Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sathya Sai fulfils grandfather Kondama Raju's dying wish

An extract from http://www.sssbpt.info/ssspeaks/volume38/sss38-05.pdf is given below (English translation of words spoken by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Telugu):

People had by now realised that Swami had fulfilled the promise given by Him to Subbamma. They felt that Subbamma’s life was sanctified. Taking cue from her example, several elderly people used to visit Me with the request, “Swami! Please give a word that You will pour sanctified water into my mouth with Your Divine hands at the time of my departure from this world.” I used to tell them, “My dear ones! All people cannot get this great boon. If you are destined to get it, you will certainly get it. I will come at the appropriate time and pour sanctified water into your mouth.”

Kondama Raju [Ravi: Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's very pious grandfather] used to observe these people coming to Swami with such requests. He also developed a yearning for this prapti (deservedness). One day, he approached Me and requested Me, “Swami! You are born in our family, in our lineage. You have upheld the honour and glory of our lineage. But, I also have a request to make to you. I wish and pray that my birth in our family should be sanctified. I therefore request you to please pour some holy water into my mouth with Your Divine hands during my last moments of life.” I assured him that I would certainly fulfil his request. He felt very happy, for, he knew that once Swami had given His word, He would certainly stick to it.

He lived for 112 years. Every morning, he would walk from the village to the New Mandir to have My darshan. One day I asked him, “Why do you walk all the way from the village to the Mandir and back. There may be cattle on the way and if they attack you, you will fall down and get injured. Won’t you?” He used to tell Me very boldly, “Swami! When You are protecting me and constantly standing by my side, which animal  could attack me?”

One day, early in the morning he came to the Mandir and had My darshan. He returned home
and lay down. After a while, he told Easwaramma to go near Sathyabhama Temple and see whether Swami was coming that side. She went there, returned and told him, “Yes, Swami is coming in His car.” Swami had a small car then. Kondama Raju said, “Easwaramma! Get a tumbler of water and put a tulasi leaf in it.” She did accordingly. He held the tumbler in his hand and was waiting for Me. He knew that his end was near and that I had come there to keep My promise. None else knew this. Holding the tumbler, he said, “Swami! I am ready.” I replied, “I am also ready.” As I poured the water into his mouth, he passed away peacefully. Before passing away, he said, “What a great fortune it is to drink water from Your Divine hands before departing from this world! Even King Dasaratha who performed great penance and sacrifice, did not have such a fortune. My life is redeemed.” Saying thus, he closed his eyes. With this incident of Kondama Raju, it was once again revealed to the whole world that Swami would certainly keep His word, come what may! The lives of Subbamama and Kondama Raju were thus redeemed. I manifest My Divine leelas in many ways to fulfil My word. I go to any extent to fulfil My promise. However, some devotees act contrary to their words. [Ravi: Sri Kondama Raju seems to have passed away in or around the year 1950.]
--------------
Divine Discourse 9-3-2005, Prasanthi Nilayam (Puttaparthi)

[Ravi: BTW, if I recall correctly, I heard this discourse live, sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall.]

About Sri Ratnakaram Kondama Raju (grandfather of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba), here's an extract from Sathyam Shivam Sundaram (official biography of Bhagavan) Volume I, http://www.vahini.org/sss/i/wonderm.html:

The Raju family to which Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba belongs was noted for its piety since the days of the renowned sage Venkavadhootha. Not only did the Rajus build and endow Gopalaswami Temple, but the devout Sri Ratnakaram Kondama Raju, grandfather of Sathya Sai Baba, dedicated a temple to Satyabhama, a consort of Lord Krishna. This homage is seldom offered in any part of India to such a deity. Kondama Raju used to say in explanation of this unusual tribute to Satyabhama, that he was inspired to erect the temple because of the events that occurred during a strange dream. Tears of joy would run down the wrinkled cheeks of this centenarian, Sri Kondama Raju, whenever he recollected that enthralling dream experience.

In his dream Kondama Raju saw "Satyabhama alone, expectant, and forlorn, waiting anxiously for her Lord who had gone on an errand to bring to her from Paradise the much coveted Parijatha flowers. The minutes increased to hours and the hours to days, but still there was no sign of Krishna! Satyabhama broke into tears. There ensued a raging storm bringing thunder, lightning, and a heavy downpour of rain. Fortunately her eyes fell on Kondama Raju who was passing near the place where she stood. She asked him to provide some shelter." This dream led to his determination to build a temple for the Consort of the Lord.

Kondama Raju lived out his hundred and ten years of earthly existence in the contemplation of the Lord. He was a master of music and the histrionic art. He knew by heart the Lepakshi version of the entire Ramayana, the Great Epic poem in Sanskrit about Rama. This version was a series of songs composed by a poet from the City of Lepakshi. They depicted the incidents in dramatic imagery and artistic luxuriance. Kondama Raju played the role of Lakshmana, the devoted brother of Rama, in all the Ramayana plays enacted at Puttaparthi and other villages. Requests for him to play this role were received even from far-off places. His depiction of the steadfast devotion and unquestioning dedication of Lakshmana touched the hearts of all who witnessed his performance. He appeared hundreds of times on many stages until age prevented him from further repetition of the role. He was a strict vegetarian, prone to observe the holy vows of the Hindu calendar. His cottage, a short distance from his sons and grandchildren, was a veritable abode of holy homage. He took delight in gathering around his cot the children of his sons and relating to them the tales of Gods and God-men. The children loved to be with him, for he made every character and adventure live before their eager eyes through the enchantment of song and drama.

--- end extract from Sathyam Shivam Sundaram ----

[I thank sssbpt.info and vahini.org, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ramana Maharishi Looking At You!


Ramana Maharishi Looking At You!

Pic courtesy: Ramana Periya Puranam

[I thank author & publisher of Ramana Periya Puranam and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Al Drucker's last days; How he benefited from hearing about N. Kasturi's last days

Last updated on 27th February 2016

The content of this post is from my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1708309822718921, which is a Facebook share of the Yaani Drucker's Waking Up by Undoing Ego Facebook group post, https://www.facebook.com/notguiltybyyaani/posts/993753847368136.

First the content of Yaani Drucker's post:

Before my husband Al Drucker passed, I wanted him to tell me what to do with the ashes after cremation. He kept blowing me off, as if to say, what do I care about what happens to the body after I shed it. I'm not confused about what's real and important.

Just days before he passed, I was prompted by Swami to share the write up of Kasturi-ji's passing. As I read it, I could tell Al was hanging on every word, just drinking it in. I could tell it was because though death is nothing, and not real, still Baba shows that it is important what happens at the time of death, and even thereafter in relation to the body.

The following day, Al was trying to tell me something. It was no longer easy for him to speak. When the nurse came in earlier, he had wanted to know if he'd had a stroke. No she assured him, after asking him to raise both arms together, and then both legs together, which he did, it was only the body closing down. I knew time was now short.

At first I could not get what Al was communicating. Then I understood he was saying ashes. "Ashes! You want me to bring your ashes to Sai Baba's ashram? Is that it?" YES, he let me know.
So I assured him that that would be their final resting place.

I understood that he saw death differently after hearing the telling of Kasturi's final moments. Its subtle and profound, because we all talk about the world as illusion, as unreal, and same with death, and yet, we cannot blow them off. We must meet all with the utmost respect and love, and then the unreal is transformed into the real. That is I believe what was taking place in Al's mind in that moment and what allowed him to take his maha-samadhi. Jai Sai Ram!

[Ravi: The account below is about Bhagavan's very well known devotee, biographer and writer, Sri N. Kasturi.]

SAI'S KASTURI...

A Phantasmagoric Fragrance Forever
Excerpts from a much longer article

Swami’s “Chairman”

Kasturi became too weak to walk, he would come to the Mandir on the wheelchair which would be placed right in front of Swami’s interview room door. And one morning, seeing him on his chair, Swami flashed a mischievous smile, and said, “What Kasturi?…No election, no selection and you have become a Chairman!”

Another day He came out of the interview room, walked up to him, and pointing to his body, said, ‘Kasturi! This is a 19th century model!" (Kasturi was born in 1897). Swami, then, turned and now pointing towards the interview room, said, “Even this repair workshop cannot fix this model now.” The next moment He looked deep into his eyes and asked, “Kasturi, are you afraid?” “No, Swami” came the soft but solid reply. Swami then advised: “Take Swami’s name. Don’t worry!” And this is exactly what Professor Kasturi ceaselessly did till the Lord set his soul free.

Describing the last months of this illustrious being, which is a spiritual treatise by itself, Mrs. Padma says, “One year before he became one with The Eternal, he had severe back pain. This was in 1986. He could no longer climb the stairs to go to His Presence in the Mandir. The Lord, who was eagerly enquiring about his absence, Himself came to our little room in the South Block to see him. On the first occasion, He suddenly stepped in one day after morning bhajans and asked him, ‘What happened? Why aren’t you coming?’ ‘Swami, this back pain is terrible,’ answered my father, lying on the cot. Swami then materialized Vibhuti, filled his palm with it and walked away.

Eight days passed, but father still could not go to see Him. The concerned Sai came again. And this time, my father said, ‘Swami, You please give me a thump on my back and I will just be alright.’ But the Lord only lovingly looked at him and said, ‘No, that is not the way. You come to the Mandir in a wheelchair.’”

So that is how Kasturi became a ‘Chairman’ as Swami joked and the charming saga of this devotee and his beloved continued, though now, much subdued, if you saw it superficially. Unfortunately, a few days after this, the respectable octogenarian, who had battled through more than eighty five summers and winters, chills and thrills, hailstones and storms, was suddenly down with a jeopardising jaundice. “Swami was not here then; it was the month of April and He was in Bangalore,” recalls Mrs. Padma.

“My father became very weak, and when this news was conveyed to Swami, He sent him Vibhuti through many people. But, for whatever inscrutable reason of the Divine and destiny, nothing seemed to work. His voice lost the usual power. The doctors said he was low on sugar, and his speech became feeble. They wanted to administer him glucose but my father would have nothing of it. Having never done a thing in his life, without Divine Permission, he insisted on instructions from Swami. Message was sent to Him and only after that did he relent to the needle and the much needed supplement. Still, any sign of recovery seemed like a fantasy and his frame became even frailer.
He Pined for Him Piteously

“During this time in Brindavan, Swami had taken upon Himself the heart attack of a devotee and did not grant darshan for three days. It was the year 1987. And after He finally gave darshan, one devotee who had seen Swami there came to my father and said, ‘Swami was looking so weak! He has become very thin.’ Immediately my father began to cry, ‘Oh, I want to see Swami! I want to see my Swami, please!’ Lying on the bed, he told me, ‘You take me early in the morning. Swami must be coming out at about 9 O’clock . I will have just one glimpse, at least, and then we can be back. I do not want anything else. Everybody is saying He has become very weak. I have to see my Swami somehow’. But I was in a dilemma.

