Divine Memories Of Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba – TheTrueSai – Weebly

 

 

Everywhere around I am here with you. Find me in the Temple, find me in the walls, the floor, the nooks and crannies of every corner of the darshan hall – I am there. I permeate every inch of the ashram and all around even outside. I have not gone anywhere. Feel my darshan in the silence and the emptiness of the ashram’s  farthest corner for  I am there also!

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My photo 2014

We couldn’t find anything for profound words – “I am not going anywhere” – those words almost silent, came so unexpected and out of context from the divine in human form one darshan morning,  left author Diana Baskin clueless for quite sometime until it dawned upon her, the greater truth, after bhagwan physically passed on. Read on Diana Baskin’s reminscence of the momentous revelation, published in Sanathana Sarathi, November 2011.   She writes:

“When swami left his body, he left a deep empty space in my heart and since that unforgettable day I have asked him to fill the steady pain of emptiness with his love. Swami, the heart core of our life swami became my guru when i first came to india in 1969, taking on the task of teaching me the principles of a spiritual life by building a solid foundation rooted in dharma. later, he became my mother, taking over the task of nurturing, acceptance and unconditional love. finally in 1979, Swami took the role of father by introducing me to my husband, Robert, performing our marriage ceremony and extending his strong hand of support and gentle loving guidance throughout our marriage. Swami was the heart core of our life. For the past 40 years, our life centred solely upon him and the anticipation of our trips to India that brought us in his physical presence was our nourishment. My husband and I were devastated and heartbroken as we lost all at once our guru, our mother and our father. but swami did not teach us to be weaklings and even in the midst of sorrow his teachings rushed to my side, giving me strength and support while gently reminding me that there was a limit to everything.

 

When the husband of our friend died, swami said to her that she could mourn his death but only for a short time; after that, she needed to let go of her sorrow. otherwise, she could not lead a purposeful and useful life. The last words of swami i understood intellectually on one level,  that to honour swami and his teachings, i needed to put them into practice, be a master of my emotions and keep my focus on positive and constructive thoughts. While this helped to some extent, it was not enough. I still longed to re-establish the direct heart-to-heart link with swami that gives joy to life.  Swami had not only foreseen the problem i would encounter but in his infinite compassion had given the solution, unbeknownst to me, shortly before leaving his physical body. one morning, after bhajans as swami was returning to his residence, his car stopped in front of me and as the driver lowered the window, swami motioned for me to come forward. His voice was decidedly faint and I had to lean into the car and read his lips to grasp his words. At the end of our brief conversation, he said something so unusual and out of context that i had to ask him to repeat it. these were the last words swami ever spoke to me. For the year that followed, I pondered his words and questioned their meaning but failed to find the reason why he voiced them at that time nor could i find any sort of veiled connotation they might imply.  It was not until a few weeks after swami passed, in the midst of great sorrow and mourning that like a thunderbolt from the heavens it hit me! not only did I understand what he meant from the deeper perspective of Advaita but a mere remembrance had the power to re-establish the precious heart-to-heart link and fill my heart with love. The powerful words of truth, love and wisdom that Swami sweetly whispered were: “i am not going anywhere.” ii samasta lokah sukhino bhavantu ii”

 

~The late Diana Baskin who died on 10 Oct. 2010

 

On Reaching The Sixth Anniversary Of the Passing Of Sathya Sai Baba – Make Yourself A Light!

Swami in his 40’s

“I need only one ‘Mandir’ – Your Hearts!

Preserve the purity of your hearts, so that SAI may reside therein

….

We are coming up to the sixth anniversary of the passing of Sathya Sai Baba. To honour his most sapient teaching, I have written a small article called  “The Source.” It is posted below.  Sai Baba may have been the most high-lighted guru of his day, but his message is no different from other distinguished teachers who have lived, taught and left a remarkable legacy of a time-honoured practice to go within. He always stressed the need for inner reflection. He stressed that spiritual practices can only be done with the help of the body. All education obtained is through the body. Everything we are is due to the facility of the body. Both our merit and demerit are the result of  actions performed with the help of our bodies. And that all important incessant search for peace is a heartfelt attempt to find the God Source inside our own bodies but we are not just the body, we  are far greater than that.

WHY FIGHT OVER BODY PARTS? – THE SOURCE IS WITHIN.

