March 23 to 26, 1958
Swami’s first visit to Perambur was in the year 1958. Sri M. Dorairajan was one of the oldest devotees from Perambur. When he visited Puttaparthi in 1956, he sought Swami’s blessings to begin conducting weekly Bhajans at Perambur. Swami asked him to begin the Bhajan Yagna on 19th April 1956, which happened to be the auspicious day of Sri Rama Navami. He told him to complete 108 Bhajan sessions and then come to Puttaparthi to take His blessings. After completing 95 Bhajan sessions, the Bhajan group wanted to do the 96th Bhajan session in the Divine Presence. Swami graciously acceded, and the 96th session was thus held in the Divine Presence. Swami blessed them and assured them He would grace the 108th Bhajan session, as well as the concluding ceremony. Swami graced the 108th Bhajan session at Perambur on the 23rd of March as earlier promised. He also laid the foundation stone for a prayer hall.
|Photo of the Original Foundation Stone Plaque Installed That Day|
That evening He gave Darshan to the thousands gathered at the New Railway Hall, Perambur. Swami gave a Discourse on the 24th March at the YMIA grounds, Mylapore. He said:
“I have not come to you to “lecture”, for I do not believe in the value of mere words, however scholarly or pompous or profuse. I have come only to share with you My Prema (Love) and partake in turn of your Prema. It is that which I value most. That is the real gain. Today, the typhoon of hatred and falsehood is scattering the clouds of virtue, justice, and truth to the far corners of the sky, and people feel that Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Universal Religion) itself is in danger of extinction. But that can happen only if the Lord wills, and the Lord who has laid down dharma will not allow it to be destroyed. Wherever truth, right conduct, peace, and love (Satya, Dharma, Shanti, and Prema) are emphasised, in whatever religion or language, by whichever teacher, wherever the teacher may be, there we have Sanatana Dharma.
As long as man is capable of Prema, dharma will exist, do not doubt it. When that Prema is fixed on the Lord, your mental make-up will slowly and steadily undergo a revolutionary change; then, man will share in the sorrows and joys of his fellow-beings; thereafter, he contacts the very source of the bliss, which is beyond the temporary gains and losses of this world. Prema directed to the Lord is called devotion, and it is the easiest of all the paths to realise the goal.
For treading the path of devotion, one needs only Love Devotion can be spoken of as having several stages. There is the stage where service of the Lord alone matters and is its own reward; the devotee does not seek anything more than just the service of the highest, done to the utmost of capacity. This gradually becomes the stage where nothing except the Name and Form of the Beloved is cognised. Again, there is devotion coloured by the three inner qualities (Gunas): the attitude of the afflicted, the seeker of worldly comfort, the sincere inquirer, and the wise man, who is silent and content with the realisation that all is He.
For treading the path of devotion, one needs no scholarship, nor wealth nor riches, nor ascetic rigours. Tell Me, what was the lineage of Valmiki, the wealth of Kuchela, the scholarship of Sabari, the age of Prahlada, the status of Gajaraja, the attainments of Vidura? Prema — that was all they had, and that was all they needed. The Grace of the Lord is as the Ocean: vast, limitless. By your spiritual disciplines, your repetition of a Name of God, meditation, and systematic cultivation of virtue, this Grace is converted into clouds of truth; and they rain on humanity as Prema showers, which collect and flow as the flood of bliss (Ananda), back again into the Ocean — the Ocean of the Lord’s Grace. When Prema embraces humanity, we call it compassion, the quality not of pity but of sympathy —sympathy that makes one happy when others are happy and miserable when others are unhappy.
You have seen beggars singing in the streets, is it not? They have each of them a pair of cymbals in one hand by which they mark time and a single-stringed instrument in the other, to the twang of which they tune their singing, The song will be harsh if it is out of tune, and it will be confusing medley if the timing is not kept up. The song of life has to be similar; keep up the daily tasks and sing away in joy to the tune of Prema. Then only is the music worthwhile.