The position of his health was too precarious to travel, but at the same time, his desire to see Him was too intense. Finally, when I could no longer withstand his piteous pleading, I said to myself, ‘Alright, let me take him to Brindavan, even if it means taking a huge, and actually dreadful, risk’, as one could not really exclude any serious untoward happening on the way. In any case, I arranged for a cab, but he said, ‘Do not go and tell Mr. Kutumba Rao (the then Ashram caretaker) now itself, because, I know, he will call and inform Swami, and Baba will refuse to my going there. I do not want this to happen’. But I said, ‘Father, you are a property of Prasanthi Nilayam, not just my father. The whole ashram will blame me if anything happens to you on the way. I cannot take such a chance, so, let me please inform Mr. Kutumba Rao.’

“Then he said, ‘Okay, you go to him, but only after 10 o ’clock ’ because by then, my father reasoned, Swami would already have retired. So, the cab arrived, I had finished packing, and then went to Mr. Kutumba Rao. As soon as he heard my plan, he said, ‘You are taking a risk!’ ‘I have to,’ I said, ‘because father is giving me no other choice! His pleadings are so heart-breaking. If anything has to happen in the way, let it be. I just cannot help it. Whatever the case may be, his mind is completely fixed on Swami, and as a daughter, it is very difficult for me to resist his painful pleas.’
But he said, ‘No, this is not the right thing to do. I will come and convince him’. And so, the next minute, Mr. Kutumba Rao, along with Dr. Alreja, came to our room and tried to persuade him to give up the idea. But when nothing worked, they finally said, ‘Kasturi garu, this cab is not a good one; it is very shaky and uncomfortable. We will arrange a good car for you and inform Swami too, and then you can go.’

“Wait for Sai” – Swami

So, father, in spite of desperate desire, could not see Swami that day, and the whole night, he spent only sobbing and shedding tears. ‘How pathetic is my fate!…This has to befall on me!…I cannot even go to see Swami!..’ he went on and on. Then he wrote a letter to Swami; but his hand was highly unsteady and it looked like a sorry scribble on a sheet of paper. I, therefore, suggested that it is better I keep a note along with his paper so that the content of his letter is clear to Swami, but he said, ‘No, you cannot keep a note along with my letter. If you want, you write a separate one and post it on your own. You cannot send it through Mr. Kutumba Rao; he is not a postman to take everybody’s letter to Swami. He can only take my letter, that’s it’. He was very strict in these matters, and therefore I wrote and posted mine, while he sent his through Mr. Kutumba Rao.

And then the most wonderful thing happened. Swami replied to him! It was an inspiring instruction from the Divine. The letter was dated April 1987 and it read, ‘Kasturi, accept My blessings! Do not have fear of any kind. Swami is always with you, in you and around you. Be brave. Think of Him only. Give up any other thoughts. The body is a water bubble. Do not worry about it. Spend your time thinking of Swami only. - Yours, Baba’. Father was, of course, happy to read this, but the agony of his unfulfilled darshan remained.

“Swami did not return till it was June. But before He came, as if responding to his intense yearning to have at least one glance, Swami wrote him another letter. This was in June, 1987. ‘Kasturi, accept My blessings! Sai is always with you, in you and around you. Be in bliss. Do not think of anything else. Be always in the thought of God. That is the main sadhana (spiritual practice) that you have to be engaged in now. I will come back soon. Wait for Sai’. And to father’s relief and rejoice, Swami returned in June, and he eagerly went in the wheelchair to watch and savour His Beloved again. But when Swami came near him, He said (in Telugu), ‘nee asthamana samayam osthavundi’ meaning, ‘Your evening time is approaching…be ready’.

“In spite of his irresistible desire to be in His Presence, he could not make it to the Mandir everyday. His health was deteriorating by the day, and so, we sent word to Swami about his condition through Sri Karunyananda and Mr. Kutumba Rao.

Swami, then, sent the message: ‘I will come, I will come’. And because of this, from that day onwards, even if there was a slightest sound of footsteps in the room, he would get up and expectantly ask, ‘Is that Swami?...’, ‘Has He come?...’, ‘He must have come!...’
It was heart-rending to see how much he clamoured and craved for Him. But Swami, in the meanwhile, sent us the message that there would a big crowd and the resultant confusion if He came to our home, and therefore, He said, ‘Ask them to admit Kasturi in the hospital and I will come there and see him.’

Liberation Here and Now

“But before this, there is one significant event that happened which I must mention. It was the Guru Poornima Day in June 1987. Swami was delivering His Divine Discourse in Poorna Chandra Auditorium, and I was keen to hear Him on that significant day. As my son, Ramesh, was also there that day taking care of him, I came out of the room and sat on the steps near the South Block with my ears glued to His booming voice. But during this time, it seems, father called Ramesh and said, ‘Sri Kasturi is dead. I’m Atma”. My son was shocked. But father persisted, ‘Go and tell everybody that Kasturi is dead!’ So Ramesh got worried and frightened, and immediately came to me. When I went, he said the same thing to me again. ‘Kasturi is dead. I’m only Atma. Don’t force me food or anything.’ I replied, ‘No, I won’t force you. But until the body is here, we have to take good care of it. So please cooperate. I won’t coax you any more to eat or do anything, but please if you want anything, just ask without a second thought, and it will be done.’

“From that day, he stopped talking on anything other than Swami. He did not even crave for Him as pathetically as before. He was just immersed in himself. Maybe that was the realization. Because, once, many years ago, a naadi (ancient palm leaf inscriptions about the future) scholar, by name, Gunjoor Narayan Shastrigal had come to Swami when He was in Brindavan and reading my father’s naadi, he had said that he will attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi in his last moments. It seems, when he said this, my father, at that time, laughed. ‘I? Getting Nirvikalpa Samadhi? This is all bogus!’ He told Swami.

But Bhagavan then had apparently said, ‘No, don’t laugh. Why not? You might get it. Don’t laugh at this.’ Therefore, when father was totally with himself, oblivious to every external sound or stimulus, during this time, I remembered this incident; I thought, maybe, he is going through that transcendental liberating experience, because after that ‘I am the Atma’ moment, he only wanted silence; never liked us conversing with people who came to meet him. When somebody suggested that we play Vishnusahasranama (thousand eight names of Lord Vishnu), he outrightly refused. He wanted absolute serenity and silence around him at all times.

“And as Swami had instructed, we admitted him in the General Hospital on August 7, and true to His word, the very next day He arrived. The Loving Lord made him drink one full glass of water and before He left, said the same thing: “Don’t think of anything. Think of Swami only”. And to others he said that no visitors are to be allowed to see him. Father was completely in a different plane. He didn’t like even us, mother and son, talking to each other. ‘No…Silence’ he would indicate but never utter a syllable. Therefore, if we had to talk about anything often we would come out of the room. We maintained the ambience as quiet as possible.

And then, the momentous day arrived – August 14. But two days prior to this, he had started bleeding because of liver complications, and when Swami was asked if blood transfusion should be done, He said, ‘No, nothing needs to be done. His time is coming. Just give him slow glucose.’ And on the morning of that eventful day, he was semi-conscious. We could see his breathing had become an ordeal; he was trying to deep breathe with great difficulty. I tried to call him, but there was no response. My son, with whose voice he was very familiar, called out to him too, but there was no sign of consciousness. Worried, we sent word to Swami through Dr. Alreja, but Swami said, ‘No, he is fine; the time is coming close. I will come and see him at the hospital’. The morning bhajan ended and we were expecting Swami, but instead of coming to the hospital, He drove into the Institute Auditorium.”

‘I have to go, Kasturi is not well’ - Swami

Narrating the happenings at the Auditorium, Mr B. N. Narasimha Murthy, who was there with Swami on that morning, says, “Swami came to see the rehearsal of the drama to be staged by the boys on the first anniversary of the MBA course, and He seemed deeply engrossed watching the performance. But at 11.30, He suddenly stood up and said, ‘I have to go, Kasturi is not well,’ and went to the General Hospital. When Swami arrived at the Hospital, the only noise in Kasturi’s room was the trickling of water from a tap in the bathroom. Swami called a nurse and said, ‘Stop it’. Then Swami went to the bedside of His dear devotee and into his ear He gently called, ‘Kasturi…Kasturi’ and immediately he opened his eyes and started to fold his palms.” “He wanted to offer his salutations,” says Mrs. Padma. “But Swami caught hold of both his hands with much love and created vibhuthi.
He applied the Divine Ash Himself on his forehead, neck and hands, and whatever was still remaining in His Hand, He gave it to me and asked, ‘Did he take anything since morning?’ ‘No food, Swami,’ I said. ‘I’m only wetting his lips with coconut water whenever it gets dry’. Then He looked at me and said firmly, ‘Chesko…” (do) pointing to His Feet. The next moment I prostrated at His feet and looking at His eyes I understood that it was His way of saying, ‘Now, it’s My responsibility to take care of you. It’s over.’ Then He asked my son too to do the same. After that He went down and told the doctors, ‘There is one hour more. You all go and repeat “Sairam” “Sairam”.’

And before He finally left, He said, ‘We have to arrange a band for his funeral procession. He is a respectable world figure; the procession should be grand.’ And after Swami left, all the staff of the Hospital came and started chanting “Om Sri Sai Ram”, “Om Sri Sai Ram”.

The difficulty in breathing which was there before Swami came had disappeared. Now, it was smooth and slow; and exactly after one hour, just as Swami had stated, around 12.30 pm, his breathing stopped. The doctor attending on him started chanting “Shri Ganesha”, Shri Ganesha”; father was onto a new road, a new journey.

Immediately the word was sent to Swami and He instructed that the body be kept in the guest house, which was located just beside the Hospital building then, and everybody could go there and pay their homage. Later, as many arrived to bow down reverentially where his body lay, He sent another message: ‘Start bhajans,” and Sri Karunyananda arrived with a garland from Swami. A few minutes and there were further instructions. ‘Continue bhajans till 7 pm and then lock the room. Nobody needs to be there. It can be opened again at 6 am the next morning,’ was Bhagavan’s command. But many expressed reservations and apprehensions. ‘No, a dead body should not be kept in this manner. Somebody should be there,’ they said. ‘Otherwise, ants may come.’ But Swami sent word again. ‘No ants will come. I will take care of it. You just lock it now and open again only at 6 in the morning.’ So all of us returned home.