Someone said something extraordinary to me the other day, while we were discussing Sathya Sai baba and the Muddenahalli splinter group. The now infamous group who have forged ahead in Sai Baba’s name. They said why be attached to body parts when you can seek the Source within? True, why do we hang onto body parts or a body form, when the wisest teachers tell us clearly we are not a body. The source of wisdom is love and that is something we can all find within ourselves. All spiritual teachers speak with one voice, when they say that a flesh and blood temporary body is just a vehicle to be used while on Earth. We are all just body-parts with the potential of finding the eternal truth within us. Best to focus and find that sacred place in our hearts where the in-dweller resides. Yes, it takes a lot of determination and dedication but it is not without merit, that we eventually find out that our spiritual teacher’s guidance is both wise and compassionate. But as always in cases of well-known spiritual teachers, once they pass from this world, those pivotal devotees who once held positions or power within their late teachers setup, struggle over the right to carry his/her name on in their own chosen way. They claim power and possession over their late teacher’s movement and cause confusion and division among followers. Power struggles are part of every religion and almost all sects. Such power struggle are normal in this ego-centric world, often going against everything their late teacher had taught. When hard nosed egos decides they are the one and only “Source of Light and Knowledge,” and they are the chosen ones, they literally go out of their way to be deliberately spiteful and vengeful to others, who do not see them as the “new mouth-piece” for their late teacher.


SO LISTEN TO THE WISDOM OF THE TEACHER AND DON’T ALLOW BODY PARTS TO INTERFERE WITH YOUR SEARCH FOR THE INNER SOURCE.

The early days in the old Mandir

 

Sathya Sai Baba’s words on mediums and cheats.

 

Today, Sai Baba’s Samadhi  has a concentrated energy force that permeates all areas of his ashram. Very much like  a vortex of a storm, this energy or shakti is far-reaching.  The uplifting vibrations are  apparent in and around the Shine, embedded as they are, in every nook and cranny of the immediate area of the Samadhi. The guru’s shakti has now become a forceful tool for enlightenment. For those who come to the Shrine to worship and practise, there’s nothing better than the vibrations of the late Sai Baba.

 

 

Love Is My Form – Memories of Sai Baba

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Himy, an old friend of mine on FaceBook and a great supporter of this blog, wrote the following account for this blog,  back when Swami was alive. I loved it so much, I am re-posting it today.

I understand exactly how Himy felt that far off day in 1999, when Swami gave him close Darshan. I often felt the same way too during darshan! 

In this small story, Himy tells how he had mentally told Baba earlier that day, “I don’t want anything” and Swami, as always, knew exactly what Himy had thought. Himy tells us in this story, “I didn’t even get a bit of the vibuthi  Swami made”.  Likewise, I, too, was always telling Sai Baba, “I do not want anything”, then while at Darshan, I would end up at the back of the hall, often where I could not see him!  Often in those early days, I would end up crying because of his lack of attention towards me. I never much thought that Swami was giving me exactly what I’d asked him for! Although, there’s never “nothing” with Swami – the Darshans were deep and  always filled with light and wonder. He was always, until the very end, radiant and sublime, and as a result, we came away from Darshan filled to the brim. – Eve

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I Only Wanted Swami To Talk To Me! – Himy’s Darshan Story

On one of my visits to Puttaparthi, I had a really great experience with Swami. (I think it was during 1999). I was feeling very down and out.
I was feeling very small and insignificant and unworthy, even when talking to people.  I was just keeping to myself. Then I prayed to Baba to talk to me because that would make me feel better and worthy of being talked to by others also. With that thought, I went inside Sai Kulwant hall after having drawn 4th token (or something near to that number.) And I was sitting in the second row in darshan on the men’s side.

Then the music started and Baba  came out from the Poornachandra Auditorium. He used to walk then. He shuffled forward taking letters, blessing sweet trays. Finally he was opposite my row. He spoke to someone there.  Then He suddenly turned towards our side. There was a Russian sitting  in front of me.  Baba said something to him. Then suddenly He was looking at me and  saying something  in Telugu (I think – because I heard something like “neevu” which is a Telugu word). My head was spinning. I couldn’t believe Baba was talking to me !! At the same time the thought passed though my head “could Baba be mistaking me for some other guy, some Telugu guy”? I dismissed that thought as soon as it came because I knew that  Baba knows everything. He doesn’t make mistakes. Then Baba repeated what he must have said earlier, in English.  He said “Where have you come from ?” I was still too stunned to reply. Baba spoke a third time.  This time in Hindi. He said “Keedhar se aayaa?” meaning again  “where  had I come from.” I managed to say:  “SAI, Mumbai”. Then Baba threw up His hands in the air as if I had given the wrong answer and He said “Oh!! Bombay!”

