Know thyself! Then you will know everything
The sun appears serene and peaceful
The days have become shorter and the cool wind is blowing
The fields are ripe with golden crops
Marigold flowers are blossoming like garlands of pearls
On the banks of rivers
The farmers are rejoicing and singing
The sweet festival of Sankranti has come in the
Pushya month, filling the granaries in our homes with
freshly harvested grain
This is the time of the Sankranti festival. Sankranti is a grand festival. It is the day on which farmers bring home the harvested crops consisting of all varieties of food grains and pulses needed for the household. The farmers, having finished a hectic schedule of harvesting the crops are now free from the farming chores, to enjoy good food and rest in their homes. They spend this leisure time with their family and friends rejoicing the harvest bounty with fun and frolic. They invite the newly married sons-in-law to their homes and gift them with new clothes. There is great joy all around.
There is a folk song in Telugu which captures this festivity in the village very appropriately:
As Sankranti is the festival of festivals,
Oh!You newly married bridegroom, visit the home of your in-laws;
Come, spend your time in fun and frolic with your brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
The entire household and the neighbourhood will honour you with love and affection.
In the earlier days, transportation was not as developed as it is today. The sons-in-law had to walk all the way to visit their in-laws or ride on a bullock cart. The entire village would wait for their arrival and shower them with nothing but the best. The food was a veritable feast with the best of dishes out on display for these honoured guests to eat – all prepared with great love and affection.
The Sankranti festival is also an occasion when the bullocks are decorated elaborately and taken to various houses in the village. The bullocks are worshipped and fed sumptuously as an expression of gratitude for all the hard work they have done in the fields. Even the bovine members of the household are feted.
A symbolic marriage is performed between a bull and cow, aptly named Rama and Sita. They are paraded on the streets and made to dance to the delight of every one. The cow named Sita is asked, “Rama is black. Do you like him?” Sita would swing her head in disagreement. Then, she is counseled, “Please do not say no; Rama is great. He is handsome and respectable!” Then Sita would nod her head in agreement.
And this is how an elder brother watching this beautiful show invites his younger brother to witness this symbolic marriage and offer gifts to the “couple”, -
Oh my dear brother, here comes the Gangireddudasu.
Come, let us go and see him. He wears a silver medallion and a waist belt.
He carries a decorated staff and wears special marks on his forehead.
He brings with him the richly caparisoned sacred cow and bull and
performs their marriage.
Let us see the marriage ceremony and offer our gifts.
(Telugu folk song)
So, the Sankranti festival is celebrated in the villages with a great deal of religious fervour and fun. Festivals like Sankranti and Sivaratri are festivals which are meant for contemplation and realization of one’s innate Divinity.
People say “Idi naa dehamu” (this is my body), very casually; but, people well-versed in Sanskrit language would interpret the expression “naa dehamu” (my body) in a different way. They would explain that “na” means “not” based upon the literal meaning and conclude that “naa dehamu” means “I am not the body.” Similarly the Telugu expression “naa manasu” (my mind) can be interpreted as “I am not the mind.” The same is the case with buddhi (intellect).
The sum and substance of all these expressions is, “I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am not the buddhi (intellect)” etc. In the same logic, one has to maintain a state of perfect equanimity, unaffected by pain and pleasure, while affirming to oneself all the while that, “these sorrows and difficulties as well as happiness and pleasure are not mine. I am beyond these dualities.”
“It is my body” means. “I am different from the body.” When you consider yourself as separate from your body, why should you feel the pain arising from it? The situation, however, is that you are unable to bear the pain caused to the body. Hence, you remain at the level of a human being only. You are unable to emerge from the delusion of bodily attachment. As long as you are attached to the body, these sorrows and difficulties as well as pain will haunt you. These are all of your own making.
When you get angry – where does this anger come from? It comes from YOU alone.. So is the case with jealously as it manifests purely in your own mind. Thus, each one of these bad qualities is the result of your own thoughts. Hence, if you are able to control your thoughts properly, you will be able to achieve anything in life.
The mind, intellect, and the chittha (subconscious mind) are the reflections of the Atma. The mind has no stability. It is the repository of thoughts and desires. It is said, “Manayeva manushyanam Karanam bandha mokshyah” - the mind is the root cause of either bondage or liberation. Therefore, one has to keep the mind under proper control by putting some ceiling on desires.
Both the body and the mind undergo change constantly. However, there is one entity inside whicht is changeless, that is the Atma. It has no form but it has a name:- Atma. Self and Atma both mean the same.
Atma is also called Aham. One should not confuse oneself in this context that this Aham is ahamkara (ego), which is identified with the body. God has no name and form, and He is always referred to as the Brahman. If God were to reveal His true nature, He would say “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman). The same Brahma Tathwa – the principle of the Brahma - permeates all beings as Atma Tathwa – the Atma principle.