A Grand Reunion

“In the meantime, Swami sent Mr. Chiranjeevi Rao to us to find out if it was okay to use a band for the funeral as it was not a custom in our caste. But I said, ‘It is Swami’s Kasturi; it is not at all my Kasturi, or my father. Whatever Swami wants, He may do. We are all happy.’ So we closed the bhajan at 7 pm and returned at 6 in the morning, and when we opened the door, what did we find?
The whole room was permeated with a divine fragrance! And his face! It was shining! Though it was all sunken, dry and dark because of extreme weakness and bleeding the previous night.

The whole ambience was so dramatically and divinely different. It seems when Dr. Shantha, who was along with me, opened the door she felt as if something or somebody was pushing her from inside. And Swami, the next morning, told the boys in the Mandir, ‘I was there with him the whole night’.” That was the glorious finale of a great saga of ‘appetizing adjacency’ (as Kasturi himself calls it) with the Divine of a devotee that again will never be.

On August 15, Swami even closed the Ashram Canteen and asked everyone present to attend the funeral procession which was an elaborate affair with music, vedam, band, etc. But ladies were restricted for this journey from the Hospital to the Chiravathi as the Ashram authorities felt there was every chance of a stampede, the gathering assuming gargantuan proportions.

“After the cremation was complete,” Mrs Padma recalls, “Sri Karunyananda came to me and said, ‘Amma, your father was a superlatively great man. He attained “Kapala moksha”, the kind of liberation-release that happens when the ‘atma’ or the ‘life-force’ floats away from the body breaking the centre of the skull. I am fortunate to be able to see this.’ Not only he, many expressed similar sentiments of their immense good luck to be present and be part of the occasion. And in the evening, Swami came near me and said, ‘He attained what he has to attain. So have no worries; you do not need to do any rituals either. He has merged in Swami!”

---- end Yaani Drucker post ----

My FB shared post comments are as follows:

Fascinating account about Sri Al Drucker's response to his wife, Yaani Drucker, reading him about Sri N. Kasturi's last days and how Swami profusely blessed Sri N. Kasturi during that period. Mr. Drucker's response really touched my heart. Great soul! I very much liked the way Yaani put it: "We must meet all with the utmost respect and love, and then the unreal is transformed into the real. That is I believe what was taking place in Al's mind in that moment and what allowed him to take his maha-samadhi."
--- end my FB shared post comments ---

[I thank Yaani Drucker, Mrs Padma (Sri N. Kasturi's daughter) and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]
=======================================

Readers may want to read the following blog posts related to Mr. Al Drucker:
1) An Interview (in 1999 perhaps) with Al Drucker (of atmapress.com), http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/an-interview-with-al-drucker.html.

2) Al Drucker, long-time Sai devotee, has passed away; My gratitude to him for sharing his writings and videos, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/al-drucker-long-time-sai-devotee-has.html, dated 21st February 2016.

Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi seek guidance & blessings via so called communicator Madhusudhan Naidu?

Last updated on 27th February 2016

The Muddenahalli group website here, http://saivrinda.org/updates/sri-sathya-sai-sowbhagyam-inaguration/, states (he in the quote below is Hon'ble Prime Minster Narendra Modi, and the context is the recent visit on 21st Feb. 2016 of PM Modi to Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group):

Between the two functions, he sought the guidance and blessings of Bhagawan Baba in the subtle form, for a few minutes. It was a great occasion for the leader of the Nation and the leader of the Universe to come together, yet again!
--- end quote from Muddenahalli group website ---

[Readers may additionally want to see the blog post, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates Sathya Sai Baba statue in Naya Raipur hospital, and praises Sathya Sai, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/prime-minister-narendra-modi.html, dated 21st February 2016.]

Now, my view is that we should find out from official quarters like the Prime Minister's Office whether they approve of the above quote on Muddenahalli group website. In my view, Muddenahalli group WILL SURELY USE THIS PM seeking guidance & blessings from subtle form statement BOLDLY PUT UP ON THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE, as PROPAGANDA, and thereby TRAP more innocent Sai devotees into their fold.

My view is that I should not be a MUTE WITNESS to such POSSIBLE FALSE PROPAGANDA of Muddenahalli group, as my duty towards my beloved Gurudev Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and as a service to Sathya Sai fraternity at large (as I have benefited significantly from Sathya Sai Baba and the Sathya Sai Baba fraternity; so I am giving back here). But first we need to find out whether PM Modi really met the so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu, and sought so called subtle body's guidance & blessings through Madhusudhan Rao Naidu! If PM Modi has actually met Madhusudhan Rao Naidu (at this recent Naya Raipur hospital event or even earlier as the quote above uses the words, "yet again") and accepted his claim of mediumship of Sathya Sai, then Muddenahalli group is simply stating the truth, and we will have to accept it, even if I and some others will find it very deeply disappointing & very deeply disturbing.

If, on the other hand, we find out that PM Modi either did not meet Madhusudhan Rao Naidu at all OR met him for a few minutes as a courtesy to C.Srinivas & co. (as they had offered their facilities to PM Modi's political party led state govt. for their govt. function there) but NOT sought so called subtle form's guidance & blessings through so called communicator Madhusudhan Rao Naidu, then we can inform the Sathya Sai fraternity of it, and thereby help to AUTHORITATIVELY puncture Muddenahalli group's claim.

Dear reader, what do you think of the above? I may be on the wrong track and so, do feel free to disagree with me.

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Associated Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/1708193029397267

Regards

Ravi S. Iyer
Blogger on spirituality & religion and retired software consultant, Puttaparthi, India

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* About Sri Sathya Sai Baba and more: ravisiyer.blogspot.com
* God & science conversation and a little more: iami1.wordpress.com/god-and-science-toc

Software Websites/Blogs
* Indian CS & IT Academic Reform Activism: eklavyasai.blogspot.in/p/table-of-contents.html
* Course material related to computer programming (software lab.) courses: raviiyerteaches.wordpress.com

Misc. Topics Blog: ravisiyermisc.blogspot.in/

Twitter:  twitter.com/RaviSaiIyer
Google+:  google.com/+RaviSIyerSai
Facebook: facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7

Service to Society is Service to God
#NarendraModi

=======================================
Given below are some comments on the afore mentioned Facebook post associated with this blog post:

Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Thanks [--name-snipped--]. Given the fact that only a few readers have commented in favour of contacting the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), I find that there is very little support for this proposed initiative of mine. Therefore, as of now, I am NOT planning to write to PMO. I mean, it seems to me that as far as the vast majority of my readers go, they are not really bothered about it. So my view is why should I make such a fuss! I have enough personal issues that I urgently need to devote my time & attention to, and I am going to focus on that instead.

What I have understood from my on-going study of political campaigns in India and the USA (the current presidential campaign there), is that in such initiatives related to a community (in this case the Sathya Sai devotee community) OPEN & PUBLIC backing from the community is vital. The candidates who put out a particular analysis of current problems facing the community and their proposed solutions (even if some solutions are more a statement of general intent without specifics of the solutions), get a feel of how the community likes or dislikes their analysis & proposed solutions, from the PUBLIC turnout & PUBLIC support they get in their political campaign meetings & other events.

In a similar way, this Facebook post of mine (and associated email & blog post) is (are) a feeler. And the feeling I have got very clearly and very unmistakably is that my readership community is generally NOT INTERESTED to PUBLICLY INVOLVE themselves in even supporting an effort done by somebody else (me) to confirm the details of this claim of Muddenahalli group, from the Prime Minister's Office! So like Jeb Bush, very decently, in my considered view, stepped down from the USA presidential race by acknowledging the poor vote he got in South Carolina, USA (and similar poor vote in Iowa & New Hampshire), as a statement by the voters that they do not back him in this presidential race, in this much, much smaller scale matter, I would like to follow the WISDOM & DECENCY of Jeb Bush by, at least for now, NOT going ahead with writing to the Prime Minister's Office on this matter. [Here's Jeb Bush's stepping down video, Jeb Bush Suspends Campaign - FULL SPEECH (C-SPAN), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckab-n5MHSg, 7 min 8 secs, published on Feb. 20th 2016.]

If others are willing to go ahead with such initiatives of contacting the Prime Minister's Office or the Prime Minister himself, I will surely PUBLICLY support them. Thanks. Jai Sairam!
---
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Dear VijaySai B.S., Thanks for telling us that the duration of the meeting was for 7 to 8 minutes. For me, the key question is did PM seek the guidance and blessings of so called subtle form through so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu? That is, did PM ask Mr. C. Srinivas (or other senior persons of Naya Raipur hospital/Muddenahalli group) to meet so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu & so called subtle body? OR was it suggested to the PM by Mr. C. Srinivas or others, to have a small chat (less than ten minutes)? If you see the video of the first function (inauguration of Swami statue & unveiling of plaques) you can clearly see that as PM Modi is walking to get off the stage after the inauguration/unveling, Mr. C. Srinivas requests him to greet those who are in the front row of the audience, and PM Modi graciously accepts the request and greets those persons. It was nice of PM Modi to do so and I am happy for Muddenahalli group that PM Modi did greet these leaders of Muddenahalli group.

Now, was PM Modi meeting so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu, and so called subtle form, something similar in the sense that the request was made by Mr. C. Srinivas (or other leaders)? That, to me, is the key question. I wonder whether you could provide us that information. Thanks.
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Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
VijaySai B.S. Noted that you will not be able to provide the information I seek. I guess I and many others would then presume that it was not as though PM Modi sought the guidance & blessings of so called subtle form through so called communicator, but that it was just a courtesy extended by PM Modi as Naya Raipur hospital people had provided their facilities for the main govt. function that was held there. Thanks.
----
Ravi S. Iyer wrote:
Well, bro. VijaySai B.S., for me it is more of an issue of how the PM or the PMO views the matter. I sincerely doubt that the PM or PMO will approve of words that PM Modi sought the guidance and blessings of subtle form as has been claimed on Muddenahalli group website. If the PM or PMO Facebook or twitter feed had mentioned that (like it mentioned the unveiling of the statue & plaques with photographs), there would be zero room for any ambiguity or confusion about the matter.
----end Facebook comments -----

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our subtle essence is God/Sathya Sai Avatar but Sai devotees are not Sathya Sai Avatar

I saw a Facebook post where a conversation with (physical form) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba was mentioned as follows:

I once had the chance to ask Swami whether he was the Messiah for which we had long been waiting?

He answered
"Not one Messiah.
You are all Messiahs.
You have the power to save yourself and to save others also."