Then He proceeded to make vibhuti right in front of me and gave some to a Telugu farmer sitting next to me. Others nearby  stretched out their hands and Baba kept giving vibhuti to all. Finally, I also picked up the courage to stretch my hands out for vibhuti. But Baba just turned away. When i was praying to Baba earlier in the day, I had told him that “I dont want vibhuti or anything else,  Baba,  please just talk to me.”

By turning away Baba displayed His omniscience. He proved to me that He knew my thoughts.  What a proof !! I sat there with tears flowing down my cheeks and couldn’t stop crying long after darshan. People would just look at me and I was not able to say anything. They just nodded, knowingly, and said “Ananda” meaning bliss! Baba does hear and answer our prayers. He knows everything.

From Himy

Old Mandir – Puttaparthi – History and Photographs

 

Photos and You Tube from Old Mandir-Puttaparthi page on Face book with thanks. People interested in the early years of the Sai Baba’s journey, might like to visit the page so lovingly set up with all details of that time including a wealth of very old photographs.  During my stay in Puttaparthi in 1992, I visited the Old Mandir once or twice and was thoroughly delighted by the way it had been kept faithfully to those early days. Sadly a few years later they demolished the old Mandir to replace it with the modern one we see there today. I wish they had not ruined such a priceless piece of spiritual history, that would have been of such interest today, especially  to a new generation of young people who never knew Sai Baba.

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my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.
my photo taken this year in the garden of rocks where there are several wonderful painted rocks. Here is one of Sai Baba. the garland, I could not quite place over the rock as I would have liked.

 

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A day at the Old Mandir-1

During those days there were no rituals like omkaram,suprabhatam or nagarasankirtan. Swami was everything for devotees. At 3 AM one could hear farmers going to their fields, singing folk songs. That was the Omkaram for devotees those days. At 5 AM one could hear milk vendors saying ,”Please buy my curd, milk and flowers”. This was the suprabhatam for devotees. In any case they had to get up by daybreak.

At dawn, Swami would rise, wash himself and drink the hot beverage devotees offered to him, and move happily with them and talk to them also. At 9 Am devotees would offer him the breakfast they would have prepared. Swami would taste a bit from each, joke a bit and offer the same as prasadam for everyone.

After breakfast, anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair in the Old Mandir which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

Devotees would then offer harathi to Swami and everyone would do padanamaskar. While doing padapuja, Swami would ask devotees to sing with devotion, instead of mechanically.

Bhajans would start at 11 AM. There was no regular bhajans those days…..just long songs. Any person could sing during bhajans. Swami would sit on that red stone and also sing. The hall was very small and men and women sat on either side. Some men sat behind Swami fanning him. Despite that, Swami’s robe would be soaked wet due to the scorching heat. At the end of the session, Swami himself would do harathi to please his devotees and then distribute prasadam to everyone.

At 1 pm, everyone would assemble for lunch. Swami would take a little food from everybody, mix it, eat a little and distribute the rest as prasadam. Later he would rest for a while. Even in those days Swami never took sweets, ghee, milk or curds. When pressed for a reason, Swami said he had had enough during Krishnavatar.

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the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir
the ten rupee note. The beginning of the Old Mandir

 

THE GIFT DEED JULY-25 1945

When Subbamma heard of this offer, she quickly moved to invite Swami to move into a small hut on land owned by the Karnam family on the other side of the river.

Kamalamma then went to the ailing Subbamma and told her that their husband had planned to build a temple for the poor, but had died before he could get it built.

They agreed the land set aside for this could be given to Swami for his own use and the use of his devotees. A document writer was called and a deed of sale was drawn up. Next day, Kamalamma went to Bukkapatnam to have the deed registered.Swami went with her upto Chitravathi River. It was 25 July 1945.

Karanam Subbamma and Karanam Kamalamma gifted the land in presence of two witnesses.

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The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.
The backyard of the simple house where Swami was born.

