Sri Sathya Sai On: Lessons From Personal Experiences of Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
When the Maharaja of Alwar (in Rajasthan) argued before Swami Vivekananda that God can never be perceived in a picture drawn by an artist, Vivekananda called upon the prime minister who was standing reverently by, to get the Maharaja’s portrait down from the wall and asked him to spit on it! He said, “You need not hesitate. The Maharaja says that it is just a blotch of colours on a bit of canvas and that it should not be confused with His Majesty”.
- “Colour on Canvas”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, February 6, 1979, Brindavan

When Swami Vivekananda introduced a new form of address at the Congress of Religions in Chicago, instead of addressing them as ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’, he addressed them as ‘Brothers and Sisters’. It was quite new to the foreigners, and they were so much touched and moved by this gesture that they applauded him incessantly for fifteen minutes. Of course, nowadays too, we are addressing the audience as sisters and brothers, but that feeling is not there in our hearts even for the time we are on the platform. What we do not feel in our hearts should not be expressed outwardly. We must give place to true feelings in our hearts and we must try to practice good things in our life.
- “Destiny and Divine Grace”, Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, Brindavan

Vivekananda was once in a certain town, during his peregrinations. People recognised in him a great monk and a profound scholar and so, for about three days, without intermission, streams of visitors poured into his presence. Some asked about subtle points in Sadhana, many argued with him on the intricacies of logic, grammar, and ethics that are found in the Shastras. Students sought to know the problems of national regeneration and the solutions he could suggest. But, there was an old woman, sitting in a corner, watching Vivekananda with avidity, who did not speak one word. She was there for all the three days, waiting for a chance to come near the monk. When the lady finally got the chance, she asked him, “Son! Shall I bring you something to eat? These people never gave you anything, nor did they give you even a few minutes to go and beg food from the town. Tell me, I shall run and bring you food and drink”. Vivekananda was overjoyed at the tender heart of that mother, he said, “You are indeed blessed. What can mere scholarship or mere earnestness to serve do, to save man? Sympathy, service, putting yourselves in the place of your neighbour and trying to assuage pain and sorrow, that is what wins Grace”. Through Love and Service, the mind is cleared of ego and God is reflected therein.
- “Love the Source of Love”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 06, February 20, 1966, Prasanthi Nilayam
Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago (1893)
Vivekananda was able to declare at Chicago the worth of Sanatana Dharma (eternal universal religion) in an unmistakably leonine tone, because he had the strength of Anushthanam (practice of austerities) behind him.
- “The Broken Bow”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 02,  March 10, 1962, Prasanthi Nilayam

One day, when Vivekananda was in his room, at night, sleepless because he was tossed about by conflicting thoughts; Ramakrishna who was ‘asleep’, was talking as if in a dream but his talk was clearly heard by Vivekananda. He said, “O Manas! (O Mind!) O Manasa Rajahamsa (Royal swan of the mind!) 
O Nithyananda Rasaika Nilaya (Repository of Eternal Bliss only!) Daivaswarupa (You are Divine in nature). Sport in the pure lake of meditation of the Divine; instead, why do you crave for the dirty pond of sensual pleasure!” That was the advice of the Guru to Naren. Naren immediately resolved to take that advice to heart.
- “Names Do Not Matter”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 04, January 14, 1964, Prasanthi Nilayam

Nivedita asked for advice from Vivekananda to gain one-pointedness during Dhyana. Vivekananda said, “Do not allow Margaret Noble to come between you and God” (Sister Nivedita’s original name was Margaret Noble). ‘Nivedita’ means ‘offering’. So Vivekananda explained, “Offer yourself fully to God”.
- “The Sadhaka and the Scholar”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, July 27, 1980, Prasanthi Nilayam 

Vivekananda was once asked by a cynical critic, why he paraded his renunciation through the ochre robe. He replied, “This is no parade; this is a protection. I am wearing this ochre, because, seeing this, no one will approach me for alms or monetary help. And, so, that word ‘No’ which I am averse to pronounce need not be spoken by me. At sight of this robe, only seekers of salvation will come near me; for them, I have enough to give. I am moved when distressed people come near; but, I have no money to give them. This dress helps me to escape such painful situations”.
- “Alms and Qualms”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 08, January 13, 1968, Prasanthi Nilayam