In other words, he will drive the chariot,
he will direct us from within,
but it is our job to save ourselves
and we have been given the full power of God
to transform the internal enemies of greed, hatred and jealousy, etc.
which are polluting our hearts into the divine love that is Swami.
--- end FB post extract ----

Ravi: In the context of the above, my view is as follows:

I will never ever forget Bhagavan hammering away in multiple Sai Kulwant Hall discourses in the decade before Mahasamadhi, most of which I have heard live sitting Sai Kulwant Hall, about all of us being God and not just him. And he went ahead and said in one such discourse that nobody should take Padanamaskar (touching his feet reverentially) from then on, as why should God take Padanamaskar of God (or words on those lines)!!! As I heard these words from Bhagavan live sitting in Sai Kulwant Hall, they were clear instructions to me who viewed myself then, and continues to view myself today, as a student (a not-so-great student but a student, nonetheless) of my spiritual master, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. So, even though I did not have any experience of consciousness where I experienced myself in all and all in me (which is what Bhagavan, in my considered view, DIRECTLY EXPERIENCED), I made that teaching of Bhagavan heard sitting LIVE in Sai Kulwant Hall (and so without any possibility of any editor/computer techie modifying the teaching/instruction, and with a clear sense of the context and spiritual ambience within which it was said as a PUBLIC TEACHING) as a core BELIEF of my life.

Further, by birth & traditional upbringing (to some extent, at least), I am a Sama Vedi. Note that I am not saying that I was taught the Sama Veda - No, all I am saying is that I was brought up in a Sama Veda Brahmin family tradition where I had to participate in some rituals where the Brahmin priest(s) conducting the ritual would do it as per Sama Veda (Karma Kanda). Chhandogya Upanishad is an important upanishad of the Sama Veda and has the famous Makavakya, Thath Thwam Asi (Tat Twam Asi).

Chapter (PRAPATHAKA) 6, Part (Khanda) 9, Verse (Shloka) 4 of Chhandogya Upanishad [Pic below has Sanskrit script shloka]



Sholoka in English (Latin) script:
Sa ya esho 'nima aitadatmyam idam sarvam, tat satyam, sa atma, tat-tvam-asi, svetaketo, iti;
bhuya eva ma bhagavan, vijnapayatv-iti; tatha saumya, iti hovacha.

Given below is the word by word meaning followed by the English translation as given in Chhandogya Upanishad from Ramkrishna Math, Madras, 1956.

Sa – That (Being), ya – which, esha – this, anima – subtle essence, aitadatmyam – has that for its self, idam sarvam – all this (world), tat – that, satyam – is the true, reality, sa – that, atma – atma (self), tat – that, tvam – thou (you), asi – art (are), svetaketo – O Svetaketu, iti – so(?), bhuya eva – further, bhagavan – revered sir, vijnapayatv – please explain, iti tatha – so be it, saumya – dear boy, iti hovacha – said (the father).

‘That Being which is this subtle essence (cause), even That all this world has for its self. That is the true. That is the Atman. That thou art, O Svetaketu.’ ‘Revered sir, please explain it further to me.’ ‘So be it, dear boy’ said (the father).

[English translation by Prof. Max Muller, Sacred Books of the East]:
'Now that which is that subtle essence, in it all that exists has its self. It is the True. It is the Self, and thou, O Svetaketu, art it.' 'Please, Sir, inform me still more,' said the son. 'Be it so, my child,' the father replied.
-------
Ravi: The Tat Twam Asi (You are that) verse above gives the same message, I think, as what Bhagavan gave when He said that we are all God. And that is that there is a subtle essence of all that exists and we are all THAT SAME SUBTLE ESSENCE.

But can we also say that as Bhagavan has said we are all God, that all of us are Avatars like Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and that all of us are FULL-BLOWN SAVIOURS (MESSIAHS) of mankind (like Lord Jesus Christ)? Well, my view is that perhaps that is the potential in all of us, but most of us, if not all of us, as of now at least, are not Avatars like Shiva-Shakti Swarupa, Kali Yuga Avatar, Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba or FULL-BLOWN SAVIOURS (MESSIAHS) like Lord Jesus Christ. We can take inspiration from Bhagavan's life and from the life of MESSIAHS like Lord Jesus Christ and try to grow in our spiritual (and worldly) lives. But I think that if we start viewing ourselves as messiahs (saviours) when we have not evolved to spiritual heights of DIRECTLY EXPERIENCING ourselves as the 'subtle essence' in all of creation (and all of creation being part of that 'subtle essence' in us), we will fall into the psychological and spiritual trap of being a FALSE MESSIAH and a FALSE PROPHET.

In this connection I have to mention the case of Madhusudhan Rao Naidu and Shri B.N. Narasimhamurthy. The problem is that Narasimhamurthy & Madhusudhan Rao Naidu's inner guidance has taken them away from Bhagavan's instructions & teachings that Bhagavan will never communicate via an intermediary (medium/communicator). But they have managed to TRAP many people into believing that Madhusudhan Rao Naidu is a communicator of some so called subtle body of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba!!!

I was quite disturbed to read a Facebook post by a prominent Muddenahalli group promoter on Facebook, that the so called subtle body Swami of Muddenahalli (read Madhusudhan Rao Naidu) blessed a top Indian govt. political leader with an interview, very recently. I don't know whether that account is true.

My guess is that the top govt. political leader may have felt obliged to accept Muddenahalli group request and so may have consented to meet Madhusudhan Naidu for a few minutes IN PRIVATE. If this is how the meeting happened with Madhusudhan Naidu (if at all it happened) then the above mentioned description of (so called subtle) Swami blessing the top political leader is not only a wild exaggeration but even an affront to the Hon'ble political leader of India, IMHO.

If what I have mentioned is what happened then the words should have been on the lines of:
Top political leader acceded to request of Muddenahalli group to spend a few minutes with (so called) communicator, Madhusudhan Naidu.

The above matter shows how inappropriate understanding of Bhagavan's Advaita type teachings can lead to very inappropriate actions by some Sai devotees.

I should also say that I think what Hindu scripture related to Avatars like Rama & Krishna as well as Shirdi Sai Baba history teaches us, is that Avatars tend to just vanish from their mission stage after they give up the body.

[A clarification update:
Now Bhagavan in His formless aspect was there before Sathya Sai Avatar and continues to be there after Mahasamadhi. Bhagavan in His formless aspect is ETERNAL.  What I mean by the earlier sentence is that the formful aspect which can be seen and heard simultaneously by a group of people (as against individual vision or dream) of Rama, Krishna and Shirdi Sai Baba vanished after their giving up the body. People may still get visions and dreams of their inner Rama or inner Krishna or inner Shirdi Sai Baba or inner Sathya Sai Baba, in the form they have chosen to worship, and that vision or dream may communicate some messages to them. But these visions & dreams are individual to the person concerned and not something that relates to groups of devotees or society as a whole. It is when people who get visions & dreams of Sathya Sai, start assuming the mantle of a medium/communicator of Sathya Sai Baba to groups of devotees and even go to the extent of "blessing" top Indian govt. political leaders with so called interviews with Sathya Sai Baba through their mediumship, that they are doing something that is unheard of in Hindu & Indian scriptural history involving famous religious & spiritual figures. And, of course, such mediumship has BEEN CONDEMNED by (physical form) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in very clear and unmistakable words many, many times and that too in public. Essentially Sri Sathya Sai Baba has said that he will never ever use an intermediary (medium/communicator) to communicate with his devotees.]

So I think now it is upto the players who choose to get involved in the Sathya Sai Avatar mission (e.g. reinforcing Sathya, Dharma, Shanti & Prema values in the world) to take it forward with inspiration from God within (who is the same essence in Swami and in you and in me and in everybody) and within the BOUNDARIES of the TEACHINGS & INSTRUCTIONS of (physical form) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. If some spiritual leader (e.g. Narasimhamurthy/Madhusudhan Naidu) wants to go beyond the BOUNDARIES of the TEACHINGS & INSTRUCTIONS of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, then that person should NOT USE THE HOLY NAME of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba for THEIR OWN DARSHAN, INTERVIEWS & DISCOURSES. Instead they should give DARSHAN, INTERVIEWS & DISCOURSES in THEIR OWN NAMES.

I would like to add that I tend to agree with most of this part of the post:
In other words, he (Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) will drive the chariot,
he will direct us from within,
but it is our job to save ourselves
and we have been given the full power of God
to transform the internal enemies of greed, hatred and jealousy, etc.
which are polluting our hearts into the divine love that is Swami.
--- end post extract ---

Ravi: But I don't know whether we all have been given the full power of God. It may be there as a potential power which needs to be manifested/nurtured/grown. Somehow, I cannot imagine any Sathya Sai devotee ever having the full power that (physical form) Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba demonstrated in his AWESOME AVATARIC CAREER.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Excerpts from PM Modi address at Gaudiya mission, Kolkata on 21st Feb. 2016

On the same day (21st Feb. 2016) that Hon'ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group, later on in the day, Prime Minister Modi attended the centenary celebrations of Gaudiya mission (associated with great Vaishnava tradition spiritual teacher and leader of the early 16th century from Bengal, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitanya_Mahaprabhu).

PM Modi's speech at the Gaudiya mission was focused on spirituality & religion, in keeping with the event being a spiritual and religious event. In contrast, PM Modi's speech at the Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group (see http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/prime-minister-narendra-modi.html), earlier on the same day, focused on government initiatives & plans, in keeping with that event being a govt. project event hosted on the facilities of Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group.

The excerpts below are from http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx for Entry dated 21 February 2016 with description, "Text of PM’s address at the centenary celebration of Gaudiya Mission at Kolkata" [Note this entry has to be chosen in left hand side pane of the page for this particular entry's text to be displayed.]

For video and pics of the event see http://www.narendramodi.in/pm-inaugurates-centenary-celebrations-of-gaudiya-mission-and-math-414908. I have copy-pasted one of the pics from this link below:



Some excerpts from it (in Hindi which is what PM Shri Narendra Modi spoke in) and my not-so-great attempt at English translation of it, are given below.

काल के प्रहारों के बीच वो ही टिक पाता है, जिसके भीतर एक अंतर्भुत आत्मिक शक्ति होती है। इस विशाल भारत की अंतर्भुत आत्मिक शक्ति तो उसका अध्यात्म है। शायद दुनिया में ऐसी आध्यात्मिक परम्परा कहीं नजर नहीं आएगी, जहां पर इस महान विचार को मानने वाले, स्वीकार करने वाले, इतनी विविधताओं से भरे हुए हों। ये समाज इतना विशाल है, व्यापक है, गहन है, गहरा है कि जहां मूर्ति पूजा को मानने वाला भी उसका गौरव गान करता है और मूर्ति पूजा का घोर विरोध करने वाला भी उसकी प्रशंसा करता है।

Only they (those countries) can survive the assaults of time who have within them a soul-power (spiritual power). This large (country), Bharat's (India's) internal soul-power is its spirituality. Perhaps in this world we will not see a place which has so many spiritual traditions with so many differences (varieties). This society is so wide and so deep that it is praised by idol-worshippers as well as those who are deeply opposed to idol-worship.