 

 

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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PADAPUJA

In the Old Mandir anyone could do padapuja to Swami. There was a old cane-chair which would be placed in the hall. Requesting Swami to place his lotus feet on a plate, devotees would wash the feet with scented water, wipe with kumkum. Then they would offer Swami naivedhyem which he would partake a little.

When Swami went to the homes of devotees it was done with great reverence and devotion.

In Venkatagiri Padapuja was an elaborate ritual.They used to place Swami’s feet ina golden plate and wash them with rose water.Then sandlewood would be applied to his feet followed by kumkum.All this with the strains of music from the singers Raman and laxmanan.

When we were students we had our own version of Padapuja.We called it Padaseva.We would take turns massaging Swami’s feet in the interview room when we got the chance.

Once Swami was sitting with some of His students in the interview room and all the boys had the great opportunity to press Swami’s Feet. And Swami asked this question, what is Pada Pooja?

One of the boys seated next to Him said, Swami what we are doing is Pada Pooja.

Swami said, No, no… this is not Pada Pooja. And then someone had a little higher understanding of telling Swami – in fact our tears of gratitude are like ‘Toyam’ and ‘Patram’ and the Phalam are all our merits and demerits that we offer at Your Lotus Feet.

You know He wanted to give a little better understanding and Swami said no, no, no.

Swami went on to say that true Pada Pooja is when the Lord in human form leaves His Footprints – to walk in His Footprints.

 

 

The Sathyabhama temple in the early years
The Sathyabhama temple in the early years

 

 

Sai Baba as a young man -
Sai Baba as a young man –

 

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During the foundation-stone ceremony of the Old Mandir a very strange incident occured.

When the servant, Gooni Venkata (Venkata with the hump) , dug at the spot indicated by Swami , so that consecrated stones could be laid as foundation, a large number of stone bases used as stands for lingams were discovered.

But strangely enough, no lingams could be found, though a vigorous search was made. Dozens of bases – but not a single lingam.

People gathered round Swami and sought the answer.

Swami told them, pointing a finger at his stomach, “The lingams are all here.”.

The first Lingodbhavam – 1947

This was the first time Swami manifested a Shiva Lingam.

There were less than a dozen devotees gathered at Puttaparthi on this auspicious day.

Swami was adorned in white and sat upright in his chair drinking plenty of water.

A swelling in his stomach was evident.

The ‘swelling’ moved up and emerged out of His mouth in time, as a Lingam.

Old photos of Sathya Sai baba - Old Mandir
Old photos of Sathya Sai baba – Old Mandir

 

Darshan on the men's side, Puttaparthi Ashram
Darshan on the men’s side, Puttaparthi Ashram – before the new huge Sai Kalwant Hall was built

 

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“Today scientists are trying to understand this power of attraction in
Nature. Take, for instance, a temple. Thousands of people go to the
temple for worship. The magnetic power in the earth extends to the
idol in the sanctum. The thoughts of the worshippers are also
attracted by the idol. Thereby the power of attraction in the idol
gets intensified. The rituals performed for the idol also enhance its
power of attraction. This process can be noticed if a couple of nails
are kept near a magnet. After two days it will be found that the nails
also have been magnetised. In the same manner when worshippers go to a
temple the power goes forth from thousands of worshippers, the power
or action in the idol gets immensely intensified. The idol surcharged
with this power is able to energize the worshippers.

Thus, in the world there is no object without this power. Atomic
energy is present everywhere. It is only when the true character of
this atomic power is understood that the power of the Divine can also
be understood.”

– Sathya Sai Baba

Remembering Sathya Sai – More Sathya Sai Memories

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Sathya Sai Baba with Dear Sai Geeta – now passed on.

 

 

I do hope Sai devotees and others will enjoy this sweet letter from Ted Henry. (with thanks.) 

 



Love as Thought is Truth.
Love as Action is Right Conduct.
Love as Understanding is Peace.
Love as Feeling is Non-violence.

Duty without love is deplorable.
Duty with love is desirable.
Love without duty is Divine. -Baba

 

 

 

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~ THE MAIN EVENT

All is well here. Sai Baba is everywhere and his hand hand can be seen here in everyone’s lives. From dawn to dusk people talk of amazing first person experiences, from dawn to dusk my head spins from what I hear, see, learn and understand. Enough said.