Few people can understand the true nature of God’s love. Men tend to compare their own love with that of God. They do not realise that their love is based on, attachment to what they like or what they are accustomed to enjoy the attraction or otherwise, is not inherent in the objects themselves, but in the Vasanas (cravings based on past impressions) of the individuals concerned.
Vivekananda discovered this truth by observing the reactions of different persons to the same situation. Seeing a man who had fallen on the wayside after taking intoxicating drinks, two thieves, who were themselves drunk, remarked that the man must be a thief like themselves who had got drunk after a thieving expedition in the night. A man subject to epileptic fits thought that the man must have fallen in a fit. A Sadhu seeing the unconscious state of the man, thought that he might be a Yogi in a state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi (super conscious state of meditation) and started massaging his legs reverentially. These varied reactions showed that men judge things not as they really are, but on the basis of their own feeling and experiences. Vivekananda then realised that his doubts regarding the spiritual eminence of Swami Ramakrishna were the result of his own misguided thinking and had no relation to Paramahamsa’s qualities. 
He realised that there was no blemish in Ramakrishna and the fault lay with his own feelings. He regretted having come away from Ramakrishna and confessed to his mother his grievous mistake. He appealed to his mother to permit him to go back to Ramakrishna. She allowed him to act according to his inclinations. Vivekananda realised that man’s wayward thoughts accounted for his doubts and confusion regarding the Divine. The Divine is beyond blemish and deficiencies. Hence God is described as perfect, free from any taint, formless and attributeless. Ganapati has been described as Aprameya (transcendent and all encompassing). Hence he can be worshipped in any manner.
Sri Ramakrishna in ecstasy
…Even a person like Vivekananda had doubts about Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s saintliness. There have always been doubting Thomases. To test Ramakrishna’s aversion to wealth and possessions, Vivekananda once kept some gold coins under the pillow of Ramakrishna. The moment he reclined on his bed, Ramakrishna felt as if he was lying on a bed of thorns. Immediately, Vivekananda realised how baseless were his doubts. He felt that to rise to the heights of the great souls he himself should elevate his soul. Men today are like a man on the ground who wishes to see the pilot of a plane moving in the sky. The only way he can see the pilot is to get into the plane himself. To experience God you have to aspire for a vision of God. That is the way to lead an ideal and blissful life.
- “Significance of Ganesha Principle”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, October 7, 1997, Prasanthi Nilayam
Young Narendranath Dutta
Of course the Grace of the Guru helps a lot; Vivekananda was sliding into atheism and agnosticism the more books he read, but a touch from the hand of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa transformed him completely. You can also win this Grace, by your efforts and earnest prayer.
- “Japa, Sadhana”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 09, May 10, 1969, Dharmakshetra

Like Vivekananda and Nag Mahasaya (the householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa), people must be urged by the thirst to know the Creator behind Creation, the person behind the puppets. Nag Mahasaya started from the attitude of Dasoham (I am the servant), and he made himself so small by shrinking his individuality that he was able to wriggle out of the shackles of delusion and escape into the Universal Eternal Truth. 

Vivekananda, on the other hand, started from the attitude of Soham (I am He); he made himself so vast and grand, that he broke the shackles and merged with the Supreme Sovereign Truth. When you have earned that Jnana of the identity of your reality with the reality behind the Universe, Maya (illusion) cannot affect you.
- “Have no Desh: Seek No Upadesh” Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 05, October 4, 1965, Prasanthi Nilayam

The ancient Indian Sages practised silence as a spiritual discipline because they realised the myriad benefits derived from Mounam (silence). Swami Vivekananda learnt a valuable lesson when he found that after ten days of endless talk he had forgotten all the Shlokas he had learnt by heart. By practising complete silence for a fortnight he got back his memory powers.
- “Sacred Use of Indriyas”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 30, October 6, 1997, Prasanthi Nilayam

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back to Top