जो साकार को स्वीकार करता है वो भी इस राह पर चलता है, जो निराकार को समर्पित है वो भी उसी प्रकार से चल रहा है। जो परमात्मा की पूजा करता है वो भी इसे शिरोधार्य मानता है। जो प्रकृति की पूजा करता है वो भी इसे शिरोधार्य मानता है। और ऐसी कौन सी ताकत है? वो ताकत पूजा पाठ सिर्फ नहीं है, सिर्फ ग्रंथ नहीं है, सिर्फ वाणी नहीं है। वो ताकत हमारी आध्यात्मिक चेतना में है। हम सम्प्रदायों से बंधे हुए लोग नहीं हैं। समय रहते सम्प्रदाय आते हैं, जाते हैं, पंथ और परम्पराएं विकसित होती हैं। लेकिन हम अध्यात्मता के एक अटूट नाते के साथ जुड़े हुए लोग हैं और वही शक्ति है, जो हमें सतकर्म की ओर प्रेरणा देती है। चैतन्य महाप्रभू भक्ति के प्रणेता थे। भक्ति युग के पुरोधा थे। भक्त बनना आसान नहीं होता है। हाथ में माला है। मुंह में ईश्वर का जाप है। इतने मात्र से दुनिया की नजर में तो हम भक्त बनते हैं। लेकिन भक्त बनना है, तो भक्त वही होता है, जो विभक्त नहीं होता। जहां मुझ में और मुझ को बनाने वाले के बीच कोई विभक्त नहीं है। मैं और वो दोनों ही एकरूप हैं, तब मैं भक्त बनता हूं और चैतन्य महाप्रभु भक्त थे। जहां कोई विभक्त को स्थान नहीं था, वे कृष्ण में डूबे हुए थे। कृष्ण उनमें समाहित हो चुका था और तब जाकर के ये भक्ति आंदोलन खड़ा होता है।

He who believes in the formful aspect walks in this path (of spirituality in Bharat/India) and so does he who believes in the formless. He who worships God finds this (spiritual path in Bharat/India) acceptable and so does he who worships nature. And what is that power? That power is not only puja (worship) or scripture or recital. That power is in our spiritual consciousness. We are not people who are tied up in (spiritual) sects. Over time spiritual sects come and go; sects and traditions expand. But we are a people who are joined with an unbreakable bond of spirituality, and that is the power (Shakti) that gives us the inspiration to do good works. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a leading exponent of Bhakti (Devotional path). He was a leader (pioneer?) of the Bhakti age. It is not easy to become a devotee. One has a japamaala in the hand, the chanting of the Lord on the lips. By this, in the eyes of the world, we become devotees. But if you want to be a devotee, then only he becomes a devotee who is not separate. Where there is no separation between me and my maker; He and I are one - then I become a devotee (Bhakt), and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a devotee (Bhakt). Where there was no room for any separation; he was merged in Krishna. Krishna had become part of him and that is when this Bhakti movement/revolution took place.
...

और उस अर्थ में गौड़िया मिशन के द्वारा वैश्णव परम्परा को जीवित रखते हुए और आखिर ये परम्परा जैसा अभी महाराज जी बता रहे थे। दरीद्र नारायण की सेवा, ‘सेवा परमो धर्मः’ यही तो हमारा जीवन का उद्देश्य रहा होना चाहिए। जो औरों के लिए जीना जानता है। जो औरों के लिए अपने आपको आहूत करना जानता है। जो औरों के लिए अपने आपको खपाना जानता है। और हमारे देश के महान महापुरुषों की सारी माला देख लें, उस माला में यही तो संदेश है। हम कभी-कभी एक चिंतन सुनते हैं दुनिया में Live and let Live ‘जिओ और जीने दो।‘ ये देश उससे एक कदम आगे है। ये कहता है जिओ और जीने दो और अगर उसके जीने की क्षमता नहीं है, तो उसको जीने के लिए मदद करो।

And in that sense, the Gaudiya mission (is) keeping alive the Vaishnava traditions and then this tradition as the Maharaj was telling us: Service of the poor Narayana (daridra Narayan), 'Seva Paramo Dharmaha' (Service is the highest Dharma), this should be the goal of our life. (S)he who knows how to live life for others. (S)he who knows how to offer herself/himself in sacrifice for others. S(he) who knows how to expend herself/himself for others. And if we see the (works/teachings) of the great persons of this country, we see that this is the main message of their (works/teachings). We sometimes hear a saying, Live and Let Live. This country is one step ahead of it. She (this country) says live and let live, and if the person does not have the capacity to live, then he/she should be helped to live.
...
भारत में हर सदी में आपने देखा होगा कि समाज की कोई न कोई बुराई के खिलाफ हिन्दू समाज में से ही कोई सुधारक पैदा हुआ। उसने उस समाज को रोका, टोका, बुराइयों से बचने के लिये निकलने के लिए कहा और प्रारंभ में उसको सहना पड़ा। यही तो बंगाल की धरती है। राजा राममोहन राय सती प्रथा के खिलाफ इतनी बड़ी लड़ाई लड़े। ईश्वर चंद विद्यासागर समाज की बुराइयों के प्रति कितनी जागरूकता लाए थे। ये हमारी सदियों पुरानी परम्परा रही है कि हर कालखंड में जब-जब समाज में विकृति आई, समाज में दोष आए बुराइयां आईं। कोई न कोई महापुरुष निकला, इसी समाज में से निकला और उसने समाज को कोसा, डांटा, सुधारने का प्रयास किया और समाज ने उसको महात्मा के रूप में स्वीकार किया, महापुरुष के रूप में स्वीकार किया। दोनों तरफ ताकत नजर आती है। जो समाज सुधार को स्वीकार नहीं करता है। जो समाज कालबाह्य बोझ से मुक्ति पाने का सामर्थ्‍य नहीं रखता है, वो समाज कभी टिक नहीं सकता, जी नहीं सकता, न कभी प्राणवान अवस्था में रह सकता है। एक मुर्दे की तरह वो समय बिताता है।

हमारे समाज में हर कालखंड में, हर भू-भाग में बुराइयों के खिलाफ लड़ने वाले चैतन्य पुरुष मिले हैं हमें। और यही तो हमारी ताकत है। इसी ने तो इस समाज को चैतन्यवत रखा है। और इसलिये गौड़िया संगठन, गौड़िया मिशन को शताब्‍दी का पर्व एक प्रकार से सामाजिक सुधार के आंदोलन की शताब्‍दी है। समाज में भक्ति चेतना जगाने के आंदोलन की शताब्‍दी है। समाज में ‘सेवा परमो धर्म’ को साकार करने का संस्कार अविरत चलाए रखने का, प्रज्जवलित रखने का उस महान कार्य की शताब्‍दी है। ऐसी महान व्यवस्था को, महान परम्परा को इन सभी संतो, महंतो की जिन्दगी को, जिसके कारण ये सतत् परम्परा चली है, मैं आदर पूर्वक नमन करता हूं। चैतन्य महाप्रभू का पुण्य स्‍मरण करता हूं। इस महान परम्परा के सभी योगी पुरुषों का मैं नमन करता हूं। आप सब का बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद।

You would have seen that in Bharat (India), in every century, that against some or the other evil in (Hindu) society, some reformer has taken birth in/come from Hindu society itself. He criticized that (evil in) society, argued with society to stop those evils; initially he had to tolerate (opposition/resistance). This is the land of Bengal. Raja Ram Mohan Roy waged such a big battle against the practice of Sati. Ishwarchand Vidyasagar had brought so much awareness about the evils of society. This has been our tradition for centuries that in every time period when taints appeared in society, when flaws and evils appeared/came in society, some great person appeared, and appeared from this society itself who berated/scolded society, and attempted to improve it. Society accepted him as a Mahatma (great soul), as a Mahapurush (great man). Strength is seen on both sides. That society which does not accept improvements, that society which does not have the capacity of freeing itself from the burden of Kaalbaahya (flaws generated over time?), that society will not be able to survive, cannot be in a state of praanvaan (life?). It spends time as a corpse.

In our society, in every time period and every geographic region, we have had/encountered/met spiritually elevated persons who have fought evils (of society). And this is our strength! This is what has kept our society chaitanyavat (spiritually conscious?). And so this centernary celebartion of Gaudiya community, Gaudiya mission is, in a way, the centenary of the movement/revolution for social uplift/improvement. It is the centenary of awakening of Bhakti (devotion) consciousness in society. It is the centenary of the big work of keeping culture/tradition of practical application of 'Seva Paramo Dharmaha' (Service is the highest Dharma) alive and vibrant. To this great institution, its great traditions, to the lives of all these saints due to whom this continuous tradition is alive, I respectfully pay obeisance. I do holy remembrance (invoke the holy memory) of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. I bow down to the Yogi purushas (men) of this great tradition. Many, many thanks to all of you (plural form of you indicating respect like in 'you ladies & gentlemen').

--- end excerpts from PM Modi speech ----

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Al Drucker, long-time Sai devotee, has passed away; My gratitude to him for sharing his writings and videos

Last updated on 27th February 2016

Mrs Yaani Drucker​, wife of Mr. Al Drucker, has informed her Facebook friends (I am her FB friend) and permitted me to share publicly that Mr. Al Drucker has passed away. As she puts it, "Al so peacefully flew the cage - free."

I pray to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to shower His Grace on the sukshma sharira of Mr. Al Drucker, and give courage to Yaani Drucker, his wife, and rest of his family & friends to bear the loss of his physical sharira.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to Al Drucker sir for sharing his experiences of Sai Baba and his views of Sai Baba's teachings (see http://atmapress.com/). I gather that he has also written on his understanding of spiritual philosophy from various religious texts like the Bhagavan Gita and the Bible.

I did not have the privilege of meeting him in person but thanks to some Sai devotee video-interviewers who put up Al Drucker's interview and other lectures/talks videos on youtube, I was able to see him and hear him talk on video. Surely, Drucker sir was deeply devoted to sharing Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings including Advaita philosophy, and his spiritual experiences, with the world at large, even at an advanced age. It was very inspiring to see his dedication in this regard. I am sure sister Yaani Drucker, his wife, would have had an important role in helping him play this role at an advanced age. So thanks to Yaani Drucker too.

