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Thus Spake Lord Sai - 3 (on the power of God's Name)
Today is a day before Guru Poornima 2012. On this day, I am reminded of Swami's first message to humanity -
Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam Dusthara Bhavasagara Tharanam
As World War 2 ravaged the earth in 1940, a 14-year old in a tiny hamlet called Puttaparthi sang out to the world,
"Oh mind! Take refuge at the feet of the Guru (preceptor). That will take you across the ocean of worldly existence."
It also brings to mind a spontaneous discourse that Swami delivered to the boys in a casual manner. The manner might have been casual but the message is pure deliverance. Recorded below is the enlightening Divine Cascade of words.
The conversation on 24th April 2001
The vacations were in effect. And yet, many students had stayed back to receive cool showers of Divine Grace of Swami during the summer. Swami came gliding outside into the central hall of Trayee Brindavan ( at Whitefield in Bangalore) where all the students were seated.
Swami: Which is your place?
Swami: This Vedanta is ‘Jhoota Vedanta’ (false philosophy). You speak as a lip service alone. Modern education makes you like that. Modern education does not show the path to fulfillment. It only shows path to attraction and show. It doesn’t show the path to cross the ocean of samsara (worldy life). We don’t know how to cross it and instead learn many other useless things.
(And then, Swami narrated a very interesting story.)
Once there was an educated businessman. He wanted to cross the mighty river Ganges to go to another place. He called a boatman and ordered him to ferry him across the river. The boatman agreed with humility. This businessman, on the other hand, was very arrogant and it was seen in his speech.
“Hey lazy fellow! Clean the boat and get it ready in time for me.”
The boatman cleaned the boat. Ensuring that the businessman was comfortable, he began to ferry him across the large river. The businessman kept talking. That is the case with educated people! They just can’t keep quiet. Since there was none other but the boatman on the boat, the businessman started a conversation with the boatman.
Businessman: What is the political situation in your village?
Boatman: I didn’t know.
Businessman: Don’t you read newspapers and keep up to date?
Boatman: I am illiterate and I don’t know how to read.
Businessman: Even if you don’t know how to read, you must keep a newspaper under your arm, at least to show off. Understood? Without newspapers, quarter of your life is a waste!
(Again, after a while, the businessman starts talking)
Businessman: You must ferry faster. We are not even midway yet! What is the time now?
Boatman: I don’t know how to see time.
Businessman: Aha! I see. You are really dumb! However, even if you don’t know how to see time, you must at least tie a plastic watch on your hand. If you can’t see the time, half of your life is wasted.
(A few minutes later, the businessman starts to speak)
Businessman: So, what movies are on in your town?
Boatman: I don’t know. I don’t have money to see films.
Businessman: Even if you don’t visit theaters to see films, you must at least have a TV at home.
Boatman: I don’t have money for that.
Businessman: Oh my God! How will you get education then? If you don’t watch the TV, three-fourths of your life is wasted in the Ganges.
The businessman continued to taunt the boatman about his ‘lack of education’ and illiteracy. As the reached the middle of the river, a sudden storm brewed up! The boat started to rock. As rain and hail pelted down, the winds increased and it became certain that the boat would topple. The boatman was not able to control the boat. He now asked,
Boatman: Do you know how to swim?
Businessman: No! That I don’t know.
Boatman: Then, your whole life is about to be wasted!
Saying thus the boatman jumped into the river. While he swam to safety, the businessman drowned in the river.
While traveling in a river, one must know how eeta (Telugu for the art of swimming). Similarly while traveling in samsara one must know Geeta (the nuances of Bhagwad Gita). Each person must learn swimming. It will come to use some time or another. This swimming is Daiva chintana (Thinking of the Lord). It will be useful whenever there is trouble. Any time one can think of God. Your pen, paper, and watch will not protect you. Only Daiva chintana will protect you. If you learn swimming, then you can travel safely in life.
The boatman was saved but not the businessman. As we are born in this samsara, we should learn the education, which will help us swim across and not only go to what we consider as higher positions in life. The name of God will help to you to reach the true higher positions in life.
