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Forgetting God for toiletries - lessons from Sri Sathya Sai on seeking from God

Updated on January 22, 2015
Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna the four types of seekers of God.
Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna the four types of seekers of 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?”
“Yes Swami...”

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.

Happiness is union with God.
Happiness is union with God. | Source

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


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    • profile image

      Madhusudanvithal Nori 

      3 years ago

      Sairam, this article clearly brought out how our desires multiply, how we get sucked into the illusion this world is and how easily we ignore the source of all - SWAMI - when our senses perceive things that are not permanent in nature. Thanks a lot for opening our eyes.

      Blessings and Love

      Madhusudanvithal Nori

    • profile image

      Visalakshy Swamy 

      3 years ago

      Sairam. As usual, another beautiful pearl from Swami's treasure chest. I am reminded of the occasion when , once Swami had ice-cream distributed to all of 700 children and then He asked-----all got icecreram? A loud chorus said Yes, Swami.Then he asked" No one asked if I got!"That is exactly what we are! I am also reminded of Sairam Sathyjit's speech. He narrated how Swami asked him 3 times , on various occasions," What do you want?"

      My only constant prayer is- "Even on my last breath your name should be on my lips, Sai."

      Thank you Aravind.

    • aravindb1982 profile imageAUTHOR

      Aravind Balasubramanya 

      5 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @ Mr.Happy -

      Those 5 cents definitely add a few 'cents' of wisdom to all! It is all the spirit which matters. Depending on the spirit, the same act becomes either good or bad. So, this article is totally in sync with Dar din dar se face Raiul.

      Coming to your "breath of air" - there it is a need and not a want though it is expressed so. And as Mahatma Gandhiji put it, "There is enough on the earth for every man's need, but not enough even for one man's greed." :)

      Thank you for the insights. As always, they bring a different perspective which helps to make the subject more complete...

    • poornimasrinath profile image


      5 years ago from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA

      Along with your post I also enjoyed reading Mr.Happy's comment. I had smile on my lips as I read his "Dar din dar se face raiul". Swami never stopped giving it vibhuthi , watch, kum kum etc. I am reminded of the balvikas talk that I heard this morning in which one of the speakers said swami changed the lines of "oh lord take my love" poem and said we must stop saying "take" and say "oh lord I give my love, I give my hand, I give my everything etc" Most of us do not ask anything to swami but the moment we wish anything Swami grants us the genuine wish. Seeking God alone is a great boon that only God can grant. Again He must give that and we are in the receiving end..we can never stop seeking :)

    • profile image

      Deepa Venkitesh 

      5 years ago

      Thanks Aravind Swamy has made his point

    • profile image

      Mark Aspa 

      5 years ago

      all so true...and liked the link to 'the Uruguayan president, Jose Mujica'...thanks again..

    • profile image

      Surya. N 

      5 years ago

      Sairam Aravind,

      I was a part of the group in that PC session that happened during the 2 week break. That year I didn't go home for holidays & stayed back as Swami was in parthi. In fact each & every day during the vacation Swami called the boys for PC session. I remember Swami giving a toiletry kit or may be on a different occasion. In that PC session Swami gave me a toothpaste & guess what the brand was...."Lucky". Later I never found a toothpaste branded 'Lucky'. We hear about colgate, pepsodent etc etc, but never heard of 'Lucky'. :)

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      "And the cycle of asking-receiving-asking never seems to cease." - In Romanian we have a saying: "Dar din dar se face raiul." Trenslated word by word it means: "Gift by gift we make heavens." So, the Gods give and I give in turn. Ask-receive, ask-receive - why not? It can teach compassion, love, etc. But I do see your point about "However, have we been satisfied?" - You answered "no", I would say "yes". When I ask for something and I receive it, yes I am satisfied LOL (I am half-jokingly here, I see your point but I also see the point of not being greedy - be satisfied when achieving something. Right now, I want a breath of air ... I got it and I am satisfied although I do need another breath of air and another ...). If one lives in the moment, one appreciates each moment and appreciates this cycle of giving and receiving.

      "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." - Only the misguided look for happiness in material things, things which "we have". Happiness comes from within. Very well said, Mr. Aravind.

      Ohh, I just remembered what I was going to say, in regard to getting things and appreciating them. Just the other day, I was waiting to pay for an item and the cashier asked me if I had a five cent coin, so she could give me exact change back. I said that I had no change and suddenly, a lady behind me said: "I have five cents" and she gave the cashier a five cent coin. I looked at her surprised, told her that she really did not have to and thanked her. For sure, five cents is not much but nonetheless, a complete stranger decided to give me five cents (And I have endless examples such as this. The one here is just the latest.) ... "Dar din dar se face Raiul" ("Gift by gift we make Heavens"). Others give me and I give in turn so, let the Gods give and we'll give back as well.


      Cheers, Mr. Arvind!!

      Great article as usual. : )

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice article. Helped to put my current situation in perspective.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      The part which got tears in eyes was Swami asking "Now tell me who wants Swami?".... Sometimes I feel, as students/devotees we just expect Him to give us things... We in-fact pray, Swami please give me some sweet this darshan as I am hungry!.... And the ever loving mother that He is, He actually sends the sweets!.... Now I think of it, I feel so sad.... All I should have asked Him was, be with me always!....

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      thanks for clarifying this differnce between need and desire- this taught something very valuable for me..

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wonderful! “Choose between God and the world.” -- As you have rightly pointed out, when we choose God, everything else in the worldly sense also becomes ours. So true! :)

    • vaishnavi rao profile image

      vaishnavi rao 

      5 years ago

      Sairam anna! Sometimes we are so stupidly attached to the worldly things that we totally forget Swami and HIS supreme presence!!! What lesson!!! A reminder to all of us! Thanks a ton for the beautiful post!

    • profile image


      5 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

      Sairam! i enjoyed the PC session thoroughly. Hats off to your memory!


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