Conversations Galore on Stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavatam

 Monday, March 5, 2001

In the evening, after the interviews, Swami came to the Ganesh Portico.

Swami: (To a teacher) How are you? How come you are always lean? Don’t you eat?

Teacher: I eat Swami.

Swami: (To Prof. Anil Kumar) In Primary School, they give good diet, they give balanced diet. (Swami went back to interview room. After sometime, Swami came back to the Ganesh portico. To Prof. Radhaswamy) 

Come and sit here. (Swami asked him about the progress made by the Research Scholars in their studies. To students who were appearing for Board exams) When are your exams starting?

Students: Swami, day after tomorrow.

Swami: Which day?

Students: Wednesday, Swami.

Prof. A. K.: Swami, Tuesday.

Swami: (With a smile) Is day after tomorrow, Tuesday?

Prof. A. K.: No Swami, I thought today was Sunday. Even though I went to Institute, I forgot that today is Monday.

Swami: (Smiling) You better be here only; they (administration) will send the pension! Some people work hard even after the retirement with renewed energy. They utilise their time properly. They cultivate good thoughts and lead a respectable and responsible life. In that age one should not talk unnecessarily.

Prof. A. K.:Why, Swami ?

Swami: Kaikeyi is a good example for this. Kaikeyi loved Rama very much. She nourished him as her own son. When she heard the news of Rama’s coronation, she was in ecstasy.

Prof. A. K.: Then, why did she change?

Swami: Because of Manthara (Kaikeyi’s maid-servant). All the 24 hours, she told her something or the other against Rama. That changed her mind. 

Prof. A. K.: Is it so, Swami ?

Swami: Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi were always united and affectionate to each other. When Dasharatha divided the Payasam into three parts, Sumitra was having her share and was drying her hair in the balcony. In those days, there were no fans. At that time, an eagle took the bowl containing the Payasam. Sumitra felt very sad. She was afraid as to what the king would say if he came to know of this. She told Kaushalya and Kaikeyi about the same. With love, they gave half from each of their share to Sumitra. Later, Rama was born to Kaushalya, Lakshmana and Shatrughna to Sumitra, and Bharata to Kaikeyi. From the time of his birth, Lakshmana kept weeping, though they tried their best to stop him from wailing. At last, Sumitra took him to Vasishtha. Vasishtha said that Lakshmana was born due to the Payasam given by Kaushalya and Shatrughna was born out of the Payasam given by Kaikeyi. So they should be kept near their siblings. Sumitra went to take permission from Kaushalya to keep the baby Lakshmana in Rama’s cradle. Kaushalya said that for her, both the children were the same and that she was ready to put Lakshmana by Rama’s side. Shatrughna grew along with Bharata. The vessel, which was taken by the eagle, was actually dropped into the hands of Anjanidevi. Anjaneya (Hanuman) was born to her as the result of that Payasam. So, Anjaneya was the fifth person born out of the Payasam. (Mentioning a person’s name) He had three wives. Once, one of his relatives came and asked him how many children he had? In turn, he asked one of his wives, “How many children we have?” (Everyone laughed at this anecdote.) 

Prof. A. K.: Swami, You gave a good example!

Swami: Do you know Dhruva’s story? Dhruva’s mother, Suniti, sent her son to the forest for penance. She did that to show the world his Tapas-Shakti (power of penance). Actually, Dhruva’s father allowed Dhruva to sit on his lap. But people say that he didn’t allow his son to sit on his lap. That is not true.

Prof.AK.: Swami, people say that Utthanapaada (Dhruva’s father) had more affection towards his younger wife.

Swami: No, it is not true. He did not have so much attachment. Is there any father in this world who wants to abandon his six-year old baby? Uttama (Dhruva’s step-brother), the son of Suruchi (the second wife of the king) didn’t have any food because of the agony of being separated from Dhruva. He loved Dhruva very much.

Prof. AK: But why didn’t Pandavas and Kauravas have love for each other?

Swami: Pandavas had love towards Kauravas. Once, Dharmaraja made a statement that if anybody came to fight against them, then they would stand united as 105 brothers. But though Pandavas had love towards Kauravas, Kauravas didn’t reciprocate it. Once, Gandhari asked Krishna, “Pandavas are only five and Kauravas are hundred. But, You saved all of the Pandavas and not even one of the Kauravas. What kind of God are You?” Krishna answered, “When even their mother’s sight did not fall on them, how can you expect God’s sight (grace) to fall on them”. Hearing this, Gandhari felt ashamed. 

(Editor’s Note: Since Gandhari had tied a piece of cloth since the time she got married to Dhritarashtra, her blind husband, she had not seen any of her children since birth. Swami always highlighted this example to focus on the importance of the mother’s sight/glance on the children to inculcate the correct value systems in them right from their childhood.)

Prof. A. K.: Swami, Vali and Sugriva also didn’t have love between them.

