In the book, Swami writes:

Lakshmana immediately grasped the meaning of that command! By counting four, Rama indicated the Four Vedas, which are collectively called Sruthis, that is to say, "The Heard", which means, the Ear. Lakshmana had a sharp vigilant intellect and so, he could rightly interpret the slightest gesture of Rama. Rama had held his hand up, towards the sky. heaven is also indicated by the raised pointing hand. Heaven is also known as 'naaka' in Sanskrit; it has also another meaning, 'Nose!' No sooner did Rama make those two gestures, Lakshmana rushed towards the demonic woman with his sword drawn; he dragged her down to the ground, and shouting that her effrontery must be punished, he slashed off her ears and nose!

A grab from the popular Amar Chitra Katha comics
Just imagine the depth of understanding that Lakshmana possessed! How could he be sure that Rama told him to cut off the nose and ears of Surpanakha and not the four fingers of her right hand? His unbelievable sync with Rama ensured that he never misread even a single look, sign or word of his brother. What is it that Lakshmana possessed that I totally lacked? Why was I not able to read my Swami as well as Lakshmana read his Swami?

The correct answer

Having got my reply, Swami seemed to be in thought. On His way out of the bhajan hall, He apparently asked Sri Sai Surendranath the same question that He asked me. His reply was,
“No Swami! The Brahmanas (priests) have not come. They will come during Dusshera.”

I heard his answer and instantly knew what mistake I had made. I had lip-read wrong and had understood ‘Brahmana’ as ‘Amma Naana’ because of the ‘m’ and ‘n’ sounds which are common in both the terms! Even as I realized my folly, Swami turned to me as if to ask how was I sure that they had arrived two weeks back. Before He could say anything, I quickly corrected myself,
“Swami, they have not yet come... they are not here now...”
Swami made a gesture of mock anger and said,
“Ay! You heard him and now you are changing what you said.”
I smiled and held my cheeks acknowledging my error and seeking pardon. Swami also smiled and moved out.

The episode was complete and so was the lesson.

As long as I am filled with desires of my own, I will never be able to understand my Lord. I can be in perfect sync with my Swami only when I am bereft of all my desires. That is the difference between Lakshmana and myself. I was so intent on securing a family interview that everything I perceived from Swami was coloured by that desire! On the other hand, the only desire in Lakshmana’s heart was to fulfill his Lord’s desire. That is brought out beautifully in an episode which Swami points out in His 4th discourse during the Summer Course in 1996 :

One day, Rama asked Lakshmana to build a hut on the Chitrakoota mountain. Lakshmana asked Him to select the spot for the hut. Rama said,
“Lakshmana! Build the hut wherever you like.”
Hearing these words Lakshmana was struck speechless and felt deeply pained. When Sita asked him the cause for his grief, Lakshmana said,
“I don’t have a will of my own. The liking of Rama is my liking. What sin have I committed to merit such words from Rama?”
Rama, who understood the heart of Lakshmana, caressed Lakshmana and said,
“Forgive Me for having hurt you. Build a hut here, on this spot.”

Lakshmana gave up his sleep to serve his Lord. That was the extent to which he gave up his desires! It is said that
he was the only person yawning when the coronation ceremony of Rama was on. He smiled to himself remembering that he had prayed to the Goddess of sleep to keep away from him during the 14 years of exile. Now that the exile was
over, she had immediately come to seek her due!
Desirelessness - the goal to be reached

Desirelessness is often interpreted as a ‘boring state’ of ‘intense inactivity’. That is a completely wrong understanding. One needs to be active and intensely alert to ensure that one is desireless. Forget about being desireless, such alertness is needed even to reduce one’s desires! It is only the wise that realize that. It is not as if I am proclaiming this. This was stated by Lord Krishna and it comes as the 18th verse of the 4th Chapter in the Bhagwad Geeta:

karmanyakarma yah pashyed akarmani cha  karma yah
   sa buddhimaan manushyeshu sa yuktah  kritsnakarmakrit

He  who recognizes inaction in action and action in inaction is wise among men; he  is a Yogi and a true performer of all actions.

