Human Life and The Sathya Sai Avatar – By Shrikanth Khanna

Shrikanth Khanna with Sri Sathya Sai on Convocation Day - November 22, 2005 (Receiving the All Rounder Gold Medal from the Revered Founder Chancellor)

“I separated Myself from Myself to love Myself” and thus was creation made. The Bible vividly sketches this significant event – God first made water, then came the Earth, the flora and then at last the fauna, invertebrates and vertebrates. Then as He looked at His creation He must have felt one last urge – for then He made man - yes, man in His own image. He bestowed on man supreme intelligence, reasoning power and above all a discriminating and supervising intellect. Every creature under the sky is ruled by instinct, yet man is different. And thus, man was chosen to be the crowning jewel of His creation. And so Bhagavan, our beloved urges - “Jantunaam Narajanma Durlabham” (In all creation, human birth is the rarest). 

Truly, it is the glory of the human birth that man is given the power to discriminate between the self and the non-self and realise God, it offers the one chance of merging in God or Moksha (liberation) as it is called, which is the single inspiration of the whole cosmic drama. 

Such a great opportunity at hand ought to be utilised by man, struggling each and every moment to achieve the Goal. Man should realise that he is Divine. He is in reality the impersonal truth. His essential nature is pure consciousness, and that the Love of God exists in the hearts of all. The Lord is our very self and so very dear to us. As water, though one and formless when poured into different vessels, so does the Lord take the various forms we see. Infinite is the Lord and infinite are His expressions. 

Man is ever free and is never bound but today, man believes the opposite. When the moon is reflected on the ocean, the waves of the ocean make it appear restless, but in reality the moon is steady and calm. It is the water that is restless and so are the ignorant who identify themselves with bondage superimposing the attributes of non-self upon the self. 

The value of human life is increased in a country like ours, the abode of Lords, house of sages, centre of all religions, and land of natural beauty. In this country, the Lord decided to descend. Here were born young prodigies like Prahlada, who could attain what even sages, yearning for ages, could not. Here were written the Vedas; the source of knowledge in this land of sacrifices and holy rituals, of moral maxims and prosperity. “Jananee Janma Bhoomischa Swargaadapi Gareeyasi” (mother and motherland are greater than heaven) is true of our country. 

The purpose of lives as humans is not fulfilled in the present Kali Age when people bound by illusion and bad Karmas of their past lives think themselves ignorantly as the gross human forms and wholly engage themselves in evil pursuits giving no time for God. 

Eternal bliss should be aimed for and not momentary joys, but man today immersed in the mire of ephemeral greed has lost sight of the vital spiritual values. But his motive today is the achievement of sensual pleasures and worldly comforts. Since ancient times, religions have been the most preferred ways of reaching God. The secret of religion lies not in books, nor in theories or in mere talk but in practising to be good, moral, pure and unselfish. 

It is to make it clear that we cannot see impurity without having it inside ourselves; all this wisdom has been passed on from generation to generation in this holy land. For instance, an emperor from a foreign land met a sage in India and was impressed by his wisdom. When he asked the sage to come with him to his country, the sage turned him off saying that he was quite satisfied. Even when offered great positions and wealth, the sage put him off saying that he never cared for those. When the emperor threatened to kill him, the sage smiled serenely and said “That is the most foolish thing you ever said. You cannot kill me because I am the one whom the sun cannot dry, the fire cannot burn and sword cannot penetrate; for I am the birthless, deathless, immortal, omnipresent and omnipotent spirit.” Such was the wisdom of our ancestors. Unfortunately, it is not so anymore. 

Today, people live by fear and not by prayer. Religion has come into politics and we can see riots that disturb the peace of the world. Unrighteousness has spread its roots deep into the hearts. The ancient episode is that when Kali fell at the feet of Parikshit and asked him for pardon and safety, the king gave over to him all the parts of his realm where flourished the four vices of gambling, drinking, inhuman treatment and cruelty and when Kali, wishing to extend his realm asked for still more, the king offered him in addition domains of falsehood, pride, lust, envy and enmity. But today, we see hardly a few who are not affected by the evil effects of Kali and have stuck to the virtues of austerity, purity, charity, and truthfulness. On seeing such a miserable condition of human life, He has come down to earth to make his declaration of “Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavati Bharata Abhyuthaanam Adharmasya Tadatmanam Srujamyaham” (Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I incarnate) come true. 