~ LIFE IS BUT A BREEZE

Somewhere from deep within the Deccan Plateau comes an evening breeze that regularly cools off the still tiny town of Puttaparthi. Following the evening bhajans and darshan, the walkway back to Round House 1 is a good place to catch the breeze that always seems to bring the day’s best relief from the hot winter sun. Yes, it is winter here, but who would know? Daily the temp climbs to the high 80s with seldom a cloud in sight.

I do tend to go on about the ambiance of Sai Baba’s beautiful ashram. Actually I can’t help it. The late day’s devotional singing in the open air prayer hall clearly sets the stage for the brief program that remains at the end of each day here, a good dinner and a long read of one of the hundreds of Baba books available in the ashram. Jody is the chief reader in our apartment, but I manage to get in some good reading as well. And to my credit, as of heading into our sixth week here, I have yet to read a single word in any of the novels I brought to India with me.

The evenings are anything but lively here. You’ve got the sound of the crickets outside, the occasional howling dog off in the distant, and the ever present whirring of the two ceiling fans in our flat.

 

~ SOULJOURNS INTERVIEWS

We spent time with Jay Jethna yesterday. Jay is from Austrailia and works for the United Nations. On video he told us three amazing stories, not the least of which occurred back in 1968.

Jay was 13 at the time living in Uganda, where he was born. A friend told him that he had heard that God was coming to town in two days. Jay couldn’t wait and was extremely excited even though he had no idea if  “The Blessed One”  had a name or what he looked like. Jay and his family showed up to wait for Baba at the 6 pm appointed hour. It wasn’t until 1 o’clock in the morning that the country’s important guest finally arrived. Several people got out of the car but there was no sign of Him. When Jay asked someone about this he was told that the man in the orange clothes with fuzzy hair was who everyone was waiting for and that his name was Sai Baba. Jay had seen this man get out of the car earlier but thought he was one of the security guards.

The next day Jay sneaked into the backyard of the people hosting Sai Baba trying to get another view of the important visitor. Baba was blessing people in the yard when he spotted Jay in the back. When he went up to Jay, Baba told Jay that he was not well, which was true since Jay had suffered from a serious life long asthma condition.

And then Baba said, “Go”, but Jay thought this meant Baba wanted him to leave, to go back to school. But Baba wanted to see Jay for an interview, of course and later, once inside the host’s home Baba produced a fluid from the palm of his hand and applied it to Jay and said, “Go, no more sickness”.

Jay left and from that day forward he has never suffered from asthma again in his life. Twenty two years passed before Jay gave much thought to Baba again. At the age  of 33,  he was visiting a shopping mall with his wife in Hong Kong. On the sign board were the words,  “Sai Baba and this made him think.”  This prompted Jay and his wife to visit the tenth floor offices of the local Sai Baba center. As they entered, bhajans were underway, something Jay and his wife, Julie had never been exposed to, but they stayed anyway and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Needless to say, Jay reconnected with Sai Baba in his life and has become an ardent devotee coming to Prasanthi countless times since turning 33. Jay has two additional stories to share on Souljourns, both of which are blockbusters. Look for them soon at vimeo.com/souljourns and/or youtube.com/souljourns.

Also look for the many other Souljourns interviews we’re recording in India. So far we have about 30 of them recorded, and in their own way they’re all powerful. Many of them include useful guidance for additional spiritual growth.

 

 

 

Every Moment The Guru – Inspirational Quotations

aswamirose2 23 November 1926 – 24 April 2011

“Life always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every misfortune,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee),
every illness, every loss,
every moment of joy or depression,
every addiction,
every piece of garbage,
every breath.

Every moment is the guru.”

~ Charlotte Joko Beck

 


 

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During the 1990’s, when darshans were daily and much more personal, I wrote down my treasured moments, knowing that time was marching on and that we were reaching the end of those special moments with Sai Baba. Here is  a glimpse into the  past from my old notebook of stories.

“On my second visit in 1991, a huge beautiful butterfly flew into my room and landed on the floor where it died. It was such a beautiful thing, the wings, of shimmering orange, red and black, glowed in the afternoon sunshine, that filtered through the small  window. The size of a small bird, the butterfly had unusual markings on its wings. It was too beautiful to die, I thought, ’something like that should live forever’.  I could not bring myself to remove the dead butterfly from the floor, I left it there and went to darshan. While seated for darshan, I glanced round at the ladies seated near me, all of them resembled colourful butterflies. Their saris looked every bit as beautiful and shimmering as the butterfly wings. The afternoon passed, as usual, with Sai Baba giving darshan, taking letters, throwing sweets, and taking people for interviews. It seemed to me, at the time, this would last forever.