Once Sage Narada went to meet Lord Narayana.
Narayana: Are you fine, Narada?
Narada: I am fine and am traveling as usual, to all the three worlds.
Narayana: With what thought do you travel the three worlds Narada?
Narada: Lord, I travel only with thoughts of you. I keep chanting the name - Narayana, Narayana. But Lord, I don’t understand one thing - what is the reward of chanting your name?
Narayana: Oh Narada! You do namasmarana (chanting of the name), but you don’t know its taste. Go and ask that crow sitting on that tree.
Narada went to the crow and asked,
“What is the reward of chanting the name of Narayana?”
Just hearing this, the crow fell dead. Narada immediately rushed to Narayana.
Narada: I asked the crow as you said. But it immediately fell dead! Is this the reward of chanting your name?
Narayana: To find the truth one must know how to use one’s time well. Narada, go to the poor brahmin’s house. There, in a cage, is a beautiful parrot. It has a green body with a red beak, (That is what the parrot wears just like our boys wear white and white!) Go and ask it the parrot about the efficacy of the name.
Narada went to the parrot and asked,
“What is the reward of cleaning the name of Narayana?”
Hearing this the parrot immediately fell down and died. Narada went back to Narayana in deep shock.
Narada: I will not leave until I learn the truth. Oh Lord! Is this the reward?
Narayana: One must be determined until one knows the truth. Go to the brahmin’s home. A calf has been born only yesterday. Go and ask it.
Narada went to the calf and asked,
“What is the reward of chanting the name of Narayana?”
The calf raised its head, saw Narada and fell dead. Narada was now stupified and really scared of saying the Divine name any more! He went to Narayana again.
Narada: I will not leave until I learnt the truth. Oh lord! Is this the reward?
Narayana: Don’t be in a haste. Haste makes waste and waste leads to worry. So do not be in a hurry. Be patient. A son has been born to the king of this land just yesterday. The king is very happy for the child has been proclaimed by the sages as a great heir. Go and ask the child the same question.
Now, Narada was afraid. He thought,
”If the child also dies, the soldiers will arrest me. I will also die. The kingdom will become heir-less! Is this the reward”?
Narayana: Don’t be hasty. Go and ask the child.
Narada went to the king. The child was brought on a golden plate. Narada asked the king,
“Oh king! Can I ask the child a question?”
The king agreed.
Narada: What is the reward of chanting the name of Narayana?
Hearing this the baby prince spoke.
Prince: Oh Narada! Is this all that you have learnt? You chant the Lord’s name for 24 hours, but don’t know its taste or effect. First I was a crow. You came and asked me what is the reward of chanting Narayana’s name. Hearing that Divine name once, my life got fulfilled. I gave up my life. Next I was born as a parrot. Where is a crow and where is a parrot? A parrot is nourished in a cage. You again came and asked me the same question. Next, I was born as a calf. This was an even better life. Bharatiyas worship cows. I heard the Lord’s name and was liberated again from the calf’s body. Not I am born as a prince. Where is a crow, parrot, calf and where is a prince? By chanting God’s name, we go to higher states. I have become a prince. This is my fortune. This is the reward of chanting Narayana’s name.
But our boys keep asking what is the reward of chanting Sai Ram. This is because you don’t have faith and devotion. Therefore you don’t get any reward. You keep passing and failing. You just follow the March-September-March cycle. If you have faith, love and devotion you can reach higher states in life.
Hearing the name of Narayana, the crow became a parrot, calf and finally a prince. It got a human life. See the difference in the lives it got. If hearing the Lord’s name has so much power, what about the power of uttering the Lord’s name? Therefore namasmarana has great power.
Swami: Is the story good?
Students: Very nice, Swami...
(Well, I shall stop here for now and conclude later. But one point - Swami's use of small stories or Chinna Katha as He called them inspires in us profound truths and great inspiration. Stories have a great transforming and illumining effect. Little wonder that the Bhagavatham is appreciated more than the Bhagavad Gita!)
to be concluded in Thus Spake Lord Sai - 4.
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