“When untruth and unrighteousness prevail and truth is forgotten, the Lord comes in flesh and blood on Earth to destroy the evil and re-establish truth and righteousness.” Today, God is in front of us in the form of the Sai Avatar and has come to sanctify our lives by teaching us the way to live and the path to the ultimate. The mission of the present Avatar is to make everyone realise that the same Divinity dwells in us. People should respect, love and help each other irrespective of colour, caste, or creed. The previous Avatar, Shirdi Sai Baba, laid the base for a secular integration and gave mankind the message that duty is God. And the next Avatar, Prema Sai, will promote the evangelic news that not only does God reside in everybody, but also that everybody is God. Thus, the three Avatars carry the triple message of work, worship and wisdom. 

How this glorious Avatar transforms, teaches the right way and protects is well-known to almost all the devotees who are drenched in the showers of His Love. For example, this is the experience of one Dr. Banerjee, who was a professor in Chemistry. He and his wife, who was a lecturer of Physics, were brought up without any formal religion, and she never opened a book on spiritual subjects till she came to Prasanthi Nilayam. During her first interview, Baba blessed her by placing His hand above her head. Afterwards her husband saw a streak of Vibhuti along the line parting her hair. Strangely, within a few days he saw his wife reading books containing Baba’s discourses and then later on other spiritual literature as well.  Sometime afterwards Baba remarked on this new interest and again blessed her. In doing so He again placed His hand above her head, but a bit higher this time, and those watching saw Vibhuti shower from his palm to cover the whole crown. Her interest further strengthened, deepened and she became a firm devotee of Sai Baba. His love is backed by a great wisdom, a deep initiative perception that sees the real beyond the play of shadows. 

His devotees have countless proofs that Bhagavan sees their past, present and future, that He knows their Karma and what suffering they must undergo and learn the deeper truths of life. He becomes the kind, compassionate, and gentle mother till His children’s hearts overflow with devotion. They wonder, “What have I done to deserve this?” Furthermore, a tree is judged by its fruit as the bible tells us. Baba is the Kalpavriksha and its fruits are those devotees who have surrendered themselves fully to Him. They are a set of people with remarkable fraternity, generosity and sincerity - they are the torchbearers of the future’s glory. 

The teachings that made their lives exemplary are the essence of the Vedas. Bhagavan wants us to follow these and reach God and realise the innate Atma. Bhagavan says that man is essentially the Atma and not the gross body. For this, He gives an example. While walking in the sun you cast a shadow, which falls on dust and dirt, but you remain unaffected, similarly you should not be worried about your body. The true self of man is subtle and what man needs is Jnana-Chakshu (the eyes of wisdom) to see it. Bhagavan says, “Man looks everywhere but within himself.” To gain liberation and bliss, man must be free from all earthly desires and attachments. About desires Bhagavan has said, “Man’s desires are like the metal coins which he carries in his pocket. The more he has, the more they weigh him down. But if one can convert them into paper note of higher currency he will not feel any weight. In the same way if he can convert his many desires into one desire - to aspire for the union with God, then there will not be any weight to pull him down.” 

Also He teaches that though God is formless, He acquires form and resides in each and every being. Also God can be addressed and worshipped in the way one likes or as per one’s view. Bhagavan has clearly declared that He has not come to destroy or disturb any faith but to confirm each of his own faith so that a Christian becomes a better Christian and a Hindu a better Hindu. Bhagavan also made it clear that the distance between God and us is the distance between us and ourselves. God is in everyone. We are meant to be in this world, but the world should not get into us. The mistake we commit is to seek for peace and happiness in wrong places. Work, worship and wisdom are the three lanes to Self-realisation. Worship while you work, and strive for Self-knowledge. That will bring true wisdom. 

In a discourse at Shirdi, Baba elaborated the following ten points: 
1. We must realise the absolute triviality and unimportance of things in the world. We should have our aim high. 
2. We must have intense aspiration to become free, caring for nothing else. 
3. We must gaze inwards and realise the self. 
4. We must turn away from wrong doings. 
5. We must lead a life of truth, penance, insight and right conduct. 
6. Like a wise man, we must choose the good and not the pleasant. 
7. We must control our mind and senses. 
8. We ought to purify the mind. 
9. The aspirant must have a Guru. 
10. We should pray for Lord’s grace at all times, for it is the only way to overcome delusion and way to success. 
We should put into practice all the above to go back to the Source. Only then we can be out of the cycle of birth and rebirth. Blessed are those who realise the Truth and make the best use of this opportunity. 

- Shrikanth Khanna
Student (2002-2006), Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Currently, Assistant Professor, 
Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning
Prasanthi Nilayam Campus

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