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Returning to the room after darshan, I was shocked to see that the dead butterfly on the floor had already lost its lustre and was being eaten by ants. In just a few hours, it had been reduced from its previous luminance form of radiance, to a crumbling mass of dead cells. It was sad to see, although the lesson of the butterfly had not been lost on me. We only have so much time when we are young and life is a dream. Old age, loss of health and death are inevitable. We fall and die just like that butterfly. Best to use our time well, because who knows what  tomorrow will bring.”

Swami the Driver – Early Devotees

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For readers who enjoy stories about Sri Sathya Sai Baba, here is one from an old devotee.

The Early days: The playful Swami

In those days many prominent people from cities like Bangalore and Madras came to Swami and were attracted to him, they became his devotees. Some of them owned cars and they would leave the car with Swami in Puttaparthi for Swami’s personal use.

Many times Swami would himself drive from Puttaparthi to Bangalore, He would travel in those cars of the 1940’s which barely gave 2-3 kms a litre and on those mud filled and rugged roads, it was not always a pleasant experience.   The distance from Puttaparthi to Bangalore is 154 kms, yet he would take just 90 minutes to get there.

Swami would drive at incredible speed. The car would sometimes be “off the ground.”  Yet, there were never any accidents on the way nor would he ever skip a signal. Many times, a scared Seshagiri Rao who travelled with him, would fold his hand during the journey, mutter a prayer and close his eyes throughout the journey.

Sri. Kasthuri had once written that Swami drove a car all by Himself all the way from Chennai to Hyderabad. It was an overnight trip and pretty scary but Swami wanted to reach the residence of Sri. B.Ramakrishna Rao, before he breathed his last.

His highness Sri Gopala Krishna Yachendra of Venkatagiri Royal family says:


“We used to come to Puttaparthi by car always. One incident is still fresh in my mind..   Once in Puttaparthi I asked Swami, “Swami why don’t you teach me to drive. I would also like to see you drive”. Swami said, “Let us go.” He got into the driver seat and drove off from the old Mandir at the outskirts of Puttaparthi to the new Mandir – a distance of 300 yards. The new Mandir was still under construction. I sat next to him terrified at this unexpected turn of events. The last stretch was uphill. Then Swami suddenly took his hands off the wheel and sat cross-legged and I almost fainted  from shock. The car went so fast. The gears changed on their own and it finally stopped without Swami touching the pedals. Swami smiled at me, after we got out of the now stationary car… I never asked him to drive again although, I was thrilled to accompany him on that short and eventful journey.”


Many readers will now wonder whether Swami had a Driving licence. Yes he did. It was the Road Transport Officer Mr. Ramachandran, who issued a driving license to Swami in Chennai when he was barely 17 year old. Finding the young lad very skilled in driving, he subjected him to many tests when he was asked to test drive a car. He then issued a driving license to Swami.

With Love & Regards, Mumbai Srinivasan

acarswami


Sheaths Within Sheaths – Early Devotees

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Sheaths Within Sheaths

Swami tells us that it is only in the depths of silence that the voice of God can be heard. There is another story that speaks of this profound silence that is the Divinity. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, while in the forest, came into an Ashram where there were many rishis and their wives assembled. Rama and Lakshmana joined the men, Sita sat with the ladies. As all the men were sanyasins, they all looked pretty much the same. Even Rama and Lakshmana wore the same simple bark dress as these forest dwellers, and they had their hair in matted locks, as did most of the men there. Sita was of a royal family, brought up in a secluded atmosphere; she was the very embodiment of modesty and morality. In the presence of these sages, Sita bowed her head in humility and did not look up.

One of the rishis’ wives asked Sita, “Did you come alone or with your husband?” Sita indicated that her husband was there and that he was seated among the sanyasins; then she remained silent. When Sita gave no further information, the lady asked her, “Is that one with the knot of hair on his head your husband?” Sita only moved her head a little from side to side to intimate that, no, that was not her husband. “Then is it the one with the long beard?” Again Sita discretely motioned her head to indicate a negative answer. “Is it the one with the long whiskers?” Again a negative movement of the head. “Is it the one with the long nails?” One by one, she was saying ‘no’ with a little movement of her head. When finally the question clearly pointed to Rama, the splendorous one with the bow and the blue skin, Sita remained motionless and silent. Paramatma can be known only in silence.