We say so and so is my wife, so and so is my son, so and so is my daughter-in-law, etc. These are all illusory and bodily relationships. They are acquired by us and are not God given. Similarly God does not grant you either pleasure or pain. They all are of your own making alone. They arise because of your attachment to your body. As long as you are attached to the physical body, you will experience pain only. Once this physical body is consigned to flames, nothing comes along with you.
Atma, Self, I — these are the different names given to the same Atmic principle. The identification of being one with the body is done by the individual, thereby resulting in ahamkara - ego. This is the reason why Jesus told the world to cross the little I (ego), so that one may become God.
Your own Self (Atma) directs all your activities from within. This Self has no birth and death, just as Brahman has no birth and death. It is eternal, true, and changeless. We have to attach ourselves to such an everlasting principle, not to the constantly changing and ephemeral objects.
When you marry a girl you call her your wife. Earlier to the marriage, who was she? Who were you? There was absolutely no relationship between you. Only by your marriage did you become her husband and she your wife and acquired a matrimonial relationship. The relationship is acquired by you. God has nothing to do with these worldly relationships. Yet, He is the eternal witness to all that goes on in this world.
Dhyana - meditation, japa -constant repetition of God’s name, or yoga are of no help when it comes to realization of the Atma Tathwa.
Neither are the nine forms of devotion like sravanam- listening, kirtanam -singing, Vishnusmaranam - contemplating on Vishnu, Padasevanam-serving His Lotus Feet, vandanam-salutation, archanam- worship, dasyam - servitude, sakhyam - friendship,and Atmanivedanam- self-surrender of any help.
They are different forms of sadhana, which we ourselves have taken up. They are not God given.
How many ascetics in this world do severe penance? How many people constantly do japa? Even when they are sleeping, the japamala rotates in their hand. Do all these spiritual exercises confer moksha (liberation) on oneself? Never! One has therefore to constantly contemplate on the Atma Tathwa.
If someone asks who you are, you should be able to reply “I am God!” with all the faith and confidence at you command. The Atmaswarupa in all the human beings is one and the same. It is eternal and changeless.
I have told you several times about the story of Alexander. Though he conquered large parts of the world, he could not take with him even an iota of property that he had accumulated. He had to leave this world with empty hands. In order to demonstrate this truth to the world, he instructed his ministers to take his dead body in a procession through the streets of his capital keeping both his hands in a raised position pointing the sky.
When the ministers were curious to know the reason for this strange request from the Emperor, Alexander replied, “I have conquered several countries and accumulated great wealth. There is a vast army under my control. Yet, no one or none of this is accompanying me at the time of my leaving this mortal body. I am going with empty hands. This truth has to be demonstrated to all the people.”
We may acquire a lot of wealth and deposit it in the banks or lend it to others for interest. Yet, we cannot take even a handful of earth along with us at the time of leaving our body. Nothing of this world comes along with us. We are unnecessarily struggling and planning several schemes constantly thinking about them day and night. In spite of all our struggles, what has to go out of our hands will go.
“The body is like a water bubble. The mind is like a mad monkey.” If you follow this mad monkey, you will get into trouble. On the other hand, if you believe in the body, you do not know when this body, which is like a water bubble, will burst. Nothing is permanent. Only the Atma (SELF) is eternal and immortal. That is God.
‘I’, ‘Self’, ‘God’ are all different names by which Divinity is referred to. The Atman that is referred to as ‘I’ is donning different names and forms.
God had incarnated as Rama, Krishna, etc. Rama underwent several difficulties and demonstrated great ideals. Krishna demonstrated several leelas (sports, plays) and attracted several people. Finally, He left His mortal coil. The physical bodies of the Avatars undergo changes, but the Divine Atma in their bodies remains the same. The Atma is omnipresent.
However, in order to attain Atma Jnana (Atmic wisdom), your resolve has to be pure. You have to constantly contemplate upon the Divine Atma.
Your thoughts and actions may change; the methods of your japa, tapa, and yoga may change, but Divinity will not undergo any change. That is why Divinity has been described as nirgunam, niranjanam, sanathana niketanam, nitya, shuddha buddha, mukta, nirmala swarupinam (attributeless, pure, final abode, eternal, unsullied, enlightened, free, and embodiment of sacredness).
People pray, “Oh! God! Grant me your Divine darshan.” Even if He grants you His divine vision, it is only momentary. It comes and goes like a flash. In fact, God is very much immanent in your own heart. He is hearing all your prayers. He is answering your prayers.
