How to realise God – Baba’s Advise to Nana Chandorkar
Narayana Chandorkar, the son of Govinda was a pious man. He had taken birth in the family of Chandorkars. He was blessed by the grace of Sri Sai Baba and like Hari pant was meticulous in performing his religious duties. He conducted himself morally, following his dharma. Bere, Lakshman, Maruti and other devotees were also present there. How can I describe that magnificent scene? All were seated in the Masjid looking at Baba to their hearts content, as a child lovingly gazes at his mother when they meet, after she had been gone for a long time. They were deeply immersed in happiness and lost all count of time. Nanasaheb Chandorkar then joined his hands in supplication and said, “Baba, you are not giving us a reply no matter how many times we ask you. Why are you annoyed with us? You are verily the almighty. If you are angry with us where else can we find shelter in this universe?”
Baba smiled, “I am never angry with anyone. You are all my children. On whom should I show my anger? I never feel anger against any one. I am as you are in front of the almighty Venkusa. Why indeed should anyone be annoyed and show anger towards anyone else?”
Baba continued, “Keep remembering what I have told you before and pay careful heed to what I am going to reveal to you now. Nana, if you have embedded what I have told you earlier carefully in your heart, you would have understood the greatness of the four-fold sadhana. The person who is diligent in the practice of the four-fold sadhana will realize the Brahman easily. Sadhana is the efforts one makes towards one’s salvation and towards achieving the ever pure knowledge of self. Sadhana is of four kinds.
The first is the wise discrimination of the permanent and the impermanent nature of things.
The second is dispassion.
The third is the six practices of Shama- mental restraint.
1. Dama- the control of the body and the senses.
2. Titiksha- forbearance, bearing all with equality.
3. Uparati- withdrawal or abstaining from the sense objects.
4. Shraddha- faith in one’s guru and Vedanta.
5. Samadhana – concentration of the mind on scriptural or other elevating truths.
The fourth is mumukshu, the quality of the active quest for knowledge. This is a complicated thing to learn, so listen to me carefully.”
“Let me tell you first about the discriminate wisdom of permanence and impermanence. The firming up of the belief that Brahman is the permanent truth and the world is an impermanent lie, until it is a rocklike like foundation of all thought is the discriminate wisdom of permanence and impermanence. Many try to talk about this discrimination and the knowledge of permanence and impermanence and make an exhibition of their foolish ignorance. Many go in groups to Pandharpur begging for alms on the way. Not one of these has come to know the Brahman.
Who is Brahman? What does he look like? Where does he stay? Who knows these things?”
“Those who go in groups to Pandharpur merely to boast to the others that they too had performed the pilgrimage are not the true devotees. Some read many books on spirituality. They give instruction to the others about morals and the right conduct, but they themselves are not pure. As long as one’s heart is impure, what is the use of books or of teaching? They are like the frogs in the lake of knowledge, who instead of drinking deeply of the nectar of knowledge flowing from the lotus which is Brahman; eat instead greedily the mud of barren arguments lying on the bed of the lake.”
“Those who speak criticizing others will stay on in the mud. They will not gain wisdom. Those who indulge in barren arguments and those who always criticize others will not gain the knowledge of the Brahman. He who has no desires for either the worldly or the spiritual is the man of true dispassion. Nana! Know this to be the truth.”
“Nana! Shama, dama, titiksha, uparati, sraddha and samadhana are the six sadhanas. Shama is to possess mental restraint towards sensory objects. Dama is to forcibly restrain the body and the senses from seeking sensory enjoyment. Titiksha is forbearance. It is to bear with equanimity all that is happening one as a result of prarabhda karma. Uparati is the withdrawal of the senses so that one does not fall into the maya of considering woman, gold, children, relatives and friends as true. Sraddha is the faith and devotion to one’s guru. Now I will tell about the last Samadhana. Listen to me carefully.”
“To look at happiness or misery with an equal eye with the heart bearing steady is samadhana. The one who has the strong desire for moksha in his heart, and disregarding everything else; searches sincerely for the path to achieve the knowledge of the Brahman is a mumukshu. I have described the qualities of a mumukshu earlier. Moksha is not Kailash, the abode of Shiva or Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu. Moksha is a very difficult thing to achieve. The path to moksha has many obstacles and pitfalls. Nana! Pay close attention. To conjoin with the pure consciousness which is the basis and the foundation of this universe is moksha. To reach that everlasting stage is the object of human endeavour (purushartha). All else is a waste.”