Two main principles to follow in life
It is the mind that makes or mars a person. If it is immersed in things of the world, it leads to bondage; if it treats the world as but temporary, then by that detachment it becomes free and light. Train the mind not to feel attached to things that change for better or for worse. Do not hold before it the tinsels of worldly fame and riches; attract it toward lasting joys derived from springs inside you. That will bring big rewards. The mind itself will then become the guru, for it leads you on and on, once it has tasted the sweets of listening, recapitulating, and repeated steady meditation. It is the mind that fills the image made by the potter with the Divinity that the devotee sees in it; it is the mind that fills the shrine room with the fragrance of holiness.
It is practice, one reads, that imparts strength, as food does when digested and as exercise does to promote health. Thyagaraja sang that the Lord is the inner motive force within the ant as well as the Universe; but though you may intellectually agree, when an ant bites, you do not feel that you have come in contact with the Lord in that form, do you? Do not proclaim great truths aloud; instead, show by your conduct that you attach value to them and that you are guided by them. Be careful of at least this: do not yourself commit those faults of which you accuse others, and do not ask others to reach a standard that you are loathe to climb up to! If you live according to these two principles, then even if you do not fall before an image or attend the temple ritual or worship as per schedule, you can secure the Lord’s Grace.
It is possible to see the Lord dwell in every being
There are many roads through which you can reach Madras; so also there are many roads to Godhead: love, truth, service, compassion, and remembrance of the Lord’s Name. There is also the non-dualist who discovers themself as the basic substance of all creation, as Brahman itself. All paths are right; only some are easier, some more circuitous, some harder. The easiest way to grasp the basic reality is to see the Lord in every creature, the Lord sporting in all this multiplicity, as the underlying reality of all, the Indweller in all Beings. You might wonder and even doubt how it is possible for the Lord to dwell in every being. But have you not seen one single mango seed grow into a tree that gives thousands of fruits, in each of which there is to be found a seed identical to the one which was first planted? So too, the one Lord can be found in every being created by His Will.
Ask only for devotion and spiritual wisdom from Me
Remember, your real nature is the same as the other person’s; the other is yourself known by another name. When you do a good deed, you are doing it to yourself; when you do a bad turn to someone, remember, you are injuring yourself, so avoid doing evil to others.
I am reminded of what Hussain, the son of Rabbia Malik of Persia, used to do. He rose early and went to the mosque for prayers with great diligence and devotion. When he came back, he found the servants of the house still sleeping on their mats, and he grew wild at them. He swore and cursed them for neglect of religious duties. Then his father chastised him, “Son, why do you get angry with those poor souls, who are too tired to wake up early. Do not wipe off the good results of your adherence to the rule of God by falling foul of these innocent slaves. I would much rather you rise late and abstain from the mosque, for now you have grown proud that you are more religious than these others, and you dare blame them for faults for which they are not themselves responsible.”
You must pay attention to these small details also, for devotion is not just a pose; it is a series of little acts, directed by the attitude of reverence for the Divinity in all beings. Watch for the lie that lurks on the tongue, the violence that lurks behind the fist, the ego that lurks behind the deed. Restrain them before they grow into habits and settle down as character to warp your destiny.
Ramaswami Reddy said that I work many miracles and that you are all lucky to have had this opportunity of hearing Me. Well, I am like a shop-keeper whose shop is stocked with all things one needs. But, like the man behind the counter, I give you only what you ask for. If the customer asks for a towel, how can I give them a dhoti? But these material things are not important at all. Ask for devotion and for spiritual wisdom, and I shall be happy. Many do not crave for such things now; it is their misfortune. They are merely wasting their precious chance.
Perhaps the elders are to be blamed for this situation. For it is the duty of the elders to show the rising generation by their lives that spiritual discipline and study have made them more joyful and courageous in the adventure of life. Youths always imitate the elders; they quarrel if they find the elders deriving joy from quarrels; they cavil at holiness if the elders do not honour holy men and institutions. So I will not blame the young men as much as the elders.
Piety is not weakness but strength
Faith in God and in spiritual discipline has declined due to want of enthusiasm among the elders in these matters. It is the responsibility of all pious men to demonstrate in and through their lives that piety is not weakness but strength, that it opens up a vast spring of power, and that a person with faith in God can overcome obstacles much more easily than one who has not.