We are born as human beings. Are we the body? Are we the life-force? Are we the mind? Are we the intelligence? Swami reminds us of the Vedantic answer, ‘Not this, not this, not this.’ When every question, one after the other, has been answered like this in the negative, then at the end one last question alone remains, ‘Are we the Atma?’ Then there will be no answer, only the silent recognition of the great truth. So, the meaning of Sita’s response, Swami says, is to reveal the True Self; and when that Atmic Truth was pointed out she confirmed it by answering ‘yes’ through her silence.

Swami often speaks of the five sheaths, each of which is successively more subtle, fitting one within the other:

First, there is the Annamaya or food sheath, the most outward sheath, which makes up the grossest aspect of the being and relates to the physical body.

Secondly, there is the Pranamaya or vital sheath, sometimes also called the astral body, which accounts for the coursing of the life energy and makes up the densest part of the subtle body of the being.

Thirdly, there is the Manomaya or mental sheath which is associated with the projecting power of the mind, and is also included in the subtle body of the being.

Fourthly, there is the Vignanamaya or the intellectual sheath, associated with the Buddhi, the intuitive and deliberating faculty, and which makes up the finest aspect of the subtle body.

Fifthly, there is the Anandamaya or bliss sheath, the most subtle aspect of being, which makes up the causal body and is associated with the veiling power of the mind.

The gross, the subtle and the causal bodies, made up of these five sheaths, are each associated with one of the three states of consciousness, the waking, the dream and the deep sleep states. They also correspond to each of the three letters making up the AUM, the primal sound, out of which the mind has projected the universe. All these sheaths within sheaths, make up the Upadhis, the limiting physical and mental equipment of the individual soul, the Jiva. They also make up the physical and subtle aspects of the world. They are the stuff of Maya, the illusory fabrications of the illusory mind. Beyond all these is the basis for all these; that is what is called the fourth, the Turiya, and what is also called the Mahakarana, the primal cause. It is the Atmic Principle which is the one true reality… the one unchanging existence on which all these illusory projections come and go.

The five sheaths making up the three states of experience, the five gross and subtle elements, the five senses of perception, the three gunas, and the various aspects of mind, are all different ways of speaking of Maya, and different ways of accounting for the grand illusion of names and forms that make up the multitude of beings and things in the world. Maya is another name for mind, which in turn is born of ignorance. Vedanta teaches us that ignorance is the grand delusion that gives rise to the grand illusion of world. All the names and forms making up this illusion of world, play on their basis, the infinite ocean of Sat-chit-ananda, just like the ever-changing waves and bubbles play on the surface of the deep unchanging sea.

The story of Shiva and Parvarti, as also the wonderful story of the enlightenment of Brighu, which is given in the Taittariya Upanishad, illustrate the successive removal of these sheaths, one overlaying the other, as soon as the spiritual aspirant is ready for the highest wisdom. The presence of the guru catalyzes this process of penetrating deeper and deeper through one’s levels of illusion, until one reaches the very source, the unchanging truth of the Self. In the story given, the clear, pure breath was associated with the vital plane, the beautiful image of the Lord was associated with the purified mental plane, the splendorous light was associated with the effulgent Sun of the Gayatri, which wakes up the intuitive intellect, and is related to the plane of Buddhi, and the OM, the pure sound of creation was associated with the causal plane. Beyond all these is the silence of reality, the eternal Divine Principle, the Immortal Self.

When the sishya, the student, is ready for the final beatitude, the guru instructs him to search out That which, when known, all else will be known… That, by which all is seen but which itself can never be seen… That, by which all is heard but which itself can never be heard… That, out of which everything arises, in which everything exists, and into which everything again dissolves. As he discovers for himself these layers within layers, the guru urges him to go on, not to remain stuck in any place, but to go deeper and deeper.

When all the sheaths are stripped away the answer reveals itself in the silence of reality. The guru doesn’t instruct on what truth is; he points out what is not truth, and goads the sishya on. If the sishya bogs down at some level and strays away, the guru will seek him out to keep him moving on the path, until he reaches the highest wisdom.

~source Al Drucker