Even when your physical body ceases to exist, the Atma remains. That Atma (Self) is eternal. It assumes different forms. We witness several objects in this Universe, like the stars, the sun, the moon, etc. Though they appear to be static, even they undergo changes. Only Divinity, which is the basis of all this, remains changeless and eternal.
One should always maintain purity. In fact, this land of Bharath has earned great name and fame, for purity and character:
This land of Bharath has given birth to many noble women, like Savitri, who brought her dead husband back to life, Chandramati, who extinguished wild fire with the power of truth; Sita who proved her chastity by coming out of blazing fire unscathed, and Damayanti, who reduced an evil-minded hunter to ashes with the power of her chastity. This land of piety and nobility attained plenty and prosperity and became the teacher of all the nations of the world because of such women of chastity. (Telugu Poem)
Good character is very essential not only for women but for men too! Only if one has character, you can call them a chaste man or a chaste woman. Today, we find boys and girls getting very close and behaving as though they are husband and wife. How long? Only for a short period. Thereafter, the situation changes. Once they are married, the boy will goes in one direction and the girl in the other. However, there will be no change at all in the Divine nature.
It is customary to exchange diamond rings between a boy and girl when they marry. The diamond ring, which is an impermanent object, is symbolic of Divinity, which is changeless and is available to people at all times.
We should safeguard our character like a diamond. Even overseas diamond rings are exchanged during the wedding as it is customary even there. As a result, there is a meaning in every custom and tradition not only in India but also across the world.
As I have already mentioned earlier, you say that this is “my body” (naa dehamu). Here “naa” refers to self in Telugu language. But, in Sanskrit, “naa” refers to “no”. Hence, it means, “I am not the body.” Thus, there is a lot of meaning in every expression.
God is described as “Sahasra seersha Purushah sahasraksha sahasra paad.” (The Cosmic Being has thousands of heads, eyes and feet). You have only one head, whereas God has thousands of heads. What does it mean? All the ‘heads’ in the entire creation are His!
Similarly, it is not correct to say that Swami has seen a thousand full moons (Sahasra Chandra darshan). I have seen not just one thousand full moons but crores and crores of full moons. As the Veda declares, “Chandrama manaso jathah,” (moon is the presiding deity of our mind.) Each one of you has a mind. I have been seeing all your minds. I have been seeing the minds of crores of people all over the world. Thus, it amounts to seeing not merely one thousand moons but crores and crores of moons.
A few minutes ago, the boys sang, “Neeku maaku unnadi oke bandhamu, Ade Prema Bandhamu”. It is the bond of love that unites us with you. You should ensure that this bond of love lasts forever.
Outwardly, we may display several qualities, but the inner thoughts or values are only five: sathya (truth), dharma (righteouness), santhi (peace), prema (love), and ahimsa (nonviolence). These are innate qualities, not superimposed from outside. Nor can they be purchased from any shop. They are ingrained in the core of our personalities. Our duty is to make apparent these qualities and mirror them in our daily lives. That is “Educare”. On the other hand, education refers to acquiring knowledge relating to the physical and secular world.
Truth is eternal. It has to manifest from within. Same is the case with dharma. It is said, “Dharmamoolam idam jagath.” In fact, it is, “Sathyamoolam idam jagath.” Truth is righteousness. All other values are contained in and originate from Truth.
Love is another quality that is innate in human beings. It should be made apparent and shared with one and all. Where there is love, there cannot be hatred. Love transforms itself into nonviolence. A person suffused with love cannot indulge in any kind of violence. Where there is no love, people cause harm to one another.
From truth emerges righteousness. When these two qualities go together, it results in peace. Peace unfolds as calm and serene behaviour. A person in that state says, “I am peaceful.” Several people, when asked about the purpose of their sadhana, reply, “for attaining peace of mind”; but, where is peace? There are only pieces in the outside world.
A mother loves her child. She will not forsake her child under any circumstance, even when provoked. Love drives it away. If nonviolence is to reign supreme in the world, the quality of love must be cultivated by all.
It is not enough if you love yourself. You should love your neighbours too. You must develop the feeling that everyone belongs to you and the same Atma resides as the indweller in all people.
For example, there is only one moon in the sky. The same moon is reflected in a thousand pots. You will see the moon reflected in each of the thousand pots separately. Can you therefore say there are thousand moons? No! Similarly, there are no suns separately in different countries like India, USA, and Japan. Only one sun illumines the entire world.
However, the time at which the sun rises in different parts of the world differs. Now it is 6 o’clock in the evening for us, whereas it is 6 o’clock in the morning in America. In Japan, it is 12 noon. On the basis of this difference in time, you cannot say that there is more than one sun in the sky. Only one sun illumes the entire world.
Similarly, only one God resides as the indweller in different people. Each one worships Him in their own way, ascribing a particular name and form to Divinity.