“Nana heard the able one with joy. He joined his hands in supplication and asked, “Baba, what is pure consciousness? What are its characteristics? Where does one find it?”
“Baba replied patiently, “What is the basis for this universe; what is existing in all living and non living creation and is still left over; what is the life force which is the foundation of the universe is the pure consciousness. In what the universe again merges at the end of it, all is pure consciousness. What is visible to our eye in the entire universe is that Brahman. The pure consciousness shines without interruption in all in the form of, “I am “, “I am”. This is a constant experience of all living beings. You asked me where the pure consciousness is. You tell me where it is not. You may search everywhere in this universe and out side it; you will never find a place where it is not. Everything is pure consciousness. It has no name and no form. As the air is beyond shape or form or colour or other attributes so is pure consciousness. That is pure consciousness or Brahman. Never forget this truth. The saints who have realized themselves are always in the direct experience of the Brahman. The various animal life, plant life and humanity are all its forms. The seer, the seen, the look, the knowledge, the energy – pure consciousness is the basis or the foundation for all this. It is omnipresent. It is pure bliss. It is the true knowledge. The form of that pure consciousness is Brahman.”
“Nana was still not clear in his mind. He joined his hands in supplication and said, “Baba, Oh complete and able Sadguru! You say that the Brahman is everywhere; you say it is pure bliss and it is one. If it is one, how is that visible to us in so many forms in this universe? You say that the pure consciousness is filling everything in the animate and inanimate world. And you say that its form is pure bliss. Why then is there so much misery in this world? I am not able to understand this. How can one born blind in both eyes appreciate beauty? In the same way, how can pure consciousness which is the truth abide in this world which is an illusion? If you say that the soul is the pure consciousness, how are there so many souls when the consciousness is one? Each soul has its own experience of pleasure and pain; happiness and misery. How can you say that a single pure consciousness abides in all and everywhere? The soul abiding in each body is different from the others. How can you say that the pure consciousness is the soul? I believe that they are different. Please clear my doubt.”
“Baba patiently replied, “Oh Nana, you are making a mistake here. Still your mind in concentration and peacefully listen do what I say. Take some pots of water and mix white, black, yellow, green, red, pink, green and magenta colours in the water. They all look different from each other. But the water is the same in all pots. The water seems red in the red pot and yellow in the yellow pot. If the mixed colours are removed somehow from the water, the same water remains. In the same way, the soul is one. The hearts are many. It is only when the soul and the heart are joined in one place that the happiness or sadness is experienced. Know this well, Nana.”
“The Atman has no difference or division. It is the same everywhere. This is the truth. Happiness or sadness is the dharma relating to the heart. The heart gets the consciousness only when it is conjoined with the soul. Let me explain this in more detail so that you can understand it easily. This consciousness shines in the beings in the form of paramardhaka, vyavaharika and pratibhasika depending on the progression and spiritual maturity of the beings. Oh Narayana, even though the body is one it has the various forms of youth, maturity and old age. It is the same case with the consciousness.”
“The paramardhaka consciousness may be seen only in the saints. Those who model their conduct as enjoined by the sastras and know what is to be retained and what discarded and progress towards salvation are the vyvaharikas. Those who believe the untruth to be the truth and whose intellect is steeped in ignorance are the pratibhasika. You should know that the pratibhasika are the ignorant, the vyvaharika are the wise and the paramardhaka are saints. Even so, the same Atman shines in all. The king, his officer, and his emissary are all part of the same kingdom. The basis and the foundation of their power is the constitution of that country. Even then, there are differences amongst them. One rides in state on the elephant and sits on the throne. He moves about as he fancies. All the people follow the constitution. It is the duty of every one to follow it without demur. The king, his officialdom, the servants, and the people are all different but they all follow the same constitution. The king may die but the constitution lives on. The successor to the king obtains his power from that. That constitution is not a thing to be purchased or sold commercially but all weal is available because of it. By which constitution the king sits on throne, by the same constitution the servants serve him and look after his every comfort. The king gets the greatest benefit from it; his officialdom gets lesser benefit, his servants even less benefit and the common people the least benefit. In the same manner he who has realized and experienced that his soul and the Brahman are one; gets the Brahman in its full form.” Nana heard what Baba said. He was still perplexed. He asked, “Baba how does the constitution which is one for all change to so many forms to benefit people in different ways? By such division does not its unity get disturbed?” Well asked Nana,” said Baba, “The constitution is a unified whole. It is indivisible.