Swami: At first, they had love for each other. Because of the situation and time, they became foes. Once, a demon by name Dundubhi came and challenged Vali to fight. Vali accepted the challenge and fought the demon. In the course of the fight, they entered a cave. At that time Vali told Sugriva to guard the entrance of the cave. After one month, Sugriva saw flesh and blood coming out of the cave. He thought that his brother was killed by the demon and therefore returned to his city. People of the city crowned Sugriva as the king thinking that Vali was killed. But, actually Vali had killed the demon. Vali came out of the cave and threw the flesh to a far off place. It fell upon a sage. The sage was furious and cursed him saying, “Whoever has thrown this flesh on me shall die as soon as he steps into this place.” Vali, after killing the demon, returned to his palace. He kicked Sugriva out of the palace and took away Sugriva’s wife. Because of this, they became enemies. Vali’s wife was like a mother to Sugriva, and Sugriva’s wife was like a daughter to Vali. Vanaras (monkeys) also have reason and season for everything. But man does not have any reason or season.

Prof. AK: What is the meaning of Putrotsaahamu (happiness caused by the son)?

Swami:A father won’t be simply happy when the child is born. He feels happy when his child becomes great. (Swami quoted the Telugu poem ‘Putrotsahamu Putrudu…’). This is called Putrotsaahamu. This doesn’t depend upon Adrushta (fate). It depends upon father’s feelings, thoughts and selflessness. Time and situation play a very important role. In the Kali Yuga, time is very valuable. Though the second hand in a clock seems to rotate without any rest, it takes rest in between the ticks of the seconds.

Prof. A. K.: What is the meaning of Pralayam?

Swami: Pralayam means total annihilation. The earthquake that came in Gujarat was like a Pralayam. Pralayam not only means destruction and loss of property and human lives, it also includes the death of animals and other living beings. The volcanic eruptions are also Pralayam. The Pandits changed the meaning of the word ‘Pralayam’ to delude and attract people.

Prof. A. K.: Swami, is Pralayam due to Ishwar Sankalpa (Divine will) or Manava Sankalpa (human will)?

Swami: It is not Ishwar Sankalpa. Manav Sankalpa is the reason for it. His thoughts, actions and feelings are responsible for it. (Swami said that cultivation of land started from the time of Balarama, who was the first person to use a plough.)

Prof. A. K.: Swami, why people call ‘Bharata’ as ‘Mahabharata’, but not Ramayana as ‘Srimad Ramayana’?

Swami: It used to be called like that only. These titles were not given by sages. 

From the beginning of Kali Age, people gave such titles (‘Maha’ for ‘Bharatam’). 

Prof. A. K.: Swami, in Rajaneeti (politics), was Vidura more learned than Dharmaraja and Bhishma?

Swami: Vidura was actually a Shudra (person belonging to a low social class). Still, he knew perfectly about policies and spirituality. He also knew about ruling the country with Dharma as the basis. After the end of the war, it was he who made Dhritarashtra renounce the world. When the war ended, Dhritarashtra was living happily under Pandavas’ care and service. One day, Vidura shouted at Dhritarastra saying, “When you were the king, you caused so many problems and troubles to Pandavas. Now, when they have won the war and are ruling, you are happily eating their food and receiving their service. Don’t you have any shame? If you have shame, you better leave this place without letting them know and lead a life of a Vairagi (renunciant)”.

Prof. A. K.: Sanjaya was in Dhritarashtra’s kingdom. What was his role?

Swami: No, he was not there in Dhritarashtra’s kingdom. He was with Krishna. Twice, the Pandavas sent a message of peace to the Kauravas. Once, through Sanjaya and once, through Krishna. ‘Sanjaya’ means the one who has attained Samyam (equanimity). He has perfect control over the senses. 

(Then Swami recited a beautiful Telugu poem on Sanjaya’s message to the Kauravas. Explaining the meaning of the poem) ‘Justice will always win and selfishness will vanish one day or the other. The rain of weapons will come and it will destroy the whole world. You are now feeling proud of Soota Putra Karna (Karna, the son of a charioteer) and the wicked Shakuni. Remember that because of them, one day, you will lose the war.’

Prof. A. K.: Swami, very good poem. 

Swami: Draupadi was also very good. When Subhadra’s son (Abhimanyu) died, Draupadi approached her and told her in a consoling voice, “You lost only one son, but I lost all five sons. Please do not weep; all is God’s will. Don’t worry”. (After that, Swami narrated about Abhimanyu entering the Padmavyuha during the war) When Dharmaraja and Abhimanyu alone were there, the Kauravas planned the Padma Vyuha (a war strategy). Though Draupadi told Abhimanyu not to go into the Padmavyuha, he went. (At this point, Swami recited a Telugu couplet, which described his entering the Padmavyuha like a lion and frightening the enemies.) Like this, even at a young age, he earned the reputation of being courageous. 

As it was already time for Bhajans, Swami went back to the interview room.

Source: Students with Sai: Conversations (2000-2001)

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