I should also say that as a former teacher in the Sathya Sai university (offering free service from Jan. 2003 to March 2012 with designations of Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty), I did make some inquiries in the past couple of years or so with a couple or so long-timers in Prasanthi Nilayam (I continue to live in Puttaparthi, outside the ashram) about Mr. Al Drucker, and they remembered him having been a notable figure in Prasanthi Nilayam many years ago (one person mentioned spiritual talks to Western devotees, while another talked about him being a specialist in physics). I believe Mr. Drucker has made significant contributions to the Awareness program of the Sai university which is taught to all Sai university students.

Some months, or maybe a year or so ago, I came to know that Mr. Drucker had experienced Nazi Germany as a Jewish boy living in Germany then, and had escaped from Germany to USA! It was the first time I read of any Sathya Sai devotee himself/herself having experienced Nazi Germany persecution of Jews. His experience of travelling in a train with a Nazi SS colonel who recognized him as a Jewish boy but showed a kind side of his personality and advised him to escape the Jewish Holocaust in Europe at that time, by going Westwards instead of Eastwards, was utterly fascinating! Here's a great interview of Mr. Al Drucker by Mr. David Jevons which I would recommend all readers, whether Sai devotees or not, to read (if they have not read it earlier), http://www.ramalacentre.com/newsletter09_99_02.htm (also put up on my blog here: http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/an-interview-with-al-drucker.html).

I repeat my prayers to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to shower His Grace on the sukshma sharira of Mr. Al Drucker and give courage to his family & friends to bear this loss. Jai Sairam!
=============================

Readers may want to read the following blog posts related to Mr. Al Drucker:
1) An Interview (in 1999 perhaps) with Al Drucker (of atmapress.com), http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/an-interview-with-al-drucker.html.

2) Al Drucker's last days; How he benefited from hearing about N. Kasturi's last days, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/great-soul-al-druckers-last-days-n.html, dated 25th February 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates Sathya Sai Baba statue in Naya Raipur hospital, and praises Sathya Sai

Last updated on 27th February 2016

Today (21st Feb. 2016), Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, accompanied by Hon'ble Union Minister Shri Venkaiah Naidu and Hon'ble Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh state, Dr. Raman Singh, visited the Naya Raipur hospital set up and run by Muddenahalli group.

I am very happy to inform readers that PM Modi, union minister Venkaiah Naidu and CM Raman Singh made NO REFERENCES WHATSOEVER to so called subtle body of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Muddenahalli OR its so called communicator Madhusudhan Rao Naidu. In fact, the main function was the foundation stone laying ceremony for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (seems to be Hindi for Prime Minister Housing Project), http://mhupa.gov.in/User_Panel/UserView.aspx?TypeID=1434. I was quite surprised to see that the Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group was the venue for this event. I guess there seems to be some close tie-up between the Naya Raipur hospital and the Chhattisgarh state government.

Here's an English media article about the event, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/PM-Modi-Lays-Foundation-Stone-for-Housing-Scheme-in-Chhattisgarh/2016/02/21/article3289427.ece, and a small extract from it:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone for a housing scheme and electronic manufacturing cluster in Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh.

He said the government wants to ensure houses for all by 2022.

The prime minister also released the Chhattisgarh Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Policy.
--- end short extract ---

Prior to the govt. of Chhattisgarh (and govt. of India) main event held in the Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group, there was a very short event of around FOUR MINUTES ONLY which included inauguration of a statue of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba by PM Narendra Modi, and PM Modi (and other two main guests) also showering flowers on this statue - see photo below.



The entire event video can be seen here: PM Modi lays the Foundation Stone of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Chhattisgarh, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ribGSFq4ksk, 1 hr 15 mins. From around 8 min 30 secs to around 10 min 30 secs in the video you can see PM Modi, CM Raman Singh and union minister Venkaiah Naidu walk up to the stage and inaugurate (unveil) the statue of Bhagavan (and unveil a plaque). Shri Indulal Shah is on the stage - PM Modi greets him. PM Modi also greets Mr. C. Srinivas earlier to that.

I have extracted and given below, the short reference PM Modi made to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba (NO REFERENCE TO MUDDENAHALLI) in Hindi in his main speech in the MAIN GOVT. EVENT, and have also given my English translation of the same. In the video link above the extract part is from around 58:35 to 59:58 (less than one and a half minutes). The extract is from the official site for PM's remarks, http://pib.nic.in/newsite/pmreleases.aspx?mincode=3 [Entry has to be chosen in left hand side pane as follows: Month: February, Year: 2016, Entry: Text of PM’s speech at the Foundation Stone laying ceremony of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Chhattisgarh (21-February 2016)].

आज यहां मुझे साईं बाबा की प्रतिमा का लोकार्पण करने का अवसर मिला। ये अस्पताल गरीबों की निःशुल्क सेवा करने का काम करती है, खासकर के बालकों के हृदय का ऑपरेशन, जो लोग पुट्टापर्थी गये होंगे वहां एक बहुत बड़ा अस्पताल और साईं बाबा का जो सामाजिक काम था उस चीज पर लोगों का बहुत कम ध्यान जाता है। चमत्कारों की चर्चा बहुत होती है। लेकिन उन्होंने जो पानी में काम किया है। शिक्षा में काम किया है। स्वास्थ में जो काम किया है। ये सचमुच में बहुत प्रेरक है। एक भी चमत्कार की चर्चा न करें तो भी ये काम अपने आप में बहुत बड़ा चमत्कार है। मैं बाबा के इस महान सामाजिक कामों को प्रणाम करता हूं।
--- end extract ---

English translation of above Hindi extract: Today here I have had the opportunity of dedicating the statue of Sai Baba to the people. This hospital does free service to the poor. specially the heart operation for children. Those who have gone to Puttaparthi (would have seen) a very big hospital there. The social work done by Sai Baba gets little attention from people. There is a lot of talk about miracles. But the work that he has done (in the field) of water (supply), work in (field of) education and (field of) health is really inspiring. Even if we do not talk of any miracle (of his) even then these works by themselves are a very big miracle. I pay obeisance to these great social works of Baba.
--- end English translation of extract ---

Ravi: As far as I could note there is no other reference to Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in PM Modi's talk (he did additionally say Sairam to the audience at the beginning of the talk, but that's it). I mean, bulk of the talk dealt with the main govt. function that was organized there related to housing project and Chhattisgarh state's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development policy.

Now I am happy for the Naya Raipur hospital team that PM Modi visited them and inaugurated Swami's statue there and also unveiled some plaque. No issues with it at all and congratulations to them. The key point to note is that PM Modi's speech made a short reference to the good work done by the hospital but MADE NO REFERENCE to so called subtle body of Bhagavan based in Muddenahalli and its so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu.

THEREFORE, Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's visit to Naya Raipur hospital of Muddenahalli group CANNOT BE VIEWED IN ANY WAY, as an endorsement of belief in so called subtle body of Bhagavan in Muddenahalli or its so called communicator, Madhusudhan Rao Naidu. I do hope that Muddenahalli group does not project PM Modi's visit to Naya Raipur hospital as PM Modi's support for FALSE BELIEF of Muddenahalli so called subtle body and its so called communicator.

I must also state here that if Muddenahalli group SERIOUSLY projects the visit as supportive of this Muddenahalli so called subtle body FALSE BELIEF, I may SERIOUSLY CONSIDER writing to the Hon'ble Prime Minister to draw his attention to it and request him to distance himself PUBLICLY from Muddenahalli FALSE BELIEF. I should also inform readers that I have communicated in the past, in my Indian Computer Science and Information Technology Academic Reform activism efforts (see my blog: http://eklavyasai.blogspot.in/), with both the Prime Minister's Office (previous UPA II govt of Dr. Manmohan Singh as well as current NDA govt. of Shri Narendra Modi) and the Union Human Resource Development minister's office (handles higher education) (previous UPA II govt. HRD ministers Shri Kapil Sibal & Dr. Shashi Tharoor, as well as current NDA govt. HRD minister, Smt. Smriti Irani).
======================================
Readers may want to additionally view the following two blog posts:
1) Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi seek guidance & blessings via so called communicator Madhusudhan Naidu?, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/did-prime-minister-narendra-modi-seek.html, dated 25th February 2016.

2) Excerpts from PM Modi address at Gaudiya mission, Kolkata on 21st Feb. 2016, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/excerpts-from-pm-modi-address-at.html, blog post dated February 23rd 2016.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

An Interview (in 1999 perhaps) with Al Drucker (of atmapress.com)

Last updated 27th February 2016
[Article courtesy: The Ramala Centre, http://www.ramalacentre.com/newsletter09_99_02.htm.]

[Ravi: Note that Al refers to Al Drucker of atmapress.com and David (the interviewer) seems to refer to David Jevons of The Ramala Centre, ramalacentre.com. Going by the link name of the interview source mentioned above, I presume that the interview happened in 1999.]

David: I would like to begin by asking you about your spiritual background. What were your spiritual understandings before you came into contact with Sai Baba?

Al: I was brought up in a Jewish home in pre-war Germany. As a little boy I was a very pious kid even though my family was not particularly religious. It was really an opportunity for me to get away from my family. At the time I felt overpowered by all the women in my family. They all loved me and fluttered around me so much that as a little kid I just couldn't take it. So the only way that I could become free of all of that was to become so religiously inclined that their needs wouldn't prevail over mine. I think that I began studying the Torah when I was only three.

David: But was there any one factor or incident in those early days that awakened your spiritual consciousness, that started you on your spiritual quest in this life?

Al: Well it seems to me that my interest in spiritual matters was always there. I have some intimations of having been a Ramakrishna sannyasin in my last life. I believe that I spent that life in France. I have some remembrances of it. I also feel that I have spent many lifetimes in India, living in caves in the Himalayas. In this life I did not pursue a spiritual path until well into my adult years. After going to university I kind of got lost in the world for a while. I joined a select group of engineers and physicists who were responsible for the technical management of the U.S. ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes. However I soon got an inner message that working on these weapons of mass destruction was not right for me and so, on a spiritual impulse, I quit the programme very suddenly in the late 1960's and went to live at the Esalen Institute, a centre for growth and transformation in Big Sur on the Pacific Coast, south of San Francisco. The contrast from my previous lifestyle could not have been more dramatic.  I radically changed professions, to become in succession a massage therapist, a Rolfer, an acupuncturist, a homeopath, a gestalt therapist and, finally, a teacher of alternative medicine. Now Esalen is just across the mountains from the Tassajara Zen Mountain Centre, it is about fifteen miles as the crow flies, and I used to hike across the mountains to meet a wonderful teacher, Shunryu Suzuki-roshi. He was really a great saint and it was through him that I became interested in Zen. I have also had a long time interest in Taoist teachings, having spent some time in China as a young man. So it seems to me that I have always been interested in spiritual matters, but Spirit didn't really become the major focal point in my life until my aeroplane experience, in which Swami saved my life and thereafter led me to him in India.