I do not insist that a person should have faith in God. I refuse to call any person an atheist. Beings exist as a result of His Will, in accordance with His Plan, so no one is beyond His Grace. Besides, everyone has love toward some one thing or other, and that love is a spark of the Divine. Everyone has ultimately to base their life on someone Truth; that Truth is God. No life can be lived out in complete defiance of Truth; one has to pay heed to truth and speak the truth to someone in order to make life worth living. Now, that moment is God’s moment, and at the moment when one utters the truth, or loves, or serves or bends, one is a theist.
So, it is not even devotion that is essential. It is love, truth, virtue, the eagerness to progress, to serve, to expand one’s heart, to take in the whole of humanity in one’s love, to see all as Forms of the Divine Consciousness."
|With Members of the Perambur Sai Samiti, Chennai|
He followed this up with another Discourse at Gokhale Hall, Georgetown, on the 25th. He said:
"I have come to comfort your life, not to describe Mine! So I did not like Ramanatha Reddy and Kasturi speaking about Me and the incidents of My life! Your lives are more important for Me, for My purpose is to see that you live more happily and with greater contentment. All beings have to do Karma (sanctified activity); it is a universal inescapable obligation. Some feel that only meritorious and sinful, or virtuous and vicious, deeds are entitled to be called Karma. But your very breathing is karma. There are certain Karmas whose fruits you cannot give up! There are physical, mental, and spiritual Karmas, and doing each of these for the good of the Self is called dedication. Mention was made of Puttaparthi, and you were advised to go there and draw inspiration from the Bhajans (devotional singing) there. Please do not incur the expense; for wherever you are, whenever you call on Me, your room can become Prasanthi Nilayam, your village can be made Puttaparthi. I am ever alert to respond, ever ready to listen and reply.
I want you to be active, fully engaged, for if you have no activities, time will hang heavily on your hands. Do not waste a single moment of the allotted span of life, for time is the body of God. He is known as the Form of Time. It is a crime to misuse time or to waste it in idleness. So too, the physical and mental talents given to you by the Lord as capital for the business of living should not be frittered away.
Social service must be done gladly and reverentially
Like the force of gravitation, which drags everything down, the pull of sloth will drag you relentlessly down, so you must be ever on the watch, be ever active. Like the brass vessel that has to be scrubbed to a nice shine, the mind of man has also to be scrubbed by means of spiritual discipline, that is to say, activity like repetition of the Name and meditation. Karma (activity) that is natural and automatic, like breathing, becomes an impious act when it is done consciously, with a definite result in view.
A Hindu and his British friend once happened to come to the bank of the Godavari. The Hindu said, “I will bathe in this sacred water.” He recited the name “Hari” as he plunged in and came out refreshed in mind as well as body. He felt great happiness that he got the rare chance of a bath in the holy river. The Britisher laughed and said, “This is mere H2O; how can you get unspeakable joy by dipping into it? It is all superstition. But the Hindu replied, “Leave me to my superstition; you can stick to your superstition.” The cynic got only physical cleanliness but the believer got mental purity also.
When you prostrate before elders, the mind too must be humble; it is not the body alone that should bend. Now, many social workers in Madras visit hospitals and do service to the patients there. Most of the work they do is mechanical, like fanning the patients, writing letters for them, and singing Bhajans, without paying heed to the actual requirements of the patients. Many do this work because it is the current mode of social service. But it must be karma done with the full cooperation of the mind, gladly, intelligently, reverentially. The patient should not feel disgusted at the fussiness of the social worker; the patient should be looking forward to the arrival of the person, of someone who is very near and dear. If you do not like that type of work, you need not engage in it. Do not burden your mind by the unpleasantness of the task. Work done mechanically is like the flame of an oil less wick; the oil is mental enthusiasm; pour it, and the lamp will burn clear and long.
Karma should not be done anticipating any result
In fact, Karma (activity) becomes Yoga (union with God) when it is done without any attachment. A monk should not even remember what he does; he should not do any karma anticipating any result. That is the desireless ideal at its highest. The best Karma is that which is done at the call of duty; because it has to be done, not because it is advantageous to do it. The monk should have no anger, anxiety, envy, or greed, but your experience must be telling you that monks who are free from these are very rare today. Do not even cast your glance at a monk who is so false to his vow that he craves for name and fame or indulges in calumny or competition. Do not be led away by such persons into disbelieving the spiritual texts and the Vedas. One who is firmly fixed in the faith that this world is a mirage of the mind — that one alone is the swami; the others are mere Ramaswamis or Krishnaswamis, entitled to have the epithet swami at the end of the name and not at the beginning.