But it looks as if it is divided and applied differently to different individuals. The same applies to pure consciousness too. Pure consciousness is not divisible but the individual obtains only what he grasps. Let us take the example of pots of various sizes filled with water. The same sky one sees in the mighty river is seen in the pots too. The pot may be big or small; the sky reflected in the water contained in the pots or the river is the same. In the river one sees the biggest reflection of the sky. The sky in each pot seems smaller or larger depending on the size of the pot. Has the sky been divided? In the same way is the case with pure consciousness. This world is an illusion (maya). Brahman and maya have joined together to create this world.”
Nana then asked, “How has this maya originated? Who originated it? When did it arrive and from where? You said that pure consciousness is the basis and foundation of this world. You also said that the entire universe is nothing but pure consciousness. Whence sprang this maya?”
Baba, that kindness incarnate patiently replied to Nana. “I will let you know whence this maya came. Listen to me with concentrated attention, Oh son of Govinda. The energy contained in pure consciousness is maya. Maya encloses pure consciousness. As how one cannot separate sugar and its sweetness, as one cannot separate the sun and its light; in the same way are the maya and the Brahman. The sun and the sunlight are two different words. But it is only by a conjoining of the both that the form of the sun visible to us. We distinguish and identify the sun by its form, the heat and the light it radiates. In the same way is maya and Brahman. But there is an end to maya and there is no end to pure consciousness. Pure consciousness has no beginning too. It just is. It is by maya or prakriti or nature that this whole world has formed. The detailed explanation of purusha (Brahman) and prakriti (maya) may be seen in the book ‘Amritanubhava’ written by Jnanadev in the Mohiniraj temple at Niwasa village. Let me tell you its secrets in brief.”
“Those who enter the cave of Self realisation do not revert to ignorance. They take the form of that cave and dance in the joy of infinite bliss. The reason for all this is eternal Brahman. Maya is his creation. Oh Narayana, the power of this maya is as the limitless ocean of unplumbed depths. The feeling, ‘I am such and such’ is formed by maya. This is an untruth. Once maya casts its net of deception on us, we cannot know and recognise either the truth or untruth. Maya has two principal qualities. Know you what they are! What is visible and true is hidden by maya. What is not visible and is untrue is shown by maya.
All people are mesmerised by maya and are victims of illusion. A servant gets a dream that he has become a king. By this dream maya has shut out his true state of servant hood. In addition even if he was not the king, he fell in to the illusion of believing himself to be the king by the power of maya in the dream. In this manner, maya hides the true Brahman and shows the world which is illusory. In truth, this world is not. It is only the universal consciousness which fills all. But due to maya we are able to see only this world. All things visible to us in this world are mere illusion but we are deluded in to thinking that they are true by the power of maya. If we succeed in removing the covering of maya by discriminate knowledge, we will be able to see and realise the Brahman. You will then realise that you are the world. When the pollutants are removed from the water one gets pure water. In the same, way when the maya is removed pure consciousness is visible. Oh Narayana, you think of, pray for and seek the truth. Atman is the truth. I tell this to all. To recognise, realise the atman and to be immersed in it is the sole objective of all spiritual endeavour.”
All those who heard these words of true wisdom from the holy lips of that repository of all knowledge, Sri Sai Baba; prostrated at his feet in gratitude. Vaidya, Sathe, Chandorkar, Nimonkar, Bere, Nana, Maruti, Lakshman, Nulkar and other devotees were present there. Baba looked at all of them with love shining from his eyes. He said, “Keep this instruction safe in your heart. Let it be ever alive to lead you on the right path.” They all assented eagerly and clasped his feet again and again in gratitude. When the sun of knowledge rises, can the darkness of ignorance remain? Oh my master, Sri Sai Baba, please put me in your lap. Please give a small place for this child of yours in the shade of the great tree of your grace.
This ‘Sant Kathamrit’ is the rain of true knowledge which has rained down on all of us from that great cloud – Sri Sai Baba. All this is dedicated to his service.
(SRI SAIGURUCHARITRA – by devotee Ganpatrao Dattatreya Sahasra-buddhebetter known as Das Ganu Maharaj)