David: The greatest obstacle that I had to overcome in establishing a relationship with Sai Baba was the concept of God incarnating on the Earth. To me God was always separate from His creation and never incarnated in form on the Earth. When did you accept this reality?

Al: Well, you see, even as a kid we would sing a song in Yiddish about the time when the Messiah would come on Earth and we would all be happy. I have always believed that the Messiah was just around the corner and that the Messiah was God on Earth.  So I have always been waiting for him and rather than being surprised that such a thing could actually happen, I was surprised that it hadn't happened yet. So I didn't have that prejudice against God being in form.

David: In the talk that you gave yesterday, you related the story about meeting the SS colonel in the railway carriage, as you tried to escape from persecution in Nazi Germany. This impressive figure, dressed in the black uniform, must have absolutely taken your breath away, and yet he talked to you about the Bible and made that amazing statement, "There is no Moses to save you this time".

Al: I was just a kid of nine and, of course, I was terrified. I was frightened out of my wits when he came into that train compartment. I lived in Cologne and I was travelling across Germany to Poland and had stopped off in Berlin. In Berlin I had some well-to-do relations and they had decided to put me into this first class compartment, but unknown to me, Jews were not permitted to be there. I had the compartment to myself until the train stopped some twenty-five miles outside of Berlin and that was when this SS colonel appeared. So I sat there, petrified, expecting to be arrested, but he was charming He loosened his jacket and took off all of his imposing paraphernalia - the cap with the skull emblem on it, the black leather belt, the gun, the dagger, the leather gloves, the monocle and the big black leather boots.  He made himself comfortable and told me to sit comfortably and not to be afraid of him. So, in a sense, he became an ordinary guy for me. He talked to me about God and the Jews, quoting extensively from the Old Testament. He warned me that the Holocaust was coming and advised me to escape westwards not eastwards which, of course, is what I eventually did.

David: You said that you felt that the SS colonel was Sai Baba, that he manifested as that colonel to warn you, in fact, to save your life. Are you really sure of that?

Al: It is very clear to me now that the colonel was Swami. He simply didn't fit the SS character at all. There was no way that man would have taken the chance in Nazi Germany at that time of saying the things that he said to me, even if he felt that way.

David: The SS colonel came out with this amazing statement "There is no Moses to save you this time. You will have to be your own Messiah." What do you think that Swami meant when he said that? How do you view that message in the light of what eventually happened to the Jews? What would be the purpose of the Jews being subject to the Holocaust? Was it to prove to them that there is no Messiah?

Al: I wish I even had the beginning of some answers for that. I have no idea, David. But two world wars in two successive generations, which destroyed or uprooted hundreds of millions of people, and then the development of atomic and hydrogen weapons that promised to snuff out all of civilisation, and God knows what other insane weapons of death are in the offing to destroy Mankind, only proves what madness has come upon us in this Kali Yuga, and how absolutely vital it was in this time of darkness for the Avatar to come and rescue Mankind from itself. The genocide of the Jews is just an outward symptom of the genocidal feelings of hatred and mayhem inside all of us. Swami has come to correct that. As for the Messiah, I once had the chance to ask Swami whether he was the Messiah for which we had long been waiting. He answered "Not one Messiah. You are all Messiahs. You have the power to save yourself and to save others also." In other words, he will drive the chariot, he will direct us from within, but it is our job to save ourselves and we have been given the full power of God to transform the internal enemies of greed, hatred and jealousy, etc. which are polluting our hearts into the divine love that is Swami. For me, personally, Swami gave me the chance to clear up most of my haunting memories of Nazi Germany. It relates to the first time I had to leave India very unexpectedly.  Let me tell you the story.

In 1981, after I had made some fifteen or so trips to Sai Baba, he directed me to come and live at Prashanti Nilayam. So I went back to America and gave up everything. I sold or gave away all of my possessions and I was back at the ashram within a couple of months. At his direction I was to give up my U.S. citizenship and become an Indian citizen. My life in America was to be finished! So I started the process of Indian naturalisation and I arranged that I would become an Indian citizen on my 60th birthday, because that is a particularly auspicious day. I planned to go to Bangalore that day to be sworn in and also, a few days later, to deliver a paper at a conference of the heads of all the Indian universities on the Awareness Programme, six courses unique to Swami's University, which covered the whole range of human knowledge - the humanities, the sciences, the arts, and the spiritual and religious history of the world - which all undergraduate students were required to take. I had had a hand in formulating the programme. Now at that time Swami was in Whitefield.

So that morning I was sitting in my room, working on my presentation, when a policeman knocked on the door and informed me that I was under arrest! Well, you call imagine the shock and disbelief that I felt. It seems that they had decided that I was a CIA agent and would pose a threat to the country if I became a citizen. The policeman had orders to take me to Anantapur. I insisted that I had to go and see Swami first. Well, amazingly, I got to see him. It's a wonderful story and I cannot tell it all now, but I got to see Swami and he told me, despite my fervent objections, that, yes, I was CIA, and it would be best if I left the country! Then he explained that CIA really meant Constant Integrated Awareness, and that I should call the headman in Anantapur. I called this officer and to my astonishment he directly answered the phone, which is most remarkable in India. When I told him that Bhagavan had advised me to leave India, he gave me eight hours in which to leave the country. Now this is the day, my 60th birthday, on which I am supposed to become an Indian citizen and give up my U.S. citizenship and, in a moment, my life was totally turned around! I didn't have any money, I didn't have a ticket, I didn't have an exit visa yet, somehow, Swami miraculously arranged for all of that and I ended up by flying to Germany, of all places. That was as far as I could go at that time with the funds that I had available. I stayed with some German Sai friends that I had met at the ashram. Now the husband was in the Wehrmacht, the German army, during the war and his wife was a leader of the girls' side of the Hitler Youth movement. We spent an intense month together discussing the war and clearing out all our old karma. It was totally finished for us and we became very close friends. We put the whole war experience to rest.  In my talk yesterday I referred to the pure light that shines in the eyes of the children in Swami's schools and I have a clear sense that many of these kids are the reincarnated souls of the beings that died in the gas ovens of Auchwitz, and that they are now with Baba and so have forgiven all that was done to them in the past!  I am really clear in my own mind that even if Adolf Hitler were sitting here in front of me now I would forgive him and see only the wholeness and the completeness and the perfection of his being, and not dwell on the horror of what he, in his madness, perpetrated on the world.

David: How long did it take you to recognise Sai Baba's divinity. My path was a very slow one, requiring many visits, with much doubting and testing.  How was it for you?

Al: I loved Swami the first time that I saw him. I just loved him. As I said yesterday, the very first time that I saw Swami was in the Poornachandra Auditorium on the day of Mahashivaratri.  Just before he came out, I had this very powerful deja-vu experience of being back in Nazi Germany. There were the massed flags and the swastika symbols, which of course was the symbol of Nazi Germany, the slogans and banners on the walls, similar to what the Nazis used to do, and when Swami started speaking he was saying the same things that Hitler said! Then I woke up and realised that here was the ultimate of goodness that had come into consciousness, the ultimate in the totality of the history of the world as it is known in the West. There had not been a full avatar on the Earth since Lord Krishna, over five thousand years ago. I recognised that I had experienced both the ultimate of divine goodness and the ultimate of evil in my life. They both used some of the same outer forms, they both used some of the same expressions, they both used some of the same symbols and slogans, and they both used similar mannerisms. In the talk that Swami gave that day he said that it does us no good to go around digging ten metre holes in a field in our search for water. We can dig holes all over a field and still find nothing. He said that we must dig one hole, but dig it deeply, in order to find pure clear water. If we want to know the reality of this Sai Avatar, we must come close to him and dig deeply. The intensity of that experience was so powerful that it has remained with me ever since.

David: You've been so close to Swami, do you think it is because of your actions in past lives or in this life?

Al: I really do not know.  All I can say is that there is nothing that I am aware of in this life that would relate to that extraordinary privilege.

David: We both know of people, such as yourself, who were very close to Swami and then have suddenly fallen from grace and been banished from the ashram. I have this feeling that it is safer not to get too close to Swami. It's almost like getting too close to the fire and getting burned. What are your feelings about this?

Al: When the devastating moment of incineration comes it is almost always totally unexpected, like the incident on my 60th birthday that I just spoke about. In some ways, it's a lot like death. We think that death is something that happens to everybody but us! Here is another story with an unexpected result. One morning I got a message to report to the head office of the ashram. Remember that at the time I was a lecturer in the Sathya Sai Institute and, in fact. I was the only Westerner there. Swami also had told me to do study circles for the residents in the ashram and for the staff and students at the University. I also gave talks to the Westerners who visited the ashram. So there were many opportunities for me to slip up and to make a mistake, but in this particular incident even the mistake was missing. I had done nothing wrong. Anyway, I went down to the office, it was just before morning darshan, and waited for the manager of the office to arrive. He was coming straight from seeing Swami, since they have breakfast together. He walked up to me and said, "Pack up your things and leave. You have to be out of here by noon!" I said, "Out of here, what do you mean?" He replied, "You are being told to go. You've got to go."  Now this is after I've been there three years.  I asked, "What is this all about?" but he replied, "I've been instructed not to tell you."  So I returned to my flat and said inwardly "Swami, what have I done? I don't understand it. I have to leave and my whole life is here. This is where all my things are." At that time I had an extensive library of over five hundred books. I began packing and choosing a few favourite books to take with me I picked up a book of Shankara's poems, opened it and read 'Mother, how could you be so cruel to your only son, you're my Mother and how can you not love your son?  Somehow I knew that it was no accident that I was looking at this poem. Just then a message came for me to go and see Dr. Gokak, who at that time was the vice chancellor of the University, and who was also my boss. He told me that Swami was very unhappy with me and I had to leave. I said, "What is this all about, Dr. Gokak?" He replied that he had been told not to tell me, but that Swami was unhappy with something that I had said at a public meeting. I returned to my flat and continued with my packing when Professor Kasturi called for me. Now Kasturi and I were like father and son. I spent much time with him. He said, "Drucker, you've done it." I said, "What is it that I am supposed to have done?" He replied "Swami says that you were cracking dirty jokes in your talk to the foreigners" I said "That's just not possible, Kasturiji, that's totally incorrect." Kasturi said that Swami had received a letter from a German lady who had reported this fact to him. He also said that he (Kasturi) had received a letter from the same German lady asking for an introduction to me.  I have no idea who this lady is. So I went off for my last darshan and as I'm sitting there in darshan Swami comes up to me and says "You are a Surpanakha." Now Surpanakha is the name of a demon in the Ramayana.  She is the sister of Ravana and when she discovers Rama and Lakshmana she desires them so much that, in a jealous rage, she tries to kill Sita.  Lakshmana intervenes and with his sword disfigures her, first cutting off her nose and then her ear. She runs back to her brother Ravana in order to raise an army of demons and so avenge herself. Ravana is amazed that she stayed around long enough to have both a nose and an ear cut off, and he asks her why she did not run away. She replies that they were both so beautiful she couldn't take her eyes off them! So when Swami called me "Surpanakha" and jokingly said that he was going to cut off my nose, I responded by saying "0 Swami, you are so beautiful, I'll have to stay around until you cut off my ear too!" Apparently, that was the right answer. Swami told me to take padanamaskara. I kissed his feet and that was the end of the incident. It was over, and I stayed at the ashram. But it was a warning to me that at any moment I could be thrown out, with or without good reason and, as you know, later on it did indeed happen to me. I have always recognised that God can take anything that He likes away from me. I have heard Swami talk of the three zeros, of reducing a true devotee to nothing, of taking away their wealth, their health and their name to prepare them for liberation. I am ready for that.