Nature is Puratana — a very ancient entity. The individual soul is also Puratana, having had many previous entries and exits. But now it has come in with a new dress; it is Nutana (modern), come like a pilgrim to a holy place for going the rounds. The individual soul must have a guide who will show the sacred spots and help fulfil the pilgrimage. That Guide is the Lord Himself: the Guide books are Vedas, the Upanishads, and the spiritual texts. The essence of the scriptures lies in this one rule: Repeat the name of the Lord, keeping His Glory always before the mind.
Earn the right to approach God without fear
The Lord is as the Divine wish-fulfilling tree, which gives whatever is asked. But you have to go near the tree and wish for the thing you want. The atheist is the person who keeps far away from the tree; the theist is the one who has come near; that is the difference. The tree does not make any distinction; it grants boons to all. The Lord will not punish or take revenge if you do not recognise Him or revere Him. He has no special type of worship that alone can please him.
If you have the ear, you can hear “Om” announcing the Lord’s Presence in every sound. All five elements produce this sound, “Om”. The bell in the temple is intended to convey the Om as the symbol of the Omnipresent God. When the bell sounds “Om”, the Godhead within you will awaken, and you will be aware of His Presence. That is the meaning of the bell that is rung in front of the inner shrine in the temple.
Earn the right to approach the Lord without fear and the right to ask for your heritage. You must become so free that praise will not emanate from you when you approach the Lord. Praise is a sign of distance and fear. You must have heard the Kalidasa story. He said that he would get liberation, “as soon as I go,” that is to say, as soon as the ego disappears, for then he shines in his native splendour, as Brahman (as the indestructible Atma). The I, when crossed out, becomes the symbol of cross; what is crucified is the ego, remember. Then, the divine nature manifests itself unhampered.
Do spiritual practices in an atmosphere of joy
The ego is most easily destroyed by devotion, by dwelling on the magnificence of the Lord, and by rendering service to others as children of the Lord. You can call on the Lord by any name, for all names are His; select the Name and Form that appeals to you most. That is why 1000 names are composed for the various forms of God; you have the freedom and the right to select any one of the thousand. The guru will give you the Name and Form suited to your temperament and meritorious acts.
If the guru commands you under a threat and orders you to adopt a line of spiritual exercise, declaring “This is my command,” tell him that the main thing is your satisfaction, not his. You have to do the spiritual exercise in an atmosphere of joy and contentment. The guru should not force the disciple to grow with a bent in the direction that the guru prefers; disciples have the right to develop on their own lines, according to their impressions from the past and bent of mind.
The old relationship of guru and pupil has today become topsy-turvy; rich and influential pupils now rule the guru and dictate how he should behave. The gurus also, keen on accumulating fame and wealth, stoop to the tactics recommended by the pupils and thus lower their status. So, examine the guru and his credentials, his ideals and practice, before accepting him.
Even in My case, do not be attracted simply by stories of what I “create” by a wave of the hand. Do not jump to conclusions with closed eyes; watch, study, and weigh. Never yield to anyone unless you feel the inner satisfaction that you are on the right path. Above all, do not talk ill of great men and sages. That is a sign of gross egoism and the childish impertinence born of that conceit. My suggestion to you today is this: just as you attend to the needs of the body, feeding it three times a day, in order to keep it in good running condition, so too spend some time regularly every day to keep your Inner Consciousness in good trim. Spend one hour in the morning, another at night, and a third in the early hours of dawn, the Brahma-Muhurta as it is called, for repetition of the name and meditation on the Lord. You will find great peace descending on you and great new sources of strength welling up within you as you progress in this spiritual discipline. After some time, the mind will dwell on the Name wherever you are and whatever you are engaged in, and peace and joy will be your inseparable companions.”
Swami discoursed for the third consecutive day on the 26th at Shanti Kutir, Royapuram.