The desireless one is actually the truly active one. ‘Happiness is union with God’ right?  The desireless one is the joyous one because it is only in desirelessness that one can be totally in sync with God. The desireless one is the fearless one because it is only in desirelessness that one is free of attachments that bring fear.

For all readers:

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  1. Sairam Aravind, yes we must reach desireless stage through practicing Ceiling on Desires deviced by SWAMI. One handicap to this is ego - me mine feelings and attachments. Best wishes and Love.

  2. Visalakshy Swamy20 July 2015 at 18:52

    Sairam. Maunena vyaakhya---Guru teaches thru silence, and only in Silence can God also be heard!
    But the little kid, having learnt a new trick wouldn't stop practising it!! So are we all, who cannot stop talking about Swami, despite knowing what He wants us to practise! We certainly need His grace to' read' His silence, because we have not been able to 'read' millions of His spoken and written so simply,sweetly and explicitly.
    Thank you dear Arvind for yet another pearl. Love. visalakshy swamy.

  3. Brother you are probably better than me. I remember once in the interview room (it was February 2006 I think), Swami looked at me and whispered softly, "What class are you in?" Unable to hear Him, I inches forward and merely stared blankly. Again Swami asked very patiently and with the same whispered tone, "What class are you in?" Now I got nervous and that only made hearing him even harder. So I continued staring. This time, with a
    hint of irritation, Swami loudly asked, "WHAT...CLASS...ARE...YOU...IN!!" Finallly I understood and blurted, "Swami, 5th class." He then looked at me and said, "Lazy boy, lazy boy!" At that time I had no idea what relation laziness had with what class I was in, and assumed that maybe He was referring to how I was at school.
    But now I know that He was teaching me to work harder to be able to connect with Him...and not to sit idly and lazily waiting for Him to talk to me without any effort on my part to hear Him from within.

  4. As our beloved Baba says, "You appear as the smiling flower, as the twinkling stars. What is there in this world which can make you desire anything?"
    Desires may come and go, but the minute a desire hooks us, i.e. we identify with it, make it our own.....then the world changes. We no longer see the world as it is, but as we are. Coloured by the desire that has hooked us. So insightfully described by you in your experience of mis-reading Swami.

    How we can know that we're desireless is when we are in a state of profound gratitude. It's the only state that is left when
    "There's no place to go,
    nothing left to do,
    nothing left to see,
    no-one left to be.
    For your will is my will." - as that wonderful bhajan goes.

    When there is only profound gratitude humming within us, we are Home, and there's no separation from Baba.

    1. Those are beautiful words that you have penned.... I don't know that bhajan. Is it an English one?

      Thank you for this comment that is so delightful and insightful to read

  5. Great article, as always! Thank You for sharing your Knowledge.
    All the best! (Mr. Happy)

  6. BEAUTIFULLY written Aravind. It reminded me of the dream I had around the 14/15 TH of April 2011.
    We are all lined up in a single file and proceeding towards the Shanti vedika. Dr.Safaya, the erstwhile Dir of SSSIHMS, is standing just below the stage and we are all filing past, as it were. SWAMI, in a maroon robe is seated on a chair on the stage and there is a vertical glass enclosure in front of SWAMI. As i near the stage I am wondering what this glass enclosure (resembling the bullet proof for politicians) is ... is it a sound proof glass .. for what ? As i look towards SWAMI, i see HIM looking at us and HIS lips moving as tho' HE (were) talking..but, strangely, i cannot hear a word !? Later, much much later, I realised that SWAMI would still be talking to us , all of us, but we may not be able to hear HIM in the sense of sound as we know/ re familair with ...but at a subtler level, ie only if we tune in to HIM....but HE is still out there talking to us !!!

    1. That is a very meaningful dream... As in the dream, in reality too, we are the ones that raise these bullet-proof and sound-proof glasses between ourselves and Swami...

      Thank you for sharing...

    2. Well, I shd hv said that I didnt hv the dream...SWAMI desired and decided to gv a msg...I am thankful now tho' I was shattered then as the dream sounded so ominous !


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