David: Obviously the fact that Swami did eventually throw you out of the ashram must be for your highest good, but what, do you think, was his reason for doing that?  Do you think that he is preparing you for liberation?

Al: I had always believed that the meaning of the three zeros was that God can take any material thing away from me, but that He could not take God away from me. I worshipped Swami as God and here I was getting thrown out of the ashram. So I felt that even God had now been taken away from me. I felt totally devastated, without roots of any kind. I believed that there was no existence left, but then I discovered something. There is no way that God can be taken away from me. The form of God was no longer in my eyes, that was all.  Now that discovery was not immediate.  It took me about a year to get over the feelings that something horrible had happened to me. Nevertheless, during this period of time, I experienced many remarkable acts of grace, including being in the interview room with Swami every day for some weeks.  It was a direct experience.  It was not a dream.   It was a state of awakened consciousness. I was sitting there and Swami would be sitting here and we were talking. It was no less real than the exchange that we are having now. I realise now that Swami will never take himself away from me.

David: Ann and I have always created a separation between the forms that we call Sai and Super Sai. We love to go and visit Sai, that is to say the physical form of Sai Baba, but we also recognise that Super Sai, that is to say the omnipresent form of God, is with us every moment of our lives and, indeed, is here right now. It is Super Sai that is for us the God in which we trust and in which we believe and with whom we have no conflict. It seems to me that conflicts such as you have experienced only arise when you get close to the form and have to relate to the form!

Al: Well, David, we have to be willing to get close to Swami and even to risk being thrown out, but even if that happens we will discover that nothing really has happened. How can anything ever come between Swami and his devotees? He is pure love and he yearns for all of us to come very close to him. One reason Swami gives us vibhuti is to remind us that ash is the only thing that survives in a fire. We have to be willing to do what it takes to be consumed in his fire and to realise the truth of who we really are, which cannot be affected by anything.

David: What has been your experience of being nine years in the wilderness, of being removed from Sai Baba for so long a time, after being so close to him?

Al: During the eight years I was at the Ashram I did indeed feel very close to Swami. In the first years Swami would speak to me every day. So I was treated like I was a very special person. But what has come to me in these years of being in the wilderness is sanity. I thought that I was special, but it is now very dear [Ravi: clear and not dear, perhaps; might be an OCR image to text conversion error] to me that I am not special, none of us is special, and I don't want to shock your readers when I say this, but even Swami is not special. There is nothing special about anything in this world.  Underneath we are all exactly the same, one unchanging divine essence; on the surface there is just the changing names and forms of maya, the veil of illusion.

David: When you say Swami, you mean the form of Swami?

Al: Yes, absolute truth does not have a form. It cannot be seen with the eyes, nevertheless, some forms can be used to point the way to the realisation of our true reality. Such is the form of Swami, but we must go beyond that stage to the direct experience of the formless divinity as the truth of our being.

David: Professor Kasturi was always having a hard time with Swami, even though he was very close to Swami. Swami sometimes did some harsh things to him, didn't he, to crush his ego?  Is this the price that you pay for being that close to him?

Al: No, I don't think that it's like that; I don't think that it's a price you have to pay for being so close to him. I think that it's the price you have to pay for having chosen to be on the fast track to liberation. You have to pay that price if your ego is to go.  The sense of individuality has to go and all that Swami is doing is to help you to realise that all forms of individuality are a mistake. So I think that this sort of thing happens to all people who have made the commitment to liberation, no matter what. There is only one interest in my life and that is the path to liberation, so anything which blocks that path has to be removed, and quickly, because I am not prepared to wait for another five lifetimes. Ann, in her talk yesterday, said that the Book of Brighu astrologer had told you that you were going to incarnate again with Prema Sai and live in his ashram for most of your next life and would die at ninety-five. This, apparently, was confirmed to you at Shivaratri when you did not see the lingam emerge. You have now accepted this as a fact.

David: Yes.  That is true.

Al: I think that's a terrible mistake. Excuse me, David, but I have to tell you that that is very foolish. Don't accept anything like that. Your mind has the power of God and you can change destiny by changing your consciousness. You can, I know that! You have the power to do this unless you have talked yourself into wanting to be around for another one hundred and fifty years or so.

David: I have no desire to be here again, even for a life with Prema Sai.

Al: Then don't accept it. Don't accept it and Swami will not support that mistake. It really is a mistake. He would not support it unless that is your wish. So make that decision now and even if the three zeros and all that stuff follows, so what? This world isn't worth anything anyway, so why invest in it?

David: May I ask you a personal question now? Was your decision to marry Yaani, the decision which directly led to you being thrown out of the ashram, made from the heart or from Swami?

Al: It was not from the heart, it was clearly from Swami, although now it has become a thing of the heart. You know, it's an interesting fact that that was the way of most marriages until this century. Parents or preceptors usually arranged marriages, because it was in the best interest of the individuals concerned in their journey to God. The love, which was often very deep, usually came afterwards. I would say that I'm a very reluctant husband.  I went through sixty years of life without ever having contemplated marriage and just at the time when I am supposed to give up everything I get married!

David: What game do you think Swami is playing with you with regard to your marriage?

Al: Well this marriage has been my principal sadhana for the past ten years and in retrospect I can say that nothing else that I can think of has been as valuable as this marriage in terms of personal growth and development. From a worldly and a cultural sense we are totally opposite! There is a constant opportunity for friction between us. We have Swami in common, as our common love. Other than that we have few other common interests. What a grand opportunity this presents for self-interest, for ego, to expose itself and to be seen and set aside! It is something of a challenge. Swami has presented us with a final challenge to enable us to finish this silly game.

David: Life is a game, as Swami says, and we must play it, but now that you are allowed back in Prashanti Nilayam can you tell us about your more recent experiences?

Al: Well, my first impression after nine years absence is that nothing has really changed. Everyone says that the ashram has totally changed and, of course, from a physical standpoint that is true, but I didn't pay too much attention to that. I was just aware that Swami had not changed one iota in some twenty-five years. He is the same beautiful being, he expresses the same immeasurable kindness and concern; he emits that same unfathomable unlimited love. There is that same awesomeness and magic when he comes out to give darshan. He inspires us with the same hopeful message of redemption. He coaxes us in the same way, to rise above desire and temptation, to realise our incredible divine inheritance.  Swami is totally unchanged. He is still saying what he said when he gave his first discourse, namely, my life is my message. He is teaching us to follow his example of raising our thoughts to heaven above and of using our bodies to serve mankind below.  Now recognise that we also haven't really changed. We go through these histories, these life-stories, and we think that so much has happened but, in fact, we are still as we have always been, even before we came into this birth and even after the death of these bodies. We are always whole and perfect and one with Sai Baba. We are love itself, and that is why Swami has always addressed us as Premaswarupa, as embodiments of pure divine love. This is now becoming my direct experience. I can relate one experience that came up for me during the Paduka festival last year at the ashram. They brought out this golden chariot for Swami to ride in and out of nowhere all this judgement came into my mind. Good heavens, I thought, Swami, what are you doing? What have you got to do with this garish obscene thing, this huge golden chariot? Would Jesus or Saint Francis ride in something like that?  I was very troubled by it, but at the same time, I was also very much the witness of my trouble. Where did all of these feelings come from? Why should I care what ever this chariot looks like? But still I cared. So I had to quiet myself down. I just had to close my eyes and shut it all out, become very silent and very quiet and, then, when I opened my eyes, Swami was sitting in the chariot and this incredible feeling of love gushed out of me. I started crying. I was just overcome. It was as if I had put on these glasses of love and everything was just pure love.  Wherever I looked, at the people, at the chariot, all I saw was pure love. It was a wonderful experience.

David: The chariot was a donation of love, wasn't it, but Swami did point out that he had no need of it and he did give it away, didn't he?

Al: I don't know and to tell you frankly, I'm not particularly interested in the chariot. I mentioned this incident to show how Swami takes something about which we have made some negative judgement and turns it into an experience of love. Swami tells the story of Jesus walking with his disciples on a road, when they come upon the stinking decomposed carcass of a dead dog. The disciples try to lead Jesus away from the gruesome sight, but Jesus bends down very close to the remains and says, "Look at the beautiful teeth of this dog. How much it must have been loved by its master." So Jesus saw the one beautiful thing in that otherwise unpleasant sight. That is Swami's message to us. Give up your judgements. Put on your love glasses and see the face of divinity, in other words, see Swami's unbounded love in whatever you see.

David: My last question, really, is in the light of all your experience with Swami and the suffering that you had to endure, what do you think is the purpose of life?

Al: Well, it depends what you mean by life. You see, I believe that life is eternal. Life has no meaning outside of truth, outside of oneness, outside of unity, and so the purpose of these earthly lives is to awaken and to realise true life. Life on this Earth is not life. This is death. To live in these bodies and to grow old and to get sick and to suffer and to die, that is an investment in death, that has nothing at all to do with life. Life is when you are free, life is when you are the light and give that light to everyone. Life is when you become an overflowing cup of pure love, a cup that has to be constantly shared. That's life. If there ever was a purpose for this human life, it is to drop all these insane ideas about life on Earth and to return to true life. That is Swami's mission as I see it.

--- end article from Ramala Centre ---

[I thank ramalacentre.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]
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Readers may want to read the following blog posts related to Mr. Al Drucker:
1) Al Drucker, long-time Sai devotee, has passed away; My gratitude to him for sharing his writings and videos, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/al-drucker-long-time-sai-devotee-has.html, dated 21st February 2016.

2) Al Drucker's last days; How he benefited from hearing about N. Kasturi's last days, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2016/02/great-soul-al-druckers-last-days-n.html, dated 25th February 2016.