Forgetting God for toiletries - lessons from Sri Sathya Sai on seeking from God
The motive behind seeking God
In the song celestial, Bhagawad Gita, which Lord Krishna delivered on the battlefield to Arjuna and, through him, to the entire humanity, there is a single verse which describes four types of seekers of God. (16th sloka in the 7th chapter).
Chaturvidha Bhajante Maam, Janaaha Sukrutino (A)rjuna |
Artho Jignaasur Arthaarthi, Jnaani Cha Bharatarshabha ||
It translates into this as Krishna tells Arjuna,
“Oh best among Bharatas! Four types of people of virtuous deeds worship me. They are:
1. the one who is grieved/ is suffering,
2. the one who desires worldly things,
3. the one who seeks intellectual insights/knowledge and
4. the man of wisdom/intuition.”
For me, this was just like a classification of ‘devotees’ till my best friend and master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, provided valuable insights. And today, I came across an experience which beautifully brings out those insights. I shall share the insights after sharing the experiences.
The PC session
(as narrated by Sri Ashok Sundaresan - 1st batch MFM 1993-1995)
It was sometime in the year 1994 or 1995. All the students in the Institute boys’ hostel were excited. Swami, as they lovingly called Bhagawan Baba, had agreed to grant them all a “PC session.” The term PC stands for “Poorna Chandra”, the auditorium (one of the largest pillarless ones in Asia) at Prasanthi Nilayam ashram. The PC session, like the Trayee session, was a special session which Swami granted only for the students and teachers of the University. And just like in the Trayee session, many interesting things would happen in a PC session and Swami would speak ‘informally’.
That PC session turned out to be unforgettable in terms of the lessons it provided.
As the boys entered the auditorium, they saw multiple piles of so many things heaped up. They quickly took their places to sit on the carpets spread on the floor. And then began the excited talk. Apparently, Swami had decided to gift all the boys with something. Everyone was discussing about what the gifts probably might be.
Swami arrived on the dais and there was a hush that fell on the entire gathering. He gently glided to the end of the stage and descended. Moving to the first pile, He picked up the first thing that His hand could get hold of and threw it to the boy nearby. It was a canister of shaving foam. Then, He summoned some boys and told them to simply give away one each of the items to all the boys gathered.
The heaps of objects turned out to be toiletries and each boy was getting something at total random. While one got a toothbrush, one got a shampoo while yet another got a deodorant stick. The ‘luckier’ ones got perfume bottles and electric shavers. Within moments, the silence was gone and there was loud murmur that developed in the auditorium as each student looked at what the other got and compared gifts.
Naturally, those that got ‘mere toothbrushes’ envied those that got the electric shavers. But those boys too were not free of envy - they longed for the perfumes. It was not as if those that got perfumes were happy. The bottles were only 100 ml and would soon get exhausted. So, they had gifts which they could not use if they wanted to preserve the memory. In short, though all were happy in some way or the other, all were sad too in a way!
Minutes passed and the comparisons simply went on and on. Suddenly, a few finger snaps were heard. This was the way the students would indicate to each other that something was happening that required everyone’s attention. As all the boys looked up and away from their comparisons and bickerings, they saw that Swami was back on the dais. He was slowly moving back to His residence. When He saw that everything had suddenly become quiet and all were looking at Him, He asked,
“Have everyone got the gifts?”
Then, He paused for a moment before asking,
“Now tell me, who among you actually wants Swami?”
And with that, He turned around and walked back into His residence. There was just a stunned silence that was left behind.
Forgetting God for ‘toiletries’
Here is a question that each one must ask ourselves -
“Am I forgetting God because I am comparing and bickering about ‘toiletries’ which have been gifted by Him alone?”
It does not matter whether it is just a ‘toothbrush’ that God has gifted us in life. And it is not that the one awarded with a ‘perfume’ is any special to God. Whether it is a ‘toothbrush’ or a ‘perfume’ it is a gift from God - a gift that has been given with love. But the gift should never become so important that the one giving the gifts is forgotten. Sadly, that is exactly what happens because we are lost in comparisons and complaints about gifts received (or not received).
That brings us to the question on what we should ask from God. Let us be practical here. How many things have we sought in life? Of course, not all have been delivered to us. But none can deny the truth that at least some things have been delivered to us. However, have we been satisfied? NO.
The more that things have been delivered to us, the more we have sought. And the cycle of asking-receiving-asking never seems to cease. That is the reason why it has been said that the poorest man is not one who has little but one who craves more! There are many wonderful examples of people who have “everything” that life can give and yet they choose not to enjoy the same because they know that it is not true happiness. A powerful example here is that of the Uruguayan president, Jose Mujica. Reading that article makes the lesson so clear right?
The Bhagawad Gita lesson on seekers and seeking
This beautiful insight on this question of what one should seek of God has been revealed in a hub entitled, “What to ask from God?”. The secret lies in the statements
“Seek that, seeking which you will never have to seek again.” AND
“Happiness is union with God.”
Of the four types of seekers delineated by Lord Krishna three of them, have “desire” as a driving force for their worship. Even the one who seeks knowledge has a ‘desire’. The Jignasu yearns for the Truth and Truth alone. Thinking deeper here, this yearning is a “need” and not a “desire” per se. The search for truth is a fundamental need. Such needs, once satisfied never rise again unlike desires which rise again and again and are never satiated. This ‘need’ belongs to the ‘sat’ (truth) category. But 'desire' belongs to the ‘asat’ (untruth).
Finally, guess what? In the beginning, a choice is offered,
“Choose between God and the world.”
Actually, there is a secret here. Choosing the world, one gets nothing - no happiness. Choosing God, one gets everything - all happiness.
Yes! The “worldly” kind too!! Don’t you agree? I definitely do because that has been my personal experience in life.
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya