2. Total Surrender
Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 1 (1953 - 60)
I do not give ‘speeches’; My talks are more of the conversation type. I want that you should follow every word of what I say with reverent attention, for your joy is My food. You can get joy (anandam) only by following the advice I give you, and this is why I am particular that you should listen carefully and take to heart all that I say. This is not a mere lecture, wherefrom you do not seek new lessons for life. The Lord is a Mountain of Prema (Love); any number of ants carrying away particles of sweetness cannot exhaust His Plenty. He is an Ocean of Mercy without a limiting shore. Devotion is the easiest way to win His Grace and also to realise that He pervades everything - in fact, is everything!
Total surrender, leaving everything to His Will, is the highest form of devotion. Once a brahmin was crossing a river bed near which some men were washing clothes. Finding a nice new silk shawl on his shoulder, they fell upon him in a group, shouting that it belonged to the palace and had been given to them to be washed but had been stolen and had not been traced. The poor brahmin yelled “Narayana, Narayana,” when the blows rained on him, so Narayana rose from His Seat in Vaikunta and proceeded forward; but in a moment, He walked back and resumed His Seat, much to the surprise of His Consort who asked Him the reason for the strange behaviour. Narayana said, “I wanted to help that poor brahmin, who has fallen into a den of scoundrels, but he started beating them, blow for blow; My Help is no longer needed.”
Conquest of ego needed
When devotion is just emerging as a sapling, a fence is needed to protect the tender plant; that fence is Sanathana Dharma (Eternal Religion) and its rules, regulations and restrictions, directions and commands. When the fruit is green, it will not fall even when the gale is furious; but when it is fully ripe, it drops to the ground even in the silence of the night. A small fire will go out in smoke if even a little green is placed on it, but the forest fire will reduce to ashes even the greenest tree that impedes its fierce march! What is needed is the conquest of the ego. The bullock shouts “ham hai, ham hai (I am, I am)”, in its egoistic pride. So, when it is just a few days old, you tie it to a post, apart from its mother; you work it to skin and bones; but yet, the animal does not learn the lesson of humility. Even its skin, when drawn tightly across a drum, resounds egoistically, “Ham Ham Ham”. So the skin has to be cut into slender strings and then when the strings are pulled, the bullock reveals that it has benefitted by all the punishment it has undergone; it murmurs thum thum thum (you you you), and its ego is gone. The mendicant goes along the streets, singing the glories of the Lord. He has the sounding cymbals, two of them, the eternal duet of good-bad, joy-grief, pain-pleasure in his right hand, and he twangs the tambura (a stringed musical instrument) of worldly life with his left. Worldly life is the tune to which his songs have to be adjusted, it is the musical note. But both the tune and beat are for the purpose of heightening the effect of the song, which issues from his mouth, the song of the glory of God.
Three types of devotion
I remember telling a questioner in Maharashtra, while in the previous Body, that there are three types of devotion:
- The bird method where, like a bird swooping down upon the ripe fruit on the tree, the devotee is too impatient and, by that very impatience, loses the fruit, which falls from his hold.
- The monkey method where, like a monkey that pulls toward it one fruit after another and by sheer unsteadiness is not able to decide which fruit it wants, the devotee hesitates and changes his aim much too often and thus loses all chances of success.
- The ant method, where like the ant that slowly but steadily proceeds toward the sweetness, the devotee moves direct, with undivided attention, toward the Lord and wins His Grace!
Habit of judging others as atheists or theists
There is a widely prevalent habit now of judging others and labeling them as theists or atheists. What do you know, what can you know, of the inner working of another’s mind? There was once a queen who was a great devotee of Rama. She felt so sad that her husband, the Raja, never even uttered the name of Rama and had no devotion. She had vowed that on the first occasion on which she got evidence of his devotion, or at least respect for repeating Rama’s name, she would conduct ritualistic worship in all the temples and feed the poor on a lavish scale. Then, one night, while fast asleep, the Raja uttered Rama’s name thrice plaintively and prayerfully. She heard this repetition of the Name and was happy at the discovery of her husband’s devotion to Rama. She ordered general rejoicing throughout the kingdom and the feeding of the poor. The Raja did not know the reason for the celebration, for he was told only that it was an order of his wife, which the officers carried out. Similarly, a husband may not be aware of the excellence of a wife’s spiritual attainments. There is the case of a couple who were proceeding through a thick jungle on pilgrimage to an inaccessible shrine. The husband saw on the foot path a precious stone, shining brilliantly when the sun’s rays fell upon it from between the leaves. He hastily threw some sand over it with a movement of his foot so that his wife may not be tempted to pick it up and become a slave to the tinsel. The wife saw the gesture and chided the husband for still retaining in his mind a distinction between sand and diamond. For her, both were the same.
