Sri Sathya Sai narrates stories of Ashtavakra, Chanakya, Einstein and Tulsidas

November 4, 2000
While conversing with staff and students, Swami gave a talk to the assembled devotees. It resembled the experience that students have in Trayee Brindavan. Here are the key highlights:

One day, Ashtavakra’s father was reciting Mantras (sacred syllables). He was chanting them with wrong intonations. At that time, his wife was lighting a lamp. Within her womb, Ashtavakra criticised his father, telling that his intonations were wrong. Hearing this, his father was annoyed and said, “If he is criticising from within the womb itself, tomorrow, when he grows up, he will criticise me further.” Therefore, he cursed him to be born with bends in his body. Not one, but eight bends. Hence he got the name Ashtavakra. 
An artist's image of Sage Ashtavakra
Once, Ashtavakra went to the king’s court. Noticing the bends in his body, everyone laughed at him. Ashtavakra scolded them saying that they were all cobblers and not scholars. Ashatavakra explained that scholars should have Sama Darshanam (equal vision) and not Charma Darshanam (focus on the physical vision; Charma literally means leather, thereby indicating the physical body). They must not have Vakra Darshanam (crooked vision). A scholar sees a person’s intellect while a cobbler sees the skin. 

Why did Chanakya break one of his teeth?

Once, Chanakya’s mother was crying. When Chanakya asked her the reason, she replied, “Since you have a handsome body, you may become egoistic. In addition, you also have well-arranged teeth, which means that very soon in your life, you will reach an exalted position and then you may not respect elders or even your own mother.” Hearing this Chanakya said that he never wanted to become such an egoistic person. He even took a stone and broke two of his teeth in the front. Even the limbs of the body indicate the personality of a man as described in the Angashastra (science of the limbs). His mother had studied it.
Chanakya (BC 371-283)
It is not enough if one studies well. He should have obedience, discipline and humility. Ego is expressed in many ways, it manifests in one’s sight, speech and even laughter. Each limb of the body shows traces of ego. Every limb of the body should act according to Dharmashastra (the righteous scriptural injunctions). Sometimes we talk in excess.

Too much talk will lead to criticising others. Criticising others will cause disorderliness of lips. At the time of birth, one’s nose may be good, but later it may get bent. Hence, even if one is born with a perfect body, his egoistic actions will lead to physical deformities.

What was the secret behind the greatness of Albert Einstein?

Einstein (1879-1955 AD; a German-born theoretical physicist, he developed the General Theory of Relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics, and received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics) was never egoistic. He respected all equally. Once someone asked him, “What is the secret of your greatness?” To this he replied, “I will show you the secret”. He then took him to his room. He lived in a very small room. There he pointed to a cupboard. In that, there was a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. Showing that he said, “This has brought me success and reputation”. He had full faith in the Gita. 

How did Einstein react when his wife poured a pot of water on him?

His unique quality was his forgiveness. He was married to a woman who happened to be his uncle’s daughter. She used to keep waiting for him at the dining table. But he would keep on writing. One day she got very angry. She would tell him, “You keep fasting and don’t listen to me. You and your useless studies”. But Einstein wouldn’t react impulsively. Though his wife would feel very hungry at times, she never ate her meals before her husband had eaten. It was the culture of those days. One day, however, in her frustration, she poured a pot full of water on his head. Still he was very calm. He said, “My dear wife. Be peaceful. Till now, you were ‘thundering’. Now it is a ‘heavy downpour’!! I am not feeling bad that you poured water on me, but the letters have got spoilt. All the matter which I had written has been erased.” In those days, people would dip their pens in ink pots and then write. When Einstein told his wife that everything was erased, she replied, “This means that the ‘intelligence’ was not within you. You got it from outside, and hence you are feeling sorry. If it were inside you, you wouldn’t have felt sorry.” From that day, Einstein reasoned that everything outside was just reaction, reflection and resound; not reality. He accepted his wife as his Guru and began to explore within. 

What did Tulsidas learn from his wife?

Tulsidas was also the same. (Tulsidas was a poet-saint, reformer and philosopher renowned for his devotion to Rama. A composer of several popular works, he is best known as the author of the epic ‘Ramcharitmanas’, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana in the vernacular Awadhi language. He left his mortal coil in the year 1623 AD.) He composed the Tulsi Ramayan. 
Goswami Tulsidas
Once, when he was in Chitrakoota, many people went to have his Darshan. One day his wife also went there. But she didn’t have the feeling that he was her husband. Previously, his name was Ramabrahmam. He used to water the Tulsi plants, and hence he was called Tulsidas. Just like everyone, his wife also prostrated before him. Seeing her he asked, “Why did you come here?” She replied, “I heard people say that you are a Jnani (one of wisdom). But now, you are behaving like a Moorkha (fool). You still entertain thoughts of me being your wife. How can you be great then?” This opened his eyes and he immediately fell at her feet. He told that from that day onwards, his wife was his Guru. 

Some may look innocent. But then, one must not infer anything merely from looks. Einstein might not have forgotten what he had written, if it were original. But he had borrowed the knowledge. His wife showed him the reality. Everyone reads. But it is not from within. If it is from within, it will not get erased. If one forgets something, it is because of the fact that it is not original. People may seem to be ignorant, yet they have wisdom. Educated people have only borrowed knowledge. They are full of doubts. They even doubt their mothers and think, “Am I really her son?” When they doubt their own mother, they will surely doubt their wives even more. True education is knowledge that is within, not the outside scholarship. The latter is simply an educator and not educated. Hence, Educare is essential. People pronounce ‘edju-cated’. It is actually ‘edu-cated’.

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