Several people are trying to ascertain from Me the birth place of Lord Rama. During the past several years, a number of people approached Me and pleaded with Me, “Swami! Please tell us where exactly was Rama born?” I told them, “Rama was born in the womb of mother Kausalya.”
In fact, do you search for yourself in the outside world? No! Your true nature is to be found in YOU alone. You are YOU! Similarly, it is futile to search for God, asking, “Where can I find God?” God is omnipresent.
Sarvatah Panipadam Tat Sarvathokshi Siromukham, Sarvatah Sruthimalloke Sarvamavruthya Tishthati.
With hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth and ears pervading everything, He permeates the entire universe.
Hence, there is no use asking, “Where is God?” First try to know about yourself. Then you will know everything. Unfortunately people today are anxious to know about everything in the outside world, without first knowing about themselves. This exercise will not serve any purpose. “Know thyself! Then you will know everything.” Remind yourself, “I am the Embodiment of Divine Atma; the Atma is immanent in me.”
People often say “this is my …; this is my …”; but who is that “my”? To whom does it refer? The feeling of “my” is maya (illusion). However, people do not make any effort to understand this.
Since you are an individual, you say, “my….”; but God is not confined to a particular name and form. He is the principle of “I”, which is all pervading. Several names and forms are ascribed to Him, but He is One and only One! “Ekam sath viprah bahudha vadanthi” (truth is one the wise say it in different ways). The different expressions like “I”, “I am God”, “I am Brahma”, “I am Vishnu”, etc. refer to only one God. Unfortunately today people are “dividing” the “Divine”. You should treat Divinity as only one.
Do not differentiate between people, saying this man is my brother; this person is my son-in-law, etc. All are brothers and sisters. When you consider all people as your brothers and sisters, where is the feeling of difference between individuals? It is this feeling of oneness among human beings that is taught by spirituality.
People say that they can realise God by doing japa, dhyana and such other sadhanas (spiritual exercises); but when and where? How? They are not be able to see even the person standing right in front of them when they close their eyes. How then can they see God in meditation?
All these sadhanas are meant to control the mind. The mind is very unsteady. It is always affected by bumps and jumps. Then how can you control such an unsteady mind? It is not possible. The mind can be controlled in only one way: by constant contemplation on God.
We often see people changing the names and forms of God for contemplation, frequently. One day they contemplate on Rama, the next day on Krishna, and yet another day on Venkateswara etc. Mind control is not possible by such contemplation. If you consider Rama as the God of your liking, then stick on to that name and form till your last breath. Then, surely you will have the sakshathkara (vision) of Rama.
Painters like Ravi Varma portrayed Rama in a particular form, but Rama and Krishna are not confined to such forms only. In fact, God has no particular form. He assumes a particular form at a particular time, for the sake of devotees. Thereafter, even that form vanishes.
Several pictures and paintings of God in a particular form are sold in the market. They are done by painters like Ravi Varma. Did Ravi Varma actually see Rama or Krishna? No. He only heard stories about Rama and Krishna and painted their forms based upon his imagination. These pictures and paintings only remind you about Divinity. Neither did Ravi Varma nor any other person actually see God.
You are God, verily! Do not think that God is somewhere in a distant place. You yourself are God. Develop that confidence. However, when you consider yourself as God, you must develop divine qualities. Then only are you entitled to consider yourself as God.
Since no one had ever explained the nature of Divinity in this manner, people have fallen into dogmatic theories. God is immanent in every human being, nay, all living beings. There is no place where God is not present. Wherever you see, God is present there. In fact, you need not come over here to see God. He is very much present in the place where you reside. Without realising this truth, people are spending a lot of money and going on pilgrimages. That is not what you are expected to do.
Develop the quality of love in you and share it with all. Then all the people in the world can become one. All are one, be alike to everyone. No living being can ever live without love. Living is possible only with love. Hence, develop a loving nature. When you go home, close your eyes and contemplate upon God. You’re sure to find Him in your own heart. When you open your eyes to the outside world, you see all and sundry.
Why do you think you are endowed with eyes? It is only to see God. If you go to a doctor complaining about some problem in your body, they will take an X-ray of your heart, liver, kidney, etc., and decide about the particular malady from which you are suffering. Spirituality is like an X-ray as it will reveal your true nature.
Install the form of God in your Heart and contemplate on Him incessantly. Never change that form for any reason. You are sure to realise God. You need not search for Him elsewhere. If you wish to see Swami, install the form of Swami in the altar of your heart. You can surely visualise Swami there. If you develop a feeling of oneness with Him, everything will turn out to be good for you. This is what you have to realise today.
Festivals come and go. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday — days roll on like that. Saturday lapses into Sunday; but God will never change. He is eternal. Realise this truth.