Keep the Name as constant as breathing
The Raja who spoke the sacred name of Rama in his sleep felt very sorry, according to the story, that he let Rama’s name out of his mouth, for he believed that no one should know of his ‘love’ for Rama. There are many who will not shout about their guru or their favourite Name and Form, but whether you declare them to others or not, keep them ever in your consciousness. Repetition of Rama or any other name must be as constant as breathing. For this, practice is essential. A person once told Dr. Johnson, the famous English thinker, that he could seldom get time to recite the Name of God, what with the hundreds of things he had to do from morning till nightfall and even far into the night. Dr. Johnson replied with another question. He asked how millions of people found space to live upon the face of the earth, which is two-thirds water and the rest is too full of mountains, deserts, forests, icy regions, river beds, marshes, and similar impossible areas. The questioner said that man somehow struggled to find living space. So too, said Dr. Johnson, man must somehow find a few minutes a day for prayer to the Lord.
Example of the highest type of detachment
Devotion and the attitude of surrender that is its final fruits will give you great courage to meet any emergency. Such courage is what is called renunciation. The story of Mohajith, a prince, is a good example of this highest type of detachment. Mohajith went to a sage in the forest and sought guidance in the spiritual path. The sage asked him whether he had conquered attachment, as his name indicated. The prince said that not only he but everyone in his kingdom had! So the sage started to test the truth of this claim. The sage took the prince’s robes, soaked them in blood, and hastened to the palace gate with the gruesome story of the murder of the prince by some ruffians in the jungle. The maid whom he met refused to hurry with the news to the royal apartments because she said, “He was born, and he died; what is the special urgency of this news that I should interrupt my regular routine and run to the king and queen?” When at last he got an audience and was able to communicate the sad news to the prince’s father, the king, who sat unruffled, whispering to himself, “The bird flew off the tree on which it had alighted to take rest.” The queen too was unmoved. She told the sage that this Earth is a caravanserai, where men come and stay for the night and when dawn breaks, one by one, they tramp their different ways. Kith and kin are the words we use for attachment to the travelers cultivated in the caravanserai during the short term of acquaintance. The wife of the “dead” prince was also unaffected. She said, “Husband and wife are like two pieces of wood drifting down a flooded river; they float near each other for some time and when some current comes between, they are parted. Each must move on to the sea at its own rate and in its own time. There is no need to grieve over the parting of the two; it is in the very nature of nature that it should be so.” The sage was overjoyed to see this steady and sincere dispassion in the rulers and the ruled. He came back to the forest and told the prince that, while he was away, a hostile army had invaded his kingdom and slain the entire royal family and captured his kingdom and enslaved his subjects. The prince took the news calmly and said, “All this is bubble, impermanent, flimsy. Let it go the way of the bubble. Guide me to reach the Infinite, the Imperishable.”
Grow with self-respect and dignity
Such courage comes out of the Grace of the Lord; it needs generations of learning and struggle. Meanwhile, you must start with the first step, the cleansing of the mind and the cultivation of virtue. Even if you do not start with that step, at least do not laugh at those who do and discourage them. Do at least this much! Then, do not depend upon others for doing your work, like attending to your personal wants. Do them yourself; that is real freedom. Again, never accept anything ‘free’ from others; pay it back, in service or work. That will make you self-respecting individuals. Receiving a favour means getting bound to the giver. Grow with self-respect and dignity. That is the best service you can do to yourself.
There is no seniority or juniority among devotees
‘Uncle’ Moon is ‘uncle’ to all the children of the world. So also, the Lord is everyone’s Father, in whose property everyone can claim a share. But in order to get it, you must reach a certain age, a certain standard of intelligence and discrimination. The infirm and the idiotic, He will not consider fit to receive property. His property is Grace, Love (Prema). But if you have discrimination and renunciation, you can claim your share, as of right. Bring devotion and lay it here and take from here spiritual strength! The more such business is done, the more pleased am I. Bring what you have, namely, your sorrows and griefs, worries, and anxieties, and take from Me joy and peace, courage and confidence. In My view, there is no seniority or juniority among devotees. The mother spends more time tending the sickly child. She just asks the older children to look after themselves, but she feeds the infant with her own hand. That does not mean that she has no love toward the grown-ups. So too, do not think that because I do not ostensibly pay more attention to one person, that person is beyond the ken of my prema. Note this also. In this Avatar (divine Incarnation), the wicked will not be destroyed; they will be corrected and reformed and educated and led back to the path from which they have strayed. The white-ant infested tree will not be cut; it will be saved. Again, this Avatar will not select some place other than the place where the Nativity took place for the centre of Its divine sports, miracle powers, and divine instruction). This tree shall not be transplanted; it will grow where it first rose from the earth. Another speciality is this: the Avatar has no affinity or attachment in Its career to members of the family wherein it appeared. Unlike the appearances as Rama, Krishna, etc., where the Life was played out mostly among and for the family members, this Avatar is only for the devotees, noble souls, and aspirants on. It has no recitation of holy name, meditation, or yoga (practising union with God). It knows no worship; It will not pray to anything, for It is the Highest. It only teaches you to worship and pray. To a worldly person, a God-intoxicated man will appear mad, and the person will laugh at him for it. But to the God-intoxicated man, the worldly appear insane, foolish misled, blind. Of all the insanities that harass people, God-madness is the least harmful, the most beneficial. The world has suffered untold damage due to its “mad” rulers and “mad” guides; but nothing but harmony, peace, brotherliness, and love have come out of ‘God-madness’!